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Thinc, an Australian company now operating internationally, is the Project Manager for Burj Al Baher in Tripoli, Libya. The full story of this amazing development begins on page 7.

INSIDE SEPTEMBER AGENDA • DIFFERENTIATION IS NOT A TACTIC • CLOSING THE GAP • GALVINISING PEOPLE • RE-ENGINEERING INNOVATION • SEVEN WRITING SECRETS • LIFTING STANDARDS

ISSUE 03 2010 AUS $7.90


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Need help closing the gap? As professional communicators,we help companies share their unique stories. Often websites use ‘corporate speak’, lofty ambitious statements that could belong on any other organisation’s website. The same for brochures. Every time I work with a business, I’m amazed at the inspiring stories lying just below the surface. Stories that show the inclusive culture and respect a company has for their employees, the care taken to complete a job or the attitude staff have to making a company’s vision come alive. For me it’s an honour to hear the stories and in turn provide a voice that shares them with other staff members, clients and the broader community. I love the power of language, of telling a story that resonates deeply. But there’s more to it than this. It’s helping organisations move beyond the rhetoric and communicate what they do best so that customers hear of their work. It’s about making connections. And this is what Agenda aims to do – help businesses strengthen their message so that marketing can be a more effective tool. If you like what you see in this journal, then why not consider how we can transform your business with stories that show your customers the real value behind what your business does.

We can help. Whether through press releases, company newsletters/journals, website or brochure copy, speeches or blogs, we work to bring stories alive, in turn helping organisations share their unique spirit more freely.

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Contact me by email – barbara@madison-resources.com – for a no-obligation quote that will help your organisation communicate differently.


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The SEVEN secrets to writing like a pro

Business people need to write with influence, clarity and speed. It’s critical to compiling tenders, creating articles, position papers, proposals, web material, client letters and reports that happen fast and professionally. Imagine writing a superb article within an hour, a winning proposal within two hours or an attention-grabbing booklet within a day. On our course you’ll walk away with: • Knowing how to change passive, dead language into dynamic, stirring commentary. • A keen understanding of grammar and punctuation that will help position your writing as professional and you as a knowledgeable expert.

l na o s er itten U p N nth r wr O u e o d B m f yo on kin e – o y l On iew eria f an t v re ma nt o ek. e e m rw u c pe do

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• The sources of inspirational, intriguing openings. • Accurate writing, where you don’t have to sweat, secondguess, revise, review and regret what you’ve done. • How to include laser-like examples to drive your point home and sell it every time. • Tips to improve your ‘writing style’ and make your work look as if it’s professionally crafted. • One month personal review of your written material – one document of any kind per week.

WHEN:

Tuesday 16 November (Geelong)

WHEN:

Tuesday 23 November (Melbourne)

INVESTMENT: $297 BOOK BEFORE SEP 30 AND RECEIVE 10% OFF! CLICK HERE TO ENROL ONLINE USING PAYPAL

www.madison-resources.com

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• A completed article, position paper or tender pre-amble that you will start and finish during the program. This will serve as one of your templates.


What’s on the agenda? Differentiation is a key marketing issue in business.

Without it, business owners run the risk of joining a mill pond of conformity, with marketing initiatives looking remarkably like everyone else’s. Finding those items that differentiate a business involves looking carefully at client needs to understand their business objectives – not what your own product benefits and features may be. This month, we speak to Peter Galvin from Thinc, an Australian company that now operates internationally. We chose Thinc’s story to lead this month’s edition of Agenda as the company has truly found a niche in the crowded marketplace of project management. We provide some practical tips on how to view differentiation from a marketing and sales perspective and look at the role of innovation and how top companies worldwide

view the importance of innovation in their businesses. Of particular note is the attitude of Asian countries and their governments to innovation – it’s a wake-up call to the rest of us. We also talk to a Victorian crane hire company, Quinlan Cranes, about how technology is differentiating this business in practical ways. While differentiation is the theme for this month’s journal, without innovative practice, differentiation remains a dream. It’s only with a strong vision that differentiation can make a difference in the eyes of clients. As always, please feel free to share this journal and if you have any feedback, please contact me or log-on to our website and leave your comment. Barbara Grace 0411 116254 barbara@madison-resources.com www.madison-resources.com

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“Differentiation is not a tactic, it’s not a flashy advertising campaign, it’s not a sparkling new feature set,

it’s not a laminated frequent-buyer card or a money-back guarantee.

