People are the key to our future. Its people and their creativity, ingenuity and passion that drives and sustains our society. Our region is only as successful as our ability to attract, retain and inspire people.

Since facing job losses in heavy manufacturing, Geelong has seen many local organisations and industries re-positioning and transforming the way they work. This has been achieved by understanding and applying a human-centred design approach to strategies, product development and service delivery.

We’ve seen this with WorkSafe Victoria releasing their 2030 strategy, detailing a human-centred approach to transform the way they work.

“The world of work is changing. New industries, jobs and different ways of working appear constantly. Workers are now more mobile, working flexibly, anywhere, any time.” (WorkSafe 2030)

This challenge is also being met by educational institutes like Deakin University and The Gordon’s new Design Centre of Excellence, who are evolving their curriculums to deliver learnings around applied design thinking.

The Committee for Geelong is interested in the future of work and how we can lead on a global platform as a UNESCO Creative City of Design.

Author and businessman Aaron Dignan writes in his novel ‘Brave New Work: Are you ready to reinvent your organisation’ that the problem isn’t people, it’s the operating system.

Dignan talks about the rules that ‘legacy organisations’ operate on. These rules include:

– Insisting on doing everything through ‘channels.’ Never permit shortcuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

– When possible, refer all matters to committees for ‘further study and consideration.’ Attempt to make the committees as large as possible – never less than five.

– Haggle over the precise wordings of communications, minutes and resolutions.

– Multiply the procedures and clearances involved in issuing instructions, paychecks, and so on. See that three people have to approve everything where one would do.

Sound familiar?

There’s no doubt that most of our organisations operate around these rules in one way or another. But as Dignan points out – who wrote these rules? The answer, Dignan writes, is William J Donovan, the Director of United States Office of Strategic Services.`

These rules were created in 1944, as part of the United States ‘Sabotage Field Manual’ to undermine enemy states in World War 2. These rules were listed under ‘disrupting day-to-day business operations.’

As Dignan aptly notes, ‘modern work has become indistinguishable from sabotage.’

What this demonstrates is that we are no longer a command and control hierarchal world of work. We need to move to a purpose driven workplace that operates on transparency and trust.

In Geelong, there are several organisations now looking to enhance their most valuable asset – their people – and create a culture that supports how, where and why people want to work.

Local training and coaching organisation, g2 Innovation specialises in design thinking and working with organisations to transform the way they work. Through culture, process and strategy, they can encourage innovative thinking and help organisations drive their growth.

The Committee for Geelong is currently developing an approach to show how Geelong can nurture and develop a holistic approach to the new world of work and skills development.

With more and more people moving to our beautiful region, we need to embrace new mindsets, new work space concepts and new organisational models to truly be a clever and creative city.

As Dignan says: the future belongs to those who think and work differently.

Published via the Geelong Advertiser, 19/06/2019