Monday, December 8, 2008

Telco wars

Those who follow me on Twitter will have seen a berating of Optus and who am I not to explain?

Optus sent me a bill for $1500 and whilst I was expecting a slightly larger phone bill for my new iPhone... this bill missed the mark by a long shot.

This resulted in the desperately avoided call to 'customer service'... Now a telephone company should not drop the customer's call 3 times... Sensing some KPI Management, I changed my tact by showing a seemingly new operator that their system could possibly be wrong... I did this by demonstrating that the $900 charge was actually meant to be $0... After another long stint on hold, the 'customer care assistant' offered a $400 discount on the amount, she even sounded convinced that it was a good offer...

When I explained that the offer was the equivalent of fining me $500, she placed me back on hold.

At this point I could imagine the flashing red lights of KPI failure...  when the new offer was made at less than a tenth of the original bill. But accepting this wasn't ever going to be the end of the saga... was it?

Dishonour fees (for not paying $1500), calls from their finance section (asking why I haven't paid the $1500) and 2 weeks later... Still not resolved.

So a communications company, maybe not getting the billing right is understandable but not being able to transfer the metadata of the customer from one person to another (let alone the computer that captures it at the beginning of the call) is really going to struggle in their bid.

Rugby Trip

Indeed what memories from this place...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A mudblood by any other name

I saw Australia today and I am not afraid to say that I found it to be much better than I was told to expect. 

Ok, it was a little long at 3h but there was a great undercurrent about the importance of storytelling in identity and culture. Nullah, a 'half-caste' whose plight holds the plot together is torn between the two worlds of his origin, trying to find his story... I will stop before completely spoiling the film, just go and see it!

To finish though, 2008 is unmistakably a great first step toward conciliation. Whilst other films have brought some of the issues to light previously, it is heartening to see a film that comes closer to honesty about the tragic policies and actions committed against the Aborigines that will be seen in the mainstream. The importance of Australia is that it can at least cite a government apology...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Diversion

HA! Boy did it miss the mark (hat tip: Dave)... as surely anyone will know that I am far from an introvert...

I have to declare that I have completed the MBTI accreditation and do selectively use the instrument in support of some of my consultancy work. I find it quite useful in drawing out some of the differences that people display particularly around communication and mostly with regard to workplace harmony. (Mind you, I make no commercial gains conducting them as I my work is internal).

I take on board the issues raised in Skepdic but I also feel some sympathy for the readers. That being said I might take the liberty of offering my own $0.02. 

The use of the instrument as an absolute or final say in something as important as whether or not someone gets a job is quite abhorrent. I use the dichotomies that the instrument draws out merely as a means to draw out the normal variations in individual preferences and then as a platform to discuss group preferences. 

The main criticism that I personally have heard about MBTI is that people use the instrument as an excuse for the worst examples of behaviour attributed to the Type. Unfortunately, this has been a behaviour that I have witnessed myself. That being said, a well administered MBTI session (i.e. not one online, which lacks the various stages required to be anywhere near useful) should show the participant the ways to realise their strengths and manage their weaknesses, no matter how they are derived.

And how they are derived are hardly that concerning when someone identifies as an Extravert they might be more comfortable in large noisy groups and their weakness might be that sometimes they exclude those who identify as an Introvert... sounds fairly uncontroversial to me

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Great Week

As I started in a recent post, this week is seeing the culmination of some big projects. The next one is an administration support review, which all but finished on Tuesday with a backlog cull.
The manager of the staff had been trapped by the sheer weight of their backlog, which had peaked at approximately 900 items ranging from emails, projects, reading etc.

Now, whilst I conducted it with GTD mindset on the recommendation of Iain. I was brought to back to earth by the comments of my supervisor that I was implementing a 2S instead of a 5S. This was only telling as I had particularly railed against some of the Lean zealots that seem to be popping up around the place.

To be fair, I have nothing against Lean or 5S and in fact think they are quite fine toolsets for the right problem or part thereof. The bit that intrigues me is that it seems to inspire cult-like followers that only ever speak of success except to note that when failure occurs that it was due to a like of higher management support... I don't think I am alone in suggesting that if failure is not publicly spoken about, it is more than a little suspicious.

In fact the Change Management Guide questioning approach was created in hope that some attention might be paid to the people (especially the ones who dared offer resistance or criticism), thus some potential to actually achieve a culture of continuous improvement.

Upon reflection, there were 4S (Shine would've been waste of time as these people were nearly OCD-style clean) used but in itself it was not a Lean intervention. There was far more invested in resolving some of the emotional issues such as stress and disengagement. I find that this merely confirms that the Lean stuff is just a hammer not everything is a nail.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not the only one

Maybe they meant something like this

Hours in a day

Ever found that you have run out of hours in a day/week/month?

I seem to have that problem at the moment, and I wonder if it is due to the approaching summer?
Or maybe it is the culmination of some projects? Whatever it maybe, I have lost my focus...

On the upside though, this week has been highly successful. Today I submitted the web version of a Change Management Guide for the entire organisation. Some of you who follow me on twitter may have heard a mention or two of it.

