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October 25: Innovation

By Leaders Forum 2017 participant Rachel Meinig

The final Leaders Forum program day for 2017 gave participants the opportunity to reflect on the
year and ask the question ‘where to next?’ How will we use our opportunities and experiences from
the year and give back to the community? How will we contribute in a meaningful way? How will we
find a cause that we are passionate about? With the help of guest facilitator Geoff Sharp, we were
able to explore these questions and collaborate towards an outcome.

The day was organised by Geoff in a unique way. We were introduced before the session to the
‘flipped classroom’ concept. Essentially, this concept focuses on individual learning through
readings, videos etc before the group meets. The idea is that when the group does meet, because
everyone has studied the materials beforehand, the time together as a group is focused on learning
from each other and working together as a group.

The main concept introduced through the pre-reading materials was the idea of ‘collective impact’.
Collective impact is the concept that a collaborative approach across government, business, the notfor-profit
sector and the community is required in order to achieve lasting change when tackling
complex social issues. This idea was discussed in great detail throughout the day and formed the
basis of our thinking around how we can best assist within the community.

The day also provided the opportunity for self-reflection on the experiences we have had this year
and how our perspectives on leadership might have changed. There were some interesting
reflections on the most memorable aspects of the year which were largely centred around people. It
was the people that we met over the year that remained in our minds and influenced our thinking in
a significant way. There was a lot of talk about authentic leaders – leaders who are honest, genuine
and strive towards achieving goals that align with their core values. With that in mind, how could
we, as a group, find projects that align with our values and allow us to strive towards authentic
leadership?

Over lunch, we had the opportunity to meet with several community leaders and discuss some of
the challenges the Ballarat region is currently facing. Discussions centred around community health
and wellbeing, renewable energy, homelessness, food security, promotion of the Ballarat brand, and
technological innovation. From these discussions, several Leaders Forum participants expressed
interest in getting involved in developing a food bank/hub in Ballarat. This was discussed in detail
amongst the group and, from some members, there was great passion and excitement but, from
others, that passion was just not there. From our discussions on collaboration, we wanted to work
together as group and capitalise on the bonds we had formed over the year but how could we do
this if not all of us were passionate about the idea?

What we did agree upon was that there was great potential within the group. We all come from
diverse backgrounds and have the skills and abilities to influence in different ways. Discussions then
turned to the previous 11 years of the Leaders Forum program. The potential to tap into the skills,
passion and energy within this diverse group of people seemed even more exciting. How could we
collaborate with the previous 295 Leaders Forum graduates? How could we channel our energy and
skills into the most appropriate areas?

Our challenge now is to come up with a strategy to answer these questions. From our adoption of
the idea of collective impact and collaboration, I have hope that, as a group, we will be up to the
challenge.