• Engaging your key audiences gets the good work done.  

    We may know the right thing to do. But do we always do it? And how do you inspire others to do the right thing?

    The Consumer Policy and Research Centre (CPRC) built the Building Customer Trust report; a clear, practical and engaging toolkit that shows electricity and water companies how to build trust with their most important stakeholder, the customer.

    Quite simply, CPRC researched ways that electricity and water companies create good customer experiences and now they are encouraging the adoption of these best practices across Victoria.

    As we learned in our previous article, it is CPRC’s role to drive policy development and better protect consumers. CPRC’s Acting CEO at the time, Petrina Dorrington, says that, “We had an initial report, but we didn’t know how to get the businesses on board and embed the principles in the community.”

    The initial CPRC research revealed a number of key principles and several case studies from which businesses could learn. So the organisation wanted to make it easy for the electricity and water sectors to engage with and apply their research.

    CPRC engaged Midnightsky to lead them through a process that Petrina says is, “strategic, creative and gets the best out of people.” The final report made the original, solid information clear and inspiring, as well as engaged key stakeholders in the power of the research.

    How did the report achieve this?

    Using language that speaks to your audience
    One key part of the process was to look at the language of the report. The report distilled the many research principles into four, making it more likely that businesses will remember and apply the information. The report used warm and direct language to reflect one of CPRC’s key aims; to build trust between people and their electricity or water supplier.

    The original research title was changed from the pragmatic but cold, ‘Principles of a fair consumer experience’ to the report’s more welcoming title that resonates with both industry and community, ‘Building Customer Trust’. And similarly, the language throughout the report was simplified to help communicate the messages more directly.

    Getting audience skin in the game
    The second key part of the process was to engage the broader water and electricity sector to build ownership in the report. This simple action can be extremely powerful.

    Workshops were held with key stakeholders, including utility companies and community reference groups, to gather out their feedback on the four key principles.

    The workshops also sought their input on the best actions that will help businesses to embed the practices. Petrina says that, “the workshops created excitement as the participants started to see how the report could contribute to positive relationships with customers and, in particular, support the most vulnerable in our community”.

    The report is already making its way into the right hands. It was launched in September 2017 by ‘Thriving Communities Partnership’ , a cross-sector community and industry collaboration that includes Yarra Valley Water.

    So next time you’re talking with your Electricity or Water supplier and you leave the conversation feeling heard, reassured and satisfied, it may have something to do with the good work of the good people at the Consumer Policy and Research Centre and their ‘Building Customer Trust’ Report.

    by Cressida Bradley

    Check out more stories in the category: Consult, Knowledge Bank

  • How to kick perfect goals while the posts are moving

    Or creating a clear and effective Strategic Plan

    The Consumer Policy and Research Centre (CPRC) recently achieved the strategic equivalent of the triple somersault, half twist in a pike position off the 10 metre diving board with a 9.0 difficulty rating; it found clarity and purpose in a new strategic direction, expanded the trust and support of its main funder, and continued to kick perfect goals while the posts were moving. Sorry, mixing my sports metaphors there.

    Oh, and did I mention that they were also recruiting for a new CEO throughout the strategic planning process? So CPRC had the additional challenge of creating a Strategic Plan that should provide enough direction to keep the organisation moving and enough certainty to guarantee funding. And the plan should also allow any new visionary CEO to take ownership of the plan and make key decisions or reasonable changes. That has just increased the strategic difficulty rating to a 9.9. So how did they do it?

    A key decision that led to their success was to develop a Strategic Plan that spanned three years, but included a review after the first year. This would allow the new CEO to make reasonable changes and learn from the organisation’s experiences.

    CPRC is a Victorian Government funded broad-based research centre that helps to drive policy development and better protect consumers. Until recently, the CPRC was known as the Consumer Utility Advocacy Centre (CUAC). Apart from a name change, the recent transformation also expanded the organisation’s purpose and scope of activity from being an advocacy body to take on a research role and the responsibility to deal with broader ranging consumer issues across all sectors.

    The Board and staff went through a process with Midnightsky that guided the organisation to a confident, shared understanding and clarity that could be communicated with key funders, new leadership and all staff.

    Acting CEO, Petrina says that the resulting Strategic Plan, “gave us the basis to show the government where we were going, which aligned with what they were thinking too.”

    Midnightsky helped the organisation navigate the significant change by asking it to reconsider some fundamental strategic questions: what is its purpose, what is it going to do to achieve that purpose, how is it going to behave along the way, and how will it know when its achieved success?

    In other words, the organisation re-articulated its Vision, Role, Values and Goals. These are key aspects required to inspire and focus any organisation and its stakeholders, including staff and funders.

