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Innovative PM? No Malcolm! You’re doing it wrong!

A year ago, Malcolm Turnbull downloaded Bruno Mar’s “The Lazy Song” and it has been on repeat for the past year. The first line of the song “Today I don’t feel like doing anything” completely epitomises every single day of the Turnbull Government.

The media also seems to be stuck in a cycle of just accepting this as the new norm (except for Andrew Bolt who has really pushed the point on this, with an interview with Peta Credlin this week.)

The problem for the innovative Prime Minister is although he promised new ideas and an innovative Government; his leadership behaviour is actually not conducive to innovative leadership.

Innovative leaders need to encompass idea generation, idea evaluation and idea implementation. Their personal qualities include an ability to continuously generate ideas, or the ability to lead people to generate ideas. Fearlessness in challenging the status quo, taking risks. The ability to know when to cancel projects and change course (the opposite to escalation of commitment!) and the ability to lead a collegial and cohesive team.

Turnbull has two main issues to address; or he will be playing “The Lazy Song” for another 365 days.

Escalation of Commitment

Escalation of commitment is when an individual or group persists on the same trajectory, even if they know it will result in a poor outcome. Normally, substantial time or money has been invested and this is the impetus for maintaining that commitment.

What has Turnbull invested? He has invested his entire career to get to this point. His investment success was that he was given the authority to over-throw a sitting Prime Minister. His other investment is that he guaranteed would be much more popular than Tony Abbott. Although Turnbull has won the 2016 election in his own right; one would be hard pressed to argue that Turnbull won the election as the “Popular Prime Minister.”

As onlookers, we will never be privy to the in-party investment Turnbull has made, until the ABC produces the sequel to “The Killing Season.” However, it seems clear that the investment was made to gain the support of the conservative right aligned faction of his party.

The leather jacket wearing progressive, forward thinking Turnbull he displayed to the public, as the ‘would be Prime Minister’ is in stark contrast to the conservative and dull Turnbull who is now the current Prime Minister.

Escalation of commitment can explain why although there is public opposition and a huge drop in his popularity, he is committed to maintaining Abbott’s:

1. A commitment to a Plebiscite on Marriage Equality

2. A commitment to stigmatising the poor by targeting welfare recipients as a budget savings measure, instead of treating them as human beings.

3. A commitment to offshore processing and a high level of secrecy surrounding asylum seekers

4. A commitment to supporting climate change deniers and climate change measures that are mere tokenism and not proactive.

5. A commitment to attack dog style politics due to the lack of policy ideas.

6. A commitment to blaming absolutely everyone else but his own leadership

7. A commitment to treating Gonski as a joke

8. A commitment to destroying our universal health care system – Medicare

9. A commitment to union bashing and disrespecting the worker

10. A commitment to the absence of Government intervention and lack of job creation.

Leaders who fear change

The conundrum is, is Turnbull’s escalation of commitment a true escalation of commitment due to his personal investment to secure the top position or is it something intrinsic within him as a leader? Could Turnbull actually have every leader’s behavioural nightmare? Is he a leader who fears change?

One of the most important areas to lead change especially as an innovative change leader is one needs to be transparent and open and honest about who they are, and accept criticism and reflect on their own personal development.

Turnbull does appear to use a strong avoidance technique for any of this to occur. He has not been open and honest about why his focus has shifted from progressive to conservative and he does not accept criticism or (I can assume as an observer) he does not reflect on his own personal development, as the signature ‘blame everyone else’ behaviour has not changed.

Around this time last year, Turnbull promised the voting public that he would be the innovation prime minister.

The difficulty for Turnbull with innovation is innovation requires constant evolving change and continuous improvement. Maintaining the status quo through escalation of commitment kills off innovation faster than one can say “Betacord.”

For a Prime Minister to become the innovative Prime Minister he promised he would be, Turnbull needs to adopt a transformational leadership style. To do this, it is necessary to do a number of things and I’ll use this next section as a pictorial to show how things have gone wrong:

1. Adopt a new unique leadership perspective. Don’t copy old leadership styles.

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong!

abbott mask

2. Develop a Culture of Trust – Have those you lead trust you and share your vision

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong!

Bernardi 18c

Source: Crikey

3. Develop Formal Solutions. Generate new ideas. Think outside the box. Take risks.

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong

Credlin ideas

Source: Fairfax


4. Challenge old ideas and adopt new thinking

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong!

cartoons abbott

Source: Eureka Street / Kudelka Cartoons / Loon Pond / Timstoons


5. Take responsibility – Reflect on your behaviour and do not blame others

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong!

blame labor

Source: @SirThomasWynne


6. Become a failure-tolerant leader. Re-examine, Re-invigorate and Renew

No Malcolm! You are doing it wrong!

turnbull sulking

Source: The Guardian/Australia


I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from a true great leader. May his words inspire Mr. Turnbull to have his first original idea.

pat dodson

Originally published on Polyfeministix


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  1. paulwalter

    I wonder if he will pluck up the courage to threaten resignation and carry it through if the trogs don’t stop chasing like demons after a candidate for hell? I suppose they are log jammed and wait for a bright idea, who has a plan, spin isn’t working this time?

