What are you installing?

I’ve come from a few beers with some pretty interesting thinkers tonight. Many a great thing was discussed over a Mountain Goat beer (or two) but one of the more interesting things to come out of our conversations was the concept of change management, and installing functions to support that.

Mental Model Install 

As you would know, and as many others are discussing now, Brand Me is real. People are defining their working lives not as professions or roles, but brands and value added. What you can do and what value you can create for an organisation are very different propositions. Often, to create real and systemic value in an organisation you have to embed it in the culture of the place (or group). To do this, you often have to introduce new infrastructure – whether that’s mental (new mental models to solve problems), Physical (new office space or way of organising your physical space to maximise flow) or technological (technical introductions or enhancements that help you do work better).

There’s plenty of examples here to draw from. Keith Don, a fellow colleague at World Vision, was hired to project manage our new digital strategy. Whilst Keith had brought a huge amount of knowledge to the role, the key piece of infrastructure he has brought is his strategic frame of view. He has forced many in the organisation to, for the first time, consider WHY they want a new website, WHY they want to do this piece of social media or WHY do people want to do whatever it is they, well, want to do. That strategic framework is hugely important when trying to create an innovation culture. I’ve had the privilege to get beside ‘Kbama’ and push my shoulder against the Jim Collins flywheel to help create change, and through his work we have begun to see mindsets and mental models shift to very cool places. This is just one example of someone installing new mental infrastructure to an organisation. Alice Clements, now of Scaffidi Hugh-Jones, has introduced Skype to her work environment to increase the knowledge sharing and virtual communication between herself and her peers. Col Duthie, of Ergo, moved his whole business to a new physical location to help drive a new identity after a re-branding. He now writes very succinctly and insightfully at the Ergo blog.  The list goes on…

So, when you next go into an organisation, consider this question. What do you, as a brand and person, install that helps move things towards a better outcome?

7 thoughts on “What are you installing?

  1. Thanks for the kudos. Gives me great encouragement to keep pushing at the flywheel. As more of us get on board I think we can get this wheel turning more easily – it just may take a while.


  2. Thanks for the props Steve ~ Skype installation is by no means ground-breaking but it has already shown benefits for our firm which is spread across two countries and four cities. Baby steps eh Keith?

  3. Alice, no worries for the props. Don’t doubt what you have achieved!!! You can view Skype as ‘Skype’

    – or –

    as ‘an insanely great and open way for people in the office to now communicate about work and personal stuff in a way that also allows people to stay connected even if they move on from our organisation…thereby increasing the tacit knowledge of our whole network by hunderds of times…’

    Sorry, I got a bit carried away. 🙂

  4. Alice – definitely baby steps. The way I see it is Newton’s Three Laws of Motion apply in organisations.
    I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. – Things in organisations basically stay the same unless something or someone applies an external force – typically new leadership, new people or a new way of doing things. In our case we are trying to get the mindset change happening and trying to get people to do things in a different way – change practice.

    II. The relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector. – Basically things only change speed in relation to the force applied. The more significant the change required, the more effort that needs to be applied. Thus the more people you get on board – thinking differently, changing practice – the greater the change will be.

    III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. – Big change requires big impact. This however could come from a small base i.e. ripple effect. Also if you multiply your touchpoints the same approach and action can have larger impacts.

    For us we need major changes (at least from my perspective) and the general response is its all too hard – but slowly we can start having an impact. My thing is to never give up – not in a motivational type of way – jsut if it doesn’t get through try a different way at a different time.

    Now to setup skype at work!


  5. Thanks for the comment Keith – let us know if you decide to jump back on the blog bandwagon. I love the concept of bringing a bit of physics into the business world!

    I agree with all of them, but have a point to add to your first law. I think new leadership (or shocks being introduced to the system) works well because our current way of operating is so intensly focused on assigning blame to people when the system breaks down. I’d like to engage with what it looks like to be a part of a learning organisation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_organization), which actually understands it’s own flaws and moves itself to a higher plane or opperation without requiring the ‘new leader.’

    Perhaps we can organise a campfire chat for 30 minutes on change theory? It might be good to invite a few others along too.

    I also have an agenda to experiment with online, organised chats. Let me know if you would like to be involved.

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