Melbourne DAY 2 — Systems, hugs and avoiding irrelevance

Missed out on Day 1? Catch up here for a summary of what went on at lightning speed. Or catch up on the goings-on with the Storify.

8.55 am It is a hot and steamy Melbourne day outside, but when you walk into a conference past a crowd of city folk grabbing a moment of calm with some morning Tai Chi inside the beautiful Deakin Edge Atrium, you know this is going to be a good one.

The crew from Wildwon and Engineers Without Borders do things a little differently (aka better) than your average “conference”, so just in case you haven’t found a moment for reflection since the hectic learning and inspiration OVERLOAD that was #LinkFest2016 Day 1, the ever wonderful Matt Wicking (facilitation LEGEND) helps you find a moment of stillness with a 38 second meditation to kick off the day.

9.10 And if you aren’t already super grateful to be in the room with a bunch of very clever socially minded peeps, the wonderful Claudia and Bridget from The Field Trip remind you what it’s all about, with stunning a capella renditions of Let It Be and What a Wonderful World. Cue tears streaming — and we’re only 10 minutes into the day’s program…

9.21 Time to step it up a notch with 3 AMAZING women to kick of #IWD2016 by unpacking the question of diversity in STEM.

The robot flying, kindness hacking, tech leading Paula Ngov kicks off by challenging the way Tech is reinforced throughout our lives as being a man’s domain. WRONG.

She encourages us all to recognise our own limitations. You’re only one individual with limited capacity to create change. To maximise what you can achieve, define your mission (what are you trying to achieve) and pick your super power (what have you got to offer).

9.37 Next up is Amina Horozic — refugee turned industrial design powerhouse using her skills to work on wicked problems.

Amina tells us to think about how we can include some of the most marginalised women in the world to create the most impactful change. She also reminds us that the only way to design solutions to the world’s greatest problems is TOGETHER. This lady is a walking, talking advertisement for what happens when vulnerable people are given opportunity and purpose.

9.55 These two amazing ladies are joined by Matt Wicking and Felicity Furey from ARUP (a belated but very welcome addition — damn you, Melbourne traffic) to dive into how to change this STEM diversity picture on an individual and collective level.

It comes down to this: To get to a point of true diversity we need to think about WHY we bother with diversity? We’re richer and more resilient for the diversity of perspectives (not just gender) in our public, professional and community lives. How do we make space for a rich conversation to avoid tokenism?

Some takeaways for everyone in the audience: Start with allowing women to be themselves in a professional context — there is no need for women to feel the need to beat men at their own game. Be brave, share your ideas. Dress how you want. The fear goes away once you start. Find your tribe. Build a crew of people who support you, think like you, and are concerned with solving the same problems you are — even with diverse skills. #IWD2016 insights nailed.

10.35 Play lunch time! Watermelon, delicious homemade hummus and crackers, abundant chai and excellent conversations. Deeeeelish!

11.02 Breakout sessions are GO!

Over at ACMI, awesome conversations about system change with Tom Quinn from Future Business Council, Carolyn Curtis from The Australian Centre for Social Innovation and Nicholas Gruen from Lateral Economics are expertly facilitated by EWB’s Lizzie Brown. Nicholas challenges us to think differently about how we go about creating public goods. Carolyn champions a user centric approach to designing social services. Tom urges us to capitalise on the growing consumer demand for goods and services with sustainability and ethics embedded. All three are joined by Lizzie for a discussion on the role of government / private enterprise / social services in creating change, and looking at how to create space for all three sectors to do things differently. Think building social capital — be flexible about how you do it.

While all this is going on, Atlassian’s Ben Crothers is leading a workshop using sketching to explore, explain and envision. There are pens, there are pictures, there is colouring in — but not the “adult colouring book as the bigger craze of 2015” variety. Just so we’re clear. We’re changing the world!

And the brain explosion that is digital identity is being unpacked by the powerhouse panel of Squareweave’s Alistair Cameron, Principle’s Sofia Madden, Portable’s Simon Goodrich, and Angie Abdilla of Old Ways, New Tech. We talked about what happens when we form our identities digitally, and much of that data is owned by big tech platforms. We talked about being more mindful of the tools we use and create — lest they end up creating us. Data as the new oil, people. MIND EXPLOSIONS!

Back at Deakin Edge, Chris Raine and Pamela Hartigan, and Linh Do and Don Henry are sitting down to talk intergenerational mentoring, learning, social entrepreneurship and personal journeys. Four exceptional leaders who have learned from the best, and are passing on the good insights down to those who follow. Their relationships are grounded in reciprocal learning, friendship and shared emotion. Intergenerational is a good thing. Also, Pamela Hartigan is a doyenne, but she’s less scary than the one who runs US Vogue. We promise.

