From Amplify for one to amplifier for many

Just over 15 years ago, I stumbled into an unlikely scenario that would unfold into a unique opportunity and shape the leader I would become.

As a new migrant to Australia ( and a pretty rough start that I won’t elaborate on), I seized an opportunity to build a new life. I joined what was then a very conservative financial services company, and chose to be the change I wanted to see: to champion the opportunities for value creation that new technology was driving; catalyse the special magic of human creativity, and to make a difference to customers, business results and personal lives through bringing fresh eyes and ideas to innovate.

In the process, a career-defining legacy and global brand in business innovation and learning would emerge: The Amplify Festival for Innovation and Thought Leadership.

On 31 December this year, one month from now, I will be applying the mantra I’ve been sharing consistently through every Amplify Festival and Talk; every Leaders Forum designed; every person coached or mentored; and every keynote given since the day I was asked to champion a culture of innovation at AMP.

And that is:

The only way to remain valuable and relevant is to keep learning, growing and creating.

So I am deliberately trading the safe comfort zone of my corporate job to create space for something new. Disrupting predictability, security and certainty to plant my flag of passion, purpose and personal reinvention on a new planet: The Planet of Possibility.

I want to learn more, grow in different ways and create new value for a broader customer base and to amplify Amplify for new clients into new geographies. ( Hit me up if you want some of that awesome magic! The kids have finished school and I’m footloose and free to work anywhere.)

It may seem ironic that just today my team and I was awarded the ‘Dream Team’ Award for the contribution that Amplify has made to innovation at AMP, at a time when no less than two of our business rivals are  copying the Amplify model to transform organisational learning, and a week after sharing the origins of Amplify and its impact on culture and eco-systems at KM Asia in Hong Kong.

But the truth is..a dream team is in place! Magic has been catalysed! The music will go on.

Innovation and transformation has taken root in a systemic way. Its significance and value is not only championed by the board, CEO and executive leaders but matched by real passion for customers and fundamental change in the way things are done at every level of the organisation. ( Even the hackfests I first introduced in 2007 are now happening the first Friday of every month!)

Of course, its never a single thing or person that brings about such deep change – it’s the powerful and cumulative effect of a good leadership team and thousands of catalytic triggers; many from ideas seeded along the way by the more than 300 Amplify speakers and thought leaders that shared their vision and wisdom with our community which has grown into the tens of thousands since 2005.

So, for all who have been part of my journey as Catalyst for Magic at AMP, thank you for believing- and even if you didn’t, for feeling the fear and doing it anyway! (A special tribute to my immediate team who has come with me to places they’d never thought they’d go!)

Thanks to our Amplify thought leaders who’ve covered millions of miles between them to share the very edge of knowledge and personal experiences that not only inspired AMP, but an entire business ec0-system. Your names are still referenced on a daily basis years after your visits!

Thanks to the CIOs ( Lee Barnett and Craig Ryman) for the extraordinary creative latitude and air cover you’ve provided for this ill-fitting maverick, and the investments you’ve made in Amplify to set a standard for creativity and organisational learning that’s the envy of the industry and documented in more than 10 international case studies and business books.

Thanks to the AMP Board and Leadership team that demonstrated so publicly that learning is part of work and the growth mindset essential to an innovation culture by sitting shoulder to shoulder with employees, customers, partners, suppliers and members of the public in every Amplify forum.

And thank you to the dream teams (over the years they changed) – fired by their passion to make a difference, have an impact, and working way beyond the call of duty to co-create something epic and life-changing; and becoming changed themselves through the process.

I can best summarise what it’s been like through the words of one of my heroes, Sally Hogshead.

‘The world is not changed by people who sort of care. 

The world is changed by people who passionately, relentlessly care– sometimes, unreasonably so. People with the focus and excitement to bound through the Iditarod of obstacles that invariably blocks the path between “no” and “yes.”

Thank y’all!

In future, please reach me with messages here, or

on LinkedIn at

or Twitter at @Maverickwoman




Finding my voice

Annalie Killian

Apparently the answer to “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”  is “Practice, baby….practice!” 

