Jo – organisational development
Jo was leading the Change programme at Treasury when she undertook Ruku Ao in 2015. She has since moved to another agency. Jo has significant experience in change management, organisational performance and development, and the challenges facing public sector organisations in New Zealand. During 2014 she also spoke with a number of private and public sector organisations in the UK and at the OECD. Jo considers the need and impact of Ruku Ao to be profound on multiple levels: for organisations, for leaders and for individuals. Having participated in leadership development previously, she considers that “there is no comparison between Ruku Ao and other leadership development programmes; the degree of reflection on how leaders present at work, and how you learn from each other, is unmatched”.
Jo’s work in New Zealand has focused on the challenges faced by organisations to deal with complexity and ambiguity, innovation, and the lift of services for citizens. She has also spent time on collaboration, and the building of diverse and inclusive cultures and notes that many organisations from both NZ and overseas are recognising that traditional approaches to addressing organisational and public policy challenges may not provide solutions to the complex challenges faced by organisations today. This change requires a radical shift for organisations from their current operating models. Jo considers that Ruku Ao is building skills to do so. She has seen the programme create new norms for doing work differently in organisations. At Treasury, where she participated in the programme with around 6 other participants, she found the programme worked to encourage the cohort to stop and listen, slow down to connect, deal with the challenges of ‘not knowing’, and create an ability to engage with diverse perspectives within their teams and the organisation. The programme sat concretely with Treasury’s organisational goals to build diversity and inclusion, Maori capability, and capability for external engagement. She believes Ruku Ao gives participants tools and experience to address these challenges.
She found Tikanga Maori to be a significant element to the programme. Despite growing up in New Zealand, Jo had not understood the reasons for Maori processes around connection until she participated in Ruku Ao. Previously she had not well understood practice such as pōwhiri; Ruku Ao enabled her to see the purpose in connecting people in order to be able to work together. She realised that to be able to understand diverse perspectives different to our own, we need to have connected with people. She has also realised that this is what is needed in organisations; for the public sector, and more globally, to work differently, to be able to collaborate and build inclusive cultures, it needs to invest in forming connections and behaviours so that we can understand others’ perspectives.
The effects of Ruku Ao are transferring to the new organisation that Jo has moved to, and have been noticed by her new manager, who observed after working with her for some time: “There’s no ego in your work, you just do what is needed”. Jo says that she instantly recognized this as an effect of Ruku Ao on her practice as a leader.