1. A journey sixty years in the making…

    June 26, 2019 by Bettina

    Ko wai au? Who am I?
    I was born in 1959 and grew up in the Tararua District. There are some things that have not changed in my time. We still love the All Blacks and look forward to spring, but just about everything else has evolved significantly. Some good, others not so much.

    I grew up in a white family, with Māori neighbours, who we got on with really well (at least from our point of view). We showed respect for them as people living in a white man’s world. The better they fitted into our world the more respected they were. We never talked about their culture or showed any real interest.

    My father Bill was a bit of an oddity as he loved the Māori language, the vowels, the softness of the words, and he had a strong fondness for a Māori woman he met in Rotorua, on honeymoon, named Guide Rangi. She was a famous tourist hostess and they kept in touch. He was also very close to our immediate neighbour, Gladys Simmens, a powerhouse Māori woman. I called in there a lot as a kid.

    We liked playing with poi at school, that was fun. We sang “Po Kari Kari Anna” (Pōkarekare Ana), which was a nice song. In class we were taught that Hōne Hēke cut down the flagpole – that was bad. That there were Māori wars, and that we won. In the 1960’s and 1970’s when I was being schooled, Māori were happy with their lot, or so I, and most other Pākehā thought.

    As individuals we knew they were different to us, funny and quirky, irreverent, naughty sometimes, and often fabulous sportspeople and that was all cool. Collectively though, Māori were invisible. Little or no language, or culture that I could see.

    My first consciousness of the emergence of their culture was from a good friend of my sister Pip, Elaine Tua. When Elaine was in her teens she did three things. She went on an American school exchange program, coming back with a wonderful new accent . She changed her name to Hiria, and she began to learn to speak her native language, te reo. This was a big deal. It caused much conversation between people and some consternation from her father, as he was concerned that she would not be taught the language correctly.

    It’s fascinating and a little confronting as a Pākehā to look back at a time (1971, not that long ago), and think this young Māori woman caused so much disturbance in our rural town just by learning her language.

    Ko wai tātou? Who are we?
    The next disturbance I recall was in 1975 when Whina Cooper led a land march to Parliament. About 5000 marchers arrived at Parliament and presented a petition signed by 60,000 people to Prime Minister Bill Rowling. The primary aim of this hīkoi (march) was to protest ongoing Māori land alienation. Bastion Point occupation came soon after.

    The response from my family was one of surprise and indignation. “What the hell were these maoris so upset about?” They had been happy for like, forever, and surely these were just rabble rousers amongst the Māori population? My mother would say, “These Māori should be at work, rather than on a march.” Of course, she thought many were just dole bludgers. Not once did I hear a discussion that they might have had any valid claims.

    Whina Cooper, that diminutive woman, became a Dame – honoured by the Queen of England. What a great outcome.

    Also in this period was the beginnings of the Waitangi Tribunal, which saw its first settlement in 1978 with some of Ngāti Whātua, largely in response to the protest at Bastion Point. I was in my teens at this point and only mildly interested. I never once wondered about what might have been the cause of all this fuss and believed things would go back to normal again. Ha, the ignorance of privilege.

    In 1980 our neighbour, and my parents’ long-time friend, Gladys Simmens, died after a 10-year extended battle with cancer. It was November and on the day of her funeral there was an intense local storm. The creek that ran behind Gladys’ home flooded higher than anyone could remember, and it was the only creek that flooded. My father said, ‘Well that’s fitting for a great wahine passing away’. I had never heard him use that word before. I had never realised how attached he was to her. It was kind of spooky for me.

    A confronting experience
    Nothing much changed for me and my relationship with Māori, until my early thirties when I was farming just south of Kaikohe, in Northland, with my young family. We lived 30 minutes out of town and were in the minority, being Pākehā. There were only two Pākehā families at the school and we were cool with that.

    What we were not so cool about was the unbelievable poverty that surrounded us. It was pervasive and showed up in many forms. It was incredibly uncomfortable for me, as I had never been close to poverty before and seen its impact. The drug trade was alive and well, with marijuana grown throughout the forestry blocks around us. I remember seeing a ute loaded with freshly harvested marijuana being driven to town in the middle of the afternoon in plain view, with a large Māori fella sitting on it to keep it down. He was smoking a joint and very content. It was the wild west and I think maybe it still is up there today.

    Our oldest child, Gabby (6 years at the time), stayed over at a friend’s place and had a fabulous time. Two weeks later at the same house, a thug from one of the gangs turned up to settle a dispute and the mother killed him with an axe. She was a woman I respected and liked and was intelligent with a great sense of humour. My naivety was being shaken to the core. This was the reality of poverty like I had never seen, and Māori were stuck fast in its clutches. There were a number of other instances like this, which culminated in the family deciding to sell the farm and move away from this part of the world. We had options and took them. The locals didn’t have that luxury.

    Taking on Te Reo
    My time in Northland had an impact on me and when we relocated to Taupō, I enrolled in a Te Reo class. I wanted to get a better understanding of Māoridom and learning the language would help (I thought). It was 1994 and classes like these were getting underway throughout the country. I was the only ‘honky’ there and was not overly welcome, but that has never deterred me before. I was keen-as, for like my father Bill, I too loved the sound of the spoken language.

    The real test was yet to come. I could not, for the life of me, pronounce the words. For those who don’t know, I was born with a hearing loss. Without the skills of a brilliant elocution teacher, who painstakingly taught me to speak English at the age of 10 to 12 years, I would have struggled to get ahead as an adult. However, this was a whole new ball game learning Māori. Those soft vowels, they just disappeared in my ears. There was no ‘one-on-one’ elocution teacher. In fact, the tutors were happy to see me give up and bugger off. I turned my back on the language, slightly pissed off.

    Over the next 20 years I became more aware of the fact that Māori weren’t happy with their lot, and that there was a Waitangi Tribunal that was settling land claims. But in reality, I was more interested in my own family life, and farming. This is not unique, as Māori culture or language is not a big part of private enterprise across most industries in New Zealand, something which still needs to be sorted.

    My lesson in history
    It wasn’t until I began Collective Intelligence and we began attracting a number of young, smart Māori leaders who proudly championed their culture into our community, that my world views were challenged (albeit in a very gentle way). Riria Te Kanawa, her husband Che Wilson, and Liana Poutu joined up at a similar time. They were all well-versed in their culture and were incredibly generous with their time to educate us on their ancestors’ journey. I was immediately struck by the fact that I had no idea of New Zealand’s full history and gained an appreciation of the difficulty and time it took for iwi to go through a Waitangi Tribunal settlement.

    Fortunately we had a facilitator at the time, Megan Rose, who encouraged me to attend a two-day Treaty education workshop run by Robert Consedine. The course was called Healing our History – also the name of a book he wrote with his daughter Joanna Consedine.

    It was a stunning two days, due to Consedine’s experience with Treaty work over many years. He gave a global perspective of what was going on in the world when the Treaty was signed and did not make anyone feel embarrassed or vilified by the events that make up our shared history. I gained a far better perspective of how our country has been shaped, and came away not only enlightened, but with a new sense of personal identity.

    I had an understanding prior to this workshop of how little iwi were being recompensed by the Crown (just 1 to 2%), for the land that had been confiscated in the mid 1800’s. This really brought home to me the impact on Māori as a people. It was incredibly uncomfortable to examine and understand the effect colonisation has had on iwi, hapū, and whānau. I started to understand why Dame Whina Cooper led the hīkoi…and why our jails are overly full of Māori.

    We learnt that early colonial governments drafted land laws after land laws to try and break down iwi, and to get a hold of the land needed to settle the one million immigrants shipped in over 60 years from 1840 to 1900. During that same period, the Māori population plummeted due to disease and land wars.

    I also came away feeling very proud of our country. A country where the Waitangi Tribunal was settling iwi claims, after lengthy negotiations, and relationships between Pākehā and Māori are improving. Iwi on the whole have done a sterling job in managing their assets and building long-term wealth for their whānau. While becoming more knowledgeable was uncomfortable, it was also comforting to gain perspective. It is also important for me to say that I am no authority on our history, but I am deeply interested.

