Minimum Viable Policy – the Pitches from Australia’s First #PolicyHack

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On 17 October 2015, Wyatt Roy, the assistant minister for innovation co-hosted Australia’s first policy hackathon with startup accelerator Blue Chilli. It was a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the machinery of government, and hopefully use a little disruptive thinking to bring about changes in policy for the “innovation industry”.

Working with the “corporate innovation” policy challenge, I helped facilitate a team led by champions, Michelle Narracott and Justin Strharsky. Also on the team, tackling this challenge were policy advisors, representatives from industry, entrepreneurs and startups. There was serious expertise on hand from the Department of Industry and Science, Treasury, the fields of intellectual property, international trade and the mining, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

In the world of startups, there is a great deal of focus initially on an MVP – the minimum viable product. The idea is that as a startup we create the best possible product with a minimal feature set in order to test market viability. But with a “policy hack” the focus is not on a product but a policy. As such, the challenge for the teams was to develop a “minimum viable policy” – delivering a policy tweak or shift with the potential for a big impact on the “innovation industry”. This was a significant challenge given that:

  • The teams self-formed on the day
  • The participants had no prior experience working with each other
  • Time was limited to about 5 hours
  • Problems were broadly articulated.

That almost all teams positioned strong proposals for “policy hacks” is testament to not only the team champions, facilitators and mentors – but also the disciplined, lean methodologies used across the day.

You can read more about the experience here – and also the views from participants and observers:

And now, thanks again to Blue Chilli, you can watch the pitches in the video below. Where do we go from here? The machinery of government and policy is turning. The question is, how fast, and with a focus on what kind of outcome.

Pitch 1: innovation in larger enterprises

Policies to develop innovative, agile and adaptive practices in Australian medium and large businesses Presenter: Justin Strharsky Team Champion: Michelle Narracott Team members: Peter Samaan Catherine Pham Derek Baigent John Bathgate Rachel David

DiG Festival – Australia’s Best Conference You’ve Never Heard Of

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There is a low murmur sweeping in to the auditorium from outside. There are people moving in and out – greeting each other, chattering, delivering coffee (yes, true, and more on that below). On stage, author and digital transformation leader, Jesper Lowgren, is stepping through the “new thinking and new doing” required by businesses to deal with the challenges of digital disruption. All around me, I can see people taking notes, nodding, whispering to each other.

“This is great,” I think to myself, “Jesper is going to make my job easier”. I’m speaking next, sharing the “Seven Unbelievable Rules for Survival” in the age of disruption – and I’ve been focusing on the positive aspects of disruption in my recent talks. It makes opportunity more tangible. Realistic. And “disruption” can often feel too loaded and combative for an audience.

DiG 2015 – Jesper Lowgren

Swede Jesper Lowgren is a published author, keynote speaker, member of board of advisors for Enterprise Transformation 2020, and a business & digital transformation thought-leader with Telstra. Produced by eluminate:

2015-10-13 10.05.38-1 This year’s DiG Festival focuses exclusively on “digital disruption”. It’s a theme that almost every business is facing but few have plans for. In almost every client interaction I have had in the last 24 months, we touch on disruption and innovation, but always find a lack of preparation or willingness to tackle the challenge beyond the technology. But the challenge is profound.

Macquarie Bank research evaluated the potential impact of disruption to the Australian payments system at $27 billion a year. And while this has spurred an interest in “fintech” startups and innovation labs within parts of the financial sector, there remains plenty of wheel spinning. Not only is there more to do in financial services – many other sectors are still just covering the bare basics of digital strategy and execution. The retail, healthcare, pharmaceutical and mining/energy sectors – Australia’s engines for economic growth – are notorious digital laggards.

But digital disruption is not all about technology. It’s also about culture. Opportunity. Diversity. It’s about shared value and a vision for the future. And it’s about education.

And this is where the DiG Festival outstrips the performance of almost every other conference.

Over the next two days, we are treated to a feast of international and Australian speakers, workshops, announcements and networking opportunities.

Is DiG Australia’s SXSW?

Originally envisioned as Australia’s answer to SXSW, DiG is punching above its weight, attracting world-class speakers on business essential topics:

  • Women in Tech advocate, Ruthe Farmer, head of strategy development and partnerships at the National Center for Women and Information Technology in the US, is blazing a trail that we are just embarking upon. She has spoken at the White House, advised the United Nations and has a formidable list of achievements
  • Rebecca Caroe lays bare the hard truths of working with millennials and what it takes to challenge and grow the next generation of leaders. Her talk was jaw droppingly insightful as well as entertaining – and saw her swamped by questions in the breaks
  • The University of Newcastle used the festival to announce its new Entrepreneurship and Innovation program scheduled to start in 2016
  • The dynamic Eve Mayer flew solo off-the-cuff to step through the gory details of social media in a serious business context. Inspired by the University of Newcastle’s new program, she offered one lucky student an internship in her business in Texas. Now it was just a matter of sponsoring travel and accommodation. Within minutes, business leaders were jockeying for position.
  • Trent Bagnall from Newcastle’s Slingshot startup accelerator launched into my favourite topic – corporate innovation, sharing the hard won stories of innovation mis-matches, middle management anti-bodies and the successes of their partnership with the NRMA JumpStart program
  • Scott Yates from content crowd sourcing machine, Blogmutt, showed just how powerful crowd generated content can be when focused around your business goals and strategies
  • Alison Michalk shared the process of “birthing a business and launching a baby” while building a global business without an office, but with a strong sense of culture and purpose.

