Time to bring creativity into change management

There is a lot of change management methodology, both off the shelf and bespoke, out there to support significant change initiatives in organisations.

The resulting template driven approach to managing the changes associated with IT implementations and organisation and process re-design projects can at times under-deliver.

We believe it’s time to bring a bit of creativity and innovation into organisation change programmes and involve team members in designing both the change experience (as one would design a customer experience!) and new ways of working that often underpin large organisation change programmes.

Design thinking is an alternative approach to traditional problem solving that has mostly been associated with product development and the creative industries.

In recent years design thinking has started to be applied more widely to assist with resolving customer, organisation and management issues.

Design thinking is characterised by the following key steps ….. define, research, ideation, prototype, choose, implement and learn.

Over the past 4 years we have delivered “design thinking workshops” as part of organisation redesign projects.  Over the next 12 months we will be looking to bring similar workshops into the planning phase of large organisation change programmes.  If you are interested in finding out more let me know.

Check out Tim Brown’s (IDEO) thoughts on design thinking …


At the moment I’m facilitating about twice a week...and I’m facilitating a variety of programmes and courses but the one I struggle with most is our Courageous Conversations workshop, mainly because I feel like a complete fake.  I constantly wait for someone to challenge me as to when I last had a courageous conversation that went beyond my husband, kids or the family pets.  The problem is that I’m a wimp (Patrick Lencioni says he’s a wuss, so I feel as if I’m in good company!).  I admit I lack courage. I would do anything to avoid the hard discussions.  And I’m not alone, many people take a courageous conversations workshop, gaining all the needed skills and knowledge to carry out a difficult conversation but they still don’t have them, they still avoid them.  This leads many organisations baffled as to why, after such investment, they don’t get traction around people actually having the hard conversations, particularly around performance.  We wimps aren’t alone!


So how do you get courage?  Bravery, fear, and courage are all linked.  I’ve been around long enough to remember the book ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers written in the mid 80s.  This book title sums up perfectly how to find courage.  I remember reading that being brave isn’t the absence of fear but rather doing stuff in spite of the fear.  You don’t feel courage and then do courageous things (worse luck!) but rather you get courage by doing scary stuff, feeling sick to your stomach but doing the hard stuff anyway.  The more you do the scary stuff the better you get at it.  You may not do it perfectly or it may go badly…and that’s ok, that is what learning is all about.  But if you want to be more courageous you do just have to get on with it....oh so much easier said than done!!


We can’t be slack when it comes to communication, or can we?

We all know that communication is key, king and critical is the business world. We need to know what’s going on in the business and the sector to make the right decisions and help ourselves and most importantly our clients. At CGL we have been trialing being slackers on this front… and it’s a great thing!

As we are all around the country and often overseas we are able to use slack to keep each other up to date with all the latest research, articles and the banter and antics around the office. Coming up later in the year we will be launching some new programs using the latest technology to keep us all up to date and engaged! Until then, don’t be a slacker, use slack.


A long exposure of a road at twilight.

A Time For Change

A Time For Change

There are now more demands than ever placed on New Zealand non-profit organisations. Non-profits are expected to evaluate and report on an ever increasing number of effectiveness outcomes, create and manage a new culture of performance and professionalism, and collaborate with other non-profits on all phases of projects. In order to meet their demands, organisations are having to change not only their way of working but the way their leaders and employees think.

Supporting non-profit organisations to address change is a key area of focus at Capability Group Ltd. As a first step Capability Group interviewed more than 30 leaders (CEOs, Directors, and Managers) across the New Zealand non-profit sector to discuss current challenges faced by organisations and the wider sector, the ways in which organisations are overcoming the challenges, and the type of leaders needed to drive the change.

This article outlines what we discovered (http://www.slideshare.net/JeffreyGodbout/a-time-for-change-nz-nonprofits)

Design Thinking

I recently stumbled upon a good read titled 'Innovation is a State of Mind' by James O'Loghlin.

My takeaway so far is that innovators are not born a special DNA that makes them the avant-gard trendsetter we all look up to; they aren’t untouchables or a special breed. You don’t even to have to attend liberty arts college to be one.  Although most of us do innovate in some form or other at work, the difference with innovators is that they have a particular purpose in mind that feeds the wider customers’ needs.

We see the word ‘innovation’ used a lot in business culture and understand the role plays for businesses to hold its unique value in the market.  We also know that skill, knowledge and abilities of employees in a company, among other factors like culture, facilitate innovation.  Moreover, HR is responsible for creating the cultural environment where teams create and transform ideas and put them into practise.

