Creative & Agile Techniques to Facilitate Change #KMWorld


Speakers: Felicity McNish, Global Knowledge Management Leader, Aurecon; and Sue Stewart, Global Knowledge Culture Leader, Aurecon

Session Description: Change is not one size fits all; it’s dependent and interdependent on the environment, the market, the organization, the strategy, the culture and the individuals involved to be prescribed in a cast-iron process. Compounding the change challenge are the constraints of time, resources, budget, client commitments, motivation, leadership expectations, and, in some cases, pandemics. Irrespective, there are constants; people need a clear purpose for change, the motivation to support, the knowledge to understand, the tools to act, and the reinforcement to sustain. And the change approach needs to be adaptive and responsive to the needs of both the people and the organization. Speakers discuss the critical factors for sustained change and share practical and creative approaches, fusing together elements of change theory with psychology, communication, marketing, advertising, branding, storytelling, and good old-fashioned manners. They share their experiences and outcomes implementing cultural, knowledge, and operational and technical transformations in different organizations over the last 20 years.

[These are my notes from the KMWorld Connect 2020 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Audience Poll: What’s the greatest obstacle to success in your organization?
    • Organizational Culture
    • Too much change or lack of prioritization
    • Lack of leadership by sponsors
  • This presentation is not intended to be a “how to” discussion. Rather, it focuses on “what is possible.”
  • Case Studies: The presenters have been working together for 20 years. They will be presenting stories and lessons from where they have worked: Woods Bagot, Unispace, and Aurecon.
  • Creativity
    • Creativity is critical to change because it helps you focus on what is not yet but might be someday.
    • See Tina Selig video that lays out the key elements of the creative approach to change
    • Attitude – make sure that your attitude has a positive impact on the people affected by the change. You will need to design and stage their experience.
      • Understand and listen to the people you are working with. Ask them to tell stories about themselves: tell us about yourself and your family, where you work, your best and worst change experience, and your superpower.
      • Show your appreciation to the people working with you by showing up prepared, thanking them during the session, and following up with thanks after the session.
      • Failure is data — use failure as an opportunity to collect data on what worked and what didn’t work. Don’t lose sight of the small victories — even in the midst of failures. Look for the bright spots.
    • Imagination
      • Chindogu — a Japanese term for coming up with useless ideas. Why bother? Because it cranks your brain into gear.
      • Use warm-up cards with provocative questions that help participants begin to think more creatively about connecting critical knowledge.
      • As you ideate, identify what must happen, what should happen, and what absolutely won’t be acceptable.
    • Knowledge — you can’t be creative without knowledge about the area / problem / opportunity you are trying to address
      • Going in prepared helps prevent a bad experience. “A single negative experience has four or five times greater impact than a single positive one.”
      • MLP not MVP — instead of focusing on minimal viable product, focus on delivering the minimal LOVABLE product.
    • Habitat / Environment
      • Create a warm, welcoming, FUN environment.
    • Culture
      • Edgar Schein’s model explains how culture forms and is maintained: artefacts < espoused values < underlying assumptions. The artefacts are the things and behaviors you see. They are based on harder-to-see values and assumptions.
    • Resources
      • Allies — when resources are constrained, identify and work with allies across the organization
      • Innovate with what you’ve got
  • Agile — enables innovation without sacrificing reliability
    • Team
      • Stable teams outperform temporary teams
      • Recruit T-shaped team members who have or can build relationships across the business. Stay away from Lone Stars
    • Time
      • Time is has two elements: the time spent working on the innovation PLUS the time spent waiting for others
      • Understand that people need time to learn and embrace change. Further, that learning time will be a period of reduced productivity, which can be exhausting.
      • Make sure people have some recovery time so that they can absorb and integrate the learning.
    • Attention — they use three key elements to capture attention in an 8-second era
      • Engage with stories
      • Anticipate the needs
      • Show the return
      • Use Images — still photos and video
      • explain things using the same visuals every time
    • Barriers
      • You do not need to be a scrum master. It is more about mindset.
      • Address the elephant in the room such as lack of budget or abundance of bureaucracy.
      • Understand your sponsors: What are they looking for? What is their ability to actual lead through this change?
  • Recommended Resource: Jason Fox, The Game Changer

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