Now I have your attention! Mindfulness may help us to reconnect with our social obligation!

We know from the work of Dan Pink (Drive) that extrinsic rewards damage our in-built motivations that often form the basis for how we organise or act in groups and achieve success in our current environment. 

Reading about another experiment where Toddlers were placed in a room and presented with a situation where someone needed help. Instinctually they wanted to help that stranger out and keep doing so. However introduce a reward for doing so and they quickly lost interest. This type of outcome is not uncommon, we have designed and executed many such influencers in our daily life and work. Researchers are even saying the whole economic/post-industrial society is training us to be less empathetic. We are less able to act on our social obligations. 

Stress as keeping us in a state of “fight or flight”. “It doesn’t make any sense to be interested in others or what they are thinking or feeling if your nervous system is in flux,”. 

What is the alternative?? 

This impacts us as individuals as well as a workforce (or the clients we are in). When have you seen a reward reduce the social obligation? When has it had unintended consequences? Are we nervous and waiting for the reward? Or are we driven by something deeper? Do we (or our clients) know what that is clearly?

Next month in Victoria we are focused on Mindfulness - this is one way to start to address this issue! Mindfulness allows us to have focused attention on our true selves. It helps us to activate our instinct and filter out the stresses that lead to a prolonged ‘fight or flight’ response. The other technique involves using our cognitive surplus to start to reconnect and give back. Finding 3-5 things every day to be thankful for, finding a way to radiate positive energy or do good for someone. 

I’m reading/seeing more signs that the organisations that will survive are the ones that do this on some sort of scale, they participate in the circular economy, compete of values, connect with their customers and focus on value and not just consumption and profit. This brings me hope.

Taryn at Liffey FallsLiffey FallsLiffey Falls - MossSheffield Town at Dusk

Tasmania 2014, a set on Flickr.

Some photos from our Autumn 2014 Road trip through Tasmania.
Bangkok - BellsThai PrayerChang Mai - Tribe - Long NecksChang Mai - Monk

South East Asia 2013, a set on Flickr.

Recently I spent 2 months backpacking in Asia. It was another great adventure!
Here are some of my photos from the trip.

Medibank at Docklands Melbourne

I have a simmering fascination with building design and architecture. Especially workspace that enables collaboration, creativity and happy people. 

The new Medibank building (which can be seen from Melbourne HQ) is shaping up nicely. 

Medibank Melbourne


- Life Caching & Digital Bubbles -
In recent times there has been a lot of energy building around ‘Personal Data’. In the past we have heard of ‘Life Caching’ - Collecting, Storing and displaying ones entire life. 

Trends are often a manifestation of new enablers unlocking existing human needs. It seems we have a need to be social… and are fuelled by a need for self-worth, validation, control, vanity, even immortality… who knew! 

I am seeing this interconnect with another big trend which is wearable tech - now we have devices that can help us cache, along with big data (allowing us to store and compare). We are also seeing the rise of the ‘Digital Bubble’ where people can chose what is shared and what they ‘absorb’ from objects and people as they move through life. For example I can chose what traces of my data/life i leave behind in a store when I browse and I can also chose what advertisement they then give to me in real time. This extends to being able to select how we are viewed by other people through their google-glass / digital contact lenses - so I look different to different people depending on which class of friend I put you in. 

Now Im also seeing an evolution of this trend in people tracking all their ‘vital signs’ such as health, movement, food, sleep etc. I read yesterday about a new service that takes all your data and helps you make sense of it. There is even one guy who has over 100 sensors tracking his life so he can be ‘the worlds most connected man’. The internet of things taken to a new level. 

This presents huge opportunities for organisations to offer services and experiences that enhance our choices and lifestyle. It also means someone has to make it work. (Us?)

Despite some recent cruel and bat-shit crazy happenings… I still have hope. (its why I continue to fight and agitate for things to be better)

Australia didn’t become one of the best places to live in the world by accident, but by activism. The stagnant nature of modern politics makes it easy to assume that the river of progress is dammed, or at least heavily silted, but most of the major obstacles are surmountable. In many cases the public support for change is already there, waiting to be mobilised. On the tough sells we can learn, as John Wiseman suggests, from Milton Friedman:

“Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When the crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”
Perhaps as we are clearly faced with some major challenges then (as Einstein understood) there will be an opposite reaction. This may be underground but it will be effective…. because it has to be. And good always wins - change always happens. 
But it only happens when the conditions are right and people are empowered. Im hoping the next 3 years can be watershed and the people make a transformation. I also hope that in that time the new Government can be held back on its ability to effect too much damage that isnt reversible.


Metaphors… Do they sharpen our comprehension or as useless as a pretty sky to a blind man?
(Layered thought time…)

“Metaphorical thinking … is essential to how we communicate, learn, discover, and invent.”

