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Great advice I have never forgotten goes simply like this: “Never be afraid to dream big.” The same goes for your business and a smart way to make it happen is to aspire to make your business world-class.

Experts warn that with globalisation and the spread of free trade agreements, all businesses – big and small – must be in touch with world’s best practice.

This comes with Australia being ranked as number one national brand by international consumers in a recent survey.

Checklist for success

Improvement specialist, Oliver Wight International, has developed a checklist of nine steps to assess whether a business is world-class.

“The Class A Checklist has been developed by our worldwide consultants following extensive work with leading companies around the world including Cadbury, Caterpillar, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble,” says Glyn Williams, president and managing partner of Oliver Wight Asia Pacific.

At the core of the process is a diagnostic or objective assessment of how a business is doing in relation to nine key steps that have to be taken to develop a globally competitive business. These include:
•    Managing the strategic planning process
•    Managing and leading people
•    Driving business improvement
•    Integrated business management, including sales and operation planning
•    Managing products and services
•    Managing demand
•    Managing the supply chain
•    Managing internal supply
•    Managing external sourcing.

“Companies can reap enormous gains across their business by undertaking use of the checklist and embarking on the journey to excellence,” says Williams.

If you are not in a position to chase high-powered advisers, at least measure your business against the standards that these advisers use. Be your own business coach, if needs be.

Objective eyes

Melbourne business adviser and educator, Bill Winter, says that tests or checklists such as these and objective eyes are necessary to boost growth and competitiveness.

“Business owners need to be prompted to ask questions, identify issues, look at options and have progress monitored,” he says. “You need to be challenged and you need to set realistic business goals.”

Winter, who wrote the book You Know How It Feels, insists objective assessments are essential to improving a business.

Harcourt says exporters tend to be very professional businesses and they aren’t afraid of trying to be emulate world’s best practice.

If you are looking for some homegrown inspiration to be world class, Harcourt points to some of our most well known exporters – our stars! He admits that Australia doesn’t have strong manufacturing export brands like Germany or Japan.

“Think of German manufacturing and you think BMW; think of Japan and it is Sony; and Korea you think of Hyundai,” he says. “There are many global brands that have iconic status that are  associated with their home country – like Volvo or Ikea (Sweden), Nokia (Finland), Coca Cola (USA) and so on.”

While we don’t have the same consumer product icons, GMI-Anholt points to Billabong, Quicksilver and RM Williams, which were identified in the survey as well-known Australian brands in the global market place.  

Of course we are known worldwide for our commodities such as coal, iron ore, wheat, alumina, or liquefied natural gas, but our stars are not only adding to our export income but also to our brand awareness.


“Many great Australian exports are far from hidden,” Harcourt says. “In fact they’re very well known celebrities. In Hollywood, there’s Nicole Kidman, Geoffrey Rush, Toni Collette and Russell Crowe (an Australasian export). In modelling, there’s Megan Gale and Elle MacPherson, in music Kylie Minogue.”

According to the survey, Harcourt argues Australia clearly has some great strengths to build upon and while we have scored on the low side in the export product stakes we seem set to be a big improver.

That improvement will come out of every local business setting world-class standards and goals to become an exporter. The very act of going for a more demanding, international, measuring stick will undoubtedly lead to better results at home, even if you don’t ever become an exporter.

And remember, you don’t have to do it on your own – a coach or a mentor could take you to the next level.
(The Oliver Wight Class A Checklist for Business Excellence is in its sixth edition.)


•    Think big! Aiming at an export market helps improve your business practices
•    Consider the nine key steps to success
•    Have an objective person comment on business management and practice
•    Engage a mentor or advisor to help take you to the next level.

Published on: Monday, March 25, 2013

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