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What I found searching "bigness NZ"
I have a theory (another one) - and this one I call Bigness, or on Twitter #bigness.

Here in New Zealand, a country with a population of 4.471 million, living on land bigger than the UK (pop: 64.1m) we have many cultural attributes that are uniquely Kiwi, just look at the reaction to the flag debate and how people are expressing their, "This isn't us!" to see it in action.

Many of these Kiwi attributes are awesome but one, that I have labeled #bigness, is a problem. It is an attribute that slows us down, holds us back and ties us to a thinking we don't need to.

New Zealand is, to all intents & purposes, a Western-ised, predominantly white (male) country. When it looks to role models it immediately gravitates to those like it, Australia, UK, USA and Canada (the Five Eyes). When we look for help, guidance, "lessons to be learnt", processes to copy, institutions to emulate it is to these that we almost exclusively turn to.

We do, sometimes, also have an attitude of, "Let's take that from X country and amend it to work here", but let's be honest the underlying principles of whatever it is we're emulating are generally left alone and it's a surface gloss to make it feel like it's 'Kiwi'.

So what's the problem, learning from those that have gone before is a good thing, yes? Absolutely, where appropriate I always advocate copying, why do hard work when you can copy, why re-invent the wheel when it's working somewhere else.

Where appropriate. And that's the issue - #bigness.

Remember the population figures, we're not that big. We don't have the size of problems that others may have. We don't have the income that others have. We are not the others. But we see ourselves as equal to them in culture and outlook and therefore, "Surely we can just copy them, we are the same aren't we!"

Imagine this: when Dept X in Government (and this is by no means limited to New Zealand government agencies) wants to make a change they, naturally, look to the world for examples; "the world" = UK, USA, Australia and/or Canada. If they spent $100 million doing a change affecting 1% of their population and taking 2 years then we immediately see that as "the way". That's what they did, we're the same, that's what we'll do.


But we're not the same size, we don't have to start from this point.
By all means check it out, but maybe we can do things quicker, different and cheaper. If we only dropped the #bigness thinking.

Another phrase I hear is, "X company is a big beast and it's like turning an oil tanker, it takes a long time". Well maybe if you're the Telecom company running across 18 million subscribers (British Telecom). But, for arguments sake, Spark has 1.6m subscribers and therefore can do it differently.

Whenever I see/read something that belies #bigness, I now call it out.

AND whenever I hear/read an organisation NOT falling into the trap, I am extremely chuffed to hand over a bouquet.


  1. Thanks for the insights MM. And #smallness = optimised for agile and grassroots approaches. We're a small pacific nation of 4.5m ffs.


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