Over the past week I have had three instances that have highlighted metaphor as a useful tool. Last week I were presenting a new idea for engineering dialogue and space to manage complexity to another group of clients. Afterwards we were discussing the power of metaphors to get the science/design across clearly. I agree and they are something I use regularly both in conversation and in visuals.

The day before I was reading an article that described the power of metaphors and how we (and our brain) interpret them. When well selected and well placed they can be vital to comprehension because of how our brain and memory work. It also discussed how our ability to think in this way manifests itself around the age of 7 and undergoes another transformation at the age of 13. It seems they required a degree of life experience in order to make a metaphorical link between the physical condition and the psychological state for example. This life experience gives them a cache to call upon.

This, however brings me to another piece of reading and thinking I had been doing. Its based around Mindfulness and Awareness (as part of a new paper we are writing). Children often have a incredible capacity for observation and awareness. They see things we do not, often as adults we must retrain to see these things we once did. In fact there are some people running city tours where they practice mindfulness and observe. At the end the ‘experts’ describe what they saw. This is often on another scale to the ‘newbies’ who are yet to detach from their default network. Children are able to observe incredibly well because they havent yet established the constructs we use to judge and therefore ‘not-see’. We see something, place it in a category and then use our previous knowledge to determine its value or purpose. Here we suspend our thought and often trade on habit.

How often does this occur in our organisations? Some of the most innovative organisations in silicon valley apparently have an underlying paranoia (verging on obsession) for looking for what they have missed. Many organisations are starting to explore how they can be better at seeing and acting. Design thinking, mindfulness, retrospectives, journey mapping, big data, etc. All these are perhaps in response to the need to see more clearly.

Perhaps they need a lens?
How do we keep the balance between ease of comprehension and expansion of thinking? How do we balance metaphorical thinking with mindfulness attention?



We live in an exciting and interesting time — one when some of our most commonly accepted ideas, traditions and principals are being challenged. This past week featured a fascinating read in the Wall Street Journal asking “Are Playgrounds Too Safe?”, making the case that “decades of dumbed-down playgrounds, fueled by fears of litigation, concerns about injury and worrywart helicopter parents, have led to cookie-cutter equipment that offers little thrill.” The result being children less compelled to play outside, potentially stunting emotional and physical development and exacerbating a nationwide epidemic of childhood obesity.

Recently Forbes featured an article smartly challenging things many of us grew up being taught and often adhere to still. But in today’s world, the rules of our parents’ past are ones we have to ask in all earnest and respect — do these rules still apply?

1. The people in charge have all the answers.
That’s why they are so wealthy and happy and healthy and powerful—ask any teacher. 


2. Learning ends when you leave the classroom. 
Your fort building, trail forging, frog catching, friend making, game playing, and drawing won’t earn you any extra credit. Just watch TV. 


3. The best and brightest follow all the rules.
You will be rewarded for your subordination, just not as much as your superiors, who, of course, have their own rules.


Read More

Source: curiositycounts

USA & Central America 2012, a set on Flickr.

Over the last few months I have been travelling through USA & Central America. It was an awesome trip and I have just got around to putting up some of my photos on Flickr. Enjoy!

Date a boy who travels

I found this and had to share… It is soooo me!


Date A Boy Who Travels

Date a boy who travels. Date a boy who treasures experience over toys, a hand-woven bracelet over a Rolex. Date the boy who scoffs when he hears the words, “vacation”, “all-inclusive”, or “resort”. Date a boy who travels because he’s not blinded by a single goal but enlivened by many.

You might find him in an airport or at a book store browsing the travel guides – although he “only uses them for reference.”

You’ll know it’s him because when you peek at his computer screen, his background will be a scenic splendor of rolling hills, mountains, or prayer flags. His Facebook friend count will be over-the-roof, and his wall will be plastered with the broken English ‘miss-you’ of friends he met along the way. When he travels, he makes lifelong friends in an hour. And although contact with these friends is sporadic and may be far-between, his bonds are unmessable and if he wanted, he could couch surf the world… again.

Buy him a beer, maybe the same brand that he wears on the singlet under his plaid shirt, unable to truly let go. Once a traveller gets home, people rarely listen to their stories. So listen to him. Allow him to paint a picture that brings you into his world. He might talk fast and miss small details because he’s so excited to be heard. Bask in his enthusiasm. Want it for yourself.

He’ll squeak like an excited toddler when his latest issue of National Geographic arrives in the mail. Then he’ll grow quiet, engrossed, until he finishes his analysis of every photo, every adventure. In his mind, he’ll insert himself in these pictures. He’ll pass the issue on to you and grill you about your dreams and competitively ask about the craziest thing you’ve ever done. Tell him. And know that he’ll probably win. And if by chance you win, know that his next lot in life will be to out do you. But then he’ll say, “Maybe we can do it together.”

