Last chance to register for the intensive masterclass on the Map of Meaning, 29th and 30th September in Brisbane. Go to

On the plane to Australia Lani Morris, a world expert on meaningful work, was talking with an electrician who was commenting on how a happy and productive workplace was destroyed by a new boss not understanding the key elements that make for meaningful work. He could instantly see how the Map of Meaning can help employers and employees work well together. “It removes the them and us.” He said, “This is incredible work. I wish you all the best.” We would love to see you at the masterclass.

Introduction to the Map of Meaning

Posted August 23, 2012 kmcgovern

Continuously improving performance within an environment of high risk and changing governance requirements is a challenge. Performance is affected by many factors, but no government department can deliver high quality services, policies and an effective regulatory environment without a committed workforce.

Meaningful work, or its absence, influences government outcomes through job satisfaction, motivation, absenteeism, work behaviour, engagement, empowerment, stress and the resulting productivity and performance.

Lani Morris, with whom we have been associated for many years, specialises in meaningful work. In partnership with Assoc. Prof. Marjolein Lips-Wiersma, she has developed a very practical tool which they describe in “The Map of Meaning: A Guide to Sustaining our Humanity in the World of Work“. This tool helps us to understand and work directly with the effect of meaningfulness and all staff can use it to strengthen meaning in their work and to understand and work directly with the effect of meaningfulness.

Lani Morris will be presenting a two day “Introduction to the Map of Meaning” intensive masterclass in Brisbane on 29th and 30th September 2012.

Indicators of the performance of a public sector entity

Posted September 28, 2011 kmcgovern

What do people want from public sector institutions? Do they want performance supported by verifiable statistics that indicate the institution is achieving outcomes expected by its peers? Or do they want their phone call answered, their concern understood and something done?

When executive managers determine the indicators against which an institution’s performance is to be assessed, are they reflecting the “performance” sought by the community?

A recent study asks whether accountability through reporting against performance indicators may be undermining trust.

Is the information age resulting in a reduction of social capital?

Don’t Count us Out:How an Over-reliance on accountability could undermine the public’s confidence in schools, business, government and more“, a report of Public Agenda and the Kettering Foundation, found there is a gap between how leaders and citizens define accountability. Citizens want agencies to be responsive and effective.

For the public, quantitative performance measures fall short of what they demand of institutions. Being able to reach someone who listens to you and treats your ideas and questions respectfully is another important dimension of accountability.

These findings presents a challenge to public sector leaders to provide their institution’s services to the community at a personal level, not just at a level that can be measured statistically.

Read the full report at:



Governments and how they change our behaviour

Posted August 02, 2011 kmcgovern

A Committee of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) has called for central agencies to “take steps to ensure that civil servants with responsibility for policy making have the necessary understanding of the importance of changing behaviour and can identify the most appropriate people to consult in their own departments about the development of behaviour change interventions.”

It found that “the evidence supports the conclusion that non-regulatory or regulatory measures used in isolation are often not likely to be effective and that usually the most effective means of changing behaviour at a population level is to use a range of policy tools, both regulatory and non-regulatory. Given that many factors may influence behaviour, this conclusion is perhaps unsurprising.”

The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology launched an inquiry into the use of behaviour change interventions as a means of achieving government policy goals and reported last month. See: Behaviour Change

Policies must be well designed if they are to work and be appropriately adapted in local areas. The report says:

“Although decentralising responsibility may provide a useful opportunity to tailor local behaviour change initiatives and to help build the evidence-base for applied behaviour change research at the population level, steps should be taken to ensure that interventions are evidence-based and properly evaluated. To this end, (the committee) recommend(ed) that the Government:

  • produce guidance for local authorities on how to use evidence effectively to design, commission and evaluate interventions and on the need to involve experts in the design and evaluation process, and provide advice on how to best use the tendering process to ensure value for money;
  • take steps to ensure that evaluation of interventions, including data collection and reporting of behaviour change outcomes, across local areas is of sufficiently high quality to allow comparisons and analysis;
  • takes steps to ensure that what is learnt by a local government in one place can be readily transmitted to other local governments; and
  • provide funding only for those schemes which are based on sound evidence. Demonstration of rigorous evaluation and contribution to the evidence-base should be a requirement for future funding for behaviour change interventions.”

The committee called for a change in the evaluation culture across Whitehall and noted effective evaluation requires that:

  • evaluation should be considered at the beginning of the policy design process. External evaluation expertise should be sought, where necessary, from the policy’s inception;
  • relevant outcome measures—as distinct from outputs—should be established at the beginning of the policy development process;
  • the duration of the evaluation process should be sufficiently long-term to demonstrate that an intervention has resulted in maintained behaviour change;
  • pilot studies, using population-representative samples, followed by controlled trials assessing objective outcomes should be used whenever practicable; and
  • sufficient funds should be allocated for evaluation, recognising that establishing what works, and why, is likely to result in better value for money in the long-term (paragraph 6.14).

Conclusions and Recommendations chapter.

The UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has launched an inquiry into sustainable development in the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was published in draft on 25 July 2011.

See: Sustainable Development in the National Planning Framework

Let us see what they find and how the approach is embraced by local communities throughout the UK.