As a project goes, this was a hard slog and entirely different to the day to day breadwinning, so to speak. Whilst this was a properly commissioned project, I only ever saw it as a think tank exercise to deliver a resource that left our organisation a little better off than without it.

The product was essentially a Change Management Guide which well and truly surpassed the intimidation point at 10,000+ words and 14 steps to success... Not to mention the language!

Actually, to mention the language is better... My own engineering/project management background combined with a colleague with a business/logistics background coupled with a particular academic interest in Change Management. If it is not obvious, we spoke diametrically opposed dialects which when painfully combined resulted in some indulgent verbosity. 

But why am I happy about this? Well there was a moment in the project where we introduced a second gateway. Like an Index to a Table of Contents, this second gateway offered a set of questions rather than a designed and stepped approach. The real bonus of this is its ability to embrace the power of the cynic, as noted by Dave Snowden as being so vital.

This is where the website (intranet only at this stage, unfortunately) comes into its own... although I still think that there is a need for a low-fi pamphlet for people to hold in their hands... With both of these in place, Change can be about improvement despite the best effort of some folks to make it about the process. 

Friday, November 7, 2008

Into the Pan

Part 3 in reviewing the set of workshops from last week is the one-dayer with the sister organisation of here and here. Now the focus was on repairing the Archetype Creation which had so spectacularly failed on the Monday. 

To open, I showed a couple of animations from the Dilbert site as I knew the organisation were familiar. Then I got them to discuss who their favourite characters were and why. After suggesting to them that the Dilbert comics were not actually written about their organisation and that people around the world can identify with them, the breadcrumbs had been dropped.

Importantly, I also changed the 'story-telling' prompt from 'Tell a story about a day at work' to 'Share your experience in dealing with your primary customer' (understanding that the earlier narrative capture had indicated that this would be fertile ground). In the second stage of emergence, I suggested that the character in front of them worked in their organisation and that they would have to adopt the role of their 'Best Friend', 'Worst Enemy' and 'Innocent Bystander'. I have some thoughts on this but wonder how that sits with other practitioners

Now due to the introduction of an example, I set myself a target for success which was to achieve no Dilbert characters in the Archetypes. I did not set one for the swapping of customers for members of the organisation, do you have any suggestions? In my opinion, this event was a success and once I get the characters finalised I will upload them.

To close on the Archetype creation, I will note that I backed  out of the Values and Themes elements for this workshop. Basically, I was uncomfortable with their use and was seeking to achieve a modicum of success through adjustment of the approach. I will have to invest some more headspace into how to prepare the Values and Themes.

On Sensemaker

I am drafting this in the QANTAS Lounge in Melbourne as I wait for my flight back to Adelaide in an 90mins. 

The reason I am in Melbourne is that I have spent Thursday evening and Friday at the Victorian Police Academy doing the Cognitive Edge Practitioner network catch up and Sensemaker Session which was fantastic to discuss some of the lessons identified from applying the Cognitive Edge Methods with new 'graduates' and also to meet some faces behind the blogs.

The Sensemaker session, I found to be quite straightforward and expect that the real learning points will be in playing with the data. I have in my mind a few applications in mind that I will be seeking to exploit (for want of a better word), the key will be getting funding to pay the licence fees.

A couple of criticisms of the day would be that the demo data had a major flaw which detracted from the logic in the conclusions in the case study. The other would be that the Ritual Dissent was limited in value due to the predominance of inexperience with the methods and software, thus not allowing much in the way of meaningful criticism. This latter criticism is of course the minor factor as it is merely a demonstration of concept.

All in all, a worthwhile event and I will definitely add my case study to the Ning Site, Steve

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Baptism of Fire: The Sequel

As was started in a previous post, the following two workshops took the participants through Model Creation by Social Construction and Ritual Dissent. These activities went significantly better partially because the participants were more comfortable with the understanding where it would lead but also because the activities were broken up with some more familiar activities.

I have since delivered the resultant action plans to the Business Unit Manager, who was not put of by the AVT Creation failure, but instead is willing to take on some assistance to attempt to achieve a self-emergent continuous improvement. At this stage (given the proximity to the end of year), the move forward will be by delegation of the "Simple" tasks to any person and some "complicated" activities to  the appropriate person/s. In the new year, there is a plan to take on some of the "Complex" via a Social Network Stimulation which will assist in the induction process as well as giving credibility to the whole process. Needless to say, there is an opportunity to trot out the immanently released Change Management guide. This guide had a particular selling point of embracing the cynic... I promise I will post on this in the future as it is finalised.

To wrap up on the experience, the spectacular failure of the AVT Creation Workshop will remain more strongly in my mind than any minor successes over the three day, but isn't that the point?

This workshop was succeeded by another with a sister organisation, on which I will post on shortly.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Goodness, you say

Ironic enough for those who work/worked in the DMO... and for those who read the title of my last post

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Change is Goodness

It has been a busy week that will all but culminate tomorrow with a full-day version of the three half-days that began the week, with a sister organisation. 

Despite my confuddlement with the AVT Creation, I will give it another bash albeit in a new way. I was heartened with the success of the Model Creation and subsequent Action Planning that I mentioned previously. I look forward to deconstructing it all especially with Dave's kind offer and the upcoming Practitioner Workshop in Melbourne on Friday week.

