Institute man walking



Three capability based research initiatives.

Capability based research initiatives are required to transform the industry by defining new capabilities to be adopted.

These new capabilities will enable Organisations across the Public and Private sector to implement and capitalise on the Centre findings.

1. Safe Harbour (Legal Construct)
Currently Industry has limited freedom to share their unique ground breaking ideas and intellectual property with Government.
This is because probity and procedure requires total transparency and equal opportunity to compete on a fair level playing field.
This constrains innovation because it doesn’t reward it, in fact it effectively penalises innovative organisations.
‘Safe Harbour’ provides a legal haven where the supplier can engage openly and candidly with their Government Client with total confidence that their ideas, copyright and intellectual property will remain confidential and protected.

2. Option Evaluation & Selection Apples & Oranges (Business Management)
Currently Government procurement decisions are generally made by comparing ‘apples with apples’ (E.g. Lowest cost provider evaluation)
This is because decisions made upon common data elements with detailed requirements and specifications are transparent and can be easily justified.
This constrains innovation because it effectively eliminates ambiguity and ‘ambiguity is where innovation is born’.
‘Option Evaluation & Selection’ welcomes and harnesses ambiguity. Ambiguity brings ‘freedom of thought’ and breakthrough ideas. The challenge with option evaluation in ambiguity is the necessity to consider wildly varying concepts and ideas. That is; the necessity to evaluate ‘apples with oranges’ in fact, ‘apples with aeroplanes’.

3. Accountability in Uncertainty (Management Theory)
Currently procurement contracts and delivery agreements are often based on detailed requirements and specifications.
This is because an audit or compliance based governance model is easy to measure, track and score.
This constrains innovation because a detailed ‘tick-a-box’ approach assumes a high degree of certainty and simplicity.
‘Accountability in Uncertainty’ provides the flexibility for Leadership to shape the direction and craft the solution without cause for reverting to outdated pre-conceived expectations. It empowers the team to respond to shifting environments and emergent issues the way they need to, particularly when executing a large, complex, multi-faceted, highly contextual and ambiguous initiative.

Three context based research initiatives.

1. Fundamental drivers of this (procurement) behaviour (Sociology)
Why do we as a nation default to full transparency, ambiguity avoidance and detailed engineering requirements as our basis for probity and decision making?
It’s certainly not how it works in the private sector and evidence suggests that this is not how it works in other developed nations.
Sociological suggestions indicate that perhaps we as a nation possess some unique historical characteristics that have culminated towards this behaviour.
Whatever it is; in order to transform we ought to understand where and whom we are transforming from….and how we got there in the first place.
Some emerging hypotheses are as follows:

  • A Penal Colony: Australian Government was originally established as a gaol with an inherent intention to direct and control….not to innovate.
  • Fortress Australia: Border security and governance is appropriately thorough and rigorous particularly when it comes to flora and fauna. This is a prominent and very well regarded mechanism that is considered to operate very effectively. Have we transported these procedures across to other departments and agencies?
  • No Board of Directors: Private sector organisations generally have a Board of Directors who approve and take accountability for innovation risks even if they fail. Without a Board of Directors risks are rarely taken because when they do, accountability sometimes emerges as scapegoating. A Board of Directors will focus on learning from mistakes. An organisation without Board accountability will tend to avoid mistakes.
  • Projects and Procurement is a distributed capability: Unlike Legals, Treasury and Technology, Projects and Procurement do not have the benefit of hierarchical accountability. This means there isn’t a dedicated agency or department or minister to lead the way. As a result, approaches and methodologies are shared at an operational level rather than a strategic level which means more often than not, new capabilities and controls are introduced in the form of new processes and procedures.

2. Defining the biggest impediments to Mega Project Productivity (Market Research)
The Helmsman research team are consistently seeking and validating the biggest issues and maintaining a pipeline of research initiatives.

3. Economic Benefits Modelling (Economic Modelling)
The Helmsman Centre for Mega Projects is committed to delivering a measurable impact on Australia’s economy and GDP.

This is why we are committed to creating a mechanism to measure it.