Toast Note - 13 April 2017

I’m reasonably certain that it was a mistake to ‘optimise my efficiency’ this week by spending 16 hours painting the rumpus room while simultaneously listening to 21 hours of podcasts (1.3x speed is just below where the podcasters start to sound like chipmunks inhaling helium). Rich says I should have listened to music, and I’m appropriately chastened; I exhausted my body, I exhausted my brain. But wow… I am so full of ideas! I am stuffed to the eyeballs with competing theories of how to convince people to move move move. I also have an opinion on whether S-Town is as good as Serial Season 1 (it’s not) and whether Bannon or Priebus is going to lose their job first (Priebus).

The meaty good stuff all gels around the word ‘storytelling’. I’m late to this business buzzword bandwagon, but conceptually and cognitively, the story we are telling about storytelling fits my understanding of human behaviour -- so of course I like it. It compliments what we know (and are learning) about behavioural economics and cognitive behavioural modification. It lays nicely over simplistic change models like ADKAR and Kotter, and it feels right when you look at where transformational change happens and where it falls flat. I am being swept on a tide of confirmation bias toward a shimmering vista of “I told you so.” There’s probably nothing worse than a smug change manager.

I’m starting to feel my way towards what is next in this field, and I can tell you one thing… we won’t be called change managers much longer. Change management is one of those fields you see in videos warning about the disruptive future and how  we all have to get our shit together or be rendered obsolete by the AI overlords. My field didn’t exist 20 years ago; It won’t last more than another decade in its current form. Arguably, it’s already vanishing in agile organisations and lives on only in places that are big, slow, and/or risk adverse who still believe waterfall project management makes sense. What will replace change management? I don’t know what we’ll call it, but the gap it will fill is Teacher of Creative Writing. Think of someone who facilitates a class where everyone is trying to figure out how to tell their own stories and get them published. It’ll require some form of ninja yarn spinner, non-stop conversationalist, information omnivore who has the capacity to inspire belief and trust and to whom leaders will turn when they need an editor or a book critic.

“I just use my life story as a kind of device on which to hang comic observations. It's not my interest or instinct to tell the world anything pertinent about myself or my family.” ~ Bill Bryson