Differentian is a way of thinking.

It’s a mindset.

It’s a commitment. A commitment to be different, not in a superficial ‘I’m going-to-offera-couple-of-features-my-competitordoesn’t-offer’ kind of way, impossible to replicate.” Harvard Business School Professor, Young Me Moon

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but in a way that is fundamental and near


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The Key to Making it Relevant

In 2009, a survey of 9,000 decision makers in B2B companies found that 86 per cent

of what vendors stated as ‘unique benefits’ were not perceived as unique, or having enough impact to create a preference. These results may explain why sales of a product or service don’t achieve desired results. The task is to create value for a potential client through differentiation, not sameness. Traditionally, business sells benefits over features, but if a client doesn’t believe they have a problem, then presenting benefits ultimately means nothing. Until you’ve fleshed out the issue underlying a purchase decision (or what’s in it for the client), little will change. Survey author, the Marketing Leadership Council of the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), believes the closer a marketer is to their own company and products, the more they will over-estimate the unique relevance of the benefits they promote.

No pain, no gain Most companies tout customer service as a differentiator, but decision-makers identify this as an expected ‘touch point’ and of little value in determining preference. Instead, buyers look for benefits that clearly address business needs relevant to their responsibilities. For example: supply chain improvements. CEB research indicates that showing customers how to improve performance will be four times more powerful.

Engage the head, but massage the heart Nothing moves without a little push. And one of the best ways to achieve this is through a direct comparison between staying with the status quo and moving forward – if a little pain brings a larger gain, then that’s where the value lies, with your product or service bridging the gap. Removing a problem and positively influencing business activity shows your solution is critical to business strategy and survival.

Prove your point Most of us buy with our hearts and justify with our heads. Creating change is about selling the dream, the vision, the thing that positions us with a successful outcome. Brain research shows the need to establish relevance by linking the new with what’s familiar – once this is done, facts and figures consolidate the message, but pushing it across the line means putting it in context and selling the ‘what-if’ scenario. Contrasting the ‘mundane’ of today with the ‘possibility’ of tomorrow creates opportunities for your offer to find a place within your client’s business. Think shared values, emotional connections, crafting the experience.

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Burj Al Baher Towers one and two take shape

The ghibli’s hot southerly wind shrouds Libya’s landscape during spring and autumn, bringing a natural hazard to a country already veiled with its own social and economic ones. Politically, Libya has weathered the blasts from its own form of ghibli with a history of military coups, terrorism and UN sanctions that lasted from 1992 to 2003. Since the US formed a bilateral relationship with Libya in 2008, the country’s transition towards a more market-based economy, along with having one of Africa’s highest per capita GDPs, is providing opportunities for international investment. The country’s petroleum, natural gas and gypsum provide natural resources that now contribute to the country’s oil and construction industry, each providing between twenty and twenty five per cent of Libya’s GDP.

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words: Barbara Grace Images: Thinc

Galvinising People

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L – R: John Wilson, Jack Apostolou, Abdullah Allk, Josh Randall

Under this new era, an Australian company that now operates internationally, Thinc, is developing a major capital works project in Tripoli on the shores of the Mediterranean. “We are currently undertaking the first externally financed project ever developed in Libya. It’s a mixed-use development, including residential, commercial and hotel towers,” said Group Managing Director, Peter Galvin. The project is a joint venture between a Pakistani resource company, a Turkish contractor and the Libyan Government with Jack Apostolou, Thinc’s Commercial Director in Libya, in charge of the project.

