Catch up on our latest insights.

Cut with a scalpel, not a Chainsaw: Strategic cost management and investment beyond the economic cycleJames Kitney

Cut with a scalpel, not a Chainsaw: Strategic cost management and investment beyond the economic cycle

We've all seen the headlines in recent weeks with a number of public and private businesses across New Zealand announcing staff reductions. It's a familiar pattern – economic contraction leads to reduced consumer spending, which then necessitates cuts to operating expenditures. Then, when consumer confidence rebounds, it becomes an all-out scramble to capitalise on the upswing. This cycle seems logical on the surface. But is it truly optimal? Do we really need an economic downturn for us to focus on cost efficiency? Conversely, do we need economic growth to even consider strategies for expanding market share?
(Why) should we return to the office?Nick Mackeson-Smith

(Why) should we return to the office?

It’s a consistent theme we’re hearing right now - “it’s time to get people back into the office”. But is it? Are we prepared to erode all of the gains we’ve made in new ways of working over the pandemic and post-pandemic years? Employees have been empowered to work with new levels of trust and freedom, and have incorporated work into their life routines. What should we do next? Nick Mackeson-Smith shares his thoughts and observations.
Gaining traction at the executive tableSally Schmall

Gaining traction at the executive table

Stepping into a new executive or senior leadership role is both exhilarating and daunting. Whether you’re moving to a different organisation or taking on your first senior-level position, the initial six months are critical. Challenges include managing energy, aligning stakeholder expectations, overcoming imposter syndrome, and crafting an effective transition plan. Sally Schmall discusses how by addressing these challenges, new executives can set themselves up for success and positively impact their teams and organisations.
Navigating the Emotional and Mental Challenges of Right-SizingNick Mackeson-Smith

Navigating the Emotional and Mental Challenges of Right-Sizing

Right-sizing is an emotionally and mentally taxing process, yet with the right approach, it is possible to navigate these challenges with integrity and care. By prioritising dignity, transparency, safety, and care, and leveraging the support of experts like Five NZ, organisations can not only manage the immediate impacts of right-sizing but also build a stronger, more resilient foundation for the future. In the face of change, the true measure of leadership is the ability to lead with humanity, ensuring that every decision, no matter how difficult, is made with a profound respect for the individuals who contribute to our collective success.
Ditch the Decks, Unleash the Dragons: Why Strategy Isn't a Game trapped in spreadsheets and PowerPointJames Kitney

Ditch the Decks, Unleash the Dragons: Why Strategy Isn't a Game trapped in spreadsheets and PowerPoint

Step into a world where strategy is not confined to boardrooms but thrives in the chaos and creativity of real-world challenges. This post explores how today's leaders are ditching traditional, rigid planning for a dynamic, design-led approach. Discover how embracing uncertainty, fostering a culture of experimentation, and engaging directly with the market through rapid prototyping and iterative testing can lead to spectacular successes.
Creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ communitiesNick Mackeson-Smith

Creating an inclusive environment for LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ communities

Explore the importance of LGBTQI+ and MVPFAFF+ inclusion in the workplace. Pride month is the perfect time for organisations to reconsider the need for comprehensive policies, allyship, and education to combat discrimination. Learn how you can take steps to create a supportive environment in your organisation, ensuring equal opportunities and respect for all, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
January 28, 2024
💗 Culture EX
The imperative of understanding organisational cultureNick Mackeson-Smith

The imperative of understanding organisational culture

In the rapidly evolving business landscape, understanding what drives and creates organisational culture is not just important, it's imperative. At Five NZ, we believe that the right culture is the bedrock for the effective execution of strategy. Understanding and shaping organisational culture is not a luxury, it's a necessity. It's the key to unlocking an organisation's full potential and achieving amazing results.
A more Human Centred Approach to StrategyJames Kitney

A more Human Centred Approach to Strategy

Traditional strategy making has long been the domain of Corporate Strategy Teams, Executives and Consultants. For most employees in an organisation the first time they see or hear about any changes to strategy is when a new poster goes on the wall or their manager ‘informs’ them what the new strategy is.
February 21, 2023
🧡 People
Preparing your young workers to move up (or move on)Nick Mackeson-Smith

