Daylighting The Pipeline of Uselessness

Daylighting The Pipeline of Uselessness

In the work of restoring streams and creeks there is a thing called ‘daylighting’. It refers to restoring waterways that have been diverted underground through pipelines and culverts. The daylighting occurs when they can once again flow above ground as water ways.

So with that in mind I want to talk about how we might bust open the pipeline of uselessness that is our education and career pathways for young people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

It is time to call it out. For more than 20 years we have established a pipeline of uselessness through education and workplaces in Aotearoa.

We have been educating people with information that does not turn into skills and does not equip them for jobs, workplaces and the world.

We have created endless tiers of management, where people do not produce anything.

Ask the majority of secondary, tertiary students, and employers if they think their education is equipping people well for work and the world, and they will offer you a resounding NO.

And yet it continues, on and on.

It all began to really turn to custard around the end of the 20th century. As the new millenium dawned, some bright sparks in government decided they would jump on the neo-liberal machine and turn tertiary education into something that would make money… at any cost.

So to some extent, there were elements of this that were a good idea. Why not earn income from international students? And to do this one had to head higher up the rankings of universities internationally. Maybe that could be a good idea too.

However, as is often the way with government policies, it was a sledgehammer to crack a nut approach.

Around this time my own alma mata, AIT polytech, became AUT University, God Bless Them.

The transition showed just how myopically focused (and how much the same!) academics and bureaucrats can be. They made sure funding was all about research outputs and bums on seats, and sweet FA about quality teaching, or adapting curricula to fast changing world and employment markets.
Any sense of graduates gaining skills and mindsets for the new working world and fast emerging ‘gig’ economy were no where in sight.

And on their merry way they trundled through the 2000s.

Every year, tertiary education became less and less relevant to the market.

Every year more and more degrees and course were created.

Every year universities, polytechnics and private providers spread campuses up and down the country, offering a multitude of courses that competed with one another, with pipelines to jobs that no longer existed, at least not in the form they were being taught.

Every year more and more graduates were ‘qualified’ for specific roles that were diminishing.

Every year, the expectations of graduates rose, as they sought employment in so called ‘management’ roles because these attracted better salaries, and after all that was their due, after paying thousands and thousands in student fees. Why wouldn’t you?

It really came home to a group of us who were ex-industry professionals helping run a journalism programme that had become a degree at AUT when we noticed all the applicants for a media award for a ‘senior’ journalist were in their early to mid 20s.

The career path to someone being ‘senior’ and then on to management had grown much faster, so that people could follow the salary band, all with limited experience.

And so we also started to see more and more of the “Peter Principle” , the concept dreamed up in the late 1960s as a satirical idea about managers rising to the level of their incompetence. The principle fast turned from satire to a sad reality.

And so we started to create legions and legions of managers every where, from government, to corporations to small businesses, to not-for-profits.

Everyone was a manager of something.

And to boot, the title and the role, the job description, the CV, the ability to be a manager was based on some inept psychometrics, in job interviews, and employement processes run by HR professionals that measured only very narrow elements of human beings and their ability and potential.

Argggh. I have sat on many an interview panel when all the assessment criteria were irrelevant and quite frankly useless, bearing no relationship to the actual job to do. Someone would end up employed who did not fit the job and was simly good at writing CVs and application letters and gaining qualifications.

Anyone with a foreign name or diverse life experiences usually had their CV tossed to the bottom of the pile.

And so for several decades we created tiers and tiers of managers, predominantely white and middle class, inexperienced in life, emotional intelligence or empathy, but increasingly skilled at justifying their existence by creating meaningless work; restructures, new strategies, staff reshuffles, KPIs, reports, blah, blah blah.

This is nothing new of course in a colonial society, but it reached epidemic proportions over the past 30 years.

And now here was the further twist. These legions of inexperienced ‘managers’ were now making government and corporate policy, to employ more and more people like themselves, who had no experience at the ‘coal face’ but could write reports, and invent KPIs and measurements that all looked quite good on paper, and might get an A as an essay or uni assignement, or as a bright new shiny output of policy or strategy, but did not turn into the delivery of any useful services for the public, or the economy. These outputs never turned into any specific actions or changes.