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The crowded space of this internationally diverse project will form a dynamic opportunity for Thinc to balance business and project knowledge with their non-adversarial philosophy, which will see the company manage multiple risks in a country gusting towards modernity.

Libya is a country of contrasts with nearly five million mobile phone users in a population of just under 6.5 million. Additionally, it is home to twenty radio stations, twelve television broadcasters and 11,751 internet hosts (2009). The discord between an ancient land and a people embracing western influence will create a rare set of challenges for Thinc whose core work as a management company often sees them heading up projects that achieve a dynamic influence on communities. Tripoli, Libya’s capital, rests on the banks of the Mediterranean between Egypt and Tunisia. It is here that Thinc will create its successful version of a ‘top-down strategy with bottomup opportunity’ by leveraging intellectual property in both a geographically diverse and sector specific project. “Our vision is to make a difference and we do that through our projects. We have a clear vision of why we’re actually bothering, why


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we are doing this work. For us, it has to be beyond a business purpose, so our vision is to make a difference, and we do that through our projects because that’s what we do – that’s our skill set,” says Peter Galvin. For Thinc, making a difference works at three levels: firstly, to the life of an individual or the way that person lives; secondly, to the community in which that individual lives; and thirdly, by working in such a way that the company makes a societal difference.

“We will measure our success on the Tripoli project across those three levels,” said Peter Galvin. “Firstly, it will change the lives of individuals – where they work and the manner in which they work. The project will become a beacon in that community for Libyans, who have been under sanctions for over 20 years. And thirdly, we’re doing it based on international standards and bringing in issues of sustainability.”

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Artist impression of the completed Burj Al Baher


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Thinc’s non-adversarial approach to project management requires a behavioural model that asks project managers to show leadership and people skills to accommodate the diverse range of individuals with whom they will work.

Managing diversity allows Thinc to draw on their company’s core value statements, which guide behaviour and personal interactions. This aspect differentiates Thinc from most construction companies where ego and aggression often clash in meeting budgets and timelines. “One of the things we don’t do is get aggressive with people. For example, if you get aggressive with a Turkish contractor in Libya – you’re not going to get very far. But you do need to be assertive, because if you’re not – you won’t get anywhere. So one of our core values when we hire people is that they’re not table thumpers, because if they get to that point, they’ve lost it. We’re selling brain power here. There would be a daily instance in working with a Pakistani developer, the Libyan Government, and a Turkish contractor where we need our people to call on their core people management skills. It’s about working your way through issues in a nonadversarial manner,” says Peter Galvin.

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Thinc’s non-adversarial approach to project management requires a behavioural model that asks project managers to show leadership and people skills to accommodate the diverse range of individuals with whom they will work. These skills, above all the usual construction tools of bar charts, Gantt charts and cost reports, will be the most beneficial in the Tripoli landscape where ghiblis can often blow in unexpected ways.

“The success of projects is gathering a team of sometimes between forty and sixty people from thirty different organisations and having them all heading in the same direction,” said Peter Galvin. “Stakeholder management is the key to success on large projects, and on very large projects we suggest putting in an additional team member whose role will solely be stakeholder management.” “For this to work the stakeholder manager or the project manager’s ego must be left at the door. The job is not to be the smartest guy in the room. The job is to facilitate a cohesive outcome from everyone else there. That’s the art of being a good consultant. The art and skill of facilitation is an essential one. As a company, we provide advice, delivery and facilitation services. It’s our tag line: advice + action, and the way we deliver this is through positive facilitation. That’s what we do,” said Peter Galvin. The Tripoli project began long before the dozers hit the ground, through conversations with the Libyan government around what they wanted to achieve and whether outcomes would meet that expectation. This process innovation reinforces the company’s approach of selling ‘brain power’ and delivering a different, smarter and more sophisticated answer. While teamwork is the cornerstone of any successful project, Galvin believes their purpose


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Burj Al Baher will provide a world class destination in Tripoli, Libya

