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.


Its the door!

My mother emailed this to me, I presume, as something that seemed amusing:


Ever walk into a room with some purpose in mind, only to completely forget what that purpose was?

Turns out, doors themselves are to blame for these strange memory lapses.

Psychologists at the University of Notre Dame have discovered that passing through a doorway triggers what’s known as an event boundary in the mind, separating one set of thoughts and memories from the next.

Your brain files away the thoughts you had in the previous room and prepares a blank slate for the new locale.

So it’s not aging, or senility, or old age, it’s the damn door!

Thank goodness for scientific studies like this!


My mother thought this was amusing, but there is actually some truth in it, which nicely fits into the jigsaw puzzle with what we know now about memory, sight/vision and the ‘power’ of narratives (especially ones with have chapters with beginnings and ends).

I have always wondered about ‘chapters’ and books – as an analogy of walking from one room to another, with the ‘expectation’ that there will either be continuity or thematic continuity, if the rooms are in the same house, for example. From a VERY young age, we (at least, where I went to primary school) were taught about paragraphs with beginnings, middles and ends, and the power of writing that had a very strong first paragraph and last, or first sentence and last in a paragraph – to the point where we were told (my memory of just this example has kicked into gear!) that the paragraph should be able to ‘stand on its own merits’ with only the first and the last sentence, as the middle bits are simply clarification of the latter and former.

I am wondering if the fact that memory is ‘chunked up’ into chapter-like portions, similar to below, naturally, or it is some sort of continually self-reinforcing, pan-cultural, meme – a question of nature v nurture.

Do we chunk our memory because that is the best way of using it (the argument *against* gets stronger, particularly by the Homo Evolutis scientists, who argue that our offspring are changing they way they consume and manage ‘data’ – similarly those who are looking at the Autism and Aspergers’ Syndrome spectrum) or are we ‘taught’ to do this, because it is something that we have always done and it worked for us (note, use of past tense)? Is this meme of ‘memory chunking’ breaking down in transmission capability, because of the demands that modern society is placing on the brain to assimilate more and more data and/or information, at the ‘cost’ of the capability to turn that data and information into knowledge that can be used or applied, through the process of wisdom?

Doing what we always did may not get us what we always got – it may get us extinct!

I find it interesting from the change management perspective, because much of how we seek to engage with people is from the comfortable position that there is commonality in the way we construct memory, vision etc (translating into ‘experience’), when it is likely that the opposite is true and becoming more prevalent. Is the intergenerational divide getting wider, simply because of the way that our grandchildren’s brains are evolving faster than we can change our behaviours and underlying assumptions/values to accommodate? How will we bridge the gap, and are we too busy to do it ourselves, and have to pay a change practitioner to tell us how to do it, and hold our hand while we do (at least at work, anyway)?

My head hurts… time for a glass of wine…

Poster with a crossed out picture of a velociraptor, claiming that there has been 25915000000 days since the last dinosaur 'incident'


How to be counterintuitive (or not)

If the universe is counterintuitive (Standard Model of Cosmology and the existence of ‘Dark Matter’ and the phenomenon of ‘dark flow‘) then how can we expect the people we work with, or seek to support through a change to be anything less?

A Picture of ‘our’ universe

Theoretical physics and cosmology today are looking for answers as to why the universe is doing many unexplained things – like expanding at a faster and faster rate, when all we know about physics requires the universe (at least our universe*) to be slowing, as it loses energy to somewhere…

Creationists the world around also purport testimony and documentation that for the last 6000 years or so, things have been pretty well explained, logical and actual.

Apparently, despite the occasional Red Herring, there is a logical, sequential, common-sense [sic] approach to everything – it is the basis on which project management plans, change management plans, organisational strategic planning and even our daily task lists are made.

So why all the mess and failure? Why are things illogical, non-sequential, and not common-sensical? It seems that there is truth in ‘The Inconvenient Truth of Change Management‘!

People, as a product of the [this] universe, no matter how it came into being, ARE the Red Herring!

In government, we value diversity – we crave it, we court it, and we protect it. Yet, all the plans, strategies, transformation programs and whole federal agencies are born, grow and die, as a result of the fact that we no longer have a barrel of fish, with an occasional Red Herring – we have specifically selected a barrel of Red Herrings, which occasionally have some consistency. But we still make plans to help, change, transform, based on the (false) assumption that we are dealing with a homogenous cohort of ‘beneficiaries’ of all our careful deliberations. In fact, we fund the assumption: how often have you, as a change practitioner, been told to slim down your change strategy because there isnt that much different about the stakeholders that we addressed in the (failed) project last time, to this time?


