Opportunities & Challenges:

Over the past three decades, Australia has shifted its focus away from Europe to Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, with China and Japan being Australia’s two main trading partners, and India, South Korea and Indonesia becoming just as important.  The national government decided embark on a long-term project to engage more deeply with Asia, to ensure that Australia develops the skills, and cultural awareness to build stronger relationships.

What we did:

After the government’s Australia in the Asian Century Task Force completed their report, Maverick & Boutique was asked by the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet to help develop the internal team responsible for the implementation of the plan to develop strategies for involving 30 other departments, major corporations, small business, universities and trade Organization in the roll-out of the plan. For this one day workshop, the implementation team used the Zing meeting system to rapidly share ideas, and reach agreement about the way forward.


What does it take to be a leader or entrepreneur in the social innovation field? To find  the secret to such success, 200+ people came together at the bigBang! event in Cleveland, Ohio on October 28.

The event was hosted by Cleveland Social Venture Partners, and headlined by leadership and systems thinking guru, Peter Senge, with support from Mobile Innovation Lab, a Cleveland-based Design Thinking consultancy.

The event was live-streamed over the Internet into schools and businesses by the network.

You can see the founders of Mobile Innovation Lab Ken Chapin and Abby Straus (also a partner in M&B) facilitate the 90 minute brainstorming session that led into Peter Senge’s world cafe activity. Click here to watch the video.

You can also download a copy of what everyone had to say. Click here.

For those who are interested in undertaking a similar activity, here’s a workshop you might like to try with your own social entrepreneurship community:

1. What are the big societal and technological changes/trends that we’re responding to in Social Innovation?

2. What’s working really well in the world of Social Innovation? What do we want to KEEP? ABANDON? RE-INVENT?

3. What leadership qualities are essential for success in Social Innovation? Think about great leaders you admire and your own strengths and successes as a leader?

4. You have been asked to design a leadership development program. Thinking about the qualities/skills required (from question 3), what are some activities that might help develop/practice those skills.

5. Describe a social innovation project you might like to lead today. 5 word title, 25 word description and how will it benefit society/the world?

It’s a brand new day at the three StarShine Academies in Phoenix, Arizona and CEO Trish McCarty and Principal Jan Shoop are a long way from home. Back in Arizona, the children are all learning, the teachers are teaching and the sun is shining brightly.

Here we were in England, training the first group of StarShine facilitators, at Broughton Castle, where Shakespeare in Love starring Joseph Fiennes was filmed, and whose near relatives are the current Lords of the Manor.

There was a roaring fire. Everyone sat around in armchairs and lounges. And the interactive computer system was displayed on a portable screen, mounted on a table. More like morning tea than a training room.

The StarShine teacher enhancement program is now offered on the Zing platform to make it easy for new facilitators to learn to apply the 16 StarShine Principles, to use brain science to get students in the mood for learning.

Here are the principles:

  • Every person born is unique and perfect and on their own road to discovering their dreams and highest calling.
  • We are on the planet to help one another toward achieving individual goals for the Greater Good of All.
  • We each do the best that we can on each day, depending on what we know and understand, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy.
  • Music is the first language.
  • Beautiful, safe environments that are clean and include art, music and nature inspire creativity and help to secure man’s sustainability.
  • Teaching and learning gardening is a necessary part of becoming one with nature and the environment and is a means for personal health and community building.
  • Celebrating local culture and global diversity allows for a rich life.
  • Practice Connect versus Convince; Exercise Compassion versus Judgment, Love versus Fear.
  • Individuals practice being ambassadors for their own country as well as a country other than their own.
  • Co-learning demonstrates that every person is a teacher and every teacher is a student.
  • Financial literacy fosters hope, belief and abundance as it facilitates a wise use of assets.
  • Partnering and mentoring fosters interdependence toward building common ground, as in “the world agrees on time so everyone can communicate.”
  • Holistic explains that each event reinforces all. The pursuit of success and happiness, both individually and collectively, must include body, mind, spirit, health and wealth.
  • Leveraging technology facilitates connecting people; personal contact is vital.
  • World peace is a result of individual peace.

StarShine kids are very special. Many left their previous schools under a cloud. Most come from poor or dysfunctional families who live in what used to be some of the most problematic neighbourhoods of Phoenix.

Every day, StarShine celebrates new possibilities and achievements as a community. Each morning, everyone attends an Opening Ceremony. Every afternoon there is a Closing Ceremony before going home.

StarShine focuses on hope. Teachers and students work together in Mastermind groups to help each other build on our strengths and achieve our goals. Everyone creates a personal Visionboard and leafs through a dozen or so glossy magazines, to find pictures or headlines that resonate with what they would love to happen differently in our lives. Teachers work alongside their students, to update their Vision Board and share their dreams.

In this way young people develop a sense of purpose in their lives and confidence in meeting people. When  you go to a StarShine school don’t be surprised to be greeted by a student who offers to shake your hand and introduce him or herself. “Good morning. I’m Paul Smith and I am going to be a scientist. How can I help you?”

