Category Archives:


Where’s the Better Future?

Last week, I heard that Ontario Place, a recreational park started in 1971, was closing. This saddens me because two eras of my life were closely linked to this attraction. I worked there for two summers while in university and visited every summer as our boys were growing up.

1981 – I’m second from the right

I worked with 10 guys in the boutiques department, pricing and delivering merchandise to the stores on site. The warehouse was the first ‘man cave’ I had seen. It was located in the maintenance compound away from the public so we were free to talk, laugh, and play music all day long. The grounds included an open-air forum where musical acts played nightly. As a staff member, I got to see many diverse bands for free, including Blondie, The Spinners and Gato Barbieri. With 500 young people on staff, the parties were great, too. 

One winter I also worked in the Cinesphere, which was the first permanent Imax theatre. My first paid public speaking job was welcoming people to the show and proclaiming the benefits of Imax technology – my first sales pitch. I remember the lights were so bright that I couldn’t see the audience.

Nostalgia for Ontario Place came early. In my late twenties my friend Dan, a fellow OP warehouse worker, and I planted a time capsule on site that we buried under a pine tree we bought for the occasion. It was our toast to a great place that sparked our great friendship. 

2004 – Charlie and Sam

As soon as our boys could walk we took them to Ontario Place. They loved the water park and rides just like the kids I saw while working there. I also smiled at staff members, knowing the fun summers they were having.   

My most recent memory of Ontario Place was last week when I ran by the front entrance. It still looked great. 

So what does this have to do with writing a book on change management? First, there is loss with change and you have to acknowledge it. Second, usually there are good reasons for making big organizational changes. Ontario Place has been operated with a 20 million dollar deficit for years and the provincial government could no longer justify the cost, which I support.Third, a picture of a better future is important to help people deal with their losses. A task force has been set up to look at options for the site. Without a clear picture of the future, the only thing known is the loss.  This I do not support.


Back to the Future

In early 2000, someone in my office started taking notes in black 9″ by 7″ notebooks. Within weeks everyone seemed to be walking around with them – including me. For the next eleven years I captured my meeting notes, to do lists and lessons learned in these handy journals. Each time I completed one I would put it on my shelf in chronological order, just like the scene from Alister Simm’s ‘The Christmas Carol.’

This week, one of my tasks was to reread all 55 notebooks (9,350 pages) to extract lessons learned I might have forgotten. I figured there would be many thoughts that had been jotted down during past change projects that would be perfect for my book. I was right. There are some great ones that were captured in the heat of the moment. Less exciting is the amount of time it takes to read 55 notebooks. I am on notebook 20 with one day to go!

Beyond collecting these  nuggets, I learned the following about the notes I took and the way I took them:

  • I created an index for the first three books and then abandoned the practice
  • Each book has a “Thank you for returning my book” inscription in the front cover, just in case it got lost, which only happened a few times when I left it in someone`s office or a meeting room
  • Our sons, Sam and Charlie ,drew in the backs of them when they joined me at the office on weekends
  • There are a lot of references to passion and energy
  • Our businesses had many highs and lows over the years
  • Training sessions were defined by the people who attend them, especially in different geographies – same content, different interpretations
  • Leaders were very quotable, e.g., “You, can’t rebuild a ghost.”
  • I have worked with so many fascinating and talented people
  • There are a lot of references to pushing the boundaries to become the best – no regrets on risks taken
  • I contemplated writing a book about learning style training design in 2000 (my concern was that it was not an exciting topic)

There are many details of our lives that we forget unless they are recorded and reviewed. George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.“  Perhaps a complementary thought is “Those who forget their lessons never learned them.“


Take Action

Ask us a question about your change

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)


    Your Question

    Get the newsletter
    Change With Confidence
    Please type your name and email address and click on "Send". We will add you to our newsletter distribution list. Thank you.

    Get Change with Confidence
    Change With Confidence

    Get Change on the Run
    Change With Confidence