Embracing Bold Change with Madeleine Culbert


Thought Leadership

We’ve been working with IPAA NSW and a combination of our Sprouta Partners to help the organisation with a bold transformation and restructure of their workforce.

What problem were you facing that made you seek Sprouta’s services?

In 2019 we had a confirmed and elected premier in New South Wales. One of her objectives was to conduct some significant financial savings in the operations of the New South Wales public service. Within a small handful of months, I could see for our professional development courses tap was actually tightening and turning off very quickly. As a result, we weren't receiving the same level of course bookings that we would normally see in a given period.

Just whilst I was starting to get my head around that the Covid Health pandemic then arrived. I just knew I had to do something radical.

I then contacted some people in my network, and I was introduced to Sprouta. Fortunately, they became my transformation partners, and I could see very quickly in Sprouta that they would be able to respond in a way that would assist.

Why did you choose Sprouta?

Part of the journey in working with Sprouta was the clever and well constructed questions they asked me. At the outset, they actually said to me, what does success look like? What does the end look like? And therefore having experts who can help you think through the questions and ask the questions that help you get clarity of what you're trying to achieve is a good place to start. And actually, at least you know your goal is clear, and then really the next steps were holding my hand through all the thinking and coming up with a roadmap of what needed to be done.

How did Sprouta help you overcome your challenges?

I think, by sort of breaking all the elements of the organisation down, doing some research and analysis around other organisations that was similar to IPPA New South Wales in terms of what transformation could look like. I don't know we had, I think, eight or nine different elements of the change, but it was the entire business. But I think breaking it up and unpacking each area, coming up with a logic of how to then approach each element.

What surprised you most about working with Sprouta?

What obviously comes to mind easily is the detailed coordination of the project team. So I didn't ever really need to have to do that myself when I was ready to work with that next particular person in the team, they were up to speed. They also knew how I was feeling, where I was at. It was just remarkable. I never worked with a consulting team that is so well coordinated and in sync with each other that totally surprised me.

What’s been the value of the partnership with Sprouta to help you achieve your mission at IPAA?

The fact that they helped me connect our purpose as an organisation internally to what we were trying to achieve externally through building a new culture of the organisation. But I think working with the Sprouta team is that they they really helped me get to the nub of what needed to be well designed in the organisation in order to be able to reflect that externally.

So working through the culture focusing on that goal, unpacking what it means to build the culture that you need in the organisation in order for it to be successful.

What are you most proud of achieving?

I think what I am proud of achieving is a really successful, bold transformation and a full full restructure. I'm really proud that I had the method and I just followed it. I trusted it, I followed it, I executed. The other thing is having the utmost sensitivity to stakeholders, to staff, to the customers, to my Board, and instilling confidence in them, and then being confident in what we were doing, having their support. If they weren't confident, they would have had more involvement.

What is something you know to be true that pushes the status quo?

I'd like to answer this question, I guess, from an a professional association perspective.  

Associations do not have to make change or operate on the smell of an oily rag. I know we say, you know, we keep the money on the field. We are very much around doing a lot with little resources. I actually, I don't believe that's true, and I thought that originally, and I do not believe it's true, and I don't think it's actually responsible.

You do need to invest in change, resourcing, advice, leadership, support systems. And I think that in order for associations to continue to be able to serve their members and their customers, stakeholders. They actually do need to invest in bold change, because they don't think incremental change is enough. It's slow, it's hard, and it rarely makes a difference.

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