Industry Sparks

MichaelSmart Workshops

On the 14th of April the Busselton Chamber of Commerce and Industry held their first “Industry Sparks” event for the Farming and Agriculture sector of the South West in conjunction with The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, The South West Development Commission and Creative Corner.

The Industry Sparks is part of a bigger South West initiative that has been kicked off by the Busselton Chamber of Commerce and Industry body to help reboot the local economy and guide investment in the right projects for our region.

Industry Sparks are collaborative work-sessions inviting business owners, leaders and work employees, to work together to adapt their businesses to survive the COVID19 market changes. The outcomes of the work session can be immediately used by decision-makers to guide and prioritise which projects should be invested in to enable local businesses to succeed.

The greatest part about these “Industry Sparks” online workshops is instead of sitting and listening to a seminar for 2 hours, the participants are invited to actually be involved in the processes leaving these business leaders with tangible actions they can take after leaving the workshop. This helps to drive our business sectors within the South West forward and help them take action which will have a positive impact on not only their business but the local economy.

The first exercise the Michael took the Farming and Agriculture industry experts through helped them to identify things that are moving businesses within this sector forward and those that are holding businesses back while having a special focus on the COVID19 impact. In this open sharing exercise, all participants contributed:

  • Notes above the waterline: encouraging businesses to celebrate the work they are doing, is valuable to their success.
  • Notes below the waterline: raising the problems and concerns that the farm owners, staff members, and industry representatives, have top of mind right now.
Covid 19 Impact so far

The second work exercise that Michael took these industry leaders through was how to reframe problems as challenge statements using a technique called “How Might We”. This session helped our businesses involved to see the problems presented in the first session as statements that we can address and overcome in the future.

Based on the successes, and problems in the first exercise, all participants created and voted on the How Might We challenge statements to move forward with the most popular How Might We

Covid 19 Recovery Challenges

How Might We challenges allow groups and organisation to make easier decisions by presenting information in a consistent framework. The voting shows the heat around challenges the group would like to prioritise action and have support with now. This technique can help an organisation to continually move forward and be productive with the most pressing issues at the time.

These bought the session with outlining the most important How Might We challenges to overcome and the top three How Might We challenges for the farming and agriculture industry are:

  • HMW: speak to supermarkets to see what volume on food varieties they can’t get in the south west and then group local producers with a collaboration on infrastructure funded by govt
  • HMW: build value add infrastructure in the Southwest
  • HMW: be recognised as valuable to the community

Once we had established the most pressing business challenges, it was time to bring possible solutions to the table! During exercise 3, Michael took the group through an exercise that would present solutions using the groups input once again for the most pressing challenges hence having the most impact for their industry sector. During this exercise all participants contributed and voted on solution ideas for the challenges that the industry want to solve now. These are common challenges but have a big impact on the successes of businesses in the industry and driving the recovery of our local economy.

These solutions to the challenges presented are possible “sparks”, or starting points, for collaborators and decision makers to invest in.

Let’s see the voting results:


The heat on top solution ideas to execute

The heat around top solution ideas are an indicator of the projects that the group would like to prioritise in collaborative efforts with farmers, businesses and industry bodies.

The results of this exercise help collaborators to gain more understanding, supporters, and validation of the value in investing time and resources into projects implementing these ideas.

We caught up with Tracey Hodgkins, CEO of Southern Dirt to find out how she felt about the Industry Spark and how it affected the Farming and Agriculture sector and what the next steps are for the industry. Tracey said: “It provided an outline with a lot of valuable information” Tracey commented.

The key projects that came out of it for the sector according to Tracey as she “aligns the HMW’s together and I can see it’s definitely the ‘online marketplace’ project, the ‘processing facility’ and the ‘one-stop shop for agriculture’.”

The Busselton Chamber of Commerce and Industry is going to be holding these Industry Sparks in the coming weeks to help industry leaders to prioritise projects, and support, in high impact areas for businesses in that industry.