Perversity in International Aid

Posted August 02, 2011 kmcgovern

The Outlaws who fuel wars and deliver aid.


Posted July 08, 2011 kmcgovern

Bio-Mimicry is an approach to learning from nature on how to adapt to our world sustainably. How do we create zero carbon food, reverse desertification and provide the water we need? Michael Pawlyn helps us to learn how to create sustainable design. He sets our souls ablaze with visions of a future that few of us have dreamt about.

At TEDSalon in London,  Fiorenzo Omenetto, Janine Benyus and Michael Pawlyn share their vision of what may be possible if humans learn from nature and apply its mysteries to meeting challenges in providing resources to sustain us.

Managing Assets to keep Body and Spirit Strong

Posted May 26, 2011 kmcgovern

Managing Assets to keep Body and Spirit Strong was delivered to the EAROPH Congress in Adelaide, South Australia in November 2010.

Some capital investments result in the improved well-being of a nation’s peoples. Some result in both the body and the spirit, individually and collectively, being weakened. The absence of capital investments, individually and collectively, results in either richness or poverty. Examples abound in Australia and in other countries in the Asia / Pacific region where capital investments in public assets have both undermined development and been instrumental in measurable and popularly acclaimed development.

The poor results are not intentional, although the problems of non-systemic management of public sector assets have been identified and discussed for at least half a century. A perusal of ancient Roman and Chinese literature will probably reveal similar problems in each civilisation. In 1999 AusAID drew attention to asset maintenance and the impact of under-financing of recurrent costs on the services available to developing country peoples using donor funded assets (AusAID 1999). At the turn of the century many agencies were identifying ways to strategically manage road stock, for example in 2001, the OECD’s expert group on asset management published its report on Asset Management for the Road Sector (See: and in 2002 the Worldbank held a seminar on road asset management (See:

Prior to that, in the 1980s, New Zealand began to implement financial management reforms partly to make transparent the cost of decisions to defer maintenance of the public sector asset stock. By identifying  and then finding the depreciation of each agency’s asset stock, the New Zealand Treasury was able to estimate the costs to be incurred if the value of the stock was to  be maintained.

By separating decisions affecting the cost of ownership of assets and their operation, the Treasury ensured that decisions to increase or decrease the size of public sector entities were transparent and not made by default. At the same time, New Zealand passed its Resources Management Act to ensure that its natural estate, and not only its built asset stock, was maintained. Governments’ Treasuries give  high priority to their financial assets as they fund annual expenditure, permanent expenditure (Pensions, judges salaries etc) and the scheduled annual capital expenditure.

The IMF and Banks, including multilateral institutions track cash flows. Public sector unions, suppliers, analysts, the media as well as beneficiaries have a stake in a nation’s financial assets. The credit ratings of nations set the upper limit to rates available to their private sector borrowers. Sovereign Wealth Funds may be used  to protect a developing nation from high fiscal volatility (IMF Working Paper 07/297) though the success of this strategy is not guaranteed.


For more: See the full paper in the following link: Managing Assets to keep Body and Spirit Strong.

Sustainability Reporting Guidelines

Posted April 07, 2011 kmcgovern

The Global Reporting Initiative has released its “Sustainability Reporting Guidelines“. These guidelines provide tools to assist organisations to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations”.

The guidelines has been developed “To support this expectation, and to communicate clearly and openly about sustainability” and includes “a globally shared framework of concepts, consistent language, and metrics.”

“It is the GlobalReporting Initiative’s (GRI) mission to fulfil this need by providing a trusted and credible framework for sustainability reporting that can be used by organizations of any size, sector, or location.

” Sustainability reporting is the practice of measuring, disclosing, and being accountable to internal and external stakeholders for organizational performance towards the goal of sustainable development. ‘Sustainability reporting’ is a broad term considered synonymous with others used to describe reporting on economic, environmental, and social impacts (e.g., triplebottom line, corporate responsibility reporting, etc.).”

“The Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (the Guidelines) consist of Principles for defining report content and ensuring the quality of reported information. It also includes Standard Disclosures made up of Performance Indicators and other disclosure items, as well as guidance on specific technical topics in reporting.”

I recommend the guidelines to you for your detailed consideration and adoption.

State of Australian Cities 2010

Posted March 28, 2011 kmcgovern

State of Australian Cities Report 2010 was published in March 2010 by the Major Cities Unit of Infrastructure Australia.  The report puts Australian cities in an international context, and reports on their population and settlement, productivity, sustainability, liveability, social inclusion and equity and governance.

It recognises that “Australia is one of the world’s more urbanised nations, with just over three-quarters of the population living in 17 major cities of 100,000 people or more and the majority of urban dwellers living in five cities—Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. …

Within the largest capitals, urban areas are growing rapidly, with net overseas migration seen as the main contributor to population growth. The local government areas of Wyndham, Melton and Whittlesea in Melbourne; Wanneroo, Swan and Rockingham in Perth and Ipswich in Brisbane are among the fastest and largest growth areas in the nation. In 2007–08 they experienced growth rates above 4 per cent and population increases of 4,000 or more for the year.”

This is the first report to provide a basis for a holistic study of Australian cities, measuring economic, environmental, social and demographic changes.

This report starts to address the information deficiency required to prepare that holistic study.

Infrastructure Australia reports to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

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