Well, I must be well on my way because I am getting good practice giving talks and speaking to interesting audiences all over the global village about my passion and interests, being:

Cultivating creative skills, personal expression and innovative eco-systems that create both business value as well as personal fulfilment.

Last month, I was in New York for my Aspen Institute Fellowship and had to do a short pitch about the Business/Social Innovation project I am working on to my fellow Aspen First Mover mates and at the New York offices of the design gurus, IDEO. My so-called New York debut! ;-))) 

On 3 May, I spoke at the sexy Next Bank Asia Conference in Singapore, hosted at the lovely new Red Dot Design Museum on Innovative Cultures of the Future, and last week at the CeBIT Social Enterprise Conference in Sydney, I discussed similar themes from the perspective of Social Enterprise transformation as an enabler for a Culture of Innovation, Collaboration and Creativity. I am sharing that slide deck here as a few folks have asked for it. 


Today, I had a lot of fun with a talk titled: Shift happened: What now? at The Thinking Women’s Network- a small group of senior executive women and board members hosted, by the lovely Lee-Anne Carson at the Australian Institute of Management. This talk was about:

How to cultivate our FQ- Future Intelligence Quotient – anticipatory thinking and making intelligent decisions in the present that will ensure value over the LONG term ( kind of the anti-dote to short-termism).

In this talk, I explored the forces that have shifted the entire world order,and what the implications are for organisation structure, nature of work and skill sets the future demands.

I didn’t use a slide deck but I have posted my speaking notes here. 

I am speaking at the following events in June/ July

  • 8 June at Google to a group of ex-agency Customer Centred Designers from companies like IDEO, Wall Street Journal, Nokia, BT Financial. My topic is awesomeness- so I think I might talk about the Aspen Institute Fellows and their amazing projects!
  • 14 June at “Inside the minds of the Entrepreneurs” hosted by HubMelbourne
  • 24 June at KPMG
  • 29 June at The Powerhouse Museum’s Fastbreak 
  • 26 July, at UTS ENGAGE on Productivity: Future Services and Industries

The more you practice, the better you get….and I am only about 1000 hours into mastery…only 9000 hours to go then hopefully I’d be as good as Dan Pink and Sir Ken Robinson …. so if you’re interested in me speaking to a group of people you are trying to influence around corporate culture, innovation, creativity, collaboration…why dont you drop me a note?



Being helpful is the new black

Some months ago, I read this great line on the “Conversation Agent”blog of Valeria Matoni, and I loved it- it instantly conveyed to me the essence of social capital that is circulating so freely through the new digital and networked economy. Later that same morning, I had a meeting with Paul Dumble, CEO of the Australian Institute of Training and Development, who had heard about my work at the AMPLIFY Innovation Festival. Paul then asked if I might be available to speak about the practices that we lead at AMP around nurturing a collaborative culture at the AITD National Conference – and I was very honoured and so I agreed. 

That conference was today and it was a great deal of fun- and a lot of late nights because there never is time during the working day to do these sorts of things- to sort through and structure one’s thoughts- and then- to do a slide deck, or not. In the end, I decided to do it…..because I wanted to make visible the “online” manifestations of our thriving social media world behind the firewall of AMP.  But, in mid-presentation….the deck just died! All these beautiful slides just went blank…..

Speaker’s nightmare, but luckily, I had a print out of my pack, and it helps to know your subject really well!  (I have a suspicion that the Macbook Pro that I borrowed didnt have sufficient memory….even though I tested it all before the time and it was all good and well then!) 

Seeing a lot of what I talked about was self-leadership, experimentation, emergence, living in ambiguity and letting go of control….it was a perfect test ….and, I passed with flying colours- some even saying that my talk was even better without the slides! Thanks guys…very kind of you!

