Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Mar-Apl 2016 Contents T
he transport and logistics industry hires
1.2m people and accounts for 8.6% of
Australia’s GDP. Companies are typically
led by men, who hold 91% of C-Suite positions
and 80% of management positions.
The amount of freight to be transported
is expected to nearly double by 2030. As
employees and leaders approach retirement
age, we’re facing skills shortages. Productivity
growth is sluggish and costs are high, relative to
A multi-faceted response is needed to
address all of these challenges. We will need
different projects to help get the most out of our
existing infrastructure, whilst investing in new
infrastructure, growing talent and developing
How diversity helps innovation
To innovate is to “make changes in something
established, especially by introducing new
methods, ideas, or products”.
Finding new ideas and products requires lots
of different ideas. Lots of ideas come from lots
of different people, wondering: “What would
happen if things were done differently?”
An article in the Harvard Business Review
by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall and
Laura Sherbin explains that diversity occurs
in two ways: inherent traits you are born
with, such as gender, ethnicity, and sexual
orientation; and acquired traits that are gained
through experience - working in another
country can help you appreciate cultural
differences, or selling to women can help
provide gender perspective.
They found that companies whose leaders
display inherent and acquired diversity were
significantly more likely to report market share
growth and to capture new markets.
Cultural diversity allows us to learn about
how things are done in other countries. For
instance, those raised in different cultures
may have insights into markets that are more
competitive, more technically advanced, more
regulated, or more automated.
People from different cultural industry
background may not be able to replace a
fan belt in Bourke, but they may have some
ideas about how retailers provide wonderful
customer service, or on how Japanese
passenger trains run on time, every time. Or
how 4,000 Mumbai dabba wallahs distribute
160,000 lunches to the right recipient every
day on time, every time.
So if your team, including your leadership
team have all grown up in the same town,
played on the same football team, driven the
same trucks, then the range of ideas proposed
may not be as diverse as one that includes the
young and old, women and men, engineers and
artists, truck drivers and teachers, recent and
not so recent immigrants.
Innovation as a process
Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup brought
new ideas on innovation processes to promi-
nence over a decade ago.
Unlike traditional product development,
process improvement or technology project
management approaches, which start with
months of detailed business planning, the
‘lean’ and ‘agile’ methodology allows for rapid
iteration. It starts by collating ‘out-of-the-box
ideas’, creatively and rapidly testing out new
processes, systems and products, measuring
the impacts of those tests and adopting them if
proven to be superior.
‘Out of the box’ thinking doesn’t create
change of itself. Agile methodologies won’t
produce great results without ideas to test.
An environment where new ideas are openly
shared, where employees and management are
encouraged to take small risks and fail often, is
needed. Innovation requires a level of creativity,
curiosity, and a strong culture that accepts new
ideas and applauds failure. Creativity to think
differently about a problem is helped by having
a diverse range of minds coming up with ideas.
This approach challenges a perception in
the industry that technology or infrastructure
projects cost millions, take years to plan and
even longer to realise the benefits or failures.
It allows organisations and industry to learn as
they go, speeds the rate of making mistakes. In
this way, risks are known and understood when
it’s time to scale.
Ideas come from every level in an
organisation, but if there’s no-one insisting on
testing new ideas and hiring for diversity, then
change won’t be sustained.
Hire, promote and retain
a diversity of staff
The industry won’t change immediately, but with
sustained effort. When hiring and promoting
employees, a conscious effort needs to be made.
Ask the hiring manager to report on the diversity
of candidates. Use this information to pinpoint
areas of change to attract a range of candidates.
For example: can you expand your training to
attract those from different industries? Can you
change your job descriptions or working hours to
be more suitable to students, parents or retirees?
Consider also how to remove barriers to the
advancement for under-represented groups. For
example, are there inflexible work practices or
physically challenging aspects of roles that can
be altered to allow greater gender diversity?
Attracting diverse staff is one thing. Managing
a diverse team is another.
Martyn Hann and Cate Hull.
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS — MARCH / APRIL 2016
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