But this post is not about that... instead on the sidelines of this week some great things have happened... A strategic change recommendation was implemented with gusto as some sort of silver bullet solution to a Crisis in a bigger job, which had seen me running down the East Coast. I think this was my first conscious attempt (and success) and a Randy Pausch Headfake.

The other was my renewed vigor to finalise the Change Management Guide in the form that I envisaged... I am hoping for completion by the Practitioner's Workshop... so expect some more as it crystalises

Monday, October 27, 2008

Baptism of Fire

Well I am convinced that I picked the absolute most completely unsuitable group to attempt my first Archetype Creation Workshop... It was a completely insular and stove-piped group of Aerospace Engineers, associated Technicians and Data Managers. 

I considered the organisation ready for something different for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the suggestion that the Business Plan was not working and a new approach was required. All of this being said, I am open to suggestion that everything looks like a nail at the moment, and this is my new Hammer...

To initiate the sharing of experiences I used the Wordle tool that I mentioned back in June. The learning point for me here was that using the word 'story' as part of the instructions was never going to go well with the audience. Add to this intolerance of ambiguity and we start to get the concept of how the morning went... That being said, I think that with some tweaks this could've worked much better, in particular taking it toward a Comparison

Despite all this some archetypes did emerge and some were nearly useful... but some lessons have been learnt in preparation for Thursday's one-dayer with a sister organisation... but Tomorrow holds a Model Creation by Social Construction amongst a communication game to pick up on where the Comparison would've gone. Wish me luck

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Future, Backwards

Yesterday I ran my second Future, Backwards  in my role as an internal consultant. The day was focussed on developing a plan of action in a changing environment.

The day was scheduled to conduct two simultaneous 'Future, Backwards' then to take the Turning Points from both as Sensemaking Items for use in the Cynefin Model Creation by Social Construction (corners method). The result was to role directly into a Domain-based Strategy Planning Session. There is nothing overly exciting about this as a methodology but it was my first attempt.

It is probably timely to recognise that I was assisted by team members that are not accredited practitioners, which had some impact but was not really the biggest learning point. There were a number, particularly the cognitive load that it places on the participants needs to be managed and exposing the executive to so much ambiguity does not necessarily lead to great results. 

The real take away for me was finding myself frustrated at the lack of imagination and extremely limited vision in the description of possible future states. On thinking about this I wonder if the issue is a 'dominant organisational narrative' in the form of a mantra. Namely, 'more people', 'more money' and  'more resources'...

I am particularly interested to know if anyone has come across a similar issue in their organisation or am I dealing with something peculiar

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Boy its been a while

No excuses... 

But I do wonder about this. In light of the recent financial thing (excuse my flippancy...) I do wonder if the video were revisited from an international perspective, how would it change? It is compelling but I wonder about the simplicity and catastrophising it implies.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

German Town and Wine Sipping

The last weekend of hosting my grandparents consisted of a trip to Mclaren Vale and Hahndorf. Mclaren Vale is relatively new territory for me, as I only had my first trip there this year but I think it will be hard to top my favourite winery of the region so far; Samuel's Gorge. I will simply state that they have three red varieties, Grenache, Temperanillo and Shiraz made in the style of Shiraz. Go there taste and enjoy the spectacular vista... Ocean on one-side, Gorge-ous on the other...

Needless to say the visit to Hahndorf lead to beer consumption by the litre... There are some pics that tell the story on facebook

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Time of the year

It is performance appraisal time... and boy do I not enjoy it! Now there is always the uncomfortableness (yes, that is now a word) with the difficult conversations but that is not what I dislike about it. I find that our system puts a lot of weight on the 'score' that the individuals get irrespective of the corresponding word picture that describes the mark.  Now the reason that the score matters is that the performance appraisal is the sole input to the promotion system, which is given the first allocation of ranking (hence if you aren't above the cutoff mark... no further consideration). So a tool that is meant to be a meaningful management tool becomes the hinge to an individuals career where they are assessed on a score (which ends up being a long way from a normal distribution) which isn't related to technical mastery...

Which is why I can probably relate to this ... 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

On the shoulders of GIANTS

I was listening to a podcast from the Duke University public lectures from iTunesU (the podcast is titled Values-Based Leadership, sorry I can't work out how to link directly to it). For me this podcast has probably done what the Leadership Exchange was meant to... I am definitely inspired after listening to it. I can recommend that you hunt it down and have a listen (or a watch, there is a vodcast too)

But it did lead me to question how often do we acknowledge those giants? There has been discussion in our organisation about getting in touch with our former members, but as yet nothing meaningful has been done. I would like to see not just a list of names and numbers but some interactions, maybe presentations at the Annual Conference or get togethers in the regions... I think personalising the giants is the first step to standing on their shoulders...

Boutique Beer

Sunday was unremarkable with the exception of a visit to an impressible Microbrewery down in Goolwa that the guys introduced me to in February... If you get the chance get into the stuff, the standout is the Truffles... Australia's only Fortified Beer

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Why my dad has purple hands...

As some of you know my Grandparents are in town... So Jules and I have taken advantage of the circumstance to combine the Quality Time (QT) with designated drivers.... Today was Barossa.

