Culture

Lesson Six. Take the pressure off and change the conversation

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IMG_0190There were many things I could have done differently to influence a more successful outcome to the previous crowdfunding campaign. I take responsibility for falling short. There are many things I don’t do well.

The anxiety I have felt about the viability of the journey was perhaps reflected in the earlier conversations about this initiative during the crowdfunding campign. Unintentionally, striving towards a financial goal placed a lot of pressure on myself, on top of other considerations relating to preparation, fitness, logistics, and my overall ability to commence the journey.

Unexpectedly, as the crowdfunding campaign drew to a close I felt the pressure being taken off me, and the conversation shift in terms of participation. We transitioned from the question of ‘can you support?’ to ‘how might we work together to create the next steps?’

The question of ‘can you support?’ is unhelpful because it can solicit a guarded response. Importantly, focusing on ‘how might we work together to create the next steps?’ opens the conversation to a fuller participation.

The 10 City Bridge Run is not about reinventing the wheel. We respectfully want to play our part in the ecosystem of those vibrant communities already actively involved. The reason why the 10 City Bridge Run is necessary is that there is huge untapped potential which can only be accessed through a much larger conversation echoing the words of Bill Gates: “I’m convinced that getting our brightest minds to focus on our biggest problems will save lives and make the world a better place.

Lesson Five. Get people to ask why

You can be the person who ‘started all that’

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An oak twig with acorns
From little acorns, mighty oaks grow.

From acorns, mighty oaks grow. From one drop, a waterfall. The power to direct and change culture is in all of our hands.” So writes Marcus Padley who is a stockbroker with a column on financial advice in the Sydney Morning Herald from back in July 2010.

He leads us through a story set in London where his co-worker, Sid ‘Nobby” Stiles, made a habit of picking up rubbish and changing the face of London. Padley argues that what we do really does matter. We face decisions all of the time whether to preserve the status quo or change culture for the better:

It takes guts to change culture; it isn’t easy. It’s difficult to stand up against accepted practice, but it’s not impossible.

Is reducing child mortality about changing culture? No, but collaboration and opening conversations where this wasn’t a topic of conversation might be. Those that benefit are those most vulnerable on earth living under the spectre of child mortality. It requires a change of how we understand civil society, charity, philanthropy and what our actions might really achieve. This is the domain of the 10 City Bridge Run. It is about creating a cultural shift by asking people to build human bridges. Not just one or two human bridges, but many thousands. Will it work? There is only one way to find out. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Padley makes a comment fresh in the wake of the resignation of Mark McInnes from the CEO of David Jones following allegations of inappropriate conduct towards staff. Padley wirtes: “The board of David Jones, for instance, recently accepted the resignation of its very profitable CEO for inappropriate conduct towards staff. Very public. Very shocking. That’s how you change a culture.

That section about David Jones is sage advice for those wanting to change a culture. For the culture to be changed, it has to be changed! Has this in fact occurred in David Jones? Was just someone removed from his post, and the problem dealt with in the courts rather than a necessary shift within the company? Human bridges that are built to address child mortality must be more than a new form of rubber wristband, or mega-band ‘Africa Aid’. Real change, not a band aid.