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New Zealanders, and Australians for that matter, don’t like the word ‘change’ apparently. It’s part of our culture.

Compared to an American worker for example hearing the word change, “they’ll ask when, and how much,” says Phillip Capper director of Wellington-based WEB Research.

Speaking at the ‘Running Hot 2010’ (realising the value of research for NZ) conference, the organisational and sector learning consultant says, generally speaking, the first question a kiwi asks when hearing the word change is “why?”

“Our belief, when we hear the word change, is to take it personally,” he says. Once convinced of the need or advantage, New Zealanders are quite happy to embrace change, but our defensiveness is something that should be understood Capper says.

One outcome of the NZ psyche is that kiwi management often makes mistakes in using and applying American management strategies when undertaking change he says. As a result, the New Zealand situation requires a whole different approach.

One particular area that this applies to is adult learning within a workplace Capper says. As such, people don’t learn new knowledge by reading a book.

“Adult learning occurs mostly in the spaces between people, not in their heads,” he says. “It is the conversations, the interactions between people that generates new knowledge,” particularly when people with two different areas of expertise connect.

The word ‘change’ frightens most Kiwis

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