A few people do tend to ask me about some wines and wineries that are worth their time... My favourite winery is Elderton, who have a spectacular new Zinfadel. Other favourites from the Barossa today; Old Block Shiraz (St Hallet), Blackwell Shiraz (St Hallet), Bella Rouge (Langmeil), The Freedom 1843 Shiraz (Langmeil), Fifth Wind Grenache (Langmeil), Magpie Estate Gewurztraminer (Rolf Binder/Veritas)... but there are always more to be had...

The best find of the day was a kids book from which the title of this blog takes its name. What a fantastic little tale :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Exchange...

As mentioned in passing and inspired by a conversation with Iain today...

Selection for the Exchange is based on the submission of a project, I am thinking Engineering and Maintenance or Business Consulting (actually am preferring a combination)... So, I am looking for ideas...

Monday, September 15, 2008


It looks like I'm not the only one on this.

Well my situation has got a little more intense... I have decided to apply for an exchange to the UK which would be for approximately 4 months starting April 2009... on the application there are many conditions including a set entitled 'Application will not be considered if:' Five of the ensuing criteria were medical in nature, these covered; recommendation by doctor, passing of a physical fitness test, being rated as Medical Category 1 (the highest) and finally a BMI no greater than 29.9.

Now that is deliberately chosen because of this arbitrary 30 = Obese figure. One does wonder if the other medical criteria would suffice? surely physical fitness, a doctors recommendation and a top tier med cat would cover the risk factors... So then is the BMI merely a catchall for not sending someone who looks fat?

BMI has long been a pain to me, every annual health check up I have to go and talk to a doctor before I can attempt the physical fitness test (which is less load than my Aussie Rule and Touch football commitments, which can be approved by my boss without medical consultation).

Now I am the first to admit that I am overweight, but I suggest that I could stand to lose 10kgs, but that takes me to my optimal... not to borderline obese as BMI suggests...

So basically the mission is on... 

Slackness and a tip of the hat

There are a couple of reasons I have been neglecting my Blog... the defensible one is the transition to Mac... I am nearly there...

2ndly, hat tip to misssandy for starting to guest blog at this one's evil twin. Arguing with myself was ineffectual let alone just a little creepy...

Standby for more in the coming week :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hey Fat Boy

For anyone interested, or has been following my tweet... I have embarked on a weightloss journey, feel free to drop by, join in or throw some encouragement (or more likely stick the boot in...)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Flexible Work Practices

Dave got me thinking about my own flexible work practices and my recent Leadership Exchange.

I work fairly flexibly working from home one day a week at the moment simply to get some deep writing and reviewing done. I find that the blurring of the line actually results in a net benefit for the work place. Despite this I found that a lot of people around the organisation have said that they aren't able to access a flexible arrangement... I can understand that all parts of the business are going to require key periods of attendance (i.e. Launching an aircraft, meeting with a client) but surely the benefits are mutual? maybe it is just difficult for us to quantify output so we cling to input and think it is the same.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Superheroes

For the last week I have been playing on a Leadership Exchange and whilst I am not going to go into my frustrations with the Mice right now, I will introduce you to my little friends...

Introducing Captain Common Sense, Logic Man and Sir Sarcastic... feel free to call on them as you need.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Serendipity Award

As promised, my thoughts on balancing the Government's responsibility for encouraging Industry to invest in their own R&D...

The Serendipity Award draws on the anomaly that most significant discoveries happen by accident but also whilst searching for something else. This interesting pattern could be seen as a risk for an industry engaging in their own R&D, not knowing where the real research could lead. Now maybe I have misdiagnosed this, but I think that this leads to companies not really digging deep and investing in research instead just merely fiddling in the margins.

I believe that the Serendipity Award should be a commercialisation fund available for any company to submit an emerging technology that they have stumbled across. The constraints on this prize would be that the technology is not able to be commercialised by the industry in which it was discovered.

Now the commercialisation fund, could be formed by volunteer companies who have an interest in recieving the IP/technology. So as you might be able to foresee, the real strength in this venture would be in the networking of organisations interested in the development of technologies here in Australia.


HECS and beyond

Given that it seems the Government is comfortable grandfathering industry why not then guarantee loans for Social Good/National Need.

I refer to the HECS system in Australia whereby students may defer their tertiary study fees until an income point at which they must repay the debt through the Taxation System. Now there are some important factors in this system, such as the debt is indexed to inflation hence is not subject to interest and is only payable whilst the debtholder is earning above a threshold. This ensures that the individual can pursue whatever career they choose with a reduced upfront cost.

I propose that R&D companies and/or other social good/national need organisations be able to avail themselves of similar loans, which are only repayable via success... I would further challenge government to influence companies to invest in their own R&D through a Serendipity prize... but more on that to come...

Monday, August 25, 2008

That is not a sport...

It is an age old debate usually sparked in the second week of the Olympics... Generally during the Synchronised Swimming.

Personally, (is there any other kind?) I think this idea should go further... Anything without direct competition gets scratched. Subjective artistic components annoy me, and frankly what is a perfect ten? and what happens when someone does it better?

