A better life…

Francesco Vassallo
6 min readOct 31, 2020

In August 2019 the Reinventing Work (RW) Adelaide meetup convened for the first time, thinking globally and acting locally based on and with the support of the RW founders from Bristol and a rapidly growing community across the world. (https://www.reinventing.work/)

Now in well over 30 cities across Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and The Americas, plus online!

(Now in well over 30 cities across Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and The Americas, plus online: reinventingwork.slack.com)

We have met nine times and with over 500 members our intent remains to explore, share, learn and practice new ways of working; ways of working that put humans front and centre of organisational life. Our purpose (written in pencil) is to make Adelaide a better place to work.

In that first meetup It Starts with Us we got to share our interest in Reinventing Work, and discussed how we could help each other learn more about the topic and apply what we learn to help make Adelaide a better place to work!

We clearly raised our disillusionment with the way work is working and our desire to discover, through doing and action, a more human and joyful approach to work.

That following month we met again, The Stories Begin our theme as we invited people to help us brainstorm some experiments in new (or even very old?) ways of working that we as individuals could take back to our places of work and put into action.

We had hoped to follow-up in October to share stories about our successes, failures and learnings on our journey towards making Adelaide a better place to work.

At this time a few things had emerged:

  • we (believed we) had limited knowledge in the topic;
  • we (believed we) had limited power and/or influence to make change;
  • we (believed we) needed more structure to the conversations.

As we planned a meetup for November to string together some Liberating Structures to help us define the purpose of our Meetup and to move us towards action and opportunities for learning a less formal session was held at Sparkke — A book-club to discuss ‘Brave New Work’. One of the key books which triggered the formation of Reinventing Work Meetups all over the world earlier that year — ‘Brave New Work’ by Aaron Dignan from The Ready. https://www.bravenewwork.com/

Purpose to Practice closed out 2019 were we applied and learnt about liberating structures to help us discover our purpose and then collaborate on how we can fulfil that purpose in our community.

It was great to have Tim Schneider lead us through the use of the liberating structures.

The lingering gap in our knowledge, shifted our focus in 2020 to have a series of world class presenters lead us through discussion, case studies and their collective experience.

A brief reminder on each follows, a further individual article would be warranted to elaborate on them all. The generosity and value has been compelling along with the connectedness that has ensued.

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation: Becoming a networked organisation — Euan Black, Senior Social Innovator and Organisational Development Lead at TACSI (February 2020)

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) has been on the journey of reinventing work for over three years. They focused on exploring, testing and implementing mechanisms, processes and mindsets that support distributing power, responsibility and risk from a centralised hierarchy into the hands of the people closest to the work.

Euan shared the overall ‘structure’ they were then operating and some tools they had developed to engage with the unique challenges of their workplace so that others could do the same within their own context.

Resilience: the link between organisational culture and performance — Josh Usher, Technology and Impact Lead for Good Empire (April 2020)

Our first online only meetup from Josh who amongst many achievements co-founded MistyWest, an impact focused product dev company that he later helped transform into a distributed organisation leveraging holacracy and sociocracy.

This event focused on the opportunity to discuss resilience, at the time Josh set the scene by saying: “We are in the midst of a global pandemic and the world is paralysed with fear. Now, more than ever before, organisations need to stay resilient by leveraging the full potential of their people and their teams. “

We explored the link between organisational culture and performance and were provided with concrete actions to strengthen team cohesion when it’s needed most.

Enspiral — Susan Basterfield, Partner and Co-Owner Greaterthan, Ambassador and Director Enspiral, Author (May 2020)

Susan spoke to us about her experiences with Enspiral. Enspiral (https://enspiral.com/) which is a network of groups and people, a DIY collective of social enterprises, ventures, and individuals working collaboratively across the world while fulfilling their purpose.

This was truly an inspiring session with Susan who is a global catalyst and convener: helping individuals and organizations release potential through participatory governance — ways of working that transcend traditional hierarchical models.

‘The reason why common sense isn’t common’ with Adam Thompson, Organisational Consultant, Principal of Thompson Organisations (August 2020)

In the last of our speaker series, Adam challenged our thinking by asking, if there’s nothing new under the sun, and the most powerful ideas are often the most simple, why aren’t workplaces better? What ensued was an overview of the ‘values DNA’ that we progress through and develop over our adult lives, and the huge impact this has on how we receive, discuss and implement knowledge and practices. Or don’t.

The open discussion which followed allowed us to dive into what this means for reinventing work and other models or explanations that also help us explain why common sense is indeed not common.

So as the second year of RW Adelaide commences, we have returned to doing and action and the series emerging are practice clinics with a purpose, combined with upcoming learning and sharing loops!

(Credit: Nick Emery)

The first clinic to unlock better meetings and decision making was held just this week.

It was a community co-creation and collaboration and a further opportunity to practice and teach the use of Liberating Structures.

The string worked well, a Liberating Structures Principles Walkaround, followed by simultaneous engagement of everyone in generating ideas using 1–2–4-All and then a call to action, to focus on what we have the freedom and resources to do now with 15% Solutions

Also worth a write-up of it’s own, if your not familiar with the principles, worth a moment of your time:

  1. Include and Unleash Everyone
  2. Practice Deep Respect for People and Local Solutions
  3. Build Trust As You Go
  4. Learn by Failing Forward
  5. Practice Self-Discovery Within a Group
  6. Amplify Freedom AND Responsibility
  7. Emphasize Possibilities: Believe Before You See
  8. Invite Creative Destruction To Enable Innovation
  9. Engage In Seriously-Playful Curiosity
  10. Never Start Without a Clear Purpose(s)


James Etheridge (co-founder/organiser) for RW Adelaide and I are looking forward to progressing our experiments, feeling inspired from the talks this year and energised from our first clinic, some great next steps in this project forming.

Join the meetup (https://www.meetup.com/Reinventing-Work-Adelaide/) and not only stayed tuned, but also make a contribution to a better life for all of us now and in the future.

Francesco 🙏

Big thanks from James and I to Kate Lawrence, Mark Eddleston, Nick Emery, Tim Schneider, Euan Black, Susan Basterfield, Josh Usher, Adam Thompson, Giselle Cubillos and all the reinventers globally and locally.

Appreciate the venue support from SA Water, Torrens University and The Duke of Brunswick, really looking forward to the DoB in 2021 (www.thedob.com.au)



Francesco Vassallo

I live by the beach in Adelaide, South Australia with my wife, young lad and Jack Russell/Tenterfield Terrier. Passions include golf, food, humanity at work.