2016 Australian Communities Forum Recap

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Last Thursday, McCrindle Research and R2L&Associates were proud to present the Sydney Australian Communities Forum (ACF) at Customs House in Sydney. The ACF featured 15 brilliant speakers and 4 jam-packed sessions.

 

We began the day with tea and coffee on arrival before kicking off our first session, which focused on the research results from the Australian Communities Trends Report into Australia's not-for-profit sector. Before we launched into the findings we received a warm welcome from the honourable Catherine Cusack MLC, Parliamentary secretary to the Premier of NSW, and Professor Kerryn Phelps AM, Deputy Lord Mayor on behalf of our principal event sponsor, the City of Sydney.


SESSION 1 - introduction

Mark McCrindle opened Session 1 with an introduction to Australia's generational landscape and gave a snapshot of the key factors influencing Australian communities and some surprising findings from the just-completed Australian Communities Report. Mark provided an overview of giving in Australia, indicating that 4 in 5 Australians give financially to charities / not-for-profits, and that 1 in 4 give at least once a month.


McCrindle Team Leader of Analytics, Annie Phillips continued to share about the quantitative insights from the research, identifying the top 7 causes Australians support (Children's charities, medical research, animal welfare, disaster response in Australia, disability, homelessness and mental health), the 5 charity essentials and the top communication channels. Annie also provided an explanation of the Net Promotor Score (29) and Net Culture Score (21) for the sector, which were both very high.


Sophie Rention, Research Executive at McCrindle then communicated some of the key qualitative findings from the Australian Communities Trends Report. Sophie highlighted the key blockers (e.g. complex giving process) and enablers (e.g. personal connection) to charitable giving for Australians, as well as the next steps for charities including creating multi-tiered levels of engagement, community building, effective communication of results and fun and engaging experiences. 


We then heard from John Rose, principal at R2L&Associates about what this research means for community organisations and how they can best respond to the findings. In his insights and applications John reminded our delegates that in the midst of changes in the marketplace, trust and relevance is essential. John then presented 5 key issues for charities to keep in mind when engaging with the ever-changing supporter which included aligning, defining, communicating, engaging and leading.

Each of our delegates also received a copy of The Australian Communities Trends Infographic which contains the top line findings from the national study into Australian giving and how charities can engage.

 

SESSION 2 - keynotes

After a networking break over morning tea Eliane Miles, Research Director at McCrindle shared an engaging keynote presentation on Leading teams and managing change in transformative times. In the post linear, post literate and post logical workforce, Eliane reminded us that to engage and inspire our workplaces we need to ensure a culture of contribution, challenge and celebration within our teams. To attract and retain, to lead and inspire, we need to cultivate authenticity. 


Our next keynote, Josh Hawkins emphasised the importance of creativity in social media and marketing campaigns. Josh showed us that creative and fun campaigns are the ones that get cut through. Josh also inspired us to be authentic with our marketing and leadership to under 30's. Through humour, engaging videos and key takeaways, Josh's presentation reminded us that when you "Give someone a task you'll get what you ask for". But when you "Give them a vision you'll get more than you could ever ask for". 


Our final keynote speaker before lunch was Ivan Motley, found of .id The Population Experts. Specialising in using data to inform decisions and shape the future, Ivan and his team talked us through how analytics can shape the quality of education, housing, health, the environment and education. Using some practical case studies, the id. team showed us why we should be using local data to understand our communities, and how information and data can help transform communities.


SESSION 3 - streams

Stream 1: Understanding Australian Communities

In this stream Geoff Brailey, Research Executive at McCrindle began by giving an overview of the next generation of volunteers and donors, and tips on how to engage and motivate them. This was followed by Nic Bolto who encouraged us to do the hard work as leaders and how to effectively implement insights in organisations. Our last stream speaker for this session was James Ward, a Director at NBRS Architecture who showed us, through a case study, how understanding spaces and building communities can help to improve people's lives.

