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Bruce Herbert is the Chief Supply Chain Officer for Coca-Cola Amatil East Japan. I asked him to write this post after he expressed a view during his closing remarks at our Firehose hackathon that struck a chord with me. 100 people had just spent 54+ hours understanding the real problems of supply chain for real companies like CCA and built 11 new startups to solve them. This is why it is everyone’s job to innovate. Here’s Bruce.

In my father’s generation, work was defined by the type of shirt you wore – either blue or white collar. Whilst we still understand the terms they no longer match our attire.

We may be less segregated than we were 50 years ago, but the dividing line is still there and has shifted in an important way. The new divide still has a clothing colour aspect, but the colour has changed from blue to hi-viz, and the wearers are a much more diverse lot than the old blue collar stereotype. Hi-viz is not just a garment but more a place. The place is outdoors or in factories or trucks and away from where the other half of society work. Hi-Viz has engineers and professionals and managers in it as well as tradies and labourers and truckies.

The irony of Hi-Viz as a place is that its not very visible from the other place.

That other place is Hi-rise. Hi-rise is where government and banks and corporates and IT and office people work. It is a safer and more comfortable place that doesn’t need special clothing.

The irony of Hi-rise is that even though the view is often better, its hard to see Hi-viz from there.

Trust me, I travel between the two worlds and true understanding between them is sadly poor. Many inhabitants of Hi-rise know more about other countries than they do about Hi-viz.

As our world has gotten more comfortable Hi-viz has moved further away from Hi-rise – away from the best views, harbours and inner cities. Our factories and warehouses and trucks and construction sites are competing in a tough global arena where every innovation matters but many of our best brains are attracted to Hi-rise. Why not? The pay is often better, you’re closer to the rule makers and you don’t need special clothing.

My simple plea here is for help – for more of our best and smartest in Hi-rise to turn their talents to the challenges faced by Hi-viz. This isn’t a charity call – where problems are solved there’s money to be made.

Cross the line, come and solve a Hi-viz problem. You won’t regret the journey and Australia will be a better country if you do…

Find out about #nextmonday – where ex-Ford car builders will be creating new startups.

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