2015 intentions

Ever since I was in my early 20s I would write down my goals for the year and stick them somewhere I could see them. You might call them New Years resolutions, but I was quite serious about writing SMART goals and achieving them. I usually knocked off more than three quarters of my goals and at the end of the year would take some time to assess what went well, what didn’t and what I’d to differently next year. This year I haven’t really written any goals. For the last couple of years my tried and true method hasn’t worked for me so I’m trying something different. There are some specific things I’d like to achieve but for the most part I am setting intentions. These are my intentions.

The first thing I intend on doing is finishing off writing my book. I’ve taken ideas from two years of NZLEAD tweets, mashed them up with my own background and experience, and produced a narrative about the world of work. I’m thinking of calling it People First: How Technology Can Make Our Workplaces More Human, or something along those lines. It’s on track to be finished and self-published at the beginning of March.

The book sets the scene from what I plan to do this year. In 2014 I mostly focused on social technology and what it could do for HR, Recruitment and Learning and Development. What I found was that many people wanted training in how to use the social technology and, although this will remain part of what I do, in 2015 I will be putting more focus on the behaviours that underpin the authenticity and transparency that social technology enables. What fits with this, and floats my boat, is leadership development, coaching, learning communities, innovation and creating cultures where people can truly shine. So I’ll be adjusting my sails and, without too much prescription, seeing what blows my way.

To help me with this I’ll be putting a lot of work into growing my skills in methods that support people to think differently: appreciative enquiry, positive psychology and creative facilitation. So I can help businesses and individuals, as well as bring to life some cool stuff I have in the works for NZLEAD. For a start another unconference. I intend on threading a lot of positively, light, forward thinking and growth into everything that I do. Which means I need to thread this through my life too.

The last couple of years have been challenging but have given me many opportunities for learning, reflection and growth. I look to 2015 with a lot of optimism. I’ve been putting a lot of effort into practices that help me be stronger, more grounded and kinder to myself. I intend on making these practices a priority in 2015 not just because they make me feel awesome but everything else just seems to fall into place when I do.

2015 is already off to a fantastic start for me. I have an almost finished book; I’m so totally honoured that I got invited to attend KiwiFoo this year which is an invite only unconference for people doing interesting things; I’m putting a draft vision for NZLEAD together which I’d love your feedback on, but I’m already pretty excited about it; and, something that has been a bane of frustration for quite a few years might actually be coming to fruition this week! Watch this space 😉

2015 is going to be badass.


A blog about more writing

I’m not going to lie to you, I’m pretty stoked.

My neck hurts, I’m struggling to articulate anything intelligible on a Friday and I’ve still got masses of writing, re-writing, writing again, and editing before it’s even something worthy of sharing with people for first thoughts.

But I also have to say that I got pretty excited about the themes that have come through 2-years of NZLEAD tweet chats, conversations with awesome people and other inspiring and thought provoking stuff. Reading between the lines, connecting ideas together across multiple tweet chats, challenging my own thinking, teasing out thoughts, telling stories, bringing the messages to life. I’ve been like a pig in muck over the last month.

And, it’s far from over, I’ll be spending the next month pretty much re-writing those 50,000 words. It’s probably going to be more intense, but waaaay more fun. Because all the tedious stuff is done and now it’s time to get creative.

Anyway, just wanted to say LOVING IT! AND….

I WON NANOWRIMO!!! Which means that I get to pat myself on the back 😉 AND….

There will be a book with some seriously cool shit about the world of work and the future of the L&D, HR and Recruitment professions released in Feb/March next year… AND…

THANK YOU to everyone who has given me enthusiasm and support!

Don’t know what I’m on about? Check out my blog about writing.

A blog about writing

Some months ago Angela Atkins excitingly told me about this great idea she had. It involved turning all the NZLEAD tweet chats into a book. It was another job for me to do, on top of my overwhelmed little brain. At the time I probably looked at her like she was a nut job.

I mulled, for months, and, the more I thought about, it the more it made sense. I didn’t have much else planned for November, writing is something that I particularly enjoy doing and, it seemed like a really good way to explain to people what I believe is the future of the people and culture professions.

