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Australia is poised for Greatness in 2016, but the key thing is Culture


Published on 21/04/2016

 

‘Disruption’ is not just a buzz word commonly used in the entrepreneurial sector; it’s the new-age ‘Gold Rush’ for Australia. 

Back in the 1850’s, Australia discovered significant gold deposits throughout its land.  It provided the nation and its workforce plenty of wealth, significant employment opportunities, and fuelled a massive influx of immigration, and the entrepreneurial spirit of its era.   

Over the past decade, this phenomenon was again repeated on a massive scale with the discovery of significant iron ore deposits, uranium, diamonds, coal, and other precious minerals. 

If we go deeper into Australia’s history in manufacturing, export, and trade, we actually discover the diverse success the nation has experienced across various industries,  with examples like the ‘wool trade’ dating back to 1797, and the ‘sugar cane’ industry which took off in 1788.   

There is no doubt therefore that Australia’s rich entrepreneurial history is by no means shallow, but to the envy of many developed nations.  So what the does the future hold for Australia ? 

Australia’s rich entrepreneurial history is by no means shallow, but to the envy of many developed nations

Achievements in 2015:

Australia's track record of success has blossomed in 2015, with particular advances in the technology sector, including robotics, artificial intelligence, gamification, space exploration, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and 3D printing.  

Companies like Cochlear LtdPatrick, and Fastbrick Robotics are leading the way and innovating the industry to new standards, providing society cutting edge solutions across the medical, construction, and transportation industries.  This has fuelled other start-ups to join the 'technology gold rush', as we move into 2016, and collaborate on a level never seen before in the history of Australia.   

Australia's track record of success has blossomed in 2015......in robotics, artificial intelligence, gamification, space exploration, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and 3D printing

Future Disruption:

In 2016, Australia will be delivering the largest leadership and technology conference in the Southern Hemisphere (‘DisruptiCon), to educate and inspire future generations, and to showcase Australia’s latest achievements.  To provide a further insight on this forthcoming event, I was joined by the executive producer (David Burkett), on a Google Hangout.

David’s opening statement was somewhat of an anti-climax to what I was hoping to hear.  ‘Australia must embrace the technology led era or face disaster’, were his words. He further articulated his opinions by stating that Australia cannot afford to rest on its morals and be taken back by the ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’.  Despite his grim comments, I was relieved to also hear David’s encouraging words that ‘Australia is poised for greatness, but the key thing is culture.’  

Tall Poppy:

Despite the nation’s rich entrepreneurial history, Australia has suffered from the‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, greatly affecting workplace culture and leadership.   This problem was particularly prevalent in the 80’s and 90’s, and was a major deterrent to any innovation, change, pioneering, and other entrepreneurial endeavours.     

I know this phenomenon all too well during my early humble pioneering years of entrepreneurship.  My fame, achievements, and ambitions, were certainly not encouraged by my peers, friends, and work colleagues.  Despite this adversity, my entrepreneurial spirit and passion for success prevailed, and I eventually proved the sceptics wrong. 

The good news is that Australia has proactively reversed the effects of the Tall Poppy Syndrome in recent years, and has adopted a different philosophy or attitude to work culture, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.   

Science Fiction or Reality ?

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that science is catching up to science fiction.  In Australia, we are witnessing ground breaking inventions and technologies across the biotechnology and nanotechnology sectors. Cochlear has made the Six Million Dollar Man of the 70’s a reality, with inventions like the bionic ear, biomedical implants, and other bone anchored prosthetic parts, a day-to-day reality to human life. 

Australia has proactively reversed the effects of the Tall Poppy Syndrome in recent years, and has adopted a different philosophy or attitude to work culture, collaboration, and entrepreneurship

3D printing has also played a major part in the biomedical sector, as well as in the home building industry.  Early in 2005, Fastbrick Robotics, adapted this technology to produce 3D bricks, and enabling it to manufacture an entire home in just 2 days ! 

Rise of the Robots

In my interview with David, the book “Robots will steal your Job but that’s ok” was mentioned.  This thought provoking subject makes me think about the glorious Japanese robotic era of the 70’s.  Whilst Australia did not start the robot revolution, the country is at the forefront of its evolution. From sheep shearing to earthmoving, Australian companies have pioneered the use of robotics. 

One of Australia’s most robotic centric workplace is Patrick, located in industrial shoreline of Brisbane.  Most of the shipping containers moved daily on and off the shipping vessels are manoeuvred by robots, and monitored by computers.  This full scale automation and Australian developed technology, has recently attracted port operators from around the world, including Finland, Korea, and of course China. 

Celebrating Failure

Whilst all great inventions are to be celebrated and noted, Australia can learn more from America’s resilient entrepreneurial culture, especially in dealing with ‘failure’.  ‘We must celebrate when people fail’, say David, ‘as this will encourage future generations to collaborate and better deal will adversity’.   I believe that shifting our focus away from the Tall Poppy Syndrome and educating the young generation about entrepreneurship is part of the solution. 

"We must celebrate when people fail,  as this will encourage future generations to collaborate andbetter deal will adversity"

(David Burkett - executive producer - DisruptiCon

As Australia ramps its efforts to pioneer new technologies in 2016 and beyond, as a nation we must embrace ‘disruption’ as the next ‘gold rush’.  Australia has always been and will continue to be the ‘land of opportunity’, and the testing ground for many new inventions.    

As a nation, we carry the growing responsibility in helping resolve global issues and challenges facing human civilisation today and in the future.

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This article has been exclusively written by Federico Re for 'Virgin.com' for theDecember, 2015 edition.

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