Friday, 5 February 2021

The WhatsApp Dilemma

Facebook is gone from my phone. 

Messenger is gone. 

WhatsApp will go next. 

Yes they have been expedient. 

Yes I have encouraged a few people to move to these apps in the early days. 

Yes there have been good times.

But the values of the people behind these apps are not in line with mine.

I do not Like how your engines are set to maximise my attention and habits. 

I do not Like how you sell my data to the next bidder.

I do not Like how you say you stand for freedom but cannot see how you erode it.

You no longer have my trust.

I have been asleep.

I repent.

It will be painful. 

It is time.


Further reading that may help you make your own choice:

Monday, 3 August 2020


How does an outcast, immigrant, widow of a Jew
And a Moabite, dropped in the middle of an unimportant spot
In Bethlehem, by Providence impoverished
In desperation, give birth into the line of the king of the nation? 

The Fabric and Density of Narratives

Since the live studio recording of Hamilton the Musical came out on Disney+ last month, I have been enjoying revisiting its rhymes and rhythms.

Through the fusion of the hip hop genre and Broadway, I've grown to appreciate the lyrical density of rap in story telling. More than that, I am blown away by how Lin Manuel-Miranda wove the story of Alexander Hamilton's battle in life together with the fabric of American history.  To go one step further, he did such a good job of it, that the audience has woven themselves into the narrative of Hamilton and the 18th Century United States.


When you play a fundamental note, e.g. on a piano, something on the left hand side, you hear the rich tones above it.  In Hamilton, the audience hears reverberations of their own stories as they hum to the harmonies of these founding fathers. We call this resonance. And that is why I feel so compelled to write this.

Great Art, Great Resonance

A great piece of art brings you into the story. And Hamilton is having the same effect on me. For those who've tuned into my last three posts, you know I am obsessed with the WHO right now.

This blog came into being when my wife pointed me to the Strong Songs Podcast, where Kirk Hamilton analyses the song "Satisfied" from the musical. Listening to Kirk break this song down has opened up my eyes to the world of... music. Wow.

In addition, this triggered me to make the connection of when my pastors applied the same techniques to break down and appreciate another classical piece of art, the book Ruth from the Bible.

Yup. Resonance across Hamilton, history, Ruth and real life.

I've never been so satisfied.

A Strong Song

I'll let you check out that Strong Songs episode for yourself.
Here are some of Kirk's comments from his podcast that got me thinking this way:
  • It's hard to comment on a song in isolation because they are all so good
  • Each character has their own chord progress or melodic sequence
  • The composers carefully placed motifs and themes throughout the musical. These rich themes come back over and over across the songs, and weave a mosaic of ambition, regret, love and anguish using repetition words like "shot", "helpless" and "satisfied".
There is one element I particularly like. As the two central characters Alexander and Angelica match wits, they match words. As they echo each others melody, you "hear" them echo thoughts in their minds.

A Strong Story 

I'd like you to check out Ruth for yourself.
Here are some observations that got me thinking this way:
  • The book of Ruth fits snug with the narrative of the people of Israel
    • Ruth lived in the period of judges, a time when everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Ruth 1)
    • As a Moabite, Ruth was regarded as an outsider as far as the people of Israel were concerned. 
    • Being childless and without a husband, she clings to Naomi her Jewish mother in law as they return to Bethlehem to strike out subsidence living, holding onto some hope that someone may look out for them.
  • We witness the unfolding of the faithfulness of Ruth, as echoed by the faithfulness of Boaz. And the composer carefully uses this to weave in the narrative of the nation, and demonstrates the faithfulness of the God of Israel:
    • Ruth faithfully clings to her mother in law Naomi. She follows Naomi back to her home town and works through the day in the fields so they can live in their subsidence living. 
    • Boaz demonstrates his integrity and provides for Ruth and Naomi. He ensures the two ladies are cared for, and lets Ruth glean around his fields during harvest, and more.
    • Ruth faithfully follows Naomi in their bold plan to declare their need for redemption to Boaz.
    • Boaz faithfully follows through with his word, and skilfully navigates the public agreement to redeem 
  • During a dark time in Israel, during a dark time for Ruth and Naomi, 
    • One woman's faithfulness strikes a chord with one man's faithfulness. 
    • Despite the threat of death, Israel emerges with a king. 
    • Despite the threat of death, Ruth emerges with a child. 
    • Despite threats of death, her descendent child David becomes the king of Israel.
    • Despite threats of death, his descendent child Jesus becomes the king of the world.