Stream 2: Engaging Australian Communities

In Stream 2, McCrindle Team Leader of Communications Ashley McKenzie began this session by giving practical tips and insights on how to communicate complex data in message saturated times. Following on was Salvation Army officer Bryce Davies who shared how The Salvation Army build community in areas of social challenge by creating communities focused on respect, encouragement and belonging. Our final stream 2 speaker Greg Low, co-founder of R2L&Associates gave us five essentials to make your next marketing or fundraising campaign thrive.


SESSION 4

Following afternoon tea and some great networking, we gathered back together to hear from our last two speakers, Caitlin Barrett from Love Mercy and Andy Gourley from Red Frogs. 


Caitlin Barrett, CEO of the Love Mercy Foundation kicked off our afternoon session by telling us the engaging story of how Love Mercy was founded after Australian Olympian met Ugandan Olympian and former child soldier Julius Achon. After sharing the vision and mission of Love Mercy, Caitlin shared how they engage the community through telling personal stories, the importance of finding the right audience for the right story and telling the right details to provide an experience.  


Our last speaker for the day was Andy Gourley, founder and director of Red Frogs Australia. After having founded Red Frogs in 1997, Red Frogs is now the largest support network in Australia for Schoolies, festivals and universities. Through the use of engaging stories and hard-hitting realities, Andy effectively communicated how Red Frogs was founded and the crucial role they play in safeguarding vulnerable young people at events like Schoolies and festivals.  



We would like to thank all of our speakers and delegates for making the 2016 Australian Communities Forum a fantastic event. A big thank you to our sponsors, The City of Sydney, Pro Bono Australia, Hope 103.2 and ConnectingUp as well for your support in making this event happen.

What attendees will hear at the Australian Communities Forum 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Australian Communities Forum is happening again in Sydney on Thursday 13th October 2016.

Attendees are in for an excellent, informative and interactive day. View the full program and purchase your tickets here.

Here is an overview of what attendees can expect to hear at the event.

Keynote speakers

MARK MCCRINDLE | Principal, McCrindle Research

Understanding Australian Communities

In this opening session, Mark McCrindle will give a snapshot of the key factors influencing Australian communities and some surprising findings from the just-completed Australian Communities Report. Annie Philips, Team Leader of Analytics at McCrindle, will give an overview of the key insights that came from the national surveys and a statistical overview of giving and community engagement in Australia. Sophie Renton, Research Executive at McCrindle who managed the qualitative components of this national study, will reveal the attitudes, perceptions and priorities of Australians towards not-for-profit organisations. Finally, John Rose, principal at R2L and partners of the Australian Communities Research will discuss what this means for community organisations and how they can best respond to the findings and engage with the ever-changing supporter.


ELIANE MILES | Research Director, McCrindle Research

Leading teams and managing change in transformative times

The volunteer base of community organisations, like the workforce itself, is ageing and fast approaching the biggest intergenerational leadership transfer ever. Over the next decade, the proportion of Baby Boomers in the workforce will halve, while the number of Generation Y and Z workers will more than double. In this session Eliane will give an overview of each generation in the workforce and some analysis of their needs and expectations, as well as strategies to manage change, inspire innovation and create a collaborative and adaptive organisation.


JOSH HAWKINS | Founder, Hi Josh

Social media and under 25s; Connecting, leading and engaging

Josh is a social media expert, having received over 50 million views in the last year from his creative and engaging content. Additionally, he also works with the youth and young adults in his community and holds unique insights into how to connect with this generation of young people. In this session Josh will discuss how to create engaging social media campaigns and how to connect, lead and engage Generations Y and Z.


IVAN MOTLEY | Founder, id.

Demographic trends, future forecasts and how communities can be transformed through data

Ivan Motley is the founder of .id, the population people, specialists in demographics and experts in using data to inform decisions and shape the future. Ivan is passionate about communities and how analytics can shape the quality of their education, housing, health, environment and recreation. In this session, Ivan will share the key demographic trends shaping New South Wales and deliver a future forecast for Australia’s largest state and share case studies to show how information and data can help transform communities.


