1. We miss you Sir Paul Callaghan, we really do!

    October 29, 2019 by Bettina

    Image Credit: Sir Paul Callaghan – Callaghan Innovation 

    This blog is going to be short and sweet, as it’s a reminder of this fabulous physicist who died of cancer and left a huge void in Aotearoa.  Sir Paul Callaghan was a great communicator, and his messages are needed today more than ever! 

    I never met Sir Paul, but I wish I had. He was not flash, however, he had a talent for sparking off people and their ideas. He also had that rare talent of taking complex issues and making them understandable and accessible.  Since his death, Callaghan Innovation

    has been set up in his honour to support new enterprises, and it is doing a great job. However so far it lacks the mana that the man himself carried – that single voice that inspired us to lift our game.

    If you do just one thing this week, listen to this clip of Sir Paul to experience the man.

    Recently I have been super-frustrated that we are not matching capital with entrepreneurial smarts, and we will lose talent rather than attract it, which was a dream of Callaghan’s. He was often heard saying ‘Aotearoa needs to be a place where talent wants to live’. 

    We understand social inequality but it happens in business too, and we suffer as a nation as a result. Coupled with our obsession of investing in bricks and mortar as a culture, this has stifled the creativity of enterprises. 

    Yes, we have angel investors and start-up spaces which are all good, but the sheer energy needed to raise this capital (and often the stifling terms as a result) are hindering the talent pool we have in New Zealand.  This is my single biggest concern, which we come across in our work at Collective Intelligence every week – how to nurture the talent pool. 

    It’s a precious thing to have entrepreneurs risk everything and bring an idea to life. Many fail and all struggle like hell. The human cost is huge but due to their stoic nature, as they are invariably optimists, we don’t hear much about it.  I would like us to change that reality by recognising just how important these silent few are. 

    Banks could play an enormous role with this, but will need to change their mindset from safe and secure profit-only, to a strategic and enterprise focus. It would only mean a small risk for them to do this. I see a glimmer now from a few banks and applaud their vision and fortitude.

    Government are aware of the need, with NZTE and Callaghan Innovation on to it.  A capital gains tax one day would also help, but it seems we are still a way off from being mature enough to cope with this.

    Companies like Pledgeme are brilliant at raising capital for smart, and often young, visionaries like Sam Jones of Little Yellow Bird

    The sleeping giant in this issue is the general public, who are asleep at the wheel.  We invest heavily in ‘assets’ to our heart’s content. Overpriced houses and farms gobble up most of the capital in New Zealand. This is not wealth creation – this is just lazy and dumb investing. 

    We can create and compete on the world stage at the highest level, like the America’s Cup, Allbirds and Rocket Lab, but these are outliers. We still have a way to go to get this firmly embedded into our DNA. 

    Ian Taylor is doing a stunning job by inspiring Māori to strive in the creative space, like bringing the stories of Kupe to life. These all make a difference, one small step at a time. 

    What would happen if we got serious about innovation and invested seriously in this space? We would smash it, because we are good at this stuff. Let’s take off the shackles and get behind our entrepreneurs.

  2. Make New Zealand Great Again!

    September 24, 2019 by Bettina

    *Cheers Peter Roband for the artful ‘Hats Off’ blog header image

    This past month we have made definite strides to copy the United States and divide the country between rural and urban. It worries me that propaganda has been used to stir up and isolate farmers throughout the country.

    Before I dive into that subject, let’s look at some background to my concerns.

    How many of us have heard of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)?

    I have been shocked to find that many New Zealanders I’ve spoken to have not even heard of these targets which came into force on 1 January 2016.

    Image Credit

    There are 17 of them and they are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. “Leave no one behind” is the SDG tagline.

    These SDG’s address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice. These goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve each goal by 2030.

    I got the opportunity to attend the New Zealand Sustainable Goals Summit conference in Auckland recently to find out how we are tracking as a nation, and how others were doing too.

    We had an excellent range of speakers, with the impressive Dame Helen Clark opening the day. I always look forward to hearing from her, as she has so much international experience and is very brave in calling out bullsh*t. Clark emphasised that the voice of small progressive countries is needed, and that we should use our privileged lives to good effect.

    Then we had Jeffery Sachs patch in from New York. This guy is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 100 countries. He knows his sh*t.

