One of the main differences that has stuck out to me so far during the trip in Australia is the effects of the living wage. We learned a lot about the history and effect on business of the living wage while at Employee Innovations. The concept of the living wage was defined to us as the amount of money that a frugal person could live comfortably. This standard includes the age, education, type of work and activities, as well as other consideration to determine the pay that employers should be paying.
This is very different from the United States concept of a minimum wage which sets the lowest amount that someone is legally allowed to pay employees. This difference in policy really brings out the difference in different kinds of economic theories. When we introduced the concept of a minimum in economics, there is typically a trade off between making some better off and preventing others from buying (working) when they otherwise could have. I think the Australian’s versus of a living wage really stands out in their culture. I think it is why our meeting with AmCham described the difference in our perception of status. He said Americans see someone and want to be like them, while Ozzies see them and think they are a wanker (which I later told was kind of an endearing way to say their a “contemptible person). I think the idea of a living wage really shines through in the attitudes of Australians and leads to them having more of a fluid view on hierarchy and chains of command.
Another topic that has been brought up this week was the idea of Leadership which was the topic at the AmCham breakfast event. It was broadly described as having a positive effect on others. This concept of leadership was shown at Cochlear. Cochlear has spent a lot of time developing products to help customers be able to hear for their lifetime which itself has a positive impact on others. I felt that Cochlear was a good example of leadership because of their approach to developing and helping their customers. Our tour guide said that Cochlear works closely with the university right across the street to develop personnel who know how to use their products. They also hold training sessions in which they train medical staff who can then go back to their businesses and train others on the benefits and procedures of their products. This stuck out to me as leadership because they are investing the time to develop people to be able to provide positive effects on their customers.
Another major thing I saw from the successful business that we visited was their ability to plan before and implement their strategies. This was well illustrated by the history of the ANZ Stadium, which is the only Olympic stadium to have made a profit. This private venture planned out the requirements of size and spacing that would be required for the Olympics but also had determined the needs of the surrounding community and the size of local events once the Olympics were over. It was amazing to see and hear about the temporary buildings that were planned to be deconstructive to make the Stadium what it is today. It really showed how well thought out plans should be, especially large investments, to be highly successive and profitable. In contrast, the Sydney Opera House was not as concretely designed and planned at the beginning. It was just a vague outside shape that was chosen and then the inside was eventually designed by a different group. The lack of planning for the future of this building has made it one of the most iconic, but also most expensive buildings in the world.
I think the thing that stuck out to me the most about planning was the focus during every visit was the focus on growth and how to achieve it. This is something we talk about in class that the growth potential of businesses is what is attractive to stockholders. I think that the discussion at Employment Innovation illustrated this reason the best that I have seen. He said, if you can plan thirty years out, then a five-year economic cycle shouldn’t really matter as much if you’re able to management the general business function such as cash flow. What he meant is that a plan for the future and where you are going is the most important. With this kind of plan, it will be much harder for your company to be taken by surprise like Kodak and other large companies have been. I thought that Employment Innovation’s short-term strategy for the business was extraordinarily effective. Each quarter, the management team gets together to talk about and decide on the “thing” they need to do for the next 90 days. They then will focus activities and set goals in order to achieve this “thing.” I fell this approach allows the business to constantly evaluate its own performance and to ensure that it is staying competitive. I also feel this is a great way to keep up employee engagement because it taps into their creativity and effectiveness while also preventing boredom for their employees. I really think this approach is something that I may be able to implement and use at some point in my career.