I'm Working on My Song 

More than Hamilton - "Satisfied", I love the song in that Bible - "Ruth".
This blog is one part of my song.

I was very much the outcast. immigrant. Dropped in the middle of a forgotten place.
I was very much in need of a redeemer, someone to show me grace.
Until you get to that low point, that minor chord, it may be hard to appreciate the satisfying chord the Musical terms "faithfulness".
Until you get to that low point, that minor chord, it may be hard to appreciate that someone wrote you into the history of a new nation.

3 closing questions:

  1. What key is your song in?
  2. Who sings your song?
  3. Do you expect to ever be satisfied?

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

From What to Who? - It's in Organisations

This post builds on the ideas I introduced in the previous post on the Who-What maturity model.

And like in my previous blog post, I've been noticing a distinct difference in the way most people communicate (and disagree) and the way great leaders communicate.

This pattern not only appears in the workplace where we have more apparent leader/subordinate structures - I've also noticed it in the the way community organisations communicate, and how parents (including my wife and I) relate to their children - we fit somewhere <----> on this maturity or awareness spectrum.


Observation 3 - It's in Organisations

It's interesting that Simon Sinek found that great leaders start with "WHY?"
There's something more powerful than the "Why" - Simon did talk about it but he didn't spell it out. It's the "Who" - great leaders.

Here's an example in the workplace organisation I've noticed recently:
I've been a part of a safety working group and it always seems that we kept disagreeing with each other! It could be a definition of a word or an activity (the What). People get their noses out of joint when their word or activity is misunderstood or omitted. The solution was to write some huge documents, some became so long that many have voiced whether any would have the time to read them. End of last year I took Simon Sinek's approach and tried to communicate the intent of what we are doing - so that the "What?" or "How?" becomes secondary to the "Why?" question. This helped us figure out whether proposal A or proposal B came first.  It really helped reduce the TODO list.

But that's not where my learning stopped.

When I shifted to thinking more about the "Who?" question - I realised the organisation had limited performance because the "Who needs to be capable?" question had not been asked. Focusing on the "Who?" helped the team make some huge leaps forward - thinking about training/awareness/clear processes, standards and tools. Instead of having huge documents and detailed procedures, we shifted that energy to growing capability in a few safety leaders. These leaders embodied the intent ("Why?") and could pull off the approach ("How?") and show others.

As a result, we managed to cover a lot of ground where we would normally get bogged down in decision fatigue or indecision as our paper trail strains to catch up.


Some of you might notice that this echos the Bradley Maturity Curve, where a network of people/relationships move up the maturity curve together. Growing the capability or the "Who?" is a core element of moving up the curve.

The growth goes like this:

So what if maturity levels were related to the language that people used?

So tell me,
  • What style of language do you hear in your family the most?
  • What style of language tends to have the most impact?

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

From What to Who? - It's In Others

This post builds on the ideas I introduced in the previous post on the Who-What maturity model.

Observation 2 - The People Around Me

I'm observing that as I become more proficient in photography, or engineering, or leading people, discipling people in the gospel, or being a dad, I ask fewer WHAT and HOW questions. 

In the last 24 months, as I've been reading more books like "What's Best Next" and "The One Thing", I've been chewing on WHY questions a lot more. It can be so liberating to do something mundane and be able to endure it because you know the reason WHY you would get back in the game over and over again.

But WHO questions - just WOW. This is the explosive ingredient that I've overlooked for igniting that interest in the people I'm working with.

Here are some examples I've thought of in the parenting, engineering and evangelism fields.
Yes, we all share different things, but as I think of the style of the discussions I tend to have with them, they tend to fall in one of the four categories:

Pick up your toys!
Stay focused on it until it's done 
So mum and dad don't have to tell you over and over again
You are a considerate boy who loves your mum and dad
Check your own design before you submit it for approval
Use the quality checklist
Great design and build quality means better safety and sustainable outcomes for our customers and for society
We are a world class team so we hold each other to a high standard
Share Jesus with your friends
Read the Bible with them so they can discover the truth for themselves
You want people around you to live whole lives, for the benefit of not just themselves, but for others
You are the ambassador representing Jesus 

So tell me,

  • WHO do you know who seems to know their true impact on others
  • WHO in the public arena do you admire? Which domain do they operate in?