CAITLIN BARRETT | Founding CEO, Love Mercy Foundation

The Love Mercy Story

Caitlin is the CEO of Love Mercy, a foundation created by dual Olympian Eloise Wellings, to empower communities in Northern Uganda to overcome poverty caused by the horrors of war. In this session Caitlin will tell the story of how Love Mercy was founded, the inspiring work they are doing in Northern Uganda and how so many local Australians have been motivated to support global needs.


ANDY GOURLEY | Founder & CEO, Red Frogs

From idea to international; The inspiring Red Frogs Story

Andrew Gourley is the Founder and CEO of Red Frogs Australia which he started in 1997 after seeing the need to safe guard teenagers and young adults. Red Frogs is now the largest support network in Australia for schoolies, festivals and universities students. Currently the Schoolies program is located in 17 different locations around Australia and coordinates over 4000 volunteers to run. In this final session, Andy will share how an idea transformed into reality and has grown and developed to an international program run in countries such as Canada, UK, South Africa, New Zealand, and Poland.

Stream 1; Understanding Australian Communities

GEOFF BRAILEY | Research Executive, McCrindle

Understanding the next generation of volunteers and donors

A specific area of focus in the 2016 Australian Communities Report is analysis of volunteers and supporters aged under 30. In this ession, Geoff Brailey, McCrindle Research Executive will share the findings as well as give practical insights on engaging young people in community organisations and developing the leadership capacity of the next generation of staff and volunteers.


NIC BOLTO | Executive Coach and consultant

From information to application; Putting the insights to work

Nic Bolto is an executive coach and consultant, bringing expertise to the acquisition of goals that are important to organisations, to charities and to their donors. This session will draw from Nic’s expertise in working with many clients and highlight the cost of not applying insights learnt, and ways in which research findings and business insights can be effectively applied and implemented.


JAMES WARD | Director, NBRS Architecture

How architecture can build social capital

James is a Director of NBRS Architecture, an architectural firm committed to innovation in the design of life changing environments. James will outline the case study of their ‘Tiny Homes’ project backed by the research paper BISI Affordable Habitats, as well as how understanding spaces and building communities can help to improve people’s lives.


Stream 2; Engaging with Australian Communities

ASHLEY MCKENZIE | Team Leader, Communications

Communicating complex data in message saturated times

In an era of message-saturation, the challenge for organisations is to deliver quality content that will cut through the noise. In this session, Ashley McKenzie, who leads the communications strategy at McCrindle, will share tips and tactics on how communicate complex data and engaging messages to motivate and inspire audiences.


BRYCE DAVIES | Officer, The Salvation Army

Building community in areas of social challenge

As a Salvation Army officer for 22 years, Bryce will use his vast experience from working on the Bridge program focusing on Drug and Alcohol rehabilitation in both Adelaide and Brisbane, to heading up an inner city drop in space in Fortitude valley in Brisbane to share practical tips and advice on how to develop dynamic and functional communities in areas of social challenge.


GREG LOW | Co-founder, R2L

The 5 essentials to make your next marketing or fundraising campaign thrive

Greg is an expert at helping not for profit organisations with their communication – from fundraising through to brand strategy and visual communications. In this session, Greg will share how organisations can build successful fundraising, marketing and communications campaigns to build better relationships with their stakeholders and supporters.


PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS HERE

The Program


The Australian Communities Infographic


Creating a culture of wellbeing: Leading in times of Change

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

That our world is changing and shifting is not surprising – it’s the key definer of our times. On the one hand the centripetal force of change can push us towards constant innovation. We can be invigorated by the newness around us, so that our means of communication, the way we work and the spaces in which we engage are ever-evolving.

On the other, the speed and scale of change can leave us feeling overwhelmed as we work out how to navigate and juggle complex personal and professional demands.

As leaders, we often find ourselves leading teams of individuals immersed in the rapid uptake of change. Our teams respond to this change in different ways – some with a type of change fatigue in which new initiatives are merged with the old, rather than looking to new horizons. Others respond with change apathy, checking out altogether.

