Success that looks like failure – Good Friday

by Andrew Hill on April 23, 2012

The Crucifixion
The Crucifixion

Veneziano Paolo, c.1349

This post follows the observance of Easter across the world. At the time Jesus of Nazareth was executed, Good Friday was perceived as an immense failure. The church that he aspired to build with his followers seemed to have died before it had been born. Yet, the church has survived almost two thousand years and the events of the first Good Friday are now celebrated as a time of great success. This is the first post, of a series, about organisational success that first looked like failure.

Goals and objectives are important to daily living. We hope to succeed rather than fail. Yet, small day-to-day objectives do not require the same level of planning, investment and effort as those that take days, weeks or years to accomplish. An intention to purchase a new house, secure a promotion, or expand a business, for example, involves a much larger investment of time, money and knowledge. Much more is at stake.

A great deal was also stake at the time of the first Good Friday. Jesus planned to organise his followers by establishing the church. But, his arrest and execution by the authorities seemed to signal failure.

Yet, the crucifixion of the church’s founder, set in train a series of events that culminated in success. The church was established and continues to exist today. The goal of its founder was realised.

How is it that the appearance of failure can mask what is really a success?

[click here to read more…]

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A view through the window of an airport lounge

How to put yourself at ease when travelling

by Andrew Hill on December 29, 2011

I am sitting inside Honolulu International Airport gazing through dust-speckled windows. As I sip my coffee, I run through a mental check-list for another day of travel. Even after three days in Hawaii, my first visit to the USA is still keeping my working memory busy. The road rules, customs and currency of this place differ from that of my homeland and the unconscious, automatic actions I would normally apply to routine tasks no longer apply. It is necessary for me to give conscious deliberation to tasks I am accustomed to doing automatically. Extra care must be taken when crossing the road, I have to give more thought to simple financial transactions, and the airport layout and security screening here differ from those at Melbourne or Sydney. Despite the accumulation of small challenges like these, I am at ease. My travel affairs are in order and I have contingency plans for problems that might arise during my journey. Having a few minutes of down time, I sip on my coffee, gaze out the window and reflect upon my experiences on the island of Oahu. I see the morning sun shining brightly above the city; a stationary Boeing 747-400 is in the foreground; and in the distance, the peak of Diamond Head is clearly visible.

Click here to learn how to put yourself at ease when travelling

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Data transmission by a laser eye

The Golden Bionic Eye

by Andrew Hill on August 14, 2011

The James Bond movie, Golden Eye, is a story about a devastating space weapon employed for evil purposes. Soon a different kind of golden eye may become reality, one that is intended for much more noble purposes. This golden eye is a bionic eye that uses gold nanoparticles to amplify laser light and stimulate the optic nerve. It is estimated that over 50,000 Australians are blind and a further 430,000 have low vision (Eye Health Facts). In the movie Golden Eye, Bond overcomes a number of setbacks to destroy the weapon. If researchers can also overcome the many difficulties they face, the bionic golden eye will offer the possibility of improved mobility, choice and quality of life for those who suffer from blindness or low vision.

Click here to read more about bionic eye research

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Frank Tate, Director of Education, Victoria (1902-1928)#

Positively motivating leadership

by Andrew Hill on July 13, 2011

Have you ever had an unshakeable belief in the rightness of the aims you have set out to achieve? A belief so strong, that when faced with criticism and a sceptical attitude amongst those nearby, you have not waivered? You knew deep within yourself, with unshakeable conviction, that what you were proposing was morally and ethically right, was going benefit the organisation and ensure that it fulfilled its mission. When you were faced with obstacles, you found ways around them. When those around you started to lose heart, you reminded them of what had already achieved and the problems that had been overcome. You reminded them that they had personally achieved great things through ingenuity, perseverance and sheer hard work. You remember listening to their concerns. They trusted you and expected that your experience and wisdom would count for something as they sought solutions to the problems they faced. But you did not have all the answers – it was never possible for one person to do it all. [click here to read more…]

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Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson, 1758–1805

What is leadership?

by Andrew Hill on June 25, 2011

Leadership has many definitions. Is any one definition more correct than others?

click here to see leadership defined

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Look, no hands! Mind control of machines

Thumbnail image for Look, no hands! Mind control of machines 5 June 2011

Imagine what it would be like to change television channels just by thinking about it? And, what if the saying, “hands-free”, referred not just to your mobile phone but your motor car? The mind-control of machines may also lead to restored mobility for people suffering from paralysis. Miguel Nicolelis explains how a promising experimental paradigm, the brain-machine interface […]

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The Bionic Eye

The eye is an intricate biological machine 23 April 2011

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to lose your ability to see? Seeing is something we do without being conscious of the act of seeing or the biological mechanisms that enable us to see. Yet, when we lose that ability, we lose the ability to do many other things we take for […]

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Learning Inside-Out

A contour plot produced by an artificial neural network for the XOR problem 29 January 2011

Heads or tails? A coin toss can give the captain of a cricket team the ability to choose how his team begins the game. It is also an important part of the traditional Australian game of “Two-up”. A coin toss can be used to resolve an otherwise insoluble choice between two alternatives. At a very early […]

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