When business embraces diversity - April 2016

HR Monthly
Australian Human Resources Institute

"Special Ability"

Freelance business writer: Chris Sheedy
1600 words

The IT world has discovered the value that autistic people can bring to an organisation. But the lessons they are learning about diversity are important for HR professionals in any sector.


During the second world war, the Allied intelligence services utilised unique talents of colour-blind people to their benefit. Aerial photographs of enemy positions had to be analysed to identify the movement and location of troops and weapons. Whether the photos were black and white or colour, camouflage made the positions almost impossible to distinguish. But colour-blind people had spent a lifetime noticing visual differences that are not related to colour, so they spotted camouflaged positions with ease. What had previously been seen as a disability was suddenly recognised as a powerful advantage.

Michael Fieldhouse, the director of federal government and emerging business opportunities for Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), recalls being told about this by his father. It is a story that stuck with him, and is one he uses to illustrate the potency of the project that has been his passion ever since he read a fascinating case study several years ago. The paper was co-authored in 2007 by Professor Rob Austin, at the time working at Harvard Business School. It profiled a Danish not-for-profit called Specialisterne (The Specialists in Danish), which placed people into software testing jobs and roles that were recognised as monotonous and repetitive, but which required great accuracy. Three out of four of Specialisterne’s employees had been diagnosed with some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). READ ONLINE VERSION




New angle on change management - March 2016

Business Think
UNSW Australia Business School / AGSM

"When the sins of old changes come back to haunt"

Professional writer: Chris Sheedy
1200 words

Management needs to admit to past mistakes to regain employee trust and rebuild commitment.

It's a business world truism that change is a constant – the rate of market and business transformation is ever-increasing and organisations unwilling to constantly modify themselves are sitting ducks.

The role of the management team, therefore, is very much one of change manager. It sets future strategy, agrees on goals, then goes into the organisation to make those goals a reality. This can often involve asking staff to join them on a process of change. 

But what if such a process was managed ineffectively in the past, if the last change program left certain individuals or members of specific departments with a bad taste in their mouths?

What if the last program resulted in no real change at all or, even worse, violated the organisation's psychological contract with particular teams or staff members? READ MORE


Future of Australian business - March 2016

CA Magazine
Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland (Global)

"In Conversation: Growth In Australia"
A round-table discussion with 12 of Australia's most powerful financial figures.

Freelance writer: Chris Sheedy
1500 words

A fall in the fortunes of the mining industry plus an ever-changing political landscape may signal tough times ahead for Australian business. Chris Sheedy reports.

A succession of six political leaders over eight years – with Malcolm Turnbull’s dramatic return as prime minister just the latest shift in power – is always going to create challenges. Australia and its economy appear to have cruised through so far, but with demand for its mineral resources falling, trouble is brewing.

Where does “the lucky country” go from here? Does Australia’s current prime minister offer any greater hope than his recent predecessors? And what is the continuing fascination with Australia for the many ICAS members who move there on a three-month secondment, and end up staying for life? READ MORE