Innergise – a story of empathy and opportunity

Getting things done is all about relationships

We all have moments in life that shape us and the work we choose to do. Usually it’s the moments that challenge us that make the greatest difference. Two such moments shaped Innergise.

In 1998, I started the first of several projects with the River Murray Catchment Board in South Australia. The projects addressed water allocation, drought and resource management – issues critical not only to regional development but also to the prosperity of the State. On one particular day, I had to present and discuss our work with the Board at their meeting in Murray Bridge, a regional city about an hour’s drive east of Adelaide. As I drove to the meeting I mentally prepared for what I felt was an important discussion. I arrived early and, with a bit of time to kill, decided to get a coffee from a local bakery. Inside the bakery, huddled at a corner table, was a young family sharing a small pot of tea and toast. The family gave an appearance of being poor and struggling. The situation shocked me, not because of their apparent circumstances but because of the stark contrast with the frame of mind I’d been in only seconds before. There I was, preoccupied with lofty social issues which suddenly seemed trivial and disconnected with the daily reality for this family. Sure, I could develop a strong academic argument linking their plight with the health of the River Murray, but it would seem an indulgence lacking empathy. Were any of my team working on the Board’s projects engaging with the real social dimensions of the work? I thought not. Indeed, I still observe that many projects are scoped and delivered without genuine empathy for the people they aim to serve.

A few years later I experienced my own crisis – a crisis of confidence in a professional sense. I was working in an area of our office affectionately dubbed the “Doctors’ Surgery” because most of the people in that space had gained doctorates in their fields of expertise. I too had received a doctorate. My research was broad, exploring issues of sustainable urban development encompassing planning, economics, infrastructure engineering, community engagement and decision making. By contrast my colleagues had delved deeply into their tighter research questions. Somehow my work felt less substantial and worthy, undermining my confidence and career direction. With support and sage counsel, I came to realise that I did possess a valuable skill, an expertise even, in integration; that is, the ability to perceive, connect and translate issues and opportunities across disciplines. I have since read, studied and cultivated this skill. Now, with the combination of experience, tools and mental models, I know I can help to diagnose complex problems and generate solutions which people recognise as being substantially better. In a sense it’s like my professional life is only now beginning.

Today in our fast, hyper-connected world, getting things done is all about relationships – between people and things. An ability to perceive and engage with complexity in its human, technical, economic and political technicolour is central to crafting solutions that people will engage with and support. Indeed, when we bring humanistic, systems thinking and intentional design to bear, it reveals the enormous potential for profitable, sustainable solutions that we’ve been over-looking.

This is why Innergise exists. Through insight, inclusion, intention and innovation we can generate the energy, application and results to transform our public and private enterprises and the prosperity they create. Much greater returns can be achieved from our existing human, financial and natural capital. I’ve seen it happen, I’ve been part of the process, and I know it can be scaled up.

So Innergise exists to realise that potential, enabling and supporting the success of people with the aspiration, courage, wit and humility to do the work that makes a difference. Are you one of those people?



  1. I think lots of us are having a crisis over what we can contribute. It’s not an easy time and there is a continual battle between feeling dumb and not having anything to offer and realising that “integration and true insight” are valuable skills in a complex world.

Comments are closed.