Preparing your young workers to move up (or move on)

We get proud seeing them grow beyond the role they are in and step into a new opportunity, but at the same time, we know that we'll miss having them around and that they will leave a gap to fill.It's a familiar story. We invest time and resources in developing our young people, only to see them leave once they're qualified, or begin delivering real value for our organisations. It's understandable - who wouldn't want to take their career to the next level or get out and see the world? But for some reason it can sometimes feel frustrating for those who have invested in building their skills, confidence and knowledge. and to those of us staying behind.
February 16, 2023
🧡 People
Five ways to welcome youth talent to your organisationNick Mackeson-Smith

Five ways to welcome youth talent to your organisation

With some effort, you can create an experience designed to orient your new people at the things that will be important for them to succeed in their role, whilst helping them fall in love with their workplace. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of talking to young Pasifika talent Latayvia about her expectations for her first few weeks in her new role - her response was simple, and telling. “I want to be meaningfully engaged and I don’t want to be made to feel stupid”. With that in mind, I think that there are five key things you can do to help people like Latayvia feel welcome, needed, and valuable.
March 8, 2022
🧡 People
The future skills you’re looking for are already hereNick Mackeson-Smith

The future skills you’re looking for are already here

It’s difficult enough to find the right talent for your organisation when you’re hiring; from thinking carefully about the right kind of skill sets you need, to the right kind of attitude you want to have within your team.To add to this, the world we live in is changing so rapidly, and many of the skills we have aren't necessarily the ones we need for the future. That’s where our young people come in.
March 1, 2022
💗 Culture EX
The Ultimate Guide to Accessibility for Tāngata WhaikahaMegan Bissett

The Ultimate Guide to Accessibility for Tāngata Whaikaha

As the world has changed there has been greater awareness and drive for diversity within workplaces - but a large section of the population's needs are still being regularly ignored.
December 16, 2021
🧡 People
Connecting with IDEAMegan Bissett

Connecting with IDEA

Through focusing on IDEA, rather than just D&I, we have a greater opportunity to achieve workplaces that are inclusive, diverse, equitable, and importantly accessible. And without that, we cannot be truly diverse.
November 4, 2011
🧡 People
Surviving re-entry to professional lifeBex Grace

Surviving re-entry to professional life

I can only explain it as a tangle of anxious-stress-juggle-blur-progression as I re-surfaced into the working world having had my 3rd (supremely gorgeous) baby boy. I wanted to reconnect with my profession - and my professional identity. It was time to incorporate some professional attire into the rotation of maternity tops and Lululemon high-waisted-hide-that-baby-belly tights. Connecting with associates and clients felt SO exciting!
September 6, 2021
❇️ Performance
Achieve anythingNick Mackeson-Smith

Achieve anything

Many people go through life not knowing what they want or what success looks like to them. Sadder than that, many people go through life working to someone else’s goal, to fulfil someone else’s dream. That’s ok, if you are a “go-with-the-flow kind of person”, but not ok if you actually want to be in control of your own destiny. Once you’ve managed to find your goal, there still is a heck of a lot of work to do to actually make it happen. As with most things, our mind gets in the way and creates barriers to our success - it’s a mechanism designed to protect us and keep us safe, but annoyingly, it also prevents us from taking bigger risks and making bigger leaps. It puts the brakes on us choosing hard over easy, risk over safety, and effort over ease. This safety mechanism can manifest itself as lots of things (fear, blame, avoidance, excuses, and many more).
August 30, 2021
❇️ Performance
To stack or not to stack…Nick Mackeson-Smith

To stack or not to stack…

Being able to separate the task from your immediate personal ownership (and a feeling of obligation) is a great way to see where choice exists and to open up a whole new world of possibility.
August 11, 2021
💗 Culture EX
Changing your mindNick Mackeson-Smith

