Part of the Amplify Dream team Core and part-time helpers. LTR Andrew Sweeney, Annalie Killian, Ryan Tracey (back), Gina Francis, Victoria Pretty, Tanaz Pochkhanawalla, Lou Pagano, Mark Levy. ( Absent: Reuben Young, Danielle Miller, Elise Williams, Gerard Scott, Scott Dawson, David Tomlinson, Sandy Wright, Mary Gillespie, Eve Douglas, Robert Lutze and many more volunteers)

From Amplify for one to amplifier for many

Just over 15 years ago, I stumbled into an unlikely scenario that would unfold into a unique opportunity and shape the leader I would become.

As a new migrant to Australia ( and a pretty rough start that I won’t elaborate on), I seized an opportunity to build a new life. I joined what was then a very conservative financial services company, and chose to be the change I wanted to see: to champion the opportunities for value creation that new technology was driving; catalyse the special magic of human creativity, and to make a difference to customers, business results and personal lives through bringing fresh eyes and ideas to innovate.

In the process, a career-defining legacy and global brand in business innovation and learning would emerge: The Amplify Festival for Innovation and Thought Leadership.

On 31 December this year, one month from now, I will be applying the mantra I’ve been sharing consistently through every Amplify Festival and Talk; every Leaders Forum designed; every person coached or mentored; and every keynote given since the day I was asked to champion a culture of innovation at AMP.

And that is:

The only way to remain valuable and relevant is to keep learning, growing and creating.

So I am deliberately trading the safe comfort zone of my corporate job to create space for something new. Disrupting predictability, security and certainty to plant my flag of passion, purpose and personal reinvention on a new planet: The Planet of Possibility.

I want to learn more, grow in different ways and create new value for a broader customer base and to amplify Amplify for new clients into new geographies. ( Hit me up if you want some of that awesome magic! The kids have finished school and I’m footloose and free to work anywhere.)

It may seem ironic that just today my team and I was awarded the ‘Dream Team’ Award for the contribution that Amplify has made to innovation at AMP, at a time when no less than two of our business rivals are  copying the Amplify model to transform organisational learning, and a week after sharing the origins of Amplify and its impact on culture and eco-systems at KM Asia in Hong Kong.

But the truth is..a dream team is in place! Magic has been catalysed! The music will go on.

Innovation and transformation has taken root in a systemic way. Its significance and value is not only championed by the board, CEO and executive leaders but matched by real passion for customers and fundamental change in the way things are done at every level of the organisation. ( Even the hackfests I first introduced in 2007 are now happening the first Friday of every month!)

Of course, its never a single thing or person that brings about such deep change – it’s the powerful and cumulative effect of a good leadership team and thousands of catalytic triggers; many from ideas seeded along the way by the more than 300 Amplify speakers and thought leaders that shared their vision and wisdom with our community which has grown into the tens of thousands since 2005.

So, for all who have been part of my journey as Catalyst for Magic at AMP, thank you for believing- and even if you didn’t, for feeling the fear and doing it anyway! (A special tribute to my immediate team who has come with me to places they’d never thought they’d go!)

Thanks to our Amplify thought leaders who’ve covered millions of miles between them to share the very edge of knowledge and personal experiences that not only inspired AMP, but an entire business ec0-system. Your names are still referenced on a daily basis years after your visits!

Thanks to the CIOs ( Lee Barnett and Craig Ryman) for the extraordinary creative latitude and air cover you’ve provided for this ill-fitting maverick, and the investments you’ve made in Amplify to set a standard for creativity and organisational learning that’s the envy of the industry and documented in more than 10 international case studies and business books.

Thanks to the AMP Board and Leadership team that demonstrated so publicly that learning is part of work and the growth mindset essential to an innovation culture by sitting shoulder to shoulder with employees, customers, partners, suppliers and members of the public in every Amplify forum.

And thank you to the dream teams (over the years they changed) – fired by their passion to make a difference, have an impact, and working way beyond the call of duty to co-create something epic and life-changing; and becoming changed themselves through the process.

I can best summarise what it’s been like through the words of one of my heroes, Sally Hogshead.

‘The world is not changed by people who sort of care. 

The world is changed by people who passionately, relentlessly care– sometimes, unreasonably so. People with the focus and excitement to bound through the Iditarod of obstacles that invariably blocks the path between “no” and “yes.”

