Category: 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

  • 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.



    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

  • Significance.

    Someone once told me that they had a history teacher who said that there are 3 things we can do when we write about history.

    The first is to recall the facts. The second is to outline what these facts mean. These two steps are where most people stop, The theory goes that it is the next step that really makes the difference. The third thing that a writer can do is to explain the significance of this event.

    I find that when I am planning just about any communication I get a better result if I ask myself “what is the significance of this thing for this group of people?”

    By answering this question I think of the exchange from their perspective. This makes what I say much sharper, more relevant and more likely to inspire action.


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

  • You are always in your body.

    Sometimes people tell me they want to get back into their body. And I get what they mean. They are feeling tight, their breathing is restricted or they are lacking an overall awareness of their movement…however the language we use to describe this experience is part of the problem.

    We are always in our body. There is nowhere else for us to be.

    What we are experiencing is our thinking is leading us to tighten our body. We are simply not cooperating with our design. When this happens we feel like we are somehow outside of ourselves.

    We are always in our body. Our mind, our thinking happens in our body. The gig is to recognise it, to bring our attention (our thinking) to the moment, to notice what we are doing right now, notice the chair underneath us or notice the light in the room. When we do this we use our thinking to help us cooperate with our design and suddenly we feel like we are back, here, in our body, where we were all along.


    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

  • Impulse, instinct, intuition…

    Image of coloured pins stuck into a white pin board.

    How do we make decisions?

    Impulse, instinct and intuition, I became curious about how these three words seemed to fundamentally describe important, but different, processes that were going on when we are making decisions. So I spent some time observing and defining what I saw as the difference between these three concepts.

    Here’s what I have come up with so far.

    As humans we have impulses; they are that fleeting suggestion, that idea, that possibility that comes into focus at any given moment. It could be at a critical moment of choice, but equally it could be when we are just sitting around staring out the window. Our system suggests an option to us and we can decide whether we want to take it or not. So…

    An impulse is a suggestion from our subconscious that we can choose to follow, or not.

    Where do these suggestions come from? Why do we get a particular impulse at a particular moment? I think there are two systems that these impulses draw from, our instinct and our intuition.

    Different fields of research have different ways of defining the word instinct. I have attempted to find a way to define it the word in a way that reflects the day-to-day experience and use of the word that I have observed.

    Our instinct is a behavioral urge that is hard wired into our system.

    The instinct to breathe, to feed ourselves, to find shelter, to respond to danger; all of these things we will do because we have built a knowledge over thousands of years about what we need to do to survive. Some instincts we have no choice about, in essence the choices around the impulse are bypassed because our systems take over and respond (these are generally referred to as reflexes and others exclude these from the category of instinct, for our purposes I include them). For example if something comes toward our face we will blink to protect our eyes (touch a babies nose and watch this happen), and this is a very good thing.

    Some other instincts we can have a little more control over. There is more time between the situation, our impulse to respond and the response happening. When I get hungry (my instinct for nourishment) I can get very grumpy and have a very strong impulse to eat (just about anything). However I don’t generally put something in my mouth just because it’s there, I can talk myself through what’s happening (right, I’m not really angry, I’m just hungry. I’m ten minutes from food and very unlikely to starve in that time frame…). So in this case I have an impulse to eat (based on my instinct for food) but I also have some choice about how I respond to that impulse.

    However there is another group of suggestions (or impulses) that we respond to every day. These impulses are based on our intuition.

    Our intuition is a behavioral urge that is informed by our life experiences.

    Intuition is the subconscious system of decision making that feeds the impulses we have that are not instinct based (eg: biologically hard wired for our survival). These are life skills we need day to day (like using public transport) or a specialist skill we have accumulated as a result of focused and deliberate effort (like playing the piano or facilitating a group).

    I believe impulses based on our intuition are an important part of our decision making process as a human. In this situation the impulse is a suggestion from our sub-conscious based on the situation we find ourselves in, the goal we have set for ourselves and our accumulated experience (knowledge) in similar situations.

    Intuition based impulses are the result of a complex relationship between the circumstances we are in and the history of experiences we have had. It is a process that allows an interaction between what is conscious to us and what is sub-conscious to us. I believe it is our sub-conscious sending us a suggestion based on the things we have learnt in the past about a given situation that we are in.

    So if…

    An impulse is a suggestion from our subconscious that we can choose to follow, or not.
    Our instinct is a behavioral urge that is hard wired into our system.
    Our intuition is a behavioral urge that is informed by our life experiences.

    …then how do we make decisions?

    My theory is that we have impulses that are stimulated from either our instinct or from our intuition. When it comes to impulses we either have no choice because our system just follows the impulse (like the instinct to blink when our nose is touched) or we have a choice (to wait till we find some food rather than eat whatever is around us or to respond to a particular impulse we have when facilitating a group or to ignore it and try something else). And that what is important is that we cultivate our ability to listen to the impulses we have and then practice following them or making a choice to over ride them based on a new piece of knowledge we have.

    All of this is a way of saying that as humans we have more choices than we often think we do and that we will benefit from cultivating the ability to observe the impulses we have and make choices about what we do in response to those impulses.

    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