OCM in the Digital Age

I was, once again, honoured to be asked to speak at the Canberra Community of Practice for Change Management, in Australia.  As the first speaker for the year, I had the opportunity to provide some context for the year, looking at tools and technology for OCM practice in Australia.

Never one to pass up an opportunity, I thought it would be interesting to look into the “Pandora’s Box of the ‘ages’ of technology and discuss how we, as the ‘new custodians’ of humanity (what ever that is!) might look into the crystal ball and find some tools to help us take people on a journey into the future.”

Well, we didnt get too detailed into some of the tools and looked at some of the potentially disruptive technology which OCM Strategist and practitioners will be expected to work in and through, in the not too distant future.

The presentation uses ‘Sway’ – a newish thing that I happened upon, and it looks like it has some good attempt at Accessibility – I would be interested in your thoughts?  I was lucky enough to also have some colleagues from the Community of Practice of Accessibilty attend the presentation event, so I am looking forward to their feedback too.

You will find the presentation on ‘OCM Practice in the Digital Age‘ at the link or below:


let me know your thoughts.


Grand Designs – Think again Kevin!

This is an interesting look at project management and change management – and the art of compromise.

I recommend a quick look – and read the Book: ‘What they didn’t tell you about project management in class’ – Robin wrote it, and its pretty on-point!

And it says; ‘learn to be more of a change manager, as well as a project manager’ – which I support!

What they didn't tell you about project management in class

GrandDesignsI was watching Grand Designs. I’m a fan of Kevin McCloud and his show but this one episode struck an uncomfortable chord – which perfectly illustrates exactly what the book (What they didn’t tell you about project management in class) is all about.

It was a re-run of a 2006 episode where retired physicist Peter and his wife Christine were building a split personality house which was apparently going to straddle a hob courtyard wall. From the outside of the courtyard the house would have the appearance of a potting shed. From the courtyard side of the fence, it would look like a contemporary glass walled pavilion.

Throughout the show, Kevin criticised and even mocked Peter and Christine, firstly because they decided to manage the project themselves and secondly because as project managers (and sponsors) they were allowing the building to grow organically with significant changes to the plan.


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Just how immature are you?

Developing ‘Change Management Maturity’ is hard.

Probably because when you try to develop maturity of one competency in an organisation, you have to have a go at all of them together.

I had the opportunity to discuss this with the Canberra Community of Practice of  Change Managers, in Australia last week.  I have attached the presentation, which also contains the collective wisdom and experience of those who attended, with content gathered during the session.

CoP August 2015 – Change Management Maturity v2

CoP August 2015 – Change Management Maturity Notes

You will find the slideshare here: 

We also had an opportunity to pull apart a couple of change management frameworks, and discuss how we would develop a maturity development roadmap for an organisation – hopefully there is some learning outcomes in there that will help those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to do so, and some offerings from the ‘brains trust’ about some of the pot holes to avoid as they go along.

Using Yesterday’s Thinking, or OCM3.0

How do we not only get our thinking and engagement happening inwards, but more importantly, outwards?

Change practitioners are GREAT at discussing change management with other change managers – but what we, and our profession, suffer from (in my opinion) is the inability to discuss our professional practice with people who AREN’T change practitioners – including those whom we would seek contracts or ongoing work from. The initial challenge lies in just helping them understand how we want to help them achieve their goal, beyond some more ‘broadcast communication’ artefacts. Hell’s Bells, we still have problems defining what it is we do (in a consistent way that is universally understood) to those who would seek our services and support – and are not helped by our complementary disciplines of Project Management and ICT Architecture who describe us as either ‘communicators’ or ‘change control’ respectively. We are are more accurately described as multidisciplinary behavioural scientists, ‘experience’ engineers and architects – again, something that we find hard to agree on; the ‘alchemy’ and ‘Druidism’ continues to perpetuate itself, and we remain considered as ‘magicians’ and ‘quacks’ rather than deeply scientific practitioners.

Even the development of a body of knowledge for change management is almost counter-intuitive, if that body of knowledge focuses on process and documentation – where these are the refuge (and sadly, where the cash-cow) of the change-assassin, or change-by-documentation, snake oil salesperson.

Are we a victim of our own self-fulling prophesy as high-functioning documentarians and project-artifact-creators, or do we seek a higher altruism in the realm of ‘community management‘ (online or interpersonal) to participate and facilitate the rise of ‘strategic customer service’ as the new science and discipline of change management?

