Our need to belong gives me faith for the future

Our future as living beings on this earth is far from certain. This reality was highlighted by a recent warning to humanity issued by more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries around the world. These scientists said humans had unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years wherein many current life … Continue reading »

It might look a mess but it works, if you let it…

October 19th 2017 was an exciting juncture in Aotearoa’s politics as we awaited the outcome of nearly a month’s deliberations on the form our government would take. The final result of a Labour, NZ First, Green coalition is a combination that has exciting potential.

Some commentators are predicting a government term that will be … Continue reading »

Mind your P’s and Q’s

Have you ever been told to mind your p’s and q’s? Chances are you were being told to mind your manners. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on where the p’s and q’s saying came from but it is widely understood as to what it means. Hearing the saying is enough to jog you … Continue reading »

Collaboration lessons from the paddock

Working as a collaboration specialist means I am always learning ways to support people working together. Most of these lessons come unsurprisingly from working with people. This last month however has had me immersed in lambing season that has highlighted five lessons from the paddock for collaborative practice.

1. Peaks and valleys

2. Emergence

3. … Continue reading »

You either win or you learn

This is one of Doug Avery’s many powerful one-liners that have spoken to me in my recent read of his book The Resilient Farmer.  His full sentence reads:

“We’re all losers at something and we are all winners at something. But you only lose if you don’t learn.

You either win or you learn.”

Now … Continue reading »

Appreciation magic

Working in complexity can be a challenging space to work in. There are often conflicting values, endless information about what are often heart wrenching problems with no obvious solutions and a constantly changing environment.

Amidst this mess, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and impotent. After all what can you do to navigate this complexity? … Continue reading »

The Great Escape

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Trevor Hapi Howse, a dear friend and mentor who passed away on May 12th 2017.
         Haere, haere, haere. Haere ki te wa kainga.

Trevor used to say to me, “Trust in the process girl, the process will work it out.”  This would challenge my 20 something year

Continue reading »

Circle Work

My family will attest to the fact that I am not a huge fan of housework. The washing and the hanging and folding and ironing and vacuuming and dusting and bathroom cleaning and mopping and….you get it, those tasks that just have to be done to keep the household ticking over in a relatively healthy … Continue reading »

Certainty in an uncertain environment

Let’s face it; there is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now. Issues we face are no longer mostly complicated where timely intervention by technical experts and robust processes lead to solutions. Instead our challenges often fall into the realm of complexity that is distinguished by endless information, conflicting value positions, inabilities for … Continue reading »

Taking a collaborative fitness test

There are lots of measures for gauging your physical fitness such as muscular strength, flexibility, agility and speed and of course body composition measures like blood pressure, weight and body fat. I have vivid memories of calipers being used to squeeze my underarm at the gym and rebelling at not only the unpleasantness of the … Continue reading »

What we say affects what we do

I attended a workshop this week entitled Collaboration: How to do it. There were around 50 workshop participants from all over New Zealand and a guest speaker from Australia. During a session of introductions by all participants it became clear that there was a wealth of interest, skills and experience in this thing named … Continue reading »

No Silver Bullet but maybe some golden fuel?

A silver bullet is the phrase we use for a simple and seemingly magical solution to a serious problem. It is increasingly well understood that there are no silver bullets when collaborating in complex situations. Rather it is a matter of applying appreciative mindsets and deliberative processes to reach enduring solutions.

Instead of searching for … Continue reading »

Structure brings flexibility

Many of us are familiar with the pressure that comes when you are working with complexity. There is often a pressing problem at hand that has multiple root causes and is inhabited by multiple stakeholders. The issues are difficult to frame with little agreement on the scope of the problem. There is lots of uncertainty … Continue reading »

What is a Dilemma?

Communication is the tool we humans use to navigate our way through the world and particularly so when we choose to collaborate with each other. Collaboration is all about using our words and language to make sense of things. Indeed I think the essence of collaborating is taking the time to share our words with … Continue reading »


Over the last few weeks I have had conversations with a number of people who referred to their frustration withmisinformation in the collaborative processes they are involved in. Two of the people were Councillors, one was a property developer and the other was a business owner interested in development. Although the people were from … Continue reading »

When does collaboration begin?

Calls to Twyfords for specialist advice on collaboration come from a variety of places and spaces on the collaborative journey.

Some people call because they have been told that they have to collaborate to get funding, others call because their work has hit a rough spot of conflict, frustration or slowed progress, and others call … Continue reading »

What is a Meta-phor?

Don’t you love a good quote? This one was sent to me this week:

“ Collaboration is not about gluing together existing egos. It’s about the ideas that never existed until after everyone entered the room.”

Unfortunately I don’t have the source of this quote, as I would like to credit them with putting together … Continue reading »

Power of the Mind

I heard a fascinating radio interview this morning with UK science writer Jo Marchant. She has just written a book on the remarkable healing that can happen because of what people believe in or think. Her book delves into the research that shows the mind can have enormous power over the progression and symptoms of … Continue reading »

We are wired to collaborate… what gets in the way?

When reading the daily news it is easy to think that it is human nature to fight and compete to win regardless of the wider consequences to others or to the natural world. Yet I believe another narrative, which is that we humans are wired to collaborate. We are wired to care and work together.… Continue reading »

Collaboration AND Contestability

The following quote got me mulling on an issue that arises again and again with my clients. That is, how can you collaborate within an environment of contestability?

Holly Snape, a Chief Executive in the New Zealand Social Service Sector, had this to say in a recent newspaper article.

“Changes in the funding structure across … Continue reading »