My friend and colleague at the Medinge Group, Ava Hakim, passed on a few papers from her day job at IBM. The ﬁrst is the latest edition of a biennial global CEO survey, while the second asks the next generation of leadersâGeneration Y. The aim: to ﬁnd out what these groups think about the challenges and goals for CEOs.
Unsurprisingly, both studies (involving thousands of respondents) had commonalities, though Generation Y placed global awareness and sustainability more highly on their list. Creativity, however, is ranked as the most valuable leadership trait. What society doesnât need, they tell us, is the same-again thinking if we are to make progress in the 2010s. The old top values of âoperational excellenceâ or âengineering big dealsâ no longer come up top in this new decade.
Or, as I heard from one gentleman yesterday, we canât afford to have the sort of âexperienceâ certain people tout, for they do not have 25 yearsâ experienceâthey just have one yearâs experience, over and over again, 25 times.
You know Iâm going to say it, so I might as well: this sounds like the sort of âexperienceâ some of my political opponents have had, day in, day out. Groundhog Day comes to mind.
Indeed, the studies indicate that we have a far more complex world, and same-again thinking isnât going to cut it.
In the ﬁrst study (emphasis in original):
Creativity is the most important leadership quality, according to CEOs. Standouts practice and encourage experimentation and innovation throughout their organizations. Creative leaders expect to make deeper business model changes to realize their strategies. To succeed, they take more calculated risks, ﬁnd new ideas, and keep innovating in how they lead and communicate.
The most successful organizations co-create products and services with customers, and integrate customers into core processes. They are adopting new channels to engage and stay in tune with customers. By drawing more insight from the available data, successful CEOs make customer intimacy their number-one priority.
Facing a world becoming dramatically more complex, it is interesting that CEOs selected creativity as the most important leadership attribute. Creative leaders invite disruptive innovation, encourage others to drop outdated approaches and take balanced risks. They are open-minded and inventive in expanding their management and communication styles, particularly to engage with a new generation of employees, partners and customers.
Creative leaders consider previously unheard-of ways to drastically change the enterprise for the better, setting the stage for innovation that helps them engage more effectively with todayâs customers, partners and employees.
The study also highlights an increase in globalization, especially in developing markets, leading to greater complexity. It also says the most successful leaders are prepared to change the business models under which they operate.
In fact, the world we now live in demands that our leaders are globally aware, and see the need to compete in a global market-place.
The implications for this city are that Wellington can no longer afford to see itself as merely the capital of New Zealand or the geographic centre. It is one of many cities that must compete for attention and resources at a global levelâwhich means creating world-class centres of excellence for our industries. Creating such clusters can even help them stay domestically owned.
The study indicates that the style of leadership is going to be, necessarily, internationalistâwhich means we canât afford to have leaders who are monocultural, and fake multiculturalism. This, like any aspect of a brand, must be embodied for real. It doesnât mean giving up what âbeing a New Zealanderâ is; it does, however, mean that we have to be able to communicate with other nations and cultures, seeking advantages for ourselves.
Innovation is a driver both in terms of internal processes and as a core competenceâso leaders had better be prepared to do this. And being closer and more transparent with customersâor in the case of a city, citizensâis something practised by the most successful leaders, says the study. It reminds me of the topics in the ﬁrst book I contributed to, Beyond Brandingâwhere integrity and transparency were at the core.
When it comes to the Generation Y study, the results were similar. This table summarizes the two quite well, and notes how the two groups differ:
I donât want to be giving the impression that the second study is less important, but realize that some of you are sorely tempted to see me wrap up this post.
I will say, quickly, that the lessons are clear: the next generation expects leaders to be globally minded and sustainable.
Chinese respondents in the second study, in fact, valued global thinking ahead of creativity. This perhaps highlights where the Peopleâs Republic, above the other Chinese territories, is heading: looking outwardly ﬁrst and delivering what customers in export markets want.
As creativity is naturally a trait among Wellington businesses, itâs nice to know that many are already prepared for the challenges of the 2010s. And some of our most successful names would not have got to where they are without global thinking, even if some have been acquired by overseas companies: 42 Below, Weta, and Silverstripe come to mind.
However, I canât see these traits being reﬂected in politicsâand thatâs something I hope we can change in the local body elections, for starters.
I learned the sad news that Norman Macrae, CBE, ææ„ç« , passed away on June 11, just shy of his 87th birthday.
Norman was one of the great visionaries and forecasters of the 20th century, and served as deputy chief editor of The Economist till his retirement in 1988.
Among his forecasts was the fall of the Berlin Wall, the advent of the internet, the move toward teleworking, and the pressing concerns of sustainability and the global income gap.
His work included a series of âretrospectivesâ written from a future date, which continued Normanâs trade-mark analysis on current and emerging trends in the global economy. With his son, and my friend, Chris, Norman authored The 2024 Report, whose predictions of broadband internet and its implications, made in 1984, only began coming true over the last decade. At the time, critics said Macrae and son were too optimisticâalthough history has proved them right.
