Due to a small admin error that turned out to be surprisingly difficult to fix the School of Thinking was offline for 48 hours since Friday.

This is the second time SOT has gone offline since we went online in 1995. So, it’s been a useful exercise.

Thanks for the many messages of feedback to let us know. Much appreciated.

Now it’s …

What is Australia?

Australia is a constitutional monarchy created by the Majority of Electors of 1900. The Governor-General is Head of State and Elizabeth II is Sovereign.

Since the creation of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1900 the Crown of Australia has been worn by six monarchs: Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II.

Peoplepower: the Majority of Electors

200 years ago Napoleon’s master, Prince Talleyrand, said, “There is someone more intelligent than Voltaire, more powerful than the emperor–and that is the people.”

100 years later in 1900, this became true in Australia. Today, it is still one of the enduring truths of our Commonwealth.

The Majority of Electors was the original power in 1900 that created The Constitution and is still, the only power in Australia that can change The Constitution.

In contrast to other political realities like in Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Fiji or even the Vatican, the USA, India and China, the fact is that the Electors of Australia have been able to hold, without interruption, the ultimate constitutional power in Australia for over a hundred years!

This continuous record of peoplepower and political stability is unprecedented in modern world history.

Australia is the name given to an agreement between The Majority of Electors of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia to unite in one federation under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia.

So who really created what we now know as ‘Australia’?

On July 5, 1900, Australia was legally created by an Act of the Westminster Parliament known as the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. The Act was proclaimed to commence on January 1, 1901.

At that time, the population of Australia was under four million and consisted of a number of colonies which regarded themselves as British. This Act was the product of a vision which began fifty years earlier in the self-governing colonies. The Constitution of Australia is also internationally regarded as one of the cleverest agreements ever designed.

It was crafted in Australia by our own people. It was a product, not of war nor of revolution, but of many years of business discussion, political debate, legal argument and peaceful referendum.

The First Convention

Two Conventions were held in 1891 and in 1897-98. Delegates to the 1891 Convention were appointed by the colonial parliaments and met in Sydney.

The Convention President was the Premier of New South Wales, Sir Henry Parkes whose image is still on today’s five dollar bill.

The draft of a Bill for a Constitution was approved by the Convention.

This Bill was drafted with the help of Sir Samuel Griffith, Premier of Queensland, who later became the First Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.

The Second Convention

The second Convention was held in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne in 1897 and 1898. Delegates to this Convention were elected by the Majority of Electors.

Barriers between brothers: shall they remain?’  -  The Argus (Melbourne), 1 June 1898
Barriers between brothers: shall they remain?’ -  The Argus (Melbourne), 1 June 1898

The document produced at this Convention became the new Constitution and many features coming from the first Convention were included.

In 1899, the draft of the Constitution was approved by the Majority of Electors in a state by state referendum–each held in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland. New Zealand which was represented at the first Convention did not join the Federation.

Western Australia voted to join in 1900. Thus, the Constitution was designed, not at Westminster but in Australia and by our own electors.

In the words of the Eleventh Chief Justice of the High Court, The Honourable Murray Gleeson AC: “The Commonwealth Constitution was not drafted by civil servants in London, and presented to the colonies on the basis that they could take it or leave it. Its terms were hammered out in Australia in a process of public debate, and political and legal negotiation, by the leading figures of the day.”

The Senate of the Parliament of Australia offers an online copy of The Constitution here and a picture of the founding document can be seen here.


The Third Convention

One hundred years later, in 1998, a third Convention was held. From 2-13 February 1998, 152 delegates from all over Australia met at Old Parliament House in Canberra to discuss whether Australia should become a republic.

Seventy-six of the delegates were elected by the Majority of Electors in a voluntary postal ballot. The other seventy-six were appointed by the parliament whose members were also chosen by  the Majority of Electors.

The delegates come from every State and Territory and had a wide diversity of backgrounds and interests. The Convention was chaired by the Rt Hon Ian Sinclair MP, with the Hon Barry Jones AO MP as Deputy Chairman.


It was finally resolved at the third Convention that a republican model of an appointed president be put to the people in a constitutional referendum.