    In seven minutes, we learned from Sachs:

    • No country on the planet is up to date with their SDG plan.
    • The world looks to Aotearoa to lead change and we are #1 on many of the United Nations SDG indicators.
    • Jacinda Ardern is highly respected globally for her Wellbeing Budget.
    • Globalisation has worked well for the rich, but not so well for the average citizen.
    • As a result, many countries are now turning to Nationalism, which he believed is a dangerous paradigm shift internationally.
    • In 2019 globally, there are 200 million children who are not at school that should be.

    The problem with speakers of this calibre starting the day, is that the poor locals who follow can struggle in their wake, however many were exceptional.

    I’m not going to do a blow by blow of the speakers, but what was obvious was the fact that the activists who were speaking were very eloquent. Forest and Bird and Greenpeace representatives were both compelling speakers for example. Why? Because if you can’t present your cause you are toast.

    Conversely, the speakers from the farming industry were… not there…at all! Not one. In fact, I was the only person there from a farming background! I was totally surprised by this.

    Why is this important? Because 11 of the 17 United Nations SDG’s are related to farming, either directly or indirectly, and yet not one farmer representative was in the crowd of 422 present. When we went into our individual breakout sessions, the regenerative farming group was very, very small i.e. just me!

    So, what a pleasant surprise to go along to the Ministry for the Environment’s roadshow, the following week in Palmerston North, and see hundreds of farmers and farming representatives there. They turned up to listen to the new clean water legislative proposals that the Labour Coalition Government are going to roll out, and this was part of the consultation process.

    The National Government had proposed their own plan back in February 2017, to line up with SGD’s 6 and 14 that the National Ministers had signed up for in 2016. Both parties want clean water in our lakes and rivers so that we can swim in them! Boom. Love it.

    Back to the roadshow. This was for both urban and rural audiences and the speakers were to cover all aspects in the proposal.

    What transpired over the next two hours was a huge outpouring of emotion from the farmers present. It wasn’t fair that they needed to clean up their act, and fence streams, and review farming practices. They knew best, on how to look after the environment, oh, and don’t tell us what to do. Besides, the cities are disgusting polluters, and the townies need to sort themselves out before telling us what to do.

    Well on that night the townies may as well have not turned up, because they only got five minutes at the end to discuss the impending changes to their new world order.

    At the end of the night I ventured up to some of my old colleagues who I know and respect from the farming days, and asked, ‘Is this such a big deal?’ They both replied, ‘nope, the informed farmers are heading in this direction already.’

    I left the roadshow slightly bemused by the bloodletting and thinking…that was a lot of hot air, but okay, time to get back to work.

    But no. I then start noticing on social media that apparently poor farmers are being vilified (had to look that word up). Open letters were being penned to Prime Minister Ardern:

    • Come and look at my farm and I will show you what wonderful custodians of the environment we are.
    • Don’t pick on us – we’re vulnerable.
    • We are the backbone of the country; how dare you tell us what to do!
    • Farmers deserve respect.
    • Ardern hates farmers.
    • Oh, and we are going to vote you out!

    All good stuff.

    However, my concern is these posts are bordering on, or in fact are, a concerted propaganda ploy by right-wing lobbyists and politicians. And that my friends, is not okay.

    Spreading misinformation for political gain is not democracy. That’s being very naughty indeed. We have seen what happened in the United States when Trump started using these tactics. The isolated get confused and start believing the misinformation.

    So, let’s explore what is real.

    1) Firstly, very few people (counting on your fingers) are vilifying farmers:

    What is happening? Farmers are being scrutinised and found wanting across a number of environmental indicators. Not all farmers, but enough to raise alarm. It has happened because water quality in rivers and lakes (of which 98% run through rural New Zealand) are in decline. Also, drones have been used to film the appalling practices of winter grazing of cattle, and this has been broadcast at home and around the world.

    Scrutiny is a wonderful thing, but it is really uncomfortable, even when you are used to it. New Zealand farmers are not used to it. This is their new norm and finding a way to cope is going to be important.

