Three Cars in Garage but the Tank’s Empty – Part I

This is the first chapter in a story about a company I once worked with.
Both the company name and all characters names have been changed.
In this piece I am experimenting with Gareth Morgan’s ‘Images of Organisations’ approach.
I will describe the organisation in detail and attempt to bring its character to life.
Then I will develop a metaphor for the organisation as a way of understanding it and possibly designing an intervention.
This is a case study. Feel free to comment and suggest emerging metaphors you see as I post parts of the story…

Corner Publishing

As far as I know, Corner Publishing was established around 1984 by two young entrepreneurs, Red and Mike to publish the broadsheet AcornNews, a newspaper dedicated to the then new and exciting Acorn technology. They started with a staff of two or three enthusiasts working out of very cramped conditions. The company acquired two new titles over the next six years and established Books magazine. By 1990, Corner had moved to its present premises and was employing about 20 people.

In the early days of my business I advertised in AcornNews but I didn

What is could be:

  • a collection of rich narrative accounts of organisational life
  • stories about consulting
  • a plea for real education
  • my search for a new language of sexuality
  • some place we can speak the word ‘love’ without recrimination
  • about promoting forgiveness
  • about group dynamics
  • sometimes political
  • sometimes highly personal
  • … but most of all … a journey.

A New Language

There is hardly a more deeply rooted in organisational tension than that of the relationship between men and women.

A few years ago I did a Graduate Diploma in Business at RMIT. One of the chapters I wrote for my final paper focussed on one part of this theme. As I discussed it with my fellow students it came to be known as ‘The Sex Chapter.’

Here it is…

The second year of the program starts with a five day workshop around
organisation level consulting skills held at the Melbourne Zoo and consequently
referred to as the ‘Zoo Workshop.’

On the first afternoon of the Zoo Workshop Leisa remarked that she was missing
Jonathan because he represented the male sexuality of the group.

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Australian PM John Howard on Iraq

Australian Prime Minister, John Howard made a presentation to the Institue for Public Affairs last Wednesday night. We believe it was a missed opportunity. PM Howard likes to see the world purely in terms of right or wrong. This might be morally upright but it is not going to solve the complex and seemingly intractable problems in Iraq.
Given Mr Howard’s obvious belief system and world view it would be unrealistic to expect him to have announced that he was going to pull Australia’s troops out of Iraq anytime soon. But the situation in Iraq has gone way beyond an argument about whether the troops should stay or come home. The argument is, having got ourselves involved in the mess in Iraq what do we do next. Just to say we are going to keep our troops there until the job is done is totally inadequate to the current situation. Just keeping on doing what we have been doing, just harder, is not going to solve anything.
Mr Howard had the opportunity to outline a new strategy for Iraq. That might have involved some original thought on how the UN could be incolved. It might have involved a greater role for Australian diplomats. Our diplomats have got the runs on the board in nation building within our region.
The PM had a responsibility to show intellectual as well as moral leadership on this issue. It is a matter of national regret that he missed that opportunity.

Learning Moveable Type

Astute readers will notice that is powered by Moveable Type.
It is a powerful tool with extensive help and an array of support forums.
However, there are always times when you could do with some extra help and some tutorials. For this we thoroughly recommend Learning Moveable Type

(Check out Elise’s web site while you’re there.)
If you’re interested in starting your own weblog, try Moveable Type or check out this MacWorld article:


I’ve just put a new entry in my amazon wish list – In Defense of Globalisation by Jagdish Bhagwati.
As a leftist liberal, I used to be very much against globalisation. And I still believe that it has an ugly face. But I am starting to see a distinction between ‘globalisation’ the phenomenom and ‘globalisation’ the goal of large corporations to be the new empire builders.
From my reading of the reviews, Bhagwati defends globalisation as the only opportunity for the reduce global poverty.
I have thought quite a lot about this over the last twelve months as I have dreamt of what it would be like to produce a global software product. I could gather a team of developers here in Melbourne and write the new killer app. Or I could gather a team of analysts here in Melbourne and get a team of Indians (or Russians or Malays) to write it.
Why shouldn’t we in the West be prepared to purchase skills from the East? Why should we consider people from our own country? We are incredibly wealthy. Surely it is greedy of us to want to keep all the work in our own country? Just as much as it would be greedy to want to keep all the work on our side of town or our local neighbourhood.
There are people on the other side of the world who need to be fed. Is there not enough work to go around for everyone in the world.
It seems now that the greatest oponents of globalisation are people who oppose it not on the grounds that it is exploitative, but on the grounds that it is likely to them or people they know losing their jobs. If we skill ourselves appropriately, and keep skilling ourselves we can find the global market niche where we are competitive. If we rest on our laurels and build protectionist bariers around ourselves we will eventually become a third world country ourselves.

Alexandra Kerry

Honestly how can Alexandra Kerry’s decision to, or not to wear a bra be newsworthy? What is with this obsession with voyeurism where we have to catch every glimpse of a nipple and publish it all around the world?
She was wearing a black dress without a bra. Well maybe that’s something 15 and 16 year old boys might get excited about – but newspaper editors all over the world?
Well, I guess if that’s all they’ve got to get a kick out of who am I to criticise?
And just finally, can someone tell me why the country that gave us Playboy, Penthouse and a naked breast in every movie is so prudish?

Kindergarten – the purest form of Education

I like to think back to the times when my children were happiest at school.
As I remember all the experiences of my four girls, I invariably think of their time at Kindergarten. This is where they learnt to explore the world outside home in any sort of formal environment. They learnt about getting up with anticipation and expectation to the day’s activities at kinder. What would be in the room today? What will I paint? What colours will I explore today? What will I make? Who will I play with? Of course four year olds don’t have words to put to these thoughts but they have the thoughts anyway.

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Boys, oh Boys

I am growing increasingly tired and irritated by the continuing calls for “something to be done about boys in school.” I wonder about the underlying motivation of the movement. I think it is really a desperate attempt to hang on to male domination?

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Let’s Never let it happen again

For months now Australia’s two largest football codes have been racked with accusations of ‘sexual misconduct’. Let’s call it for what it is – rape! The saga started back in February when several players from the Sydney based Rugby League club the Cantebury Bulldogs, on a training weekend in Coff’s Harbour invited a woman back to the team hotel on the last night. The woman claims she was gang-raped and assaulted by the hotel pool.

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