Thank y’all!

In future, please reach me with messages here, or

on LinkedIn at https://au.linkedin.com/in/annaliekillian

or Twitter at @Maverickwoman



Clueless or Empowered

Those who know me well have probably heard me quote from The Cluetrain Manifesto ad nauseam, yet I am always astounded by how few people have read this life-changing book. It remains one of my most-referenced pieces of wisdom in navigating the digital revolution.

So, its good to see the folks at Forrester revisiting it and looking at contemporary practices that are emerging in the fulfilment of the vision and predictions of the Cluetrain Manifesto. I think a few of my colleagues in IT will be especially pleased by Empowered Chapter 12, whilst others will be wondering how on earth they are supposed to mitigate risks and keep costs down. 

Its good to see evidence that finally, leadership teams are beginning to actively grapple with these issues instead of ignoring it. And easy, it is NOT! But fun? Hell yes! Put it in your boss’ Christmas stocking, and if you ARE the boss, make sure you read this and change the way you lead. You will thank me for this later. 


by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler


The Cluetrain Manifesto was an incredibly prescient book. It still amazes us that a book written in 2000, when blogs were novelties and Mark Zuckerberg was in high school, was able to identify the shift towards customer empowerment. Combine that with the insight that employees must directly engage with those customers, and you have a truly visionary work.

Because of when it was written, Cluetrain was not practical. A whole lot of people read it and said “Wow, this makes me think differently.” But it’s more inspiration than manual. Ten years later, its authors have seen their work’s influence blossom, but even in 2008, when we published Groundswell, it was hard to act on many of the insights in Cluetrain.

Well, welcome to future, folks. We didn’t set out to write Empowered to address the trends articulated so provocatively in Cluetrain — we were just following the idea that emerged from our research into the way technology empowers individuals, both customers and employees. But that research led us to this fundamental principle:

To succeed with empowered customers, you must empower your employees to solve customer problems.

Looking at this, it seems very Cluetrain. Specically, Cluetrain theses 53 and 56: There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market. . . . These two conversations want to talk to each other. They are speaking the same language. They recognize each other’s voices.

We have started to get a fair number of questions about it from others who find some of these thoughts familiar. We will be talking about it in our speech to the Web 2.0 Expo audience in New York today. But for the rest of you, here’s a little closer look, the call and response.

Cluetrain thesis 50: Today, the org chart is hyperlinked, not hierarchical. Respect for hands-on knowledge wins over respect for abstract authority.

Empowered Chapter 1: “Your staff are going to be coming up with solutions on their own . . . management’s new job is to support and empower employees.”

Cluetrain theses 8, 9, 10 and 18: In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally. . . . Companies that don’t realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deply joined in conversation are missing their best opportunity.

Empowered Chapters 3-6: “[In the United States, people generate] more than half a trillion impressions [on one another about products and services every year.] . . . Solving customer problems, making customers happy, and harnessing their power to talk about it is marketing.”

Cluetrain thesis 41: Companies make a religion of security, but this is largely a red herring. Most are protecting less against competitors than against their own market and workforce.

Empowered Chapter 12: “[L]ocking down technology doesn’t work so well. . . IT has two new jobs: 1. train and educate information workers about how to keep themselves safe. 2. Help [employee innovators] assess manage, and mitigate risks associated with their projects.”

We could go on, but there’s no need. We promise you, we didn’t set out to rewrite Cluetrain, we set out to create a practical manual for today’s connected world. In that world, though, the shout that is The Cluetrain Manifesto has become the reality of customers and employees empowered by social, mobile, video, and cloud technologies. Cluetrain’s ideas are now practical and actionable, but the details are a bitch. Empowered looks at the world of the 2010, complete with Twitter, Sharepoint, and Google App Engine, and tells you what to do. It’s a management manual for the age of the empowered customer.


What does it mean to be a Thought Leader?


Coimbatore Krishnarao (C.K.) Prahalad would have celebrated his 69th birthday on August 8, 2010. He was one of the most influential and original strategic and management thinkers of the last 50 years. He was also a friend to strategy+business and, most significantly, a friend and mentor to management thinkers and practitioners all around the world — particularly in India, where he was born and educated, and in the United States, where he lived for most of his career until he passed away from a sudden lung illness on April 16.