Changing your mind

This month, I heard the return of “Make your mind up and stick with it”, but what surprised me is that it came out of my mouth! I cried “re-litigation”!But I’m an agile practitioner? I’m adaptable? I’m open to change? I’m ENORMOUSLY flexible. How could this happen to me? When did I lose the ability to pivot and roll with the changes? It was frustrating as hell, and I’ve reflected a lot on it in the last few days.
May 6, 2021
💗 Culture EX
Making Meetings MagicNick Mackeson-Smith

Making Meetings Magic

Oh, meetings! I’ve had countless conversations in my career, and can’t remember a single instance where I’ve heard someone say “I just adore spending my time in meetings - they are so valuable to me and my organisation”. I’ve certainly never said it.
December 8, 2020
🧡 People
Give the gift of Feedforward this ChristmasNick Mackeson-Smith

Give the gift of Feedforward this Christmas

Last year, I wrote about a moment I experienced in the early stages of my career - I’d only been in the workforce for a few years, and was given an opportunity to have some 1:1 time with the Head of HR for a global financial services firm.
December 6, 2020
❇️ Performance
Do something you loveNick Mackeson-Smith

Do something you love

When it comes to career advice, I often hear people say “do something you love”, or “follow your dreams”. That might sound a little cliché, (and more like one of those quotes you see on a background of pristine mountains and trees in an Instagram post) as opposed to actual solid career advice. Here’s why it’s actually great advice.
November 9, 2020
Lightbulb momentsLiv Wilson

Lightbulb moments

September 12, 2020
❇️ Performance
The hybrid working revolutionNick Mackeson-Smith

The hybrid working revolution

Employees have embraced new technologies, new tools, and new ways of thinking. Employees have developed new mechanisms for social support and connection, and experimented with new ways of collaborating. Organisations who have historically railed against flexible or remote working have had no choice but to embrace these new ways of working, or face the prospect of little to no work being done, and limited business being able to take place. It’s disruption at it’s finest, and within disruption comes the opportunity to grow something new - something better - something more appropriate for the world we live in today.
Case study: The Warehouse Group’s digital agile bootcamp - Success through sustained grit, teamwork, and innovationNick Mackeson-Smith

Case study: The Warehouse Group’s digital agile bootcamp - Success through sustained grit, teamwork, and innovation

Something special happened this week. In New Zealand, a large retailer ran a fully virtual 2-day agile transformation event. That in itself would be a massive achievement, given the complexities of designing, planning, and executing such an event - let alone maintaining the attention of 1000 people, keeping it fun, educating them, and building a great sense of momentum in launching a new way of working. What made it all the more challenging was that this entire event had to be rebuilt from the ground up, with only 2 weeks notice, and whilst dealing with Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Original plans were for an arena-event, with a whole range of tactile interactive exercises, and lots and lots of close contact and relationship building. All of that had to go out the window. Grit was needed...
May 15, 2020
❇️ Performance
How to help others to stop ‘reloading’ in conversationsNick Mackeson-Smith

How to help others to stop ‘reloading’ in conversations

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and had the feeling that the other person isn’t actually listening to a word you are saying? They are patiently waiting for you to stop saying your piece, and then — BLAM! — they say their piece. This is much less of a conversation - let alone a kōrero - and much more like a game of tag.
May 22, 2020
🟪 Technology
Let’s get phygitalLiv Wilson

Let’s get phygital

Phygital has been doing the rounds for the last couple of years in retail and marketing. It’s the blending of a physical presence (like a store) with a digital experience (like app integration) - the key is that these experiences happen in the same journey.
May 19, 2020
🟪 Technology
The space-race to build the Netflix of LearningRacheal Reeves

The space-race to build the Netflix of Learning

How did I end up attempting to build the Netflix of Learning? To start, I am not your typical human. I once worked with a psychologist who suggested that people with brain injuries have more inhibitions than I do. And secondly, I am not a Learning and Development specialist. I have a background in technology and design.
How To Lead Your Team Well When Working RemotelyNick Mackeson-Smith

