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Tag: New Zealand

Design by design!

Engaged design

Design . . .  should be elegant and pleasing.   It should also be functional and achieve its purpose.   Most importantly its purpose should be our purpose.

Engaged design in New Zealand

New Zealand has a strong tradition in design and a temperamental inclination  to engagement.   Well-worn jokes include the No 8. wire used to fix anything and everything on the Kiwi farm and the Kiwi dislike of large organisations.  A British general is reputed to have commented that Kiwi troops do not salute much.  His Kiwi counterpart replied, “but if you wave they will wave back.”

Tradition of design in New Zealand

Kiwis are articulate though about their design and their participation.   The Britten Instituge supports community activity and has an accessible, unpretentious,  list of design principles to bring people together.

“It is not innovation that matters, it is agreement. And we might need innovation to reach agreement.”

Design in Europe

I am very interested in reconciling the two bodies of knowledge that Western thought likes to keep apart if not regarding them as competitors.

Positive psychology promotes our engagement with life and of work with our engagement!  Yet we must make money too and the world is about to get very much more competitive for those of us in United Kingdom.  I have far more visitors to this blog to manage a small server than I do because someone wants to be happy!

What we want from design today?

Can we reconcile the holistic, engaged Britten approach to technical work?  I would like to try.



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If hard work doesn’t work, play harder!

Feeling the pressure

I taught a really really big class in New Zealand.  We had 800 to 900 students each year.

We took all comers.  We had people coming back into education after a long break.  We had A+ engineering students in their final year.  We had nervous 17 year olds in their first year at uni.  We always had 33 nationalities ~ though different ones every year.  And we failed 25% ~ as a matter of policy.

Students felt the pressure.  The course wasn’t hard. It wasn’t intended to be.  You can teach intelligent university students almost anything without making it hard.

But their marks yo-yo’d around.  A few more questions right or wrong in the quarterly quiz and their class rank could change by 100.

Dealing with disappointment

Some students worked like mad. They even worked hard when they were averaging 80+.  I explained that 80+ translated into A+ and 9 points on their GPA and there was no point in working harder.  But they felt a compulsion to work more even though there was no reward.

Others could see no reward for themselves.  They beavered away and got mediocre or even ‘failing’ grades.

They came to me in anger or distress.

“I work so hard”, they wailed.

My friendly but brief reply was “Don’t!  Be logical. If working hard doesn’t bring results, don’t. Go out and have a good time.  Be logical!”

Many did. Most did.  They could see no other way forward.

Playfulness often brings better results

They would visit me the next quarter with a big smile on their faces.  “It worked,” they’d beam.  “It worked!”  “I partied all term and my marks shot up!”

Of course, there could be many reasons why their marks shot up. No matter!  What they had learned was an invaluable life lesson.

  • We don’t control everything, particularly in a competitive system where our results depend as much on what we  do and on what other people do.
  • Rewards are not linearly dependent on effort.  Working harder does not necessarily bring a reward.
  • People don’t reward us because we want to be rewarded.  “The world does not owe us a living.”

Business does not reward you for working hard

So they learned the first lessons of business. And I hope they will be better managers for it.

  • Do the basics, do them professionally, do them at the right time, and STOP.
  • Do what the customers want, not what you want.
  • Go out and play. Other people will like you for it. You will like yourself for it. Business may even boom!

The simple lesson is that if hard work doesn’t work, try something else!

Smile.  Take a deep breath and just do something differently.  Mix it up!

And stop being such a control freak!

There!  Gave myself away.

Ah, well, if you must, then turn it into an AB experiment.

  • Record your results now.
  • Every day, write a short journal of how the day went.
    • Ask yourself what went wrong and how you could do better.  Then ask yourself why did you do so well.
    • Jot down the misunderstandings and confusions that you were able to explore to the benefit of you and the other person.
    • Ask yourself what questions you pursued with no guarantee of an answer.
    • Ask who you treated kindly, as if their lives were going to end at midnight.
  • After a month, ask how you life is going!  Will you carry this on for another month?