Don't get me wrong... They are impressive and there is no freaking way that I could do a tenth of that with my body but without direct competition, bias must play a role. Would the world really miss Rhythmic Gymnastics, Synchronised Swimming and Equestrian from the Olympics? For mine, they have a place it is just not the Olympics...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Life's Soundtrack

Iain put me on to this... Basically, you have to pick an album for each year that you have been alive and you can't double up on artists...

I found it really hard to keep it down to one album and using the artist once but here is my bash at it...

1981: Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes

1982: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - Midnight Oil

1983: Eliminator - ZZ Top

1984: Too Tough To Die - The Ramones

1985: Brothers in Arms - Dire Straits

1986: On the Beach - Chris Rea

1987: Strangeways, Here We Come - The Smiths

1988: Travelling Wilburys 1 - Travelling Wilburys.

1989: Stone Roses - Stone Roses

1990: Empire - Queensryche

1991: Ten - Pearl Jam

1992: Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against The Machine

1993: Siamese Dream - Smashing Pumpkins

1994: Smash - Offspring

1995: Alice in Chains - Alice in Chains

1996: Hourly, Daily - You Am I

1997: Sehnsucht - Rammstein

1998: John Butler Trio - John Butler Trio

1999: Beautiful Sharks - Something For Kate

2000: Mer de Noms - A Perfect Circle

2001: Lateralus - Tool

2002: Songs for the Deaf - Queens of the Stone Age

2003: Sleeping with Ghosts - Placebo

2004: Antics - Interpol

2005: Silent Alarm -Bloc Party

2006: Orphans: Bawlers, Brawlers & Bastards - Tom Waits

2007: Because of the Times - Kings of Leon

2008: In Silico - Pendulum

Monday, August 18, 2008

On the Road Again

As I am about to head to the Airport and sit in the QANTAS Club one more time... I wonder how my odds are looking.

All going well, I will see you soon Canberra for a healthy(?) dose of change and project management

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Yin-Yang of it

Alot of organisational change and focus is centred in Changing the Culture in a so-called positive way. I put to you the traditional change management principles of conversion through enthusiastic souls. By this I mean identifying Change Champions, and influencing Opinion Leaders and so forth. When the process is called out in this way, it sounds kind of sinister... In fact it reminds me of an atheist tale.

So then what of the counter-culture (I am looking for a better name for it)? We kind of know about this, I mean our anxiety must on average be correct some of the time when we suspect that everything is not fine... That sometimes the attitude at the proverbial watercooler is a little different to the 'Everything is awesome, Boss'... So what of this counter culture?

The current approach is to first try to convert them, picking off the weaker resistors, then claim the remaining Neutral ones and cry VICTORY in the name of Goodness!

I pose that the counterculture is equal in importance and represent some different views, are you so sure that your plan can withstand the critique? If not, then allow the plan to be improved... If so put it to the test... How? Encourage the questions...

To what end? We seem to be comfortable that things find their equilibrium, yet for some reason in organisations we engage in change that is out of balance...

Equilibrium does not mean stagnation, I think if we look around everything is changing and rebalancing thus why should an organisation be different? At any given time a thing may be in balance but over time it responds to its environment, thus change is inevitable...

So my thoughts are to embrace this so-thought darker side, otherwise an equal and opposite force will meet you in a less favourable way.

An Injection of Ethics

On listening to Hack, in a seemingly vain attempt to catch up on my Podcasts, I thought of the dilemma faced around lethal injection.

It is claimed that often the injections is administered by Prison Guards or Executioners with no medical training. The injections are made of three stages, 1st (Sodium Thiopental) to induce Coma, 2nd (Pancuronium) stops muscles including Diaphragm (i.e. This will kill you) and 3rd (Potassium Chloride) stops the heart. You could possibly see that this isn't exactly a layperson activity.

The reason given for this is that for a Doctor to engage in this work would be a violation of the hippocratic oath... Yet most States require a Doctor to be present to certify Death.

Hmmm, one might see something wrong if the qualified people refusing to conduct the procedures...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Asian History - China Olympics

I think that is obligatory to have at least one post on the Olympics... So I considered a piece on National Pride or the perceived injustices. But that might just be a little too cliched...

I can't let the opportunity go by to commiserate with Oenone on her Road Race and wish her the best in the Time Trial today. But really, I think I need to comment on the Opening Ceremony. What a fantasticly rich series of metaphors to depict a 5000 year history.

The easy line might be to criticise the closed media or ridicule the one-eyed bias of the show. But instead I will honestly own up to not knowing enough about Asian history and I consider this the motivation to learn more

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Innovation is not subsidising Corporate R&D

I recall the debates over Digital TV in 1998 here in Australia, and Government was faced with mandating not only a rollout period but a format for delivery. To grossly simplify, the choices were between Broad- and Datacasting. Datacasting would move Australia to the forefront of the Information Age. Datacasting essentially allows the consumer to pull the program at their leisure looking like a souped up version of i-view rather than the Broadcast model which centrally controls what and when is available to be consumed, just a digitisation of the contemporary system. One might see that an investment in such a program might have helped our lagging broadband issue...

I raise this in light of some more myopic Australian Innovation Sponsorship... take our stance on environmental technologies. Once again it appears our government chooses to support the Commercially-favourable technologies over real innovation. Surely government should be investing in potentials and not the R&D budgets of Industry.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Multiple Ontologies

I found this and this through Skepchick (though I am not sure how I got to her blog).

