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21st century organisation

Is the
20th Century
For anyone who has read Thomas L. Friedman’s The Earth is
Flat, the answer to this question is a resounding “yes” –
which only serves to raise some questions about the likely
structure of the 21st Century organisation. IBM Australia
and New Zealand Chief Executive Glen Boreham recently
outlined his thoughts about what the future holds.

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21st century organisation

ulti-nationals, the classic 20th Century developed and agreed on by the network itself. “We need our entire
organisation, are on the way out. In “This vision is what we believe will provide
fact, businesses that adhere to an the necessary glue between individuals and
education system
“organisational” type structure are on the way out. organisations. These values will regulate their – from kindergarten
According to IBM Australia Chief Executive actions,” he said.
Glen Boreham, who will address Ai Group’s But Mr Boreham warned that Australia through to post-
National Forum in August, the 21st Century faces some major barriers in its efforts to take graduate – to prepare
enterprise will think of itself as a network that will advantage of such a global business environment.
bring people together from all over the world on a These include inadequate information and our workforce
project-by-project basis. communications technology (ICT) infrastructure
And when that particular business goal has and an education system not geared towards
with qualifications
been achieved, the network of people will disband producing the world’s best equipped talent pool. that fuse technical
and form different teams. “We need to invest in infrastructure that enables
Individuals will have great flexibility over how a fluid and mobile workforce,” he said. skills with industry
and where they work in this business environment But he said inadequacies in Australia’s ICT knowledge and
and the companies that operate in this model will infrastructure are not receiving the same attention as
be more competitive because they have access to the problems of water and transport infrastructure. cultural awareness.”
skills, knowledge, insight and innovation from “We haven’t had the same sense of urgency, but
around the world. we should – because ICT infrastructure allows “And that means transforming how we build
“It has substantial advantages … because global work to flow to people in our cities and our pipeline of future talent.”
these companies will have the flexibility and regional and rural Australia,” he said. Mr Boreham said universities need to start
responsiveness to capture value within the globally This has its own separate advantages, he said. working with thought leaders in the business world
integrated economy – not just their local market,” “If an increasingly mobile workforce doesn’t have to make this happen.
Mr Boreham told the National Press Club in to commute – if they can work from home or from a As an example, IBM has an undergraduate
Canberra recently. local office – imagine the cut to our fuel emissions, program with Victoria’s University of Ballarat,
“This type of opportunity and pressure will how it might improve our local communities, and where students work at IBM and IBM experts teach
force companies to focus on the ways they can be the impact it could have on families,” he said. at the university. As a result, IBM employs over 600
truly different.” Turning to education, he said, Australia needs people in that regional centre that could have been
Under this model, which has stemmed from an to develop flexible individuals who not only located anywhere in Asia-Pacific.
innovation outlook that IBM conducts with other have technical skills, but also possess business “It was located in Ballarat because we had a
large companies, academics, the public sector, understanding and the ability to adapt and operate partnership with the university that ensured a
and community groups, enterprises will win by in different cultures. pipeline of talent to staff that centre,” he said.
understanding how they can add customer value “Although our education system has historically In recent years, skills and university partnerships
and how to assemble a network of suppliers from served Australia very well, I’m deeply concerned have been the major reason for every global centre
around the world to deliver that value. that it’s not going to meet the rapidly changing that IBM has chosen to locate in Australia.
In such a business environment, Australia’s needs of our future,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do to stop low value
success relies not on lowering cost, but on “Our education disciplines, while very high work moving out of Australia,” he said.
capitalising from its strengths in innovation, quality, still too often exist in silos – so we produce “However, it is our job – in business and in
creativity, thought leadership and integrity. terrific engineers but we don’t produce engineers government – to make sure high value work flows
Integrity is particularly important because the who understand how to manage projects in India. in to replace it.”
global economy will falter if partners and suppliers
fail to deliver on their promises, Mr Boreham said.
He said the traditional corporate hierarchy
where central management decides what to do has Technology to flatten last remaining boundaries
no place under this business model. Instead, the
enterprise will operate on a distributed intelligence
basis where leadership is derived from a common, Technology such as real-time translation is “As a business leader, I find the implications
unifying set of ideas or rules. breaking down the last remaining barriers of this astounding,” Mr Boreham told the
“This goes beyond core and non-core functions to the new model of global enterprise, IBM National Press Club in Canberra recently.
and it requires a completely different approach to Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive “Because while we talk about the world
management because all of a sudden you’re trying Glen Boreham said. being flat, the reality is that language
to manage a complex and ever changing network of Mr Boreham said he expects real-time and cultural differences have kept some
individuals – many of them not your direct reports or translation technologies to soon be embedded unnecessary boundaries alive.
even employees of your company,” Mr Boreham said. into mobile phones, laptops and cars, allowing “Technologies like this, which lower the
“In that situation, command and control doesn’t individuals to talk to anyone in the world in barriers to communication, will further the
work. You need individuals to self-regulate – to be their own language. rise of collaborative communities, where the
responsive and efficient.” In Japan, real-time translation technology creative energy of thousands, even millions,
The key to ensuring this occurred is providing will already allow a PDA to translate a menu of people is coordinated by a network – not
the network with a common purpose – they need a into English. by a single organisation,” he said.
vision and a common set of values that have been

