What's going on in the
world of Change2020

The world is evolving rapidly and change management needs to be at the top of corporate agendas to ensure long term survival.

The commercial environment and the nature of work undergoes tremendous upheaval – driven by technological change and disruption not seen since the Industrial Revolution.

In a world of volatility and uncertainty, embracing ambiguity is the name of the game. Business executives who fail to proactively lead change management are jeopardising not just their organisation’s long term prosperity, but its very survival.

According to Boston Consulting group, 75% of current Fortune 500 companies will no longer be on the list by 2020 simply because of an inability to change with the times.

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Being Malleable

Malleability and Adaptive Leadership

While it is a very long time ago, I still remember being in my year 8 science class and first learning about malleable metals (e.g. gold, silver, copper, lead and aluminium) – those metals that can be hammered, pressed or rolled into thin sheets without breaking.  This was around the same time the Periodic Table became my friend as I learnt a “song” to help me to remember all the elements.  (As an aside, a cute modern day version of a song can be found on YouTube)

Since that time I have always been attracted to the word malleable (particularly now that I can spell it).  This interest further peaked as I moved into leadership roles combined with the discoveries in neuroscience (the study of the nervous system and the brain).  Neuroplasticity is the term used when referring to the malleability of the brain. Neuroscience has proved that it is possible to change the way we behave with the motivation and support – due to the brain’s malleability.

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Belief really can make a difference!

Creating a Culture of Belief in the Workplace

What a treat for our sporting nation – the two key codes of football celebrating grand final wins with the underdogs getting up on both occasions. Having grown up with an almost obsessive love for AFL, I am absolutely delighted that the Western Bulldogs are the 2016 premiers (even though I am a passionate and long-suffering Carlton supporter)!

How does a team come from 7th on the ladder to win the flag? How do they overcome a 62-year premiership drought? How do they manage to play as a high performing team week after week even though their beloved and highly skilled captain was injured early in the 2016 season?

My observation – they believed they could do it. They were 100% focused on the outcome, they had a shared goal, a goal which was largely shared by the entire western suburban population of Melbourne.

So often we use sporting analogies in the business world; it seems apt, in a sporting team everyone must know their role, commit to maintaining and building their skills, always be there to play their role in the game, recognise the strengths of others and provide opportunities for them to be optimised, operate selflessly, communicate continually, reflect on performance and opportunities for improvements and always remain focused on the goal, in this instance the premiership.

While the analogy works we are rarely treated to leadership and teamwork such as that demonstrated by high performing sporting teams. There is no doubt that the busy changing world we operate in creates challenges for teams to remain aligned or high performing, but surely they should never lose sight of the goal?

If we believe in what we do, why we do it and our role in it, then regardless of the rapidly changing environment we are faced with, alignment, high performance and ultimately achieving the goal is more likely.

How do you create ‘belief’ in the workplace?

  1. Share the ‘why’ – ensure every person knows why the business, service or team exists; it builds engagement, ownership and belief, it creates the story which employees can place themselves in
  2. Be clear on roles so each person knows how they can contribute to the goal
  3. Keep everyone informed, celebrate successes and share learnings from mistakes
  4. Encourage ideas from all parts of the business, listen, consider and give feedback
  5. Invest in skills and behaviours of your team so they are equipped to achieve the goal
  6. Recognise that leadership can emerge from anywhere at any time, encourage it!

The ecstasy of the Western Bulldogs win will easily carry them through the off-season while they enjoy a well-earned break. But first, they will take a deep breath, they will celebrate, they will reflect on their role in this momentous event and they will demonstrate thanks to every supporter who shared in their belief that anything is possible!

Nine Habits to Embrace Ambiguity

Recently Change2020 launched the Embrace ambiguity movement. This movement is about firstly acknowledging where your tolerance of ambiguity sits and then taking action to Embrace ambiguity – both at home and at work.

At Change2020, we believe that Embracing ambiguity is imperative if you are to remain relevant as a leader.  Research also identifies that “leaders who are comfortable with uncertainty and competent under ambiguous conditions might very well provide a competitive advantage to organisations”[1].

So, if relevancy and having a competitive advantage are important to you, is it time to jump on board and join the Embrace ambiguity movement.

Joining the movement is simple, the first step is to complete our survey by clicking here to determine your tolerance of ambiguity.

We have developed nine habits that will assist you to Embrace ambiguity.