    However, they are not alone. There are many worthy professions that come under regular scrutiny:

    • Doctors have had to bear scrutiny following two major cervical cancer screening enquiries – one of which resulted in a royal commission after a damning Metro magazine article. This addressed issues of consent – now a major cornerstone of medical practice.
    • The health system (which is arguably vastly under-resourced) as a whole is frequently (and often with cause) criticised. Doctors, nurses and midwives are frequently being reported to the Health and Disability Commission, and Medical Council.
    • Police bear regular criticism from the public – in the face of an extremely challenging task. The IPCA does not shy away from robust investigation of police incidents and making public its findings. Police will also prosecute their own in a courtroom.
    • Now the banks are starting to feel the pinch of public scrutiny. Just recently the banking ombudsman has announced a dramatic increase in complaints about banking – following on from the commission of inquiry into banking in Australia.
    • Civil engineering has been the subject of inquiry since the Christchurch earthquake.
    • And spare a thought for the poor old Pope. He would have preferred that his priests weren’t scrutinised. But, due to the dogged determination of dedicated activists and journalists, many less children are being raped and molested every year. Not all priests molested children. But enough to bear scrutiny.

    The list goes on, but you get the drift peeps. The point is every one of these professions is better off as a result. Farming will be too.

    2) Secondly – Jacinda Ardern does not hate farmers:

    That’s just being silly, as I doubt that she actually hates anyone. But go ahead and vote her out by all means. It’s not going to change the future of environmental scrutiny of farmers at all. Do you think National are going to repeal this legislation? Why would they? They were the party that signed up to the SDG’s in the first place…remember??

    And yes…the cities are polluting our waterways too. Yes, they are and it’s their job to sort it out. And just like the informed farmers, some of the towns are on their way already.

    Wanaka, for instance, has a grassroots group who are working towards making the town carbon neutral and they plan to hold a 6-day conference around this subject. And guess what? They are all volunteers.

    Meanwhile, in Christchurch city they are facing the prospect of having to deal with nitrates in their aquifer system, caused by dairy farms.

    So, what is the real reason for the farmers’ gnashing of teeth and “poor us” mentality?

    I think the best way to understand what is going on with the emotions of farmers right now comes from David Rock, a neuroscientist who has worked out what gets people upset.

    He has developed the SCARF model which sets out five things that trigger negative emotions in humans, and it’s proven to be really accurate.

    S = Status – our relative importance to others.
    C = Certainty – our ability to predict the future.
    A = Autonomy – our sense of control over events.
    R = Relatedness – how safe we feel with others.
    F = Fairness – how fair we perceive exchanges between people to be.

    If people feel any one of these five are in action they will become negatively triggered. Take a look. Farmers have had all five triggered. This sums up what this blog is all about – right here:

    Status – Farmers believe they are the backbone of the country. Well, that may have been true many years ago, when they cleared more forest as a percentage of total land mass than any other nation on earth to produce food for the United Kingdom. But, it’s no longer the sacred cow. Other industries have developed more quickly and while farming is still important, it needs to understand where it truly fits in the economy and social fabric.

    One very big downside to being a farmer, is that most people you come in contact with week-on-week are trying to sell you a service or goods of some sort. Everyone is being very nice to you as a result, and it’s a surprise when you get negative feedback.

    Certainty – The call for the water clean-up has taken farmers by surprise it seems, and they don’t know what is coming down the track? Uncertainty is a huge trigger of anxiety, and this is alive and well in the rural sector. The antidote to anxiety is curiosity. The key to curiosity is asking great questions. What great questions are the farming leaders asking? I see a huge hole in rural leadership nationally.

    Autonomy – If you want to produce food in today’s world, you cannot just do whatever you want. Transparency is the new norm and no one is exempt. Farmers suffer from the fact they seldom, if ever, interact with their customers so feedback is minimal. Being in any business, means not being in control of many things. Collaboration is a must, not an exception. But, to be fair, none of us like to be legislated!

    Relatedness – The gap between rural and urban is growing. Is this a bad thing? Maybe? Maybe not? However, responding in a petulant way to new environmental reforms is not an ideal strategy to fill the hearts of urbanites with goodwill towards farmers. I spend more time in the cities than the rural areas, and I do not hear farmers being bad-mouthed. This vilification is being fuelled by National MP’s and right-wing commentators. This is the propaganda I see and I’m calling it out. Make New Zealand Great Again, is an outcome of a divisive ploy.

    Fairness – I hear this a lot from farmers. Especially from farmers’ wives on social media. How do you determine what is fair? Here’s something to consider; Aotearoa is a privileged country and farmers are some of the most privileged in this land. They are a big industry, yet of the $52 billion annual income tax take, less than $1 billion is paid by farmers. This is despite farmers sitting on huge asset bases. Is that fair for example? Would this trigger “fairness” in urban folks?

