NZIM: Dialogues, drivers & diversity

There wasn’t much time wasted at the New Zealand Institute of Management (NZIM) in 2012. The agenda was always going to be as full as predicted back in February. Productivity was bound to be high on the agenda of activities and NZIM became increasingly involved in the issue as the Government’s fledgling Productivity Commission gained altitude.
The decision by the New Zealand and Australian governments to direct their respective productivity policy groups to work together signalled the importance of this doggedly perplexing management issue. It also signalled more general and wider-reaching intent to ramp up trans-Tasman economic integration.
The productivity conundrum is driving efforts by both governments to breathe new life and greater energy into the 30-year-old Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement. By September the Commissions had identified 20 policy initiatives to promote “beneficial economic integration”. CER had, they said, helped both countries over the past three decades but there were remaining “barriers to [further] integration”.
Their draft report said, in statement of the obvious, that both countries faced challenges and opportunities in the “dynamic global economy”. The relationship between the two countries should, therefore, remain outward looking and not impede trading opportunities with other partners. “It should also complement productivity-enhancing policies and reforms in each country.”
In addition to initiatives on changing policy settings on business law, occupational licensing, rules of origin, air services and shipping, and capital and labour flows, the Commissions believe enhanced CER governance arrangements are essential to meet future challenges.
They want to build on the “informality and flexibility” that had “served the relationship well” in the past but which obviously isn’t enough to deal with the closer relationship needed to capitalise on the future. Their final report will be presented to both governments before the end of the year.
For its part, NZIM has kept up dialogue with the New Zealand Productivity Commission and evaluated the implications of the joint study. It has also strengthened its parallel working relationship with the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) to reflect the needs of an increasing number of member organisations working both sides of the Tasman.
“Our partnership with AIM is helping us tap into greater critical mass and, for the first time this year, enabled us to offer trans-Tasman member benefits, services and training,” says NZIM chief executive Kevin Gaunt. “It is changing the way we think about the future services, research support and other activities NZIM can offer to, and undertake for, members.”
NZIM this year restructured its training programme curriculum and aligned it with AIM’s to provide seamless trans-Tasman member service.
The close ties with AIM are also reflected in Australia’s decision to adopt NZIM’s Management Capability Index (MCI). AIM published the results of its own MCI in March as the first step in its programme to measure the performance of Australian managers nationwide.
Later in the year, India published its latest update of the MCI which it adopted several years ago. Malaysia and Singapore also use the MCI to measure management capability performance.
The gradually expanding portfolio of countries adopting the MCI as management performance benchmark validates the robustness of the measure NZIM developed, according to Gaunt. NZIM’s latest 2013 research findings will be released in February next year.
“And the response to the survey this time is the best we have had for several years, both in terms of numbers and the leadership level of the respondents. The results are very interesting,” he says.
The adoption of MCI by Australia, India, Malaysia and Singapore is one example of benefits NZIM garners from its membership of the Asian Association of Management Organisations (AAMO). “It broadens our base of helpful global contacts and widens our perspective of the changing management world we now operate in,” says Gaunt. “We pass their insights on to members.”
To reinforce its message that New Zealand managers must be better prepared to turn trade opportunities in Asia into reality, NZIM took its management capability case to this year’s Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders (CBAFF) Intra-Asia conference in Auckland in May.
The nine management performance capability drivers that contribute to sustainable performance and business growth must be understood and promoted by every enterprise, it told delegates. No matter how much the manager’s world is buffeted by the winds of change, the core competencies identified by the MCI are critical to company’s preparedness to succeed.
NZIM’s commitment to better researching and interpreting the management landscape turned into solid programme of activities this year. In addition to updating the MCI research, contributing to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook and completing the 2013 MCI survey, it commissioned joint online research study with an Auckland-based business school to measure management skills and competencies. The study was released in April.
It surveyed ethnic and gender diversity, and investigated the potential for new initiatives with the Institute of Directors to help lift management and governance skills in the not-for-profit sector. As part of its commitment to provide members with increasing and better access to the latest in global management thinking, trends and research findings, NZIM created its own research database “Signpost” which it will add to its new and upgraded website in 2013.
“But the most transformative development this year was the roll-out of our more integrated national organisation,” says Gaunt. “It has become defining membership benefit. more cohesive membership service strategy, both in New Zealand and through our partnership with AIM and other global organisations, is transforming NZIM.
“We will continue to upgrade the quality and the quantity of meaningful research for members. We are now working on major management information resource in partnership with Britain’s Chartered Institute of Management. This online tool is backed by eight full-time researchers and provides wealth of self-driven management development and information resources. While 2012 was big year for NZIM, 2013 promises to be even bigger.” M

Cold comfort
As if to endorse NZIM’s concern about the shaky state of management in New Zealand, the Swiss-based IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook was released in June showing that our international competitiveness ranking had slipped yet again. The survey, which NZIM helps IMD compile, showed New Zealand falling to 24th out of 59 measured economies, down almost 10 places since 2009.
“This year’s results were deeply worrying,” says NZIM chief executive Kevin Gaunt. “We may just be holding our own against Australia but that is cold comfort when both our economies are failing against the rest of the world.”

Reg Birchfield FNZIM is writer on leadership, governance & management. [email protected]

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