.. if you always follow the easiest path, if you are always ruled by pleasure, self-love and self-gratification, do you not increase entropy and become staler and staler and heavier and heavier and more and more difficult and tiresome and exacting and small minded?

Courtesy of Lani Morris via

Psychological Commentaries
On the Teaching of G I Gurdjieff and P D Ouspensky
By Maurice Nicoll
London, Vincent Stuart 1957

Information Security Strategies

Posted January 14, 2014 kmcgovern

The management of information security requires good teamwork and communication as well as technical skills. Mobile devices, laptops, easy remote access to databases and emerging technologies mean that the context and the risks being faced have to be fully understood if the information security strategy is to be effective.

The risk profile of a business or government agency varies from one to the other. Risks are fluid, are affected by new economic realities as well as personnel and the risks acceptable to senior staff.

When a government agency is merged with another, the security strategy will have to address the new environment. New controls (detective, preventive and corrective) will need to be established to maintain the security required in the new environment.

The United States’ National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides standards for a variety of information technologies. See: http://www.nist.gov/information-technology-portal.cfm for the standards available.

The key challenge is in communicating with senior staff, who have not been trained in the current technologies, of the risks to which the agency is subject, and how the IT section is proposing to ensure the agency  maintains the level of security and risk profile acceptable to senior management.

Should business be concerned about spirituality?
I've been self-employed virtually all my working life.  Since I was always profoundly engaged in 
spiritual questions and practice I always put spirituality at the foundation of my work.
But what did this mean?
I argued it like this: I defined spirituality as life, anima, that which animates.  Therefore 
spirituality can be seen as that which is life-giving, life-sustaining, life-enhancing.
Since life, or spirit, contains all there is, it must contain business. That means that business 
occurs within life, occurs as part of spirit.  At present when we talk about business and spirituality 
it's more like, "Business exists, we'll bring a little spirituality into it."  Spirituality, I argue, 
is already there, complete and whole.  The issue is not to bring it in, but to become aware of 
it already existing.
What does it mean to be aware of this?
For me it meant putting the insights I have about spirituality at the heart of how I designed my 
businesses.  This resulted in some significant differences in business planning compared to my MBA 
business training.
Firstly it meant defining what was most important to me in life, and designing a business that 
expressed those values and needs.  It meant making time each day for spiritual practice.  It meant 
looking for the contribution I could make to everyone I met during my work; suppliers, customers, 
service providers.  It meant using my work-life as a spiritual training ground. More and more it 
has meant being as open as possible to an inner sense of flow and trust.
It's meant listening to my intuition; about people, places, ideas, projects - and then checking this 
out rationally.  Checking with others, no-one regrets trusting their intuition - only not trusting it. 
Time for people is vital for me, and time for myself.  So I designed a business that allowed me four 
months holiday a year.  Sometimes I take the four months as a day off a week, plus holidays; sometimes 
in a month block. I took two months to be with my mother when she was recovering from a heart operation, 
five months to travel overseas, shortened work days bring up my daughter (moving work into the evening), 
spent a month on my own in the country.
But what does it mean in your industry?
Soleira Green (www.soulutions.co.uk) states that as people get more spiritually aware, they will demand 
more spiritual energy in their products. This is definitely so in terms of food.  We are becoming more 
discerning between food that is over-processed, and the excitement of food that crackles with vitality 
and taste.
It's true in terms of clothing and other products.  When I walk through shops in many cities around the 
world I see so little that has life, texture, passion, vitality.  There's almost nothing I would want to 
put around my body or into my home.   We may have exported our environmental pollution to other 
countries who now are the factories for the West, but we get back products without soul.  We get 
back from countries filled with spirit, products that are dead; a reflection of the emptiness of 
So, what can we do differently?
New information abut how life works from science provides new information about how business might 
work and how we can work with it.  Much of the new science is expressed in language that mirrors 
the language of spirituality, allowing people to make connections and to speak out in words, either 
of science or spirit - to create new ways of thinking about business.
In my work with individuals and organisations I suggest they take a risk. Get clear what matters 
most to them and find out if and how they are already expressing this in their business.  Then 
work out how they can do more of it.  I then work with them to create ways that this can add 
value to their business.
I don't think it is simple to do this, but I think it is a place to begin.
For many people business and spirituality is about inner development, about bringing private practices 
and insights into the world of work.
In this context business is a place for personal practice, a training ground.  Any organisation will do.
But over time dissonance between personal practice and organisational practice makes a feeling of 
integrity difficult to maintain.  The more we demand of ourselves, the more we demand of our 
place of work.  People long for environments where they can feel safe enough to be honest, where 
the behaviour of the organisation is something they can be proud of, where values and people 
are as important as profit.
If we were to take action to bring this closer, what might it mean?
For organisations it might mean beginning with small steps; with creativity, dialogue, reducing fear.  
It might mean looking at values and acting on them a little more.  It might mean looking at what would 
enable more fun, play and joy at work.
For individuals interested in bringing spirituality into business it might mean the inner disciplines of 
communicating more honestly and compassionately, working in jobs that match our values, listening from 
the heart to others as well as from the head.
And what might be the benefits?
The more spiritually aware the client, the more spirit they demand in their products; the spiritually 
discerning want products that nurture the soul with beauty and services that provide a sense of true 
connection.  This may turn out to be another need of the privileged open to exploitation by the astute. 
Or it might be a much more profound movement that benefits clients and ultimately creators of 
more satisfying, soul-full, products and services.
Our businesses are our own.  They are an expression of ourselves.  If we place at the foundation of them 
our deepest values, they become an expression of our beauty - that which is most moving about us.  
In this way we feed more than the body, we also nourish the soul - our own, and that of our community.
For great insights into the enrichment of work through conscious awareness of spirituality I recommend 
Matthew Fox's book "The Reinvention of Work". HarperCollins,  New York. 1994.   ISBN O-06-063062-0, 
a book that links spirit and the new science, and which focuses on larger organisations is 
"The Soul at Work", R. Lewin and B. Regine, Orion Business Books 1999.
Lani Forrester Morris speaks, writes and works on business and spirituality. She co-authored 
"Map of Meaning: A Guide to Sustaining our Humanity in the World of Work" with Prof. Marjolein 
Lips-Wiersma. She is the world expert on implementing the Map of Meaning (TM) and will be 
delivering a masterclass on bringing meaning to our work in Brisbane in February, 2014. 

