Saturday salon 15/10

1. Australian managers are second rate

Martin Parkinson, head of the PM’s department, told CEDA what we need to do to become truly innovative.

What caught my eye was what he said about Australian management in manufacturing:

    “We are well below top performers like the United States, Germany, Sweden, Japan and Canada, but more similar to France, Italy and the United Kingdom.

    “There is also significant variation in management performance within countries. Australia, like some other countries, has a somewhat larger tail of companies with relatively poor management performance than the United States.

    “Regression analysis suggests that lifting management practices in Australian manufacturing firms to the average level in the US would raise the level of productivity in Australian manufacturing by around 8%. (Emphasis added)

I have certain knowledge that some of our bicycle shops and universities have awful management.

Here’s the full text.

If you want to be really depressed listen to Phillip Adams talking with André Spicer:

    Smart organisations in the so-called knowledge economy put a premium on hiring smart people – and then expect them to suspend critical thinking, subscribe to absurd management fads, and the cult of leadership.

The book is The Stupidity Paradox: The Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work, by Mats Alvesson and André Spicer. Do yourself a favour and read the longish edited extract in the AFR.

2. Stay calm and live longer

Attempting to “blow off steam” through vigorous exercise could triple the risk of a heart attack within the hour, according to a new international study.

    Being very upset or angry more than doubles the risk of a heart attack within an hour, while heavy physical exertion does the same, a worldwide study suggested. But combining the two – such as using extreme exercise as a way of calming down – increases the risk even further.

Combining both triples your risk.

This article gives more detail, or go here to look at the study.

Seems they only surveyed people who had had a heart attack, not people who didn’t. And the key questions were “Were you engaged in heavy physical exertion?” and “Were you angry or emotionally upset?” in the hour before the onset of symptoms and during the previous 24 hours. “Heavy physical exertion” was not defined.

Seems that exercise is definitely beneficial for health, but if you are angry or upset it may be best to avoid heavy exertion until you calm down. A walk in the park may be a different thing altogether.

3. Coffee shop racism

Here’s Josie Ajak, who came to Australia from South Sudan 11 years ago when she was 8 years old.


During a busy period in the Cairns coffee shop where she worked, an elderly lady in a wheel chair at the head of a queue at the cash register said:

    “I refuse to be served by a black person, can you get me a white lady?”

Unluckily for the older lady, Josie wasn’t an underling who could be bullied, she was the shift supervisor. So the older lady had to take herself elsewhere.

4. LNP on the slide, just about everywhere

Kevin Bonham’s Poll Roundup at the end of September had Turnbull’s government off to a bad start. This week saw Newspoll maintaining Labor’s TPP lead at 52-48. Essential has Labor back at 52-48 again.

States, according to Roy Morgan are all turning red.

According to Morgan, Palaszczuk is now 52-48 ahead in Qld, Baird’s mob have slipped behind in NSW 48.5 to 51.5 for the first time, and Labor are ahead in Tasmania 52-48. Elsewhere Labor is ahead in WA 52.5 to 47.5, and the Victorian Government of Daniel Andrews leads 56.5 to 43.5. Things are crook for Weatherill in SA where his party trails 46-54, but he’s actually up by a percentage point since the electricity blackouts.

ACT go to the polls today, where I believe sitting Labor is tipped to win narrowly.

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

    The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

5 thoughts on “Saturday salon 15/10”

  1. On the ACT election, Phillip Coorey explains that before the 2012 election Labor took the advice of economists and decided to switch to a land tax, and to phase out stamp duty and stuff.

    Effectively that meant an increase in rates for everyone above inflation over the next 20 years.

    It was to be revenue neutral, so citizens are facing rate increases without any change in the level of services.

    The opposition has promised to freeze rates if elected, and leave the stamp duty where it is.

    Coorey has a modest home in the outer suburbs:

    Since 2012, quarterly rates have risen from about $430 to $868, or more than $3400 a year – and there is still 15 years to go. It’s the same for the old couple next door and the single mum across the road.

    If Labor wins it will be a miracle, I reckon.

  2. Innovation is a complex process that varies considerably. Some innovation comes from the hard grind of doing the research provides the data that makes it obvious what needs to be done. Some comes from people that have a talent for seeing links, redefining the question or simply being able to relax their minds and let the good ideas flow.
    In some cases a good idea can come to fruition because the innovator has the power to make the change happen. However, in many cases the management system has to support the action required to apply the innovation or do the R&D required to develop the innovation to the point where it can be used.
    Good management systems can help in a number of ways:
    1. They can separate good ideas from bad ideas.
    2. They can see where the idea might be applied. (This may be different from the problem that spurred the innovation.)
    3. They can identify a logical sequence of tests that allow duds to be identified without spending big mobs.
    4. They can kill an investigation when it should be killed. (Lots of money is wasted on innovation because of a reluctance to kill off – What happens to people who kill a project off?
    5. They understand that innovators are not necessarily the right people to conduct the R&D.
    6. They have a system that identifies things that have worked in one part of their organization and checks whether there are other parts of the organization where the innovation might be applied or whether the innovation might be commercialized.
    7. Understand what has to be done to commercialize and whether their organization is the sort of organization that has commercialization skills.
    8. Rewards, encourages and respects innovators.

  3. I was working on a new post about the Coalition/Murdoch scare campaign on renewable energy, when the AEMO report on the SA blackout hit the deck.

    Need to wrap my mind around that, so post will be delayed at least a day.

  4. Strike a light! Bill shorten made a funny speech in Parlt. yesterday. I heard a bit of it on ABC News Radio Parlt. broadcast.

    Now someone has posted the transcript and some video under “Bill Shorten zingerthon”.

    – plaudits to his scriptwriter –

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