Starting in 1977, Prahalad held a post as professor (the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Strategy) at the University of Michigan’s Ross Business School, while building a body of groundbreaking work on the most significant themes in business today: strategy, emerging markets, innovation, and organizational structure. His book Competing for the Future (Harvard Business School Press, 1994), coauthored with Gary Hamel, established core competencies as a strategic enabler, and strategic intent as a managerial purpose; The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid (Wharton School Publishing, 2005) anticipated the remarkable growth of emerging markets; and The New Age of Innovation: Driving Co-created Value through Global Networks (McGraw-Hill, 2008), coauthored with M.S. Krishnan, proposed that the most value-added corporate activity would occur across hierarchical boundaries. Along the way, C.K. wrote three of s+b’s most prescient articles: “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” (First Quarter 2002, coauthored with Stuart Hart), “The Innovation Sandbox” (Autumn 2006), and “Twenty Hubs and No HQ” (Spring 2008, coauthored with Hrishi Bhattacharyya).

C.K. and I conducted two conversations in 2009 — face-to-face in New York on January 26 and by phone on June 19 — about the nature of thought leadership and the evolution of his own ideas. During these discussions, he spoke intimately about the ancient ideas that inspired his management and strategic beliefs, described the process by which his thinking evolved, and offered a clearheaded vision of his greatest hopes for the future. We recorded these conversations without quite knowing how s+b might publish them; we knew only that it would be good to have a record of C.K. Prahalad’s perspective on thought leadership. Now, we are very gratified to be able to offer an edited version.

Big Ideas from Simple Questions

S+B: Which of your ideas have had the most impact — and how did you develop them?
One would be the idea of core competencies in a corporation. That has had a long life. For example, it reappears as capabilities-driven strategy. Others included the bottom of the pyramid [the profitability in targeting the 2.5 billion people who make less than US$2.50 per day], co-creation [companies and customers innovating together], constrained innovation [typically used to develop very low-cost but functionally sophisticated products, like the Tata Nano], and dominant logic [the idea that companies are held back by their prevailing view of how to conduct business]. Everybody now talks about shifting mind-sets, which is essentially a dominant logic argument.

In developing all of these ideas, I learned not to start with the methodology, but with the problem. A lot of times, research tends to start with the methodology. I prefer to start with a problem that’s of interest and apply whatever methodology is appropriate.

S+B: For example?
To me, the problems of greatest interest are things that you cannot explain with the current prevailing theory. Core competencies was like that. Gary Hamel and I were doing work in the mid-1980s at ICL [International Computers Ltd., a computer hardware and services company that was later acquired by Fujitsu]. The company had enormous technical capabilities, but it was tiny compared to IBM. We asked a simple question: How does a small company take on the dominant competitor in an industry? Management theory at the time said this was not possible. Honda could not take on GM. CNN could not compete successfully with NBC, Walmart with Sears, or Dell with IBM. The theory said that size matters. The underlying logic of unequal balance — relative market share and barriers to entry — would prevent smaller companies from succeeding.

Annalie’s note: Vale CK- you have left a legacy and shoes that we humbly try to fill. Thanks to Art Kleiner of Srategy+Business for again being on the money with the subjects that matter and the people who make the world a better place. Hat tip to Jenny Ambrozek for posting this story on LinkedIn where I first saw it.

The Most Important Leadership Quality for CEOs? Creativity


Hooray- finally Creativity gets its dues….thanks for reporting this Fast Company. Based on the ranking of qualities, how many CEOs do you know that fit this pattern? OK, now name them! That’s right- hit the comment button below! 

For CEOs, creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business, outweighing even integrity and global thinking, according to a new study by IBM. The study is the largest known sample of one-on-one CEO interviews, with over 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations and 33 industries polled on what drives them in managing their companies in today’s world.
Fast Company’s annual list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business just took on a whole new depth. And this year’s list will be revealed later this month.
Steven Tomasco, a manager at IBM Global Business Services, expressed surprise at this key finding, saying that it is “very interesting that coming off the worst economic conditions they’d ever seen, [CEOs] didn’t fall back on management discipline, existing best practices, rigor, or operations. In fact, they [did] just the opposite.”
About 60% of CEOs polled cited creativity as the most important leadership quality, compared with 52% for integrity and 35% for global thinking. Creative leaders are also more prepared to break with the status quo of industry, enterprise and revenue models, and they are 81% more likely to rate innovation as a “crucial capability.”