Contact her on: lani at kmcgovern.com


Managing Cities’ Assets

Posted December 05, 2013 kmcgovern

Building infrastructure and new buildings and providing residents with public assets (parks, cemeteries etc) provides politicians with photo opportunities that mark them as contributors to the future growth of the economy and the future quality of life of a city’s residents.

Economists have asserted that capital investment, of itself, creates growth. But is this so? Especially if the revenue of the city is not sufficient to maintain these assets so that citizens can enjoy the benefits of them.

This paper looks at the underlying assumptions that “capital investment is good” and questions how cities can demonstrate to their citizens that the services for which they pay are being provided to an acceptable standard. When a city designed and built its own assets, this was a challenge. Now that private firms are building and operating assets in cities, how can politicians demonstrate their contribution to the residents who elect them?

Are city governments now merely enablers for private sector activity, rather than providers of services? This paper examines these issues and considers the capacity that city administrations must build if they are to continue to be relevant to residents.

Read the full paper here: Managing Cities_McGovern_Final

The Map of Meaning Satisfies – NOTE DATE CHANGES

Posted November 06, 2013 kmcgovern

The Map of Meaning is gaining a lot of support as a tool to manage ourselves to do meaningful work.

In February, 2014 Lani Morris will again come to Brisbane to hold an introduction course on 8th and 9th. Click here to register.

She will also hold an advanced workshop for those who have completed the introduction and are using the map with groups. This “Working with the Map” workshop, on 14th and 15th February, 2014 gives us an opportunity to practise how we use the map in groups. Click here to register.

These workshops provide the initial steps to gain accreditation in the use of the Map professionally.

They are being brought to Brisbane by K McGovern & Associates in partnership with Chris Henderson Coaching.


Filed under: Meaningful work
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K McGovern & Associates is co-hosting with Chris Henderson Coaching a masterclass on the “Map of Meaning” (TM) in Brisbane on 12th and 13th October, 2013. The Map is a subtle but profound tool for bringing balance and calm to a life that, without it, can be chaotic and hurtful.

Centred on what inspires us – in our work, our life, our relationships; the map reminds us that we are bounded by the reality of ourselves and our circumstances. Then it reminds us that we are both an individual and part of the larger “other”. And, within those domains, we spend time “being” and  “doing”. And that all aspects are necessary for a balanced life.

