The change doctor will see you now

I’m Louise, Changeability’s in-house licensed clinical psychologist (I am also a coffee-obsessed millennial with a penchant for minimalism). My role is to ensure that the work we do is backed solidly in psychological research and best practice. As the team’s latest addition, I bring with me a background in consultation, research, quality assurance, training, and reporting. I also bring with me perspectives from the UK, having recently relocated from London. I have a keen interest in workplace wellbeing and what this looks like in our changing climate.

What I saw happening in the UK (that might be coming here) …

The UK is mixed bag: Bureaucracy and Britain are best friends, and layers of nonsensical paperwork are enough to give any laid-back Kiwi a headache. Fortunately for us, this is more likely a result of its historical love affair with regulations rather than an emerging trend that will come our way. On the flip side, London particularly is a melting pot bursting with progressive and exciting ideas. Social enterprise is big. Workplaces are increasingly applying emerging technologies, for instance the British Army now use Virtual Reality in their recruitment process. Millennials especially are changing workplace culture there; workers expect significant flexibility and incentives, are focused on companies that align interests with a cause (hello Social Enterprise!), and want workplaces that embrace equality and diversity. Workplaces are more likely to be blended (i.e. employees and freelancers) and employers need to work harder to maintain a transient-minded workforce. Workplace wellbeing training is commonplace in the UK, to enhance employee experience, attract talent, and save costs. Businesses are expected to be mentally healthy places that encourage work-home blended working, understand mental health, and support their staff. For instance, compressed hours, paid carers leave, and a wellbeing component to orientated training is typical practice in the NHS. In the training I went to, staff members were taught to massage each other! Overall, the UK is responding to a highly skilled and excited workforce, who also come with expectations that employers will maintain their wellbeing and interest. With generation Z starting to join generation Y, these expectations are only going to grow.

What I noticed coming back to NZ…

From my perspective, it seems here in New Zealand we are starting to respond to the millennial demand for flexibility, to address equality and diversity, improve technology, and to have mentally healthy workplaces (resilience training for example is on the rise). However, these changes are earlier in the mix. We need to be sure we encourage Kiwi innovation, as opposed to ‘she’ll be right’.

What I see as the challenges and opportunities for business…?

I think the biggest challenge will be businesses understanding and valuing these demands for flexibility, other incentives, and wellbeing training. Sometimes we Kiwis can respond with ‘harden up’ but that aspect of our culture isn’t serving us these days. If anything, we are starting to soften up and that’s a good thing. Like a pavlova. These expectations are not a result of a more demanding or lazy workforce but represent a real shift towards technology-based working, healthier work-home blended lives, and a more psychologically informed population. Businesses also need to understand that while there are initial financial costs to meet these needs, these are far outweighed by staff retention, improved health, and staff engagement. Another major challenge is shifting paradigms from pure- for-profit to not-only-for profit (i.e. social enterprise) business models.


Louise Cowpertwait

Clinical Psychologist – Changeability

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Social Enterprise World Forum 2017

September saw representatives from 28 countries across the world descend on Christchurch for the Social Enterprise World Forum.

 The Social Enterprise World Forum is an international event for social enterprises to come together, share wisdom, build networks and discuss how to create a more sustainable future.  Organised by Akina Foundation, an organisation whose mission is to grow social enterprise in New Zealand, the event has been hailed as an absolute game changer in kick starting positive social impact across New Zealand.

Social enterprise can play a vital part in building healthy communities – reducing poverty, building food systems, meeting health needs, creating employment opportunities for those with barriers and so much more.

Changeability is one of two social enterprises established by its parent, Connect Supporting Recovery, a mental health and addiction service providing NGO.  The other is Mindsets, the schools based resilience and mindfulness programme.

Changeability’s Dick Downing came back from the forum even more inspired than normal and hasn’t stopped talking about it all some six weeks later!

Here is his report:


  • The world has massive social problems. For example, we probably need to produce more food in the next 40 years than we have in the last 8,000 to meet the needs of our current population explosion.
  • People, young people in particular, are demanding that we do much, much better than before.
  • Governments and conventional business models are unlikely to be able to deliver comprehensive solutions on their own.
  • A bottom up, social enterprise movement which empowers communities and ‘creatively disrupts’ can help resolve issues.
  • ‘Social Business’ and Business for Purpose, People and Planet is on the march.
  • Social enterprise is already a powerful force for good across the globe and in New Zealand.
  • Many different types of social business will emerge.
  • The main brake on the growth of social enterprise in New Zealand is the lack of an encouraging eco-system – government policy, tax breaks, incentives, investment capital, advice and education – but this is beginning to change for the better.
  • Social procurement has the potential to create a massive social impact – put your dollars where your values are.
  • New Zealand businesses spend $Billions through their supply chains. imagine the positive impact if just a small proportion was spent with social businesses…
  • ‘Mattering’ – the extent to which a business actually matters – is going to become increasingly important.

Implications for Changeability

As a social enterprise, Changeability needs to increasingly measure and report its social impact, and:

  • Get better at telling clients how and where profits are spent.
  • Put social procurement into action, together with its parent, Connect Supporting Recovery.
  • Look at further issues that a related social enterprise might help solve.
  • Who to collaborate with to increase impact.