Because at the moment, a lot of people just look at me like I’ve just told them my dog pooped on their lawn (I only wish I had a dog).

So, to cut a long story short, I will be taking part in NanoWrimo (National Novel Writers Month). NanoWrimo is about a whole bunch of people from around the world spending the whole month of November writing a book.

The goal is to reach 50,000 words. Taking off weekends, because my head will need a break, and pre-existing commitments, this leaves me with 18 days of writing. That means I have to write an average of 2,800 words a day. Not much ay?!!!

Logistically, I’ll spend all of November writing, writing, writing and then a few more months editing and polishing my garble into something understandable by everyone other than me. Without counting my chickens, I’d like to get it done by Feb next year. In time for the 2-year anniversary of NZLEAD.

Thankfully, I’m not stuck for what to write about. The NZLEAD tweet chats provide a lot of inspiration and content. It’s cool ay! A book summarising the world of work through the eyes of the 300-odd people who have regularly taken part in NZLEAD tweet chats over the last couple of years. If you were there, you’ll probably get a mention somewhere along the way!

I may not be able to provide regular updates but would like to share with you the draft chapter outline I’ve put together based on all of the tweet chat topics:


Part one – the changing world

  • A global economy
  • A holistic approach to people Leadership
  • Technology as a connector
  • Demographics

Part two – the changing people and culture professions

Human resources

  • A question of it’s relevance
  • Roles within HR Reflecting on HR processes
  • Simplifying the profession
  • We don’t know what we don’t know – what’s next?

Learning and development

  • Learning and development, not as we know it 
  • There are other ways, some ideas


  • Re-designing recruitment 

Sound like enough? It’s going to be a fun, full-on month! But I hate putting things like this out there because the expectation makes me less likely to stick to it! So you might not hear anything from me over the next month as I quietly work away… but, then again, you might hear from me. Just know that I have not dropped off the face of the earth entirely!

Little boxes made of ticky tacky

I wrote this lovely blog about the HR Gamechanger conference. You can read it here. 

But, I also have a confession. I like to portay a lot of positivity and light. Look on the bright side right? Some people might say that is artificial but I say that there is nothing wrong with reframing things into a positive. No-one likes negativity and if you think positive you are positive, and the world is positive.

Ooh look at the rainbows and unicorns!

But I can’t sit still. I wasn’t really that positive after the HR Gamechanger conference. Not really. You see, I had two main thoughts going through my mind after that event.

First, I want to quit HR altogether and become a yoga teacher.

The second thought was really a song.

Little boxes, little boxes, little boxes made of ticky tacky

Did anyone else get made to sing that in primary school? You can read the full lyrics here.

It’s a little disturbing. Why that song you ask? Well the whole people and culture profession has been stuffed into these little boxes. Learning and development, recruitment, organisational development, human resources, operational, strategic, innovative, dinosaurs, HRINZ, CHRI, NZATD and a lot of Recruiters seem to think they’re a beast into their own. I’m sorry, but you’re not. We’re all the same, tackling the same challenges, with the same resources. Our job descriptions are just slightly different. Wait? What? Job descriptions?

It’s not about you, it’s about all of us.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I did think the HR Gamechanger was a completely awesome event! Truly, I am not a hypocrite. But I was seeing the energy and light in the room and then those who were not in the room and thinking to myself “do I really have the energy to make this shit happen?”. Working with people who just ‘get it’ is simply awesome, but working with those that don’t is stressful, time consuming and demoralising.

I have more questions than answers and I’m afraid that only a small minority are actually up for answering them. Case in point, when the wonderfully statistical stats about how HRINZ members were so satisfied with the state of the institution, their preferred organisation, were shared during the HRINZ conference I couldn’t help but question them. Yes well, those satisfied people who got off their arse to complete the survey and had whipped out their cheque books to pay their fees. Wait? What? Cheque books?

Apparently my twitter queries about these numbers did not go down to well. But seriously? No wonder finance people piss themselves laughing when they see an HR person coming with some numbers in hand! Where is the HR credibility here?

I don’t know whether to call myself HR, L&D, or OD. But funningly I seem to hang out with a lot of recruiters. What’s with that? Sending you air kisses recruiters.

