How Melbourne Water delivered the Future of Learning using co-creation and collaboration

 

The Challenge

Melbourne Water has been planning and innovating for Melbourne’s future for over 130 years. The organisation is responsible for managing and protecting the city’s water supply ensuring reliable, high-quality drinking water is available now and into the future. They also ensure reliable sewerage, healthy waterways, and drainage and flood management.

 

With increasing pressure of global trends that effect all organisations such as climate change and population growth and micro trends such as the decentralisation of cities, Melbourne Water recognised that the only way to continue delivering to its objective was by building a resilient organisation. They recognised that learning was the gateway to build resilience for the future. However, to change what the organisation will learn and how they will learn in the future, needed to be deeply embedded in a why.

 

In late 2020, Melbourne Water approached Naked Ambition to redesign the future of learning at the organisation. We knew that by using a mix of design and futures thinking techniques, we could co-create a new learning narrative that would capture the why and a new learning framework that would capture the how and the what.

 

The Outcome

The ideas that emerged from the organisational-wide sessions allowed for a new learning framework to be developed for the organisation which truly captured the experiences from across the business. The workshops themselves showcased a new way of learning and collaborating – creating the perfect platform to showcase what it truly means for Melbourne Water to be a Learning Organisation.

 

We brought over 30 learning champions over a span of 4 sessions, where we brainstormed key habits that would bring the capability, mindsets and behaviours of a learning organisation to life. We also supported the groups in creating an implementation plan to consider how they might make the habits Obvious, Attractive, Easy and Satisfying (qualities of an Atomic Habit!)

 

The Process

Through our discovery sessions with the learning team, we agreed that designing for the future meant deeply connecting with the why of learning. We recognised that some thinking had been done around this internally, and the narrative of the learning organisation, one where we move away from learning being a once off event to being a continuous and every activity, was emerging. It was important for this narrative to be adopted across the organisation, particularly by the leadership.

 

The first session included executives from across the organisation where we created an exercise around the future state statements that captured the essence of a learning organisation. The executives brainstormed the what behind each statement, that is the capabilities, behaviours and mindsets that it would take to reach the desired future state.

 

This technique building back from a vision statement, allowed for new thinking and ideas to emerge, whilst having any bias put aside. We also used the futures triangle technique to map the current state of the organisation – brainstorming and addressing the blockers (weight of the past) and enablers (pushes towards the future) that effect the narrative of the learning organisation. This is allowed for robust capabilities, behaviours and mindsets to emerge that would truly support the new narrative of the learning organisation.

 

After exploring the why and the what, it was time to dive deeper into the how. The design team decided to use a co-design approach through which the people across the organisations, AKA the users, of this new program would create and sustain how the learning organisation is brought to life.

 

The second series of sessions brought together “learning champions” from across the organisation, who were committed to bringing their experience to the program and leading by example back in the business. It was recognised that a successful how would show up in the daily flow of work, scaled across the business and be a vehicle that is accessible to all – whether on site, in the office or at home. Habits became the perfect vehicle to action the how.

 

Ultimately, this process allowed for a learning framework that truly reflects the needs of Melbourne Water and the culture of the organisation.