 In these fast-moving times, how do we lead ourselves, our teams, and our organisations through times of change?

Leadership author John C Maxwell once said that in order to lead others, we must first learn to lead ourselves. He also advised, “If you’re leading and no one is following, you’re just out for a walk.” Leadership begins by looking inward, rather than outward. It begins by taking a look at your personal values alignment, learning style, and wellness gauge.

  • Your values alignment: How do your personal passions and strengths align with the ethos and values of the organisation that you are a part of? Recognising areas where your personal passions align with your organisation’s passions will give a greater sense of energy and purpose to your work.
  • Your learning style: How do you learn, get inspired, and stay motivated? As leaders, it’s important to stay fresh by identifying sources of personal inspiration – it could be simple things like reading content that inspires, carving out down-time, or networking with leaders who are just that one step ahead of where you are.
  • Your wellness gauge: How are you tracking in terms of your energy levels and personal wellbeing? Busy lives leave little space for margin and it’s more important than ever before to carve out time to be adaptable and flexible. Manage your screen time and bring in more green time, watch your health and nutrition, and create some space for reflection and deep thinking.

The leadership styles that the new generations respond to are those that embody collaboration, authenticity, mutual understanding and empowerment. When it comes to building resilient teams, it’s not just about processes and policies, but about helping individuals thrive in complex and ever-changing business environments. Our research has identified several key drivers among young workers that motivate them towards engagement:

  • The drive for complexity and challenge: Today’s career-starters are full of innovative ideas towards problems and thrive on identifying solutions. Creating space for the cultivation of ideas and innovation is key not only for better organisational performance but strong employee engagement. When was the last time you gave your team permission to step up to the challenge of solving your most critical problem?
  • The drive for variability and flexibility: Empowering your team to take control of their workload provides them with the opportunity to structure their day towards their most productive times and builds greater levels of team trust. When team members are engaged with the vision and have the skills they need to drive the team forward, hands-off management is always better than micro-management.
  • The drive for community and belonging: In an era where movement is a constant and flux is inevitable, workplace communities have become 21st century families. Establishing a team culture where individuals themselves are celebrated (not just their work-related wins) is critical to developing work-place tribes.

Organisational change is up to all of us, and moving ahead as an organisation involves directing individuals at all levels into forward horizons by leveraging the team’s combined power for innovation. We each lead by example by creating the initiatives and by driving the culture.

In our work with hundreds of organisations across Australia, we have identified several consistent characteristics evident within organisations that have thrived in times of change. These include:

  • Organisations who scan the external horizon. By understanding the current demographic, economic, social, and technological environment, leadership teams are able to make robust and solid decisions that guide their organisation towards its future. While the future can seem uncertain, getting a grasp on the current environment adds confidence to the decision-making process that is needed to stir a ship in a new direction.
  • Organisations who commit to being the ‘only ones’ at what they do. We consistently watch organisations position themselves alongside their competitors to understand what the market is offering. Yet it’s so easy to get caught up in ‘keeping up’ that we lose track of the unique abilities that only our teams can bring. Look inside at who is on your team before looking outward to what you can bring. Commit to carving out a niche that is true to who you are, not what your competitors are offering.
  • Organisations who put their people first. Organisational leadership is at its best when people are the priority. There are countless ways to create value for individuals within your teams (50 Best Places to Work 2016 features just some of them!), and when people thrive, not only is there lower turnover and a larger applicant base, but client relationships are at their peak, there is better innovation, greater productivity, and more sustained long-term business growth.

-Eliane Miles

Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle.

At the Australian Communities Forum 2016 on October 13th she will give an overview of each generation in the workforce and some analysis of their needs and expectations, as well as strategies to manage change, inspire innovation and create a collaborative and adaptive organisation.

Purchase your ticket here


Scouts Australia Project in Review

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Organisations must respond to the times to remain relevant amidst significant demographic shifts, cultural change, and generational transitions.