    Can we expect an Abbott return, a true reward for a decade of obstructing everything constructive and rational a series of governments have tried to initiate? Morrison is as bad and Bishop looks too late to become a Teresa May.

    They play carelessly with the lives of so many people for this pitiful orgy of self indulgence. Desolate, desolate..

  2. Bighead1883

    The one thing that popped into my head as I read this article Trish is that it`s a game,and a game of one upmanship

    AS long as Turnbull is doing the banker&corps CEO wishes who sweats the small change?

    I keep seeing them in their cabinet meetings giving each other high fives and points cred for who can pass the biggest whopper

    I reckon the LNP inner Cabinet room is completely soundproof where the cognac and uppers flow freely

  3. Bighead1883

    I`ll rewrite my first sentence

    The one thing that popped into my head as I read this article Trish is that it`s a game,and a game of one upmanship

  4. Trish Corry

    Thanks Biggy. That actually just gave me another blog post idea!

  5. Harquebus

    Leadership also requires facing facts. Something that Turnbull and Shorten have in common and do not do.
    Turnbull is failing just as Rudd, Gillard, Abbott, Howard etc. have failed and whoever comes after will also fail so long as they continue to pursue their flawed ideology: Growth.

    Authors here are very good at recognizing symptoms of which, there are many. None seem to be able to recognize the disease. Growth, just like cancer and pursued by politicians the world over, is killing us.

    You can write a book Trish, it won’t make any difference until the absurdity of infinite growth is realized and terminated. All the many hours that you have spent promoting your cause will all have been for nothing.

    “Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues were miraculously to vanish, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible…” — George Monbiot


  6. Bighead1883

    Bill Mitchell explains this very well in “Social Capitalism” and I`m afraid you`ve entered Rudd`s name wrongly because he was/is aware of the impact of growth in a finite world

    Of course Australia`s greatest “Never Was A PM” Bob Brown agreed totally with Kevin Rudd on this

    “From Billy`s Blog Posted on Saturday, January 31, 2009 by bill ” Like many of us, Rudd sees the ultimate irony in the greed merchants who ran amok taking as much out of the trough as they could in the growth period now begging the state to keep them afloat. Overnight corporate welfare in the billions is now acceptable when just a short time ago, any pittance given to an unemployed person in the form of unemployment benefit was criticised and the person receiving it vilified as being lazy and unmotivated”

    Social capitalism …

    But you are 100% correct in the “Growth” policies attitude and they should be re-constructed into sustainability policy
    In fact a global drive hurdling religion and educating nations on the value of de-population as a “world saver” should be paramount but you and I know this will not be the case whilst Wall Street controls the Earth`s resources and those who decide who`ll exploit them

    Remember Harquebus,”We the United States of America are ready willing and able to deliver “BOMB your ass” infinite f&*king tonnes of Democracy on anyone who doesn`t toe our National interest byline”

  7. Trish Corry

    Interesting point Harquebus. I have just read one of Monbiot’s posts in the guardian. I took away from it four key points:

    1. Women need to control their wombs
    2. Even women who don’t have control of their wombs need to
    3. Men are not at fault at all for contraception
    4. I’m a vegan – cows will destroy the planet, stop making cows they are eating all the crops that feed the humans

    Western Governments encourage business to invest in growth. Businesses aim for sustainable growth. That means that they use the least amount of resources they can to produce a quality product. Sustainable business management practices have been around for a long time now and are in general the norm. There are even ‘green beers.’ This includes massive investment in environmentally friendly infrastructure and practices as well. Sustainable practices are one of the leading differences in competitive advantage today.

    The Japanese for example have been doing this for years – Lean Manufacturing and western industries have copied for years. Interestingly this is something that underpins innovation which is what the article is about.

    I would disagree that there is infinite growth with no other reigning in of resources from others championing growth (of which Turnbull appears to be all talk and no action.) We should value leaders who champion growth and sustainable growth practices.

    At this point I will take no notice of vegans who blame women and cows for the ills of the world.

    I think global financial aid in education and poverty reduction will assist just as much to develop more sustainable trading partners who produce quality products and investment in the turning non-arable land into arable land in many countries would produce much more food, rather than a man shouting at women to control their wombs.

    Turnbull doesn’t seem to be interested in any of these things. Mr. Innovation he is not.

  8. Freethinker

    The Rudd/Swan government was the only one that have starting to leave out neoliberal economy policies. IMO was a shame that the following government come back to the old policies.