    What I have been intrigued with working with Collective Intelligence teams over the years, is that whenever Māori members have brought their culture into the room the experience for everyone deepens. This is the essence of this blog, along with a little background to my journey.

    Māori understand the idea of ‘collective intelligence’ instinctively. It’s how they operate.

    I have witnessed the Matariki Constellation model used in a meeting feedback process with stunning effectiveness. The use of karakia to deepen the connection between members, and impromptu waiata to celebrate. However, I am still clumsy when engaging with the culture, but learning every day. Learning can be ugly at times, and that’s okay.
    Che Wilson pointed out something very important to me – that our process is always delivered with aroha. Aroha is a Pacific concept, meaning to direct your essence to someone else. Your potential within can be shared with others, which increases your mana. It’s a process to help you grow, and direct your care to others, and is often known as love.

    2019: my time to do something more
    So, for me in my 60th year, I feel a deepening love for the Māori people, their culture, their art, and essence. And I wanted to celebrate the journey I have been on in some way.

    I am fortunate to have Bettina Anderson working alongside me in our office, who is dedicating herself to learning Te Reo two days a week in an immersion wānanga setting (she’s the one who has put all the macrons into the right places in this blog!). This gives me the chance to get that ‘one-on-one’ tuition again, and from a Pākehā woman who I can hear more easily. It will be very slow, but I will gain some te reo, finally.

    Over the past 4 or 5 years I have also considered getting a moko (traditional tattoo) of some sort. This has been a hazy process and one that has come in and out of focus for me. In February this year it became something I wanted to do in 2019. No idea why now exactly, but it felt right.

    I contacted my friend Che to guide me on how to go about this, and he connected me to Tipi Wehipeihana, a practitioner of toi moko (the art of tattooing). I met with Tipi and we discussed my journey. He agreed to tattoo a moko for me after lengthy discussion and a date was agreed. I felt incredibly privileged.

    Apart from my wife Kate, I had not discussed this idea with anyone else. Once I had met Tipi I broached the subject with a couple of friends, who both had a very negative response to the idea. I was a bit surprised at the strength of their convictions and one suggested it was tokenism. Just like that, I lost confidence to proceed. I rang two men I respect for their counsel – Anake Goodall and of course, Che. Anake’s view was that as long as I was clear on why I was having it done, he was cool. He did not believe it was tokenism and stated that whatever reaction I got – the reaction was all about them. Che simply asked, “Is Tipi going to do it, because he will be the hardest to satisfy.”

    So, on June 6th I sat down with Tipi at his home in Kuku to get my moko. What is interesting is that I got a choice on where on my body I could have the moko, but not on the design. That’s his job, to turn my story into art. I felt completely relaxed letting this craftsman do his thing on my forearm.

    My moko is a moko whakapuru, which shields the arm and talks to my upbringing and journey of life. A journey which has taught me compassion towards te Ao Māori and a life in which I have gained a deeper understanding, and appreciation, about the impact of colonisation on my friends and their people.

    The design is in puhoro fashion, which show the waves of the ocean.

    I love it.

    Today I stand up, alongside the first people of this land, doing my best to learn and grow my understanding. At times I’m totally awkward and uncomfortable with it, but as I’m evolving, I’m OK with that.

    Arohanui (much love)

  2. Naps, black holes and a shiny new Wellbeing Budget

    May 28, 2019 by admin

    For as long as I can remember, if the GDP numbers were positive, all was well in the land and the government could take credit for doing a sterling job. Sometimes they would even venture to say that New Zealand had a ‘rock star’ economy. I don’t know much about economics, or rock stars, but when you combine the two it must be good.

    However, at the very same time as all this alignment of the stars, we also have record homelessness, suicide rates, environmental decline and bullying in parliament. But these things don’t show up on the magic GDP, so are they actually important? Of course they bloody are! Only issue is they’re all very uncomfortable subjects to shine a light on, because once you have, what do you do about it?

    Hats off to Jacinda and her team for introducing the Wellbeing Budget this week, hoping to make a difference. It’s a very courageous thing to embark on as a government, because unlike many economic policies, this one is not going to be felt for many years to come. How they create some metrics to measure the impact and the return on taxpayer dollars, will be a football that will be kicked around for ever after.

    Wellbeing is a subject very dear to my heart, as I grew up in a family where it was often in short supply. Back in the day though, wellbeing was not discussed. Being stoic through adversity was seen as admirable and that’s what our family practiced.

    My father suffered from epilepsy, which was always covered up. He did not go to WW2 as a result, and received white feathers in the mail because he was considered a coward. My mother suffered depression periodically but never sought help, due to her denial and shame. Sister Jude had her first of seven hip replacements at the age of 27 years, due to not being checked as a baby for congenital displacement. She was never able to have children as a result. My other sister, Philippa, was diagnosed bipolar as a teenager, at a time when mental illness was a disgrace and all conditions were just labelled as ‘having a mental breakdown’.

    In our family, wellbeing was something that was often out of reach and when you don’t have it, life sucks.

    A few weeks back I was interviewed by Steven Moe for his podcast Seeds and it reminded me that at the heart of Collective Intelligence is wellbeing. When you see people down and out, we understand they may need help. But if you are seen to be doing well in the world, it’s less obvious. And if people think you are doing well in the world, it can very hard to let them know that in fact sometimes you’re not.

    This is why the Wellbeing Budget is so important to Aotearoa. It is going to affect every single citizen of this country, directly or indirectly over time. Just by acknowledging that it’s important is a huge step forward.

    I have been reminded of just how important wellbeing is over the past few months, as mine personally has been shite. For 20 years I have known I had osteoarthritis in my right hip and 2019 was the year to have it replaced. Kate had been on to me saying ‘you will wear out your good left hip because you are favouring the right one all the time’. So, in December I started the process of getting it underway with an x-ray. Straight forward enough until I sat down with the GP to discuss the results and found out both hips had severe osteoarthritis. Oops.

    And then the left hip did give way, only 10 days after the x-rays. Karma? This was a whole new ball game. Whatever had given way would jam every time I stood up and the pain level would reach between 5 to 9. That was a whole new ‘special’.

    Summer holidays sucked as a result. Not much sleep and I didn’t really feel like doing anything. Playing golf was only on a cart – again not as much fun. Sculpting was out, as standing or sitting in one place for any length of time was painful. Just trying to get into a Blokart was painful. Oh, and apparently, I wasn’t great company. Go figure.

    Surgery was scheduled and I went under the knife in early March. I went into it theatre in good spirits and thought I can deal with this easily enough. It’s done every day right and simple enough. Yes, it is. However, it is still intrusive surgery and I soon learnt little things become big things very quickly as a result. I won’t go into details as that’s not the point, but the next 3 to 4 weeks were tougher than I was expecting, and my level of vulnerability was the lowest I can remember in many years.

    And here’s the learning. In a period of a few months my life changed. I went from being fit and active, with a future that excited me, to a level of discomfort and uncertainty in myself that made me doubt what lay ahead of me (and even my relevance in the world). No one thing happened for that to occur, but a series of compounding events added to a very low resilience level.

    I have been low in my life before (and will be again) however this time was different. I had more experience and new tools, a wonderfully supportive team around me, and most of all, I didn’t fight or deny where I was at.

    My wife Kate became concerned I was depressed, or close to it, and we discussed this openly a number of times. There were many tears shed through this recovery, that I had initially thought was just going to be a physical battle.

    However, I chose not to be stoic, or grunt it out. When people asked, I told them how I was feeling. I ended phone calls quickly at times telling them my concentration was gone. I was determined not to hide what was going on for me.

    As a sheep shearer in my early years, I learnt to nap at 12.45pm every day by lying on the shearing board. A fifteen-minute nap and I’m a different person. Since those days I have always prided myself on having a nap every afternoon, even in the office (on a beanbag in a back room). I couldn’t do that anymore as I was unable to get down on the floor, so took to napping on our office sofa in full view of the sidewalk. My mindset was – whatever is good for my recovery, I will do it.

    My daily nap, a crucial tool in my personal wellbeing kit.