Scouts Australia is the nation’s largest youth organisation with a membership of 52,000 youth members. The not-for-profit recently commissioned McCrindle to guide the direction of a major Youth Program Review (YPR) through a three-phase project, helping Scouts to engage with the needs and desires of Australian families, their perceptions of Scouting, and what families are looking for in a contemporary youth organisation.

Engaging Stakeholders for Strategic Organisational Change

RESEARCH AIMS

Through conducting nation-wide research, Scouts Australia sought to determine future directions and develop a detailed understanding of the wider community to:

  • Ensure the values of Scouts Australia engage with those of 21st Century Australia
  • Create a program that meets the needs of their appropriate youth target market

RESEARCH TOOLS

As part of the research, a number of methodologies and tools were utilised:

  • Awareness and Perception Brand Testing: Testing the perceptions, attitudes, awareness of Australians and Scouting families towards Scouting.
  • Competitor Analysis: Defining how the Scouts Australia brand is perceived in comparison to other Australian youth development, extracurricular, and sport organisations.
  • Segmentation Analysis: Comparing Scouts families with Australian families nationally and differences in their values for Australian youth.
  • Demographic Forecasting & Trends Analysis: Understanding the factors that shape and influence Generation Z from a demographic and social trends perspective.


RESEARCH OUTPUTS

Phase 1 provided qualitative insights through a series of focus groups with current and former Scouts members and Scouting parents, testing Scouting’s current landscape and the changes needed in the program, thus setting the foundation for the Phase 2 and Phase 3 research.

Phase 2 sought to define the needs and desires of Australian families for a national youth program through a comprehensive national study of 1,078 Australian parents with children aged 6 to 18, asking parents about their values and what a youth program should look like for a 21st century Australia. These results were compared to the perspectives of 1,858 Scouts parents.

Phase 3 featured a demographic and social trends scoping study on Generation Z and Generation Alpha incorporating McCrindle data, Australian Bureau of Statistics data, and trend analysis from McCrindle’s generational experts.

The McCrindle team visualised and presented the results of all three phases at national and state executive meetings throughout 2014 to engage key stakeholders with the strategic changes required to shape the new Scouts program.

RESEARCH IMPACT

The Scouts Australia YPR team is using the research as a key engagement piece with Scouts members and their families. The results have led to significant discussions among members and decision-makers on what it could look like to provide a highly sought after youth program for 21st century Gen Zs.

“One chief commissioner suggested this is the best research we have ever completed. Your work has assisted in giving credibility to the YPR and strengthening the belief of others for the need to have the YPR.” – Scouts


SECTOR-WIDE NOT-FOR-PROFIT STUDY

In 2015, McCrindle is conducting a sector-wides study for Australian not-for-profit organisations and charities entitled the Australian Community Trends Report. Organisations are invited to participate and sign up by 30 June, 2015.

MCCRINDLE RESEARCH SOLUTIONS

At McCrindle we are engaged by some of the leading brands and most effective organisations across Australia and internationally to help them understand the ever-changing external environment in which they operate and to assist them in identifying and responding to the key trends. See our Research Pack for more information on our services.

Sector Wide Not-For-Profit Study

Friday, May 29, 2015

The not-for-profit sector in Australia is at the very heart of our community and shapes and facilitates the values and spirit of our nation. From organisations that provide care and assistance to our nation’s most vulnerable, to those dedicated to providing aid and development overseas, to those who provide animal welfare, promote environmental causes, administer social welfare, and create community and belonging for Australians, the not-for-profit sector has an immeasurable impact on our society.

At McCrindle we conduct comprehensive research for many not-for-profit organisations. In these times of significant demographic growth, intergenerational transitions, rapid technological advancements and social change, the not-for-profit sector is faced with significant challenges in engaging with the new generations of supporters, identifying the most effective communication mediums and messages, understanding brand engagement and retention journeys of supporters and shaping a culture internally and externally to attract, engage and retain staff.

These trends are impacting the entire sector, and so the Australian Community Trends research study provides the opportunity for the sector as a whole to gain an understanding of the changes and practical strategies to respond.

