This is how you should think about culture if you want to be ready for the future of work

This is how you should think about culture if you want to be ready for the future of work

Culture is not something your organisation has. It's something your organisation is.

What does that mean? Settle down comfortably and I'll do my best to explain.

Organisational culture became a thing in the 1980s. It was dreamed up as an American response to Japanese competitiveness. In very simple terms, Japanese workers worked longer hours and were more loyal to their companies than American workers. They seemed to live, breathe and sleep work in a way that the American worker did not.

The reason, it seemed, was because Japanese companies had strong cultures and American companies didn't. The Japanese workers understood and shared their company's values, beliefs and norms. That wasn't the case with the American worker.

For the American worker, work in the 1970s was purely technical. He didn't have to live it or love it. He just had to do it well and take home his check. That was the psychological contract. A fair day's pay for a fair day's work. While the Japanese worker's work infused all parts of his life, the American worker left his work at work when he went home.

Now it's a bit more like this!

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How to get the best out of original thinkers during complex change

How to get the best out of original thinkers during complex change

Our businesses are crying out for creative, original thought. But we are training it out of our children. And developing management practices that inhibit it.  

In this post, I will look at how the practices of change management are hindering original thought. And preventing the people who can best help the change succeed from being involved.  

Why are original thinkers so much more creative than the average human being? 


This is the question that has made Adam Grant famous. He's arguably the leading organisational psychologist in the world today. The youngest tenured professor at Wharton. The top-rated professor for five straight years.

He's one of the world's 25 most influential management thinkers.The author of two New York Times best-selling books. And a number one national best seller. 

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HBR says, "You Can't Fix Culture!" Well, duh!

HBR says, "You Can't Fix Culture!" Well, duh!

The cover of HBR's April 2016 issue. Big, bold and bright orange. You Can't Fix Culture! An article explaining how culture emerges from good business practice. It's not something you can impose. Or design. Or change from the top. It just happens. 

This challenges conventional thinking about culture. And about time. But it doesn't go far enough. 

It only looks at how a few CEOs have launched new initiatives that are more strategically purposeful than the standard cultural model. A new culture will then supposedly emerge from the new purposeful direction. It's a shift. But not much of one. It's still about designing culture. Just from a different direction. 

It's not widely known, but there is a bunch of research that predicted what HBR is now saying.  Some of it written a quarter of a century ago. Shows how the culture model is decaying. Illustrates the environmental conditions of a failing culture. And the characters who live in it. 

But those that write for HBR rarely read this type of research. Because it isn't "serious" enough. Isn't manager-centric enough. Is too critical. Too challenging. 

But, hey, HBR has made a strong claim. So let's take this opportunity to talk about this research. On a public forum full of professional people. See if it strikes a chord. Because it's too important not to extend the argument. Make it deeper and richer. Try and put out there. 

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Playing Tennis with Rock Stars

Playing Tennis with Rock Stars

When I left academia, I was immediately offered a role in a mining company. With barely two nickels to rub together, I accepted. Not knowing that I was going to be spending a lot of time on the other side of the continent. And Australia is big. Very big. So, 3,938.1 km and a 41-hour drive. Or a 5-hour flight. 

My role was to shut down the company's Perth offices. Now, being surrounded by people who've just been made redundant doesn't bring many dinner offers. And I was going to be in Perth a lot. So, assuming my evenings would be lonely, I wrote to a few tennis clubs to see if I could get a social hit. A year and a half later, I'm still waiting on a reply. From any or all of them. 

There will now be a quick segue into something else. But this will become relevant. I promise. Trust me. 

My Tennis Club

Being on an international Ph.D. scholarship is not all it's made out to be. Want cocktail parties with glamorous people. Tuxedo dinners. To sail through the harbour. Then don't do a Ph.D. It's hard. And lonely. And, thanks to Australian visa and my university regulations, you can only work for ten hours per week. Which means how many companies are interested in employing you? At less than a shift and a half availability per week? Somewhere between none and a big fat zero. So, it's isolating. 

To stay sane and do something practical, I got involved with managing my local tennis club. As with many tennis clubs in Australia, it was in a perilous state. Declining playing numbers. Crumbling facilities. Frustration and apathy in the membership. The oldest licensed sports club in Australia, it was very close to shutting its doors for good. 

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Changing the Model for Playing Tennis in Australia

Changing the Model for Playing Tennis in Australia

Having read this very interesting post about declining participation in tennis in the UK and been part of similar conversations in Australia, I thought I'd leave behind my usual academic geekiness and give my two cents worth on why tennis in both countries is struggling. Although I will generally refer to the Australian system, I believe much of what I say still pertains to the UK. 

I was one of the lucky few invited to participate in the Tennis Australia Places to Play conference in 2012, from which I took away a lot of inspiration and excellent information. I also met lots of people extremely passionate about tennis in Australia. The conference was fundamental towards my building a working relationship with Paul Hoysted, once a board member of Tennis NSW and, in my opinion, one of the best and most innovative tennis coaches in the country.

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