    The downside of social media:
    What is apparent at present, is the use of social media in emotional storms like we are in the middle of right now. The problem is that most people are connected with other friends who invariably think like them, and the chance for counter views to be expressed is lessened. When they are, it’s easily dampened down.

    One of my favourite examples is a mother complained on Facebook that her kids were coming home from school with stories of pollution created by the rural sector, taught to them by some “bloody leftie teacher”. Ha. The cheek of it.

    I responded with the memory of my 16-year old sister who, in 1966, came home from Tararua College and told my father (a farmer) that DDT was not good to use on the farm as a pesticide – it got into the food chain and killed off unintended animals like hawks etc. “Bloody leftie teachers” was muttered and she was sent to her room with a stern telling off.

    Some things just don’t change.

    So, what to do?
    To sort out this water quality issue we need to be all in, as a nation! It’s going to need investment and ingenuity and then the rewards will come in many ways.

    And this is only the beginning of a food revolution. Check out these links if you want to hear from more learned people than me on the matter.

    I am about to become a grandparent for the first time. Very excited! The last thing I want to hear to hear from my mokopuna is, “what was it like to swim in a river Grandad?”

    My question to our farmers is, “What sort of ancestor do you want to be?” **

    **This is a powerful, but not an original question, the concept being borrowed from some wonderful work the Wakatū Incorporation and others are doing down south around their Te Tauihu Intergenerational Strategy.

  3. I love people’s stories, especially when they are real

    August 29, 2019 by Bettina

    I’m not sure when I fell in love with stories, but I was very young. My father’s family were great at telling stories, and it was always so much fun to sit around the kitchen table and listen to the fables of my heritage, the neighbours, farming, the Tui brewery, and anything that was remotely funny. The bigger the tale the better. Were they factual? Hmmm… sort of? There was certainly some basis to the tales told, and often a moral too.

    So, the irony is that starting a podcast this year has been a dream come true for me. I only wish my father Bill could hear it.

    Let’s start with one of my favourite tales from my time with Collective Intelligence:

    In 2011 we had the idea of beginning a scholarship program for stunning young people on their way to bigger and better things. We would fund them ourselves for 2 to 3 years and see what impact they would make on their teams, and then see if we could help them accelerate their progress.

    The first scholarship was issued to a young entrepreneur named James McCarthy, founder of aviation tech company, Spidertracks. I was the facilitator and was interested to see how this young man in his twenties would integrate into the team. I left him till the last possible moment on the first day to introduce himself properly, so to give him time to observe the dialogue that had been flowing freely.

    ‘So James, let’s focus on you. Tell us about your journey so far.’ His reply was epic, ‘Well, my life is nowhere near as f**ked up as you lot!’ His team’s response was just as epic. They roared with laughter and replied, ‘Give it time James, give it time!’

    And ‘bless’ – it took all of 4 months for his life to be f**ked up too. That’s when James’ new Collective Intelligence teammates were super-valuable, giving context to his new reality. The power of having dispassionate, competent people around you was never better illustrated than at this moment. Why? Because Spidertracks has gone onto be the power-house it is today.

    The alternative may have been quite different.

    I have listened to many podcasts over the past few years. I find that they make time disappear, especially when I’m travelling. It’s that joy of getting lost in people’s wonderful stories – just like I did around the kitchen table as a kid.

    A lot of what we do at Collective Intelligence is about getting interested in people’s stories – digging down beneath the layers to where the gold is found. I have often wondered, ‘what is the best way to bring these stories out into the light?’ and share that huge pool of knowledge that sits within our Collective Intelligence community.

    About a year ago, a good friend and clever woman, Diana Burns, suggested we start recording our own podcast series and use this medium to good effect. Agreed Diana. Podcasts are a great way to do that, and so it just came down to timing. When to fire up the Collective Intelligence podcastery has been on my mind ever since then.

    So, September 2019 is the right time. Since Sapiens have roamed the planet the need to communicate stories about people making a difference, creating a better world, has never been needed more than it is now.

    “Stuff That Matters Now” is our new podcast and it features Collective Intelligence members who are committed to creating a better world. The interviews are raw, unedited and rock along in our usual style. There will be the odd ‘E’ stamped on the title of a number of interviews. The stories are very real, fun and unapologetic. They will also showcase just how diverse and cool our community is. So far I have had the pleasure of interacting with 9 people, sitting down and digging into what they are working on. They have come from as far afield as Cambridge (UK), Timaru through to Auckland, and span an age range of around 25 years. I so enjoy going into their space and getting a feel for their world. Some I have facilitated in their teams and some I don’t even know that well. However, everyone I have asked has said ‘Yes’, which I didn’t assume or expect.

