This year’s itSMF UK conference had many themes flowing through it but one that stood out from the rest was the need to look after our people and ourselves.
The second keynote speaker of the conference was Thomas Jordon (TJ) from SANE who set the scene with a very moving personal story and some breathtaking statistics including the following from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.” (October 2018)
TJ went on to explain how sufferers hide their mental issues due to stigma. He referred to the following from WHO.
“Treatments are available, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional. Stigma, discrimination and neglect prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorders, says the World Health Organization (WHO). Where there is neglect, there is little or no understanding. Where there is no understanding, there is neglect.”(Oct 2018)
It didn’t stop there…
This theme continued through the conference in different guises. Kat Turner from ITSM Zone talked about the need for mentoring not only to support staff but also to retain much needed talent. She introduced us to Think Nation, a movement focused on humanising the impact of technology on young people. The movement connects young people to some of the most accomplished thought leaders in technology, the arts, sport, academia, and business; and empowers them to ask and tackle BIG questions. The Think Nation mentors share their insights and expertise with young people.
- Clarity: Crafting the right story to create a clear and compelling sense of purpose for your organisation
- Climate: Connecting your people in influential ways to build a climate where change can thrive
- Conversation: Capturing the positive deviant behaviours that raise your game and learning how to spread them
Although the title didn’t explicitly refer to people, David continually stressed the fact that he believed that organisational change management would be the key to the future for service management professionals. It’s a skill that every service management professional will need to possess in the future.
And then there was me…
My presentation was the last on Day One and entitled “Change is Constant. Game On!” I discussed that we’re now living in a world in which change is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It’s also constant. In this environment we cannot rely on a handful of organisational change management professionals within the organisation to manage the people side of change. Change has to be everyone’s business. I described the three roles that I believe we need today to build a resilient workforce that thrives in the face of constant change. I used a soccer analogy and introduced the roles of managers, coaches, and players in an organisational change management perspective.
Players on a soccer team are faced with changing conditions every game they play. Ground, pitch, weather, supporters, opposition, game tactics, player positions may all change. During a game, tactics, player numbers, and positions may continue to change. The players don’t resist change. They embrace it and say “game on”. The managers are our change management professional who need to stop ‘doing’ and start ‘strategising’. They create the strategy and game plan to ensure that the players are resilient in the face of constant change. They ensure they’re physically and mentally fit. They do this by creating a network of change coaches. The coaches are trained and have organisational change management capabilities. Coaches exist at every level of the organisation. They support the players through communication of game play, acting as advocates for constant change, provide coaching to enable resilience, liaise with the managers in regards to changes in strategy and approach, and continue to grow the coaching network.
The coalition of managers, coaches, and players ensure that there is resilience in the face of constant change and that everything possible is done to ensure a workforce of sound body and mind. Players are educated in regards to their own personal resilience and provided with programs on emotional intelligence and mindfulness. They learn how to regulate emotions and reframe situations to have a positive context. They understand the power of collaboration and adaptation. They’re realistic optimists and know how to be authentic and bring their best selves to work.
For those readers shrugging their shoulders at the mention of mindfulness. Here in Australia, Richmond Football Club were the winners of the Australia Football League (AFL) in 2017, and attributed a large degree of their win to the introduction of their mindfulness program.
If organisations are going to remain relevant in the face of constant change they need to focus on the people side of change. This is a call for action not lip service.