#Freedomatwork summit @WorldBlu – Freedom-centred design: a design for life

Posted: May 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

So we continue.  And we’re still on Day 1 – Tuesday 19 May 2015!

We’ve had Courage, Innovation, Transparency and Inclusion.  

How about a bit of positive rebellion, process hacking, co-creation and socialised, aligned learning & reward?

Well that’s what we got..!

When you think about the way we are at work, there’s a lot of room for compliance, conformity and common ways of being.  Nothing wrong with that per se.  We’ve developed codes, ways, methods, practices and largely they’ve been driven by science, research and the realisation that there are efficient ways of doing things.

Except not everything needs a process, a norm or a fixed compliant route to completion.

And that was Alexander Kjerulf’s point on social norms, overly compliant ways and the likes that have not prevented disasters; let toxicity continue to hold companies back and caused failures like the banking crash of 2007/08.

Being a rebel – he says – is a way to avert disaster, bring creative conflict to situations, and create an energy source towards new, different, better.

Yet this takes guts.  Gets people a little scared.  Maybe even gets you feeling like an outcast or fired.  Yet how would we have new ways to work, services to offer and products to use come about if we didn’t have people willing to challenge a norm, disrupt a convention, hack a process?

Having the FREEDOM to rebel gives it a whole new lease of life and makes it part of something to be activated rather than shut down.

How can you unleash your positive rebels?

And then came Menlo and Richard Sheridan.  Author of Joy, Inc and Chief Storyteller.  Oh my.  I have an article stored up about the Menlo story but if ever there was a way to bring back the love to hiring, onboarding, learning, working and even leaving; Menlo has done that.  Just giving the RIGHT people the responsibility and tools to help others; create great teams and engineer great services.  The book is a must.  And this guy is the most sincere, warm and appreciative leader I think I’ve ever met.

Socialised ways to work is one thing, but the Menlo way has a great model for working together and taking that into hiring; learning and taking a leading role.  There is a lot in the story of Menlo to capture the imagination of us all.  So you’ll have to wait for the article(s) for that or read Richard’s book.  Joy Inc.  See more here: https://www.menloinnovations.com/

So if you think Ricardo Semler’s Semco story is a one off, think again. Menlo is right up there and Rich Sheridan too.

And as if the Menlo story wasn’t enough: we then had Tripp Kerr and the Productivity Associates (http://www.gotopai.com/) story.  Changing the world through a tech support company might seem a bit grandiose but this is no ordinary tech support company where people have 4 main zones of operating : Our Tribe; Our Partners; Our Financials; and Our Community.  These are people who take on board the principles of great customer service and communities and deliver with focus, collaboration and energy.

Moving to another zone of support but this time humanitarian, educational and health support, Haiti Partners John Engle showed how compassion and a freedom-centred approach to working in not-for-profit arenas should be done.  I think it safe to say not all non-profits are run in the spirit of the work they do but Haiti Partners really is the power in the people.  Check out their story at www.haitipartners.org.  Their learning and dialogue permeates all their work and they invite the wisdom of others at all times through their “spiritual nourishment of invitation” approach.  Inviting others to help shape who they are and what they do.

And Carrie Brandes gave us the Ubiquity Retirement and Savings. A company that is a do-acracy – bucking the trends of holacracy and democracy.  Finding your inner hero, being a spark, and cultivating joy are the things that resonate with Ubiquity employees and Carrie has helped transform them into a company of huge successes through their people https://www.myubiquity.com/

Personal strength and the power of a journey through the WorldBlu philosophy centred us on an individual design element.  Teresa Lancaster from Hagie talked about the strength found in amongst others searching for more from being a leader and a freedom-centred design point of view.  Slide of the day popped up on screen during Teresa’s talk: You are awesome, start f***ing acting like it.

Chocolate.  Brings out a reaction.  Well Sweet Riot have an approach to making this which means they’re an 8 times WorldBlu accredited workplace.  They run open-book management – people know where all the money goes in this system.  Utter transparency by design.  Sarah Endling shows how much passion and galvanized spirit is produced through being open.

And then the can in the cupboard we all have WD40 – Garry Ridge is a no-nonense humanist.  A man who has taken WD40’s brand strength and created people strength through self-organised teams under a maniac pledge.  People report so much love (over 90%) for working at WD40 that their survey results into this area are an embarrassment of riches.  WD40 is a tribe – deliberately – for that sense of belonging.  Over 170 countries has Garry proving that micro-management just isn’t scalable.  And learning moments thrive at WD40 – that is what most people would call failures or mistakes.  WD40 is an organisation built on learning where once it was silos of information it is now fields of knowledge.  It is doesn’t move and it should?  WD40.  If people want to give of their best there?  Let management get out of the way.

Dr Natalie Baumgartner brought us into the realms of how individual goals and collective planning weave together at Round Pegg – http://roundpegg.com/. The understanding of people’s perspectives on culture and that of alignment with the company is a critical conversation at Round Pegg.  Fit, belief and success factors all come together in a harmonious approach to human endeavours.

Happy.  Being.  Henry Stewart from Happy Computers reminded us of the need to be working with someone as your leader that you respect, who gets you and makes the great things happen for people around them.  What if you could choose your own boss?  And at Happy they do.  One of the more radical approaches to self-organised but most effective if you’re the boss on the musical chairs of leading people with nowhere to sit…

PHEW.  So it’s easy right?

  • Let your people rebel;
  • Align to your people, understand them;
  • Rewards from their peers are so powerful – they have so much meaning;
  • Collaborative ways bring together their collective best;
  • A maniacal dedication to you means you have to get the process and management out of the way;
  • Being open and transparent may seem scary but the right thing to do; and
  • Let people do; choose; design for themselves.

This was like a rock concert with established and new performers bring their own sounds to a stage that was set for the sharing of freedom-centred design concepts.

As master design guru Yeya Furukawa once said “design will save the earth”.

Design, freedom-centred.  You could save the world from mediocre workplaces.


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