Life-cycle assessment of rules and regulations

In sustainability we often talk about life-cycles of buildings, products and anything physical that we make. A life-cycle assessment will include thinking about what happens to the product once it is no longer in use, be that how the materials will be decommissioned and disposed of, recycled, or re-used and renewed. We recognise that physical things have use-by-dates and we plan accordingly.

What if we took the same approach to rules and regulations? From the way we make laws for society, to the way we choose the rules that we personally live by, thinking ahead to the time when that rule will no longer be useful to us will give us a deeper understanding of why it exists now and how to best apply it. Continue reading “Life-cycle assessment of rules and regulations”

Public Transport for Perth in 2031: a new question

There’s something missing from Perth’s public transport plan for 2031. It’s subtle, it’s almost intangible and we could easily get by without it. We would create a transit system that effectively and even efficiently moves a predicted population of 3.5 million people around a new city. We probably wouldn’t even notice its absence.

But we would miss an opportunity.

Public transport for Perth in 2031: mapping out the future for Perth’s Public Transport Network outlines an ambitious project. It shows WA’s commitment to public transport and, in a way, it demonstrates a forward thinking approach to urban design and the premise that everyone in a city should have access to it.
But we could do more.

What if, instead of asking, “How do we move 3.5 million people around a city?” we wondered, “What does public transport mean to what Perth could be in 2031?”

It would require conversations and processes that are different to the way we usually do things here. It might feel like slowing down, at least in the beginning. We’d have to be open to not quite knowing what the end result would look like. And it would involve a lot of listening.

But a bit of innovation in the way we approach this project, has the potential to generate a shared vision for a transit system that engages the people of Perth. With more people talking, with more minds at work, what we create will be unique to Perth. It will meet our needs in the future. And it will create the city we want to live in.

I’m a civil engineer by trade. I understand and respect the need to be prudent. I am in awe of the detail that is present already in this plan.

There’s a chance for Western Australia’s engineers to show what we’re capable of. That what we build and design goes even further than a technical piece of brilliance. It’s an opportunity to look to the future.

Rachael West is a strategic facilitator and speaker coach, helping conferences do what they intended by helping their speakers be great. Email

Through the eyes of a clown: the art of facilitation

A Perth version of Clowning for Facilitators will be running on January 12.  For a word that wasn’t in use not so many years ago, facilitator gets bandied around a bit.  In this workshop we use the art of Clown to get you, the facilitator or communicator, connected with the intangible part of your work.  How do you develop your ability to read the energy in the room and convince a bunch of engineers or bankers that drawing a picture of a tree on yet another post-it note really is worth their while?  How do you develop the confidence that you will get your group wherever they need to be – even when things seem to be going completely wrong? Continue reading “Through the eyes of a clown: the art of facilitation”

Engineering + circus training = ?? The equation of play.

When I was 8 I talked of running away to join the circus.  By 15 I was far too serious to consider anything so frivolous, and enrolled in an engineering degree as a close alternative.

A decade after graduating, and following roles in organisational development, strategy, change, sustainability and even social enterprise, I found myself boarding a train to live out my childhood dream and train with Greentop Circus in Sheffield.

A third-life crisis perhaps?  (I didn’t tell my mother for a few weeks!)

Creativity inspires our personal lives: whether a performance, sculpture at The Tate, or a tango class, in our personal lives.  Art encourages conversation, reflections on human nature, and who hasn’t had a romance assisted by a carefully compiled playlist?

What, then, does creativity offer the sensible world of work? Creativity tends to be relegated to team-building days or opportunities for sponsorship.

In Sheffield I explored the place that performance and physical theatre have in business: the magical boundary where creativity and practicality meet.


Rachael West is a former engineer who ran away to the circus and became a speaker coach. Email for more.

A brief history of time: engineer runs away to the circus

November, 2001: Awarded engineering degree

October 5, 2009: Audition for circus school.

October 14, 2009: Officially accept an offer to study full time for three months at Greentop Circus in Sheffield.

April 2010: Perform corde lisse (rope trapeze), clown and acrobalance in a pink boa in an old church in the north of England.

2011-2015: TEDx Perth speaker coach. 2 of my speakers get standing ovations.

Onwards: Rachael West is a speaker coach.