    Seeds’ podcaster (and sometimes lawyer!) Steven Moe has been super generous with his guidance and counsel. He’s helped our team put this together and we will be forever in his debt. There is a lot more involved in ‘getting to air’ than just doing the interviews (I have been a little impatient, which is so often the case with me). My intention was to have it up and infiltrating the internet by now, but hey, it’s not the end of the world.

    And no, I haven’t had any training to do this, and I’m not even sure where I would go to find it. I just wanted to get into it, so your feedback is going to be super-important please. Tell me how I can improve, and I will do my best, as I really want these stories to be given as much help to shine as possible.

    So, to keep us going until the big stories launch next month, here are a few more of my favourite tales from ‘life’ at Collective Intelligence:

    My first foray into the Auckland corporate world with a Collective Intelligence team was when the CEO of a large organisation hosted his team. We were all a bit on edge as the focus was on some big strategic issues the company was grappling with, and we all wondered if we could in fact add value to the company in such a short time.

    As it turned out we definitely could.

    However, during the process we got to interview some rather interesting and very senior staff. The Collective Intelligence team had chosen five key questions and asked these of each individual in his company’s senior leadership team (in isolation). One of the questioners was Ali Tocker. A very experienced woman. Highly reliable. What could go wrong?

    Well after the third person had come through, we realised that everyone was giving us completely different answers to the same basic questions and in fact, some were just making it up (as they didn’t actually know the answers!).

    Now Ali (remember Ali) has flaming red, bouncy hair, and a big laugh. Well reliable Ali got the giggles when she realised her questions were getting the most random of made- up answers.

    I’m at the front of the room and scowling at Ali to be good, which made it even worse. By the fourth interviewee she can’t even ask the questions without bursting out laughing and glowing at the same time. The fourth answer of course was once again totally unique, which was just too much.

    I had to get someone else to ask the fifth person their questions as Ali was too far gone. It was so much fun and more than a little irreverent, but we did deliver the goods.
    The point of this story is that it’s so easy to look at a business or individual and see a rosy picture from the outside. But from years of working with hundreds of people I know that no-one, no organisation, is as shiny as you think. Not one. Behind the scenes of the coolest facade is a shambles trying to break out. That’s why we should never compare ourselves to anyone, or anything else.

    We have a tradition in Collective Intelligence, that new members complete a timeline (which depicts their life story). A few years ago, we had a new member join a team (that I happen to be a member of) and her name was Eva Gluyas.

    Eva’s life was rich and interesting, beginning in the UK and moving to New Zealand. She was obviously very creative and had a love of all things design.

    Her sharing of her timeline went something like this:

    Eva talked about having a family, her first marriage not working out, and how she was now in a fabulous relationship with the love of her life, Anne, who she had known since they were teenagers.

    Great timeline. However, the next two sentences from Eva were epic. She said, ‘So is everyone feeling comfortable and safe?’ …[pause]… ‘So, I started my life as a male’.

    I have had many unique and unexpected moments in my eleven years with Collective Intelligence, but this was on a different scale altogether. The look on the faces of the team, and mine, must have been like we were trying to work out the most complex maths equation ever created. I think the first question was, ‘So the children you have, were as a father, not the mother?’ ‘Yep.’ she said.


    This took a bit of adjusting to, however our facilitator, Sue Johnston, just took it in her stride, while the rest of us were still trying to work through this tricky equation. From there the meeting settled and we had another productive afternoon meeting.

    The following day we were scheduled to deliver our individual TED-style talks. When it got to Eva’s turn, she said that she could talk on the benefits of Design Thinking, or on the process of transitioning her gender. Well, Design Thinking is really interesting, but it didn’t have a chance against the latter. It was a fascinating talk. One none of us will forget, ever.

    You seldom know what path people have trodden in their lives, or why. We are complex beings and need treasuring, especially as we are all unique.

    Diversity is a beautiful thing.

    Unfortunately, I will never be able to interview Eva for the podcast, as she tragically died last year of a brain tumour. However, I have been able to interview the recipient of the scholarship, that we created in Eva’s memory. Gemma Major of Seed Waikato is a stunning young woman, who you will be able to listen to in the second podcast in our first series.

