5 Pathways to Organisational Renewal

December 24, 2007

Just doing some packing up of various papers on my desk (not quite like a bomb has hit it but fairly close) and came across a little schematic that I did while at the AusForesight conference this year. So here are my 5 pathways to organisational renewal. 

An organisations can adopt one of many of these pathways (preferably multiple) to achieve positive change.  For those who are regular readers of this blog, you will not be surprised that two of the 5 points of the star are foresight and knowledge management.  Also listed are innovation (buzzword of the decade), leadership (buzzword of the past 30 years) and systems thinking (buzzword of the next decade!).  Taking any of these pathways in a whole-hearted and meaningful manner will take an organisation down the path of organisational renewal.  Adopting more than one of these at a time will enable a greater potential for success.  I’ve taken the number 5 from a book that I have been reading for the past couple of months called “The 5 Literacies of Global Leadership” by Richard Hames (more on this excellent book later).  That my 5 are in a star shaped pattern and some are more closely linked to others is just a coincidence – there is no grand plan with where they are located on the star – it’s just how they happened to be situated in a moment of inspiration during the conference.

Primary School or Passionate Schooling?

December 19, 2007

Tonight was my daughter’s graduation from Primary School.  Along with other proud parents, we trooped along to farewell the school of her early education.

Apart from the general excitement of the children who dressed to the max for the occasion, what really impressed me was the passion and emotion shown by the teachers during their speeches and as they presented each graduating child with their year book and other gifts.  Each of the four teachers gave heart-felt and passionate speeches, each was overcome with emotion at least once during their speech, and each expressed the joy that they received from being with our children and how they felt honoured and priviliged to have been their teachers.

Each of the teachers have been with the students for the past two years – that’s more than 400 teaching days.  And after all this time, that they still have such passion towards their profession and their students is just fantastic.  It helps that it’s a fairly small school with about 40 kids graduating this year. 

Some of the specific comments from the teachers were really interesting.  How they did not so much feel sadness at bidding these children goodbye, but that it was like a theatre show where they have tried to build up the kids’ confidence and skills to let them proceed on to the stage that is their next journey in life.  How their role as teachers is made so much easier by positive parenting in the home and that the kids are a reflection of their parents.  How many of the school support staff were in attendance as well throughout the graduation ceremony as part of the wider school program.  And their messages to the graduating children to proceed with confidence, to have a go, to do your best, and to not settle for complacency.

It was lovely to see such passionate people in their workplace, working with people day in day out, helping them learn new skills and try different things, to make a mess and be creative, and to look with positive expectations towards their future. That’s real KM and futures work in action and it’s such a shame that this passion, joy and excitement is often not seen in corporate workplaces!

Humour in the Workplace – Bring it on!!

December 18, 2007

The other day, I went along to a great presentation by Troy and Zara hosted by VPSCIN

It was great to be able to see them as the last couple of times they have presented I have missed out with work commitments (fancy work getting in the way of having a good time).

But there was a lot of interesting comments made by Troy and Zara about the importance of humour including:

  • Humour helps to take the negative emotion out of the problem-solving equation
  • Humour is an attitude, a decision, a mindset
  • Like creativity, humour is the ability to link seemingly unrelated concepts to create something new
  • 90% of our time is spent solving problems and only 10% spent on exploring the opportunities.

I learnt something from a Richard Bach book that there are only two things in life worth doing: having fun and learning.  With humour, you get to do both at the same time which makes it even more important.

Troy and Zara have an alternative acronym for GSOH (Good Sense of Humour) of Good Company, Sense of Perspective, Opportunity and Have Fun.  Sounds like pretty sage advice to me.

From a futures point of view, humour is closely linked to the importance of optimism and hope as positive dimensions of looking forward.  I though that there could be an interesting acronym for HOPE then as Humour (of course), Optimism, Persistence and Enthusiasm.  An alternative could be Humour, Optimism and Postive Energy which I like a bit more.  Many energy vampires out there (see Patrick Lambe’s description of the archetype for more information) tend to be quite draining and often negative. 

Have fun everyone, especially over Christmas if I don’t get to post again in the meantime.

Rudd’s future focus the key

December 5, 2007

The above headline is taken from the Fin Review today on page 8 with an article by David Crowe.  He quotes the ALP national secretary and campaign manager, Tim Gartrell, as nominating Kevin Rudd’s positive message about the future as the single biggest factor that secured the change in federal government.  In comparison, the Howard government was trapped going over the past and lost touch with people in key electorates. 