And like any good conference, there was more. More great speakers. Fantastic ideas. Workshops were jam packed. And the open areas were abuzz with conversation. The whole vibe was one of collegiality and good will. Speakers and audience members easily mingled, drank coffee and exchanged cards. Speakers vowed to return. Business leaders left inspired.

But this conference should have been 10 times the size. The topics and insights delivered are hot for Australian business leaders right now. Luckily, the DiG Festival team are packaging up the conference content and will make it available online. Register your interest online. And next year, show up in person. You’ll be glad you did.

Coffee Mornings Reaches a New Milestone

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I remember it like it was yesterday. A little cafe in North Sydney on a Friday morning. A touch of trepidation. The smell of coffee.

Walking in, I scanned the room looking for a familiar face. There wasn’t anyone I recognised. Or knew. I was almost ready to leave when I caught Emily’s eye. Yes, this was the right place.

Hours later, we had solved the world’s problems and were drunk on conversation and chaos. I had found “my people”.

We decided to meet again the following week. And the following week. And so on.

And this Friday, this gathering that has weathered Sydney’s weather, busy work schedules, promotions, growing families and commitments and even overcome profound inertia turns NINE years old.

If you haven’t been down to visit in a while, maybe it’s time to come back. And if you’ve never been to a coffee morning in Sydney at Single Origin in Surry Hills, then perhaps it is time to start a new personal history. See you there!

Coffee Mornings - Single Origin

State of the Nation: Australian Community Management 2015


Community management has, over the last decade, a professional, high growth industry. Touching on social media, knowledge transfer, customer service, PR and marketing, today’s community manager wears many hats, is often the most recognised representative of your company and has become a vital business asset. Yet despite the importance of the role, there is surprisingly little information about the role, salary, focus and breadth of community managers in an Australian context.

Now, thanks to the Swarm Conference, Quiip and Dialogue, the first research report into Australian Community Managers has been released. Some of the highlights include insight into community managers:

  • Education levels
  • Areas of study and expertise
  • Focus for professional development
  • Salary
  • Seniority

For those well versed in community management, it is not surprising to see that most community managers work significant levels of overtime (paid and unpaid). They also experience higher than usual levels of harassment:

Community managers often bear the brunt of aggressive and abusive behaviour online. They are generally accountable for protecting and defending organisational liabilities in digital social contexts, yet rarely find adequate support when managing, or personally confronting, bad actors.

But working at the coalface of customer engagement, community managers are in a unique position to understand the pulse of the community. And in an increasingly contested media landscape, community management can make a massive difference across the entire marketing cycle (yes, from planning and product development through to loyalty). As one respondent confided:

I think some people underestimate the power that community management has over a brand’s identity in this increasingly digital and social world.

Judging by the survey results, there’s work to be done at a corporate and community manager level in the years ahead. Download the report here.

60 Seconds to a Startup Future


Got a problem worth solving? A solution to that challenge? A market and a team to tackle it?

Then it’s time to step into the spotlight at the Muru-D 60 second pitch competition.

What is involved?

Muru-D and Seven West Media are providing you with the opportunity to pitch your startup to Annie Parker, Clive Dickens and Alan Stuart with the winner receiving a fast track ticket to the interview stage of the muru-D accelerator program.

You can RSVP here.

Get a head start

If you want to give yourself an unfair advantage – set aside some time to get clarity around your business, messaging and pitch. Seriously. One of the greatest mistakes many startups and founders make is to rely on the sizzle of the product, believing it will sell itself. Focus not on the Product-Market fit, but on the Market-Product fit. To help you, download the Disruptor’s Handbooks:

This is just a start – remember you only have 60 seconds. You’ve got to work really hard to make your pitch simple enough to wow the judges in 60 seconds. Rock it hard.

MediaScope Blab: Australian Ad and Media Industry Round-Up


The rise of streaming social media continues to produce surprising results. We have Meerkat and Periscope putting powerful, real time streaming capabilities into our hands at the touch of a button, we have Facebook Live Video in selected release – and now, one of my new favourites, offering a virtual, live streaming app for panel and group discussions.

But if you have tuned into a Meerkat or Periscope stream, you’re likely to find them largely one dimensional. To host and hold a stream of people, you really do need to have a level of comfort in front of the camera. Add to this the difficulty with storage and replay, then the utility value of the stream can be quite minimal.

The group format of Blab, however, has a number of benefits over the single live stream offered by Meerkat and Periscope:

  • The panel format means that the performance pressure is shared by three other participants
  • Real time discussion can take place directly rather than via text/messaging
  • Discussions can be opened out through the platform, via Twitter or messaging.