These are:

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Take the reins
  3. Focus on what matters
  4. Rewire expectations
  5. Hatch butterfly moments
  6. Open the floodgates
  7. Challenge idea killers
  8. Be courageous
  9. Let go and move on

Over the next nine weeks will be releasing a blog on each of these habits. Watch out for these to build your tolerance to Embrace ambiguity.

[1] White, R.P. and Shullman, S.L., Acceptance of Uncertainty as an Indicator of Effective Leadership, Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 2010, Vol 62, No 2, 94 – 104


Wasted Talent and Lost Opportunity

Wasted Talent and Lost Opportunity – The Simple Acts of Employee Engagement

One of the great aspects of my role is the opportunity to meet potential new Change2020 consultants. Each one brings their own unique story with a wonderful mix of skills; it is always inspiring to meet these people and learn about their career, values, and motivations. Why people choose to work in change management often comes down to real passion for helping organisations do the right thing, natural curiosity and, often, the desire to reignite their creative spark and do something outside of a traditional employment situation. Creativity is an important component to a change professional’s skillset and is often expressed as the ability to adapt technical expertise into the language of an organisational culture in order to break down barriers and deliver outcomes. However, creativity and curiosity are also important skills to embed into an organisation’s culture and leadership; and this is often a missed opportunity.

So last week I was struck by a comment from a colleague that joining our team had been like “having her brain switched back on”. Why, I wondered? Because suggestions for improvement and using initiative were welcome and appreciated, and that she was therefore motivated to continually think of new ideas and suggestions without fear of being knocked back without due consideration. Referencing that in a past role her suggestions for improvement had been continuously knocked back, she had eventually shut down, got on with the prescriptive requirements for the job and ultimately resigned. The contrast was clear – and troubling. In a position to see how much value this person contributes to our business, here was a moment of clarity illuminating some of the hidden and arguably more substantial costs to an organisation when they lose good employees. Perhaps this anecdote is one that you too have heard, possibly many times. Or does this scenario apply to you too?

Employee Engagement and an Organisation’s Need for New Perspectives

Albert Einstein once said that “you cannot solve the problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. Organisations need new perspective and thinking to help solve problems and to find incremental opportunities for change that help to improve a business. This is creativity driven through skill sets and active employee engagement, and is key to unlocking innovation in an environment of ongoing change and ambiguity. Discussions like the one outlined above remind me that there is so much wasted opportunity for making time to listen to suggestions and ideas from committed, motivated people. Emotional engagement and personal mastery really are the cornerstone of retaining talent, money is only ever part of the equation.

Whilst this is bit of a personal rant, I thought it was timely to share because personal development is a wonderful thing and to see eyes being opened, brains being switched back on and real problem solving take place is a truly satisfying outcome. It’s simple acts that help to stimulate this, emotional connection and a sense of personal self-worth at the end of the day. Innovation comes through people and needs to be encouraged through active listening, broad-ranging engagement and attentive leadership. Einstein also said that “the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. What a great aspiration for our future workforce.

Keeping yourself informed in your business

No one tells me anything!

“Nobody ever tells me anything around here!”

How many times have we heard that?  Or “communication is hopeless in our business, we are like mushrooms, always kept in the dark!

While I will be the first to admit that we have worked with many leaders who lack communication and in particular storytelling capabilities and experience, and may not prioritise communication or are not skilled in ensuring they are ‘on message’, we rarely work with leaders who intentionally keep people in the dark.

Recently when working on a major acquisition, there were rumblings from across the teams that ‘we don’t know what is going on, no one is telling us anything’, so we investigated the communication forums, channels and initiatives available to the largely centralised organisation. There appeared to be several ways to learn more about the acquisition – CEO Update, intranet updates, toolbox talks, lunch and learn, team briefs, branded newsletter blasts, fortnightly videos – ‘what it means for our function’, the obligatory bathroom and kitchen posters and of course key messages were provided to all leaders to deliver during their standard team meetings. So, why was the “Mushroom Syndrome” so alive and well across the business? My theory – there was resistance, scepticism and almost a laziness from some individual’s about keeping themselves informed. If the information was not delivered in the way I wanted it, by whom I wanted it delivered by, then I did not feel informed!

But where is the responsibility to keep yourself informed?

Communication is two-way, we interpret and we listen, it is also multi-faceted, we can gather enormous amounts of information through questioning, observing, involving ourselves and most simply, reading the available information and actively listening when it is relayed at various forums.