But I can’t explain it so you can use the Map. Come and meet with Lani Morris and participate in her masterclass in October.

When you register we will send you a copy of the book “Map of Meaning: A Guide to Sustaining our Humanity in the World of Work”. Take your time to read it and do the exercises. Then, when you participate in the masterclass you will already know the key concepts and approach.

Lani comes to Australia rarely. Luckily for us, she will visit on her return from working with the Map in the UK in September. So register now and take that crucial step to living a balanced life.

Click here for a copy of the brochure.

How much have you invested in Australia? How much do you, as a citizen of Australia, of your state and a resident in your local government area own? What is it exactly that you are asking your elected members of Parliament to manage on your behalf?

There are the services we use – public services for all of us. There are the private services the public sector contributes to making affordable for all of us. And there is the stock of assets that our forebears have built for us, or that we inherited when we became citizens of this country.

So what does citizenship and residency bestow on us?

Collectively, we own and ask our representatives and the public service to manage on our behalf, the assets and liabilities that are recorded in the financial statements of our governments: The Commonwealth of Australia, The State of Queensland, and the City of Brisbane. Ever wondered what you, as a resident of Brisbane, living in Queensland and a citizen of Australia have a share in?

First, let us get the mathematical and financial definitions out of the way. First, what exactly is one billion? It is a thousand million a billion, same as the American billion. It used to be a million, million, but the US dominance of financial markets means most countries now use 1,000 million to mean 1 billion.  Second, what is the public sector? It consists of government departments, and agencies or statutory authorities, public non-financial corporations and public financial corporations and their controlled entities. The definition is the same all over the world as it accords with the General Finance Statistics, and the System of National Accounts published by the United Nations.

So, given the financial statements of the Commonwealth, State of Queensland and Brisbane City Council report our total assets and liabilities, what do we own?


The total assets of the Commonwealth, consolidated from all government departments and agencies funded from taxes, public non-financial corporations providing goods and services paid for by fees and charges, and all public financial institutions, including the Reserve Bank of Australia, were, as at 30 June 2012 $390.6b. Now assuming this value was still owned in September 2012, when the population estimates were released, each and every one of us: man, woman, child, and other residents own $17,142 in Commonwealth assets. $390,600,000,000 in assets and 22,785,500 people.

Now, against that we have incurred liabilities: $646.8b. Now that is $(28,386) per person. So, each of us is in debt to someone or other at the Commonwealth level to the tune of $(11,244). Our Commonwealth Government appears not to be a going concern.

Let us not pause there for long, but remember to carry forward a net burden on each of us of $(11,244).

State of Queensland

We also own a stake in the State of Queensland. The total assets of the State of Queensland, consolidated from all government departments and statutory authorities funded from Commonwealth payments and taxes, all public non-financial corporations and all public financial corporations, including Queensland Treasury Corporation, were, as at 30 June 2012, valued at: $299.748b. With a population of 4,584,600 that means each Queensland has a stake in $65,381.49 of public assets: Schools, hospitals, electricity generators, national parks, roads etc.

Against these assets, we owe $137.79b or $(30,054.97) each.  The means, we have a net worth invested in the Queensland State Sector of $35,326.52.

Off-setting that against the Commonwealth negative net worth, it means we have a net investment in the Commonwealth and Queensland of $24,082.52 each.

City of Brisbane

And we live in Brisbane, so also have a share of its assets and liabilities. As at the 30 June 2012, the City of Brisbane assets were worth $21.2b. Our latest statistics for the population of Brisbane are as at 30 June 2011 when there were 1,079,392 people living within the City Council area. That means each of us owns $19,640.69 in assets.

Against that were liabilities of $2.296b or we owe for our local government about $(2,127.12) each.

That gives us a net investment, each, in the Brisbane City Council’s consolidated entity of $17,513.57 each.


Adding that investment to our net investment in the Commonwealth and State of Queensland of $24,082.52, we get a total investment in all our levels of government, each, of $41,596.10.

Total Investment in the public sector of Australia per capita is $41,596.10. If you live with a partner, and have two children living at home, then your household has an investment of $166,384.40. And that is the same regardless of your individual wealth or status. Each of us, by dint of being born in Australia, or being accepted as residents of Australia, is responsible for collectively managing a total asset base of $711.548b. Assets and Liabilities are spread differently with more people to carry the Commonwealth’s net loss than the Brisbane City Council’s net worth.

