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Of Leadership and Labradoodles: Do troubling times warrant a new breed of leader?

The idea of ‘what makes a great leader’ is not new, with billions of dollars and countless hours spent on business coaching. Yet, it seems our current breed of leaders are failing to meet our expectations. Aurecon’s Chief Experience Officer, Maureen Thurston-Chartraw, shares a fascinating story about labradoodles and what we can learn about the qualities of leadership we must consider in these troubling times.

Can you have a sporting spectacle without spectators?

Home advantage is commonly used in the circles of sports design. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stadiums are now sitting empty, longing for the thrilling energy of screaming fans. The last few months have made many of us realise how much we miss and value sport. And in turn, sport is going to realise how much it values and misses its spectators. Will 2021 be the loneliest year for our sporting superstars? How can operators use design and technology to bring sports spectators back to join the game?

The office space is dead. All hail the office space

By pure chance, you mentioned a problem you were struggling with to a colleague at the office water cooler. You left feeling inspired. That serendipitous encounter gave your ideas that bit of ‘magic’ you needed to move them forward. What will happen to such unexpected encounters when everyone is under some form of house arrest? What will this mean for the evolution of the workspace post COVID-19?

Flattening the post-pandemic transport curve

Human behaviour, following government mandated change, has tamed one of the most expensive habits on the planet: the peak-hour commute. In a post-COVID world, what if we challenge the idea that we all must travel to a workplace every day? Could we take this opportunity to unlock the performance of our transport networks, provide alternative transport choices and improve quality of life?

Why changing your mind is good for business

Today’s digital technologies are requiring us to learn new knowledge and perspectives – and fast. As new technologies emerge every week, our existing technologies continue to evolve and become more powerful. Ironically, if we want to grow and adapt to these changes, we need to learn how to unlearn. How can organisations navigate this shift and ensure their competitive edge stays sharp?

Is sci-fi the mother of invention?

How different would the world be if nothing was immortalised with the written word? Would we have been able to achieve the technological progress we have, if we couldn’t learn from the brilliant thinkers that went before us? In the man-made world around us, every engineering feat and design marvel, first originated in the imagination of someone. It is a collection of manifested ideas; a myriad coming from the minds and pens of science fiction writers.

Want a butterfly? Design a worm

It is somewhere out there. Out of sight, out of smell, and so far out of mind that we can measure it in light years. Regardless, it demands its pound of flesh and what it spares us in head space, it exacts from just about everything else we hold dear. The giant, Dali-esque elephant desperately trying to blend into the corner of our neat little room is the friendly neighbourhood landfill. And it’s not only the landfill – thrown into the deal are air pollution, water poisoning and spontaneous combustion. You never marry a single person, you marry the family. And this crowd is a hot mess.

Climate change: a people problem and a people solution

We are getting increasingly concerned over climate change, or so the most recent research suggests. Needless to say, we are aligning our personal convictions and civic action accordingly…right? Not necessarily. In recent elections across the world, significant numbers cast their vote on policies that downplay or outright ignore the need to address climate change. What is going on here?

It’s time to change your mind on things – literally

They called it “literally impossible” – an unachievable ambition for any human to outrun the 4-minute mile. If there was any hope in even attempting such a feat, conditions would have to be absolutely perfect: the track hard and dry, the temperature exactly 20 degrees Celsius; a windless day with tens of thousands of spectators to cheer you over the line. But it’s impossible, don’t forget, so why would you even try?

War for talent: Cease fire!

In 1997, McKinsey declared a War for Talent. Since then the world hasn’t let us forget it. In an economy where capital is abundant, competition is globally fierce, and iteration moves at the pace of lightning, they argue, “all that matters is talent. Talent wins.” As the job pool increasingly shallows in the digital economy, the battle for smart, technologically savvy, intuitive and operationally agile people with strong people leadership skills will only get bloodier. Add to this reality a widening skills gap in today’s workforce, and the effort to lock down the industry’s ‘best and brightest’ is even more intense. To survive disruption and thrive within the volatile and ever-changing world of business and workforce, McKinsey made it abundantly clear: to get what you want, you’ll have to engage in full frontal attack.

Will data save the day?

Big data is a big mystery these days. On one end, technology and its spectacular advancements has been touted as humanity’s royal flush for the 21st century – a trick hand to leapfrog our own extinction and win the future. On the other end, the idea of an ever-expanding, data-driven matrix could be kind of scary – okay, very scary – and may even resurrect a rather gloomy mood, with grey scale apocalyptic imagery on replay.


Just imagine