4 Things to know about the Australian Workforce and How to Prepare for the Change


In Part One of this series I introduced to you two things. Joanne Molesky, our Keynote for 1st Conference on the 26th & 27th February 2018, and our new approach to content.

Our intent is, and always will be, to bring the best and most interesting ideas to you, our audience. This is us playing our part in helping the workforce evolve into a better future.

To start with a quick recap - in Part One, we covered ground around some of the issues that we currently face in the workforce at a broader level. This was designed to help you understand why we're even all here talking about this today.

In Part Two, my intent is to help you understand what the opportunities are for us in the Australian workforce, and where you can start learning by presenting these 4 key themes from my discussion with Joanne.

 1. Why we can do great things in Australia, it's the right environment for change

2. Why the goal is to unlock the human potential in your organisations

3. We should learn from each others experiences and mistakes, but forge our own paths

4. All the information you need to change is out there, you just need to know where to look (and be looking)

In the meantime, I really hope you enjoy this video, if you haven't watched Part One yet I'd highly recommend you start there!

Remember, Part Three will be at 1st Conference on the 26th & 27th February 2018 when Joanne talks about how you tackle these issues that we face.

If you liked or have feedback on this story and interview, please let me know!


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Don't forget to scroll below the video where I unpack the key ideas in a written form.

I honestly believe that Joanne is going to open a lot of eyes and ears at 1st Conference this year, she's an incredible speaker, thinker and a genuinely lovely person.

For those of you who don't have the time to watch the whole video, or wish they'd taken notes, I've unpacked the key themes below.

1. Why we can do great things in Australia and how it's the right environment for change:

There is some negativity in the media about the state of the Australian economy and professional workforce. We have a large dependency on the exporting of natural resources, which is a heavily China reliant market for Australia, and we are a largely services based economy (this is a great article about it).

However, in Joanne's view Australia is in a great position due to being such a condensed market, the thinking behind this is as below:

  • Our physical isolation - this isolation means that there is more predictability in the market, you can see your competitors or potential disruptors before it's too late and we aren't as culturally diverse as a large multi-national corporation is required to be when geographically spread. This means if you're trying to do things here in Australia, you can understand your customer more deeply meaning you can cater to their needs.
  • Smaller markets - This means it's cheaper, and less risky to experiment, it doesn't require the same level of scale (or cost) to test out if something works because you can hit the spread of audience to validate your ideas before you're too far gone down a path.
  • Less complexity - This is as a result of the first two. A smaller market and physical isolation means there's less complexity than in bigger markets, this gives you and your management teams the space to stop and think about how you can do things better
  • You can get it right here first - Australia is small enough to make sense of, but big enough to build something great! Our condensed market means you can build your culture of adaptability here in a more predictable market, and once you have that right take on the rest of the world.
  • Culturally, we can deal with the challenge of change -  Australian's have a habit of telling it straight, and confronting and discussing issues that some cultures find more difficult. We're not afraid to address someone or something if it's wrong, and we can embrace change when we need to. This makes it easy to change and adapt frequently to address customer and market needs.

When you put all of this together, you have an environment where you can build some incredible businesses that can have a positive impact on the world. That is the opportunity in front of us.


2. Why the goal is to unlock the human potential in your workforce:

This is the greatest opportunity for any organisation. If you can engage and interact with the human qualities of your employees, you will have an empowered workforce coming up with new ideas that will inspire and delight your customers while having a positive impact on the community around them.

Sounds great doesn't it? To get there, you need to accept a few small things:

  • You won't always know what the future holds - Ambiguity is your friend, if you invest in your people and you remove the structures that are oppressing them, you will have a human driven organisation that thinks, lives and breathes adaptability and change. This will empower your workforce and engage your customer base.
  • It will not happen overnight - We are lucky in Australia to have a more condensed market, you can spend time experimenting with what works for your customers and your people, and doubling down on the things that truly work, not just the way you've always done it. But this is a cultural behaviour that takes time, and you have to be patient
  • You will have to change - Be prepared to re-think the way you do everything. When you graduate from high school you don't decide to stick around just because you got such good grades. You have to move on and adapt to the new world around you, it's the only way you will continue to evolve and grow with the change, and not be left behind. It's the same for you, your teams and your organisation. Things don't stay the same - be a part of driving positive change, don't hold it back because you don't want to let go


3. We should learn from each others experiences and mistakes, but forge our own paths:

You're seeing a lot of organisations trying to follow very specific and prescriptive playbooks to try and drive change. You may see a temporary lift in performance, but more often than not, you will see things regress as the companies culture pushes back on the new structures put in place.

This is something Joanne talks a lot about, and something we're seeing everywhere in the workforce. The issue isn't with these playbooks, they're all theoretically well thought out and developed by smart, well educated people. The issue is that people are not developing them to work for their own context and they're looking for the easy short term answers.

Here's a few things to think about:

  • As an absolute imperative, you have to build something that makes sense for you -  The biggest issue we're consistently seeing across organisations is people trying to follow or copy what someone else has already done. You need to drive cultural behaviour change at all layers of the organisation concurrently with any developing any new way of working. It's the only sustainable way to get there.
  • Be weary of people telling you what to do, not teaching you how to think - You can only adopt new ways of working when you are motivated and creating the change yourself, this applies across the entire organisation.
  • Joanne will be sharing her experiences at 1st Conference - It seems like a shameless plug, but if you can come to the conference you will get value from hearing her speak. She will be talking about some of the common pitfalls she sees, and some of the barriers you come across from a corporate governance and risk perspective when organisations try to adopt new ways of working. She'll also be talking about how you blow up traditional processes and procedures to help your organisation evolve and break free.


4. All the information is out there, you just need to know where to look (and go looking for it):

So I wouldn't call this a key theme, however it's important that you know there are a million amazing resources out there you can learn from. It's essential for you not to take anything as "the only way", you need to understand different approaches and figure out how you make it work for you based on your environment.

Here is the list of suggested resources and references that came out of the conversation with Joanne that you can start to learn from today:

  • Lean Enterprise - This is the book mentioned that Joanne co-authored with Barry O'Reilly and Jez Humble. I've read it and would highly recommend it
  • OODA Loop - Yes, I said this incorrectly in the video. "Observe, Orient, Decide, Act". This is a framework and tool you can apply to any situation, any business decision or interaction with customers. It encourages you to think more deeply about things
  • Lean Institute - This is where you can find excellent resources all about how to be a better employer and how to empower yourself and your people.
  • Beyond Budgeting - You're going to continue to see a theme of a way of thinking that is all about empowering your staff in ways that challenge the status quo of traditional organisations.
  • How to Measure Anything - Douglas Hubbard - This is much more specific being a book, rather than a specific ideology or way of thinking. But the quote of the interview came from this book (watch the video to find it), so I had to make sure I identified the book for everyone out there.

Like I said, there are a million other references and golden nuggets of learning out there. All the information you need to make a change exists, you just need to go looking for it and apply what makes sense for you.

So there it is. That's the end of Part Two with Joanne Molesky. Part Three will be on the day at RMIT's Storey Hall on the 26th and 27th February, tickets are starting to go so make sure you sign up soon.

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If you liked or have feedback on this story and interview, please let me know!


Follow me or reach out on LinkedIn & Twitter