Archive for July, 2009

Cairns is struggling

July 16, 2009

 The city of Cairns is struggling at present, of this there is no doubt. It’s time to try something new! Our reef and rainforest is undeniably spectacular but we can’t simply rely on our abundance of natural attractions to bring visitors. Let’s shake off any complacency and start ‘creating’ interest in Cairns. Let’s try something completely different.

 Let’s exploit the esplanade with events, performances, festivals etc. Cairns is the ideal venue for hosting ‘The Extreme Games’ – mountain biking at Smithfield, skateboarding in our world class skate park, skydiving over the reef, wakeboarding on Tinaroo,  kite surfing at Yorkeys etc etc. How about a ‘booze cruise’ on one of our many seagoing vessels and exploit the amazing climate and night time view of the city. Turn Fitzroy Island into Australia’s Ibiza! Remember ‘Fun in the Sun’? A fabulous festival atmosphere and cheap family fun on the esplanade. Remember the Quiksilver raft race in the inlet with flour bomb battles and rotten fruit being thrown between opposing teams? In a city where you can wear a singlet year round, why are we not hosting more outdoor music festivals for young and old? Organised, ticketed and legal.

 My point is, we have to start inventing some new attractions as interest in our existing ones is waning. It’s all been done before. Let’s try something new and out there, and stand up and make the world take notice.”

Natalie Mann, Marketing Manager, Cairns (via ‘In Touch In Business’)

‘Walk along the beach’ the man said

July 16, 2009

 It was 1995, and the federal member for Gippsland, Peter McGauran, had invited local leaders and a handful of federal and state officials to a Forum at Orbost Golf Club (Victoria). The aim was to identify initiatives to turn the economy around.

 I remember the trip for two reasons. The first incident was shortly after arrival the preceding night, when an almighty blue erupted around us at the Orbost Pub, and my two Canberra colleagues bolted like Treasury officials from a Senate Estimates Hearing.

 But it was the performance put on at the Forum by the regional manager of DNRE (Victoria’s environment department) that is etched in my memory.

It started when I suggested that they consider a walking trail through Croajingalong National Park, starting at Marlo (mouth of the Snowy), and then to Cape Conran, Bemm River, Tamboon, Wingan Inlet and finishing at Mallacoota – or if they were adventurous they could go for a cross-border trail to Eden. We had a great precedent in the Bibbulmun Track in WA, and we’d done some quiet research with Gippsland tourism operators and residents. We were musing about Germans and Melburnians walking four abreast along the trail, sleeping in lodges, imbibing at the occasional bush pubs, buying food, clothing, fishing tackle etc. This was an absolute monty.

 The DNRE manager had other ideas. He got to his feet, and proclaimed that the project would have a “deleterious effect on the environment” and that we’d have to walk along the beach. I was gobsmacked. “That would defeat the whole purpose. Don’t you want regional jobs? The West Aussies worked out a decent compromise” I spluttered. But the DNRE manager sat grim-faced, and no locals took him on.  

 Fourteen years later. The DNRE manager is probably in Canberra advising on carbon emissions, and no project champions have put their head over the parapet. Not an uncommon situation in Regional Australia although it’s crying out for quality eco-tourism projects to generate investment and jobs.

If you’re in the same boat, we have the model, the way to open-minded federal Ministers, and the funding (Jobs Fund). But the commitment and organisation has to come from you. (This article – by Silverhawk – appears in July edition of LG Focus – note $40m for cycle paths within the Jobs Fund program – final round closes December)

NSW procurement policy (WORST PRACTICE)

July 16, 2009

THE NSW Government’s recent decision to introduce a 20% preference margin for locally-made goods under its procurement policy has been rightly panned. It sends an ‘up yours’ message to its trading partners, and is basically an admission that NSW has no semblance of an industry policy.

What the NSW Government fails to understand is the role of global supply chains.

The Nordics, Switzerland, France, Germany and Japan have survived for the last two decades by forming alliances with producers in lower cost countries to reduce operating costs and maintain market access. And local governments have been willing accomplices in building these supply chains. How you may ask? By getting involved in trade and investment missions, by connecting people and companies, by leveraging the competitiveness of key regions, by concentrating on work skills, and by paying attention to investor aftercare.

NSW has done very little of this. It has positioned Sydney as its core asset, and trusted it to sell itself. No need for anything too proactive. This mentality has continued with the procurement policy announcement.