A picture of Diversity!

‘We cant afford to address the problem, so find some consistency, and address that.’

‘The budget is only provided for delivery, so do the best you can to get the most people using the thing as well as can be expected, with anything that is left over.’

‘Just communicate [broadcast] something – do it more often. Thats all we can afford.’

So, paraphrased, is that something like what you have heard, time and time again, so that the actual skill you develop is ‘redefining success’ rather than actually asking the ‘meek who inherit’ whatever it is that you have been asked to give them whether they think that they have successfully been delivered the benefit they were promised, or even less well defined, expected?

Douglas Addams wrote: ‘Space is big. Really big…

Put predictable. Or it was.

William Blake wrote: ‘To see the universe in a grain of sand…

So, the previously predictable universe is a reflection of all of us. Ergo, NOT predictable.

Herein lies the problem; we keep behaving, funding, assuming, planning and expecting that it IS predictable. Which is isnt. Which we arent.

So, we can give a name to the demon – counterintuivity. However, taking advantage of the fact that we now have power over that which we can name how do we gain the skill to know how to apply a counterintuitive approach, which is likely, given the above, to be the most effective in any given situation that applies to people. More importantly, once those skills (whatever they are) are gained, how do we, as practitioners make a buck from it?

Man [person] can not live on altruism alone…


*There are emerging theories around ‘the Multiverse’ – see ted.com – ‘Sean Carroll: Distant time and the hint of a multiverse’ and ‘Brian Greene: Is our universe the only universe?’



Theres a place for books, or ‘single use society’.

Outside of a dog, a book is [sic] man’s best friend; inside a dog, it’s too dark to read (Oscar Wilde?)

Close up of two feed climbing piles of books arranged like stairs

The journey of books

I’m the first person to ‘consume’ the written word digitally, even by preference, however, there will always be a place for ‘analogue’ text in my house.

It is my experience that (in general) those who either don’t like or don’t keep books are or have been partially illiterate (nearly 50% of all Australians are considered ‘illiterate’ – and the government gets away with this!) or are participants of a ‘single use society’ – I generally find that these people don’t plant trees, they don’t really understand that beef comes from cow and not ‘Coles’, and are more likely to replace their mobile phone every 2 years because marketing says to, rather than any particular need for higher/better/faster technology – are these are also people who (generally) have a MASSIVE credit bill (this is actually able to be discovered – certainly the census and huge marketing databases like the ‘rewards’ type loyalty cards already know)?

I’m not saying that lack of books caused the Global Financial Crisis, however, there seems to be a bit of a pattern, with some obvious commonalities between those who *value* a book and who value cuddling up on a lounge and sharing a book with a child (rather than turning on the TV and leaving a child with their ‘default digital parent’).

You might not need a licence to have children (even through you do to drive a car) but the next best thing is a shared book, and the social engagement that either the book at the time, or the discussion of the book after can bring.

It is my firm opinion, that while digital word contains information and sometimes knowledge, books (and the social aspect of them) contain *wisdom* – perhaps one of the reasons why common-sense is no longer common.

So what?

Here come the questions:

Does that mean, in a database of corporate records, are we only storing the ‘information’ and knowledge’ (more or less easy to access) and then expecting the wisdom in the employees to be able to synthesize and use the available (or not available) information and knowledge?

Stone engraving of the word 'Wisdom'


Does that mean, there is a vast storage of ‘un-valued-‘ company assets which can’t be used, because we lack the wisdom to use them? Are we valuing ‘unused’ data, information and knowledge at the same value as the ‘used’ knowledge? This is especially important for government, who is required, by law (FMA Act) to ascribe a value to data, information and knowledge (but not wisdom?) and manage that valued asset in similar ways to tangible assets, as this new, intangible asset is the ‘property’ of the public.

So, what is the answer?  How to do we get the valuation of the assets right, and how do ascribe the difference in ‘value’ of an asset that we know ow to appropriately use and and asset that we either lack the knowledge and wisdom to be ABLE to use, as an organisation?

Food for thought…