1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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

  8. What skills do we need to learn to deal with views we just don’t like?

    August 27, 2018 by admin

    Where does the boundary between hate speech and freedom of speech exist, and who gets to draw it?

    To take offence is a choice of the listener, and the choice to listen openly has influence, far greater than the speaker can ever have if used cleverly.

    Conversely shutting down hate speech can be a dangerous strategy as history shows. The Weimar Republic had laws banning hate speech in Germany, jailing hundreds of Nazi’s and banning Hitler from speaking. Didn’t work. In fact, it actively made things worse.

    I believe hate speech per se, is not the most important issue here. What I believe is more important, is our ability to get up close, listen intently to the message, and then respond with better ideas, expressed competently.

    New Zealand recently had a visit from a couple of people who have a definite view of the world, which I found uncomfortable, but also fascinating. It intrigues me how people can form such clear, strong views of the world.

    Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux are a couple of outspoken alt right Canadians, which is even more baffling, as Canada is a country that is highly multicultural, and moderate in most things. My sister Jude lived there for 27 years before her untimely death, and had a deep affection for Canada and its people. On my visits to Toronto, to see her, I came to believe we had more in common with Canadians than with our neighbours, the Australians.

    Southern and Molyneux I had never heard of before, and their views were new to me as well.

    I did agree with the call by the Auckland Mayor, to not allow them to use council facilities. But nonetheless, I would have gone to one of their events if able, just to get an understanding of where the hell they are coming from. It was a pity, but understandable, that they were unable to find a venue that would host them, but I wondered why they did not speak at an open forum in public – maybe on the street, if they were so keen to have their views heard. The good old fashioned soap box. Or was it just about selling tickets?

    New Zealand is incredibly moderate in terms of political ideology with the difference between National and Labour parties being minor, compared to those of many other democracies. So, to have more radical views expressed in Aotearoa was an opportunity to stretch our ability to debate views like this.

    We are all biased. I am biased. You are biased.. Everyone is biased. But that doesn’t mean you or I are right. One of my favourite quotes is from Bob Dylan ‘Certainty represents ignorance’. It strikes me that the followers of this online alt – right movement have an astounding level of certainty in their ideology. Certainty is comforting for people who desperately want to understand the world.

    Something else that intrigues me is that when people argue with passion, their ability to process evidence from both sides of an argument seems to diminish. I think this is because they are so invested in their own views, which they have taken a while to put together and they desperately want them to be right. And yet scientists have discovered, just how flawed human perception of reality is. The more we learn about the brain and the universe, the clearer it becomes that humans create their own reality.

    My parents for instance initially thought Dame Whina Cooper was a troublesome Maori woman, when she first came to their attention. That view changed over time, thankfully.

    This is my message. We need to develop the skill to listen to people we don’t agree with, and stay focussed on understanding their point of view, before we express our own biased view. Listening intently does not mean we agree, but empathy can lead to a much richer dialogue, rather than just making each other wrong. I know I do this when I’m tired. It’s so much easier to take the moral high ground than listening to a point of view you don’t like.

    The skills we need to deal with views we don’t like is the subject of a book by Dr Brené Brown. In her book ‘Braving the Wilderness’ she gives us four practices that require us to be vulnerable and learn how to be with people with a different view of the world from our own.

    Here are the four practices:

    • People are hard to hate close-up. Move in.
    • Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.
    • Hold hands. With strangers.
    • Strong back, soft front, wild heart.

    The best local piece I have read on the subject is from Moana Jackson: https://e-tangata.co.nz/comment-and-analysis/moana-jackson-rethinking-free-speech/

    Aotearoa has some big issues to confront, now, and in the near future, and it is imperative that we have the ability to debate topics such as environmental, euthanasia, immigration, poverty, race relations, inequality and a whole lot more. Are we ready for these topics? Do we have the skills?

