Change on a Shoestring

Council Perspectives

David McAra

Welcome to our second experimental online edition of the AMED journal. In case you hadn’t noticed, AMED is in a phase of rapid transition. The process is fascinating. Our association, already in its 6th decade, is striving to adapt and retain its relevance in the midst of the explosive transformation presently unfolding all across society. Like all organisations, we must adapt or die.

Our change is being accomplished with meagre resources: a handful of volunteers, a loyal membership and the modest income from your subscriptions. For over a year we have been considering how we can make more of the internet: to extend our reach, reduce our environmental impact and align with the revolution in publishing. A dip in our cashflow prompted us to action and we published O&P November 2008 online. We have decided to extend this experiment with two further editions for August and November 2009. Please let us know what you think [link to survey] so we can develop an effective approach to publications for 2010 and beyond.

The articles in this issue are all written by AMED Council Members. They are grounded in their diverse experiences and perspectives of the recent period and demonstrate a wide range of styles and points of view.

Evolution at AMED

My own piece is a personal reflection on my experience of AMED. It seems to me, our association has a sensational offer for the whole community of organisation dwellers. Those who understand and grasp the offer become passionate and loyal members. This loyalty has been a vital resource, sustaining us through the recent, difficult years. However, our open and inclusive culture demands time and is not always conducive to swift and decisive leadership in critical situations. As a case study in organisational change for the organisational change specialists, we are fascinating!

How to Get a Great Logo using Social Networking

Belina Raffy, our youthful new Co-Chair, has cleverly used the new medium to explore and discuss the new medium. Her co-author, Paul Z Jackson, coined the word ‘Diablog’ to describe their piece, which is a transcript of an online conversation using ‘Skype chat’ to review the process by which our new logo was created. I was one of the team of five on this project and it was thrilling: a real team experience. All our work was enabled by the web and none of us met in person at any stage.

A Complex of Connections

In a similar way, Ned Seabrook and Deborah Ann Booth share their experience of getting to know one another through the new, interactive website. In a few short exchanges, they quickly establish a rapport and start providing practical support for each other in traditional AMED style. Deborah, by the way, has been a long term member of AMED and recently emerged from the more demanding phases of motherhood to reconnect with the Network. She was elected to Council at the AGM in July 2009.

Where am I?

Stepping back a little to consider the change in progress, David Shepherd, retiring Chair, describes an insightful experience where a chance reminder of an old piece of knowledge gave him a new perspective on our situation. Rediscovering some systems thinking tools, he plotted some of the components in the AMED environment and speculated on the boundaries and influences between them. He reminds us of the vast store of knowledge we can draw on when we pause to remember it.

Reinventing Networking

In two articles, Bob MacKenzie addresses networking – one of our core themes – how it is changing and how it is remaining the same. The first, co-written with Belina, looks at the proliferation of media, interactive tools and delivery channels. They come and go so fast. How do we keep track?

Blended Networking

In the second, Bob introduces some networking theory and takes a long and thoughtful look at some of the human aspects: how the new tools address the human need for connection, our diverse needs and levels of competence and the challenge to avoid inadvertent exclusion, how we can preserve and extend the AMED culture and values in the emerging virtual world.

Management, Leadership and Finding the Trust in the Trustee

John Wilkes, retired from a long career in the Civil Service and, alongside his leadership coaching practice, is making a profession out of being a trustee. His article draws on his experience of working as a governor of an NHS mental health foundation trust and as a trustee for a mental health charity. He offers a fascinating perspective on the patterns of interaction which have also played out in the experience of AMED Council in recent years and months.

I do hope you enjoy this edition of e~O&P. We are determined to preserve the reputation of the journal, so successfully established by the core editorial team over the past 15 years. Our sincere thanks go to Tricia Lustig and Geof Cox for their enormous contribution and to Terry Gibson who has steered this practical and accessible journal through stormy waters and calm. Sadly, for personal reasons, Terry has been unable to lead the production of the August and November editions, We wish him and his family well and are hoping he will soon be in a position to take back the reins. Geof and Tricia are retiring from the core editorial team. We plan to interview them both for a future edition.

If you would like to get involved in helping the editorial team, do let us know and do please feel free to make any comments and suggestions, either by posting them on our O&P Dialogue page or by sending them directly to me at

David McAra,
Learning Consultant, Petrotechnics Ltd, Aberdeen
Guest Editor – 31 August 2009.

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