Let the circle of innovation begin, you say … but how?  How do organisations train people to think like innovators?

As organisations increasingly focus on building innovation – we need to start with innovation capability -  coaching their staff to think like innovators. The methodologies vary for each organisation e.g. design thinking, Lean, business model canvas, Agile etc; there is no one prescribed pathway towards creating an innovative culture.

Design thinking is one methodology we apply at CGL to find the best-fit solution for all our services.

‘Design thinking’, is a user-centric, solution-focussed-thinking that starts with a goal of a better future rather than solving a specific problem.

Three things we love about design thinking is that

  • It starts with a deep understanding of the customer therefore allowing us to build a valuable experience based on the customers' need.
  • It allows us to build innovation as part of our everyday work life
  • It’s quick and repetitive process means we spend less time planning and more time doing.
  • It allows us to see the world through our customers' eyes, every day.

For more info, see Fast Company's simple description of the four key elements of design thinking: http://www.fastcompany.com/919258/design-thinking-what

Also, check out this case study of how a kiwi manufacturing company used HR and learning practices to drive innovation. http://www.business.otago.ac.nz/mgmt/research/omgr/kohli1.pdf

A child finger painting.

Simple vs. Complex Problems

Is best practice always a good thing?  Like a recipe for simple problems... but what about when the problem is more complex?

Featured in a paper on reform in the healthcare industry by Brenda Zimmerman of York University and Sholom Glouberman of the University of Toronto

Simple problems are ones like baking a cake from a mix. There is a recipe. Complicated problems are ones like sending a rocket to the moon. They can sometimes be broken down into a series of simple problems. But there is no straightforward recipe. Success frequently requires multiple people, often multiple teams, and specialized expertise. Unanticipated difficulties are frequent. Timing and coordination become serious concerns.

Complex problems are ones like raising a child. Once you learn how to send a rocket to the moon, you can repeat the process with other rockets and perfect it. One rocket is like another rocket. But not so with raising a child, the professors point out. Every child is unique. Although raising one child may provide experience, it does not guarantee success with the next child. Expertise is valuable but most certainly not sufficient. Indeed, the next child may require an entirely different approach from the previous one. And this brings up another feature of complex problems: their outcomes remain highly uncertain. Yet we all know that it is possible to raise a child well. It’s complex, that’s all.


Do you have more than 10 people in your support network?

While there is mounting evidence about the importance of engaging socially with others for our long-term health and wellbeing, here's some NZ research suggesting that there's plenty of Kiwis out there who have no supportive family or friends.  Maybe we could all do more to help!

Lonely Kiwis: http://bit.ly/1UTYRIv

A man climbs a circular stair

NZ Employees Lead the World in Strengths' Development

Nice to see NZ at the top of the list of countries leading the way on focusing on developing employees' strengths.  See overview of the research findings here, this article contains a link to the full report.

NZ World Leader in Strengths' Development

Leadership Programme for SME’s

Leadership Programme for SME’s

In 2014, Capability Group decided it wanted to take the design principles and learning model that underpins our various leadership programmes for corporate clients and see if we could support SMEs across New Zealand to build their leadership capability. We established a partnership with the Greater East Tamaki Business Association (with a membership of 2,700 small to medium-sized businesses in the East Tamaki area) to design and pilot the programme. We contextualised our existing offering to the unique challenges faced by many SMEs and ran the first pilot programme in 2015. The programme focuses on building leadership capability in a local geographic area and building collaborative B2B relationships amongst those participating organisations.

The first group consisted of people leaders from ten different organisations.  The Greater East Tamaki Business Association organised an external, 360 review of the programme at the end of 2015.  Capability Group made minor tweaks to the programme as a result and we have just kicked off a second cohort in 2016.

focuses on building leadership capability in a local geographic area and building collaborative B2B relationships

Wellington City Council

Wellington City Council: Design Thinking

Capability Group conducted a design thinking process involving approximately 300 people leaders from across Wellington City Council in the design and development of a bespoke Leadership Capability Framework, as well as five longitudinal leadership programmes – including “Leading Teams” and “Emerging Leaders”. These programmes will be delivered to some 1,100 people over the next two to three years. Capability Group incorporated key elements of the Life Styles Inventory (LSI) tool and participants action plans into workshops and the “apply” phase programme.

I realised that leadership is a choice.  Previously I would have avoided certain tasks and requests but after our first module I realised I don’t have to be a manager to be a leader in this organisation.  I feel empowered to step up and make a difference.