Contrasting creative and conflictual cultures at Science Meets Parliament


Australia21 Director Dr Lynne ReederBy Dr Lynne Reeder, founder of Australia21’s Mindful Futures Network.


Here at Parliament House in Canberra, as a delegate at Science Meets Parliament, I have had the opportunity to meet with both politicians and the leaders of innovative organisations.

I have been struck by the contrast between two cultures.

One is Parliament House itself, with a destructive combative atmosphere not just in the chambers but through the halls as well, resulting in relentless stress for all those who work within the precinct.

Barnaby Joyce and Malcolm Turnbull in the House of Representatives (ABC)The other approach highlighted here is that of progressive organisations such as Google, with their creative, collaborative culture.

Knowing what we now know through the Mindful Futures Network about emotional intelligence and mind awareness, it is clear that organisational cultures influence the performance of those working within them.

As an elite athlete, Liberal MP John Alexander also understands the difference that emotional intelligence and mindful presence bring to peak physical performance. In meeting with him this morning, he acknowledged the impact of supportive structures such as those available at tennis academies, which bring out the best in emerging champions.

John Alexander playing tennisIt seems there is a need for similar professional and personal support for those working at Parliament House.

We all say we want visionary parliamentarians, those who can create the society in which we can all flourish, those who can build cities that support community development, those who can envisage compassionate hospitals and learning schools. But when our politicians operate within stressful, destructive Colosseum-type cultures, we criticise their inability to provide these creative solutions.

In contrast, Google knows that by creating psychological safety in workplaces, their employees gain access to the part of the mind responsible for deep thinking, reflection and creativity. Yesterday, in listening to Sally-Ann Williams, Google Australia’s Engineering Community & Outreach Manager, I was reminded of some of the training and support that Google provides to their staff, including daily mindfulness practices, such as gPause.

Sally-Ann Williams from Google Australia at Science Meets Parliament 2018This accords with the work mapped the Mindful Futures Network, which shows that we can create organisations that support their employees’ physical and mental wellbeing – and get the best performance from them – by drawing on the science of mindfulness, empathy and compassion. It’s time we take this more seriously in all organisations, including at Parliament House.

Dr Lynne Reeder and Adrian King at Science Meets Parliament 2018
Thanks to Adrian King, Redboat founder, for sponsoring Dr Lynne Reeder’s attendance at Science Meets Parliament.



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