What we offer
We offer a wide range of services and deploy our skills and our suite of techniques to a variety of circumstances. We do not offer a standard model, instead in each case we draw on our capacities to tailor a process fitted to the client needs. In all aspects of our work we use a range of techniques and methods designed to engage with the reality of complex social and organisational systems.
The bedrock of our approach is ‘method as model’. That is, every method we use and recommend to others should ‘model’ the desired outcomes.
A key focus for us is to find the ‘sweet spot’ between two traps:
The ‘just-fix-it’ trap – that promises to improve performance with apparently straightforward tools, templates, models and frameworks. The temptation to solve an adaptive problem with a technical solution is strong, but will always fail.
The ‘warm-n-fuzzy’ trap – that promises to improve dynamics and team bonding through heartfelt experiences full of adventurous activities and soul-baring revelations. We know that peak experiences often won’t survive the return to a high-pressure workplace and realistic ways to capture and incorporate insights back in the workplace are essential.
There are four (overlapping) areas where we principally operate:
We can do this in face to face settings, or online. Our focus is on engagement and energy regardless of the setting. We are experienced with a wide variety of innovative online platforms and tools and sometimes find they can even be more effective than face to face.
Sophisticated facilitation based on interactive processes and group dynamics.
Our focus is on democratic, engaging workshops and meetings based on authentic conversations that aim to surface and describe complex issues and allow multiple (and competing) voices to be heard. This results in genuine agreement on realistic ways forward, and clarity about what’s not agreed. Where appropriate, these are documented in clear ‘take-away’ outcomes.
Whether online or face to face, we can apply this to:
- policy & community consultations to ensure fully informed (and, where appropriate co-designed), policy reform/implementation
- strategic positioning, environmental and operational context evaluation and risk assessment
- team building and planning to support morale and productivity, change, work program prioritisation and behaviour change
- addressing challenging issues & persistent problems – whether these are ‘wicked policy problems’, or performance and relationship issues
- engaging stakeholders & building partnerships – building a shared understanding and strong relationships
- design and innovation workshops to support creativity and lateral thinking
Learn & grow
We provide tailored individual and group learning across a wide range of areas.
Innovation and the sharing of ideas is essential if people and organisations are to adapt to modern realities, remaining sufficiently agile and flexible to accommodate alternative futures, shocks and discontinuities. The focus of this lies not in developing more ‘knowledge’ of a technical or rational character (although this may be essential), but rather lies in enhancing ‘adaptive’ skills, habits and perspectives. These include enhanced emotional competence, metacognition and macro-cognition skills and capacities.
To support this focus, our emphasis for learning is andragogic (based on principles of self-directed, adult learning) rather than on more conventional techniques of teacher-directed, information transfer. By emphasising an ‘experience first, read/listen later’ approach, insights are more relevant, go deeper and are learned more quickly. Our courses, modules or sessions are never dull. Instead they’re highly interactive and always engaging – building from what people already know in order to address in flexible ways what they need to know more about.
We offer a range of courses or modules – either in partnership with other organisations or as our own offering – in our areas of expertise such as:
- emotional competence, conflict & difficult conversations, dealing with uncertainty and change
- leadership – especially in complexity & change
- policy skills & knowledge
- communication – especially for complex or controversial policy or organisational issues
- stakeholder engagement and public participation
We also offer mentoring and coaching support for individuals seeking to improve their personal effectiveness, challenge their assumptions and mindsets, and build their interpersonal relationship and leadership capacities.
Better teams & workgroups
We understand that high performing individuals and organisations balance efficient and clear business processes with a culture of emotionally competent behaviour and adaptive, distributed leadership. Our approach is founded on a solid basis in sociology and psychology integrated with a thorough understanding of the contemporary insights about complex human systems. This means we focus on:
- Collective, not just individual, factors – networks of communication and influence, the synergic benefits of collegiality, etc.
- Non-rational, not just rational, elements – emotion, intuitions and biases, habits etc., avoiding an over-concentration on logical argument and empirical data.
- Non-linear, not just linear, features – (non)scalability, tipping points, feedback loops etc. We know that most human systems do not correspond to ‘straight line graphs’. Iteration and trying out different paths sometimes requires backtracking, and viable systems often emerge ‘bottom up’ than ‘top down’.
We can help your team to work more effectively together to:
- build relationships and collaboration between and across teams
- draw on everyone’s skills & knowledge
- build team culture & promote trust
- ensure diversity & engagement
- improve organisational awareness and team alignment with, or contributions to, wider organisational strategic priorities.
Figure things out
Both Stephen and Pamela have a background in the development, analysis, implementation and evaluation of policy issues stretching back over many years – having been involved in both theoretical and applied policy across a vast array of subject areas, as well as being instrumental in major national reviews and evaluations.
We offer policy development and analysis services that range from desk-based research (qualitative or quantitative) to active, in-the-field engagement especially where consultations with stakeholders or the general public is required. We:
- keep up-to-date and in touch with the latest national and international thinking, evidence and developments in key areas of public policy
- can conduct credible consultations across a very wide span of policy areas
- have a commitment to, and capacity for, various forms of online research and measurement with a full time survey site at eSurveysPro®
- maintain active memberships of professional associations such as the Australian Institute of Managers and Leaders; the Institute of Public Administration of Australia (IPAA); the Australian Social Policy Association (ASPA); International Association of Public Participation.