Through conducting an industry wide study, participating organisations will benefit from the aggregated data which will identify trends and provide a comprehensive framework for understanding the behaviours of Australians when it comes to engaging with not-for-profits. Participating organisations receive their own data which can be then benchmarked against the national data. As well as adding significant breadth and depth to the strength of the research, this collaborative approach to an industry wide study will also provide valuable thought leadership material which will promote the work of the sector as a whole. The combined approach also allows for significant research to be conducted for organisations at a fraction of the price of a standard research project.

Partnering with McCrindle for this inaugural Australian Community Trends study is R2L, one of Australia’s leading not-for-profit fundraising and advertising agencies who bring a wealth of experience and expertise in helping not-for-profits strategically engage with their stakeholders.

More about the Australian Community Trends national study can be found here.

In summary, the research will involve 4 stages:

  1. A Nationally representative survey of 1,500 Australians which covers the key giving behaviours and awareness of organisations.
  2. Four qualitative focus groups will be run to expand on the survey findings and to provide greater context for them.
  3. A supporter survey will be run of your donors and their perspectives on giving, communication, future engagement.
  4. A survey of your internal stakeholders will be run including leaders and staff in your organisation to better understand their position on some of these issues.


For more information about the study please click here or contact Kirsten Brewer on (02) 8824 3422 or kirsten@mccrindle.com.au


McCrindle Internships

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

At McCrindle we regularly provide opportunities for interns to participate in our team.

The McCrindle volunteer internship program is highly flexible and shaped to suit the needs and availability of the intern. We aim to create a positive work environment for interns as they gain invaluable experience in the field of social research.

The length and involvement of an internship is flexible- however the recommended involvement is for 1-2 days per week for a semester, depending on the interest and availability of the intern. The intern can decide to finish the internship at any point.

McCrindle internships are available at the Sydney office (in Norwest Business Park) and at the Melbourne office (in Wantirna). People who are interested in an internship at McCrindle are welcome to submit their CV and cover letter to the Research Director, and if an internship opportunity exists, may be invited to an interview.

What is involved:

Intern research assistants will be involved in a diverse range of tasks which may include:

  • Data analysis and forecasting
  • Development of survey questions
  • Analysis of quantitative data
  • Report writing
  • Assistance with qualitative research analysis
  • Note taking during focus groups
  • Assistance with research rooms hosting for focus groups.

“The McCrindle internship gave me experience in so many areas of research including survey writing, data analysis, report writing and qualitative research methods. The internship gave me the opportunity to really get involved in the research and assist with real projects. It greatly enhanced my skills in working in a collaborative team environment. An invaluable experience- I would recommend it to anyone!

-Kirsten

Intern experience

The McCrindle intern program exists to equip students with valuable experience in the social research field. A key goal is to expose interns to a diverse range of experiences and tasks to provide them with a comprehensive understanding of how social research is outworked in a business context. Skills that interns will be given opportunities to develop include the ability to:

  • Analyse data sets and conduct demographic analysis and forecasting
  • Develop effective survey questions
  • Analyse quantitative data and interpret the findings
  • Write business reports
  • Use Qualtrics software
  • Assist with qualitative research
  • Analyse qualitative data and communicate it
  • Understand the research process from initial briefings and proposals through to final report delivery, presentations and infographic output.

"My internship at McCrindle was an amazing experience, I learned so much about the research industry from some of the best. They offered excellent guidance and gave me a taste of a variety of projects throughout my time there. I learned so much about market and social research which was a perfect accompaniment to my university studies, and was a huge factor behind me being able to find full time employment so quickly after the completion of my degree.

It was definitely not a coffee-retrieving internship! I was given ownership over tasks and got to feel real responsibility while still being supported every step of the way by the amazing team. They were all so welcoming and helpful, I felt like one of the team from the very first day.

I would definitely recommend an internship at McCrindle, it was, without a doubt, the best kick start to my market research career I could have hoped for!

-Jade

McCrindle will provide a written reference for each intern at the completion of their internship.