When the counter-trend emerges…..

I always love to predict when a countertrend will emerge to challenge the mainstream thinking – guess an economic crisis is guaranteed to severely test organisational values and few organisations can withstand a true test of integrity because it’s not one person. Here is a fascinating read on what I’m calling the emergence of the Engagement backlash. I thought you will be very interested to read it- some very interesting folks participating in the debate. See http://authenticorganizations.com/harquail/2010/05/10/3-reasons-why-employee-…

And it comes right alongside the emergence of new trends….eg
>> The Democratic Workplace
>> The Authentic Organisation
>> The emotional brand (scan the blog entries)> http://theengagingbrand.typepad.com/

Coincidence that a lot of these correlate to a rise on female power and leadership? Who knows…I don’t…but as a trend-watcher, I am calling it…..What do you think? Food for pause?

Being helpful is the new black

Some months ago, I read this great line on the “Conversation Agent”blog of Valeria Matoni, and I loved it- it instantly conveyed to me the essence of social capital that is circulating so freely through the new digital and networked economy. Later that same morning, I had a meeting with Paul Dumble, CEO of the Australian Institute of Training and Development, who had heard about my work at the AMPLIFY Innovation Festival. Paul then asked if I might be available to speak about the practices that we lead at AMP around nurturing a collaborative culture at the AITD National Conference – and I was very honoured and so I agreed. 

That conference was today and it was a great deal of fun- and a lot of late nights because there never is time during the working day to do these sorts of things- to sort through and structure one’s thoughts- and then- to do a slide deck, or not. In the end, I decided to do it…..because I wanted to make visible the “online” manifestations of our thriving social media world behind the firewall of AMP.  But, in mid-presentation….the deck just died! All these beautiful slides just went blank…..

Speaker’s nightmare, but luckily, I had a print out of my pack, and it helps to know your subject really well!  (I have a suspicion that the Macbook Pro that I borrowed didnt have sufficient memory….even though I tested it all before the time and it was all good and well then!) 

Seeing a lot of what I talked about was self-leadership, experimentation, emergence, living in ambiguity and letting go of control….it was a perfect test ….and, I passed with flying colours- some even saying that my talk was even better without the slides! Thanks guys…very kind of you!

I promised I would share them online via SlideShare, so here it is:

<div style=”width:477px” id=”__ss_3816081″><strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”>Being Helpful is the New Black: Building a collaborative culture and accelerating organisational learning and strategic renewal</strong><div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”>View more documents from maverickwoman.</div></div>






Employee morale: When da numbas r bad, da people respond!

I loved this example of the video of how employees choose to respond to tough challenges, and through creative expression, engage with the difficult subjects of economic downturn, rally the collective energy and focus on targets that have meaning for them.

Make da numba: 39

Got no time for sleep,
Got no time for slumba,
We all got to be a part
And make the numba.

Make the numba,
Do what you can do
A part of it, too

Help us make the numba.
39, six more zeroes
That’s our numba
39, six more zeroes
That’s our numba.

In our own company, my team is running our end-of-year review as an employee film festival. We have had some critique about this from the penny-pinchers seeing its tough times and we should not be spending any money on employee morale or “frivolous” activities while some people are losing their jobs due to the global economic crisis. 

I wonder how the nay-sayers measure the cost of employees who feel powerless, depressed and fearful? Our employees face all those same issues, and to boot, they are working harder than ever with teams dramatically reduced in numbers to deliver critically important IT releases for the business.  AND STILL- they MADE the time to get together, write scripts, hire costumes and film a movie for the end-of-year film festival.  Before work and after work and in lunch hours, the Sydney Harbour foreshore was teeming with geeks dressed in Village People outfits and amateur camera crews.  Its proven to be a great stress-buster and the lesson we need to learn from all this, the creative and expressive urge is as strong as the urge for food.  It’s what keeps us sane and functioning and whole. 

Leaders and managers who don’t value or nurture this miss the whole point of employing human beings as opposed to machines, and will always have trouble motivating people.