“We want to get the fundamentals right. So taking time to create the best team we possibly can on a project will save time in the end. Time is money, but wasted time is more money. Sometimes you waste less time by sitting and thinking about these things and getting the fundamentals of project success right.” For example, while putting together the team in Tripoli, Galvin needed people with not only strong people management skills, but also the ability to drive a process forward while maintaining positive relations for groups with divergent communication needs. The way one shares information with a Libyan Government representative is more culturally sensitive than the way in which one negotiates deadlines with a Pakistani developer. Projects are wealth creators, and a successful project is one where all participants make money, which goes to the broader health of

an economy, especially a burgeoning one like Libya’s. So Thinc’s measure of success is one where the end user of the facility is absolutely delighted, the client’s stated level of return in a feasibility sense is met, everyone involved in the project makes money and the ultimate pivot point is where everyone wants to do it again. “This only occurs with an embedded behavioural team process that you can actually repeat. If we can get that result, then we’ve done a really good job for our clients and satisfied our vision of making a difference to individuals, clients and the community in which we work,” says Galvin. Thinc’s teams are not averse to difficult projects or culturally diverse landscapes. In a Malaysian project, Thinc came in to complete a half-finished project where the developer went broke and the architect was unpaid. According to Galvin, the application of non-adversarial facilitation skills worked. But hard decisions had to be made with the architect replaced and individual contracts renegotiated. Thinc’s team brokered a deal

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is to look beyond the initial delivery and aim towards establishing higher standards of delivery, no matter which service field the client occupies.


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THINC between the builder and developer, redesigned procurement systems and within Kuala Lumpur’s dense urban environment initiated a plan to fast track the program. “We turned the project around completely; it was a successful outcome,” Galvin says. At the less pointy end of diplomacy, the Westminster Abbey project in London provides evidence of how small gestures make an enormous difference. “For nine years the authorities were trying to gain agreement between the Canons who live in a row of houses adjacent to the Abbey,” says Galvin. “The scaffolding needed for the conservation works to the façade of the Chapter House, which involved the complete dismantling and reconstruction of its stone spires, could not touch the buildings – it must go into the Canon’s gardens. Our Project Manager, Mark, knocked on the Canon’s doors and spoke to them about the project. He learnt that in

the previous nine years no one had spoken to them about the restoration work. One resident admitted her major concern about the project: the loss of her garden. The next day, Mark went shopping and the Canon received a range of flowers and plants for her back garden.” Problem solved. Stakeholder managed. Ghibli calmed. Textbook models don’t provide innovation or success stories. People do. It’s an organisation’s people that ultimately define the success of a project, the rolling out of a concept or the embryo of an idea that grows to fruition. Engagement, relationship and the nearforgotten art of listening create a niche for businesses. That and the rare gift for hushing the ghiblis among us.

Thinc’s Group Managing Director, Peter Galvin www.thinc.com.au

THINC


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The SEVEN secrets to writing like a pro

Business people need to write with influence, clarity and speed. It’s critical to compiling tenders, creating articles, position papers, proposals, web material, client letters and reports that happen fast and professionally. Imagine writing a superb article within an hour, a winning proposal within two hours or an attention-grabbing booklet within a day. On my course you’ll walk away with: • Knowing how to change passive, boring language into dynamic, stirring commentary. • A keen understanding of grammar and punctuation that will help position your writing as professional and you as a knowledgeable expert. • A completed article, position paper, or tender pre-amble that you will start and finish during the program. This will serve as one of your templates.

al n so er itten U p N nth r wr O u o B ne ind m f yo o e o yk l– On iew eria f an t v re ma nt o ek. e e m rw u e c p do

• The sources of inspirational, intriguing openings. • “One shot” writing, where you don’t have to sweat, secondguess, revise, review and regret what you’ve done. • How to include laser-like examples to drive your point home and sell it every time. • Tips to improve your ‘writing style’ and make your work look as if it’s professionally crafted. • One month personal review of your written material – one document of any kind per week.