Apply

To express your interest in a McCrindle internship, please send a copy of your CV and a cover letter to the Research Director:

Eliane Miles

eliane@mccrindle.com.au

02 8824 3422

A39, 24 Lexington Dr Bella Vista NSW 2153.

Mark McCrindle; Social Researcher and Changemaker

Monday, January 12, 2015

Originally published by The Weekend Edition. Please click here for the original article.

"WE'RE IN THE MIDST OF ONE OF THE MOST TRANSFORMATIVE PERIODS OF HISTORY ... "

It’s a staggering statistic to get our noggins around, but every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced around the world. While the raw numbers may seem irrelevant to many of us at first glance, the collected information is vital to tracking trends, identifying changes and forecasting new developments to help us understand ourselves, our pasts and our futures. What were the biggest trends of 2014? How has Australia changed over the past few decades? And how will we evolve over the next 12 months? These are just some of the questions that consume social researcher, demographer and futurist Mark McCrindle, who has dedicated his life’s work to studying and understanding our nation. As we head into the new year, The Weekend Edition thought it was perfect timing to catch up with the futurist and chat about what lies ahead.

In your 2013 TEDxCanberra talk, you said it’s rare for factors like massive technological change, rapid demographic shifts, huge social trends and ongoing generational change to all happen at the same time – meaning big changes can happen within a short period. Can you talk us through some of the major trends you observed in 2014?

I think we’re in the midst of one of the most transformative decades ever. It’s this decade that began with the tablet computer, social media becoming mainstream, the smartphone and apps – these were words that weren’t known and technologies that weren’t around when the decade began and now here we are, halfway through it in 2015 and it’s obviously going to take us through to 2020, which has always been that iconic year of ‘the future’. As you say, it’s change in terms of those broader areas, not just technology, but also generational change – this year we’ve got Baby Boomers turning 70 and the original ‘youth slackers’ Gen Xers turning 50 and the new Gen Alphas coming of age – as well as economic change – the decade began with the ripples of the GFC and that’s still having an impact. So economically, technologically, sociologically, generationally and attitudinally, there have been lots of changes. It’s rare that you do get the confluence of such change that we’re seeing at the moment.

What can you tell us about this new generation born 2010 or later, known as Gen Alpha?

We’ve given them the label ‘Generation Glass’ because the key medium for them on which they’ll learn, interact, write and get their content isn’t paper – it’s glass. This is the first generation that has utilised glass as the mainstream form of communication and content delivery. It’s portable, it’s in their pockets or on their wrists or on their interactive desktops, it’s in showrooms as interactive touch screens – glass is everywhere. It comes to life, it’s connected to the internet and it displays content – and this is the generation that will only know that. Paper first emerged as a portable form of mass communication when Gutenberg came up with his printing press in 1439, so we’ve had to wait 600 years for a new medium.

And for 2015 you’ve also predicted that we’ll become a more reflective country?

Yes, the technologies of the internet have been around for a while now and so far it’s been fun and light – people Instagramming every meal they eat, the tweets and YouTube videos have been fun and fickle, and memes like Grumpy Cat have gone viral. But that happens when anything new emerges, it’s fun before we find the real usefulness of it. And now we’re getting a little bit more pragmatic and people are saying, ‘I want some life tools’, ‘I want connection tools that will actually help’, ‘I want relational functionality rather than random Facebook friends’ so we’re starting to see fragmentation of that, from LinkedIn through to a rise in openness for people to talk about not just the financial or physical areas of life, but also mental, emotional and spiritual. I think this reflection, the focus on work/life balance and family, as well as spirituality and emotional wellbeing is a sign that we’re a bit more transparent and open. As Australians, we’ve always been a ‘She’ll be right mate’ sort of nation, but I think we’re recognising that to be a bit more vulnerable, transparent and authentic is actually important.

What have you observed about Queensland and its capital of Brisbane?

