Enabling Change

Enabling you to
change the world

Some of Les's projects

Here's a selection of Les's projects with agencies, councils and community organisations.

In each case Les facilitated workshops that brought together diverse participants to create new knowledge and generate imaginative solutions.

Hothousing Landcare grants

South East Local Land Services

What's a better way to issue a grant? South East LLS invited Les to apply the "grant reinvention" process to its Landcare grants scheme (the idea was originally developed for Healthy Together grants for Victorian councils).

Here's how it worked:

  • Instead of a long application form, there was a short, simple expression of interest.
  • Short-listed applicants, in buddy pairs, attended a one-day workshop to hothouse their ideas, immersed in inspirations, best practice project design thinking, plain English writing, sharing ideas and (this was the most amazing part) advising each other.
  • Les guided the teams, step-by-step, to sketch innovative project plans during the workshop itself. They walked away having done all the thinking, often revolutionising their assumptions, and creating wonderfully engaging projects.
  • Each team then had 2 weeks, with the help of a staff mentor, to finalise their project plans.
Landcarers truly appreciated this process:

"The space for creative thinking built excitement back into the project and we are leaving the workshop inspired."

"Fantastic. Shifted outside of our comfort zone."

"The ridiculous ideas session...expanded my world."

Tackling a bad cactus

Waggamba Landcare

Harrisia is an invasive cactus that's muscling its way onto good farmland on NSW/Qld border around Goondiwindi.

How to start the fight back?

The first step is to figure out what controls work and spread the knowledge widely. But that's not enough, unless landholders who are 'growing' it are motivated to put the effort into removal.

So we decided to demonise the cactus...giving an identity that's liable to spark emotive responses like resentment, anger and shame. The resulting image is a significant departure from the neutral, colourless terms of a typical agricultural brochure, so it should easily grab attention as well.

An engaged council

Wyndham City Council (Vic)

Wyndham City, on the western outskirts of Melbourne, is Australia's fastest growing municipality with 77,000 new residents in the last 5 years, and, like most councils, it knows it has a community engagement deficit. This project involved training a cross-departmental "team of 30" in engagement design and facilitation skills. As well, Les facilitated a Rapid Innovation Lab with a mix of council staff and community leaders. The lab devised a suite of engaging initiatives to help council better listen to its community and simultaneosly build new relationships between neighbours.

Reinvigorating Landcare and Bushcare groups

Numerous NRM organisations and councils in Victoria, NSW and Qld.

For the past few years Les has run Passion Mashing workshops with hundreds of Landcare and bushcare leaders with a focus on creatively reinventing the volunteer experience. 'care volunteers respond amazingly positively to new pespectives based on innovation thinking. As one participant put it "I feel re-energised! Hit with a zapper!"

If Not, Then What captures some of the more brilliant reinvention ideas generated by the volunteers.

Greening the Victorian Film and Television Industry

Film Victoria

Film Victoria is looking for ways to enable filmmakers to reduce their environmental footprint. Apart from a few enthusiastic innovators, this is an industry early in its sustainability journey. But where to begin? And how best for Film Victoria to make a difference? Les developed a strategy that examined changes in the global industry, workshopped approaches with local producers and industry leaders, and recommended a set of initiatives for Film Victoria to drive systemic change.

Organisational change for business champions

Office of Environment and Heritage (Sustainability Advantage program)

Les developed and delivered a specialised workshop for sustainability "champions" in medium to large businesses - essentially, a crash course in organisational change. The workshop focuses on creating ownership through empowering conversations; framing the vision; selecting a fresh, do-able focal behaviour; creating an enabling environment; and devising persuasive invitations. It's now a regular component of the Sustainability Advantage program.

Strategy to Enable Cycling in Sydney

GHD and the City of Sydney

The City of Sydney is embarking on a transformative program of cycleway construction to dramatically shift transport choice in Australia's most traffic-clogged city. It wants to get the human dimension right too.