The issue of education of children (and extrapolate as you will) is one that I hold dear. As a child I fought tooth and nail to not be forced to attend Religious Education. Now in retrospect, I was only ever fighting the fact that I was being forced to attend. I had chosen not to attend because the presenters of the material were unable to satisfy my curiousity about inconsistencies.

So how do these tales tie together? My $0.02 would argue that the role of educators is to provide balanced education in as many fields as the professional educators can provide. I think the role of the parent in this is to guide how a child interacts with the knowledge. Surely, no censorship but guided education is far more worthy in the pursuit of excellence?

I think that by providing rounded education de-politicises the curriculum and encourages everyone to their role. Thus religion in education is 'studied' not practiced allowing exposure to the gamit of Dahmic, Abrahamic, atheist and other schools of thought (faith) which would surely assist intuiting tolerance.

Maybe the real fear here is that children may find joy in the multiple moral tales available to them...

Friday, August 8, 2008


I am not one to give out too many compliments, but I guess this case is special coz I also don't like to agree with the crowd. With this in mind, I have to take my hat off to Defence's CIO who's efforts have notedly changed the direction of CIOG over his tenure. I have no doubt that the tides had started to move under Monaghan, but I must say that the improvements in the Restricted Network has been phenomenal under Farr...

But it is a long way from being able to significantly input to Network-Centricity. A move toward being a Defence Capability with a tad of change management project could allow CIOG to drive Defence technology innovation.

If there were a Change Management Project underway somewhere, potentially dropping CIOG a copy of the Guide could help to allow the use of freeware in locally supervised sandboxes.

Help us if they think we are ready for this

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Military Matters

Those of you who have not checked out Hollowmen yet, get there!

Wednesday's episode was a classic about Defence Recruiting


Apparently my likelihood of being FEMALE is 47% Likelihood and of being MALE is 53%

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

On the Cognitive Edge Course...

Through the Blogsphere I stumbled across a Course mate which inspired me to Blog in a similar vain.

I really liked Brad's list but I modified it slighly to a list of thought fragments inspired by the course:

  • Politicians intuitively get complexity but expect Categorisation and Analysis from Public Servants
  • Communities of Practice need to emerge not be formed
  • Treat Data like a Crime Scene
  • Formulate the hypothesis from the data
  • Don't Pareto-ise
  • Thoughts are stored as fragments but through telling and re-telling of experiences links
    (tags) grow with other fragments - leading to retrospective coherence.
  • Training Stories form the ID of the organisation
  • Replicate the Starting Conditions not the End
  • Encourage positive trends and dampen the negative
  • Manage the workplace not the work
  • Consider the Roles (Crews) in an organisation (Loki, Journeyman, Master, Apprentice, White & Black Knights)
I have quite a good set of notes for my disordered mind and many ideas for application and development. I am keen to try the extant methods but can't help but to think that everything has changed. The principles of the Cognitive Edge experience have formed a strange attractor...

And finally, to vehemently agree with Brad (paraphrased):
my favourite line, “cynics are the people who care about the organisation”, since they are the ones looking for a better way to improve their organisations (ere, ere!).

jokes as a form of story telling?


I recall as a high school student being allowed to do work experience at the Gympie station of the Queensland Ambulance Service. The majority of the work was mundane but I did get to spend sometime with an early form of mentor. He and I had a discussion at one point about hierarchies and how people will go and look for a 'person in charge'. he observed a similar behaviour through his experience that went something like

'... we were out at a crash scene and this was after we had change our rank insignia to all look the same. It seemed that people would go up to the oldest looking member of the team to ask questions but in fact he was only qualified as a driver and not really able to help with the queries.'

I think that hierarchies are a natural thing that we rely on and are probably linked to our idea of family that in case of emergency head toward the grey hair. But there are always exceptions known experts (medicine men), known Confidence men (Charlatans), Dominant types (Alpha) and influencers (the King's Physician). I think that these roles tie into crews but I will await Dave's thoughts to fully emerge before I come back to my application. I think that these roles run deep... and can be used in many and varied ways

With all of this in mind, I was told by a friend that when I see anything to do with the Public Sector (particularly the Military) I just zone out thinking it is not relevant? I would really like to hear some thoughts on matrix organisations and hidden hierarchies formation?

Mind you I don't think that all of the archetypes are brought out in the open when the hierarchy is ritualised it just gives you a map.

The journey not the end...

If I were to tell you a story of a Superhero, you would expect a villain. And there would always be a villain or else the Superhero would become the villain and the people (police, DA etc) take the role of Superhero. (I am aware that this is more eloquently put by Harvey Dent in the Dark Knight)

Thus we have centered stories on a co-emergence for as long as Hero stories have been told... and even in Newtonian physics forces were described in this fashion. So why then do we engage in behaviours and expect it to asymmetrical benefits in the long term? If Lean is the Hero, who is the Villain?

