I met Prof Ralph Stacey soon after we completed our MBA at the Mt Eliza Business School (now sold to be refurbished as an aged care facility, but I digress). Ralph challenged us, a newly minted group of MBA Managers, to loosen our certainty in management change models, and give up our belief in the heroic character of the MBA-manager. Instead, he showed us, through conversation and working together as a group (a confronting process itself for many of the traditionally trained managers in the room) that change takes time and is more likely to fail than succeed (or at least, our plans for change). He brought learnings from philosophy, sociology, psychotherapy and politics to mix with a strong knowledge of management theory and consulting experience. For me, I felt a great sense of relief, as it brought together themes from my life – I had trained in sociology and politics and then been a social worker before moving into management. It seemed that the two world views – social work and business management – were incompatible in many ways. Ralph showed me a way to integrate both, and bring my whole self to my work.
In early June this year, I will be attending the Complexity and Management Conference in the UK, titled “Taking Complexity Seriously: Why Does it Matter?”. It will also be Ralph’s last conference, as he will be retiring this year. I am really looking forward to hearing from him and from the people who have been studying and researching using his methods. I’m not really a “guru” person, but I do feel privileged to have this opportunity to learn again from someone I hold in very great esteem.
To wrap around the conference, as it is in the UK, I will be visiting some friends and having a European holiday. I have absolutely loved the first two years of Your Future Options, and this is a great time to take a break to refresh. I will be in Europe from mid-May to mid-June, delaying my experience of winter a little. I will join you again mid to late June, piling on the winter woollies again, warmed from my first big trip to Europe and shared wisdom from an inspiration.