Regardless of position, duration or experience; there is a responsibility to keep yourself informed, some easy options include:

  • Be present in meetings and actively listen, if you don’t understand something or require more information, ask a question or follow up
  • Allocate time each week to read the content which has been uploaded or emailed
  • Volunteer to be a part of projects or focus groups; get involved
  • Adopt a growth mindset, instead of assuming you are being kept in the dark, seek information to feed the gap in your knowledge
  • Share what you know with others
  • If you hear people saying, no one ever tells me anything, ask them “what have you done to keep yourself informed?”

We live in a highly complex, rapidly changing world where the luxury of waiting until all data is available before communicating an outcome is becoming a thing of the past. However the positive of operating in a highly complex, rapidly changing world means there are many times when the unknown is a real opportunity to test, challenge, query and learn – and we do all of this by keeping ourselves informed.

A lesson from early school days – if you don’t know, you need to ask!

Capability Development and The Future of Work

Building Progressive Capabilities to Support New Business Models

Can you imagine the experience of staying in a fully automated and robot-serviced hotel? Driverless cars? ‘Remote’ surgeries across continents? We soon could be as forecast in a recent report from PwC: The future of work – A journey until 2022. The disruption of our future work patterns, practices and places is everywhere at the moment and is set to be one of the most significant areas of change over the next five years. This leads squarely into the need to look for new innovations and, specifically, the range of capabilities required in order to remain relevant and optimise those innovations.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

Organisations are seeking new business models to evolve to in order to build opportunity in a challenging environment; in itself an opportunity for major innovation, this is also driving an imperative for capability development. It has been forecast that 65% of the jobs our primary age children will be doing have not yet been created. The World Economic Forum’s Jobs of the Future report referred to a Fourth Industrial Revolution, predicting a potential net loss of 5.1 million jobs -largely from the office and administrative job functions – with gains in computer and mathematical; and architecture and engineering related fields. Coupled with changes in the way that work is undertaken, such as increasing flexibility, the rise of freelance workers and ongoing globalisation within emerging markets, capability development is a major differential in organisational competitiveness.

Important Tips on Capability Development

As many businesses are embarking on a major journey of change that is focused on building progressive capabilities to support innovations and new business models, the following tips are important:

  • Language is critical in capability development. We need to speak a positive language which builds skills and capabilities, and breeds a positive mindset linked to the vision, values and leadership behaviours that form part of the high-performance culture;
  • One size does not fit all; there is always a need to shape and adapt capabilities for an organisation, whether it be in defining them or building learning and development plans around them. Off-the-shelf programs rarely cut it, customised and ‘fit for purpose’ capability development is required to embrace opportunities;
  • Ensure clarity of communication; capability development is about supporting the growth of culture, a mindset of change and providing relevant learning opportunities. Address the ‘why’ we are doing it first and then the ‘what’s in it for me question;
  • Align to HR strategy; ensure that capability development underpins the strategic drivers of the business and is embedded across the range of people processes.

In any great hotel, many would agree that the ‘awesome’ in service comes from a blend of finely tuned attention to detail and fantastic experiences. Capability drives this kind of business model and it is hard to imagine robots would replace humans as such; nothing is ever this black and white. However, there is no doubt that a multitude of important factors, including rapid technological advancement, will push organisations to evolve their thinking and approach to future growth. Investment in building the right capabilities to support this evolution is crucial to such innovation and creating a platform for success.

Did Charles Handy have a crystal ball?

In May 2001 I had the good fortune of attending a well-known conference within the UK HR industry on board the Oriana. This event is an annual tradition and held on the ship for three days during which time delegates are able to attend a variety of discussions on emerging people issues and, of course, network like machines with an assortment of suppliers, peers and organisations represented.

That year the keynote speaker for the conference was Charles Handy, a great thought leader who, with Irish wit and charm, did not disappoint in the clarity of his view points or challenging the status quo. I got to meet him briefly with this wife Elizabeth as they had chosen to remain on board for an additional three days of the conference (other speakers had scurried off before setting sail on Friday night).

Handy introduced a rapt audience to his latest book at that time, The Elephant and the Flea, which proclaimed the rise of ‘fleas’ – or individuals who would work independently, flexibly and creatively across a number of organisations in their career – versus ‘elephants’ who remained stable in their careers working for a large corporation. Amongst the many ideas that he puts forward in the book Handy identified four key challenges for organisations over the coming 20 years:

  1. how to grow bigger, but remain small and personal;
  2. how to combine creativity with efficiency;
  3. how to be prosperous but socially acceptable; and
  4. how to reward both the owners of the ideas as well as the owners of the company.

