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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Snow, strengths, and ice

Australia must be the only country where people apologise if it’s raining. Which, today, it has been. Just imagine if we did that in the UK.  ‘Welcome to England – we’re sorry, we're really sorry’.  
Over breakfast, I was surprised by my first dose of piped Xmas carol music. I even wondered for a moment if the possible might happen and it start to snow.   Or, as someone else put it to me, it snows inside here. I like that idea.
Today was a pre-conference training day, and I got the chance to sit in on a workshop applying the ‘strengths based model’, something very much part of our Open Talent approach.  Along with anecdotes on house decoration by beer can, and a wonderful description of a computer as ‘the machine that makes words’, we were given a useful guide around the key concepts from Rapp and Goscha’s 2006 work on the strengths model.  I liked the emphasis  on ‘possessing a healthy disrespect for the impossible’ as a way to keep the focus on young people’s aspirations,  that ‘only the staff can be non-compliant’ in the client relationship, and the need for providers to ‘build strong reputations’ to leverage partnerships. 
The presenter, Steve Bailey, from Macquarie University, used a number of similar techniques we apply in our own Open Talent inspire days. One I shall certainly adopt in future is asking staff participants to share a young person’s achievement with the group. It was fascinating that some people chose to ‘pass’ on that, but even more so the range and diversity of achievements offered up. We have to do better at capturing the everyday 'what happens' if we are to campaign successfully for an aspirational approach. Telling the story, whatever shape and size, should be an essential part of all practice. I expect we have much to share and learn with Steve.
My day rounded off with a stimulating conversation with Ray Bennett from the Australian Community Management Magazine, discussing the opportunities to create an international community of practice on innovation in the youth sector.  I think the Global theme is essential.  Young people are one of the world’s most precious resources – and we are allowing too many to go to waste.  We need to lead the future.
Apart from the lingering of jet lag, I was slightly unnerved during the day by drinking at the workshop from a jug of water which never seemed to lower its water level. Then I remembered what happens to ice: it melts inside here, just like the snow.

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