In 2001, CSIRO's future looked shaky. The Australian government had announced a big increase in public funding for science, but had pointedly left the iconic national research agency out when it came to distributing the cash. Facing the threat of funding cuts and loss of reputation, CSIRO set about reinventing itself through what became known as its National Flagship Initiative. This book is the story of that program, told by Ron Sandland who led the initiative and Graham Thompson who designed its systems and processes. To achieve the changes that were necessary for its survival, CSIRO had to wrestle with almost every aspect of its identity and culture. A new way of doing science was in the making, one designed to bring together the nation's best minds to tackle some of its biggest challenges - including water, energy and the future of food. The result: the biggest shakeup in the history of CSIRO. And it paid off - the agency received extra funding and won the highest accolade at the 2008 Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management. Frank and unflinching about the internal conflict and soul-searching that gripped the organisation as it struggled to find its way in a changing political and financial environment, Icon in Crisis charts in detail CSIRO's dramatic and successful transformation.
Ron Sandland is the former deputy chief executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the foundation chair of the National Flagship Initiative oversight committee. Graham Thompson is the former general manager of the National Flagship Initiative implementation office and the designer of the initiative's essential systems and processes.