Everyone on the course at Broughton Castle was encouraged to use one or more StarShine principles as part of a learning activity they would facilitate for the group. One participant chose Music is the First Language, and asked us to describe how music has made an amazing contribution to our lives. As the contributions were read aloud and acknowledged, tears welled up in many eyes. Here’s what some had to say:

* Music has often been my friend when all other things seemed to go.  It is what I dance to, clean to, relax to, cry to, motivate myself often to, and even work with.  To me music is my emotional companion and friend.
* Classical music slows my thoughts down and expands my mind. popular music can be uplifting. anthems make me cry.
* Music is definitely my first language, I love to listen to uplifting powerful music and also calming meditative music, I love singing and dancing to music, music that is full of life.
* I love to dance and I feel the rhythm through me
* I use certain rock songs for energy and inspiration…lyrics matter to me as much as the ‘sound’.  Some are profound and really connect me back to myself.  Also use chanting music regularly  for relaxing and meditating, boosting energy and refocusing.
* Music is a mental and historical anchor. At different moments past, certain songs have an emotional significance as you feel certain feelings.

Here’s a sample of some of the activities from the StarShine Teacher Enhancement program that speaks to the 13 StarShine principles and is available on the Zing platform.

1. Thumbprints – ask another person “What five things about you are really unique? Report what you have discovered/learned.
2. Help one another – Turn to the person next to you and ask what they currently most need. Discuss how you might be able to achieve their goals in some way. Report back – their goal and how you could help them.
3. Thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, what for could/should we focus on today that might better meet your needs?
4. Thinking about each of the points of the star – body, mind, spirit, health and wealth – describe an activity where we could practise all or most of the aspects at the same time.
5. The garden is at the centre of StarShine. In what ways could gardening and nurturing connect us to nature and our community?
6. What kinds of activities/events/ceremonies could we engage in to celebrate local culture and global diversity e.g. 11 days of peace and sustainability, 9/11 to 9/21, taking care of animals?
7. How could you convert shame, blame and victim stories into proactive life stories, where you decide where your life is going instead of reliving the past?

What if the explosion in the economic activity and knowledge work we regard as the Knowledge Age (1980-2010) was almost over and a new economic imperative was suddenly upon us? The Wisdom Age (2010-)? The weak signals from the future point this way.

How might such a trend affect the way we think about the world and the new kinds of products and services that people want? And the new kinds of jobs people will do?

There have always been wisdom workers. Community and business leaders, ethicists, judges, mediators and spiritual gurus. But the focus on wisdom work has reached a new intensity. There’s a whole bunch of new positions being advertised such as Corporate Ethics Officers, Certified Ethical Hacker, Business Continuity Managers as well as “green collar” work such as Environment Compliance Consultants, Energy Efficiency Engineers, Renewable Energy Coordinators and Ecological Footprint Accountants.
Although our scientists, academics and the R&D departments of big corporations are creating new knowledge at an exponential rate, we planetary citizens are increasingly frustrated by the slow speed at which we collectively deal with the world’s most wicked problems.
There is now an expectation we must learn to live more lightly on the planet, to reduce our impact on other species, to care more for our fellow citizens, to resolve the issues that divide us.To do this, more and more jobs will be created to wisely apply our knowledge. Paradoxically, we are also creating the tools that will help to automate/democratize this kind of work, so that ordinary people are able to make use of the same kinds of methods that were previously used only by experts.
A pioneer in this field is Linda Newman, Associate Professor of Education at Newcastle University in Australia (pictured). Linda is the joint creator of a process for resolving ethical dilemmas known as the Ethical Response Cycle.
A version of her method is included in her own electronic meeting title Working Wisely that can be used by anyone with less than a day’s facilitator training to explore and resolve complex ethical issues with greater certainty.
Linda uses her method to help early childhood teachers and carers develop professionally.
Participants learn about the ethics by observing and sharing their own reactions to a hypothetical dilemma and making sense of the patterns in the group’s responses. The dilemmas are presented as a series of “guided discovery questions” that take participants on a learning journey. Each step of a complex case study is followed by a more impossible dilemma or unexpected scenario that needs to be resolved.
Participants engage in a type of high level discussion which Linda calls Ethical Dialectical discourse, which must not only resolve the conflict’s between indvidual opinions, but must also satisfy a personal, professional ethical standard or legal requirement.
Here’s an example of a workshop from Working Wisely. It’s called the Automatic Teller Machine Fairy dilemma:
1. A friend comes to tell you that they have discovered that the automatic teller machine in your town is somehow making errors in calculation. Every withdrawal is receiving $20 too much without the client’s balance showing it. What do you do and why?
2. The “Automatic Teller Fairy” has been helping out many people in your town for a week now. Word has spread. The error has been discovered and rectified. The Daily Bugle reports the names of everyone who used the teller and how often. Your mother (or someone you respect) calls you to talk about it. How do you feel about what you decided to do and why?
3. How do you feel when your employer raises the issue the next day, and why?
4. What does this story have to do with ethics, and why?
5. Some people returned to the teller many times. Write 25 words about how they were thinking.
6. Some people reported the mistake and returned the money. Write 25 words about the type of thinking they used to inform their decision to return the money.
7. Some people who had very little money used the machine only on days where they really needed it. Write 25 words about the type of thinking they used to decide when to, and when not to, access the machine.
8. We have been talking about ethical perspectives which have theories to explain them. Sum up the ethical issues in this story.