Is the co-creation and collaborative working with stakeholders helping to understand and remove blockers to something that is desired, of which models, tools and approaches are a small part, and in my experience, using yesterday’s thinking to solve today’s problems, rather than using tomorrow’s thinking to solve tomorrow’s problems?

My suggestion is: ‘social first’! In the age of many-to-one (or Web3.0), broadcast techniques, publishing and content management, and rehashed old tools, blind-sided by Intellectual Property rights cant be the solution, otherwise, we would be out of a job, because ‘the problem’ would already be ‘solved’.  So, lets look at why it isnt solved (and lets face it, every report or survey lately shows how many projects or changes fail because of blah, blah, blah…).

Skin in the game? You will often hear that permanent staff feel that contractors or consultants have lower care-factor – I have commented about this very thing before. You will find that those who want to get repeat work have very high care factor, and LOTS of skin in the game – you are only remembered for the last thing to did – so you better make sure it was good!

The link between organisational change management and building sandcastles?

A sandcastle on the beach, with a wave approaching to wash it away

Here comes the corporate tide…

On being a Change Agent…

A while back, I was having trouble explaining what it is that I do to my peers and even more troubling – to my family.

I know now how to do it between levels 5-8 of the lift, or walking from coffee to the office, or going up an escalator:

‘Change management is the role where someone makes something, and I help people use it’;

or, in the ICT world,

‘You do the bit from the keyboard forward, and I do the bit between the chair and the keyboard’.

There is, of course, a lot more complexity to it – but earlier on, when I was struggling to put a name to the thing that I do, knowing intimately what is was, this is what I came up with – hope you enjoy the narrative, reproduced from the original, spelling, grammar and all.



My new job. Well, it is like building the most magnificent sand-castle on the beach… You never quite finish it, but it is still a beauty, and has lots of input from everyone else on the beach.

Everyone puts all their heart into it, knowing that it is something that they all contribute to, and will be great when it is done, and will represent the combined desire and needs of everyone in their sand-castle.

Alas, some didn’t make it down to the beach, or they went to another beach, or they were invited to an exclusive beach somewhere else, or even had their own private pool, or worse still, couldn’t make it to the beach, because they were working.

Some sent their friends to let you know what they wanted their part of the sand castle to look like, some sent friends with shovels and spades to help, some even sent hair-spray and glue, to make sure that the sands didn’t blow away.

There are those who are sand-castle experts, having made them before, who guide us. There are those who like digging, so they dig. There are those who don’t like digging, but can’t do anything else, so they dig anyway. Some just like fancy finishes, so they do them, some like to make sure that the moat is full, some like to make sure that the courtyard is full, some like to make sure that the rooms are big enough for what we want to do in them, and some just want to watch and provide ‘expert’ advice.

It is quite a big sand-castle, almost a chateau, so by the time we get to doing some of the work on bits towards the end, some parts need to be fixed from when we were working on it in the beginning., Some of the earlier bits, well, we didn’t really know what we wanted at the time. So we have to take some of the sand away from that bit. Some of those bits were glued harder than others, but we revel in the challenge of taking down some of the bits without upsetting the sand in the rest of the castle (or any of the sandcastle team). Some of the rest of the castle fell away when we took out the old bits we didn’t want, even though we put things in place to try and stop it from happening.

All the while, the corporate tide comes in and out, sometimes closer to the castle – and we wish we had moved further up the beach, where the sand is softer, alas it is harder to work with and to get it to stay put, and where the water is further away, making it hard to stick everything and make it stay together. Although, Sometimes we end up with the same issue anyway, as if we had of built further up the beach anyway.

There is weed and kelp, and seagulls, and shells, and corporate rock pools.  Sometimes we take a break from our sand-castle, and in the spirit of the beach, and the ‘Australian way’ of beach life, we help other people with their sand castles, or we go surfing on the corporate waves (being mindful of sharks, box jellies and other such menaces, but where there is also clown fish, and some amazingly pretty and very useful things mixed in). Always going back to our sand-castle, because it is not quite finished – either the new stuff, or the repair work, or the remodelling of the bits that we didn’t want or changed our minds. It is a labour of love and community.

I spend my time, telling people about our sand-castle, and looking at other ones. Seeing things which would be great for ours, and offering others ideas that we have tried for ours. I make sure that the people who couldn’t turn up themselves to help with ours will be glad when they see ours, and I take them pictures, and show them parts of it, and tell them our ideas about what we are going to do to it tomorrow, and I ask them what other things they would like to see – more shell-designs, different shapes, little flags and battlements, and big welcoming porticoes and drawbridges over the moats and things.