Fast forward to 2016. Bombarded with the rising impact of the freelance economy, numerous reports on the future of work – including one from the World Economic Forum – the rapid acceleration of technological and social change and the words of Charles Handy are once again ringing in my ear.

We have been talking a lot about the future of work in the Change2020 hub, particularly as we pursue our vision to Embrace Ambiguity. Today we live in a VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous – and the pace of change is relentless and rapid. It requires news ways of thinking and a new mindset to gain competitive advantage and deliver impactful leadership. Moreover, the greater connection between people and organisations is changing the language of work and the expectations of the customer or client. It’s entrepreneurial meets big business in the face of massive disruption. Charles Handy was both right and way ahead of his time.

However, the most humbling recollection of hearing and meeting Charles Handy at the HR Forum is not only the relevance of his words but the timing of them. In May 2001 the world was breathtakingly different. There had been no 9/11, 7/7, Lehman Brothers collapse, technological revolution, GFC or Facebook (or any other social media) to accelerate the pace of change as all of these events have. A few short months later and we were staring at our TV screens (no tablets then people) for days – in my case at our local in London – as we grimly watched the events of 9/11 unfold.

Putting this into perspective for me in 2016 reminds me of three things: how far we have come, how far we have to go and how embracing new ways of thinking – and views about this issue – is going to be the key to building a sustainable future in business and as leaders.

Humour Champions

Calling all Humour Champions!

I am proud to work for Change2020 an organisation that has humour, as one of its values.  We embody this value in our creativity, laughter and fun.  We understand the serious nature of our business and the business of our clients and we aim to create working partnerships where great outcomes are achieved in an optimistic, positive, happy and energetic environment.

To me, humour at work does not mean telling jokes or being a stand-up comedian, it is about your mindset, your perspective, how you respond and how you approach tasks and activities.

Andrew Tarvin’s TED talk and Jacquelyn Smith’s Forbes article each identify the benefits of humour at work.  Their research-based evidence supports my own observations of the benefits of workplaces where humour is part of the fabric.

From my experience, as a Humour Champion, the benefits of humour at work include:

  • Enhanced working relationships
  • Less stress and tension
  • Greater engagement
  • Increased productivity
  • Creative problem solving
  • Higher levels of trust
  • Better outcomes
  • Improved culture
  • Perspective is maintained
  • Reduces boredom

So how can you be a Humour Champion (without being a comedian)?

  • Smile
  • Have fun as a team – work out what works for you and your colleagues
  • Opt for positive, not negative
  • Be yourself (be aware of what you find funny or makes you laugh)
  • Be curious and ask questions when things are getting too serious
  • Laugh with others (not at them)
  • Establish a routine to energise the office (particularly at that 3 pm slump) e.g. read a Dilbert cartoon; watch a short you-tube skit

The ambiguous and rapidly changing environment that we are all a part will require more Humour Champions in the workplace.  Give yourself permission to bring humour to the workplace and reap the benefits.

So apparently MBTI is not all about me…

Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), is an assessment tool that measures an individual’s preferences and how they make decisions. Change2020 regularly uses this assessment tool to build self-awareness and team effectiveness.

Prior to starting the role as Office and Team Coordinator at Change2020 I had not been exposed to an assessment tool of this type, but I was eager to be involved.  Naturally, as most people are, I was curious to find out about myself and the MBTI tool was a great place to start.

Apparently, I am an ESFJ – a “supportive contributor”.  After reviewing my report, I was not surprised by the results but the real benefit for me came when I shared my results with my team and they shared their profiles with me. I feel I am more considerate of how others like to work in my team, particularly those who fall into the opposite preference to me (for example; those who prefer to direct their energy as an introverted style vs myself who is a clear extrovert).

Completing MBTI has helped me to:

  • Resolve conflicts – learning to recognise that people aren’t wrong – just different
  • Recognise and play to people’s strengths
  • Communicate more effectively with others
  • Provide feedback to others for greater productivity
  • Relate to others with greater understanding
  • Be less judgemental
  • Appreciate the value of a diverse team.

Have you ever taken a personality test? What did it tell you about you and your preferences?