But frankly, I’m embarrased to call myself any of them. Why should I? Ticky tacky boxes. Institutionalised boxes.


Wait? What? How come there is a separate institution for training and development people? How come HRINZ doesn’t have a problem with them? How come recruiters don’t have their own institution?

Recruiters seem to be way ahead of the rest of the people and culture professions. Seriously! I’m being serious! Sending you some more air kisses recruiters.

But wait.


I don’t think it’s relevant to me because I’m in learning and development. It’s not on my radar because I’m a recruiter and recruitment is not about HR. Wait? What?

Why are we institutionalising, packaging and labelling when fundamentally our professions are all about people and culture? When, if we actually pulled the sticks out of our own arses, we might learn something from each other. Yeah, you heard me, I said arses.

Why are we still talking about e-learning, Ulrich and social sourcing as the big things?

Big things are now all the little small things. Big things are structured monoliths with little flexibility. Big things are people with power, control and influence.

Little things don’t fit in boxes, they don’t sit in boxes, they’re thrown out or bundled together into a collection of things, the knick knacks, the seemingly scraps. On their own, they’re nothing. Together, they’re something beautiful, creative, innovative, and inspiring.

NZLEAD, if I can throw in a mention, made of a collection of little things, hard to box and irrelevant to the monoliths.

I’m troubled. Did you get that? This blog has sat in my drafts for weeks now. It was VERY negative and after many edits still feels negative and ranty to me. It doesn’t feel right. I don’t believe that talking like this is the way forward but I don’t know what the answers are. Do you?

Reflections from #unfurlingHR: what next?

I don’t know about you but I’m still knackered from the unconference last week! I’d like to think that I could come up with something more than a practical ‘what next?’ blog, but my brain is still fried. Can I loaf off everyone else’s inspiration for a while? I’ll also be working on individually acknowledging everyone who made it awesome but I’d just like to say a big whole hearted and all encompassing thank you to everyone who attended or supported from afar. I organised the unconference with a vague idea of how it was going to turn out and a hope that it was going to be a lot of fun, energising and inspiring. I think it was just that. Everyone who took part contributed their energy and enthusiasm to making that happen so THANK YOU! For the first unconference I think it was pretty cool. My ‘what next?’ concerns co-ordinating another event like this. You thought the first one was great, lets make the next one better! My reflections are based on things I’ve been mulling over as well as the feedback I’ve received. It seems simpler to bullet point the thoughts that have been in my head the most:

  • Step the tracks up a notch. From discussion to ground breaking, innovation and actions.
  • Don’t bother with a projector. Blown light bulbs are a sign that projectors don’t belong at an unconference.
  • I’d like to be more involved in the discussions – challenge, inspire. But I can’t be in two places at once. I already have a ‘make sh** happen’ helper for the next one.
  • Include more people from other people and culture professions. This is not just for HR.
  • Keep the energy up throughout the day – afternoons can be hard, let’s make it the best part of the day.
  • Maintain and grow the ‘everyone chip in’ approach. An event built by the community for the community,
  • Actions, outcomes, change the way we operate and share results. Make full use of digital channels.
  • Build the new, not fight the old. Keep the positive, appreciative, yet challenging vibe.
  • Everyone who attends takes ownership of their inputs and outcomes.

That last one, I think, is the most important. I’ve had some awesome feedback about the unconference and a lot of wonderful suggestions to make it even better next time. But the challenge is not about me owning that feedback and putting on a great event where people get a lot out of it. It’s about bringing out the particular strengths in others, to bring the ownership and outcomes to life. Does that make sense? I think there is an opportunity to do something truly unique with these unconferences and it goes beyond just putting on an event. Ownership, inspiration, innovation, actions, community, collaboration. A better world of work created by the same practices. And yes, we will be doing this again. Thinking end of April / start of May next year when the weather is still decent. Will you join me? Speaking of everyone else’s inspiration, if you want to check out some of the other blogs that have been written about the unconference, check out these:

HR Game Changing

It’s a bit of a struggle to describe the mind-blowing awesomeness of the HR Game Changer conference. But, in explaining it to my grandparents, this is what I came up with.

I am absolutely shattered after spending the last 2 days connecting, communicating ideas and being inspired by HR professionals from all around the world.

