Mark Eddleston, new ways of working consultant and coach and cofounder of the Reinventing Work movement, interviews Lisa Gill as they look back on 50 episodes of the Leadermorphosis podcast. Which conversations have changed their thinking? How has the podcast evolved? What is the next phase of the new ways of working movement?
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Mark Eddleston: So Lisa, I imagine that the the listeners are really really curious about how you came to be so passionate and knowledgeable on the topic of self-management and progressive organisations. So yeah, how did that happen?
Lisa Gill: Let me see if I can find a kind of concise way to summarise it. I guess, originally I studied drama and after that, (after kind of failing in terms of my acting career), I worked in a number of different industries, until I ended up, kind of by accident, in a learning and development, like a professional training company in London. And that was my portal really, into leadership development and organisational culture. And because it was new to me, I started just learning about it kind of furiously: consuming books and going to conferences. And through that, I discovered the more radical side of things and came across companies at the time like HCL, that were inverting traditional paradigms of leadership and I got excited about all that stuff. And then I decided to leave the corporate world and set up my own company with a very broad vision of trying to help reimagine companies and organisations: the way we work together, the way we learn together. And around about that time, I read 'Reinventing Organisations' by Frederic Laloux, which I know is for many of the guests I have on the podcast, a real entry point to a lot of this stuff - sort of a gateway. And through that I met lots of peers that were interested in that and getting excited about reinventing work, and then my consulting and coaching work started to move in that direction more specifically.
And then I met Karin Tenelius the co-founder of 'Tuff Leadership Training' in January 2016 and learned about how she had been helping transform companies to become self-managing since the 90s, and she and I started to write a book together about the stories of ten or so companies she'd transformed and in the process of that I became a trainer with her company: 'Tuff Leadership Training'. And so nowadays it's become my world, entirely. It took a while to transition into that but I was always interested in how can we tap into the collective creativity and intelligence of people because I was always frustrated when I was an employee: how little autonomy I had and how little I was involved in things that impacted me and I saw so much wasted potential - so I think that was the seed. And then reading books like 'Reinventing Organisations', I just became fascinated that this was possible and discovered all of these case studies and I just wanted more. My learning appetite sped up and that was yeah, my way into this world really. And now there's a growing community of people like yourself, and the more people I connect with more, the more I learn and more we build together what's, sort of, emerging.
Mark Eddleston: Great, thank you. I think you mentioned that you furiously consumed books, and that's one of the things that I most appreciate about you because, yeah, you're so knowledgeable and then in you're writing and very often on your podcast, you'll have the authors on. And in your writing, you're able to synthesise all the key themes that you've learned. So I think there's a lot of listeners that really really appreciate that. Now, you mentioned your book. Would you like to tell us any more about that?
Lisa Gill: Yeah. Karen and I, we've been writing it for, I think three years now. We were quite naive and we thought it was going to be a quick project, but actually, it's taken that long to really work out what our unique perspective is. So now the title is 'Mooseheads: Stories about self-managing organisations from Sweden', and it's looking at self-managing organisations, rather than from a structures and processes perspective, more from a perspective of: how do we need to change relationally? How do we need to change the way we relate to each other? Particularly those of us who are managers or who have been in leadership positions, but also those of us who haven't - that there are these like shifts that need to happen in two directions. So using the case studies of the organisations that she transformed in Sweden from the 90s onwards, (most of them small organisations in many different sectors), and the lessons, (sometimes painful lessons), that she learned along the way. And then my input - I guess I was a bit of a journalist. So I was interviewing her and interviewing some of the companies and then I also brought in my lens of how this fits with the wider world that's emerging in terms of principles for self-managing organisations. So the book is with a publisher currently and it's almost there, so it should be coming out this year in 2020. So yeah, watch this space.
Mark Eddleston: I think a lot of us are going to be quite excited for that, yeah. And you've generously given me a sneak preview as well, so I can confirm it's something to be excited about. I can't wait for that to be released. So that's a bit about how you got into self-management and progressive organisations. Now, I guess the listeners might also be curious a little bit about Lisa Gill outside of self-management and progressive organisations. So, yeah, tell us a little bit about you. And one thing that struck me when we met is that you're kind of exactly the same in person as on the podcast. So I guess that's the wholeness aspect ticked from 'Reinventing Organisations'. What are you passionate about? What are your interests outside of self-management and progressive orgs?
Lisa Gill: I'm happy to hear that I'm the same in life as I am on the podcast and I think that is something that I've worked at or has maybe come with practice, because I think in the beginning I was much more: "Okay, now I need to be professional and ask questions in this way", and I'm trying to more be myself, I guess, in interviews nowadays. So, happy to hear that. My passions outside of work stuff; I mentioned that I studied drama at university many years ago and so I continue to be very passionate about film and TV and music, so I'm quite a creative person, quite an artistic person outside of work stuff and I guess I've drawn on a lot of that in my work as well. Yeah, and I also love food; I'm a big foodie, and pre-Coronavirus I also loved to travel a lot. So yeah, and that's also I think partly because I grew up in Southeast Asia as a child from the age of five to eighteen, so quite used to being an outsider - a kind of a foreigner in another country, which I think also maybe led to me being a facilitator and a sort of 'reporter type' interviewing people in writing because I could observe from the outside and move between worlds, like in and out.
Mark Eddleston: The podcast - I remember the very first episode and it's one that I'm fond of, with Perry Timms, I think it's great fun. What's changed in your thinking? Because that was, well you tell me, when was that? 2017? Yeah, so three years on. You mentioned in your last episode with Skeena Rathor for from Extinction Rebellion that this is a space that's maturing. That really interested me. And so yeah, what do you think's changed in your thinking over the last three years or so?
