Where has Callum gone? - 21st Jun 2017

Hi there

Hey I’m excited! I’ve just made a big decision (ok, I made it a few weeks ago) and it’s a big deal to me but doesn’t need to be for you. In fact, it shouldn’t be …..

I’ve decided to re-brand some of my work to create a distinction between that which I do on my own as myself (callummckirdy.com), and that which I do in collaboration with other experts better at some of the technical stuff we work on together, such as providing staff engagement surveys – this sort of thing will stay at leadingideas.co.nz.

So, from today CallumMcKirdy.com will be home to:

  • all my conference and corporate speaking,
  • team and culture development workshops and
  • when I mentor and facilitate leadership retreats.
My new website is up and running at  .… you guessed it …. CallumMcKirdy.com. We’ll be working to add functionality over the coming weeks to include things like a shop to buy my new book (yip, that’s on its way and it’ll be ace!) My infrequent Tuesletter will move to CallumMcKirdy.com as well because I dig the name and have a lot to tell you all about some pretty cool models and offerings I’m getting great feedback from a few clients about that I want to share with you.

You may have picked up on me using the term “we” above. While CallumMcKirdy.com is my thought leadership practice, I’ve had to build a team to support me and now have a wonderful practice manager, Beren, in place for the last six weeks. He’s one of those annoyingly competent, detail-focused and customer-oriented types and may respond to some emails when I’m on the road, but otherwise it’ll still be me on the other end. I’m really stoked he’s on board and we’ll be adding another member to the team shortly so Beren can focus on bigger things we’ve got planned for the year ahead. You can get in touch with him at hello@callummckirdy.com if you need any info about our services or to book me to speak at your conference or roadshow. 

What’s happening with LeadingIdeas.co.nz?

Well, this is now going to be used as an umbrella for collaborations and partnerships with other thought leaders and quality service providers. This doesn’t mean it’ll be left dormant – we have some cool ideas percolating – one of which is a conference so stay tuned.

I’m very keen for this to work for you as a client, collaborator, all-round good chap or chapesse, or member of my community. If anything’s unclear or you just want to chat, get in touch. My contact number remains the same (+64 21 880 162) BUT my email address is now callum@callummckirdy.com.  Yes, callum@leadingideas.co.nz will still work, but will be redirected to the callummckirdy.com address.

Feel free to check out the new website and be sure to sign up to my Tuesletter. Those who get in quick will get a copy of my short e-book on building Optimised Teams.

Talk soon and see you over at CallumMcKirdy.com soon


Making meaning of the conversations in your life - 6th Dec 2016

Making meaning of the conversations in your life Often when I’m delivering keynotes and seminars I tell the tale of the conversations that have helped shape and guide my career and life in general. Some refer to these as turning or tipping points; others call them pivot-points – those pivotal moments when we are faced with an opportunity or a need to make a decision that will affect the direction our lives take.

I purposefully refer to the actual conversations rather than the event itself, because I believe all decisions require a good old chat – either with ourselves or some other person or people. My consulting practice goes by the tagline Thinking·Talking·Doing because I believe success starts as an idea, which of course needs action to turn that idea into value, but that value is clarified and brought to life through the conversations had about the idea. Essentially, conversations are the conduit between delicious ideas and beautiful execution.

What does this have to do with the conversations of your life?

Well, think back through the pivot points of your life – those points when you were presented with a crisis or an opportunity, or you needed to choose one way over several others. What was going on?

Chances are those opportunities came about through a conversation with someone of influence (at least they were at the time), or the decision you made was influenced by someone similar or the conversation you had in your head. Even rash decisions include an element of conversation – in the heat of the moment you and some other person or people decided to take some action. Maybe the consequences were glorious; maybe they were horrendously regrettable. Either way, I bet they eventually led you towards several other pivotal conversations closer to the present time – creating a conversational journey.

Maybe you reflect on these events from time-to-time, in effect having another internal conversation with yourself. Imagine how magic it would be for some clever-clogs to develop an App that records and links the thread of these conversations, which you could then replay and see for yourself the real link between how you got from there (wherever that was) to here. Awesomeness abound, and I dare say it’s not far-off with the advances in AI going on around us.

Often we’re not ‘in the moment’ when these pivotal conversations take place, and as a result require some level of hindsight to recognize they have occurred – sometimes many years after they took place. This is likely a coping mechanism to allow us to remain on-track and productive, otherwise can you imagine how distracted we would become if we were constantly looking for and reflecting on the conversation as it happened? Talk about exhausting, not to mention incredibly annoying!

My point here is that there is magic in each and every conversation you have, regardless of the value you see at the time or connection you experience with the people you’re talking with. So, my advice is to take stock of the interactions you have each day or week. The best way to do this is to flip the evaluation  from ‘what did I get out of it?’ to ‘what did they get out of it, and where does that leave us?’ This way, you don’t have to wait so long to recognize when the magic happens. Try it out.

Let me know how you get on.


