Utilizing Growth Diagnostic Tools on Growth Challenges in Australia

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Guest Blog by Tim Larkin, LEG ’22

There are many learnings that I am taking away from this course as every week I learnt something new. The main learnings included:

  1. Economic Complexity Index (ECI) – I had never come across the ECI before and it really helped put into perspective the issues that my growth challenge for the Pilbara Region has with achieving diversification of industries.
  2. Knowhow – Similar to ECI it helped my thinking with what will be needed going forward.
  3. Fishbone Diagram (FB) – I have utilized FB diagrams in the past but never so effectively to establish not only to deconstruct the problem but to identify the binding constraints and to prioritise them to progressively find solutions. The iterative approach to do this. is a great concept.
  4. High Bandwidth Organisations – This also was a new concept for me but a very valuable one. It has formed a key aspect of one of the solutions to my growth challenge.
  5. Sense of Us – I have learnt that understanding what the key drivers of the Pilbara’s, Western Australia’s and Australia’s, “Sense of Us” are very important in assisting to establish what type of  future industries are best suited to attracting human capital and workforces.
  6. Inclusion – This has been a priority in the Pilbara and WA Australia for many years, but it has not necessarily been implemented successfully. Inclusion will form a key part of the solutions to my growth challenge. Involvement in the workforce of women and indigenous peoples, is very important and in fact provides opportunities to employ new, previously untapped, workforces. This can assist with the current lack of skilled labour.

My growth challenge developed in Assignment 2, was slightly redefined in Assignment 6 due to ideas that I learnt during the intervening weeks. Specifically, I realized that in developing new industries (diversifying) to replace current but maturing industries that a number of the technologies developed by current industries can be utilized to develop new industries rather than starting from scratch. The Pilbara/Western Australia is world leading in the development and operation of the mining extraction of resources – there is no reason why this knowhow cannot be turned to new diversified industries.

In addition, in Week 6, I reviewed my original Fishbone Diagram (attached) and the relative importance of each binding constraint. I identified that of the original 20, 9 were the key binding constraints and the ones that should be focused on going forward and the priority for finding solutions. Furthermore, I realized that one of the constraints, the lack of development of local technology was in fact not correct. See the learning in paragraph one above.

In summary, I believe I made significant progress in developing my growth challenge throughout the course. Each week I moved a positive step forward. The insights I gathered (refer Q1 above) through the case studies of the cities/regions/countries that utilized the various tools that we were introduced to and their use in solving solutions in these places was particularly valuable.

I will be using the skills and utilizing the tools that I have learned during this course to help implement solutions for my growth challenge. The growth challenge is real for Australia as a whole and needs to be tackled.

The course will enable me to better articulate to both the private and public entities utilizing the growth diagnostic tools we have learnt assist in solving the problem of diversifying our industries to future proof our economy and grow our wealth whilst being inclusive and maintaining the sense of us.

As Chairman of the Pilbara Development Commission, I am well positioned to influence key players in regard to the growth challenge. Most importantly, I am in in position to ensure key players take real ownership rather than just acknowledging there is a future issue that needs to be dealt with.

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 71 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2022. These are their learning journey stories.

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