Working in a Changing Environment

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Late last year I had the pleasure of working with  several large groups at one of Hong Kong’s tertiary institutions. They had been struggling with change and how to work with it productively. Much to their amusement I suggested we do some workshop around the concept of a Zoo and how animals respond to change. So we used the Organizational Zoo metaphor approach which helped them look at the behaviors needed for successful change in a very non threatening manner.   They developed their own “change zoo” with preferred and needed behaviors for change and developed techniques to help one another exhibit these behaviors.  And believe it or not ….they had fun!!!!!

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Team Dynamics-Let’s Look at Behaviour


I worked with an organisation this week to assist them to better understand the behaviours of enhancing team dynamics and collaboration. It is all very nice and well people understanding the principles of this, but reflecting and practicing behaviours takes it to another level. I used the Organizational Zoo metaphor throughout the workshop to safely look at and understand behaviours. The response was very positive and interesting ideas and reflections emerged from the group.

We worked through individual behaviours and then behaviours in a group and then in a team. The outcome was the group themselves designed what they believed were required and ideal behaviours for the teams they worked in to be successful. So they owned it, not the external consultant. All of this was undertaken using the Organizational Zoo metaphor as a safe way of understanding ourselves and others.

All of this is much better in my view than the cliched team building that is often trotted out as it takes things to a deeper level and the team owns the outcome.


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I have been mentoring students undertaking their Executive MBA at RMIT recently. The unit is Consultancy where they undertake a real life consulting project working with a client and with a mentor who provides support and learning from their industry experience as a consultant. It is a different way of learning but has some direct translation to real life practice and transfers the paradigm from academic to practical and experiential. The learnings are around developing a consultancy project, understanding the client/consultant relationship, questions of ethics, collaboration and understanding the issue and questions of expert. Saturday was their presentation of recommendations to the client which is followed up by a report for the client. The process is of three way benefit, students, client and mentor.

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Power and Authority in Leadership


Reflecting on the latest leadership challenges in terms of the election of the new President of the USA, the Brexit vote and the movements in the Australian political field, the question of power  and influence and the the authority of leadership raises its head.. How do we as leaders tap into what is really going on with the various groups in society. Are we so cognitively  entrained by our groups of peers that we are unable to listen and see what is happening? And how does our own group of peers effect our behaviours as leaders and determine our actions?

A significant level of EI is needed by leaders today along with an ability to shift and move our behaviours and thinking………and maybe even an escape plan from our own thinking and group influences.

To assist leaders in addressing these issues, Bespoke Results and Creative Cognicion are facilitating a one day workshop at Airlie on March 3 next year. This is a highly experiential workshop and has been run on a number of other occasions with groups who have found it thought provoking and challenging.

Registration can be made through the attached brochure. ( there is a considerable discount for registrations prior to Christmas!!!)  Power Authority Program Brochure March 2017 copy


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Librarians and Leadership

001Over the last two years Creative Cognicion, as part of the Complexability group, has been working with a group of librarians across the South Pacific. They have been undergoing leadership development training which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Part of the development of the program was to rake an existing world wide program and adapt it to the specific needs of participants in the South Pacific. So rather than wait until the end of the first Cohort and then evaluate the program and hurriedly make changes for the second cohort, an impact evaluation was undertaken which could give real time feedback.  The methodology was based on Cognitive Edge techniques including the use of their software Sensemaker. This was chosen for several reasons. One is that it is appropriate for the complex nature of learning and development. It provides experiences of the participants, and contextualization reached through the participants making their own meaning of their experience. This gives rise to insights which can be turned into actions for change.  The actions can be designed by either the Steering Committee or the participants. Secondly, the methodology is consistent with reflective learning as participants are asked to record experiences and then make their own meaning of the experiences. This is similar to the requirement of the course to keep a reflective journal, so participants are being provided with the opportunity to undertake reflective learning in a number of ways. And thirdly it is consistent with the development of innovation capability, one of the outcomes of the program, as it is a “different ” way of undertaking evaluation and encourages participants to think and plan about change.

Cohort 2 has just commenced with the program incorporating changes emerging from the experiences of Cohort 1. And it is expected that Cohort 2 will again influence the development of further programs.