Favourite Social Enterprises

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Everything is changing. Governments, politics, climate, health, language, relationships, youth, middle age, old age, loving, living…

Not only is the rate of change terrifying, but so too is the disruption, reach and intensity

This newsletter is supposed to be a gentle reassurance that Changeability is a uniquely effective consultancy focusing on the human aspect of change management.  Far too much change focuses on the process rather than the people.  That is where we can really help.

But change is too rapidly cahnging…


‘Gentle reminders’ and ‘soothing reassurances’ are not so easily come by in this white-knuckle ride of transformations:

  • Commercial air travel took four or five decades before it gained a mass audience; the first i-phone sold in June 2007.
  • The biggest hotel company in the world, Airbnb, owns no hotel rooms and the largest taxi company, Uber, owns no cars.
  • You might also think that the biggest retailer, Amazon, has no stores. In fact, change is now so fast that it appears to be lapping itself – Amazon currently has 61 bricks and mortar outlets across the USA.
  • Fastest production car available is an Electric Vehicle. The Tesla S, 0 to 100 km/hr in 2.6 seconds, since you ask.
  • Tesla are now manufacturing solar roof tiles.
  • Somehow, our planet needs to produce more food in the next 40 years, to feed the growing population, than it has in the last 8,000 years, according to the WWF.
  • That’s the same planet where climate change and species extinction are rampant.
  • A White House Report suggests that 83% of jobs paying less than US$20 an hour are currently endangered by automation.
  • Forbes projects that the North American legalised cannabis industry will create more jobs than the manufacturing sector by 2020.
  • The Youth Wellbeing Study, led by Victoria University reported that almost a third of high school children in New Zealand had self-harmed.
  • Emoji might be the fastest growing language but sis is the new bro and everything is lit, fam.


If your organisation is planning significant, radical change in the coming year, then we would love to talk about workforce engagement, impact and productivity.  Many already have, making 2017 the busiest and most enjoyable year for Changeability.

And if it does not, then we wish you as soft a crash-landing as possible!

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Engage with staff or die!

Okay, maybe not die…but your work life certainly won’t be healthy.

It’s the start of the “engagement survey” season and, judging by the calls from a number of Changeability clients, this year looks like producing a bumper crop. We are often invited to run focus groups to really ‘get behind the numbers’, especially with teams reporting particularly low or unexpected scores.

One or two far-sighted organisations actually request workshops for teams who display very high engagement scores. If anything, it’s more important to understand what works well in order to replicate it widely.

There are various definitions of engagement but suffice to say it’s recognised as important because engaged employees SAY good things about working at an organisation, they plan to STAY there and they STRIVE to give extra effort.

Major change invariably has a negative impact on engagement, at least initially, but there are approaches change leaders can use to minimise the blow, engaging with staff right throughout the most challenging of developments.

Changeability specialises in the human side of change and in providing change leaders with support to engage their staff effectively and to deliver faster, smoother and more successful change. Maybe you have business critical change that simply must go well? Maybe you are implementing change that is stuck? Or maybe you just need some essential insight so you can focus your action?

Whatever your current change challenge…you know where we are…

Call Dick on 02102724116 or email him at

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Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! A lesson from the UK in how to manage change…badly!

Fundamental lessons for all change leaders came out of the recent UK elections. Regardless of politics or manifesto promises, the ‘campaign’ to bring about change suffered from four key tactical misjudgements:

Beware Opportunism

Sometimes we see an opportunity and we go for it! In this instance it clearly didn’t work. The outcome was the reverse of what Theresa May had intended. She was looking for a big mandate and what she got was anything but! In fact opportunism may have worked against her in another way as it appears that many in the Remain campaign used the opportunity to register their protest against Brexit.

So how carefully had she thought it through? What were the factors that she had considered? And, most importantly, who did she consult in making the decision?

There are clear lessons here around comprehensive planning, wide-ranging and thorough discussions concerning risk and reward. In particular, consult carefully with those who hold different views.

Assess Readiness

Were the UK public ready for yet another vote, following on from the previous election, Brexit and Scottish Independence?

The level of change readiness among key stakeholders is always a crucial factor. Sometimes you will need to work hard on increasing the readiness BEFORE launching into a change initiative. Telling the public categorically that there will be no election is not the ideal way of preparing them for one. Who knew!

If people aren’t ready, and you attempt to push them into change, resistance is the inevitable result. Simply being positive and enthusiastic, expecting others to mirror this is generally not enough!

Who benefits?

When advocating for or proposing change it is important that those affected clearly understand the benefits. How will their life directly improve as a result?

In the UK election, many voters perceived Theresa May setting a course that was more about her own self-interest than any tangible benefits to the people themselves. Narcissistic leaders rarely earn respect or loyalty, often finding it difficult to bring others on the journey.

Visible and Authentic

We found it interesting to observe May’s approach to the live leader debates. Not being prepared to engage with her opponents left her open to a range of negative perceptions. As well as avoiding public debate with opposition leaders, she was regularly observed avoiding interviewer questions and was even reported as limiting the number of opportunities to get out and meet people. This inevitably left voters with less than complete trust in her and her leadership. This was further compounded when contrasted with Corbyn’s open, honest and somewhat engaging approach.

So to summarise……….

Given another chance Theresa, we suggest you plan better, front up, join the debate, answer questions directly and get real! To be a successful change leader, visibility and authenticity are two things that are non-negotiable!

May any change campaign that you are leading go significantly better…

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