Or will you do an ABA experiment and go back to the way things were?

For the poets among us: this short poem gives the same message lyrically.

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Mana: between ourselves and others

Introverts often enjoy solitary activities lik...
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In the west, we think about ourselves as individuals

We think of “individuals” as something real. Let me explain, what I mean.

You probably think of yourself as having a personality. You are introverted, or extroverted, for example.

And because that is “you”, you are always introverted or extroverted, wherever you are, and whomever you are with.  What’s more, because you are always the same, we can “measure” you, or your personality, with a test. And of course, psychologists do.

In other cultures, “individual” is not so central to thinking

It is quite hard to grasp, and quite hard to get our heads around the idea that people are not separate from their circumstances.

Where I grew up for example, people are described by their relationships to other people: mother of Jack, daughter of Sam, for example.  This not fuzzy thinking. It is very advanced thinking that we find hard.

People are not focusing on the person and the things around the person

They look at the space between the person and the things. Or, the space between one person and another.

Theory, philosophy, cultures, manners, all describe that space.

If you visit New Zealand, you will hear everyone, Maori and Pakeha, talking about Mana

Loosely, mana is a combination of status and respect.

Explained using our concepts, this is confusing. Mana comes partly from our character – who we are as an individual.  Mana also comes partly from our position, as a teacher, say.

Using our thinking, this seems untidy and undeveloped.

But mana, like concepts in other cultures, describes the space between people. When we we look at this space, mana makes perfect sense.

3 poetic phrases to explain mana for your new week

As a gift for the week, I thought I would share 3 phrases that I keep on my desk.   These quotations are from poets & scholars in the West who write about our need to look at the space between ourselves and others.

“put yourself inside the river”

“everything is waiting for you”

“strength is in contact with the environment”

Have a winning week!

And remember to look after your mana – the space between you and others.

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The art of living in the present

Does the value of gratitude and forgiveness come from living in the present?

I think much of the value of gratitude and forgiveness is in ability to live in the present: to be clear what is happening now, to listen to the “voices” or essential nature of what is happening, to list our choices for action, to take action.  When we ruminate, we are anywhere but here.

Why do we “mentally travel” away from where we are right now?

aaron(at)todayisthatday(dot)com describes the ho’oponopono that treats self and other and past, present and future holistically – a central idea in quantum physics and in many indigenous cultures such as Hawaii (what is the adjective) and their relatives the Maori of New Zealand.

Can we accept a challenge just to accept things like the weather, just the way they are?

Here is the challenge.  Can we can accept responsibility for bad weather? In our hands, that question smacks of superstition.    Of course, we did not make the weather.  Of course,  we cannot change the weather.  Of course, we may have predicted it better.  And of course, it is so silly to complain about the weather.  What we can do is note the weather, understand the weather, review what we want from the day, list our choices, and act.

Our emotions are part of now.  We see that when we grieve.

There are times, though, when hardship is severe.  Acting during a tsunami under the influence of adrenalin is probably easier than coping with loss and devastation after wards.  Maybe then to grieve, and to grieve fully,  is the correct action.

The New Zealand Maori concept of mana is an example of holistic thinking

I always  felt so silly in New Zealand teaching western ideas of management and leadership.  My apologies for the curriculum were always met with knowing nods from Maori and Pacific Island students.  The concept of mana, schizophrenically adopted by New Zealanders of recent arrivals but not included in the management curriculum, includes status and influence as a bundled idea, leadership and followership in one.  You have mana as teacher and you acquire mana from being a good teacher. So if something is going wrong in the classroom, one does not get emotional. One acts in appropriate ways to restore the  dignity of the classroom for all concerned.  That’s all.

Why do we separate ourselves from society and the present from the past and the future?

I wonder the philosophical origins of our need to separate self from society and the present from the past and the future.

Why not just accept the ground beneath our feet as what is there and what is right to be there?

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