Date the boy who talks of distant places and whose hands have explored the stone relics of ancient civilizations and whose mind has imagined those hands carving, chiseling, painting the wonders of the world. And when he talks, it’s as if he’s reliving it with you. You can almost hear his heart racing. You can almost feel the adrenaline ramped up by the moment. You feel it passing through his synapsis, a feast to his eyes entering through those tiny oracles of experience that we call pupils, digesting rapidly through his veins, manifesting into his nervous system, transforming and altering his worldview like a reverse trauma and finally passing, but forever changing the colors of his sight. (Unless he’s Karl Pilkington.) You will want this too.

Date a boy who’s lived out of a backpack because he lives happily with less. A boy who’s travelled has seen poverty and dined with those who live in small shanty’s with no running water, and yet welcome strangers with greater hospitality than the rich. And because he’s seen this, he’s seen how a life without luxury can mean a life fueled by relationships and family, rather than a life that fuels fancy cars and ego. He’s experienced different ways of being, respects alternative religions and he looks at the world with the eyes of a five-year-old, curious and hungry. Your dad will be happy too because he’s good with money and knows how to budget.

This boy relishes home; the comfort of a duvet, the safety stirred in a mom-cooked meal, the easy conversation of childhood friends, and the immaculate glory of the flush-toilet. Although fiercely independent, he has had time to reflect on himself and his relationships. Despite his wanderlust, he knows and appreciates his ties to home. He has had a chance to miss and be missed. Because of this, he also knows a thing or two about goodbyes. He knows the overwhelming uncertainty of leaving the comforts of home, the indefinite see-you-laters at the departure gates, and yet he fearlessly goes into the unknown because he knows the feeling of return. And that the I’ve-missed-you-hug is the best type of hug in the whole world. He also knows that goodbyes are just prolonged see-you-laters and that ‘hello’ is only as far away as the nearest internet cafe.

Don’t hold onto this boy. Let this boy go and go with him. If you haven’t travelled, he will open your eyes to a world beyond the news and popular perception. He will open your dreams to possibility and reality. He will calm your nerves when you’re about to miss a flight or when your rental blows a flat, because he knows the journey is the adventure. He will make light of the unsavory noises you make when you – and you will – get food poisoning. He will make you laugh through the discomfort all while dabbing your forehead with a cold cloth and nursing you with bottled water. He will make you feel like you’re home.

When you see something beautiful, he will hold your hand in silence, in awh the history of where his feet stand, and the fact that you’re with him.

He will live in every moment with you, because this is how he lives his life. He understands that happiness is no more than a string of moments that displace neutrality, and he is determined to tie as many of these strings together as he can. He also understands your need to live for yourself and that you have a bucketlist of your own. Understand his. Understand that your goals may at some points differ, but that independence is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship when it’s mutually respected. You may lose him for a bit, but he will always come home bearing a new story and a souvenir he picked up because it reminded him of you, like it was made for you, and because he missed you. You might be compelled to do the same. Make sure that independence is on your bucketlist, and make sure it’s checked. Independence will keep your relationship fresh and exciting, and when you’re together again it will forge a bond of unbreakable trust.

He’ll propose when you’ve breached your comfort-zone, whether it be a fear like skydiving or swimming with sharks, or sitting next to the smelly person on an overcrowded bus. It won’t be with a diamond ring, but with a token from a native culture or inspired by nature, like the penguin and the pebble.

You will get married somewhere unassumed, surrounded by a select few, in a moment constructed to celebrate venturing into the unknown together again. Marry the boy who’s travelled and together you will make the whole world your home. Your honeymoon will not be forgotten to a buffet dinner and all-you-can-drink beach bars, but will be remembered in the triumphant photographs at the top of Kilimanjaro and memorialized in the rewarding ache of muscles at the end of a long days hike.

When you’re ready, you will have children that have the names of the characters you met on your journeys, the foreign names of people who dug a special place in your heart if only for a few days. Perhaps you will live in another country, and your children will learn of language and customs that open their minds from the very start, leaving no room for prejudice. He will introduce them to the life of Hemingway, the journey of Santiago, and empower them to live even bigger than both of you.

Marry a boy who travels and he’ll teach your children the beauty of a single stone, the history of the Incas and he will instill in them the bravery of possibility. He will explain to them that masking opportunity, there is fear. He will teach them to concur it.

And when you’re old, you’ll sit with your grandchildren pouring over your photo albums and chest of worldly treasures, while they too insert themselves into your photographs, sparked by the beauty of the world and inspired by your life in it.

Find a boy who travels because you deserve a life of adventure and possibility. You deserve to live light and embrace simplicity. You deserve to look at life through the eyes of youth and with your arms wide open. Because this is where you will find joy. And better, you will find joy together. And if you can’t find him, travel. Go. Embrace it. Explore the world for yourself because dreams are the stuff reality is made from.