    There’s no heroics to this story, but rather an acknowledgment that as individuals we can prepare ourselves for adversity for it turns up when we least expect it. We are all prone to shite happening in our lives, and it’s not what happens to us that makes the difference, it’s how we respond to the shite.

    From adversity comes new shoots and I now have a fresh view of the world, while also mentally preparing for that right hip replacement (which keeps reminding me it’s still there). I feel excited about the possibilities that are ahead.

    I acknowledge that this story is about one very small example of wellbeing and that the budget, as we know already, is focussing on a broad spectrum of issues. I also acknowledge that many of us do not need any assistance from the government to activate a higher level of wellbeing, but rather we need to take responsibility for what we need to get on with personally.

    The point of this blog is this: wellbeing is possibly the most important thing a population can aspire to, because if you nail this, so much more is possible. It will be interesting to see if it has a positive impact on the GDP in time. I think it just might.

    Here’s something to think about. The USA spends something like $700-800 billion on its military every year in an attempt to dominate the world. However, its health budget is $3.5 trillion annually and rising rapidly, due to its appalling national wellbeing. It’s heading towards $5 trillion annually and at that point their economy will start to crumble. Obviously more spent on military is the answer.

    I personally don’t have anything to do with central government, so I asked someone who does, Sarah Tocker, to give a view on what has been going on in the engine room to develop this legislation:

    I know it has taken a huge amount of work for Treasury staff to define and understand what wellbeing really means in practice and how to measure it, and that there has been some criticism of the measures and financial connection for elements of wellbeing. For me, wellbeing is something to measure to track progress, and I wonder how individually we think about this and the economic impact of not managing our own wellbeing – both in the day to day but also cumulatively.

    It also makes me think about the balance between individual and community – how well can I manage my own wellbeing (even if it’s wonderful) if it is surrounded by a community or country where wellbeing isn’t managed effectively. Surely the lack of wellbeing in others impacts my own? We see this in teams and businesses, but also the impact of colonisation which has impacted generations of people. In any traditional society, we would be measuring collective wellbeing rather than individual, but many of our tools to measure our own wellbeing are just about us. A bit like living in a flash house with a great standard of living but in the middle of a socio-economically deprived area of people who are disenfranchised.

    So what action are you going to take as an individual?
    What action are you going to take as a whanau?
    What action are you going to take as a company?
    To bring about higher wellbeing in your lives?

    Here is one tool that I know works: meet CoLiberate who are into Mental First Aid. They will help any organisation increase the wellbeing of their team. I wish they had been around for my family when I was growing up.

  3. Women aren’t perfect…so why do things go better when they play in the sandpit too?

    April 29, 2019 by admin

    Here’s the irony of this blog. It’s 2019 and I’m writing about the strengths women bring to management and governance, because they still don’t get the same opportunities as men. At this point I would normally add in an expletive, but I shan’t. The point is, it’s time to celebrate women in the workplace, not resist them.

    It’s now common knowledge that having an equitable gender balance in your management, leadership or governance team is going to lift sales, financial performance and profits (as well as create a better workplace). Some are still not up on this phenomenon and if you are one of the few, please stop reading now and check out this article instead.

    This blog is not about the outcomes of gender equality. Instead, I’m interested to understand what actually happens to create these outcomes.

    I’ve got my own observations on this, but uncharacteristically I actually did some research and asked both men and women the question, “What do women ‘do’, in gender equal team environments, that men don’t?” It was fun watching the responses and it threw up some nice random responses too.

    First, some personal history and context. When I put the first ever Collective Intelligence prototype team together 25 years ago, it was made up of seven men and one woman – all Pākehā (I was soooo into diversity back then). In nineteen hundred and ninety four this was not an unusual demographic in the professional world. No one considered this mix odd, or particularly unbalanced, or that it needed rectifying.

    Interestingly though, the men were highly respectful of their solo female team member. While she was introverted and very quiet, whenever she spoke the guys shut up and listened intently. Her influence was far greater than any individual man in the team and conclusions were highly influenced by her input (and I don’t think anyone noticed by just how much). Except of course, their magnificent facilitator.

    That was 25 years ago and it’s been good to reflect. When I set up Collective Intelligence as a company in 2008, the teams were still dominated by male members initially, but the gender balance was definitely shifting.

    A key ingredient in being a facilitator is observing what is going on at any one moment and while it’s tiring, it’s incredibly interesting. In the early years it was just me putting the teams together, setting agendas and facilitating. I became totally immersed in what the teams were up to and what they were achieving, and I noticed an interesting pattern of behaviour.

    The quality of dialogue in our all male, or male-dominated teams, was of a lower quality. What do I mean by that? It was less challenging, with fewer options explored. There was a tendency for a small niche of males to set the tone, or direction, and once that was in place the others followed. Meanwhile in the gender-balanced teams, dialogue was more robust, the dialogue was longer and explored a greater range of options.

    My key observation was that women were not afraid to go against the tide of popular opinion and call out the obvious / name the elephant in the room / or ask the most basic of questions – is this what we are supposed to be working on? At this point the men would sit back and quickly change tack, without losing face. That’s a key ingredient right there and one that I have never forgotten.

    It was then that I knew we needed to quickly change the gender balance in all the teams and today, Collective Intelligence membership sits around 50/50.

    So, back to my intrepid unscientific research, “What do women do…?”:

    • I was told by many interviewees that women take a longer-term view when making decisions. They will balance short-term gains with longer-term goals and err towards the latter.
    • Both men and women told me they thought females were more holistic in their decision making. They tended to think of everyone that would be caught up in the choices and considered others, apart from themselves.
    • This one surprised me – women often said they thought they were more grounded and didn’t get too excited about shiny, new ideas.
    • Both men and women said females are the ones who are the keepers of, or the ones who work hard to ensure, that a team’s collective vision is maintained and upheld in a project.
    • Most whom I interviewed stated that women were better influencers.
    • This is subtly different, but women often (and sometimes by default) will be the ones who ensure the manaakitanga role (that’s more than just hospitality, it’s the process of showing respect, generosity and care for others) is fulfilled when groups of people work together.
    • And finally a common, simplistic but relevant opinion, was that women and men formed the yin and yang in a team.

    There was a range of random comments that came through that are also worth a mention here:

    • Women found working with domineering, egotistical and pushy women harder than working with men who had the same style. Their tolerance for this behaviour from females was far lower than that coming from a man. Interesting. They believed some ambitious women who strived to get ahead used this style, as it was what they thought worked best. However, once they got into a position of seniority, this style was not productive for women.
    • Some I interviewed said they started off using a masculine style, because that’s all they knew, and then dropped it because it was never really them anyway.
    • On the subject of women working in male-dominated professions, I was told the best way to get ahead was to ignore the male bullshit and just get on with the job. I’m sure there are other views on this.

    Personally, I am against having quotas for women on boards and executive teams, as I believe it is demeaning. However, it was pointed out to me a number of times that it’s the most effective way of getting women into positions of authority. I find this disappointing, but hey, if it works then who am I to disagree.

    The purpose of this blog is not to pretend I’m an authority on this subject, but to stimulate dialogue and get Boards, CEO’s, Executive teams and anyone who really wants to improve the performance of an organisation to ask, “What barriers are we putting up to stop more women playing in our sandpit?”

  4. Is the age of Leadership obsolete?

    March 25, 2019 by admin

    There has been a whole industry created to teach people from every walk of life this thing called Leadership. The desire to be a great leader has never been stronger, and millions of people crave this mantle. But, maybe this highly sought after skill is becoming, or is in fact already, obsolete.

    I have been pondering this thought for about 12 months now. The reason it’s been on my mind, is that the issues facing the world today are so damn Complex in comparison to the past. And solving these issues will come at a high cost to our human race. Yes, we have faced world wars, natural disasters and plagues before…. and we have scraped through with good leadership.

    Now, our immediate horizon has things such as Artificial Intelligence, Social Media, Energy Resources and Climate Change. We will have also to cope with the effects of this population of Sapiens which continues growing year on year. Plus, who knows what challenges are ahead that we are not even aware of?