Meanwhile, the Organisational Culture nerds are getting a bit crazy on the tweets, with insights and opportunities coming thick and fast from the crew at Culture Amp. Hiring for culture, culture as a tool to deliver on your value proposition, and also excellent posture.

12.34 Time for some lightning talks. If you need an injection of inspiration, passion and upbeat energy, talk to a young social enterpreneur. These guys are all over it. 6 slides in 6 minutes — 4 energetic young folk.

Michael Boles from Future Super talks to us about the fact that we’ve already hit our 2 degree planet temperature raise everyone predicted would set off dangerous flow on effects. (YES, really.) Get on and pledge to divest people.

Simone O’Connor from Childfund talks about her experience using participatory storytelling as a tool for community development — to help people reclaim their own narrative, and take control of the way the rest of the world understands their situation.

Koky Saly from Beekeeper talks about harnessing your greatest challenges to turn yourself into a super hero, leading with your heart. And the man himself brings an incredible amount of heart to the Deakin Edge stage. An intense injection of emotion just before lunch.

Lucy Thomas from Project Rock It talks about how a germ of an idea led to working intensively on teaching kids about cyber bullying, and has even eventuated in consulting to Google, Facebook, Twitter and others about digital inclusion and how to make the internet a friendlier place. YESSS!

1.03 And then it is LUNCH TIME! The amazing people from Lentil As Anything have outdone themselves with an absolutely scrumptious spread of vegetarian amazingness. Also, there is some general silliness going on about the place. We love silliness.

2.05 Another power round of breakout sessions is upon us.

At Deakin Edge, we’re getting into the complexities of urban resilience, with Dr Jack Barton from the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network, Marcus Westbury, Rachel Elliot-Jones from Assemble, Kate Dundas from 3000 Acres, and Jefa Greenaway.

We talk about thinking differently about how we think about the scale of urban decay — bringing it back to the personal / community level rather than scaled / policy level. We talk about changing the way we think about how we do urban renewable. It doesn’t always take significant investment — sometimes it just takes rethinking. Create a space that operates at the scale of people that only takes the investment of sweat to come alive.

Jefa drops a bombshell that there have only ever been 10 architects in Australia of Indigenous background. WHATT? The people who know this land better than anyone have had that small an opportunity to shape it for all of us? That needs to change for sure???!!!!

Over at ACMI we’re talking Edge Technologies — what is just around the corner that has the potential to completely how we engage with the world around us? We’re talking HUGE changes in manufacturing process and supply chains thanks to the mainstreaming of 3D printing, Virtual and Augmented Reality that allows us to feel empathy for people we never get to know, robots controlled by our minds. Oliver Weidlich of Mobile Experience, Melissa Fuller from Ability Mate, Scott O’Brien of Humense, and Nicholas Opie from SmartStent all had our minds genuinely blown. We talk about the pros and cons of smart machines and dip a toe into the ethical minefield that is AI + machine learning. Heavy stuff.

4.05 We’re inching closer to the end of a mammoth 2 days, but not before an epic session with the ever amazing Dr Jason Fox, and his conversation friend, Nathon Scolaro from Dumbo Feather.

Jason’s “thing” is motivation strategy and design — he has figured out how to get people to do the good work they’re capable of and to stick at it (via an obsession with Dungeons & Dragons and some serious PhD procrastofectionism). He’s damn clever and very beardy. The whole hour and a half was an absolute onslaught of brilliance, but we did manage to note down a few gems. (Or if this is just not enough red beardy goodness for you, just buy his book.)

Although it will always be safer to just keep your head down, risk is a critical ingredient for doing good stuff.Embrace constructive discontent. It’s the push that makes you think about things differently, to learn and grow. We want to be blessed with dissatisfaction. If we’re happy for too long we get comfortable, then we get complacent, then we eventually become irrelevant. Savvy organisations who don’t know everything are ok with it. They make a point of learning as they go — and never claim to have all the answers.Resist the urge to fix everything all at once — they way to create effective change is to build incremental momentum as you learn and prove what works.

5 top tips:

  1. Collaboration is an infinite game > goals, purpose, rules, mastery, feedback, autonomy

2. Don’t rely on motivation

3. Get out of your own way — stop the self sabotage — stop the busy work, make time for deep work, perfectionism / procrastinating,

4. Create rituals for momentum

5. Share the journey

5.24 While all this was going on, the good people from Digital Storytellers managed to pull together an amazing video wrap up of a thoroughly stellar two days - which we got a red hot look at in the final minutes of a brain exploding (and exhausting) Link Festival. Have a look-see:

So, Melbourne, it’s been great, but it is all over for another year. The conversations are just getting started. Keep in touch on the tweets, or jump on to the website to be keep in the loop with upcoming events.