40 people. 19 Organisations. 3 hours. Mapping current climate risk research associated with infrastructure planning and decision making to identify areas of interest, overlap and gaps in research that will shape the future of Australian infrastructure.

In partnership with Infrastructure Australia, Infrastructure NSW and Building Queensland, ISMOTION supported the design and facilitation of stakeholders across the federal government, state government and industry to collectively map recent and underway research to enable short to long-term planning and decision making for Australian infrastructure.

The workshop conducted on March 30, 2020, identified more than 70 projects including their purpose and contributing organisations before participants explored and discussed the overlaps, gaps and other key insights across the network.

Members of the partnering organisations, supported by ISMOTION, worked together to align on the desired outcomes, design the participant experience, gather the necessary participants, drive the workshop outcomes and progress the collaboration beyond the workshop. 

To maximise the value of the live workshop, three guiding principles were embraced:

  1. Find the requisite level of detail to support the insight we seek to gain,
  2. Don’t ask people to do together what they can do alone, and
  3. Onboard participants to the process so they can arrive ready to work together.

Finding the requisite level of detail for insight

Finding the sweet spot in the level of detail is a continuous process for all of us, too little and we might not understand it or see connections, too much and we expand the process and often delay progress. 

We knew there was a significant volume of effort being invested in research associated with climate risk, some targeting broad industry interests and others more localised or organisation specific, and we believe that the complexity of this topic ultimately requires a systematic view. 

Our aim, as a first step, was not to take a deep dive into the volumes of research but to understand it enough to see the connections across bodies of research, and so we invited participants to arrive at the workshop ready to share the ‘questions their organisation seeks to answer in relation to climate risk’ and the ‘projects their organisation is leading or contributing to in order to identify, assess and quantify climate risk’. 

We built a platform that enabled participants to visually represent their interests and contributions and to demonstrate connection across organisations and bodies of research. 

This visualisation then enabled cross-stakeholder conversations to identify overlaps (where multiple bodies of work are similar), gaps (research areas that would be useful but are not knowingly being undertaken) and other key insights taken from this networked perspective of the topic.

As a result of this engagement, participating organisations were able to see and make new connections that will strengthen their work, and to learn about work that others are undertaking that will directly offset their need to invest in similar work. 

The workshop closed with a completed map that can be further utilised by all participants and there was a shared desire to continue to connect as a network, to advance the collective understanding and impact of climate risk research.

Don’t ask people to do together what they can do alone

Our aim was to focus the live workshop itself on cross-stakeholder dialogue that would drive insight, yet we also believed there were several bodies of work that participants would benefit from knowing more about. 

Often this sort of information would be shared through pre-reading, or presentations at the beginning of the workshop, neither of these hit the mark for us. 

Our lead time was tight and gaining the attention of participants in the week leading into the workshop would be difficult. We also knew that using time in the workshop would detract from the time to do the work together and additionally there would be value in allowing participants to easily consume information ahead of time so they could reflect further on the topic, even subconsciously.

To address these goals we captured short (10-20 minute) audio interviews with leaders of five major programs of work and distributed these to participants along with supporting information (should they wish to explore them further). 

These included: 

Ben Jones of Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) on the Electricity Sector Climate Information (ESCI) project,

Toby Gray of Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) on the Infrastructure Sustainability Rating Scheme, 

Chris Lee of Climate KIC Australia on the Climate Measurement Standards Initiative (CSMI)

Karl Mallon of Climate Risk on the Cross Dependency Initiative (XDI)

Russ Wise of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on the range of projects spanning their involvement.

Not only did these audio interviews provide interesting and useful information for participants but they allowed us to engage in a continued dialogue with participants that would stimulate thought on the topic and objectives of the workshop, while this latter point may be hard to quantify we have no doubt it contributed to the success of the workshop.

Onboard participants to the process so they can arrive ready to work together

No doubt you’ve experienced the frustration and impact of technology not working for people. 

The climate risk collaboration required participants to use collaboration tools that would be new to most of them and so we invested in making sure participants could access and use the technology ahead of the session. 

To achieve this we created mock versions of the tools which guided them to practice some of the functions that would be required in the workshop, and additionally, we offered a channel to book one-on-one support calls to work through any issues individuals were experiencing.

Then, within the workshop, we created a breakout channel for anyone requiring technical or process guidance so as to allow the conversation and work in the ‘main room’ to maintain focus and momentum.

If you’re curious to know more about how we approached this, or perhaps how we might work with you to approach something as ambitious, we’d love to hear from you.

More information on this collaboration and the results will be linked here once it is available for publication. If you’d like to know when this comes available, register your details below.