WHEN:

Tuesday 16 November (Geelong)

WHEN:

Tuesday 23 November (Melbourne)

INVESTMENT: $297 BOOK BEFORE SEP 15 AND RECEIVE 30% OFF! CLICK HERE TO ENROL ONLINE USING PAYPAL

www.madison-resources.com

F O S

R FE


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Lifting the Benchmark in Crane Hire

On a mission to develop his business

further, Tom Quinlan is embracing technology and staff training to differentiate his crane hire business. In an industry known more for its adversarial approach to ‘owning’ a construction site, Quinlan Cranes occupies a collaborative space with respect for both clients and his own staff. “I’ve seen so many clients go for the bottom-line when choosing a crane hire company, only to come back and say they got it wrong,” says Tom Quinlan from behind his North Shore desk. With over twenty years experience as an operator, and owner of Quinlan’s Cranes since 2002, understanding a client’s needs is paramount. “That’s why we’ve taken on a more pro-active approach to managing the business,” said Quinlan. “Our clients’ needs are changing and they want to see the impact of placing a crane in different areas before making a commitment. With our technology, we can integrate with their computer systems and visually show them a crane’s radius and boom length. It gives them the best efficiencies when they can see the crane’s effectiveness at the schematic stage.”

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Many companies state that their people are their best asset, but unless this belief is put into practice, it becomes no more than a ‘vision’ without reality.

Quinlans are in the process of upskilling all employees – crane operators, internal staff and management – through training in transport, logistics and construction management. Skills that will enhance productivity and efficiencies, along with their already pro-active approach to working on-site. With a modern fleet of cranes between five and seven years old, maintaining efficiencies means continually upgrading machinery. “Cranes are becoming more modern with their stature reducing and operational capacity increasing. It means the client wins when they use a company with a modern fleet as they get greater efficiency in fuel www.quinlancranes.com.au

and reduced travel and set-up times. It’s a win both ways,” says Quinlan. For Quinlan’s, differentiation is a practical concern to maintaining an advantage. Managing a modern business today involves more than integrity and reliability, it’s meeting client needs in new and innovative ways and always striving for a marketable edge.


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“You Can’t Read the Label When You’re Sitting Inside the Jar.” – Maddock and Viton, Business Week columnists.

of this issue, it cannot stand alone without considering innovation. Without a fresh approach, differentiation can stagnate. But where does true innovation come from? For most, the mind of Apple’s, Steve Jobs, whose company again achieved first place in Bloomberg Business Week’s top 50 most innovative companies, is a continual source of inspiration. But for the rest of us, being asked to innovate by taking classes to ‘think outside the square’ is less than revolutionary. Being an expert, according to Maddock and Viton, can be like having myopic vision, with the limited view of an organisation from the inside less obvious than an external one. To help innovation flourish, they suggest: • Hiring leaders from outside your industry who will challenge company paradigms. • Searching for staff with problem-solving ability, not necessarily industry experience.

• Deluging external experts (not necessarily from within your industry) with details of your challenge – they will see things you don’t, get excited about ideas you may pass over and keep you from making mistakes they’ve made trying to solve a similar challenge. •“Parallel engineer” your staff by sending them to conferences and educational events of businesses that have nothing to do with your business. Have them talk to the experts there about your problems – offer a prize for the craziest idea – liberate them to look at your challenge through the ideas of a beginner. •Ask the newbies – your newest and youngest people in your business how they would solve an issue. • Listen to your sales people, their frontline perspective and feedback can be invaluable. • Keep notes on customer feedback. It’s rumored that in the early years, Michael Dell had his call centers keep small notes on all customer feedback. He would spread these notes on a table and read them like tea leaves, then create services and products in response to what he saw in the notes.

