Based on your feedback, we’re re-sharing two of our favourite case studies from 2018. The first is on rethinking and reshaping Flexibility in the South Australian Police Force and the second takes a different tact on Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging within the Domain Group.

As we do so, we’re taking time to restate why we think case studies add real value to the conversation about changing the way work works, and how we could rethink it with clarity, simplicity and new ideas.

Case studies have widely been the realm of academia, particularly in postgraduate studies. They provide a great medium to tell a story, then apply hindsight and perspective to get students thinking critically, collectively and exploratively not only to a particular context, but also how lessons could be applied more broadly.

We write case studies like SAPOL and Domain Group (as well as others) with that intent in mind – tell the story and share the lessons that might help others with the same or similar challenges. There are three key elements:

Old problems need new solutions

When we look at the challenges around work, we’re often looking at very old, very complicated and very ‘systems-based’ problems. The issues like diversity, merit, flexibility, well-being, workforce planning and performance management are all hard to solve.

We’ve been chipping away with the same old fixes for too long – A convoluted new policy, process or procedure, or re-labelling groupthink as best practice simply because some cool company did it in the Valley.

But old solutions aren’t getting us far, and new problems are adding in to the mix. Instead of repeating initiative du jour over and over, maybe it’s time we tried something new. Maybe we lean into those complicated problems and challenge ourselves to try something new, using good process engineering to strike the balance between simplicity, usefulness and value.

Our observation through collective experience, and our working premise, is that work doesn’t work particularly well for that many of us now….so why aren’t we trying different things? Ignoring the future of work for a second, the now of work screams for a balance between data insights and a human centred approach to understand problems and explore, prototype and ultimately try something new to break the mould and make a real impact.

And when real impact arrives, we need to see real cases – the great, the good and things that may not have worked so well. We need publicity to be shouting truth and fact, not hearing the loudest spin on the most uniform solutions (or technologies) that don’t work.

Facts and insights matter

We see the conference presentations and love the fun of the spin, but our day-to-day reality is that we appreciate a complex system and the need to pull multiple levers (and different levers) to solve things that don’t work. We want the facts and the data on what’s been tried and how it worked, and where it didn’t. We’re no longer afraid of data and facts – they are part of every day. This means workplace stories only gain richness through the quality of the story –  and quality, and trust, comes from warm storytellers and thoughtful data-driven insights. The data must be considered, its collection clear and not manipulated – the story must be real to hold power and meaning.

Fortune favours the brave.

Bravery is the fundamental mindset that can feel hardest to find but is critical to bringing new to life. Anyone can brainstorm a long list of ideas, but not everyone can make the best ideas happen. In our experience, gaining the right hypotheses, and exploring them deeply with a collection of people, and serious data points, makes bravery feel easier and less like a giant blind leap in to the unknown.

These reflections came as we worked alongside some awesome clients, with new challenges and different contexts, to drive to meaningful solutions that make for lasting impact on both the organisations and on the individuals who work within them. We can’t wait to bring you new case studies in due course, just know they will come with brave truths about what is working at work, and what we might do a little differently to move the whole conversation forward.

We always welcome a conversation and connection to see how we can make work work better in your organisation or team – please get in touch. [email protected] 

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