    I’m really looking forward to the launch of “Stuff That Matters Now” next month. I hope you enjoy listening to our members’ tales as much as I enjoyed recording the telling of them.

  4. Why is it so hard for some adults (and companies) to learn new stuff and change?

    July 30, 2019 by Bettina

    Ian Harvey

    My take on this:
    One of the mysteries I’ve pondered since starting Collective Intelligence, is the enormous void between those adults who can continue to learn and those who can’t. When I facilitated teams, in any given meeting I would witness this incredible range of ability to reflect and learn right in front of my eyes and wonder, why the gap?

    Two attributes we’ve identified as crucial to being a great team member are, ambition and curiosity. Ambition to develop and grow, and curiosity to delve into those places where your blind spots might be. It sounds simple enough, but both are a stretch and for some just a step too far.

    There’s a graphic example I can recall with a new team on their second meeting. It was a Host Day, where an individual opened up his business to the team. They were new and eager to add value to the host and were also a little clunky in learning the process (which is not unusual).

    At the end of the session the team had delivered real value and felt very pleased with their efforts, and they had bonded further as a team. I witnessed one member, a school principal, writing down a list and I asked her what the list was for. She replied that she was noting down all the things she had learned during the host day. There were 11 things on her list which she happily shared with me. It was a mixture of reflections and tangible work-ons. What was fascinating was that the host business was in the plumbing trade, and here was a school principal able to cross reference and access learnings to work on and apply in her work-world.

    At the same time, another woman came away saying she had not learnt anything of value and the team were not of a high enough calibre for her to continue. I didn’t agree with either comment here, and felt a certain amount of frustration because the opportunity for her to learn was there.

    So, what were the key differences between the learner and the non-learner, who were of a similar age, status and experience?

    • The learner had a generosity of spirit towards her fellow members and gave and received with equal measure. Her status did not get in the way of listening to everyone’s opinion, and she reflected deeply. She was happy to be vulnerable enough to show me her work-on’s.
    • The non-learner used her status as a shield. She stated she was there to impart her knowledge for others to learn from, and as a result did not connect to others with an open heart. She wore an air of authority that was impenetrable, which we never got the chance to understand.

    Then there’s some individual members, primarily from the commercial sector, who think that our meetings should focus more on business. What they’re meaning is ‘how do we grow our enterprise and make more money?’ If I respond, ‘to do that you could develop your emotional intelligence so you can empower more people around you, be more self-aware, and understand the impact you have on others….’ they glaze over. For them, working on business means the balance sheets and P&L. There’s no need to self-reflect when dealing with those!

    This happens in different forms on a regular basis and is a frustration that I, and our other facilitators, share. So I asked a number of these experienced and qualified colleagues of mine to help with this blog, to get their take on the barriers that exist to learning, not just for individuals, but companies as well.

    Kathy Tracey

    Kathy Tracey’s take on this (a Collective Intelligence facilitator):
    Some people have “hidden loyalties” to “not-learning”, whilst some people are enabled by the ecosystems they inhabit (think family systems, organisational systems, and cultural systems) to feel safe to make mistakes, grow and learn – all without risking exclusion.

    For example, if the system that “I” am loyal to (family/business or other) believes in God-given talent, then being seen to make an effort to learn (with all the mistakes and fumbling that inevitably comes with that process) means I then show myself up to be untalented. I shouldn’t have to try – I should’ve been born with the “talent”! In this system learning is an open display of weakness.

    This quote from well-known systems scientist, Peter Senge, sums up the importance and discipline of dialogue in the mechanics of Team Learning (a basic tenet of Collective Intelligence):

    ‘The discipline of team learning starts with “dialogue”, the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into a genuine “thinking together”. … The discipline of dialogue also involves learning how to recognise the patterns of interaction in teams that undermine learning. The patterns of defensiveness are often deeply ingrained in how a team operates. If unrecognised, they undermine learning. If recognised and surfaced creatively, they can accelerate learning.’

    Manda Jane Johnson

    Manda Jane Johnson’s take on this (another Collective Intelligence facilitator):
    The necessity for change is an indisputable reality when considering living organisms. We are designed for growth – just like anything in nature that we care to look at. Renewing ourselves is something of our lifeblood if we want to live a long, vital and creative life.