    Are our models of leadership from the past going to be able to cope with solving these issues? I absolutely don’t think so. Brexit seems to be a bridge too far, and that’s a blimp in comparison to the global tsunamis coming at us.

    There is another conundrum. Most, if not all, of this shite ahead has been Created by the grand leadership techniques that have been taught. Think about that for a minute. Some of the world’s most powerful and influential Sapiens have actually worked their arses off to create this bloody mess coming at us.

    Albert Einstein:

    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”

    I could finish this Blog now after that wee rant. Some of you have already stopped reading, and I know who you are. But, I have some other thoughts I would like to expand on from observing leaders over the past decade.

    Here are two basic concerns I have with Leadership:

    • The name ‘Leadership’ is flawed. ‘Leader’ is singular. It’s an individual, and unfortunately there is a vast number of egotistical people who have pursued the role of Leader. They get their jollies from being ‘the’ leader. The world is full of them, and they will continue to fill these roles until the model evolves.
    • If you research leadership, one of the first attributes that comes up is Vision. A great leader must have vision. In today’s complex world I doubt if anyone actually has any idea of what the future holds with any certainty. So, to talk of vision is a stretch.


    This is what I have observed first hand through our work at Collective Intelligence. Often we have had strong leaders in teams. They have come from any one of the 70 industries or professions we deal with. They are articulate, knowledgeable and forthright, and have presence and great work ethic. Their influence is real, and ever present. They are generally respected by their peers. All good stuff.

    What you don’t often get to see, is that these same people inhibit the development of others working with them. It’s a very subtle, and often unintended, consequence of a strong leader. People fall into line behind them.They are less likely to be challenged by subordinates, and critical information flows slower for fear of rebuke or just falling out of favour.

    Yet, to the outside world it looks grand having a strong leader at the helm. All is well in the predictable slow moving world we have come from.

    My clarity came over the past couple of years, after a small number of such leaders left their CQ teams. They didn’t think the rest of the team was of a high enough standard for them to learn anything. One even mentioned that he was not sure how they would function without him. Bless.

    Well, what invariably happened was that the team breathed a sigh of relief, and the collective and personal outcomes jumped significantly. I was surprised. The facilitators were not. The strong leaders were not missed at all, and in fact would not be welcomed back after the collective had experienced life after.

    What was going on? I was fascinated, and I realised there is a whole new model appearing in front of me, and one that will cope with the uncertainty and complexity ahead.

    When we design a Collective Intelligence team, we work hard to get as many worldviews in the room, a huge variety of experience, range of ages, ethnicities and industries. Meanwhile, watching there are no conflict of interest, and that no cliques emerge, once the team begins. This is so we don’t get any hierarchical behaviour, but have as much neutrality in dialogue, and free thinking.

    We are not wanting to have strong leaders in a team. They just stifle the output of others. Don’t get me wrong, we have fabulous, capable, authentic, hard working professionals from across New Zealand, but the mantra often expressed to new members coming in, by existing members is this: ‘Leave your ego at the door’.
    And if I was to condense this Blog to one line, that would be it:

    Leave your ego at the door

    Recently I was reminded of the effects of our culture by Kylie Bailey of Goodsense, who was called in to facilitate a group of members selected at random from around the nation, for a workshop. There was a 40 year age gap from youngest to oldest, some were members who had been with us 11 years, and some just started. I was fortunate enough to be present.

    Here’s what Kylie noticed:

    Having spent time with a group of Collective Intelligence members, the first thing that struck me about being in their presence was the unique way everyone in the room approaches conversations… even when others are very different from themselves. There is an immediate sense that these people aren’t about business as usual (BAU) or being in competition (a rare combination in high-performing New Zealand professionals). There is a level of empathy, care and a genuine sense that – on first interaction – they want to engage with an individual’s point of view and what they have to say. Conversely, Collective Intelligence members aren’t afraid in coming forward, they are vocal and honest with their opinions. There are no shadows. Instead, there is a palpable willingness to understand someone’s opinion from every perspective and to share their own perspective. When you talk with a member of Collective Intelligence, you feel heard, included and respected… even if your opinion is different from theirs.

    And yes, the random group smashed the complex issue in 3 hours with no one leading. Just an energised facilitator and a neutral team focussed on the task.

    In summary, I believe collective intelligence will outperform leadership every time. Especially when the issues and opportunities are complex.

    It is hard to define the unique energy unleashed by this phenomenon when you are able to attain neutrality between individuals, and allow the fringes to shine and have voice. There is nothing but magic in those corners.

    So as individuals, how do you start to build a team of your own at work, to harness this collective energy.

    • Squash the ego – the less you know the better
    • Bring out the empathy
    • Let the dialogue flow, give it space, let people participate.
    • Pay attention – notice, notice, notice what is going on.
    • Unlearning is as important as learning – some knowledge needs dropping asap.
    • Curiosity is gold
    • Be clear on a few values – and make everyone accountable to them.
    • Value diversity of opinion by listening to it, and become informed by it.
    • No cliques – ever. They are always non productive.
    • Have a growth mindset – rather than knowledge mindset.
    • Be courageous – nurture courage in others – give it life.
    • And finally – have fun. It’s a blast to be in the middle of it.


    Personally I have never seen myself as the ‘leader’ of Collective Intelligence. Yes I have tasks to carry out, KPI’s etc, but, I am at my most productive, in my role as founder, when I am sensing and responding to the people around me.

    They know far more than I ever could.

  5. Regenerative Agriculture makes sense – so why have I shunned it for 7 years?

    February 26, 2019 by admin

    The ability to reflect is so important for your development and growth, so the experts say. And yep that’s fairly true. What these experts don’t say, is that you are going to uncover some very uncomfortable truths from time to time.

    This has been my reality over the past few months, and once again I marvel at my ability to be such a pig headed dick.

    This Blog was going to be written in a few months time, but I am too excited and agitated to wait that long. It’s a story of hearing the same message from different sources, many times before the penny dropped for me, and for the first time in maybe 20 years I am truly excited about the future of agriculture. It feels so good.

    And a quick reference point, I was a Sheep, Beef and Deer farmer for 30 years before starting Collective Intelligence.

    So….. Seven years ago I was introduced to a concept called Regenerative Farming, by a passionate and knowledgeable advocate Jules Matthews. Now Jules is not what you would necessarily consider mainstream, but she is articulate and smart. She talked about her work with Nicole Masters, an Agri-ecologist, on a farm in Hawkes Bay, and I listened. But I was listening to win. Not listening to learn. These two listening styles look similar from the outside, but get processed very differently on the inside.

    I was sort of polite to Jules, but thought, this is just mumbo jumbo farming, and will not possibly produce enough food to feed the world. Unlike conventional farming.

    And I have been very critical of organic farming for many years, as often their practices were more harmful to animals and the environment, and I just dumped Regenerative Agriculture into that category.

    I kept on hearing snippets about Regenerative Agriculture over the next few years, but no personal spike in interest at all. We have a member Lance Gillespie, a dairy farmer, who is into Regenerative Agriculture, and I would hear about dung beetles, which was intriguing, but still not getting through.

    2018 would prove to be the year that cracks appeared in my rigid attitude.

    The first crack was created while listening to a speech by Melissa Clark- Reynolds given at an Edmund Hillary Fellowship event:

    Now Melissa is credible in the tech world for sure, but when she starts talking about ‘Love’ in a farming sense, I shook my head. She then went on to talk about Regenerative Farming. Now I have had the pleasure of meeting Melissa, she’s sharp. Why would she be on about this stuff?

    In August I wrote about my experience of the wine industry, through sponsoring the young winemaker awards in 2018. In here I mention my work with the Te Mana lamb program in the deep south. This innovated initiative lead by geneticist Aimee Charteris, and talented group of farmers have developed an extensive flock of sheep, where the lambs have similar levels of Omega 3, as high as a fatty fish – meaning it not only tasted great but is good for you. They have created this through an complex genetic program that has had tens of millions of dollars invested and years of blood sweat and tears.

