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“Make it so attractive that people want to work with us”

Still in recovery mode from an intense week in Melbourne and gradually processing all the information I gathered, I’m finding this quote “Make it so attractive that people want to work with us” works equally well as a banner for both the speaking and the environmental professions.

Standouts at the speakers convention on Saturday, Sunday and Monday 2-4 April included Peter Sheahan and Ngahihi o te ra Bidois, while Peter Baines broke our hearts then mended them again with his inspiring tales of his work in post-disaster recovery.

In line with the conference theme, “Stand up and Stand out”, the workshops, panel and keynotes focused on standing out as speakers with social media, online content, selling, technology, networking, our bureaux and non-verbal communication (from the wonderful Michael Grinder) – all ways in which we as speakers can make it attractive for clients to work with us.

Chicago Wilderness is the source of the “attractive” quote, and it was passed on to me by Ian Morgans of the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment (watershed) Management Authority (PPWCMA) in Melbourne. The PPWCMA is one of ten regional Catchment Management Authorities in the Australian state of Victoria, and I was lucky enough to meet Ian for a couple of hours. We talked about how they are approaching the complex question of preparing a management plan that is implemented by other agencies: the role of the PPWCMA is to inspire and support a wide range of groups, agencies and individuals in work that will deliver integrated management for sustainability of the catchment’s assets. So Ian sees a large part of the plan’s role as setting out the cost and other benefits of a partnership approach within an agreed and integrated framework. He says a plan is really an outcome of a goal and an alliance of players working towards it: developing and implementing a plan is more about the process than the plan itself.

And, like all good thinkers, Ian made me think, too! One of his first questions was, “In New Zealand, do you take a value-based or a problem-based approach to catchment planning?” My first reaction was to say, “Of course we take a value-based approach! We have clearly defined outcomes …..” at which point my voice trailed off as I realized that we do indeed take a problem-based approach, because we identify issues first, then the desired outcome of our interventions as we address them … a problem based approach!

Ian’s approach is to identify the assets in a catchment – the things we value – and work out what action needs to be taken to maintain, enhance or restore their quality. I think we need to do the same – and this is very much in line with the fourth order outcomes in Stephen Olsen’s marvellous orders of outcomes framework that I’ve been working with for many years now, as well as with the DPSIR (drivers, pressures, states, impacts, responses) model.

Fortunately I was able to point to a paper on integrated management of natural and built assets that I gave with my friend and colleague Christine Heremaia at the May 2009 at the 5th NZWWA (now Water New Zealand) South Pacific Stormwater Conference in Auckland – and now need to bring this more closely into the catchment-based work I’m doing.

More on my other Melbourne meetings soon.

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