Yesterday, I talked about my country of birth, Papua New Guinea. I asked about how we as Australians might galvanise ourselves into action for change in that new nation.
Today, I speak about a book I recently read, written by Stan Grant, a Wiradjuri man, an accomplished journalist and a proud Indigenous Australian. Entitled: "Talking to My Country"- it is one that "every Australian should read". And, I would add "one that every change manager with a social conscience, who cares about this nation and what we stand for should read". It is a book that has touched my heart, re-lit the fires of my political science background and ignited my change agentry thinking.
Stan offers us a personal meditation on race, identity and our collective Australian history and his. He talks with all of us, asking "Is this the country we want to have?" and "How can we make it better?"
My organisational change, leadership and management thinking, stirred and inspired by Stan's almost poetic and powerful story-telling about his life; and the emotional, economic and social and physical struggles of his people causes me to ask: Why did this happen? Why did we let it happen?
Why did a contemporary brother Australian have to endure these experiences, feelings and thoughts?
We can see directly and between the lines about the sorts of policies, programmes and actions which occurred in Australia's past and continue even today. We can see how our leaders and managers assumed certain philosophies such as social Darwinism, imperialism, colonialism; we can see what they valued and how our ancestors behaved.
I began to realise very clearly how we as societal "mainstreamers", can be so easily blind-sided and non-empathetic throughout our lives to our brothers and sisters on the fringes of our so-called fair and egalitarian society.
Change strategies, change management plans, change readiness assessments, stakeholder engagement road maps and change programmes that our governments and citizens of the last 230 years were designed, developed and implemented with various intents upon and against Stan's people. His words spoke to me personally. His experiences tugged at me.
What did I learn about cultural change from Stan's experiences?
(1) To be acutely aware of political and societal agendas around us,
(2) To speak out strongly and persuasively against injustice in our organisations and communities,
(3) To refine and be "with-it" citizens of enlightenment in our values' positions and to stand up and be counted for one's values,
(4) To question the assumptions upon which leaders of nations, organisations and society make about changes,
(5) To analyse and question the reasons for the structures and cultural processes, approaches and activities that they use to enact their agendas.
We, as change managers are the guardians of societal change, together with others. As change managers we must ensure that leaders and managers of change do it with people, not upon them; we must ensure we have engagement, two way engagement with them; and access to the best cultural, social and institutional research data about our scope, and contexts of change.
As change managers we need broad platforms of understanding rather than a narrow view of power, control and hierarchy that perpetuates the status quo.
We, as change managers with an eye upon all the learnings of the new sciences of chaos and complexity must focus upon differentialism for innovation, cosmopolitanism, respect for all peoples to grow organisations, cities, states and societies. We have to know that our intents must take us in a direction towards a prosperity beyond narrow realms, towards a deep societal fabric with richness and colour, a vast bank of skills and an investment in the diversity of human resources; investing in all our people, white, black and brindle; women and men, the disabled; for economic strength, social wellbeing and cultural richness as a nation.
Stan talked about his country and peoples over the last 50 years. Change managers over the next 50 years, in this 21st Century; must deliver a socio-culturally inclusive approach for all our stakeholders.
Like Stan Grant, we must include all our people, not some, as we go about managing and leading change and "talk to our country".
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!