And so on and one the roller coast trundled throughout the first decade and a half of the 21st century.

Every year, local and central government grew another floor of managers, more and more tiers of management. I believe Auckland Council has six or seven tiers of management today.

My goodness, what does Tier 4 do as opposed to Tier 7?

And in the hallowed halls of the council, people talk rather reverently about some on a higher tier as if they are a demi-God. Well I guess they wield more power and definitely bigger budgets and the ability to hire and fire.

So we wonder why the public service is in disarray and the corporate world terrifyingly out of touch with their customers and the public.

For a start they are increasingly faceless, lost way behind an automated customer service line. Their names, and their direct line phone numbers are never to be found. To face up and take responsibility is no where on the horizon, not even as a KPI.

I have painted a desolutary picture here, and despite this I remain an optimist that these horrendous can change.

There are increasing glimmers that there is more and more awareness that these systems are broken. We hear more and more talk about adaptive leadership, empathy, authenticity, vulnerability and human centred organisations.

Here and there the talk turns to reality.

It does take a mindshift, not new skill sets. And there is a vast different.

Our individualised education and employment systems focus on gaining tools an and skill, without the wisdom of where and how to use them.

This requires a mindset shift, to being more human centres, and more focused on the collective than the individual. It requires a focus on how can the team as a whole succeed, and on measuring a wider range of successes.

We really have to redefine success, and we see glimmers in this around the new approaches being sought by government to measure more widely that GDP and solely economic metrics.

The idea that wellbeing and social impacts are equally important.

After all if we go to the origin of the word ‘economy’ it comes from the same root as ‘ecology’ which comes from the Greek word and concept EKOS, which is family.

So the whole point originally, was economics as a system for a family.

So paying attention to the collective, the whole, the organism of an organisation is the new ‘black.’

But we are only taking baby steps towards realising this after entrenched individualism and colonialism for hundreds of years.

The irony and the opportunity and the potential turn of the cycle is to wake up to the fact that all along there have been systems existing in this country that are perfectly suited as a model for a collective way of working, of honouring difference, and recognising the enormous potential when one or I shoud say when ‘we’ fully embrace the innovation, the inclusion and the ingenuity of working in a collective way to achieve far greater results, outcomes and outputs than we can achieve alone.

Aod so this most obvious of systems is Te Ao Māori.

Hello! It is such an absolute no brainer, and yet legislation, ideology, religion, and mainstream culture has repeatedly ignored, dismantled and totally supressed Te Ao Māori systems.

It is a devestatingly crying shame. For what better opportunity does Aotearoa have than to full embrace an ancient and timeless culture as it’s mainstream operating system.
How beautiful, elegant, smart and successful this can be.

Our niche on the world stage, our uniqueness, has always been based on Te Ao Māori, it has just never been acknowledged.

Our history of punching above our weight, of kiwi innovation has always had Te Ao Māori central to it as much as the zeal of European pioneers. And I romantically like to think that on a good day historically, there were no degrees of seperation between innovative pioneesr and an entrepreneurial tangata whenua.

Hello people, wake up. We have this most elegant and smart opportunity right in front of us. The rest of the world sees it and we don’t. We are admired and sought after around the globe and yet we still can’t see it, mumbling into our beards monosyllabically in the cultural cringe anti-tall poppy sentiments giving ‘all credit to the oppposition.’ What?????? How crazy is this false humility?
Really it is just passive-aggressive bullshit.

We can rise up the brilliant opportunities of the tikanga of Te Ao Māori as this main operating systems for our motu and ourselves.

We are gorgeous. And this place is gorgeous.

We can collectively embrace system changes that enable us to be the change we wish to see in the world.

Fundamentally, the changes that will enable more equity for more people to be fulfilled in their life and work will come from a place of love.

The concepts of aroha, of whakawhanaungatanga , of manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga are all about love, a universal love connecting, people, planet and the universe.

Love is about shining light, on ourselves, and on others, seeking the light, seeking the daylight.

So daylighting our selves and our places in love is something that we can all commit to, it is a value beyond question, beyond debate, it is presencing our potential as human beings to evolve in love.

Aue te aroha i ahau, aue
Aue e te iwi e.
E te iwi Māori puritia kia mau,
Utaina ki runga i te waka o te ora
Ka hoe ai ki te tauranga.

