Try #2. Fingers crossed…

The 4 Clarities Collaboration Inception Tool, updated

I use this tool to plan multi-stakeholder workshops. It emerged from training with the Greater Sydney Commission in 2018.  It’s based on an ah-hah! realisation that stakeholder consultations and partnerships fail before they begin because of a lack of 4 clarities:

  • Clarity of purpose
  • Clarity of negotiation space
  • Clarity of roles and authority
  • Clarity of language

Get these right and I’ve laid down the foundations for success. I’ve updated this tool after some more work with the Victorian Essential Services Commission. I hope you find it useful. Here it is.

System-thinking is oh sooo important, but oh so serious

I can’t stop reading John Gall’s delightful, hilarious, Systemantics, the Systems Bible, published way back in 1975. At first I couldn’t work out if he was being serious or satirical. Then it slowly dawned on me that Gall has found a simply awesome way to communicate incredibly important material. Yes, “Systems in general work poorly or not at all.” and this is a complete course in systems wisdom.

Here’s a taste of his style:

“Russians, Chinese, Americans, Africans, may differ on everything else in the world, but the one thing they all agree on is that whatever the problem may be, the answer lies in setting up some system to deal with it..


“Systems are seductive. They promise to do a hard job faster, better, and more easily than you could do it by yourself. But if you set up a System, you are likely to find your time and effort now being consumed in the care and feeding of the System itself. New Problems are created by its very presence.
[ a.] Once set up, it won’t Go Away; it Grows and Encroaches.
[ b.] It begins to do Strange and Wonderful Things
[ c.] and Breaks Down in Ways You Never Thought Possible.
[ d.] It Kicks Back, Gets In The Way and Opposes Its Own Proper Function.
[ e.] Your own perspective becomes distorted by being In The System.
[ f.] You become anxious and Push On It To Make It Work.
[ g.] Eventually you come to believe that the misbegotten product it so grudgingly delivers is What You Really Wanted all the time.”

Here is a perfect maxim that should be engraved above every minister’s office (or forehead):

“A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.”

If only.

That’s just staggeringly clear thinking.

Free scholarships for passionate volunteers

I love having volunteers in my training. They bring soul, spirit, different thinking and enrich the experience for everyone. I’m offering free scholarships for keen volunteers in the next cycle of inspiring training events (6 per workshop).

Changeology: Melb 8-9 April; Sydney 1-2 May

Facilitate with Confidence: Melb 10 April, Sydney 3 May

Full details here:

If you know a volunteer who might enjoy this, ask them to send some details about their background and volunteer activities to

Everything’s connected

I found these two intriguing examples of non-straight-line results, revealed in academic studies:

• Students who did Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden programs showed a 50% reducing in bullying behaviours. Source: University of Wollongong.

• Students who did school arts programs gain a full year in NAPLAN scores in reading. and 65% less absenteeism. Source: Victorian Parliament Music in Schools Inquiry 2013.

Now, of course, school gardens are not meant to be anti-bullying initiatives, and arts programs are not meant to be reading and absenteeism initiatives.

And, of course, our funders might be uninterested in these kind of unexpected results, but they’re exciting and memorable. Let’s watch out for them and proudly shout them to the public and our participants.

They’re telling us that real change need not be linear, simple or predictable.

A fiesta of activism, coming soon

Soon, an inspiring week-long fiesta of events and creativity for campaigners and activists. The focus is on building skills and making connections. I’ll be there sharing some changeology and innovation tricks. To join in, start here: Festival of Change, Beechworth, 1-4 April

People love certain kinds of stories

I like this list of “content people crave” from marketer Scott Aughtmon: 21 types of content we all crave. It’s stuck on my wall.

Gee whiz

I’m in awe of Jessamy Gee. She just “graphically recorded” a Passion Mashing session for enviro volunteers at Knox City. All the complexity of the day went into her brain, and sprang out through her fingers, so quickly, so beautifully, and so well explained! I’m now a firm believer in the power of graphic recording and Jessamy is brilliant at it.