Sunday, 15 March 2020

From What to Who - It's in me

I've been chewing on a fascinating mental model (yet to be named).
Let's call it the Who-What maturity model for now.

This concept was jolted into my front of mind recently by a dear mentor who asked me,
"How would others describe your authenticity?"
What a great question! In other words, "How well do people around you know you?"
So here is the first of a few observations as I reflect on this idea.

Observation 1 - Photography

When you start out with photography, you can get caught up in a whole number of WHATs
  • What camera should I buy
  • What lenses do I "need" to shoot portraits
  • What software do I "need" to speed up my workflow
After that you work through a number of HOWs as you sharpen your craft
  • How to take that dusk shot?
  • How to halve my post processing time?
  • How to get the next gig?
After a while some might be comfortable enough with the WHATs and HOWs and think about 
  • Why am I taking photos on a Saturday?
  • Why am I staying up late the process photos in Lightroom?
But rarely do you meet people who think beyond the Why to
  • Who is the person on the other side of the lens?
  • Who is the person on this side of the lens?

So tell me:

  • What is your hobby/passion project?
  • Where are you on this journey?

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Alive, Awake and Curious

Sometimes we drift through life and not notice how we got there.

We put our driving on auto-pilot and arrive at the shops, when we wanted to visit a friend, and we wonder,
How did we get here?
Or we find ourselves in a heated argument, not knowing where it came from. We find ourselves more upset about being caught off guard than actually the specific thing that triggered the argument.
How did we get here?
Or we find our head cracked open on the foot path, blood spilling out on the concrete, not sure whether we will remain conscious or not, we wonder,
How did we get here?
What makes us not notice our usual route would not take us to our new destination?
What makes us not notice the strain in their loved one's voice, or the inconsistency between our actions and plans?
What made me not notice the compound effect of these deviations from the norm

  • not wearing my helmet - having decided not to scooter 
  • tired from a busy week of work - I'm more uncoordinated than usual
  • emotionally charged - frustrated that my kids disobeyed my instructions
  • oversized person riding on a kids' scooter - later changing my mind, to scooter
  • carrying a large backpack - instability like towing a trailer
How refreshing it is to have hindsight. But we can miss the learning opportunity here too.

We might be awake but we are asleep.
We might be alive but we feel kinda dead inside.

A close call with death can jolt us to be curious again, and notice things we've not noticed before.

How do you stay awake?

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

The Wonder of Words

As a family we have been reading Dinner Table Devotions.
  • What a great answer to prayer this book has been to me.
  • I had prayed we'd do devotions at least once a week as a family by end of 2019... and then daily by 2023. Haha!
  • How the Lord grants you what you need in his good time.
  • This book enables us to build the habit of  taking 1 Biblical idea each day of the year and chewing on it over dinner.
Recently, we were chewing on the theme of 
Words have power.
God spoke the world into being.
Words build up.
Words tear down.
Words connect people and ideas.
Words empower action.

We had a great conversation about the words we tell ourselves about who we are, e.g. examples from our home:
"I'm stupid."  vs. "that was a stupid thing to do.""you always...(do this to me)" vs "when you... (this is the impact on me)"

In many ways, God creates realities for us by the way he speaks things into being.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 1:3 (ESV) 
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
Hebrews 11:3 (ESV) 
What can happen if we were to take hold of this great power granted to us?
 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
James 3:4 (ESV) 

It's been amazing to see this connection with something  discussed in our work training course - "Courageous Conversations". We reflected on this idea from Rick Hanson, that in most people's experiences, the downer from every negative comment can outweigh the uplift from over FIVE positive comments.

the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones

I spoke something harsh to a friend yesterday. 
I regretted saying it as soon as I did. 
But it was in my heart. It was how I felt - as prejudiced and unhelpful as that thought was. 

How many forests can we set ablaze with our words?