And then there is from Villian to Hero

To draw on my observations... During a tender for outsourcing, a service provider may be able to underbid the incumbent which is a fantastic proposition (unless it is your job, but you will probably work for the outsource company anyway). But once the tenderer is selected what then occurs? the environmental constraints have changed and thus a lack of competition ensues and the performance adjusts the old environment and you run out of TP. So surely one might be able to see that the state of competition is in fact the better option and not the selection of the winner. I think that an attitude closer to this might allow us to avoid prescriptive recipe books like six stigma (Sorry Dave, I had to steal that... You can have Pathological Deconstruction)

I take this as not a mere coincidence but a fault of replicating the end conditions.

Or am I being too yin & yang?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

KM Freestyle

I have fielded a few queries on KM recently through work and social network, so I thought I would blog on some of the ideas out there that I like...

The traditional approaches irk me, I have found that then tend to focus on document or artifact management systems. Unfortunately, the information in these documents are highly codified and only have context for that experience. Dave Snowden is quite brutal on the production of these documents focussing on their retrospective coherence and the fundamental attribution error.

Personally, the thing I dislike about this form of KM is that the document is stored based on what it was related to and stored in that place and only linkable through that structure. Now I am aware that there are better systems out there and supposedly on their way into our work network. But is Sharepoint the silver bullet?

A completely integrated way of capturing experiences (and their meaning) as they occur is far more useful.

I have recently undertaken a job that will look at Organisational Health and Sustainability when I introduced the concept of using the AVT Comparison Workshop, it was joked by the client Could you put it into a Comic so that the Aircrew could read it?

I think the only risk is if it becomes too popular

What's in a name?

On a lighter note, and heading back to my two weeks in Wagga Wagga... I recall a lady on course with me who had three kids, Ocean, Vibrant and Winter... This did inspire someone to ask her why? and particularly to justify why she had consigned her kids to be beaten everyschoolday of their lives... and you might think the answer had something to do with Nimbin... but it was: place of conception, nature of the child and season of birth... pretty boring for some odd names. I only bring it up because of Scott Adams

Unity of Direction

Drawing on the idea that Customer Satisfaction is a product of Employee Satisfaction, and internal consultancy organisation may be able to better meet the needs of its customer by capturing the realtime experiences of both customers and employees. This concept attracts the customers and employees as owners of the business and the realtime experience capture is part of the allure.

I particularly like the idea of firing customers.

From the perspective of an internal consultant, jobs that the consultancy accept tend to be driven by the client on a regional basis. There is not necessarily an alignment to the overarching needs of the greater organisation. This can mean that the jobs can lead to the frustration and dis-engagement of the consultants. So the right jobs tend not to be just good for the client but also the best for the consultant too...

Each engagement should assist the organisation to achieve a greater good, whether by meeting an educational, process or other improvement need.

White Noise

It is often a joke in Australia (the World?) to pull the mickey out of Americans for their ignorance but reading last month's The Monthly, I have to consider the effect of white noise.

If we are constantly bombarded by low level information at what point do we stop discerning. I read a blog that my boss put me onto that might have a point that news will find you...

So then do we surround ourselves with like-interested people who act as filters for us? isn't this what web2.0 is really all about? self-censoring? so then we can be responsible for our own ignorance... IF we know what we are doing... In a constrained environment (behind a firewall) then maybe it is a positive but societally I wonder about heading toward a place where Gatorade is used to hydrate crops.

On reflection of Something For Kate Your not the first to think that everything has been thought before... I would tell you that this article is related, but I didn't make it through before getting fidgety and ...

Safety Management

I wasn't really very surprised to find out that someone else had been thinking about a narrative database in terms of Aviation Safety. My experience with the Defence Aviation Safety Database is that it gets very wound up over the details and processes. For example, a defective part requires a defect investigation; an insufficient publication needs an amendment. Apart from the occasional question of whether the support systems are sufficient to respond to a booming safety culture that reports every near miss and even the nearly near miss etc, there is the murky circumstances where there was not necessarily a root cause. So this sets us a scene that you have to report a safety event, it is expected to have a root cause or several and something has to be done about it. So apart from a spiralling process driven bureaucracy it becomes unattractive for a person to engage in the safety reporting and thus the system ceases to be useful.

A reasonable person could potentially see that the bureaucratic overheads of telling your story might actually prevent the lesson being learnt. I say this with knowledge of Sensemaker but are there ways of adjusting the micro-culture to talk about its failure and thus change the system we have into something more useful, from the ground up?

Values Based Leadership and Emergence

A conversation about values-based leadership recently had me thinking about emergence, surely this values-based leadership has something more to it than Walking the Talk. This conversation irked me a little as the experienced guy spoke about pulling out this card with the values on it, reading it and then doing something inspired by that... I found this no different than rules based operations, for the blind adherence of idiots and the guidance of the wise... I would reference that, but not sure who to attribute it to.

Aspirational values are a lovely to have and serve as a gross-error check to see if you are really aligned to the organisation. In most cases they are fairly generic and reflective of some societally aspirational values. I suggest then that managing the environment and not the tasks is actually more of values-based leadership. The fact is despite what is on the wall the values of the workplace are often not nearly as aspirational as the writing on the wall. I daresay that during the job hunt or choosing an employee a fair bit of value-based decision making goes on but once the employee-relations is sorted, the values probably fall into a more natural order of seeking the lowest energy method for achieving the optimum outcome given the parameters (i.e. reward structure, workplace layout, regulations and consequences). Thinking about values reminds me of the Dave Snowden story of his daughter's birthday party... they should be monitored so that the good ones are encouraged and the bad ones cancelled out.

