Conversation with TEDxSydney Changemakers: Jess Miller and Mike Hewson

Hear from two inspirational TEDxSydney expert change makers who use creativity to lead innovative projects, develop new ways of working, and instigate change towards sustainability in their industries.

TEDxSydney, in partnership with Standards Australia, recently hosted an enlightening session titled “Short Talks + Panel Discussion with TEDxSydney Changemakers: Jess Miller and Mike Hewson.” This event, a testament to the shared vision of fostering innovation and sustainable change, brought together two remarkable individuals – Jess Miller, an Impact Strategist and former Deputy Lord Mayor, and Mike Hewson, a Civil Engineer turned Artist.

Jess Miller: An Impact Strategist’s Perspective on Change and Standards

Jess Miller, known for her influential role in policy and government, shared insightful reflections on managing significant, complex changes. She emphasised the importance of timing, being attuned to external dynamics, and the delicate balance between acting swiftly and cautiously.

In the context of implementing standards, Jess highlighted a critical point: standards are often reactive to tragedies rather than proactive measures. She stressed the need for continuous advocacy for the ‘story of standards,’ ensuring their relevance and impact in everyday lives.

When asked about the challenges in communicating across different perspectives, Jess underscored the limitations of relying solely on verbal or written communication. She advocated for multi-sensory and immersive communication strategies, enabling a more profound understanding and collaboration.

Mike Hewson: Bridging Art and Engineering in Public Spaces

Mike Hewson brought a unique perspective, combining his experiences as a Civil Engineer and an Artist. He shared how he navigates the world of standards and regulations differently in these roles. As an Engineer, he delves into the details of codes to ensure functionality and safety. In contrast, as an Artist, he seeks creative loopholes within these standards to innovate and rebel against uniformity.

Discussing his concept of the ‘dullness matrix,’ Mike introduced an alternative to the traditional risk-matrix approach. This concept challenges the norm by prioritising interesting, engaging outcomes over mere safety and predictability, thereby encouraging creativity and exploration.

Mike also shared his approach to challenging conventional rules in public spaces.

Embracing regulations rather than avoiding them, he explores the flexibility within codes, allowing for adventurous and non-standard designs.

Standards: Enablers of Change or Guardians of Status Quo?

Both Jess and Mike touched upon the dual nature of standards. They can be catalysts for change, fostering innovation and flexibility, or they can reinforce the status quo by strictly adhering to established norms. The impact of standards, as highlighted by these changemakers, largely depends on how they are perceived and applied in the context of real-world challenges.

A Partnership Driving Change

TEDxSydney’s collaboration with Standards Australia is more than just a partnership; it’s a commitment to nurturing innovative minds and sustainable solutions. This session not only offered a platform for sharing diverse perspectives but also underscored the significance of standards in shaping a sustainable future. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Standards Australia for supporting this initiative and look forward to continuing our journey together in fostering transformative ideas and actions.