You’ll find the same companies being praise as examples of excellence in every boardroom and business school. What are your success stories from Te ao Maori (the Maori World)? It’s not so. It’s a shame. They are numerous and can help us manage and grow organizations in sustainable ways that benefit our community. This is something that many Western companies often fail to do.

Through the history of Te ao Maori, insights into sustainable and innovative management can found in everything from Kupe’s discovery of Aotearoa 800 years ago to recent efforts to revive Te reo, reclaim land, and protect wahi tabu places. These insights can group into three management principles. These themes will continue to be central to future business success stories, we believe.

Be Open To A Wider Definition Of Success School

Maori organisations have a common trait, which is often reflect in their strategic planning. They place a lot of emphasis on measuring success against multiple criteria, not just financial. Even the largest businesses today value sustainability and other non-financial outcomes. It is generally accept that the ultimate goal for such businesses is to make a profit for shareholders.

For Maori organizations, this is not often the case. They almost always place community, environmental, and cultural impacts at their centre. This approach is natural for those who are part of te ao Maori because these values are also fundamental to the culture. From the ancient pakiwaitara (legends), to the karakia, prayers before significant events, community and environmental concerns are all part of te ao Maori.

Tikanga, the system and values that guide our way of life, is also concerned with maintaining community and the environment. This is not to suggest that Maori businesses aren’t interest in traditional measures of success. The Maori economy is the most dynamically growing sector of the New Zealand economy, purely in financial terms. However, while conventional businesses prioritize profit, Maori (and other Indigenous businesses around the globe) see making money as a way to reach more valuable destinations, such as community well-being and political voice.

Take The Long View School

Maori organizations tend to look long-term when making decisions. Managers in a typical company are focus on annual or quarterly results. It’s not unusual for Maori organizations to look at things from a multigenerational perspective, where success can be measure over many decades or even centuries.

For example, in 1975, Te Atiawa, Ngati Toa, and Ngati Raukawa created a 25-year strategic planning plan called Whakatupuranga Rua Mano. Te Wananga O Raukawa was one of the first institutes for Maori-focused Tertiary Education. Wakatu Incorporation recently began work on a strategy plan that spans more than 50 decades. Rachel Taulelei (CEO of Kono, Wakatu’s food and beverage company) has stressed that Kono is planning for a 500-year vision.

Whakapapa is a major reason Maori organizations think for such long periods of time. Whakapapa in Te ao Maori is more than one’s lineage. It is a value and a way to be that encourages people not only to think and act as individuals but also as links in the chain of past ancestors, and future generations.

Connecting With The Community

Maori businesses put their communities at centre of management thinking school. This can often seen in the way they develop and sustain their leadership. Board members are usually appoint by current members based on their business acumen. However, Maori organizations have boards that are democratically elected by their members

This is why Maori organisations boards are diverse in their expertise and perspectives. But, most importantly, it means that the community’s views are represented when an organization makes its most important decisions. One Maori organization we know of is considering changing its core business to provide social housing. This is because many people in the community struggle to find affordable housing.

In recent years, there has been a positive shift in Aotearoa’s relationship to its taha Maori (Maori) side. There is still much to be done, but New Zealanders are increasingly seeing the value of learning te Reo and being able to recognize Maori artforms. Maori management and business approaches can also be very instructive. Te ao Maori gives us an insight into how to address troubling issues such as inequality and climate change. This can help us all create better businesses for the future.

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