Know Your Place

72700493_thumbnail

Navigation is about triangulating where you are.

You identify three points, and you have located where you are.

Knowing your Place is also about understanding a trinity of who you are and where you are from.

1. Your place- geographically
2. Your place – where you welcome others
3. Your place- the legacy you create

Knowing your Place also requires another mighty threesome to be in balance; heart, mind and body.

Knowing your place will ground you in every environment and every interaction.

Why is this important?

Knowing who you are and where you are now, where you have come from, and where you are going are critical to effective engagement with others.

Today people want to know your back story, your current story, and the story of the future you are creating.

Knowing your Place is more than identifying with one geographic spot, that of your birth or your upbringing.

A nomad (both digital and physical) can Know Their Place as much as someone who has lived and worked in one place for many years.

It is about a knowing, a belonging, an identification with place, self and others than will ground you.

Most indigenous cultures start from a place of seeking to know your lineage and where you are from. Many consider our lineage to connect right back to the beginning of time and the creation of the planet and universe. And if you are into metaphysics, you can follow your DNA back to when were were an idea for an atom in the primordial soup.

But that gets very deep.

And that is great, because Knowing Your Place is about taking a deeper look at where you fit.

In English Victorian and Edwardian times the phrase ‘know your place’ was to ‘put you in your place’ in a hierarchy or stratified class system. Today we don’t have to do that. We can connect with our natural world, and the nature of our worlds of family, teams, groups, society and people. And take a journey to identify our place.

Our Place.
Your Place.
This Place

Sense of Place.

Place is a many layered concept.

I think of a metaphor for fly fishing. To be a great fly fisher, you work to cast your line to place it gently on the surface of the water. Your aim is to replicate an insect alighting on the surface of the water. The more attuned you are to your environment, the place you stand, the grace with which you move, your attention to the micro world of insects, and movement of current, and wind, the more you will find the sweetspot of place, to replicate the delicate movement of an insect.

A sense of knowing your place is akin to being ‘comfortable in your own skin’ and the world around you. Knowing your place allows you to embrace uncertainty, diversity and change.

Love Your Neighbour But Don’t Hang Out Together Every Day.

Neighbors Loud Music Noise

How do we balance out what we want with what others want ?

Doesn’t this just have to be the biggest question we all face as human beings?

Getting what we want, living the life we want, but getting on with others when they might want something quite diifferent from us.

It happens in families, at work, in politics, in religion, in race, everywhere we interact with others. We are social animals, wanting to belong, and then at the same time we get really annoyed with people and don’t want them around. How contrary!

So how do we work it all out and find the perfect answer?

The first answer is that we don’t. Our lives are perpetually evolving. We have to find beauty in the flaws, the challenges the imperfections and the journey both rocky and smooth. Absolute perfection, absolute order, 24/7 happiness is an illusion.

I’ve got neighbours who are very different from me, but we have got on really well for the best part of 20 years.

We don’t live in each other’s pockets like good friends, but we don’t ignore one another either. There have been times we have hung out a lot, and times where we have not said much to each other for days or weeks.

We have not always agreed on things, and in fact sometimes we have some very different and opposing views on things. But we get on. Some where along the line, we have built a deep mutual respect, a respect of difference, and a respect for what we share in common.

There is a love, and you can say in a certain way, it is an unconditional love, the kind you have in families where you might not get on, might not have everything in common, but you are family, and you love one another.

Seems to me to Love Your Neighbour should come from a place of love, of respect that does not mean going out of your own way to the point you are not doing or living the way you want to.

Loving Your Neighbour is being free to disagree with them, to be annoyed by them, to live a totally different life from them, and not tolerate them out of obligation or avoidance because you feel you SHOULD. It will never work.

So the answer to achieving world peace with a better community of diversity in thinking, lifestyle, beliefs, ethnicity and ability is accepting that we always all be different from one another. And in fact we would probably hate it if we were all exactly the same, surely we would be like robots!

As the great community builder, Peter Block puts it:

” Dissent is the cousin of diversity; the respect for wide range of beliefs.

This begins by allowing people the space to say “no”.

If we cannot say “no” then “yes” has no meaning.