  9. helvityni

    paulwalter, did you think that Bishop could be our Theresa May, more like the next editor for the Vogue magazine, Dutton can run a tough prison, and Morrison might make a good preacher for the Hiilsong church, Abbott and Barnaby are yesterday’s men and should gracefully disappear to their farms and/or sporting clubs…

    Any other aspirants for the top job…?

    Michaelia (a senator), is that possible? She would frighten the little children, and milking cows…

  10. Terry2

    What has Turnbull invested?

    Well, he invested at least one million dollars of his own money – known as the Palmer strategy – to get himself re-elected !

  11. Trish Corry

    Haha so true Terry.

  12. Harquebus

    Thanks. I checked that point out. It appears that Rudd was aware of the problems caused by growth but, mainly concerned himself with coping with them, not curbing them.

    Sustainable growth is an oxymoron. Growth is growth and it is not sustainable.
    The Japanese have been printing currency for decades to support their economy. Another symptom. Sound familiar?

    Please humor me and watch the first half of this video. It is about population growth. The second half, if you are interested, is about the exponential use of energy and resources needed to “sustain” population growth.
    Dr Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy

    If you refuse to listen to a woman blaming vegan then, perhaps this gentleman can sway you.

    “It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.” — David Attenborough

    “Using his burgeoning intelligence, this most successful of all mammals has exploited the environment to produce food for an ever increasing population. Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, perhaps it’s time we controlled the population to allow the survival of the environment.” — David Attenborough

    One more.

    “There is no point in saving the planet if we ruin the economy doing it.” — former NSW Premier Morris Iemma

    I know who I’d rather take notice of and it is not the politician.

    Physics trumps political and economic ideology every time.


  13. Trish Corry

    I’m not talking about politics in my reply as much. I’m more making points about industry and sustainable practices but that can also extends to Govt infrastructure. I also donate to Marie Stopes to assist women in poorer countries access contraception and the right to choose. Possibly those advocating for women curbing the birth rate could think about donating too. It’s a great organisation. See it as a proactive measure.

  14. Trish Corry

    I’m just on my phone I’ll watch the vid later.

  15. SGB

    Wow – thanks to you all – I have just learnt a bit more, from this article and the subsequent comments.

    No this is not being sarcastic, I did not realise a number of the facts exposed by the article and the comments.

    Great stuff AIMN, et al.


  16. bossa

    The simple answer to all of the above is that Turnbull is not a leader. In opposition, he was a populist, but has revealed himself in office.

    He’s as useless as an air conditioner is to an eskimo.

    PS #1> People seem to conveniently forget that this ‘spiv’ is of the 0.1% and that he’s actively setting up his future investments. It’s a crime that these idiots have been returned to power.

    PS #2> A friend has just told me that a single mother he knows has received a letter from the AFP to attend an interview with Centrelink to talk about any earnings. She is a pensioner and was told that this was a random call-up. Morrison is screwing people up at will, and for no good reason. I’ll add that she’s been vomiting with fear.

  17. nexusxyz

    The only thing the LNP know is obstruction and pettiness. Forget building anything.The economy will bumble along in spite of their pointless policies.

  18. wam

    bossa the need to hunt dole bludgers is up there with breeding. So, in the fervour of the chase, collateral damage is inevitable but the private industry running the ‘dole’ will repay stolen benefits shortly after the victim proves they were innocent.

    As for women, wasn’t howard terrific with his assessment at the press club?
    It has been the slogan of the 21st century ‘some women are exceptional and believe in equality of the sexes but most women are gender specific and know they have a god given physiological flaw.
    The man can rely on rhetoric as long as he has the media on side. Currently, with the exception of AIMN/bolt, his wws(words without substance) are still flying on the ABC, morning shows and sundry chats?
    but rhotoric has been suspended till sometime later as arbib 2 bye bye sam bye bye

  19. TuffGuy

    You probably left out the biggest failure yet – the NBN. Turnbull is on record well before the 2013 election as being pro fibre. After the 2013 election, under orders from Abbott, he completely destroyed the NBN, massive cost blowouts, massive schedule over runs and massive problems just trying to get his craptastic bandaid network to work. He has literally wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on Malcolm Turnbulls Mess. Now as PM he is supposed to be the one in charge and had the opportunity to change it all and get the real NBN back on track. Unfortunately we all know what is happening now, becoming the laughing stock of the world and before it is even finished it will require a very expensive upgrade and our world ranking will have slipped from 60 to probably 600.

  20. townsvilleblog

    Trish, I believe that conservative governments are conservative by nature, we have just been connected to Turnbull’s fraudband, to find that it is actually a fraction slower than our previous ADSL2. If this is the ‘innovation’ they are offering Australia, we could be back to horse and buggy days if this government runs full term.

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