When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease almost three years ago now, I wrote just ten words in my journal — “I can’t believe this is the story of my life.”

This is a short post about stories and the power they hold in our lives. It is mainly personal, but weaves into the professional. It’s surprising, but quite lovely, to see the way my personal and professional life seem to be entangling themselves in unexpected ways.

I recently started seeing a psychoanalyst. I started seeing him because I wanted to develop a relationship with someone who will be able…


Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

I’ve been thinking a lot about certainty lately. And uncertainty, too.

It goes without saying that there are vast swathes of literature on certainty. This piece doesn’t draw deeply on that literature; rather, it stems from my experiences and observations as a practitioner working in the field of reimagining government.

It began with a conversation a few months ago, which the 3A Institute and the Menzies Foundation convened around leadership. As part of that conversation, Genevieve Bell spoke about the need for leaders to create a sense of certainty for those around them; perhaps now more than ever.

At first…


Jeremy Beck, Unsplash

Late last year, Nicole and I hosted an initial conversation which was designed to bring people together who self-identified as working in the space of reimagining government in Australia.

We didn’t know exactly what we wanted from this gathering, or where it would lead. We simply wanted to bring people together to create a space for new conversations, connections, and explorations. The rest we would work out as we went.

The conversation went well, and people seemed interested in continuing, so we met again earlier this year for a second gathering. We centred the conversation around the question “what are…


Sometimes, you learn about an idea that really sticks with you. This happened to me recently when I learnt about “legibility” — a concept which James C Scott introduces in his book Seeing like a State.

Just last week, I was involved in two conversations which highlighted how pervasive the logic of legibility continues to be in influencing how governments think and act. But first, what is legibility?

Defining Legibility

Legibility describes the very human tendency to simplify complex systems in order to exert control over them.

In this blog, Venkatesh Rao offers a recipe for legibility:

  • Look at a complex and…


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“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong” — HL Mencken

This week, we had our final CPI team meeting for 2020. To begin, we were asked to share what we were most proud of this year. People offered lovely reflections — “becoming a mother”; “growing closer with my partner”; “joining a new team and building relationships despite never having met anyone in person.”

As I listened to people speak, I wasn’t sure what I was going to say. When it came to my turn to share, I went with what felt right at…


Photo by William Navarro on Unsplash

In late January this year, after almost three years in London, my little family and I landed back in Melbourne.

2020 has not been the year we — or anyone — expected. It has been challenging beyond belief (and I say this recognising that the challenges have been, for many people, far more significant than for me). And yet, for me, 2020 has also been one of significant growth and excitement as I’ve begun working with the Centre for Public Impact (CPI) to reimagine government in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ).

As I approach my six-month anniversary with CPI, I…


This opinion paper is part of City of Melbourne’s upcoming“City of the Future Event” and was originally published by the City of Melbourne.

Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash

Imagine you’re a gardening enthusiast named Andy. You’ve noticed that the lettuce in your veggie patch is being damaged. You investigate and discover that caterpillars appear to be the cause. So, you kill the caterpillars.

Problem solved, right? Wrong.

While killing the caterpillars works in the short-term, it doesn’t work as a long-term solution. This is because the caterpillars are (unbeknownst to you) controlling a population of other insects. …


The Centre for Public Impact has partnered with the Australia and New Zealand School of Government to create a series of six webinars about reimagining government. This article shares why we wanted to do this, and what we hope to get out of the series.

Image courtesy of ANZSOG

Last Thursday 21 May, the Centre for Public Impact, a BCG Foundation, and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government hosted the first in a series of six webinars, focused on reimagining government.

We have been very busy designing the programme, securing speakers, and testing out different approaches to audience engagement, which means we…


Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

A few weeks ago, I published an article on reimagining government post crisis. Drawing on Adrian Brown’s Manifesto for Better Government, I set out a vision for a shift from “the service paradigm” to “the enablement paradigm”, underpinned by a version of government which: values the importance of relationships; shares power; thinks in systems; leads with humility; and prioritises learning.

Donella Meadows defines a paradigm as follows: “The shared idea in the minds of society, the great big unstated assumptions — unstated because unnecessary to state; everyone already knows them — constitute that society’s paradigm, or deepest set of beliefs…


Historically, dramatic events like those we are currently experiencing have acted as a catalyst for radical policy and paradigm shifts. With this in mind, this piece offers a vision for a reimagining of government post crisis.

Photo by Luz Mendoza on Unsplash

We’re only in April, but it’s fair to say that 2020 is already shaping up to be an incredibly challenging year. Still reeling from the devastating 2019–20 bushfires in Australia, we are now confronting the Coronavirus, which is changing life as we know it.

Right now, we find ourselves at a critical juncture; a confusing, somewhat frightening period in human history. Yet, we are…

Thea Snow

Reimagining government

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