Portland Aluminium Smelter – From Industrial dinosaur to world bench mark

Portland Aluminium Smelter – From Industrial dinosaur to world bench mark

Portland story – the emergence of strategy in motion From industrial dinosaur to world bench mark

The birth of strategy in motion occurred in the late 20th century when Margot was invited by David Judd, plant manager of Portland Aluminium Smelter, at the time the largest aluminium smelter in the Southern Hemisphere, to lead a leadership development expedition through the center of Australia.  Margot are the 14 men of the Portland Leadership team floated in aluminium dinghies from Innaminka in heart of Australia into Lake Eyre.  A journey that had never been done before and took 14 days.

It was also plagued with problems:

  • Industrial Asthma
  • Poor community relations
  • High staff turnover
  • Huge problems with pollution and waste management
  • It had the most industrial unrest of any site in Australia.

Margot had  visited the site several times before the Coopers Creek expedition and worked individually and as a group with the leadership team.  This work was to raise their level of adult brain development, remove (unconscious) personal blocks to success and teach the leaders new communication styles.

At Coopers Creek the leaders meditated daily, built their relationship (with the assistance of  a telling 360o feedback survey), shared their dreams for the future and opened to the wonders of living in the wild.

After their return to the plant the leaders put a similar (but scaled down process through the entire plant) – entirely leader led.

2 years later

  • Workplace injuries down30%
  • Absenteeism was down 50%
  • Staff turnover was down 20%
  • Community involvement up 100%

Portland Aluminium Smelter was named the world bench mark culture

They also won prizes for their care of the natural environment around the smelter.

In David’s own words…

“Individual and collective fear of change … takes many forms. Fear of losing jobs, of losing status of risking career prospects.  Fear of rebuke from superiors for making a mistake.  Fear of ridicule from peers for making an off-the-wall suggestion for improvement.  Fear of allowing subordinates to grow in case they should excel and displace those above them.  Fear of delegation in case it leads to unsatisfactory work and subsequent retribution.”

(At Portland) we are thriving in an environment that supplants the fear of failure with the joy of success.”” (Preface to Peaceful Chaos the Art of Leadership in Times of rapid change)

The leaders of Portland created a dream of their future and then we created it.

They grew so comfortable with each other they preferred to be with their colleagues than with their friends.  They grew their success and had fun.

Strategy in motion was then applied to companies around the world achieving global IPOs, massive corporate turn arounds and sales, mergers and demergers, building teams, supporting leaders to create and achieve robust strategies that were flexible enough to capitalize on the environment as it change.



“It’s not the strongest of the species that survive.  It’s the most responsive.”
Charles Darwin

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