Then I go back to our team and tell them what everyone wants, and we work out a way if we can do that tomorrow, while doing all the other things. I also make sure that the people making other sand-castles know what ours looks like, and what it is going to look like, so when we join them up to make a bigger and better sand-castle, we wont have to do too much remodelling, so that we know where we will meet neatly.

I also make sure that everyone who is going to use the sand-castle later, knows what features it will have, and how to use them the best, so that things don’t break, or we have a sand-slide, or little grains erode away, faster than we can stick them back on.

Sometimes, there are issues with the weather. We have some people helping with the sandcastles who watch the weather for us. – the sound of rumbling Crackberrys in the distance and executive storms. We like the storms, because there isn’t enough rain, further up the beach for the dune restoration, and to stop the sand from blowing away, so that we can keep making our castles. Though sometimes the storms do blow up more weed and flotsam and jetsam on the beach, and we have to deal with that, taking time from making our sandcastles, which we love.

But, mostly, the storms that bring more sand are good. At the end of the day, we look at what we have built, and we are happy. We know we have lots more work to do tomorrow, making new stuff, and doing some repair work, and some renovations, but we retire for the evening, with plans and dreams of the work we are going to do on our sand-castle tomorrow. Sometimes, the executive climate is calm and the Crackberrys are silent, while we sleep, snuggled up with our friends who help us to make the sand-castles.

Sometimes, during the night, the storms lash the coast, the Crackberrys strike from the clouds above – sometimes between clouds and sometimes bridging the heavens and the sand. Creatures from the deep are angered, and some are tossed up on shore, beached and stranded. Some gather together, and herd the little fishes close to the shore, ready to devour them in a frenzy, but sometimes, when the governing moon is just right, and the conditions turn sour, a king tide hits, and all but wipes away our sand-castle. There is a maelstrom of sand and corporate sea and executive wind.

We are sad.

Some don’t have the energy to come back the next day and start digging again. Some are frantic, and try to protect the sand-castle, but most stand on the (dry part of the) shore, and watch their work wash away, to be returned back to the sea. And then, when the sun comes up, we start again.

AND I assure everyone change is good

Digital isolation v Digital exile

A snippet from some correspondence with a dear friend:

Ooh, sounds like a blog post in the making – ‘digital isolation v digital exile in a digital world hurtling towards “technological Singularity”‘. Perhaps the government needs a change management plan to deal with those suffering from digital isolation or exile – this is a complex problem connected with their NBN mess, amongst other things – or is this more of a ‘wicked’ problem. I will think on it!

So, what do we have here?

Digital Isolation.  What is this? Is it new, or is it something that we didn’t have a name for, but now have a whole pandemic of? Now this is interesting… imagine actually running a crowdsource to understand what people understand of their current state of digital isolation – does the quality, speed, availability, cost and ‘capability of using’ (thinking literacy and that famous quote: Choose your Authors like you choose your friends) contribute to varying degrees of isolation?  What about those who choose to isolate themselves [digitally] from others, by CHOOSING not to engage using social media, online tools, mobile devices or ‘my’ accounts?  Are they ‘digital hermits’ or suffering from some socially technological dysfunction?  Are these people our odd-uncle-at-the-family-picnic ‘pod-mates’ or dinosaurs in the next ‘village over the hill’ along in the pod-farm of comfortable, home-like acoustically pleasing partitioning?  Of course, running a crowdsource activity which didnt also feature the ability to participate in offline activities would of course limit the participation to only those who were =/ Digitally isolated.  So the activity would measure the degree of digital isolation, not being 100% digitally isolated… and would also have flaws in the science, not considering the [analogue?] socially isolated (even harder to ferret out than those ‘digital, but not isolated’) as being part of the 50th percentile, juxtaposed with the ‘digital’.

How digitally isolated are you, at this very moment?

Digital Exile. What is this?  Is this being ‘grounded’ and Mum turning off the WiFi after 10pm, when all the homework has been done? Is this something that happens when you move away from a fast-food outlet that delivers free wifi, or are unlucky enough (socioeconomic night-breed or zombie-apocalypsed) not to have 24/7 access?

Technological Singularity? Well, we all know what that is, yet, we choose not to do anything about it.  At least, from a public policy perspective – there isn’t any money left to think about the future, we are too busy trying to fix the problems of yesterday. Or at least, too busy trying to get reelected, so that we can consider yesterday’s problems. Is the technological singularity connected with the rise of Homo Evolutis?

Change management plan for the government? Why should they start thinking ahead, now? Did you notice that I am being nonspecific about which country, party or level of government?  I thought you noticed.