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Edition 188 – Scenes from the Yarra

Last week, I was in Melbourne for the 2019 Family Business Conference Asia Pacific. It was three days of learning, thinking and planning as the many speakers each provoked the delegates to consider how we should all future proof our businesses.

Here’s some of my takeaways:

  1. The Middle Class will continue to explode in the East (including Australia) and will continue to dominate what is almost a static set of numbers of Middle Class people in the West (the US and Europe) over the next 10 years. This is why Australia is well placed to reap the rewards of and with Asian engagement.
  2. Vaughan Scott, one of the visiting presenters from the US (and one of the conference standouts) provided a great quote – “It’s so unimportant to be right! It’s far more important that we’re engaging in thoughtful conversation”.
  3. If we’re moving rapidly into the autonomous vehicle space, and cars will be able to read road signs, what does that mean for State Governments who rely on speeding and other traffic infringements for revenue generation?
  4. If you think autonomous vehicles are way into the future, think about this – Uber was established only 10 years ago. Today, it has revenues of US$11 billion and has disrupted the taxi and food delivery industries. It’s gone from nothing to a verb in a decade!
  5. Ethics has played a large part in the success of a number of standout family businesses. One large providoring business stood it’s ground against graft and corruption in the food and vegetable industry and in the process, played a significant part in improving the quality and decreasing the cost to the end consumer.
  6. There is an increasing push to link mental health and wellbeing to workplace safety amongst larger and leading employers. It will be the single largest impact on the health of the workforce over the next decade.
  7. The challenge for employers in combatting the mental health issues for their employees, in my opinion, is that to a large extent, the mental health issues will originate outside the workplace, but will detrimentally impact the workplace. It’s going to require alternate thinking and innovative HR strategies from employers to ensure they’re supporting their staff – but also not creating a work environment that cannot function.
  8. The philosophy of the patriach of a leading Australian winemaker is that family members coming through the business should work outside the business first – if only to “screw up someone else’s business first”. My guess is, he means learn on the job elsewhere!
  9. Another patriach’s opinion is to give the emerging family generational talent space to have a red hot go at developing new products or initiatives in the business. Nothing to sink it – but enough to prove themselves in it.

We’re in a period of unparalled change in our world and in each of our family businesses. If you have done nothing new over the past five years in terms of:

  1. Service.
  2. Process.
  3. Product.
  4. Price.

in your family business, then your business is truly at risk of quickly falling behind, if it hasn’t already done so.

Yesterday’s ways are tomorrow’s history – so today is the day to embark on that process  of changing your family business to create a new, brighter and alternate future.