But the best thing to do is to watch a Blab in action. Here, MediaScope’s Denise Shrivell does a wrap-up of the Australian Ad and Media Industry with Jules Lund, Charlotte Valente and Seb Rennie – along with contributions from others. Usually this kind of production would take coordination, equipment, scheduling and so on – but with Blab, participants beamed in (and out) without leaving their offices. It’s fantastic to see where this may go.

Watch live conversations about topics that matter most to you

Thrive in an Age of Disruption


Disruption is the new normal. Everywhere we look we find traditional business models under threat from emerging players, technology creating new opportunities for fast-moving businesses and the creaking bones of industrial age enterprises labouring to stay current, fresh or even just relevant. The darlings of our blue chip stock markets have given way to tighter, more technologically aggressive firms who wield tech not for COMPETITIVE advantage but to create UNFAIR advantages. Facebook and Google are the obvious examples, but there are more. Many more.

Many of these massively scaled companies have locked their valuations away from the markets – creating a vibrant behind-closed-doors market where Venture Capital firms tease out $1 billion valuations. Just take a look at the Wall Street Journal’s Billion Dollar Startup Club to get a sense of the scale in operation. Uber, with a current valuation of over $50 billion, leads the pack and now boasts a valuation way in excess of General Motors.


But while Uber, is on the surface, a business about transportation – and cars in particular – it is far from being a car company as we have known them. It is, in fact, a technology company. A software company. And a data company. It is disruption paradigms at every turn.

Even on a more micro level, disruption is taking place in our suburbs and in our streets. The NBN – when it arrives at it eventually will – will sweep non-digital businesses away in a tide of data. And those local institutions like post offices and newsagencies that are the hubs of our suburban malls, will be the first to go (if they have not disappeared already).


Disruption is not destruction.

It is possible to not only thrive in an age of disruption but to also prosper. And this is what I will be discussing at Newcastle’s DiG Festival on 12-13 October. In fact, the whole two days of the conference are devoted to the theme.

So if you’re wondering what disruption has in store for your career, business or enterprise, you might find this is the best investment you have made in years. See you there!

New Course: Mastering Twitter for Business this Weekend for Free


UPDATE 2: Thanks for the great feedback via Twitter and email. I am pleased you are finding the course useful. As we have already hit the limit on the previous discount coupon, I have released another code. Use THIS LINK before midnight on Sunday to enrol.

UPDATE: The special 100% discount sold out. But I have released 50 more discounts @ 100%. Use THIS LINK to access the Mastering Twitter for Business course. It is only available for this weekend.

Have you ever wondered why CEOs like Richard Branson and Elon Musk spend their precious time on Twitter?

If so, I’m inviting you to join my new Mastering Twitter for Business course which has just launched on Udemy!

This weekend I am offering FREE access to the course. Be sure to take advantage of this discount while it lasts.  Here is where you can get your 100% discount.

In this course I get you up and running the right way:

  • Setting up your profile and lists
  • Styles of tweets, hashtags and Twitter etiquette
  • Measurement, technology and more

There are video lectures, hands-on exercises and plenty of practical tips and tricks to help you get value out of Twitter from Day 1.

I hope to see you in the course – and on Twitter.

Forget Millennials – Trust is the Secret Sauce of Online Commerce


The topic of “trust” is one that we return to over and over again. No matter whether we are wanting to build awareness, consideration or purchase for our business, or establish ourselves online as thought leaders, every word we write, every video we produce and every image we take and share online has ONE CLEAR MISSION. To build trust with our audiences.

When Acquity Group surveyed 2000 US-based consumers on brand engagement, there were plenty of insights and data points. Take a look at the infographic below for a neat summary.

But look deeper. The underlying theme of every data point isn’t the shifting power of millennial consumers. It isn’t about the devices we choose or use. It isn’t even about what we buy or when. It is the REASON we TRUST.

And when it comes to social media, the TRUST EQUATION is simple:

TRUST = Reputation + Action

So the question you need to be asking yourself about your next campaign, your next innovation or project is not “who can I target” but “How do I build trust”. And if you answer that question, you may find that the rest of the marketing funnel falls into place.



The Barrier to Entry is You


Everything makes sense in hindsight. If only you had taken a chance on that young startup, Microsoft. If only you had gone on that blind date. If only you had risked all like a young Richard Branson. And if only you had bought property when the prices were low(er).

The thing is, we are all, always, starting from today. We have at our disposal what we know, what we can do and what we are passionate about. But we also have networks, connections and friends. We have family. There are people we can rely upon and trust.

So the question about your next job, or business opportunity, partnership or date is “what is stopping you”?

Maybe it isn’t your boss that is stopping your progress at work. Maybe you are settling for the backseat of the bus without realising it. Maybe. Just maybe, the barrier to entry is you.

And that can change in the blink of an eye. What are you waiting for?

HT inspiration to Seth Godin on a cloudy Sydney day.