On 5 November 1999, the Electors of Australia were asked:

“Do you agree with A proposed law to alter the constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a Republic with the Queen and Governor General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of members of the Commonwealth Parliament?”

The result of the constitutional referendum, as decided by the Majority of Electors, was: NO.

You can visit the Electors of Australia here …

You can visit the Governor General of Australia here …

You can visit the Queen of Australia here …

You can visit the Prime Minister of Australia here …

In the boardroom, innovation has become flavour of the month … again.

I’ve seen this happen a number of times in my career as the fads and fashions of focus change in the Harvard Business Review articles, the bookshelves, the seminars and then in the boardroom, in the office, in the factory and on the street.

For me this is good on the one hand because that’s what I do. I specialise in innovation. What is innovation? How does it work? Where can it be found? What’s it worth? How can it be improved? etc etc.

On the other hand I get that same frustration because most business-people, when they talk about innovation, talk about new ideas. If you ask them they’ll say, “Well, innovation is all about new ideas”. No. It’s not. In fact, in my experience, idea-generation is a small part of innovation. An important but a minor part.

Mostly, innovation is about decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

The question I like to raise with my corporate clients on the subject of innovation is “what should your business do to improve the quality of your daily decision-making?”

I’m still surprised by the ambivalence about it in many of today’s big and small business enterprises.

There isn’t any plan or burning desire to improve decision-making. One gets the impression that it’s a dangerous topic to discuss. It’s another elephant in the boardroom.

I recently asked the top leaders of a very large bank “would you invest 1% of 201o profits into improving your decision-making across the enterprise for 2011?” They looked at me in genuine horror–it was unthinkable!

This bank has 18,000 knowledge-workers on the payroll and these thinkers represent the banks greatest asset–it’s intellectual capital. When the doors close these assets go home. They return the next day to open the doors and do the bank’s business.

Every day, their most valuable output across the enterprise is decisions.  Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Each one of these decisions has consequences which directly impact on the performance of the company and it’s value to the shareholders. Each decision either costs the bank a dollar or makes the bank a dollar.

So, what is the #1 wisest investment that the bank can make?

The wisest investment that the bank can make is to ensure that all its employees, all the knowledge-workers, are skilled thinkers about better ways to do their job. Better ways to improve the quality of their thousands of daily decisions. Managers and staff that are not skilled thinkers are just marking time, missing opportunities for growth, and drawing down on the bank’s resources.


Every day each bank employee is paid to respond to specific problems or requests from the bank.  Their response can be the unthinking “this is the way we have always done it” or it can be the innovative search for additional solutions, directions, alternatives and consequences to those already under consideration.


Each day the changing business environment offers new opportunities. Bank employess can ignore them with “business as usual” or they can decide to search for deliberate opportunities of a specific nature – new products, new markets, new solutions, new methods, new routes, new attitudes, new concepts, new emphases, new syncopation (timing), new possibilities, new choices, et cetera.


Senior managers make decisions, very often BIG decisions. Traditional right/wrong thinking steers them into making the right decision.  All too often the “right” strategy is simply the most recent one.  A hundred million dollar decision may be the “best” one simply because a better decision could not be found. The bank may face this dilemma many times in 2011.

Today, tomorrow and every day in 2011 the bank’s 18,000 employees will be making hundreds of thousands of decisions. At the end of every banking day innovation will be not so much about their new ideas but about their much better decisions. The quality of the future of this bank will be a direct result of the quality of these decisions … decisions … decisions.

School of Thinking officially launches in Italy today.

A new blogschool is being established and daily lessons will be sent out in the Italian language.

We are pleased to confirm the appointment of Mr Francesco Caso of Rome as CISOT Italy, the Chief Instructor of the School of Thinking, Italy.

Scuola del Pensiero e’ oggi ufficialmente partita anche in Italia.

Una nuova scuola-blog e’ stata fondata e lezioni quotidiane saranno spedite in lingua italiana.

Siamo lieti di conferire  la carica di Istruttore Capo della Scuola per Pensiero Italia (CISOT Italy) al Sig Francesco Caso di Roma.