  9. What is needed to thrive in the world of primary export?

    August 2, 2018 by admin

    One of the great privileges of my vocation, is that I get a chance to look into many different industries from behind the scenes. Collective Intelligence now covers 70 plus professions and industries across New Zealand, and they all have their own strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies.

    We are a nation of exporters, with a history of primary based produce making up a great deal of the export earnings. This is changing to a far broader base, and our expertise is spreading to emerging and exciting industries like IT and yachting, with an international reputation building as innovators.

    What the most dynamic industries have in common is that they are all market oriented, and very responsive to the market’s needs. They are like this because, if they are not, they disappear.

    And on Friday evening as a sponsor of the North Island Young Winemaker awards in Hawke’s Bay, I got to see this market led mindset being expressed so vividly.


    One of my personal “work ons” at present is to become more aware of what is going on, what is unique/different and transferable from one industry to another. So, what I noticed on Friday night was a total lack of parochialism, and instead a delight in wine. What I also noticed was a focus on what the market needs, other people’s products, and a knowledge base that was hard to fathom.

    Let me try and describe what I saw. The event was held at the beautiful Church Road vineyard, who did not have any wine featured that evening. They were simply the host venue. In fact, the wines featured on our tables were not just from New Zealand, but around the world.

    We had a wine tasting competition for the guests as a bit of fun during the evening, which showcased to me the depth of knowledge present in the room. There were two whites and two reds. We were asked questions like what type of wine it was, where in the world it was produced, what year, on what soil – and I was still identifying between red and white. Some varieies of wine I had never heard of before. Thankfully the competition was between tables, and we had some serious winemakers at our table. Here’s what blew me away – our table got 80% correct, others were more like 90% correct. Absolutely stunning as it showed a deep passion of what was going on around the world in their industry, unbelievably developed palates, and they were fascinated when they got the answer wrong.

    The other stand out of the evening, was a category for the real contestants (remember the young winemakers), where they had each been asked to blend a Rose for the Sainsbury chain in UK. Stunning example of not making your best wine – but make it for this market.

    They were also judged on the ability to speak… this is part of winemaking that is easily underestimated by the likes of me. They need to be able to tell the story of the wine.

    And all this made me reflect on a number of things. Firstly, this is why this industry is flourishing in New Zealand, and may they continue to grow and do fabulous things on the world stage, outperforming against all odds. Very proud to have been asked to sponsor – thanks to Sophie Harris of Te Awanga Estate.

    Secondly: this month I had been asked to talk at the Omega Lamb producer farmers meeting in Timaru. This project has been running for 10 years, invested around $25 million in R&D, to produce a lamb that has the equivalent Omega 3 levels as a fatty fish. Not only that, it tastes superior and is easier to cook. While I was there they had a blind tasting between 3 different lamb, of different origins, one of which was their own.

    What a contrast to the winemakers. The farmers could not clearly identify the difference between their lamb and others, and these farmers are way ahead of the national average on knowledge of product. If they developed the palate for their product, what a marvellous story they could tell.

    Thirdly: the strong wool industry has been declining for about 30 years, even though it is one of the most environmentally friendly raw products to grow. I hear they hold wool summits and get all hot and bothered about the state of things, but I have not heard them get really interested in WTF the market wants, and then set about producing a type of wool to satisfy that market. There are exceptions to this: Icebreaker, Allbirds, and Lanaco for example who are super connected to their markets, and are world leaders in each of their fields.

    This is not intended as a beat up of farmers, but rather an illustration of what is needed to be an exporter on the world stage.

    All industries are going to be disrupted in the future (some already are) and I hope that more people take notice of our wine industry, because they are a shining example of what’s needed to succeed.

  10. Getting Curious about Curiosity – Part 1

    June 24, 2018 by admin

    I initially thought this was a one off Blog on the subject – but it’s a biggie and a growing interest of mine – hence the part 1.

    About five years ago we worked out the four Collective Intelligence attributes, by analysing why some people got more out of our process than others, and then distilling the key differences. It took about 9 months to complete, and it was time well spent, as they are incredibly accurate and are referred to in all onboarding of new members, and monitoring of existing.


