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138 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Bringing Silicon Valle... · 1 reply · +1 points

I wasn't suggesting the local universities rank with Stanford - just illustrating that we have a number of (non-governmental!) backed initiatives here, which is great :-)

138 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Bringing Silicon Valle... · 3 replies · +1 points

It's great, Catarina, but I have to say this sort of thing has been happening for a while in South Africa. ICL used South Africa as a test bed for its latest technology as far back as the 70s, for example. Today, there are many innovation hubs around the country encouraging new ideas, helping turn them into businesses and mentoring them through the early years. In Cape Town, two that spring to mind are the Cape IT Initiative (CITI) and Workshop17. Pretoria has The Innovation Hub (TIH) among others, while The JoziHub in Jo'burg does similar work. Then there are the top universities here (UCT, Stellenbosh, Wits, Tukkes...) all of which have sections driving innovation and start-ups to help commercialise the efforts.

140 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - How will Africans get ... · 3 replies · +1 points

To be honest, Catarina, the issue of sorting out the leadership issue has not really been tried. Politics in Western countries always got in the way and they only made token attempts to do anything (Mugabe being a great case in point - he was knighted AFTER the Matabeleland massacres of 1981, although this knighthood has more recently been withdrawn for other reasons). The issue with trade is, unfortunately, that the current leadership will typically ensure a good portion of trade revenues will be abused in some way. That's why the leadership changes are so necessary - after that, other things will be able to work effectively.

140 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - How will Africans get ... · 5 replies · +2 points

This is a very complex subject Catarina. There is no question that if Africa could be lifted out of its current dire poverty levels this would result in benefits to Europe, and other parts of the world, in terms of far fewer refugees, while providing a decent quality of life for those in Africa.

The issue of Western (Europe) agricultural subsidies alone would occupy the politicians for many years - there are simply too many votes at stake for governments to abolish them.

My view is that the biggest single problem facing Africa - by far - is the quality of its leadership. There is a tendency for elected leaders to stay in power (Mugabe et al), and to view the country as their own personal fiefdom (or should that be thief-dom?). Yes, we can say that these leaders have been elected (turning a conveniently blind eye to rampant election fraud), but that does not address the issue. There has to be a way that the West (and other interested democratic institutions) can use aid money not just to pour it into already-corrupt governments but to use it effectively as a carrot-and-stick way to ensure that democracy, in a true sense, comes to Africa and it gets the leaders it deserves. This would position the continent to raise itself out of the straits in which it currently finds itself.

143 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Is the economy complex... · 1 reply · +1 points

I don't believe for a moment that markets are orderly and rational, Catarina. They are subject to the same 'butterfly effect' as most things in life. While they might have appeared more orderly decades ago, that was really more about the relative slowness of reaction to events due to slower information flow.

In today's hyper-connected, always-on, instant-info world, reactions are instant and further complicated by having both human responses and computer-programmed responses acting alongside each other, so exaggerating the effect of almost any piece of information.

Just as global warming will exaggerate the intensity of storms, so will this information glut exaggerate the response of the markets.

151 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - How do you communicate... · 1 reply · +1 points

There's no question, Catarina, that one of the most important skills of a leader is effective communication. Without it, having your team understand your goals and objectives is very difficult, and inspiring them to work with you to succeed even more so. One often has to present fairly dull information and do so in a way that keeps the audience interested and involved.

Too often, presenters get bogged down with the detail on slides and the audience ends up trying to read these - or, as bad, the presenter reads the slides to the audience. Visual aids are key, as is the clear excitement of the presenter in the information being presented. And when all else fails, remember Guy Kawasaki's 10/20/30 rule for presentations - no more than 10 slides, 20 minutes or a font size smaller than 30 point...

177 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - How do digital compani... · 1 reply · +1 points

A good post Catarina. I think there's a fundamental difference between existing companies looking to go digital, and somebody looking to start a digital company, though. Existing companies need to look at their existing model, as Kate says, and determine how that business will change over the next few years due to the digital impact, and work towards that. A new business, though, is about finding an unmet need now, and addressing that - adapting it as the business progresses.

The key to both, though, is adaptability - be prepared to adapt your plans as things evolve in unforeseen directions (the impact of the iPad when introduced in April 2010 is a classic case here, for example), and learn from your failures, while continuing to innovate.

193 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Are you a strategic le... · 1 reply · +1 points

I think the word Strategy often causes a measure of panic as many believe that strategy is about having some sort of long-term prescience. In fact, strategy covers everything from immediate, relatively small, decisions, to long-term, broad ones. The latter are clearly a lot more difficult to get right because of all the variables involved and this is what puts people off.

As the saying goes, "The journey of a thousand miles beings with one step."

Don't let your lack of confidence to accurately predict the future stop you taking that first step - build your strategy with the facts you have at hand and be prepared to change / develop it as you go along.

And, yes, innovation - like anything - needs a strategy to succeed...

194 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Do you know how to lev... · 1 reply · +1 points

There's no question that the world of work is changing, and the pace of this change accelerating. The 'Post-War Cohort" (born 1928-45) and many of the first decade of the "Baby Boomers" (1946-54) had an expectation of jobs for life. This started changing in the 80s and 90s with technology developments, and accelerated rapidly with the economic downturn from 2007/8. Increasingly, individuals will be employed on an as-needed basis and will need to take responsibility for their own skills development and marketing to make the best of their prospects.

In my case, I've been doing consultant and interim work for 7 or 8 years now and this definitely seems the way of the future - I use my experience and skills in a range of executive and non-executive roles...

196 weeks ago @ Catarina's World - Dubai branding: Mars next · 1 reply · +1 points

There's no question that Dubai's marketing has been excellent - taking a small city with few natural resources (the UAE oil is primarily in Abu Dhabi, not Dubai), and making it a global centre for travel (busiest international airport) and one of the fastest-growing financial centres. Having lived there for over 3 years (2007-2010), I have significant first-hand experience of the country.

In my view, what the city-state still needs to do to ensure it lives up to its image is to put in place a suitable legal structure that enables people, and businesses, to operate on an equal footing. The damage done to Dubai's reputation during the financial crash of 2008-9 when people fled, fearing automatic jail sentences for falling behind on bill payments is still an issue. I also believe that residency issues should be looked at to encourage further investment.