New Wine into Old Skins

I don’t usually go looking for quotes on change in the Gospel of Thomas and to be fair this one came by way of Stephen Jenkinson’s book Come of Age.

Reflecting on the progress of a client change program it brought together this unlikely source and the reality that initiatives often fail to realise their full potential because people struggle to commit. Not new news I know, digging deeper this resistance is often caused by how we frame the question, are we prolonging life or looking to metamorphize to a new story.

Thomas’s Gospel offers “It is impossible for a servant to serve two masters otherwise he will honour the one and treat the other contemptuously, No one drinks old wine and immediately desires to drink new wine; and they do not put new wine into old wineskins, lest they burst, and they do not put old wine into new wineskins lest it spoil it.”

In this particular case there is a bias to sustain the familiar, the nostalgia that things were always better before, to maintain the wine analogy while all vintages of Grange are held in high esteem we have to go back to 1985, according to James Halliday, for a standout year. When faced with significant and uncomfortable change against the backdrop of huge disruption, the new model of operating is, tainted with the stories of past glories, clouded by selective memories, serving one master, and treating the other contemptuously. Every set back is measured against the highest bar, the 1952 vintage.

The challenge facing this particular change in this time of disruption and uncertainty was the framing of the question.

“What story should we create next?” is new wine in old skins.

Perhaps another question that may have met less resistance might be “What story comes next, which new and ancient story presents itself with the most promise and beauty?

And how might we prepare to accept it?”

Great free resources

Free Innovation Toolkit.

Looking for some great free resources?

Australian businesses operate in a world that is rapidly changing. Changes in technology, demographics and structural shifts in our economy are creating opportunities – and challenges. It’s the businesses that capitalise on these shifts and are nimble enough to move quickly that will be best placed to succeed in this rapidly changing environment.

If you want to:

  • grow your business;
  • improve operations, products or services;
  • create new products or services; or
  • improve profitability;

then this free toolkit is designed to help.

It sets out a process, and provides tools, to help you recognise the opportunities and challenges that exist, better understand your environment and customers, generate new ideas, test those ideas, and implement them.

Each component of the toolkit is explained to help you understand what it is and how to use it. It’s designed to be self-service so that you and your team can work through the process in a way that suits you. You can use all the tools or pick and choose the ones most relevant to your business and the problem to be solved.

The free toolkit is downloadable from Westpac’s Davidson Institute website.

If you have any questions please contact the Davidson Institute team at

What is the value of empathy?

What is the value of empathy?

Step away from faith-based conversations, it isn’t about which process is right…..what is the business value of empathy

Confused by all the hype around Design Thinking? Spend thirty minutes in your browser of choice and you can quite easily cherry pick the opinions of evangelists or naysayers and find yourself backing either depending on the voracity of their opinions.

Designers complain that design thinking hyperbole attempts to sell us that a very difficult to master set of skills can be implemented by anyone after a few hours of workshops plastering sticky notes willy-nilly. This they say has caused misuse and misunderstanding that the process can be used for everything and there is certainly truth to this, the “Man with a Hammer Syndrome” as the saying goes, “to the man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Wrapped up in what Orwell noted under the heading “Pretentious Diction” are terms like ideate versus think, methodology versus methods or ideation instead of thinking all adding to the mystique or mistrust.

But you can just as easily find many positive comments from the many practitioners who have found Design Thinking a useful framework for describing their process inside of organisations and bringing about positive change and innovation.

There is nothing wrong with the product it’s the retail outlets that are causing the problem. Design thinking isn’t the solution for everything it is not the scientific method, it is not meant to replace any other methodologies for other things, it is just another one. It’s one tool that can help us achieve a deep understanding of people, their desires, and the solutions that may have impact. By asking, “who and why and how.” It builds empathy for users and customers it’s not just understanding and recognising someone’s emotion, but a deep understanding of someone’s situation, feelings, talents, and beliefs and helps prevent problems before they happen and create real solutions.

Design thinking isn’t perfect. But it is a step in the right direction.

m3 is a collective of strategists and designers that provide a practical approach to problem solving, strategy development, organisational change, business analysis and program management.