Perhaps someone read my last post on our “future” Prime Minister

Australian Federal Election 2007 Results – Our “Future” PM

December 3, 2007

Another three years, another Federal Election. But this time, something different – a change of government. The first time since 1996 and only the third change since 1975 (the others with Hawke/Keating coming into power in 1983, and Howard/Costello in 1996). The best thing about democratic change in Australia is that we can have these changes of government and there is no bloodshed and no-one gets killed!

It’s been a week since the result and there is still much speculation about why the change happened. Many consider that Howard stayed a year too long and that he was yesterday’s man, others that Labor finally had an Opposition Leader that could outpoint Howard (something that Beazley and Latham could not do). What is really interesting is that the change happened at a time of economic strength. So we can count the economy out then as a reason for change. Labor under Rudd focused on a few key issues including climate change and Kyoto (ratified today as the first decision of Government), industrial relations and Workchoices, the war in Iraq, broadband, education, and public hospitals and health and a bit on broken interest rate promises, with the final clincher of appearing to manage the economy better with reduced spending commitments after the Liberal Party launch.  There was a mix of positive and negative messages – from climate change with the symbolism of ratifying Kyoto, the painting of the Government as untrustworthy in relation to IR, and positive imagery of an education and broadband revolution.  The messages were highly crafted and well targeted.  But that still may not explain why the electorate moved.

A closer view of the electoral results showed a patchy distribution of changing seats.  Certainly NSW and Qld were the keys.  Having the possibility of a Queensland PM and Treasurer would certainly have helped the parochial nature of the locals up there, as well as the parlous state of the Queensland branch of the Liberal party.  A minimum of 8 and most likely 10 seats fell to the Labor party in Queensland alone.  Add NSW with 6 but more likely 7 (with interest rates a key issue) and that is just enough to get the 16 seats required.  A few from Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia made it definite.  That some Queensland seats had a 14% swing is just amazing.  And where I live in the electorate of Deakin was one of the seats that changed hands.

Of all the commentary, I found Henry Ergas’ comments on Friday to be very insightful.  He stated that it was precisely because the economy was going well that people had moved to looking for something else in their politicians.  The focus on the economy by the Liberals then failed to hit the mark. This has echoes of Paul Ray’s Cultural Creatives but it might be too soon to talk about that here in Australia.  But certainly the economy as an electoral issue did not attract the kind of media attention as previous elections. 

Another interesting thing I felt about Rudd is that he talked a lot about the future. He didn’t talk about change, he didn’t say too much that Howard was a man of the past.  Rudd’s narrative focused on his views of the future and what he wanted to do differently and he let the electorate make the connection that Howard was history.  As a futurist, I found that talk of the future very heartening, although I was somewhat disappointed to hear that in his Ministerial appointments, there was no Minister for the Future appointed!  In comparison, Howard’s pitch was more emotive and based on fear – of a union-dominated Labor party in government, fear of the economy going pear-shaped due to the inexperience of the Labor team.  In this respect, this was a victory for humility over hubris as many have reported.  Or maybe it had something to do with this tongue-in-cheek interview of John Howard by Richard Neville during the election period. 

And so what of the future.  Some people think that the ALP is really just Another Liberal Party and that Rudd is the best successor to Howard.  Others that the Coalition, out of power now in all states and federally, needs to radically recast itself.  The knives are coming out and there will be a lot of soul-searching and recasting of policies over the next year under Nelson.  The move of many senior Liberals to the backbench is part of this recasting.

And also there is still the Senate. It’s a shame to see that Andrew Bartlett in Queensland has failed to keep his spot – I’ve really enjoyed reading his blog.  The Democrats are now gone and the Greens are teetering on the edge of getting the balance of power but struggling with the vagaries of the proportional representation of the Senate. 

And penultimately, it’s great to hear that broadband and the digital economy is getting some interest politically with those words in the new Ministerial portfolio.  The knowledge word has not been raised – perhaps Knowledge Nation is still too raw a nerve and so KM might have to take a bit more of a back-seat ride for a while.

Finally, the man who said future so much has now been sworn in as Prime Minister.  There will be the inevitable honeymoon period (particularly as witnessed with the jovial banter with Kochie on Sunrise today) but the time will come in 6-9 months time when policies need to be implemented and when the future timeframes will need to be shortened.  But today, the future became the reality.