How To Lead Your Team Well When Working Remotely

I’ve been working with leaders for almost two decades now, and throughout this time I’ve found that the very best leaders share a common set of behaviours and mindsets. These leaders create engagement, excitement, clarity, purpose, and drive exceptional performance. Many leaders I have spoken to throughout this crisis have felt paralysed by the magnitude of the change we’re all collectively facing, yet others have demonstrated how they can set themselves up to thrive and in turn help others to succeed. Why did these leaders have such different responses? What’s the secret sauce?
March 19, 2020
💗 Culture EX
COVID-19 - Time for lemonadeNick Mackeson-Smith

COVID-19 - Time for lemonade

When times turn tough it becomes much easier to notice hardship all around you, and to experience hardship for yourself. It’s everywhere right now. People are losing jobs. Doors that once were open have started to close. Business and livelihoods that were successful are already starting to fail. Relationships are beginning to become strained under the increased pressure and stress people are experiencing. It can be crushing.
February 24, 2020
🧡 People
Learning EnablementNick Mackeson-Smith

Learning Enablement

At the tail end of last year, I spent some time with the brilliant Nigel Paine at LearningNowTV discussing the changes that we made to create the Learning Enablement team whilst at Spark New Zealand. As an organisation, Spark provided our learning team with the space and trust to try something new that we fundamentally believed in, and for that I’ll be forever grateful. We learned so much throughout our transformation to becoming a Learning Enablement team, and many of these lessons and highlights have been captured in this interview with Nigel.
February 21, 2020
🟪 Technology
A Parent's Guide to SystemsLiv Wilson

A Parent's Guide to Systems

I’ve had an epiphany - systems are like children and it’s our responsibility to ensure that they grow up safely, behave, and make the world a better place. So, how can we do this? As both a Mum and system user; in my experience, it’s using the tools available to you, leveraging the right expertise, and, most of all, supporting everyone else going through the same journey. One of the amazing tools for parenting is a village - surrounding yourself with other people to help you raise your little human. And one of the amazing tools available for systems is a Digital Adoption Platform called WalkMe.
February 13, 2020
❇️ Performance
Everything you do isn’t going to bring joy to the customer, some things just have to get done.Racheal Reeves

Everything you do isn’t going to bring joy to the customer, some things just have to get done.

When we break down daily tasks into their essence they generally fall into two buckets — work for the business or work in the business.This is why being customer-centric can be incredibly hard for people in complex organisations. When we look at the root cause of our confusion we find its foundations sit in the understanding of what is for the business yet we normally focus on what is in the business by focusing on serving our stakeholders, colleagues and higher-ups instead of our customers because our boss pays us and holds the strings to our next promotion.
January 30, 2020
🟪 Technology
Fixing the problem of knowledge managementNick Mackeson-Smith

Fixing the problem of knowledge management

“Knowledge is power”. I’ve often heard the phrase; said casually by friends, colleagues, politicians, leaders. It’s bandied around like nobody’s business, and the truth is if you hear something enough times, you start to believe it. But is it true? Is knowledge really power? It’s certainly not fake news… having more information than the next person does give you something that they don’t have - knowledge - but does the way we treat knowledge help or hinder our organisations?
January 19, 2020
❇️ Performance
Why are you really doing it?Racheal Reeves

Why are you really doing it?

As a designer in a world of non-designers, I get people asking me to help with their presentations. They want me to help arrange the information beautifully on the slide or create a beautiful image.The first thing I ask them is “why are you doing this presentation?” and they answer, “They (the audience) need to know about [insert topic]”.Nine times out of ten the answer is either “they need to know ‘’ or “they should know”. Unfortunately, adults have free-will and limited capacity of caring on any given day. So why should they use their free-will and precious caring capacity on you?“Because it’s important” - quote from every person doing a presentation ever.Before you respond “because it’s important” ask yourself — who is it important to and why?
December 1, 2023
🧡 People
Smash 2024Nick Mackeson-Smith

Smash 2024

Now is the perfect time to be planning ahead for things you want to achieve for the year ahead, and crucially working out how you’ll work to achieve them. The easiest and best time to dedicate to thinking about your career, your business goals, your personal aspirations (and even your home renovation plans) is when you are still relaxed from a break, the inbox is pretty quiet, and the daily routine and rhythms are yet to pick up.
Leading brilliantly through changeNick Mackeson-Smith