    Meanwhile, I hear about a farmer named David Crutchley, based in the beautiful Danseys Pass region, who also has developed a lamb high in Omega 3, under the brand Provenance lamb. However, he has developed this in a totally different way. He has used Regenerative Agriculture as the catalyst. Well, I did the only natural thing and promptly discredited David as a nutter. How could a lone farmer achieve this feat without all the science Te Mana had used?

    By chance, I was staying with friends in Dunedin, and on Saturday night they invited friends Mari-Anne and Michael Coughlin to dinner. I have met them a number of times before, but had not realised that Michael (a chef) was the brand ambassador for Provenance lamb. Oh dear, when he started talking about this wonderful product I had to bite my tongue. I really wanted to say I think it’s nonsense to believe David Crutchley could do what he claims he has done.

    And then I thought, what would a winemaker do? Get curious and ask to taste the product. Which I did, and Michael promptly couriered some Provenance lamb to our home.

    Seismic crack two – Kate and I don’t eat a lot of meat. Used to, but our consumption is dropping. So we followed simple directions from Michael, and cooked enough lamb for two meals that night. We sat down, and proceeded to eat the most magnificent tasting, succulent lamb either of us had ever eaten. I could feel the omega 3 on my lips, and Kate and I just basked in the moment. When we were finished, we looked at each other, and then simultaneously said ‘let’s eat the rest now’. Which we did with absolute glee.

    I was confused, and realised I had no idea what Regenerative Agriculture actually was. No idea. Had never really got curious.

    How could a farming system create such magnificent food, and I not get interested?

    Why had I not been more inquisitive? Because I had been a good farmer, who had been taught a method and executed it well. I was surrounded by people who thought like me, and my curiosity had been dulled by success of applying a different system.

    I have had the pleasure of meeting David Crutchley and some of his family, and marvel at their tenacity and genius for what they have created. It hasn’t been easy for them, and is still not. They are going against the establishment. I have also talked to David about becoming NZ’s first certified B Corp certified farming business. Lets see what happens.

    Remember that dairy farmer Lance Gillespie? Well he invited me to a Regenerative Agriculture field day on his farm in the beautiful area of Apiti (Northern Manawatu) recently, which I accepted.

    And now for the tsunami – He said he had a speaker out from the USA by the name of Nicole Masters, who was very knowledgeable. The name didn’t drop until I arrived at the field day, and who was there to greet me, none other than Jules Matthews who first introduced me to Regenerative Agriculture seven long years ago. And of course the speaker from the USA, was her friend Nicole from Hawkes Bay, who she talked about seven long years ago.

    Measuring how porous the soil was on Lance Gillespie’s farm. Healthy soils like this one are incredibly porous, which is also why the grass in February is so green.

    The reason I have outlined the sequence of events, is to reflect, just how many times do we need to hear something that positive, before we listen fully? I am mystified by my resistance, and a little disappointed in myself. However, old dogs can learn new tricks, it just takes time for some.

    Here’s some key messages from my learnings so far.

    • Sustainable Farming is not the same as Regenerative. Regenerative means to regenerate – improve/heal/sort mistakes from the past.
    • Glyphosate kills grass and also Algae in the soil. Which is the equivalent of killing plankton in the sea. I never realised that, and that’s a message I understand.
    • Traditional farming focusses on growing grass. Regenerative Farming focuses on growing soil. That’s a huge point of difference.
    • Regenerative Farming is not taught in Universities.
    • Traditional fertiliser companies do not make money from Regenerative Farming, and guess what – they don’t like it! Their behaviour is similar to the tobacco companies of old.
    • Soil under a Regenerative system absorbs more water = less flooding and less drought.
    • Soil under a Regenerative system responds favourably within months.
    • Food produced from a Regenerative system is more dense in nutrients = healthier.
    • Nicole Masters is based in the States, because farmers have not responded to her work in New Zealand – yet.

    Once I do work things out I like taking action, and have engaged a specialist consultant Dennis Nieuwkoop to help transition our wee farm ‘Raumai Iti’ to a fully Regenerative system. I’m excited, and ready to unlearn 30 years of beliefs.

    However, it has amazed me how difficult it has been, to embrace fully this new thinking, as recently as two weeks ago. And, realising it would be very easy for me to sabotage this transition, and prove why it won’t work.

    There will be a follow up Blog in the future, as I learn more of the technical aspects of Regenerative Farming, and record the progress on Raumai Iti.

    Thanks Jules Matthews for starting the process, and Lance Gillespie for completing the loop.
    To Nicole Masters, you are inspirational!

  6. Why B Corp is one of the more important movements in the world today

    January 27, 2019 by admin

    Capitalism emerged over the past 200 -300 years. It has been a game changer for productivity and raising the quality of life for many, with the selection of consumer products almost unlimited as a result.

    Here is a definition I found.

    Capitalism is the paramount economic system because it provides limitless opportunity, encourages innovation, and has not been proven inferior to alternative economic systems. … Capitalism is the only economic system which allows every individual an equal chance of success, regardless of inherited social class.

    It has a wee flip side though – that of greed, buggering the planet, and a widening gap between rich and poor. These are just a few of the negatives, and they exist across the world. It is hard to fathom, that a city like Los Angeles (a mecca of capitalism), has 60,000 homeless people living on the streets.

    Capitalism, in its purest form, could well be the demise of the human race.

    The relentless pursuit of financial profit, has lead to companies producing crazy products – like food that is absolutely bad for humans to consume, with disastrous health implications for hundreds of millions of people. Who would actually want to do this?

    We have a fashion industry, that has used child labour to manufacture garments, malnourished models to wear them, that entice us to buy clothes, and then dump 400 billion dollars worth of clothes annually, into landfill. Who would actually plan to do this?

    And the juxtaposition is just fabulous, created by Sam Jones of Little Yellow Bird (a B Corp) here in NZ. Read it and believe it: https://www.littleyellowbird.co.nz/

    Meanwhile, traditional companies have produced cigarettes, mined coal, hunted whales, and told us to spend money on shit we just don’t need, to make a profit. And the greater the profit, the more status and value of the company, regardless of the unintended consequences of the transactions. And to top it off, CEO’s get paid maximum rates, while cleaners are paid as little as possible.

    That’s a cynical overview, but reasonably accurate.

    So when I heard about Certified B Corps, a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit, from the sage Alex Hannant, I was immediately interested. Business is not going to disappear any time soon, we just need to get a whole lot smarter and balanced in our execution of commerce.

    So, what is a B Corp?

    Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

    Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.

    B Corp is a standard that are relevant to for-profit companies of any size. It originated out of the USA, and is represented in over 50 countries.

    In 2018 our company, Collective Intelligence, qualified as a B Corp, after 15 months of hard work to attain this standard – it’s not easy. Here are our assessment scores – https://bcorporation.com.au/directory/cq-new-zealand-limited You need to get 80 points to qualify, and as you can see we just snuck in. We were the 16th company in New Zealand to do so, and to say we are proud to have made it into this international community is an understatement.

    The fascinating aspect with companies wanting to be a force for good, and redefining the purpose of business, is that it is not at the detriment to profit. In fact, the opposite can be true. Capitalism is being re-defined.

    Now let’s get down to practicalities – tangible benefits for those thinking this is just feel good nonsense.

    Here are the 4 main benefits I have come across.

    1. B Corps grow faster than their counterparts
    2. Talent is strongly attracted to B Corps – especially young talent
    3. Customers love companies motivated by profit and purpose – e.g.Patagonia.
    4. Access to discounted capital – it’s happening now with Danone as an example


    One of the best examples of increased growth was explained to me by Andrea De Almeida (The Executive Director at B Lab – who is our Aust/NZ parent body). Andrea talked about Unilever actively acquiring B Corp companies as they out performed other companies they own by 46% than the rest of the businesses they owned and delivered 70% of its turnover growth.

    Plus its going to affect banking big time.

    Danone’s decision comes on the heels of the recent warning letter to CEOs by the world’s largest investor that the CEOs risked losing BlackRock’s support if they fail to demonstrate that they create value for society. We may be approaching a tipping point in the evolution of capitalism where finaanncial value creation is directly linked to societal value creation and systemic risk mitigation.