I promised I would share them online via SlideShare, so here it is:

<div style=”width:477px” id=”__ss_3816081″><strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”>Being Helpful is the New Black: Building a collaborative culture and accelerating organisational learning and strategic renewal</strong><div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”>View more documents from maverickwoman.</div></div>






From springtide to a tsunami: How to create impact and a tipping point for change

One thing I’m great at is scope creep!

In 2005 I convinced the boss to let me organise a one-day Innovation Expo with employee ideas exhibited alongside a number of guest speakers (David Vaskevitch, CTO of Microsoft was our keynote, Rod Vawdrey, CEO of Fujitsu who launched the Fujitsu Innovation Benchmark, Futurist Richard Watkins, and several others.)

In 2007, I decided we needed a tsunami to create change…not simply a springtide!

So…the one day provocation swelled to a one week Festival of Innovation and Thought Leaders from 25-29 June 07.  

But even before that, on 21 April, World Creativity Day which coincides with Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday, we kicked off a 12 week Creativity Bootcamp inspired by Dan Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind” after I saw him speak at the World Creativity Forum in Flanders, and followed by a 6 week Ideas Farm campaign in partnership with the Allan Ryan, Managed Innovation, and Pierre D’Huy, a French Innovation consultant.  

The 2007 speaker line-up included Dr Jane McGonigal, thought leader extraordinaire in Alternate Reality Games, Michael Schrage, of MIT e-Media labs and author of Serious Play, Chris Shipley, Executive Producer of Demo, Daniel Erasmus, scenario thinker and founder of Digital Thinking Network, Roger Dennis, tech lead at European innovation insight firm Innovaro, Craig Rispin, a Technology Futurist, Gary Hayes, Director of the Laboratory for Advanced Media Production and like a digital cat with 9 lives, Des Walsh, one of Australia’s leading Social Media thought leaders and all-round nice guy, Frank Arrigo, Aussie Blogger and change agent at Microsoft, Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, a facilitator and innovator in the field of Appreciative Inquiry, the late Derek Binney, Chief Knowledge and Technology Officer of CSC Australia on the Greening of Technology, and many more.

So, from one-day expo to 15 weeks of organisational focus on doing things differently.  Some 2500 employees and leaders (about 2/3 of our Sydney-based workforce) attended at least 3 events during the festival week, a further 780 downloaded speaker videos and podcasts from our intranet.  

360 created art works – all of which were exhibited in the lobby of our corporate HQ by a professional curator, and 196 business growth ideas were harvested in the post-festival ideas campaign, with 8 of them being pitched to a panel for investment. The winning idea was deployed and commercialised 6 months later. 

And THAT, dear friends, is how you quickly create an organisational impact and tipping point.

my mum the geek

The title of this post was the doing of my geeky daughter aged 13 who helped me quickly knock together a banner!  

Now, they say the first thing a group of geeks do when they get together is deny that they are geeks!  So, let me not keep you waiting.  I am NOT a geek!  

Catalyst for Magic has been my business title since I joined AMP on 2 April 2000.  I chose it because my real title is this long, boring, corporate-sounding sentence that puts people, myself included, to sleep.

Catalyst for Magic is much more fun, a fabulous conversation starter and the perfect summary of what I do…which is to help unleash the magic we find from employing human beings, as opposed to machines, to transform our organisation and our business. 

The important bit is that my work is not that of magician…the creativity, passion and “magic” is in everyone already, but with the help of a bit of pixie dust and a few wands, like listening and acting on ideas, using collaboration and creative thinking tools, providing access to information and resources, rewarding and recognising both success and learning from failures, and most of all believing in people and giving them opportunities to shine, we move mountains, like the one in my photo!

This is my 3rd blog…I used to write a personal one called MsMaverick but then I launched the whole Enterprise 2.0 thing for my company in July last year and to get the momentum going, I focussed every available blogging hour of the day on that! So, now that that “baby” is crawling and nearly walking, I have a bit of space to return to the world-wide blogosphere.

This is going to be a blog about leading a culture of innovation in a large, established financial services institution (159 years old), and what I learn along the way, how I stumble, and how I can draw insights and support from those of you who share a similar interest and passion. 

I look forward to the conversation.