    Once we have outgrown a particular development stage then we have to be willing to go on again. This is not so easy to face up to if the previous growth phase has delivered many of the things that we have set our sights on. The disturbance of the “new” on relationships, work, and business can mean significant disruption to what has become a “glove that fits nicely”.

    So, why bother? Many simply aren’t willing, only to find that life then delivers a challenge in the form of accident, illness, a relationship breakdown or any one of life’s numerous experiences that force us to grow. So, what gets in the way of our choosing to keep growing?

    • As mentioned, the spoils of our current choices are very attractive.
    • The image of who we are can be more important than being authentic.
    • We lack the safety to experiment being different.
    • Moving into the unknown requires us being willing to “not know”. Something that many of us are unwilling to entertain and certainly do not wish to reveal to others.
    • Doing new things can feel highly uncomfortable. This is another experience that life has taught us, often at a very young age, that we don’t want to have.
    • And then there are habits, which if we keep repeating them for too long, we can simply lose sight of the possibility of anything different.

    To embrace change actively requires multiple layers of support, something that many of us do not have, do not recognise the need for, and that our culture doesn’t have as a norm either.

    Admitting the need for others when one’s survival is based in looking out for oneself, goes against the grain. It’s often accompanied by feelings (who wants those!) of shame – not something most people in their right mind would walk willingly towards.

    So, there’s lots of reasons for not changing, however the cost of turning away is high, and ultimately leads to a slowly-reducing life rather than one lived to the full.

    Harv back again:
    Manda’s comments remind me of a Collective Intelligence foundation member who joined 11 years ago. At the time, I stated that he was one of the more talented people to join the membership, and with so much potential. He had a great platform and the world was his oyster. The only thing that could get in his way was himself. Boom.

    The issue was, he didn’t like being uncomfortable, to be seen as anything but talented. Eleven years later he is doing the same job, but not as well, because his star is not as bright. That’s the key point right there. If you are not able to learn and evolve as an adult, you will in fact become worse at what you do, because the world passes you by and others around you will notice.

    This article takes an in-depth look at why evolution is so important. You cannot stay at the same level all your career. We know that is true for sport and it’s the same for professionals.

    Rich Alderton

    So why do organisations resist change?
    Here’s some insightful comments provided by Collective Intelligence member and high-performance change management specialist, Rich Alderton, on why organisations resist change. If you like what you read here, you’ll soon be able to hear Rich’s take on change-resistance in techni-audio. I’ve just interviewed him for our new podcast series “Stuff that Matters Now” that’s currently in-production.

    Oliver Twist
    Statistically, opening a restaurant has one of the highest start-up failure rates of any business. But evidently that wasn’t risky enough for Jamie Oliver, given that he chose to hire unemployed, untrained and troubled young people who had “avoid” written all over them. And even Jamie was surprised by the rapid success of his “15” chain, which mixed great dining with a social purpose. The celebrity chef subsequently enjoyed significant growth with “Jamie’s Italian”, which at its peak had 43 restaurants. One critic even hailed it as ‘streets ahead of any other Italian chain’.

    And now it’s all gone. In a highly competitive and dynamic market, Jamie’s restaurants had become expensive, and the food had become ordinary. The world had moved on, and by May, the administrators had moved in.

    Most leaders get that being a disruptor yesterday doesn’t buy you immunity from being disrupted tomorrow. So why is it that so many organisations fail to embrace change?

    Success breeds complacency
    One problem with corporate success is that it’s hard – really hard – not to believe your own hype. If people keep telling you how great your product is by buying more of it, at some point even the most modest could be forgiven for succumbing to all that adulation. If your customers love you, then of course all your stakeholders will love you too. Rochester, New York was nicknamed “Fortress Kodak”, where the company’s HQ staff, suppliers and the wider community kept telling the company’s leadership how great the brand was. Which they all believed, right up until the moment the company failed to embrace digital photography (even though Kodak invented it!) and went from number 1 to chapter 11 in the blink of an eye.

    Change is the most risky, expensive and disruptive activity any organisation can undertake. Most organisations habitually operate at or near the limit of their resources (usually cash). So, deciding to upset the ticking-along-nicely-thank-you status quo to allocate resources you don’t have to attempt a change you’re not sure will work, is not a decision for the faint-hearted. Which is why most organisations don’t change until it’s too late, consigning themselves to a perpetual state of scrambling to survive.