    Oh, and Danone North America has just become the largest company to become a B Corp:

    Danone becomes the world’s largest B Corporation.
    A “B Corp” certification requires answering an intensive set of questions on environmental, social, and governance issues. But most importantly, it commits a company to create value for all stakeholders (customers, employees, communities, and so on), not just shareholders.
    French consumer products giant Danone has now put 30% of its brands and businesses through the certification process and says that “companies are fundamentally challenged as to whose interests they really serve.” Becoming a B Corp is arguably a direct statement about whose interests it values most, and it’s a fascinating frontal attack on the dominance of shareholder capitalism.

    Here’s another example.

    One of the shining lights of the B Corp movement is the American based company Patagonia. Recently their CEO Rose Marcario, announced that based on last year’s irresponsible tax cut, Patagonia will owe less in taxes this year—$10 million less, in fact. Instead of putting the money back into their business, they’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet.”Our home planet needs it more than we do,” she said. That my friends, is what a true B Corp would do. Read More

    It intrigues me when billionaires suddenly become these wonderful philanthropists at the end of their careers. Yes, it’s a nice thing to become, but when you look at how some made their fortune on the way through, it was often at the expense of others by often paying minimum wages, or creating a model that decimated local communities for example. B Corps do the good on the journey – not at the end.

    There is a NZ company, based in China, that is currently producing $600 million dollars worth of plastic toys, that will last a few months at most, and end up in landfill or waterways. The young founders are commercially sharp for sure, and maybe will one day be fabulous philanthropists. Until then, they are working hard to bugger the planet making shit that kids don’t need, but creating a healthy profit along the way. Once upon a time, we would commend them for their industrious pursuits. Not any more. It’s just not bloody good enough.

    Australia have 236 companies B Corp registered, and Aotearoa now have 19, so there is a real need to kick on with this as a nation and help get more companies certified, to make a true impact.

    For Collective Intelligence, the benefits started during the accreditation process where we got the chance to view all aspects of our company as we assessed the 5 B Corp pillars of Governance. Workers, Community, Environment and Customers. We tweaked a number of aspects along the way, including our constitution, and contracts, with a more robust company as a result.

    Once we were certified, our behaviour has changed. We are more transparent internally, and considered of our environmental impact for example. We have put our bank under more scrutiny (who give us good service) by asking them to look into their contracts with their cleaners, and are they fair?. Which they have – they weren’t, and sorted. We also asked if they are placing funds in ethical investments only? No answer to this yet. We would consider changing banks if we are not able to get a satisfactory answer to this question.

    In early December last year Andrea De Almeida, agreed to come over to New Zealand for a tour of the three main cities to raise the awareness of B Corp. 200 people turned out, at a time of year that is clogged enough with other events, so we were stoked with the response. Watch here

    We are about to hit a positive tipping point of B Corp certifications in New Zealand, and Collective Intelligence wants to help companies that intend to certify. In response to the need for support, B Lab AuNZ will be running a series of B Corp Boot Camps across New Zealand in March 2019. These 3 hour live working sessions with the Head of Community Building Mindy Leow, are designed to help you get over the finish line. They will be offered at $150 per attendee.

    Please register your interest here.


    There is a wealth of resources to help support your understanding of the B Corp movement and the impact B Corps are having in creating the new economy. Visit bcorporation.com.au for more information.

    Alternatively, connect with our New Zealand Ambassador and fellow B Corp Tim Jones from Grow Good who will be more than happy to chat further about any questions you might have with certification and the B Corp movement.

    I believe Aotearoa can lead the world in this movement within 5 years, as we can adapt quicker than most, so get into it, if you intend to be part of the business world of the future.

  7. We have a long way to go before women can feel safe in NZ – Unfortunately

    December 13, 2018 by admin

    In the USA I can clearly see the correlation between mass shootings and the easy access to assault rifles. It seems very obvious to outsiders how to fix this scourge, but it’s part of the American culture and even written into their constitution – the right to bear arms. So, in reality it’s not that easy to fix, but it is easy to identify.

    Meanwhile, in our own beautiful country we have a different scourge – one that is not that easy to fix either, and also very hard to identify. That’s the scary bit.

    Violence toward women is alive and well in our wee paradise. Has been for a long time.

    When I was a kid, homicide was a very rare occurrence. The first homicide that I became aware of was that of a tourist Jennifer Beard in 1969, which was in the media for months. The Mona Blades mystery followed in 1975, neither were solved. Both are etched into my mind as sexually violent offences which were hard to fathom for my young brain.

    This past week we have had the terrible news of Grace Millane going missing, and then found murdered. All three women were doing nothing to deserve this fate.

    But this is just the very tip of a very large iceberg – as 80% of women murdered, are carried out by their partners – the people they loved and trusted. Not as newsworthy, but just as tragic.

    Let’s go back to the American mass murders – we can see that correlation easily. So, what are we missing in our own backyard? Why do women feel unsafe in Aotearoa? Why do professional women need to take steps to protect themselves at work? Why do women need to plan their walk to and from work to stay safe? Why do young women need to remain vigilant when out socialising so their drinks aren’t spiked?

    I have given this a lot of thought and discussed it often with my wife Kate. It’s real and disturbing.

    Here’s where I have got to with my musing.

    Kate introduced me to the diagram below, and a few lights started to come on for me. The bottom level looks rather harmless, the next a little more uncomfortable, the third is getting seriously out of control, and the top level is what we see in the media.

    The thing is, I have seen lots of examples of the bottom-tier behaviour over the years. And not just from men.

    One of the most disturbing was the behaviour from a mother of two boys in their late teens/early twenties. She actually seemed proud that her so-called handsome sons were sexual predators, and treated young women like targets. And while I was surprised, I didn’t call her out at the time, and that’s the second issue right there. We need to call out this behaviour on the bottom level, and say it’s not cool. I’m going to take that on from now on – I haven’t in the past.

    Personally, I have been sexually harassed by a woman on a regular basis when she had been drinking. It felt disgusting and embarrassing, and hard to deal with. God knows what it’s like for women.

    The third example is even more disturbing because it happened right under my nose for some years.

    I employed a chap some years ago while I was farming. He was reasonably good at his job, and very reliable. And he took a shine to our daughter Gabby. He was very attentive, and sometimes a little too attentive. I am not going to go into detail here. The upshot is that I put my daughter into an unsafe environment, which she called home, by employing him, and accepting his behaviour as innocent enough. While Gabby was not directly harmed, she was definitely in danger.

    I have apologised for this lack of care and love some months ago, and I am grateful Gabby accepted it. The guts is, I should have once again called him out, and dealt with the situation head on.

    Why am I not calling people out for this sort of behaviour? As many would know, I prefer women’s company to men’s, and would not call myself sexist. Yet I have failed to act numerous times to protect women.

    I believe it’s because it has been the norm, and I have just got used to it as I grew up. So, I am a big part of the problem, and need to sort my shit out when it comes to calling out others – both men and women. I encourage others to do the same, so we can have a country where women can feel safe.

  8. Relevant learning is so much more fun and rewarding

    November 26, 2018 by admin

    School was never much fun for me. I was born with a hearing impairment (which hearing aids couldn’t help with then), poor fine motor coordination, and was generally considered a bit dull in the classroom. I liked the outdoors and all things sport, and put my attention there.

    Thankfully I was blessed with an amazing elocution teacher, Elizabeth Redmayne, who took me under her wing at the age of 10 years, to sort out my speech problems due to my hearing loss. But this was one of the few positive learning experiences in my early schooling.

    Secondary school was worse, and I sat at the back of the room of the C grade for 5 years (motivated to stay only to play sport and be with my mates) and achieved SFA academically.
    I remember completing 2 years of 5th form biology with a crusty old teacher with a big moustache who mumbled. It was a subject I enjoyed but couldn’t lip read due to the moustache, and didn’t pick up the subtleties of the subject at all. Result – 44% in the first year, and 48% in the second. Smashed it.

    However, what I did gain was a deeply held belief that I was dumb.