Is your school moto still relevant? - 17th Nov 2016

Like many schools, my high school had a moto. In what I have always viewed as a bit too ‘try-hard’ my school’s moto was Latin, and this was emblazoned on the school crest in every prominent area of the school grounds and on our uniform. It read “Scientia potestas est”, loosely translated as “Knowledge is power”.  

In the 20 years since I left high school much has changed. Most of this change I never foresaw; some I didn’t notice. One thing I have always known though is that the expression knowledge is power is wrong, and in fact it has never been the whole truth.

Today, anybody can be a google expert, and with the advent of the fourth Industrial Revolution, knowledge as we know it is changing. In the sphere of organisational culture and leadership in which I spend my days, I believe the value of knowledge itself is diminishing, and is being replaced by a skill much harder to teach than rote learning facts.

Where true power lies from a leadership perspective is in providing clarity in a world overwhelmed by information. Indeed, clarity is now power or “Claritas potentas est”.  True leadership is the ability to shine a light on what matters, now, and to enable people to understand why this is the case for them. This provision of clarity of purpose, fit, and direction is where leadership separates from management. Clearing away the noise and elevating awareness for people is the essence of leadership conversations.

My own moto of having better conversations about work; at work embodies this concept of providing clarity of focus through the ability to speak meaningfully to anyone and everyone you work with. This is where lasting ‘power’ in leadership lies.

On that note – let’s chat! I’m working with leaders and teams seeking their own clarity on the way forward in today’s fast-changing business environment.


Do you measure task or progress achievement? - 16th Aug 2016

Do you measure task or progress achievement? At a high level, work is just a series of projects to be done. Some overlap in time, concept or content, and depending on the combination of these, make for either efficient work practices or a whole lot of wasted busyness.

The reason I bring this up is because a not too long ago I was working with a leadership team that rewarded activity over productivity, and they were 100% okay with this.

I was spending time with them to observe how they behave with each other in order to develop as a more cohesive group – in particular I was interested in how, what and why they spoke with each other in their executive pow-wows.

I like Pat Lencioni’s model of teams known somewhat negatively as a 5 dysfunctions of a team. This model is predicated on team members having vulnerability-based trust in each other, in order to have robust, work-based conflict whereby they have-it-out about an idea but everyone leaves the meeting with their dignity intact, and importantly, are committed and accountable for achieving results. My problem was, this particular team didn’t have anything to have conflict about –they openly and actively praised completion of tasks without monitoring actual progress towards specified goals.

Their justification for this was that agreed activity meant there must be some progress towards the end goal. Their approach was that there was always “unavoidable fat in the system”. I queried how they knew what was ‘fat’ and what was ‘lean’ progress? Blanks looks abound.
I also queried their appetite for conflict and the response was again surprising – they actively avoided conflict and focused on praising each other for their respective teams’ achievement of getting through a list of tasks. Needing to remain professional I visualized myself head-butting the wall rather than doing so in reality. The meeting progressed to rewarding individuals for being busy. I was flabbergasted but they really were, and still are, a very interesting bunch to work with. It’s refreshing to be confronted by a group who passionately defend an approach that differs from your own.

It transpired that the HR Manager had previously put a case to the Leadership Team, which was accepted, that sought to work differently than many other organisations. With management media reporting the trend of big-name companies throwing away performance appraisals (they’re not by the way, they’re merely changing what they focus on), this organisation decided to buck the trend of using data and metrics, and instead do away with measuring actual progress. I at least convinced them to use their rewarding of activity to spark better conversations about the activity that was taking place and how they as leaders could support staff in their ‘achievement’.

All this got me thinking – having worked with hundreds of teams to measure what matters and have meaningful conversations about aligning practice with purpose, how do you dear reader track your progress?

Counting ticks on a to-do list is certainly a lot easier than tracking actual outcomes produced as a result of undertaking particular work. Results produced are very often difficult to measure if you haven’t scoped what these will look like before you embark on the series of tasks that comprise a project. When I think back to some of the jobs I’ve done in the past, I recall meetings packed with energy and enthusiasm as we planned activity that was little more than a glorified to-do list, that had no real detail about the outputs or outcomes the activity would produce. Worst of all – we felt like we were achieving!

Think about the activity you’re undertaking today – does each task lead to an outcome? Maybe one task enables the next to be started. Is this progress towards a pre-imagined (and hopefully written) result or is it busyness?

I don’t mean to undermine what it is you do or how to go about it, but when we hear of research suggesting 80% of workplaces could be more engaged (some enormously so), I can’t help think greater clarity of purpose is the key to greater productivity. When we know why we do what we do, what the result of ‘work’ looks like and how we play a part of the bigger picture, we can’t help but be engaged to give more effort in a more efficient manner. It’s human nature. What’s not common practice are better conversations about work; at work – hitting the sweet spot between leading and managing. Does your organisation measure tasks done or progress towards a goal, and importantly, is there a clear difference between these in the minds of your staff?



@KirrynZerna You're welcome - I love your posts @KirrynZerna! Super relevant and on-point. I hope all's well across the ditch!?
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