Leading brilliantly through change

Change can be tough. It can be hugely unsettling for people who are going through it, and overwhelmingly stressful for those leading it too. It also can be exciting, exhilarating, and an amazing ride. Regardless - being a great leader through change means putting people first.
December 6, 2019
🧡 People
The “R” wordLiv Wilson

The “R” word

I'd be lying if I said that restructures are painless. The sting of rejection (whether you express an interest in an alternative role or not), the confusion around what will happen next, and the disruption to your life is intense. It's easy to retreat into yourself and wave the white flag of surrender.
November 26, 2019
❇️ Performance
Why giving feedback is ALWAYS the right thing to doNick Mackeson-Smith

Why giving feedback is ALWAYS the right thing to do

Bottom line is this. If you can see something, and other people can’t (or won’t) see it, then it’s always the right thing to call it out. Politely. With care. With love. With respect. The intention of giving feedback must always be that you care about the other person; That you care about better outcomes for you, them, the organisation, and everyone around them.
October 14, 2019
💗 Culture EX
Employers - get ready for your future employeesNick Mackeson-Smith

Employers - get ready for your future employees

Education today is changing. It’s different to what many of us grew up with, and may feel unfamiliar or “loose” to those of us who had a more formal and structured education. These days, knowledge can be accessed instantly and doesn’t necessarily need to be committed to memory for ever. The skills our children will need to be successful in this world are demonstrably different to the ones we developed at school. The rate of change has increased significantly, and our approach to education has had to make some pretty big leaps to stay relevant.
September 28, 2019
💗 Culture EX
Unbelievable new joiner experiencesNick Mackeson-Smith

Unbelievable new joiner experiences

In my whole career of joining and saying goodbye and then joining organisations again, I’ve only experienced an unbelievable new joiner experience once. I also met my wife in the process, so it obviously sticks in my memory! The great thing is, this sort of experience isn’t actually that hard to replicate. The bad thing is, organisations and hiring managers often get in the way of making it a reality for their new people.It’s actually a lot easier than people think.
September 22, 2019
❇️ Performance
One on one conversations that spark joyNick Mackeson-Smith

One on one conversations that spark joy

One on ones don’t need to be a chore. I often hear from leaders that they struggle to get themselves motivated to have the repetitive weekly or monthly 1:1 conversation with their teams… and worse still, it feels like they are compelled to have them. I’ve been asked by leaders for templates for great 1:1s… and been shown templates for conversation flows that provide a rigid structure and boundaries for the conversation.
September 16, 2019
🧡 People
Future skills for New ZealandNick Mackeson-Smith

Future skills for New Zealand

Nick took time out at the ATEED Future Ready Summit 2019 to share his thoughts on what skills every Aucklander (and beyond) should be looking to develop now to prepare themselves for the future.
May 29, 2020
🧡 People
A new kind of leadershipNick Mackeson-Smith

A new kind of leadership

For years, I've been pre-occupied with a very simple question: what makes a great leader?I've observed many leaders, but great ones have been harder to find, and they seem to be becoming more scarce in the workplace. What's caused this leadership drain?
Take empowerment backNick Mackeson-Smith

Take empowerment back

The critique of empowerment has become deafening, and it’s frustrating. 
May 16, 2023
🧡 People
Leadership development for our timeNick Mackeson-Smith

Leadership development for our time

Great leaders are everything, and can be the difference between a performing organisation, and a high performance organisation. They can inspire people to be at their best, even when the outlook is challenging. They can create magical relationships which are based on deep trust and respect, and unlock significant amounts of discretionary effort in the workforce. They can be a force for positive cultural change, and can turn around long-standing issues in double-quick time. In short, they are awesome, and every organisation should do whatever they can to attract/develop/retain them. Trouble is, lots of organisations fall short in developing their leaders. There is another way…..
July 6, 2022
❇️ Performance
Getting agile rightNick Mackeson-Smith

Getting agile right

There are so many aspects to agile, and it’s really important to understand what they are all about and why each of them are necessary. Some are structural, or procedural - things like having a very disciplined cadence of times when teams come together, or having really well defined set of objectives and expected results within a defined period of time. The structure allows teams to build upon their work in a repeatable and incremental way, and means that massive programmes of work can be broken down into much smaller and more manageable chunks.
Business strategy: Hunker down or pivot?Nick Mackeson-Smith

Business strategy: Hunker down or pivot?