Jurisdiction Assets Liabilities Net Worth Population Per Capita
Commonwealth $390.6b $646.8b $-256.2b 22,785,500 $(11,243.99)
State of Queensland $299.748b $137.79b $161.958b  4,584,600 $35,326.53
City of Brisbane $   21.2b $   2.296b $18.904b  1,079,392 $17,513.56
TOTAL $711.548b $786.886b $41,596.10

So there you have it. You are electing your local members – all three of them – to manage on your behalf total assets worth, in the case of residents of the Brisbane City, $786.8 billion dollars, which equates to $41,596 each. And then some. If you live in another state, or another local government area, the figure will be different. We at K McGovern & Associates are working on getting that data together for you. But it is not available yet. Our representatives, at the commonwealth, state and local level manage, not only our collective assets and the services they provide, but the values we treasure. And that is a job worthy of our attention.

Unhappy staff want more from work

Posted March 20, 2013 kmcgovern

This morning in the Sydney Morning Herald, K McGovern & Associates’ Lani Morris explains how to find satisfaction at work. And, if you are a manager, how to bring more meaning to your workplace. She suggests:

1. Reduce bureaucracy

2. Keep change and restructuring to the absolute minimum.

3. Sit and listen to each other and share what’s important.

4. Keep your own sense of inspiration alive.

5. It’s important to relax.

See the details on the Brisbane Masterclass on the Map of MeaningTM on 6th-7th April and the link to the SMH article here.

Going Local: Lessons from the World Bank

Posted November 16, 2012 kmcgovern

This article by Adrienne Valdez  “Going Local: Lessons from the World Bank” uploaded to the Internet on 15 November 2012 addressed issues of participatory decision-making. Many people in developing countries have contributed much of their time participating in workshops to assist organisations design programs, evaluate and identify performance. World Bank economists analyzed nearly 500 studies on participatory development and decentralization to find out what works and what doesn’t.

They found it difficult to prove that participation reduced poverty. In my experience, there are many other factors, including the hierarchy of access to resources and services, that affect what happens in practice. It matters who participates, and what they can do about what they learn by their participation.

The authors note “three main lessons from the studies they reviewed:

  1. Community participation works best when the state is responsive to the demands of local civic groups.
  2. Projects need to be sensitive to local and national contexts, which vary widely and often have unpredictable effects on outcomes.
  3. Clear, measurable results within a specific timeframe aren’t always possible.”

Civic engagement does not work if the people with nothing to do on the day turn up. Like all structures to support decision making it needs to be planned carefully and implemented to plan. Too often tight timelines mean the community’s ability to have their agreed voice heard cannot be arranged. In lieu, those managing the community engagement use participants to confirm their best guess. Language is an impediment with many concepts not translating across language, culture and education.

The World Bank article states:

“Such efforts face multiple challenges, such as lack of coordination, inequality, lack of transparency, corruption, free-riding, and low capacity,” noted Rao, lead economist at the bank’s development research group. “Participation works best as a sandwich with bottom-up participation supported by top-down supervision.”

We have to do the work. There is no “easy way around” thoughtful work.

for the article see:  development news online. 

Filed under: Development
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The Map of Meaning is not so much a tool to use, as a complete framework through which to think and make sense of complex situations. You may be familiar with Karl Weick’s work on sensemaking, for example “Organizing and the Process of Sensemaking“.  The Map helps us make sense of personal, team, organizational and whole-of-government challenges. Leaders, once they understand the key factors that make work meaningful for people, can transform their organisations in the way that they want. Lani Morris explains, “There are few things as frustrating as producing the result opposite to that which you intended. Yet this is the current situation for many leaders. Intending to motivate their teams, leaders frequently destroy one of the single most important motivational factors in organisations, meaningful work. See: For example, “Leaders Kill Meaning at Work“. And it is not their fault, since it is difficult to see that meaningfulness has a direct effect in the practical workplace. Even if leaders understand the importance of meaningful work, they tend to “manage meaning” through engagement, motivation, empowerment which has the effect of fragmenting each employee’s experience of meaningfulness. The Map of Meaning shows that we have been trying to force something that will naturally occur if we work with the intrinsic human need for meaningful work. What is more, the Map shows us how to do this.” To see how Lani Morris and Marjolein Lips-Wiersma are applying their Map of Meaning to add humanity to the world of work, see: Using the Map: Holistic Development Group.

Filed under: Meaningful work
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