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21st century organisation

60 countries via the Madrid Protocol, an another

important international treaty with equivalent
treaties for patents and design. Regardless of the
treaty your trade mark must still be examined, filed
and granted registration in each individual country

stick out
by that country’s IP office.
And worse still these IP protection systems are
run by burgeoning bureaucracies that resemble
dinosaurs with Byzantine processes that can take

in a flat world
years to grant or deny your rights. Who has time in
a flat world to wait for anyone or anything, much
less government officials?
Australia boasts a highly efficient intellectual
property office, IP Australia, and yet it still takes at
least seven-and-a-half months for a trade mark to
Collaboration between a network of individuals be granted as the office must wait for trade marks
filed from Madrid Protocol member countries to
from around the world raises questions when it comes to reach our shores. In the US, the wait for trade mark
protecting an enterprise’s intellectual property. registration can be around two years.
Sending in your intellectual property first, then
For example, where do the IP borders lie in what is sorting out your IP rights is like putting the cart
essentially a borderless world? Here, IP Wealth Pty Ltd before the horse. The risk in trading across national
boundaries without bedded down rights, like trade
Chief IP Strategist Alicia Beverley* outlines the 21st Century marks and patents, can be huge. This is especially
considerations when it comes to protecting your IP. true given that in most dynamic, sophisticated
marketplaces it is very possible you have not re-
invented the wheel. Your new product or service
trade mark might just be stepping on local toes.

ive me a successful, dynamic business and patent protection, design registration and plant In Mexico, infringing a registered trade mark
I’ll show you an enterprise bursting with breeders rights. The purpose of accruing these can result in jail time. I guarantee you that all
intellectual property assets and tapped rights is to provide your business with a cutting Mexican jails are ½ star accommodation at the best
and often untapped value. What I also know about edge monopoly and the right to stop unauthorised of times.
a successful business is that in today’s “flat world”, parties from exploiting your IP. So what to do when your capitalist urges tell you
the potential for collaboration of every type in every But there’s a problem: intellectual property to sell, sell, sell and yet your IP advisers are telling
direction – supply, export, alliances, partnerships, rights are NOT portable. you to wait, wait, wait?
memberships, research – is unlimited. The answer is to conduct your searches and make
Then there is the sheer speed to market and Copyright is an applications to protect your intellectual property as
numbers of markets that can be reached far more early as possible. And I mean early. If you’re asking
easily than in past years.
exception because it for seed funding and thinking big – then think big
Today, we don’t blink an eye if an Australian is an automatic, self- protection measures across as many overseas markets
business is supplied by a Chinese manufacturer, as possible. If you’re asking for government funding
sells to South Africa, the US and Europe, offers a assigned right that is – and some government grants include money for
help line supplied by an Indian call centre, and has relatively universal in IP – then ask for your IP professional for an accurate
research partners in Germany. costing in ALL of the markets you want to sell in.
In this environment, everything from pure those countries that If you’re considering taking on an equity partner to
digital content like royalty free photos and political help fund growth – then fund IP protection too. If
blogs to tangible products and services like mining
are signatories to you’re thinking of increasing your debt to pay for
equipment and engineering services can be the Berne Convention, expansion – then think IP protection.
exported across national boundaries in a kind of Too often intellectual property protection is
free flow. These swift currents have given Australian but trade marks, a last item on the list or not on the list at all. The
businesses unprecedented opportunities. patents, designs, result is often horror stories of overseas litigation,
Export in the flat world is not yet as simple suppliers who have snaffled IP rights, and so on.
as banging a world map on the wall and arming plant breeder’s rights Remember what our grandmothers told us – it
yourself with a thousand brightly coloured tacks, was true in a round earth and it’s true in a flat one
have to be accrued
but Thomas L. Friedman’s bestselling book The – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Earth is Flat makes this feel very close. country by country. * IP Wealth Pty Ltd is a specialist intellectual
The valuable intellectual property assets that property and trade mark consultancy. To date,
are the net results of this intense activity can be For instance, being granted a trade mark registration Chief IP Strategist Alicia Beverley has trained over
protected by a variety of intellectual property in Australia protects your brand here and gives 1,000 CEOs in intellectual property – more than any
rights – trade mark registrations, copyright, you an option to take up protection in more than institution or individual in Australia.

40 Australian Industry Group Winter 2007