I sent my condolences to Chris earlier today. The world has lost one of its foremost business editors, a great socioeconomic expert, and visionary.
Without Chris I would not have joined the Medinge Group, and it was through him that I realized so many of the Economist forecasts that I had read over the years were the work of his father.
I understand The Economist will publish an obit this week.
Almost any New Zealander will recognize this image: a cast photograph from the long-running TV series Outrageous Fortune.
When I ﬁrst heard of this show from Antonia Prebble, before she started ﬁlming, I have to admit I didnât think the premise would see it last ﬁve years (and counting). But for New Zealand television and the folks this show employs, I am glad it has.
Like all good shows (Life on Mars, State of Play, Cracker)âand a few bad ones (Pop Idol)âit was eyed up for a remake.
The British, who have never been that great at remaking shows usually (remember the Russ Abbot sitcom Married for Life, based on Married with Children? Or the remake of Whoâs the Boss?, called The Upper Hand?), decided it would see how well West Auckland transplanted to London. Cue Amanda Redman instead of Robyn Malcolm, and a rebrand to Honest for ITV:
No, it didnât work. According to some expat Kiwis whose comments I read, the pilot was virtually a shot-by-shot remake that added nothing to the original. I do not know about the remainder of the series, but the fact that it was not renewed by ITV says something.
The Americans, who have never been that great at remaking shows usually (Sanford & Son, Life on Mars, Coupling, Cosby, Ugly Betty, Threeâs a Crowd, Eleventh Hour, Too Close for Comfort, The Ofﬁce, Viva Laughlin, Kath & Kim, Payne, Amandaâs, The Prisoner, In Treatment, Worst Week, All in the Family, State of Play, etc.; Shameless and Gavin & Stacey are on the cards), decided to give this a shot. Getting in the chap who made Veronica Mars and Catherine OâHara (the Home Alone Mum, after Rene Russo turned it down), Cheryl West became Jackie West and the show was renamed Good Behavior.
The publicity touts this as an âoriginalâ ABC series (yeah, right), but I actually hope it goes well for them. Why? Because the Kiwis who created Outrageous Fortune, I believe, will earn royalties on each episode. We might pooh-pooh it because we are purists, but Iâd rather the money ﬂowed inwards. While we havenât exactly exported Kiwi culture in a Flight of the Conchords wayâbecause the show has been AmericanizedâIâd still rather a decent Kiwi concept got there and, in its small way, reverse the tide of the reality TV junk that so often comes westward across the Paciﬁc.
Like Scorseseâs The Departed, a remake that sparked interest in the original Infernal Affairs (çĄéé), we might see Americans track down the original Outrageous Fortune on DVD. That, too, can only be a good thing.
Certain media are reporting the cityâs [debt] in the $200 millionâ$300 million mark but our outside-council research reveals this is a very conservative estimate. Itâs likely to be more.
Regardless of whether itâs $200 million or half an (American) billion (scary just saying it), any deﬁcit thatâs nine digits long canât be good for a relatively small city.
One of my plans after I get into ofﬁce will be to balance the budget, which is why I have been going on about growing jobs and businessesin such a big way. In a very shortcut way of explaining it: more new businesses, more ratepayers, fewer reasons to increase the rates. Which, I might add, this current administration has already locked in for us over the next few years, letting the next mayor get the blame.
I object to any cuts in library services, even if there is a strong denial that that is happening. In a knowledge economy, we cannot afford to create a class system of the knowledge-rich and the knowledge-poor.
On this note, recently I asked Don Christie of the New Zealand Open Source Society to examine an open-source strategy for Wellington City. For starters, we discussed how the library software is a proprietary system that costs this city a considerable amountâwhen there is a New Zealand-developed open-source program that many other cities have implemented.
While it would be nice to keep believing we can afford expensive software to run city services, I donât like debt, and I certainly donât like owing people any money.
And Iâm not prepared to sell off our water to technocrats or any proﬁtable part of the family jewels to see the hundred-million ﬁgure reduced.
There are good examples of open source working for cities and creating signiﬁcant savings. Zaragoza, Spain, has been moving to a complete open-source desktop. And itâs not the only one.
Furthermore, open source will mean jobs in Wellington. This will mean new jobs. I have already gone on about the tech clusters being a vital part of this cityâs economy. Open-source skills are in high demand, and if overseas trends are anything to go by, we can attract these skilled people to our city. Already Wellington is a centre of excellence in many IT-related ﬁelds. Iâm talking about extending this and making a real claim to open-source. Let the world know that Wellington is the home of not just the most advanced software and visual effectsâ companies, but logically extend that to open source as well.
