Monday, August 28, 2006

A fine pickle we're in...

I've tried to stay away from political leanings but feel compelled to write a few words on this (I'll categorise it under 'Thoughts on Fatherhood' as it's critical to the world that Ella will live in if we are in NZ).

I had a very insightful experience a couple of weeks ago. i was invited to a 2 day symposium run by the NZ Business Roundtable on the importance of public policy to the future of NZ. The event was targetted at so-called Emerging Leaders. It killed a few myths for me and certainly got me thinking a bit.

Firstly the myths

1. I always thought the NZBR was a lobby group that is primarily aimed at lining the pockets of big business ( a few socialist traits coming through there..) - it's not. It's a think tank that focusses on the research and development of public policy with a particular focus on human flourishing. It's almost noble.

2. Relatively, we've come through the last few years unscathed - fact is we've been lucky and we haven't been investing for the future of NZ in key infrastructure (roads, hospitals - the important stuff). We're in trouble and we're falling further behind

3. MMP is a great leveller for governments and stops them getting out of control - it's the opposite : MMP drives GROWTH of government. More specifically in NZ, the core civil service has increased in by the same amount in the last 5 years as the previous 160 years. I knew we were getting bloated but that just stunned me.

This session also stimulated lots of thoughts - here are a few

1. We have to find a way to limit government. Peter Boetke put it best at this event. We are caught between the erring entrepreneur and the bumbling bureaucrat. The erring entrepreneur is at least likely to get weeded out by market realities. The bumbling bureaucrats hang around for ever until an electoral discontinuity occurs (eg Lange / Douglas in the 80's) and actively avoid reality.

2. Despite the notion of public policy being important, particularly businesses needing to take a long term view, there was only one group of people who were actively planning for a long term future - Maori. I have taken this view based on a presentation given by Tahu Potiki who is CEO of the Ngai Tahu trust. He was talking about how Ngai Tahu are planning to get returns on their settlement with the Crown that are focussed on sustainably improving the level of education of Ngai Tahu people. In order to do this they are taking a 30 year view - who does that in business? It means they will, in Tahu's words, skip a generation of benefits. That's a big call - but clearly the pay-off is there. Incidentally the panel with Tahu, MP Shane Jones and Rob McLeod convinced me that Maori Leadership could possibly be the key to NZ's future. They are dynamic, bright and very astute. Moreover their Maori background makes them grounded and more holistic in their approach.

3. Making a stand for less government is the equivalent of political suicide - how do you convince the majority of the nation (who are in someway the beneficiaries of the government's largesse )that it is not in their best interests to get handouts and that we would all be better off with a simpler tax and incentive structure.

4. Governments are bad at designing incentives
A great story was told by Alan Gibbs about how he successfully ran a business that manufactured TV's in NZ. The rules at the time said he could not import them fully built up. He went to a Japanese manufacturer who had to de-construct already assembled TV's, send them to NZ where they would be re-assembled. Gibbs recieved an incentive for this new industry - consumers paid twice the global average price for TVs and a nonsense industry was created that would fail once the incentives were removed.

5. We have an amazing bunch of successful business people in NZ who are willing to share their experience and time with people like me - any chance you get to talk with people like Alan Gibbs, Ron Trotter, Gil Simpson amongst others is a real treat.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wiki's rock

We're just about to launch our internal wiki. Atlassian has introduced an Enterprise blog piece of software. Looks pretty cool and maybe a next step. Rod Drury points to an analysis that is right on the mark. There is a heap of power to be harnessed in tying wiki type technology alongside enterprise data - looking forward to this making a real difference in the speed at which we develop new concepts and ideas.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The world of duct tape

Gabor pointed me to this today - a site exclusively devoted to cool things you can do with duct tape. I personally liked the duct tape wallet.

It's so nerdy that its almost (note the use of the world almost) cool. Goes to show you a couple of things

1. You can do the same things with different materials and styles and get great results
2. Opening your eyes and being resourceful is a pretty rewarding experience - I like the way this guy publishes the instructions for free and its now being used by Youth programmes

Just don't make the Marvin the Martian outfit please...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

On my way to Internet millions!!!

or maybe not...