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While differentiation has been the focus


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Re-engineering Innovation Bloomberg’s Business Week published the 50

most innovative companies in 2010 on Friday August 27 with Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM taking places one to four (they respectively held places one, two, four and six in 2009). Of note is the rise in developing markets included on the list, particularly India, China and South Korea. In the survey, 34 per cent of developing countries nominated innovation as their top priority in 2010, compared with 22 per cent of more developed nations. Not only are companies in developing countries embracing innovation, but their governments are realising that being effective in world markets means moving beyond a factory culture competing on cost, and embracing innovation through an educated and skilled workforce. This attitude is at the other side of the spectrum to that of developed nations with an often narrow focus on lowering costs and increasing productivity through incremental changes to existing products. Stagnation is a death-knoll for business, as competitors breathe life into new prototypes, building strategic alliances and developing employee talent as integral business strategies to maintain a competitive edge.

Differentiation involves innovation. And innovation comes from people; they are the heart, mind and soul of an organisation. In our present economy, investing in people makes good sense. Innovation is a mindset that differentiates successful businesses through an approach that gives time and resources to take a broader view and imagine a better way of doing business. The future of innovation and differentiation intuitively lies within ourselves – not with tweaking the edges of products with rapidly advancing use-by dates. In the pursuit of differentiation through innovation, leadership and culture are either two of the biggest hurdles – or two of the greatest opportunities – a business faces when reinventing itself to meet changing times and needs. A positive culture without strong leadership is going nowhere and an organisation with poor leadership provides no room for innovation. It’s a rare leader who can lead and let-go simultaneously, but innovation cannot thrive without an audible voice above management’s cries of profit and accountability.

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The Innovation Process Tony Schwartz, in his book The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, denounces the myth that we are a product of our genetic inheritence. It’s been a common theme, with Malcolm Gladwell’s, Outliers, also encouraging us to explore the notion of ritualised practice to achieve goals. Researchers believe it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. While those who achieve at the highest levels of excellence are well practiced in the art of repetition, Schwartz offers some insight that might help to bring the practice of innovation into our businesses more readily. He suggests: injecting a little passion to fuel focus, resilience and perseverance; do the hardest work first while your have energy; practice intensely for no more than 90 minutes at a time; seek expert feedback in intermittent doses; take regular renewal breaks and ritualise practice into daily regimes. Schwartz believes it’s helped his tennis game, just maybe it might inject a little tenacity into developing an innovation culture within your organisation. 1. Generate Ideas

5. Develop an image of the future

• Innovative ideas generally come from a vision, an unreasonable demand, or a goal. Tight time frames focus the ability to think more creatively.

• List basic assumptions about present processes/procedures.

6. Identify gaps in the business process (in both present and future scenarios) • List barriers to implementing the idea.

2. Capture Ideas

• Do a cost-risk-benefit analysis.

• On yellow sticky notes, create an ‘affinity’ diagram to link associated ideas.

7. Take action

3. Assess Ideas • Quantify benefits of each idea in relation to the relevant department or customer. • Match the idea with the organisation’s vision, mission and goals for alignment. • Check feasibility by identifying the expected outcomes of each idea. 4. Re-engineer Ideas • Don’t consider just improving a business process – do a re-think; re-engineer the way things are done.

• Proctor and Gamble changed their approach to innovation from an inhouse DIY model to one of ‘connect and develop’ by identifying external opportunities and applying their business expertise to the concept. The effect reduced the cost of innovation, allowing the company to remain at the forefront by producing products that responded to changing consumer demand.

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• Ask yourself what seems impossible to do in your business today, but if it could be done, would fundamentally change what your business does.

• Picture the future innovation in practice using a flow-chart.


Madison Resources Madison Resources provides Construction Management and Construction Marketing services. With over thirty years experience in the building industry gained from local and international projects, we offer developers, builders, engineers, architects and contractors professional knowledge. Barbara Grace is the Director of Madison Resources and provides marketing knowledge and communication strategies that help position construction companies as leaders in their market place. Visit the website www.madison-resources.com to find out more about our work.

Madison Resources Pty Ltd (est 2000) admin@madison-resources.com www.madison-resources.com Barbara Grace: 0411 116 254


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