Itâs projected that by 2020, 40 per cent of jobs in IT will be open-source-related, so if we donât do it, another New Zealand city will. Iâm not about to give up one of our most important advantages, one which has been emerging in the capital since the 1990s.
Such moves can be done with the city and Wellingtonâs private enterprises working togetherâbut this will need to come from the top, and be put in motion by a mayor whoâs passionate about job creation. Itâs one of the biggest challenges we face, and I seem to be a lone voice on focusing on this for our city.
A leaked GM memo revealed: âWeâd ask that whether youâre talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising, or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward.
âWhen you look at the most recognised brands throughout the world, such as Coke or Apple for instance, one of the things they all focus on is the consistency of their branding. Why is this consistency so important? The more consistent a brand becomes, the more prominent and recognizable it is with the consumer.â
The document was signed by Alan Batey, vice president for Chevrolet sales and service, and Jim Campbell, the GM divisionâs vice president for marketing.
Bad example there, Alan and Jim.
Coke is to Chevy as Coca-Cola is to Chevrolet.
And no one ever complains of Coke being inconsistent.
This is the sort of daft thinking that makes any of us brand professional shudder: total amateurs talking about brandingâout of their rear ends.
Itâs this lack of awareness of what branding is, inter alia, that started GM down its slippery pathâwith only a brief reprieve when Bob Lutz, aware of what GMâs brands stood for, was around.
By demanding that Chevrolet people not refer to the brand as Chevy does the exact opposite to what brand experts and marketers recommend today: to be one with the consumer.
I can understand if Chevy was a very negative word, but it isnât. Itâs an endearing word and it does not create inconsistency with the full Chevrolet word. It complements it, connects the brand to the audience, and, perhaps most importantly for GM, builds on the brandâs heritage.
After all, Chevrolet itself has encouraged the use of the Chevy name for decades in its own advertisingâincluding during its heyday. Omitting the use of Chevy instantly cuts many Chevrolet connections to its stronger past. And thatâs a past that can be used for internal brand-building and loyalty.
There was even, formally, a Chevy model in the 1960sâthe line that later became the Nova. The Chevy II nameplate even continued in GM in Argentina in the 1970s.
The Chevy diminutive is used in many countries where the brand is sold, including South Africa, where it was once as local as braaivleis, rugby and sunny skies.
Maybe GM canât afford the same branding advice it used toâin which case it might be better to shut up than issue memoranda that can be ridiculed so easily. Or get Bob Lutz back again. One month after retirement, and the natives have lost direction again, Bob.
PS.:From Robin Capper on Twitter, who sums this blog post up in 140 characters or fewer: âPoor Don McLean: âDrove my Chevrolet to the levee, but the levee was dryâ just doesn’t workâ.âJY
There have been a few times in the history of this blog where I stepped away from writing regularly. At the end of 2006, I had a pretty good excuse: I was in France. This time, my reasons for stepping away for a few weeks do not include: (a) I was spending too much time with the Miss Universe New Zealand contestants; (b) laziness; (c) being trapped in 1983 and discovering that DCI Gene Hunt controls the Lost island.
I was, however, chatting to a few more of the parties that we needed to realize some of my election promises. And doing a few media interviews. And looking at more ways Wellington could get nearer balancing its budget, as our deﬁcit has ballooned over the last decade.
On May 15, I joined my opponent, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, on Access Radioâs Espace FranĂ§ais, in what was my ﬁrst political interview in French. I expected a nice-natured chat till our hosts said they wanted a political debate. So the Councillor and I gave the audience one, coming from very different angles. I believe we are the only two Francophone candidates. And I donât think Access does a Cantonese programme.
You can listen to the interview here, though they only store the programmes for six weeks. You can also download from this link.
I kept Leauna Zheng waiting for weeks while I prepared my emailed responses to her interview for Skykiwi, the leading Chinese expatsâ site in New Zealand. Despite her wait, she wrote a marvellous article (in Chinese, here), and for those of you relying on Google Translate, please note that the term Chinese expatriate is not translated correctly. (I believe this is the ﬁrst Chinese-language interview to include my name in Chinese ideographs.)
And, ﬁnally, my interview with Bharat Jamnadas on Asia Down Under aired last Sunday. Heâs very kindly put it on YouTube, though the aspect ratio is a tad off and I look thinner than usual. There are very nice comments from two members of the Wellington business community, Laurie Foon of Starﬁsh and Brent Wong of Soi, to whom I am extremely grateful.
The conversation at the end about Wellington v. Auckland was a good laugh, but there were some serious bits.
And this Tuesday just gone, it was a pleasure to play a âdragonâ in a Dragonâs Den-style setting analysing some of New Zealandâs entrepreneurs for New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.
My thanks to Bharat, Leauna, Kenneth Leong, Laura Daly at Access Radio, Jean-Louis Durand and Arlette Bilounga, and Maria Gray and David Powell.