For those of you who noticed, there are google ads located on my blog. I did this merely out of interest to see how this model works.

It's quite fascinating to note that since I've put them on the pages, not one ad has been clicked. But as a result of page views, I've still generated some income. To be specific I've tripled last month's income of 1 cent (USD - mind you) to 3 cents USD. On a geometric basis that means at current course and speed I'll hit 7$ USD by January 2007 and $1.3 million by December 2007!

Of course on an arithmetic basis it probably means I'll have to stick to the day job...

The Perfect Age

I watched this show tonight 'The Perfect Age' . Admittedly it was out of self interest as I had been asked to appear as a guest 'technology expert' on the show.

It was pretty clear as I was watching that I wouldn't be appearing (first rule of telly - if you're not on before the first ad break, its happening without you) and I have to admit that when I saw that Peter Sheahan guy I was thinking 'WTF - they've replaced me with some made-up Australian with a hair product fetish!!!'. Due to the wonders of wireless communications I was able to see that the guy is real and he blogs at the same time as watching the show (my rant lasted about 30 seconds dammit). So I've come to terms with the fact that he is better TV talent than me, as we were pretty much saying the same thing with regards to the differences between younger and older people (Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers in this show) - younger people have been surrounded by technology longer and are much more agile when it comes to dealing with new problems and challenges that are technology related. My previous blog on Digital Natives was getting at the same point. And I have to say that he was much more succint in the way that he was making his point.

The other really interesting part about this show is how the Baby Boomers dealt with learning and memory. They were really really slow in picking up new ideas whether they were technology related or following driving directions. But when they got it, it stuck really hard - to the point they were able to drive a random map course in reverse five days after the fact!

I am using this to inform a piece of work we are doing on some technology for older people that allows for greater independence when older - can't wait to test it with some real Boomers!

Friday, August 04, 2006

No such thing as MY job

For those who hadn't noticed, Telecom is going through the biggest change to its structure and design in at least the 12 years I have been lucky enough to be here.

At this stage, almost all of Layer 4 (Direct report to GM) has been redesigned. It should result in an organisation that is more agile and better able to deliver to customers in a world where IT, telecommunications and media are colliding.

This of course is not without its share of stress - when your current role has changed and you have to apply for a new one (or what you think is your curernt role) then a bit of stress is understandable. However it does need some perspective...

The most common thing I have heard is over this time is 'They can't do this to me / you - that's my / your job!!!' I have news for anyone who thinks that way - the job you have is NOT your job. You don't own it - the best you can do is to see yourself as a steward in that role - to leave it in better shape than you found it for the next person. And a really important part of stewardship is to realise that the time you have to perform that role is set by someone else - you don't always get decide when you're done.

I've had a lot of people say to me 'I've heard so and so is interested in your job' - well I'm all for that. In fact I encourage it - if we are going to grow up as an organisation then we have to very quickly get used to a world where roles change much faster than they have in the past. That starts with working out what is best for the customer as opposed to your job description.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

2 updates

1 minor , 1 major one

Minor 1

After the trials of last week, my faith in Apple somewhat restored once i did a full reload to factory software of the nano - it works. Still feel somewhat cheated in that I had to do this...

Major 1

Team went down 3-1 in a titanic struggle to top of the table team on Saturday and won on Sunday. Saturday's game was possibly the most frustrating ever - they had 3 chances (a fantastic individual effort and a disputed penalty included) and scored all 3. We had at least 6 attempts on goal that in any other game would have been put past the keeper. More to the point if the keeper had kept out one of them he would have to be pleased - to have kept out 6 was miracle territory. His best 2 efforts were
a. appearing out of nowhere to palm away a header that had goal written all over it
b. Reaching behind himself one handed to palm away a shot from outside the area from yours truly which not only was swerving and dipping, but would have to be the most cleanly hit shot in 25 years of kicking around a ball that I have produced.

To say I was gutted by the result was an understatement - as Bill Shankly famously said

" Some people believe that football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that". Felt like that all weekend....