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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Wednesday 30 November 2011

The adventure ahead

It’s the simple things in life which fox me. Like trying to open Masterfoods squeeze-on tomato sauce without looking like I’ve been shot.   Too late.
I’m in the last hotel of my stay, on a floor with the ‘General’s Suite’.   I expect the person who stays there has a Condiments Officer to avoid culinary embarrassments.
It’s also my final night in Australia, the ending of the tour. There won’t be a wild party at the bar. Tonight is a period for reflection, for saying goodbye, and – like an episode in Southpark – for working out what the learning has been.
I began my last day with a visit to Mark Bolton at The Ladder project in Melbourne. Mark is an ex AFL player, and his outfit adopts the values of sports performance to empower and mentor young people.  They work in tandem with housing and support to offer a Foyer-like approach. I like what they are trying to do. Once the ‘support’ agency they work with allows them to integrate their work into case management, and the 20 young people accommodated are all part of the service, they will have the beginnings of an exciting Foyer. I particularly like the way they have worked with the young people to choose a set of values – commitment, respect, and inspiration – which the young people use to reflect on their behaviour and goals.  Like Carl Miller’s Lookup to Yourself in the UK, Mark Bolton’s work has a natural synergy with Open Talent.  Mark leaves me with a book on improving leadership and team performance , written by Ray McLean, who was a big influence on teams in the AFL.  A perfect addition to our Open Talent library.
My final speaking session is a workshop with Hanover managers. As always in Melbourne, the conversation bounces around like a tennis ball as we tease out strengths and challenges around the Open Talent approach.   Future actions include reassessing the current case management system across their services, and, for myself,  inventing a new way to play videos when the speakers, where ever you go in the world, never work.
Time for one final laugh with Shelley and Tony as Hanover descends into an Office parody around the Xmas party while we sketch out some future directions for Open Talent and Foyer accreditation. Places to open talent should be full of laughter. Maybe there is more to ‘stand up to open talent’ than meets the eye. 
And so, the tour has reached its end. I’ve learned that the people I have met in the sector in Australia – like Michael, Narelle, Tony –have tremendous courage and determination.  I think Michael is right, ‘The community of people working to end youth homelessness has shown continuous resilience over the past decades’.  I’ve learned that the majority of people here are open to new ideas, to challenging the status quo, to seizing the opportunity for change. For Australia really does have a tremendous opportunity – not to replicate the Foyers that were first built in the 1990s, or those that continue to work from a fixed model, but to shape a fresh approach that breaks new ground. Standing on the shoulders of Open Talent, with a leg up from Foyer Accreditation, and the support of business and philanthropy, Australia can create a community of practice that is inclusive, forward thinking, and revolutionary. I hope I have contributed something, in some way, for that to happen. At least as much to match the kindness and hospitality that I have been so grateful to receive here.  It won’t be a revolution overnight. It won’t be led by one service or organisation. It will open when the talents play together.
Shelley said that Open Talent was still, in some ways, in its nappies. What an adventure lies ahead.

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