Archive for August, 2012

Collaborator Profile – Rod Brown (Canberra)

August 13, 2012

Who and where are you?

Rod Brown, CEO of the Cockatoo Network (and APD Consulting) based in Canberra, Australia’s capital.

What’s your job?

I have two interrelated jobs. The first is to connect Cockatoo members to other collaborative people and their best practice initiatives – and this blog is part of that.

The second job is to advise clients on how to scope their ideas in order to access grants and/or attract investor interest.

What’s exciting you at present?

I believe that many intractable development issues can be addressed if government agencies put greater emphasis on engaging the right companies and the right people i.e. those with open minds and skill sets to match the challenge.

For example, I am excited by the potential for:
– aid agencies to leverage their best companies into aid projects, so that sustainable outcomes can be achieved.
– similar regions in different countries to share their technology and ideas, thereby building stronger global supply chains.

What are your top 3 tips on how to collaborate?

1. All parties need to win – while it may sometimes be hard to identify the win for some of the parties, if there is sufficient trust among the parties, things will pan out OK.
2. Every project or idea needs 3-4 champions to maintain forward momentum. And these champions will invariably have different personalities and mindsets. So don’t lose faith if there are a few rough spots along the road.
3. Find ways to address ‘coordination failure’ – someone has to be charged with connecting the dots.

What collaborative projects would interest Cockatoo readers?

I’m usually involved in around a dozen exciting collaborative projects at any one time. The top five currently are:

Sunrise Project – this is a joint venture with my friends in the USA (David Dodd et al) to link networks/clusters of companies across nations to drive trade, aid and investment. Please check our website ( and contact me if you’re looking for overseas partners.

Pacific Disaster Management – we are currently in talks with two Pacific nations re possibility of support for upgrading of coastal shipping and disaster management generally. Talks with insurance underwriters are also planned.

Regional Branding/Labeling – we have prepared a scoping paper on the subject – our aim is to help regions to help consumers appreciate what they are eating! Contact us for the paper.

Cultural Exhibitions – we are seeking regions and towns interested in historical and cultural exhibitions incorporating items currently in storage in Canberra insittuions e.g. National Museum, National Librarry, Film & Sound Archive, War Memorial. Contact us if you’d like to be involved.

Solar Energy – a serious entrepreneur has a company, HydroSun, seeking councils and companies interested in investing in state-of-art plant, with possibility of Clean Energy grant. The technology requires a minimum 1 ha of permanent water.

Rod Brown
CEO, Cockatoo Network
Canberra A.C.T. Australia
0412 – 922559; 02 – 62317261

Lobbying – and the role of your local MPs

August 3, 2012

Last month I suggested that when lobbying, it’s important to decide your pitch, identify your targets and tap the self-interest of federal ministers and agencies. The last point also includes your local federal MP because they too have a strong self interest in progressing things within their electorate.

In my experience at least, local MPs are a much under-appreciated resource in getting initiatives over the line with Ministers and funding agencies. They generally should:

1. Do not wear their politics on their sleeves or aggravate the other side of politics – especially important if your local MP is in Opposition.
2. Put some intellectual and personal effort into the equation i.e. their letters of support have some substance, and the local MP follows up with minister or relevant departmental officers.
3. Network very well – good local MPs connect the dots and help to ensure that commitments are met.
4. Have many face-to-face meetings, thereby building an easy rapport with their constituents.

Examples of local MPs in Australia with these characteristics are Russell Broadbent (McMillan), John Cobb (Parkes), Gary Nairn (ex Eden Monaro), Rob Oakeshott (Lyne) and Michael McCormack (Riverina).

I should caution that local MPs have to pick and choose the initiatives that they’re really going to support. Accordingly local councils should be made aware of these, so that they can tailor their lobbying efforts. Nothing worse than running hard if your local MP is running dead.

On a related matter, local MPs can be key players if you want to run my patented Red Wine Strategy. I should explain that this is a crude over-simplification. It involves local stakeholders organising an event – a dinner or a luncheon – at which a senior politician is required to stay for more than the obligatory few minutes.

As previously flagged, Colin Steele (Section51) and I have joined forces to run one day workshops around Australia. They are designed to assist local councillors, senior managers and middle managers to maximise their access to federal decision makers and grant programs. Please contact us for details.

This article appears in the August 2012 edition of LG Focus