Monthly Archives: November 2014

Mental models of change – the cocreative mindset

I’m beginning to realise it is impossible to embrace cocreation if the dominant mental models of change don’t fit, whether at an individual or group level.  I’m also coming to appreciate how rare these models can be.

I am going to start by describing the cocreative mental model of change.



I believe that we are all embedded in complex systems.  We all play a role supporting or shifting these systems, whether consciously or not.  We all have capacity to influence change, through a mix of different levers… it is not only the ‘decision makers’ who have power.  ‘Decision makers’ have clearer and more transparent powers, and they likely have access to some big levers, but they don’t hold unique and unimpeachable influence.  In fact, from my experience working under a Minister in State Government, I know how even the highest ‘decision makers’ are hamstrung by context, political imperatives and conflicting influences.  I love the admission by a CEO who only realised when he was finally appointed to the role, that he half expected to get to his new desk and find a set of magic levers that make everything happen…. only to realise that the CEO’s omnipotence is an elaborate charade.

So what does it mean to look at the world like this?  For one, whoever and wherever we are, we have capacity to influence our world for the better (or worse!).  So whatever we want to see, the change starts here, with us, now.  But it is no use working in isolation… to put this capacity to good use we need to work together – and not just with a band of merry changemakers, but collectively in consonance with the whole rest of the system we seek to change.

“Dancing with others to bring better futures lovingly into being” – this is how I seek to live my life (inspired by Donella Meadows), and it expresses what it is like to work with the mental model I’ve just described.  This is the fundamental disposition of cocreation.

This sums up a mental model of change, of how it happens and how we need to go about applying it (cocreatively).

This is most obvious at an individual, psychological level, but it scales up too – to group cultures, and how we work together in all the sorts of areas that I work in.

In my next post (now up here), I will describe alternative mental models that I have rubbed up against recently, some thoughts on their limitations, and what that means for working cocreatively.

Til then, may you dance lovingly…

Adelaide’s new City Council

With South Australia’s local gov elections barely over, it’s hard to get back into the swing of daily chores. Let’s talk about our new elected representatives instead.

Town Hall image from the ACC website

A new look for Adelaide City Council (list below)

Our City Council has changed remarkably, with many new faces and new sorts of faces. Council is much younger, though it’s hard to say which ways the council’s direction will skew.

Half of our reps are new to Council, including the Lord Mayor. The new reps are all relatively young, in their 30s and 40s mostly, at least as far as I can tell. Three of the councillors to bow out (Plumridge, Hamilton and Henningsen) were probably all older than each one of those incoming… that’s a big shift.

We have really solid female representation as well, with a respectable 5 of 12 female reps – a coin toss away from parity. That is (I think?) 1 more than last time out, with all 4 previous reps re-elected and the introduction of Priscilla Corbell in the south.

The current council also looks like a very approachable bunch. I have directly connected with almost all of them for one reason or another, and know they are all approachable and committed to their communities. The new Mayor might not be as active on social media as our old one, but we can work on that.

Somewhat more frivolously… our new representatives are a highly photogenic bunch too. Prior to the election our best looking gent was Houssam Abiad (Central Ward). Now, Houssam’s a great guy and all, but he’s definitely no Robert Simms (Area). Haese, Slama and Antic (South) are all passable gents in front of camera, and Priscilla Corbell is good in front of the camera as well. Adelaide shot straight up the attractiveness ladder over the weekend, and I’d be very surprised to find a Council around the country that would put us to shame.

At least two of the new reps, David Slama (Central Ward) and Martin Haese (Lord Mayor) are strongly aligned with business. But the overall mix of new councillors, many young professionals, looks to be no more aligned with traditional business interests, so that will be a wait and see…

If anything, I think the new Council probably represents an excellent mix of the Adelaide of today; a younger and less traditional local gov demographic, but full of people who are proactive and cut across business and residential interests, who are getting involved because they care – not because it fits their retirement plans, or because they want to rig the deck in favour of them and their friends.

Overall I’m guardedly optimistic. I remain concerned that many of City Council’s innovative agenda-setting projects are exposed to the whims of the new crew who may side with traditional interests, but optimistic that they’ll do a good job carrying Adelaide forward over the next four years.

A Change of Voice

The new Lord Mayor is the more progressive of the non-Yarwood candidates, but how this plays out remains to be seen.

Haese ran a campaign on partnership, vision and leadership, and leveraged his strong ties with the business community more than resident voters.

Haese did come out in line with the AHA against the city’s food truck regime, and I’m a little worried he is too wedded to entrenched corporate interests to push a progressive line. He talks of a positive, progressive future for Adelaide, but will he roll over when it counts? Will he stand up and sell the future that we need to grow into when the road gets rocky?

Whether you agreed with Yarwood’s agenda or not, he did an excellent job in his position advocating for positive change in the face of pressure to conform to the past… regardless of whether you agree with it, it is a really valuable role for a figurehead to play, and I’m glad our last Mayor took to it with the required courage (even if that meant a bravado that brought him down). Haese says that he’ll do the same, but I’m not yet convinced how well he’ll stand the test. Still, fingers crossed for him – for Adelaide.

Candidates’ List (in approx order of votes)

Lord Mayor
Martin Haese (new)

Natasha Malani
Anne Moran
Sandy Wilkinson (formerly North Ward)
Robert Simms (new)

North Ward
Sue Clearihan
Phil Martin (new)

Houssam Abiad
Megan Hender
David Slama (new)

Alex Antic (new)
Priscilla Corbell (new)

Info about candidates is still available here on the ACC website, including contact details and a blurb.  This will probably be removed soon and replaced with basic info on the elected members.

If you want to chat about the candidates hit me up, or post in the comments below. I have my opinions on most of them and happy to chat. As mentioned, I think they’re a generally approachable and good-hearted bunch. So maybe just look up their details and give them a call instead. : )