Each needs the chance to express their doubts and reservations without having to justify them, or move quickly into problem solving.

“No” is the beginning of the conversation for commitment.

Doubt and “no” is a symbolic expression of people finding their space and role in the strategy.

It is when we fully understand what people do not want that choice becomes possible.

The leadership task is to surface doubts and dissent without having an answer to every question.”

www.abundantcommunity.com

No More Time Out

iStock_000045645158_XXXLargeI’m thinking about the coming year. It’s the 9th day of 2016. It can’t be helped, whichever way you look at it – it is a new year. And just over one week in, it is a transition time from a holiday into this ‘brand new’ year. I feel like I am emerging from the twilight of a whole lot of ‘time off’, or ‘time out’, over the Christmas and New Year break.

People are trickling back to work. Each day there are a few more cars on the road. Some people look like stunned mullets, adjusting their brains to a different pace, different clothes, different environment. Back to work!  Moving from the glowing twilight post-holiday into the full sunlight! In the glaze of the sun a few things happen. It nurtures and brings life, it warms mind and body, and sustains us. But too much and it will burn and destroy.

Getting the balance right with the powerful elements of nature is the same as getting the balance right with our professional and personal lives. The seasons and the weather are in constant change. And changing too are all the man-made structures that impact our lives. Our time and our days can fill up very, very quickly. We run out of time more than ever, with instant media and communication at our fingertips. There are a myriad of things to pay attention to. Technology has definitely NOT been a time-saving innovation for most of us.

As 2016 starts to settle in, and I get into a work mode, I’m asking:  What do I want more of than I had last year? What do I want less of than I had last year?

Then I get to thinking about the whole measurement of time – be it a year, a month, a day, a moment. And about how much time can expand and contract. How it seems like time can run out, or can go on endlessly. Somewhere I know it is all relative – my relationship to time is all completely made up, by me!

So I have arrived at an idea about Time Off and Time Out. I am eradicating them.

I am having a year of Time On and Time In.

I am going to a place where I will seek more natural rhythms in my energy flows, and seek to not judge when I have more or less energy, to not compare or judge one place or another.

I will move away from segmenting my life into Down Time, Time Off, Time Out, and integrate more balance and flow.

I will get more interested in the cycles of the seasons, of the sun of the moon, and become attuned with them.

I will seek a greater understanding of ebb and flow, in myself and the planet around me.

I will seek balance.

It is my heartfelt belief that when I am in tune with my vision and purpose, when I have it showing up in all my waking and even sleeping moments, I do not need Time Out and Time Off. Time will flow with greater ease. I will rise to the occasions of deadlines and commitments,  because they will be built on the foundation of my vision and my purpose.

Do you know what your vision is? Does it sustain you?

 

Revere

Judging and comparing is a big part of our lives.
It is automatic. This day is better than that, this movie was better or worse that the last one we saw. This steak tastes fantastic compared to the last one. This car I’ve got is a dog. My last one was really great. The same goes for people. My teacher this year is horrible. I really liked the one I had last year. My girlfriend, well we are great friends, and get on really well, but the girl I went out with two years ago was really the one.
We do it all day and every day; judge, assess and compare. And that’s in our nature.
On one level, there is nothing wrong with that. The contrast, we often believe, is what makes us happy. We can size up our lives, be happy about the good times, because we can compare them to the bad ones. But here there is a flaw. This way is based on life going ‘up and down’, good times and bad times, assessed, fluctuating.

I wonder, really wonder,what it would be like if we were to spend less time judging and assessing the world we live in; what is right and wrong with it, comparing it to the past, and constantly sizing up now, against the past or the future, what it would be like.

I wonder what it would be like to revere life, revere people, revere nature, revere our being and experience each day. I wonder. In awe. With reverence.

You know too, in recent times the word awesome has become popular. We have a hunger, a thirst for life to be awesome. So what is it to be ‘in awe’ of something. It is to wonder, to revere, not to measure, to sink into the bottomless depths of love, connection, peace, and the moment.

Revere.

Even the sound of the word invites contemplation, reflection, awe.

Say it. Speak it. Breathe it. It is a word that spoken can bring you close to the infinite, to reverence, to wonder, to peace.