Businesses everywhere are facing new headwinds and constraints - conflict in Ukraine and geopolitics elsewhere are having enormous impacts on financial markets, consumer confidence, and supply chains. In times like this, it's easy to be fearful and hunker down to protect yourself from the coming storm... but is that the best thing you could do? What if there was a smarter move to make - one that would see you ride the wave instead of duck and cover?
The critical connection between organisational culture and strategic success.Nick Mackeson-Smith

The critical connection between organisational culture and strategic success.

The success of an organisation is heavily reliant on the alignment between its culture and strategy. While strategy defines an organisation's long-term direction, culture determines how things get done within the organisation. A misalignment between culture and strategy can have severe consequences, both financially and reputationally. Despite this link, many organisations fail to develop a deep understanding of what their culture is, could be, or needs to be in order to drive their strategic ambitions. It’s time to dig deeper.
January 13, 2020
🧡 People
Reimagining outplacement.Nick Mackeson-Smith

Reimagining outplacement.

Outplacement support has been around for as long as I can remember. Organisations soften the blow of a redundancy or restructure by offering the departing employee some help in finding the next role; CV writing, LinkedIn profile updating, reviewing key achievements. The list goes on. Now, it’s different. Consider the organisations who are cutting hundreds - or thousands - of jobs. A little bit of CV prep and interview practice isn’t going to cut it for those people leaving… there simply aren’t thousands of jobs available for people to move on to. Something else is needed.
November 15, 2022
🟪 Technology
Doing it all: Addressing 2023’s C-suite wishlist with WalkMeNick Mackeson-Smith

Doing it all: Addressing 2023’s C-suite wishlist with WalkMe

As we move into 2023, the C-suite's wishlist is becoming increasingly clear. Companies want to do it all - improve efficiency, enhance customer experience, and drive innovation. And it's no secret that the key to achieving these goals is digital transformation. Digital transformation is about more than just technology - it's about changing the way a business operates and interacts with customers. And the cornerstone of a successful digital transformation is a robust digital adoption platform. A digital adoption platform, such as WalkMe, can help businesses streamline processes, provide users with instant support, and eliminate the need for extensive training. This leads to increased productivity, improved user experience, and enhanced customer satisfaction - all of which are essential in today's fast-paced, digital world. But implementing a digital adoption platform is not a one-size-fits-all solution. That's why it's important to choose the right partner to help with the implementation. FiveNZ has the experience and knowledge to ensure a successful implementation, allowing companies to achieve their digital transformation goals and stay ahead of the curve.
The dangers of a communications vacuum in times of change.Nick Mackeson-Smith

The dangers of a communications vacuum in times of change.

Don't let a lack of communication lead to disaster during times of organisational change. Learn about the dangers of a communications vacuum and how to prevent it in our latest blog post. Our team at Five NZ provides practical tips and insights to help you navigate the challenges of change management and keep your employees engaged and informed. Read more now on the Five NZ Blog
December 12, 2022
🟪 Technology
Digital transformation. The time is now.Nick Mackeson-Smith

Digital transformation. The time is now.

Digital transformation is becoming increasingly critical for companies in New Zealand to remain competitive in their respective industries. As competition grows and customer expectations evolve, organisations must keep up with the latest technological advancements to ensure that they can deliver a consistent digital experience. Digital transformation initiatives can be complex and challenging, with potential obstacles such as employee resistance, lack of expertise, and cost overruns - that's where a comprehensive and effective digital adoption platform like WalkMe can help. Here, we explore the importance of digital transformation for organisations, the benefits of a digital adoption platform like WalkMe, and the role that Five NZ, New Zealand's first and only certified delivery partner for WalkMe, can support organisations in achieving their digital transformation goals.

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