    Since the development of the Strategic Plan, the new CEO, Lauren Solomon, has built the research agenda for the organisation. This research agenda has become part of the whole Strategic Plan and contributes to the organisation’s vision.

    The clear and direct language of the new Strategic Plan continues to emerge in reports and other communication tools as the organisation’s strategy is embodied by the CPRC team and implemented through their activities.

    by Cressida Bradley

    Check out more stories in the category: Consult, In the Village, Knowledge Bank

  • How to learn everyday superpowers

    What do you do when you have the passion and potential to change the world, but don’t know how to start? Maybe you have expert knowledge and a vision for a better future, but you can’t do it alone. So how do you get others to help make it happen? Do you have superhuman skills to achieve all that?

    Each year the Future Makers Fellowship welcomes change makers, political influencers, digital storytellers, social entrepreneurs and, in their words, “f**k givers” who are asking themselves exactly those questions.

    Recently I spoke to the Facilitator of the Melbourne Future Makers program, Matt Wicking, about how their program is nurturing leaders who can tell clear, compelling and informed stories that inspire their audiences to think and act.

    Matt says, “The Future Makers Fellowship has been running for 12 years. It’s a life-changing personal and professional development program that builds skills, confidence and communities.” Matt adds, “We want to inspire our participants to embody their role as resilient and positive change-makers.”

    Every graduate goes on to lead in their own way and supports each other as they create change.

    For example, there is Cameron Elliott, who is creating meaningful community with The Weekly Service, and Sally Hill who is designing and delivering purpose-driven events with Wildwon, and Ellen Sandell who is the State MP (Greens) for Melbourne, and Eyal Halamish who is giving the people more voice in our democracy with Our Say, and Katerina Kimmorley who is bringing power and light to India with Pollinate Energy.

    And for every alumnus who is running a new enterprise, or holding down a high-powered visible role like those above, there are many more who are having an impact within community groups and corporates, not-for-profits and other organisations.

    Matt explains that a significant part of the fellowship program is a week-long retreat for both the Sydney and Melbourne fellows to focus on their Media, Communication and Storytelling skills. Matt and his team have carefully assembled a welcoming space where participants feel challenged, supported and energised.

    For the last five years, Luke Hockley from Midnightsky has joined the retreat, working in groups and with individuals to help the fellows find their purpose, realise the power of storytelling, and become an authentic communicator.

    Luke uses his creative and communication experience, as well as knowledge on how to think and move in cooperation with our design in order to perform at our best. Matt observes that Luke, “gently shapes and shifts participants out of where they are, so that they can take risks in a safe and skilful way”.

    Matt says that Luke’s workshops help the participants “see their passion more clearly and get out of the messy drama and noise that we all experience”. By finding clarity in the complex, the Future Makers fellows develop life-long skills to make better decisions, spread ideas, and have a lasting impact on the world.

    Now that sounds like everyday superpowers I reckon we could all learn.

    Applications to the Future Makers Fellowship close on November 18th

     

    By Cressida Bradley

    Check out more stories in the category: In the Village, Learn

  • What is the Alexander Technique?

    The Alexander Technique is an education process where we learn how to think and move in cooperation with our design in order to perform at our best as often as possible.

    The basic principle of the Alexander Technique is that all movement (including sitting, walking, washing the dishes, thinking, speaking, singing, problem solving…) can be performed more easily if the head is balanced well with the rest of the body.

    During a lesson with me you will learn how to:

    • Observe yourself
    • Understand how the body moves
    • Explore how your thinking impacts on your movement
    • Make choices about how you think and move

    I work with students in a few ways to explore this balance, including:

    • Conversation and discussion to explore how our thinking impacts on our movement
    • Reviewing anatomical images to ensure the image we have of our moving body is accurate
    • Using touch to help encourage a balanced relationship between head and rest of the body

    In every situation we have habitual responses. These are sometimes very helpful (like being able to tie our shoe laces) and sometimes not (like tightening our shoulders when we start to think about what we want to do with our lives). The technique helps us to see our unhelpful habits and make different choices when they emerge. If we are tightening ourselves when we think about our purpose in life then it will be harder for us to find answers to these important questions that are meaningful and sustainable.

    Get in touch if you have any further questions.

    Thanks

    Luke

    Artist, advisor, coach.
    I find the real problem, make the difficult easy
    and tell a great story.

     

    Check out more stories in the category: Knowledge Bank, Learn

  • Busy, busy is boring.

    I can keep myself very busy. Busy, busy doing things.

    But it is only productive if I am busy doing things that move towards some bigger goal that matters to me. Without this bigger picture I get disheartened with the busy and get very bored.

    With a clear goal busy becomes productive. When this happens I get momentum. Then I start getting things done.

    Luke

    Check out more stories in the category: How to Human, Learn