Collaborator profile – Frank Kovachevich

July 16, 2009

Who and where are you? Based in Canberra, I’m a former senior public servant who worked in federal departments mainly in industrial relations, industry and environment areas. I was also State Director (Victoria) of the Department of Industry, as well as GM, AusIndustry, responsible for coordination, delivery and marketing of all DIST and AusIndustry programs. I then established my own management consultancy business, Hawker Consulting Pty Ltd, in Canberra, specialising in corporate governance, business planning, R&D grants and assisting local and overseas firms to develop trade with China and Japan.

 What’s your job? Mainly advising companies about programs and services available from Commonwealth and state agencies. From my Canberra base, I can provide expert representation and other services for business interactions with government, taking advantage of my AusIndustry experience. I have good networks in China and Japan enabling me to introduce firms to business opportunities there.

 What’s exciting you at present? I am hoping that the Cutler Report into Innovation will be fully implemented by the Government, and that it will give a lot of opportunities for the development of Australian firms, particularly in R&D.  I am very pleased that St Kilda FC s doing so well this year.

What are your tips on how to collaborate? Take advantage of the Cockatoo network by sharing ideas and networking with other members. The Minister for Innovation, Kim Carr, is anxious to promote collaborative programs within the private sector – so you should be ready to grasp any opportunities this may present.

What collaborative projects do you have that would interest Cockatoo readers? Currently I am involved in a project with Rod Brown of APD Consulting to assist Cowra Shire Council and National Recording Studios to develop a Film Hub in Cowra by helping them to access the Jobs Fund Program.  This is particularly exciting because it has the potential to transform a regional area into a major film production centre using Japanese, Chinese, French and Australian investment.


Networking – the pros and cons

July 16, 2009

Networking is not all that it’s cracked up to be – in fact it can even be downright harmful, says Martin Gargiulo, associate professor of organisational behaviour at INSEAD

“If your network is composed of people like you, people who all talk to each other – the literature calls it a “dense” network – you’re pretty sure you understand what’s going on in the rest of the organisation, but in fact you’re recycling the same information … The illusion of multiple views confirms your own views.

But, at some point, you find to your surprise that what you thought was obvious to everybody, is only obvious to you and the people you talk to.”

 Strong versus weak ties: One key to making networking work for you, according to Gargiulo, is to differentiate between what network scholars call “strong ties” and “weak ties”. “I like to use the metaphor that networks are like electrical wires. The thicker the wire, the more power it carries – the more you can help people, the more people will be willing to invest time and energy in helping you out.”

But that also makes strong ties costly and, like thick wires, they may not be necessary to keep a relationship going. Gargiulo cautions against having a wide network because maintaining all those relationships detract from the ones that truly matter. He recommends distilling one’s network to a core group of “between 20 and 30 …and sometimes even smaller; 15 or 20” depending on how sociable the person is. These people may change over time, but there’s always a core network that matters, and you should nurture those ties.

Contributed by INSEAD, Paris

Linking clusters and networks – letter from USA

July 16, 2009

Cockatoo has been liaising with some of our US members to link clusters to drive collaborative aid, investment and aid outcomes. Herewith some very important feedback. If YOU are interested in linking your network or cluster with overseas equivalents, PLEASE email us ASAP. Refer last para.

“Finally the timing is right…as you well know, the US had focused inward for much of the past 12 months. However, with Obama’s recent visits to Russia, Africa, and with the G8 looking for answers, the focus seems to finally be turning outward.

The concept of “soft power”, that Condaleeza Rice embraced too late, has become a core component of the mantra of Obama/Hillary Clinton. But it had conversely lessened the urgency to do something collaborative, and along with the economic crisis, caused a lack of interest in State and Commerce Departments.

However, with the recent recognition by the Administration that, as a fragile recovery has taken shape, the best way to strengthen the recovery is through international economic engagement, things may have changed.

For Louisiana, the concept of linking is especially critical due to the (real or imagined) dire consequences of the passage in the U.S. of comprehensive climate change legislation. To many, Louisiana’s vast expertise in oil exploration and production will need to be exported as cap and trade will have a huge impact on that industry. Likewise, we will need to import intellectual capital and services in alternative energy, and pursue other ways to replace the economic activity of that industry.

Could you please just list for me the responses you’ve had from UAE, Pakistan, New Zealand, etc? I will add mine from Japan, Africa, India, and the Caribbean. A colleague is again going to D.C. on the 21st and will be meeting personally with the key official who expressed support previously, and now may be able to be a catalyst to fund our initial actions.