Les worked with multinational infrastructure consultants GHD to devise a behavioural strategy to greatly increase the number of people cycling and improve the behaviour of cyclists. The result was a suite of innovative on-ground projects that involved infrastructure, communications, events and partnerships.
Download the paper What Enables Cycling? (1.5Mb PDF)
Download the
cycling logic model (168k PDF)
Download the full Enabling Cycling strategy .

Conversation skills for emergency volunteers

NSW State Emergency Service

Les developed and piloted a training course on conversation skills so SES volunteers can engage the public in prevention-oriented conversations about flood and storm safety.

Beyond the Fence - facilitating communities of learning and environmental action


Les trained and mentored coordinators responsible for working with four clusters of schools across NSW to create learning communiites to plan and initiate environmental action 'beyond the fence'.

Community leadership training

Australian Conservation Foundation

Les facilitated the 2009 community leadership program for ACF in Sydney. This short video shows the projects that resulted.

How to save the world - one conversation at a time

Australian Conservation Foundation

Does conversation change the world? Yes..if it's optimistic and action-oriented. Working with facilitator Margo Lockhart, Les developed a guide for community champions to facilitate action conversations in their networks and communities. Download the conversation guide.

Strategy to save a river

Lower Georges River Sustainability Initiative

Les facilitated a logic model workshop that developed outcomes (focused on a mix of governance interventions and community partnerships) that will determine the success of this $2m two year program.

Maximising innovation in an NRM body

Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority

After four years of hectic activity, spending some $50m on natural resource management projects, what have the staff of this agency learnt about doing this work well? What processes and tools have they innovated? What do they want to do differently from now on? Les recommended organisational improvements to get the best results in future.

Enabling parent self-help groups

Mission Australia, Miller Pathways

Starting a self-help group is daunting. Fortunately it's possible to break down the process into a series of simple step-by-step how-to guides. It's amazing that no one has ever done this before. Download the CLEAR Manual. (1.3Mb PDF)

Upskilling Al Gore's Australian presenters

Australian Conservation Foundation

With facilitator Tony Wilson, Les developed a new worshop format for Al Gore's local presenters, to enable to them to better engage the public in climate change actions, and we trained them in how to use it.

Arabic anti-smoking campaign: Ma'feesh cigara men gheir khosara (No cigarette without loss)

Sydney South West Area Health Service and Social Change Media

Les developed a research methodology to identify enabling conversations that allow both smokers and non-smokers to negotiate healthful outcomes where there is conflict over smoking in the home (as is often the case). These conversations were modelled in a radio advertising campaign over 18 months leading to a 5.3% drop in smoking prevalence and a 7.8% increase in smoke-free homes in this community. (Results published in Health Promotion International.)

Practice Change in Natural Resource Management

The Australian Government

This national project closely examined the experiences of four regional NRM organisations in different states. Recommendations aimed to improve the effectiveness of regional NRM organisations as agents of practice change.

Effective small projects: a facilitator's handbook and evaluation tools

Environmental Protection Authority (Vic)

The Neighbourhood Environment Improvement Program (NEIP) has proven a sound model for collaborative community/agency action on tricky and chronic environmental problems at the neighbourhood and catchment level. This consultancy involved developing tools and methodologies to improve delivery and enable reflective assessment by participants. Download the CoCreate Guide.

Education for Resilience

State Emergency Service (NSW)

Les devised a communication model for building the resilience of vulnerable communities in the face of natural hazards, and also offered some solutions to the perennial problem of motivating the public on low probability hazards.
Download the full study. (PDF 248k)

Public participation in decision-making

The Western Australian Local Government Association and The Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council, with Nolan-ITU

WA has experienced intense, protracted public conflicts over new waste facilities. This consultancy looked at international best practice in community participation, recommended a new approach and provided decision tools which aimed to make communities more equal partners in decision-making for new waste management facilities.
Two useful papers also resulted:
The qualities of effective public participation processes (PDF 185k) and
Two decision tools for setting the level of public participation (PDF 348k).

"All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning." - Albert Camus

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