    In those days you could go onto Lincoln University and complete a Diploma of Agriculture without University Entrance after 2 years practical under your belt. This actually went a little better for me due to the lecture hall acoustics being very good, and I was more into the subject material. To my parents’ surprise and utter delight, I gained a Diploma!

    When I walked out of Lincoln, I thought, thankfully that’s my classroom days over, and no more study for me – ever.

    That was November, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty, and I ventured off into the world to be a farmer.

    Since then a few things have changed. Hearing aids have made huge gains in technological advancement, and I got to hear birds singing in the trees, at age 32 years as a result.

    I also developed a love of reading. I read every day, and if I could do only one thing for the rest of my life, it would be to read. I’m not a fast reader, but consistent.

    And I did go back to Lincoln, but to do some lecturing of both adult learners, and also Ag Science students. Skipped discussing Biology though.

    Worked with 5th year vet students once a year, which was hugely rewarding.

    And was asked to speak to a wide number of farming groups and conferences.

    All of these activities were a surprise to me.

    However, the stigma of my school years stuck with me through thick and thin. That nagging voice at the back of my head. You are dumb, and everyone knows it.

    So, the sheer delight I felt last Friday, as I walked across the stage at Auckland Museum to be capped for gaining my Bachelors of Applied Management with Distinction is hard to describe. I’m not even going to try.

    This began with a nudge from Steve Henry, who is a key person within Capable NZ team, a derivative of Otago Polytech. He suggested the Bachelor’s would unpick what I know, and follow their mantra of Valuing my Experience. I was a little tentative at first, but was teamed up with the fabulous Glenys Kerr as my facilitator, and soon found I was being guided through their process whether I liked it or not. Actually, that’s not fair, as I enjoyed the whole process, but got distracted from time to time.

    Capable NZ asked three main questions of me:

    • Who are you?
    • What do you know?
    • And why do you know it?

    The result was a deep dive into my life, and experiences. I got to reflect on a wide range of events. Some that had not gone particularly well, and I had just wanted to move on from. These were some of the best learnings. But the gem for me ironically, was not in management, but leadership.

    Leadership was not something I ever enjoyed, or wanted. This is a direct result of my childhood (which I won’t go into now), but the net result was that whenever I found myself in a leadership role, I instinctively thought ‘if I’m leading this, we are in the shit!’.

    During the study over the past few months, I found with the help of Glenys, that there is a style of leadership that does not feel heavy, or uncomfortable for me. Transformational leadership was an area we examined together, and I thought ‘That is me’. And for the first time in my life leadership felt okay. Might not sound a big deal – but for me it is.

    So back to Capable NZ. It’s such a different learning model, and super effective, as it focuses on reflection of self, with a structure of review, enquiry, and investigation. Steve Henry talks about customising your own learning, and that takes a bit of getting my head around. It’s not sitting in a classroom listening to some wonk, and being examined on your ability to regurgitate what they have said. That old style actually sounds bloody stupid when you put it like that.

    Rather it’s about a deep reflection on what is useful and relevant. Boom – highly motivating.
    And I would highly recommend Capable NZ to anyone who wants to have their three questions answered above, and get some new learning into your heart and brain.

    So now I am in the process of considering the next stage, and looking at the possibility of taking on a Master’s degree. There are some areas of impact of our Collective Intelligence process I would like to understand better, and believe a Masters could help with this investigation.

    And all of a sudden, I’m not feeling so dumb anymore. Thanks Glenys Kerr.

  9. Why do some people struggle to embrace the miracle that is Emotional Intelligence?

    October 29, 2018 by admin

    Three years into building this business we call Collective Intelligence, I found myself pondering ‘why are some teams so much more productive, achieve greater professional impact and growth as individuals than other teams’? Oh, and they had much more fun.

    So I set about analysing each team to find the cause. Looking at age range, gender balance, industry background, education level, their roles, and got absolutely no clear outcomes as to why a team would consistently be more impactful than others. Then I focussed just on the one clear lead team of impact. What did they have the others didn’t? I had the good fortune of facilitating them, and observed like crazy for the next two meetings, and the penny dropped.

    I tested my assumption by looking at others teams and I was sure I was onto something.

    A Collective Intelligence team is made up of a maximum of 9 people. The team that was out performing the rest, had something the others didn’t. They had 3 members with a high emotional intelligence ‘EQ’. The result was that they were able to challenge each other more, reflect deeper, and have far more intense dialogue without individuals getting grossly upset. To facilitate they were not easier as such, because they pushed me harder too, but the rewards were far greater. And this cluster of 3, with high EQ’s, lifted the rest of the individuals in the team as well.

    Other teams had one or two individuals with high EQ, but it wasn’t enough to make a real difference. The 3 together compounded their EQ effect.

    With that insight, I thought all I have to do is challenge the other teams to lift their EQ, and Bob’s your Uncle. I can be so naive at times.

    This is what happened when I challenged each team – the teams with moderately high EQ reflected and said how do we do that? The teams that were low, reacted by saying ‘we’re okay. No need to change. What do you mean we need to lift our game?’ So the performance of teams with moderate/high EQ lifted and the low stayed just the same. Epic fail of tactics on my part.

    Today, when we design teams we try and make sure there is a cluster of at least three high EQ people in each of them. We don’t always get it right but we know what we are aiming for.

    But the key message from this Blog is that I am still amazed that the gap between individual’s EQ is profound, and yet it is totally possible to lift this intelligence unlike IQ. The rewards of lifting EQ are enormous, both personally and professionally, so why the resistance?

    I can only speak from a Pakeha perspective, and believe that our culture has never really accepted that so called ‘soft skills’ are a cool thing to embrace. And yet it is happening right before our eyes in the most masculine of arenas.

    Recently we experienced the amazing come back by the All Black team in South Africa. The AB’s had been beaten in most aspects of the game, and were trailing 30 points to 13, with twenty minutes to play, and managed to come from behind to win at the very last moment. Wow – fabulous finish, and the commentators say ‘what incredible mental toughness’. And I smile and think, when will they call it for what it really is? Emotional toughness or EQ.

    Because what the hell is mental toughness? The ability to remember the moves, the lineout throws? Remembering the score, and the rules? That would be about it. Well that is not going to win you the game in the situation the All Blacks found themselves in.

    Nope – that would be trusting yourself and your teammates. Staying calm and focussed, and allowing those magnificent bodies to stay fluid and calm. And that my friends, is a form of EQ, on display by a group of masculine men, in a masculine battle.

    Let’s look at another sport – tennis. What is the difference between Roger Federer, and say Nick Kyrgios? Both have great physical ability, and similar strokes. But one is the best player the world has seen, and the other will fade into oblivion if he doesn’t sort one, and only one thing, out very soon and it’s his Emotional Intelligence.

    So in this age of research which shows businesses and organisations that outperform others because of better teamwork, and leaders with High Emotional Intelligence getting higher results, why are we not embracing the work of people like David Rock and Brene Brown.

    I am absolutely flabbergasted when I hear the term fluffy or that soft stuff, in a derogatory way when referring to EQ. The soft skills are the most important skills to develop, over and above technical, and/or academic, and I would appreciate some feedback on how to lift this awareness.

    Final point – New Zealand’s appalling suicide rate is a sign our EQ is not great. We live in the most stunning country, and yet have the worst suicide rate in the developed world. Is that not enough motivation to embrace the miracle of Emotional Intelligence?

  10. How are we going to save the Great White Male?

    September 20, 2018 by admin

    Seldom in my life have I recognised the signs of social change as they happen. Normally the change is pointed out after, and I’m like – oh yeah I can see that in hindsight. Hindsight is fabulous.

    So I have surprised myself recently, when I started to notice a social change, as it’s happening, and witnessing the impact. And I feel a sense of responsibility to raise the alarm.

    I also wanted another point of view, as I believe this is the most important subject I have written about in the past 12 months. Sue Johnston has been generous enough to give a female perspective which I am very grateful for, especially as I am writing about my own demographic.

    So here goes.

    The Great White Male (GWM) is struggling to cope with the complex and changing world we live in, and there is carnage already.