Queensland is unique in its demographics – it’s the only state in Australia that has more than half of its population living outside of its capital. So if you look at NSW or Victoria, more than three in four people live in the capital city, but in Queensland, 4.8 million people live in the whole state and just 2.2 million people live in Brisbane. In fact, we have an infographic where we look at the largest 30 cities of Australia, and Queensland has the most with 10 cities, compared to NSW which has just five. The point is Queensland has more of a mix of the urban and rural, it has a bigger focus on the regional, it’s a big state and a big coastline, and has more of a spread of population outside of Brisbane – and that creates a different mode in itself. It’s one of the fastest-growing states, and faster than the national average. Queensland has a different attitude and way of life; it’s got some unique demographic aspects that create the culture and the mood, and continue to shape it.

Let’s rewind the clock a bit – have you always harboured such an interest in human behaviour? As a child, did you even know a job like this existed?

That’s right, social researcher, futurist and demographer aren’t often what the careers advisor has on their shortlist; they’re not mainstream pursuits. But I did always have an interest in people and when I was filling in my applications at the end of year 12 to figure out what to study at uni, it was psychology and sociology that interested me. As I moved through my psych degree, I realised that I far preferred the social psychology subjects rather than the clinical, and that’s when I transitioned towards understanding people and society, and how we think and why we as communities or groups make decisions the way we do. So I’ve always had a fascination with people and I guess that’s really what my role is to this day – observing people and communities, and analysing trends and changes.

What were the greatest challenges in launching your own research agency and advisory firm?

Well not only is it an unusual role and hard enough to find a niche as an individual social researcher and analyst, but then to start a business in the area you really need to find your strengths and carve a niche that’s going to add value.

How did you overcome these?

What’s been key is that all of the team here are generally passionate in understanding Australia and society and changes and trends and generations and people’s behaviour. Secondly, how we deploy that information has been important. I looked around when I was starting and thought there’s got to be a better way of conducting the research – it can’t just be about focus groups and surveys, there’s got to be other ways of understanding people. What we’re about is making the unknown known and making the complex clarified, and we employ whatever methodologies will help do that so people can make a difference in what they do. The second part in trying to be innovative in research approach is being innovative in the output methods, so we work hard on the visualisation of content, developing infographics and animated videos.

And what have been the greatest rewards – what do you love about your job?

I love that the craft is so interesting. To be presented with a challenge where an organisation says, ‘We want to connect with and understand this new generation or emerging segment, or we want to find out if this concept will work’, and help them understand and prepare for what isn’t yet certain, is quite fun. To help these organisations, government agencies and not-for-profits really be equipped and empowered in what they do, to do it more efficiently and future-proof themselves, is fun to do but also very rewarding and a privilege.

What inspires you to keep doing what you’re doing?

It’s exciting to see the difference that we can make and we have a view that if people take a broader perspective of what they do, they’ll do it more effectively. We tend to focus on our business or our role or our community – the micro-view – but what we need to do is understand the context in which we’re operating and look outside the walls of our home or organisation, and look at the broader winds of change – the demographics, the social trends, the attitudes, the shift in international demographics. When we understand that, it helps us to be a bit more effective in positioning ourselves to surf the waves of change and remain relevant to the future. The other lens change we need to make isn’t just looking at the now, but looking to the future so we can prepare for that. We tend to focus on the immediate term but the times are changing so quickly we almost need to look ahead a few years to see where things might be headed and position ourselves now to thrive in these times of change.

Originally published by The Weekend Edition, Lauren Barker on 08 Jan 2015.


For more on Mark McCrindle, visit his website here.

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The McCrindle Approach & Priorities

Friday, January 09, 2015


In these times of massive change it is the organisations that are values based and vision driven that thrive amidst the chaos. The start of a new year provides the chance to articulate an organisation's priorities - the values that are part of the culture that are lived out, not just written up. These are the values that can be lived out by the team - an organisation's DNA. At McCrindle we have five core priorities which define who we are and how we operate, and here they are in summary form. If we can assist you in researching your organisational culture, understanding your clients and engaging with your community, please get in touch.

We are hoping that 2015 will be your best year yet.

The McCrindle Priorities





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