    The term ‘burning platform’ was coined by change consultant Darryl Conner following what remains to this day the world’s worst oil platform disaster, Piper Alpha, back in 1988. Quite astonishingly, 61 of the 288 crew survived. Connor noted the courage of those who decided to risk the near certainty of death by jumping 15 stories into the burning North Sea at night, rather than the absolute certainty of death if they remained on the burning platform. He also compared that Hobson’s choice to business leaders who only decide to embrace change when the pain of doing something becomes less than the pain of doing nothing.

    Altitude sickness
    The other problem with success is that it lifts the organisation to an altitude that on the one hand may be clear of the competitive bun fight below, but is also high enough for those onboard to start getting nervous. Up here there’s more room for the brand to stretch its wings, more opportunity to use its leadership position to get a head-start on the next leg of the endless quest for survival and growth. Except that usually that is not what happens.

    Presumably a man of Philip Green’s retail experience and means could have easily understood and seized the opportunity for on-line shopping, but not when his Arcadia Group’s flight path had been paved for decades with bricks and mortar. Whether the organisation is an A380 or an executive jet, all pilots know that flying requires a lot of things to go right all the time. Even then there’s always the uncertainty of the uncontrollable conditions they’re flying in.

    Somewhere along that trajectory of success, all too often the organisation moves from a culture of innovation to a culture of protection. When Lithuanian immigrant Montague Burton started out in the UK in 1903, he created a company that would go on to own the largest clothing factory in Europe as “the tailor of taste”. But after less than 20 years in the hands of the Green family, Burton’s legacy narrowly avoided administration earlier this year, having failed to adapt to the likes of ASOS and H&M. Burton himself had nothing to lose and for him the risk of change was the fuel to get him off the ground. But what Green bought was a company that was already fully airborne. The stakes were higher, the potential losses much bigger and the reinvention of such an established and iconic value chain unthinkable. Until he was forced to rethink it anyway.

    Success means there’s further to fall and surely only a nut-bar would redesign the plane while it’s in-flight. Captain Green was working on the principle that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But like Green’s strategy, that cliché is out of date and needs changing.

    Age-related fitness problem
    In 2014, the Chinese government announced a scheme to take more cars off the road than there are cars in New Zealand. Those vehicles still did exactly what they were designed to do – transport a small number of people from A to B faster than a horse. But that was the problem. It would have been easier all round if they had spluttered their way to the scrap yard before their time. But while they still worked pretty much as they had done since the day they rolled off the production line, the world in which they operated has changed beyond all recognition. Increasing urban wealth in China has resulted in spiralling levels of car ownership and the Chinese people are fed up with living in smog-filled cities. That has made older, less environmentally-friendly vehicles the target of legislation, as they have been deemed unfit for purpose in the modern world.

    So, to bring that cliché into the 21st century – if it ain’t broke, that don’t mean it works anymore. Organisations like Arcadia, that can’t or won’t see that their external environment is moving faster than their internal environment, are doomed. The only good thing about operating with a ‘hear no change, see no change, speak no change’ mentality is that failure comes as a complete surprise.

    Gut feel
    Jamie Oliver once said that ‘food is one of life’s great joys, yet we’ve reached this really sad point where we’re turning food into the enemy and something to be afraid of’. Substituting the word “food” for “change” sums up the attitude of so many organisations that have become fat and happy serving up the status quo to their customers.

    Those who have nothing can risk everything, of course. But those who have something and “do nothing” risk everything, whether they know it or not.

    These days, it’s not just a case of only those organisations who can adapt will survive.

    Only those organisations that can adapt to any change before change is needed will win their future.

    Ian Harvey

    So what can we take away from all this?
    Harv here again. So, what do I make of all this?

    • Ambition to develop and grow, and curiosity to delve into those places where your blind spots might be, is more important in this day and age than ever before. Bob Dylan penned in the sixties, ‘The times they are a-changin’ and they are even more so now.
    • It doesn’t matter how established you are as a company, or secure you are in your profession, to stagnate is to sign your own death warrant. It’s just a matter of when.

    Give us a call to find out how we can help you evolve if you’re up for it!

    “The line it is drawn
    The curse it is cast
    The slow one now
    Will later be fast
    As the present now
    Will later be past
    The order is rapidly fadin’
    And the first one now
    Will later be last
    For the times they are a-changin’”

    ~Bob Dylan, 1963

  5. 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)

  6. 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.

  7. 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?”

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

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