I put to you that sometimes the real values of the workplace are knocking off early on a Friday and if you have to look at a card in your wallet you might not really get it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Dark Knight

I went and saw The Dark Knight, it was a Christopher Nolen classic. I have to say that it did not disappoint... That being said, the rhetoric around Heath Ledger's performance is interesting... the Joker is an unashamed archetypal Loki or Eris... Strange, alluring, quirky but not that dark. The darkness is brought to life by the White (Harvey Dent) and Dark (Batman) Knights... The fall into chaos and the perversion of Dent into Two-Face is truly dark but the chilling part is Batman... at the risk of spoiling the movie, I will stop.

I have taken the day off to get somewhere with my last Career Episode Report for CPENG painful.

Just a thought

First of all, I am speaking without any authority at all (thank you Technorati)... but I thought it was basic that if you want a safe and undistracted workplace then you probably don't want to threaten the maintenance engineers' jobs.

Does Joyce know what he is getting into?

Monday, July 28, 2008

$58, no joke.

I have been somewhat slack... albeit a little the fault of my access to the net... Unfortunately, there is no access to social-networking behind the work firewall nor regular access to internet whilst in Wagga Wagga... Anyway, the direction of this blog is still working itself out.

Well I have some half-baked uses for the Cynefin framework that I intend to blog in the near future... One looks at training, which might actually be closer to KM than I anticipated and the other one looks at Military organisational structure.

Speaking of the Military, I wonder if the RAAF is aware of this revelation. This will not help their retention, I am sure.

To finish, I was shabbily in need of a haircut after my 3 weeks away so I went to the place I have used near work. Only to find that the Barbers had left for the week. This was fine I would simply find a place near home...

I googled a place in North Adelaide called Mens Hairdresser's (which seemed unambiguous enough for me) but once I got to the Village there was none to be found. So, now I wandered closer to home and started looking for a hairdresser. This is not hard to find on Melbourne St, but this uncomfortable feeling settled over me as I stood outside... I felt the need to ask if they cut men's hair... I avoid this and headed to the one with the picture of the bearded person amongst all of the women. Now I say bearded person because the model was somewhat androgynous and that should've been a hint...

I am still getting over the fact that they could keep a straight face whilst telling me that a man's haircut cost $58... I realised it was not a joke when they offered me 10% because it was my first time... Am I out of kilter with the world or did I miss something extra that was on offer here?

Friday, July 18, 2008

End of week 1

Well I have nearly made it half way through the two week course in Wagga Wagga... The course is far from challenging and any opportunity for it to be stimulating is cut off due to tight time constraints... It has been fairly full on 8-5 each day plus out of hours work for assessment... I have really paid off the assessment. So much so, when I woke up this morning (at 4 am) after a night on the gas I put in an hour and a half work in preparation of the tutorial...

I question the value of it all and all, but I guess it is a box-ticked...

I am not looking forward to much excitement, in fact I doubt I will even leave the Base... I should probably put some effort into my Industrial Relations Assignment

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Evil ATM

So it turned out to be true... My debit card was not expired despite this rogue ATM's claim.

Luckily my bank is happy to send me a new card... to my home address... which I won't return to until 26 Jul... There has to be a better way...

Day 2 of course = 2h Safety Lecture + 6 h Legal Lecture, not as much fun as it sounds

Monday, July 14, 2008

Not quite...

Well I have arrived at Wagga and embarked on the first day of course... It is not quite coherent yet but we will see how it goes...

The experience was not enhanced by the attempt to withdraw cash from an ATM... it turns out that it did not like the opposition's card as it swallowed it. It gave a feeble excuse about expiring, which is only made interesting by the lack of replacement card and my inability to access one (due to two weeks in Wagga)... I think that part 2 of this will have to be explored tomorrow when I embark on the experience of actually talking to a strange and rare creature called a bank teller...

The particularly surprising bit is that there is an Internet Cafe around the corner... hence I am writing this... but don't get used to it, I might be a little sporadic in my engagement...

I do wish that I had sorted out a web-based RSS feeder before I had left though...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

August 7

I think it will be a great day to bring a footy in

American Chronicle

Well there is little doubt why the world is such a strange place...

Change is as good as...

As is quite a habit for me, I am stuck in an airport. Sydney today whilst I wait for 3 hours for a connecting flight to the place so nice that they named it twice... Wagga Wagga.

Now it is said that a change is as good as a holiday but I find that it is rarely the case, unless you are the sort of person who finds holidays a reason to plan something not quite as good as at home... Now I have heard many references to how crap the aussie broadband situation is but here is mine...

Blissful in my comfort zone of the Qantas Club in T3, I enquire as to whether there is a QC in T2 where I have to go to board the bug smasher to Wagga... It seems that crossing the road means that I now have to pay for the pleasure to use internet that was free across the road... RUDE!

Anyway, at least I got my Combination Me Goreng from Wok on Air... turns out that not changing brings pleasure... go figure