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We are all EARS – turning ideas into action

The QWMN have been active now since the middle of June 2018, listening to practitioners across the sector, from State Government, from consulting firms, from water utilities, local government, NRM groups and more. We've been translating what we have heard on needs, gaps and opportunities across the Queensland water modelling and use sector into the design and delivery of Community of Practice (CoP) events ranging from the small (20 people) to the large (150+), both face to face and online. And occasionally combining both! What we haven't done before is institute a way to turn the learning and dialogue that happens between practitioners at events into action. Well, now we are! And we are all EARS!

By EARS we mean the ‘event action and response service’ – it is a function that we have included in the QWMN 3CP (Capability, Collaboration and Capacity Program). The idea is quite simple really – after each CoP event the QWMN 3CP team sits down to document the gaps, opportunities, strengths and challenges along the water modelling pipeline that the CoP event was designed to address in some way (read more here about water modelling pipelines).

The output of that documentation process is a pipeline map of gaps, opportunities, strengths and challenges (see the pipeline diagram here as an example). This map then feeds into a process whereby the 3CP team look for ways to help bring some of the opportunities to life. The figure below shows this.

One of our underlying logics is that collectively and in dialogue, practitioners from across the sector are best placed to be able to identify what needs to happen to strengthen particular water modelling pipelines. So we engage practitioners to design events, then follow up.

The EARS process envisages a number of possible outcomes of considering the outputs (opportunities and needs) of a QWMN CoP event:

(1) We decide to do nothing i.e. the opportunity or need is not sufficiently important

(2) We just do it i.e. some practitioners from the CoP event and/or elsewhere want to pick up the opportunity or need and run with it – great, we can help where we can

(3) We refer the opportunity or need to the QWMN Secretariat i.e. we act as a relay for potential ideas for the QWMN RD&I program to consider

(4) We look to broker the opportunity into action i.e. we work to refine it and help to catalyse a partnership to undertake the work and funding to realise it

The last course of action is delivered by the Strategic Partnerships Group (SPG), a newly formed entity comprised currently of representatives from DES, Aurecon, BMT, Alluvium, Deltares, UQ, QUT, Griffith (Australian Rivers Institute and International WaterCentre) E2DesignLab and WaterTech.

The SPG has met twice so far – once to develop the principles and process of operation (the ToR of the group) and secondly to examine the outputs from one of the recent CoP events on landscape restoration for opportunities of sector significance that it could act to help bring to life.

We will be running an article soon on the work of the SPG so won’t disclose more here except to warmly invite participants. We have agreed to operate openly and transparently and are very keen to hear from any organisation who wishes to commit to regularly participating in workshop discussions (once every 4-6 weeks) to help shape and broker future sector wide opportunities of significance. Please email me here.

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