    November last year I wrote in my Blog about the world of traditional Dominants. https://www.collectiveintelligence.co.nz/blog/the-world-of-the-traditional-dominant-is-a-changing/ This is a direct quote:
    ‘In some way I feel for the dominants, as they struggle to adjust to the emerging world, where status and money are not as respected as collaboration’.

    This Blog is a follow on, but more specific.

    First – Here’s a reality check:

    • We have the largest demographic group in the workforce the world has ever experienced before. They are called Millennials.
    • Millennials are now in 20% of all leadership roles.
    • 25% of New Zealanders were not born in Aotearoa.
    • Women are determined to gain Gender Equality – and making huge inroads.
    • Most Corporate and Social structures have been designed by men, which often favour men – often unconsciously.
    • M?ori are working their tails off to make up for lost opportunities caused by colonisation.
    • All of these are having a direct affect on The Great White Male.
    • As Bob Dylan would say ‘The times they are a changin’

    In my position as Founder, sitting in the heart of a growing diverse community that is Collective Intelligence, I have realised the group that is struggling the most with the changing scene in our country are the white males aged 45 years and above.

    It’s like watching a marathon race, where a runner is passed late in the race and just can’t change tempo to keep up. And it’s agonising to watch. And it’s worse if you’re the runner being passed. Ironically men started this marathon early, and with better shoes, which illustrates how hard woman have worked.

    So what have I specifically observed? Well here’s a sample from the past 12 months within our diverse community.

    • Watching a late 50’s bloke struggle with being challenged by a 30 something year old female, and not knowing how to respond, resorted to bullying. And thought that was okay.
    • A male CEO asking for more people like him to come into his Collective Intelligence team, and when this was not agreed to, not understanding why this was not the best option to extend his development.
    • Introducing an accomplished young M?ori woman to an existing Collective intelligence Team, and having three older white men question the value of her contribution. They simply did not get it. And still don’t. And they left.
    • This has happened a number of times – a GWM not wanting to make the effort to attend a Collective Intelligence host meeting because they couldn’t see what was in it for them? One recently couldn’t be bothered travelling to the lower South Island.
    • I have witnessed a good ‘bloke’, leave a senior corporate position, and within seven years, move backwards three times, not realising he was not the formidable corporate ‘bloke’ any more.
    • A chap from a rural background ringing me, complaining that the woman in his team were not respecting his viewpoint on a number of issues. I asked if he had asked them why – the answer was no he hadn’t. I suggested that he bring it up with them, which he still hasn’t. His female facilitator rang him to discuss, left a message and he hasn’t replied.
    • Another 50+ has lost his job, as he was unable to work for a 30+ year old female boss. He has vanished from all communication and will not engage with me. I could go on, but this is painting the picture of what I am experiencing.

    It’s the last two points that concern me the most. When the world pushes in on these males, and they disappear from engagement – what then? This is the tip of the iceberg and these men are everywhere.

    I heard a great quote recently from a knowledgeable chap from the Tertiary Education Commission. He made a very sage comment “we are all four bad choices away from being unemployable”. Spooky, but I think very accurate. My concern is that one particular demographic is making more poorer choices than the rest combined.

    The other observation is the bewilderment by the GWM’s, around the call for diversity on governance boards. I even heard one blurt out at a meeting – “don’t forget the wonderful experience we bring to the table.” Experience in what? Bullying and poor performance? Who needs it.

    Even the result of our last general election is mystifying to many GWM’s. I have heard them say many times,”but Labour didn’t get the majority of votes”. Which of course is true. But they had a leader who’s a natural collaborator, which is a very Gen X thing to do. Whereas, the National Party have formed coalitions in the past, and then gone on to decimated their partners, by ignoring, or worse dominating them. This new style of Government is all about collaboration, and it is what the future generations will regard as mainstream. Meanwhile in Australia we can observe the past.

    Enough of the beat up. What to do about this?
    A National Federation of Men? Possibly? The big issue is that the people who need the most assistance, are not seeing that it’s an issue until it affects them negatively, and then it seems too late. They go into fight or flight and it’s a long way back from there.

    There is a very cool company in Wellington, called Double Denim www.doubledenim.nz who are into training companies in the art of Gender Intelligence. Highly recommend if you want to lift performance of your company or organisation.

    So to all you Great White Males – collaboration is here to stay. The days of dominating to get your point across will be gone within 5 years. So what skills are you going to develop to replace these? It will be fun and rewarding if you take up the challenge.

    From Sue Johnston

    In this blog post Harv is focusing on ‘the great white male.” He’s noticing how some of his mates who he shares this label with are struggling to adapt and change to the new world. You’re right Harv, it does matter what happens to our mates when they are struggling.

    You asked for my views as a woman who grew up in the same generation. I’ve written a letter for you and our mates Harv.

    Dear GWM,

    You grew up in a generation where white men ruled the roost. There were two key messages that were running strongly through our society about men in those days.

    1. Status matters and you get status in New Zealand from being good at sport (particularly rugby), or having enough wealth to provide for your family.
    2. Don’t show weakness – of any kind – ever. “Big boys don’t cry.”

    So unless you grew up with very enlightened parents, the script that you built about yourself and who you are, will have these two messages embedded in it. So you worked hard, made sacrifices, pushed through, sucked it up and soldiered on. So that your family could eat, holiday, and get a good education.

    You built a reputation as a great farmer/accountant/lawyer/engineer. Your peers promoted you as a ‘good bloke.” The world you excelled in taught you that the best way to lead people was the command and control way. You are/were making a wonderful life. You are doing your best. You have experienced struggles.

    I have two questions for you, that may be the starter to help you to navigating the confusing and changing world you occupy.

    How do you deal with your struggles?

    The script you grew up with hasn’t prepared you so well for dealing with struggles. Firstly the fast paced and complex world we live in is different from what you expected or imagined it to be like at this point in your life. It also wasn’t usual to give any of us growing up in those days the tools that we needed to deal with tough times – other than suck it up and get over it. And if that didn’t work for us, we were left with nothing other than the message “I’m not strong enough/good enough because I can’t get over it”. You grew up learning that you don’t show your ‘not enoughness’ to anyone.

    If you grew up in a home where showing strong emotion was frowned upon, then you may not know that what drives the first response to a tough situation is our emotions. Our thoughts, and actions are driven by our feelings – at work, on the sports field, and at home. So if you don’t have the ability to deal with strong emotion it will be ruling your thoughts and actions. And what that looks like for others is a thrown tennis racket, yelling at a work colleague, inability to take feedback, blaming and shaming. The good news is that understanding emotion to navigate life can and is being learnt by men like you.

    “There are healthy techniques to choose your fights, vent pressure and salve your ego. Most of all there is tolerance and forgiveness, which comes with maturity and lead you to understand that the idiot who didn’t indicate when turning in front of you wasn’t out to get you.” Alan Weiss.

    Who are you – really?

    It’s common for us to describe ourselves by what we do. For example, “I’m a farmer.” “I’m a lawyer.” These are short cut ways of saying to people things like “I have status”, or “I have money” “I am trustworthy”. Those things that you grew up hearing were important.

    Take away those labels. Now who are you? What do you stand for? What is your character? What are you fundamental values? I have known men who have been so attached to the labels of what they do, that they cannot separate them from who they are. It can be an uncomfortable process to take off the armour of a job title. The reward is worth it.

    You have decades of wisdom to share. Would you like to be able to share it in a way that old, young and peers alike will seek out? Here’s some ideas to make that happen:

    • Start getting curious about yourself, who you are under the armour of a job title.
    • Start asking questions and listening to people who have a different view of the world than you.
    • Develop the capacity to deal with strong emotion.
    • Take responsibility for your struggles.
    • Explore what your ‘not enough’ messages are.
    • Act in ways that are aligned with your values.
    • Learn what 21st leadership looks like.
    • Find places where you can interact with people of a different generation, ask questions and be curious about what makes them tick.
    • Continue to be your best.
    • Share your years of wisdom in a way that others will seek you out.
    • Ask for help

    As Harv says it will be rewarding if you take up the challenge.

    “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.” Claude Levi-Strauss

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