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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Excess baggage

It’s my last full day in Australia.

I spent the morning talking with the team at Ladder about their inspirational plans to develop the Foyer approach through an AFL vision of working with young people.  Open Talent fits them beautifully because the ideas behind talent development are ingrained in their practice and values.   As I noted in a previous blog, I think it is fascinating to dwell on the disparity between the sense of social equality built into how the league ladder functions, and the social inequality that dictates how we invest in young people’s talents . Something to write more about another day.

The afternoon was back with my collaborators at Hanover and The Brotherhood. We have agreed a structure and timescale to progress over the months, so now it’s (just) a case of making it happen and visualising the Open Talent practice manual that is going to shake things up in the sector.  The only thing we haven’t cracked is inventing the time machine to hatch it in.  I’ve been inspired by working with one of the interns here from America to realise that we need to engage the talents of more young people to help us do that.

My day moved on to an interview with someone interested in how Open Talent might apply to the indigenous population, who are often  highly talented and negatively stereotyped with access to few opportunities. I was told a story about how one of the mining companies has been working to successfully engage the indigenous population in the industry, which reminded me of our experience with Virgin Trains that it is possible for an employer, with the right approach, to help invest in transformational change.  This could be another venture for an Open Talent Foyer to break new ground in Australia.
Finally, I was invited in for a brief appearance at the Hanover board to discuss what Open Talent might mean for the governance of an organisation and its strategic thinking.  There was some good debate, and the realisation that this isn’t just about creating a youth Foyer but a whole new way of thinking about sector and service reform.
Now I’ve just got to pack my bags, work out what I’m going to write on the plane, and prepare for the mountain of work awaiting for me back at base camp.
I’m really going to miss Australia.  The work to build Open Talent from the bottom up is so special and exciting that I shall certainly be leaving part of my spirit to light the corridors of Hanover’s office for some time to come.  I’m sure there will be many challenges ahead.  What’s more important though is that there is a determination and a passion here to get things the right way round.  It’s not every week I feel like I’ve been able to draw on my own talent base to give as much as I can. And that says a lot about the people and culture of the organisations I’ve been collaborating with.  Maybe being an external guest expert makes it easier, but there is something else too: innovation thrives best when it is given the permission to inspire. Just like young people in the conversation to open their talents. Australia is certainly 'open' to working with talent.

I haven’t brought anything in Australia to take back home, except the experience.  That's worth far more than any stuffed kangaroo. My spirit and mind is way over the excess baggage allowance.

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