    Of the four Collective Intelligence attributes, I have understood Curiosity the least. Recently, when I stated this out loud to a cohort of Global Woman in a speech in Rotorua, a little voice spoke in my head, and said, “This is an oxymoron. Why are you not curious to find out more about curiosity – you dick?”

    Then a few days later listening to Frances Valentine speak in Auckland, her message was clear – New Zealanders need to become more curious. That did it, and now I have become a curiosity zealot in the making.

    So now I am trying to get my hands on whatever material I can on the subject (please forward any cool references at the bottom of this Blog). One of the first things I have uncovered is the huge variety of Curiosities that exist, such as;

    Perceptual – why people climb mountains.
    Diversive – what lies on the other side of the mountain.
    Epistemic – arms us with the knowledge to survive once we get to the other side of the mountain. It is a huge motivator, but needs constant working on.
    Empathetic – what is it like to walk in those shoes?
    Academic – a hungry mind is essential, which can be easily dulled by time and apathy. It is equally at risk of dogmatism.
    Cultural – needed more now in NZ than ever before.

    So here are some thoughts I have on my readings and musings so far – part 1 remember and not sure how many parts there might be.

    As a facilitator I often observed a huge difference in people under pressure or duress. Some would clam up and protect themselves, others would be okay with being vulnerable and seek out more information by being curious. The difference in the outcomes was vast, with the people able to remain curious able to gain far better outcomes than the others. And I reflected; how do we increase this skill. Still don’t know.

    Another reflection is that to be truly curious you also need to be brave, as you are going to uncover things that you may not like, or want to know about. It may also challenge some beliefs you may hold as truths. The best example I have uncovered was Charles Darwin writing to a mate from the Galapagos Islands, stating he was about to put down in writing his growing belief in the concept of evolution. This was that uncomfortable and foreign to him, that he likened it to committing murder, literally. It would have been so much easier to gloss over his findings and continue with creationism as the accepted knowledge. Remember many people still do not accept the law of evolution, so imagine writing this in scientific journals in 1859 – bloody brave.

    There are another couple of learnings from Darwin which are easily overlooked. For curiosity to flourish, it needs time. Time to percolate. There was bugger all else to do on Galapagos than for Darwin to observe and ponder. I have talked about this before, being busy is overrated.

    And, the other insight which surprised me, is that we learn best when we find something hard to learn. The learning becomes sticky and deep.

    Recently I was challenged by one of our scholarship recipients Tui Williams, as being sexist and ageist. I won’t go into the details (as they are not important), but Tui let me know she was unpleased with me over how I had responded to one of her colleagues Lauren Peate.

    My initial reaction (internally – thankfully) was ..this bloody generation are a pain in the butt, and a bit precious. Move on – next subject. Then, that little voice in my head went ‘what are you missing Harv?’

    So I enquired a bit more – then started to defend myself – then thought no need to defend myself as I ain’t guilty – then thought … get some more information – get curious you dick.

    When I asked myself the question; if Lauren was a male of the same age would I have treated him differently? No I wouldn’t.

    If Lauren was an older woman would I have treated her differently? Yes highly likely.

    If Lauren was an older man would I have treated him differently? Yes I would.

    I did this out loud with Tui at a cafe, not knowing the outcome. So, in the end Tui was absolutely correct in her observation. I stated to her I didn’t feel remotely guilty as it was completely an unconscious reaction, but will be far more conscious in the future.

    Curiosity got me there, nothing else. Thanks Tui, and I have had the chance to discuss with Lauren too, which was a cool conversation.

    I believe we need to foster every kind of curiosity, as they are precious. As soon as we start judging others or ourselves, curiosity is the first victim.

    To summarise I am going back to one of my favourite quotes from Jiddu Krishnamurti:
    “Observation without evaluation is the highest form of intelligence”

    More to come on curiosity in the future from me folks.

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