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Chat Cafe and Hong Kong College of Technology


During a recent visit to Hong Kong I facilitated a chat cafe with students so they could practice their English with a native English speaker. During the session a recording crew were present as they needed footage to place in a new promotional video for the College. It is now available on Youtube through


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Complex Tools and Methods Workshops

IMAG1135In collaboration with Complexability Creative Cognicion has facilitated two very successful Complex tools and Methods Workshops this year.

The workshops have provided participants with an overview of complexity and drawn on publically available Cognitive Edge methodology as well as providing follow up support and coaching for participants who wanted it.

These workshops have been facilitated by various collaborative members of Complexability Australia wide. We are now forming a community of interest around the methodology and will hopefully be able to offer people the opportunity to participate in further learning exchanges.

The next workshop on Complex Tools and Methods in Victoria is on April 16 2016.

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Hong Kong Students Cheer On Aussie Rules Players

075During a recent trip to Hong Kong, Hong Kong College of Technology invited Creative Cognicion to facilitate “Conversation in English Cafes” with small groups of students.

The purpose of the sessions was to expose students to native English speakers and encourage them to practice their English and learn about English speaking cultures.

Some innovation was needed to encourage the students to talk with the facilitator and one another so a session on “Where We Live” was devised.  Part of the session focused on Australian Rules Football using short video clips for the students to respond to. In this case the clips were of the successful 2105 Grand Finals of the Williamstown Football Club.   

The students responded very positively, cheering on players as they kicked goals!!!!! The enthusiasm of the students has resulted in Creative Cognicion beign invited to facilitate further conversations specifically on Aussie Rules next year!!!!!!

The entire session was videoed and photographed and will form  part of a new publicity campaign for HKCT. This is being developed in conjunction with the opening of their new innovative campus at Ma On Shan


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Complex Tools and Methods Workshop




Have you ever wondered what you might use to navigate your way through complex situations?

Complexability is facilitating  a workshop on October 30 that will introduce people to some tools and techniques for working with complexity.

A previous workshop in June 22 participants said:

A great introduction to complexity. I am now starting to make some sense of the space I often work in”

“Good tips on working in this space. I now know I need to experiment and have the confidence to do this as traditional linear approaches do not work in complexity.”

The one-day workshop is designed for people addressing complex challenges such as improving health, educational attainment, employment, climate change, crime and recidivism rates, developing new business markets or changing organisational culture.

Based on complexity principles, the tools and methods in this workshop are specifically designed for working with complex issues, multiple stakeholders and differing perspectives.

This experiential workshop will equip you to:

Know when complex tools, methods and processes are appropriate to use
• Understand and apply the principles of complex facilitation to maximise participant collaboration and minimise facilitator influence
• Use the Cynefin framework for collaborative understanding, engagement, planning, decision making, innovation, strategy, change management and impact monitoring
• Use the power of narrative for making sense of complex issues
• Design ways of intervening in, and monitoring changes in complex environments

To register please go to:

or for the brochure please click complex tools and methodsoct


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Coaching and Taking Risk

Working with coachinga client recently, there was a realization that in order to move forward with skills and capabilities a great deal of personal risk was required. Many are happy to take this risk, but others need some safety nets to assist them along the way.

It becomes particularly difficult when we are now working in and increasingly so, a complex environment. We are taught that you plan and get a certain end result. This seems to be applied to ourselves and our own personal and professional development as well. Given the complex nature of the world today,  aiming in a straight line is not the best way to go . Rather it requires shifts and changes and working with risk ie engaging in probes and experiments in a complex space and learning from safe fail experiences. This is where the risk comes in. Some are able to do this and have a sense of adventure about it all whereas others recoil from it for a variety of reasons.

In thinking about this, the methods of Protective Behavoirs seemed a good way to go. This involves understanding the idea of risking on purpose, fun to feel scared and the like as per the continuum of safety. ( see )It also involves developing safety networks that you can work with if needed. We might need a number of these as adults. Some for work and some for our personal lives. Along with this is being in touch with our own emotional signals as to where we are on the safety continuum and knowing we can make a choice a bout where we put ourselves.

The Principles and practice of Protective Behaviors and the concepts of complexity are  currently being applied in coaching work undertaken by Creative Cognicion as way of developing people to be effective in their working lives.



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