We started in New Zealand with pronouncements of “HR just die”. We then passed the baton to London who delved deeper into what makes a great workplace. New Zealand then picked up the stream of thought again in day two, a strong theme of future people practices.

We were constantly connected. While I was listening to people speak I was sharing learnings with people all around the world, participating in conversations and having my thinking challenged.

This conference was not just in the rooms at Sky City, Auckland, New Zealand, it was global. We were everywhere and right there.  Geography and time zones meant nothing. We were able to comment, ask questions and converse digitally and in real life. Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+. The power of social technology. Social connection on steroids.

My IRL (in real life) conversations were with people who I had met online, been inspired and challenged by, and rewarded by our interactions. I converted more people to online communication  and watched their eyes light up as they saw the potential compliment to face-to-face interactions. When they realised that the conversation, relationship opportunities and learning were much much bigger than they realised. As they hatched into digital citizens and part of a movement.

It was intense. I had to disappear for some time out to coalesce my thoughts. I’m still not all there yet. They’re whizzing around my head.

I am proud to be part of this movement. We are global and we are growing. We no longer operate in isolation. And that is powerful.

With that in mind, I’d like to put an idea out there. What if we did this again but handed the baton to more countries?

New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, USA … Just a start, but there could be more. One day each, while one of us sleeps the other changes the world. We’d need information architects to capture and coalesce the streams.

We all have thriving digital HR communities. Are we ready to take this concept and go truly global?

There is another blog stewing in my head that is more reflective of the content but, for now, I need some downtime.

HR professionals will not be the ones that change the world of work

“HR professionals will not be the ones that change the world of work”.

Usually when I talk to HR people about the vision I have for better working lives they look at me like I’m a little cray cray.

But every now and then I hear that statement above. And, I refuse to believe it. 

After attending TedX Auckland on the weekend, my little head is packed full of inspiration. I’m inspired that there is a better way. A better way of business, of living. These conversations are becoming more frequent, more profound and more powerful.

We are living in a world that is changing way faster than most HR people can keep a handle on. The way people digest information is shifting, therefore the way HR communicates and connects needs to transform. 

HR people, as soon as you think you’ve got your profession nailed, you don’t. Generally speaking, apparently in NZ we’re even more notorious for this. Digital is connecting us to the rest of the world, but we’re still behaving as if we’ve got this whole innovation thing covered with our no.8 wire mentality. It’s hardly the case when our maintained isolation is making as naive and uncompetitive. Time to start tapping into those digital connections so that we, in NZ, can really re-wire, re-form and transform.

To achieve this change, we need collective flow. But, within our NZ HR profession we’re definitely not collective. In conversing with recruiters and learning and development people about the NZLEAD unconference I’m hearing, “oh but that’s just for HR, I’m not HR”. I’m sorry, but when did creating a working environment where people are engaged in their work, happy, willing and able to perform, invested in what the business is trying to achieve, get put into an exclusive HR, Recruitment, L&D or OD bucket? 

You might also notice that I get really excited about progress within the HR professional space, a new institute and a forward thinking conference. But that doesn’t mean that the disconnect between the old institution and emerging groups does not sadden or frustrate me. We have more and more practitioners who are thinking, talking and doing HR practice in ways that are leagues ahead of the traditional. I struggle now to entertain the content and conversations from the old factions and probably vice versa. 

But as Riley Elliot said at Tedx, if you can capture attention and change understanding, then perceptions change. Riley was talking about sharks, but what the hey, the same philosophy can be applied to talking with people in business, and with others in the HR profession. One conversation at a time we can change the perception of HR.

“HR doesn’t add value to the business”, “HR people won’t realise this”, “they won’t be the instigators of change”. Call it naive or whatever. I believe different. 

I’m left with two thoughts from two inspirational speakers at Tedx. 

Firstly, Vaughan Rowsell from Vend. What’s the one impossible thing you’ve always wanted to do? Now do it. 

Secondly, Mike Allsop from Air New Zealand. If it all seems overwhelming, start with small parts. 

My small part is keeping conversations going, exploring the options, connecting people, slowly changing perception. Impossible is only impossible if you don’t try.