Lisa Gill: Yeah, it's kind of amazing to look back and realise just how much it's shifted, and not just like how my thinking has shifted, but I think I have seen the movement mature. And when I say that, I guess I'm talking mainly about Europe, where I think this movement is most active and most mature. I know that Frederic Laloux is trying to spread the movement more in the U.S at the moment, because that's where he's living, and I've just recently been in Australia and I know that the movement is still quite emergent there. There's like real appetite for it, but it still has a bit of catching up to do I think, in terms of where Europe's got to. And so, just looking at the number of self-organising, self-managing companies over the last few years, and the familiarity with some of these concepts, I think has shifted a lot in the collective consciousness or terms like 'psychological safety' from Amy Edmondson's work - these things are more and more in the common parlance I think.
And in terms of the podcast and my thinking and how that's changed, I mean, it's little format things as well. I used to ask guests what books they were reading, and that was kind of supposed to be a regular feature, and then I stopped doing that. But also, I think I mentioned in the Skeena episode that I started out asking quite technical questions; How do you make decisions? How do you do salaries? How is money distributed? And I was beginning to become interested in the more human relationship dynamics, but I think that's become much more my focus and I think that's largely because I guess I have been practicing these ways of being and working together myself now for several years, but also the communities I'm in: a lot of people are, I guess, if you use like Frederic Laloux's terms, a lot of people have reached 'green', (you know, everyone should be equal and let's make decisions together), and I think people are bumping up against the limitations of that and really starting to feel what it actually takes to becoming a 'teal' organisation, or really embracing those threads of wholeness and self-management and evolutionary purpose. And I think I really liked the way that Edwin Jansen from Fitzii framed it, where he said that at Fitzii they've been four years into their 'teal journey' I think, and he described these three stages of adopting self-management: the first being head - the kind of intellectual stage, and then the second being heart.
Once you've read Reinventing Organisations, or once you've read these different books: Brave New Work, or blogs, or whatever it is, you kind of get it intellectually, but then there's this whole, what he calls, 'messy middle', where you really experience: Oh this is tough. There's some growth pain here because I have to let go of things that I'm very familiar with: habits, ways of being, I'm going to get lots more feedback from my colleagues in terms of how I'm showing up and the impact that I'm having. And if I'm a manager, having to let go of that power or influence or stepping in, and if I'm non-manager, or someone who has hasn't had power before then stepping up. And that's scary and risky and I'm not used to doing that I'm not used to having decision-making authority. So that heart stage I think, is the real test. And then Edwin describes, if you can get through that stage, then you get to this third stage of habit where it just becomes the way you do things like, for you and I Mark, it might be things like, we always do check-ins and check-outs when we do meetings - that was just something we do and it feels a bit strange if we don't, or something feels missing if we don't. So I think that: that I've changed in terms of the questions that I ask and I've been really hungry and curious to hear about how guests that I have on the podcast are navigating that: What are the practices that they're cultivating from a human perspective? What's the inner work that they've been doing? What are some of the challenges they're struggling with? And also, I think really sparked by Simon Mont's work around - it's not enough to just change our structures and processes, we need to go much deeper to like our relational power dynamics and how those are really ingrained, and how those imbalances and to really talk about that and do that work as well - I think really started for me a much deeper, much less tangible and in some ways messy journey, of really digging into that. And so, now I ask people much more about that. So that's why Skeena was such an interesting guest, because I know that that's something they're really putting a lot of attention into in Extinction Rebellion.
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Mark Eddleston: Yeah. So it sounds as though the shift, the focus perhaps from the beginning, and this is something I recognise in myself a few years ago, when I first experienced transitioning to self-management, I learned about the new practices and then in my second experience I thought, okay, so we just apply those practices. And I think it was thanks to one of my favourite conversations that you've had, and that was with Miki Kashtan - I think that sparked a bit of a step change in my thinking: when I realised that the practices and the tools aren't enough, there's much more to it than that. Yeah, that was a bit of an 'aha' moment or the penny dropping, you know, the penny sort of dropped a little for me. Have there been any moments from conversations that you've had where you're thinking why they shifted or that have acted as a bit of a turning point for your approach with working with organisations?
Lisa Gill: Yeah, definitely. You mentioned the episode with Miki Kashtan and that was definitely one for me, and one that I keep going back to because there's so much richness in what she shared in terms of the the inner shifts that have to happen, as well as the sort of systemic shifts for self-management to really take place. I think one of the earliest episodes I remember a shift happening in me was with Helen Sanderson and I think there was something about the way that she showed up in our conversation. It was a very moving episode and she shared her very personal reason for setting up wellbeing teams and really wanting to transform health and social care. And I really got, I think, the wholeness piece first of all. And wellbeing teams for me I go back to time and time again as a brilliant example of how to live that wholeness principle. But also, yeah, I think it was a reminder to me that we need to be human, that we need to be purpose-driven from a personal perspective, and the difference that that makes. So I remember that one being a turning point for me in terms of the podcast.
And a similar turning point I think, was speaking to Margaret Wheatley. And that's another one. I think it's the most downloaded episode that one, and it still challenges me. There's still almost like a dissonance in me with that one because of this point that she made about finding islands of sanity and letting go of the desire to change the world. And her very, not cynical, but her thinking that we may not see this shift in our lifetime, that might take hundreds of years actually, which was very unsettling. And I almost after that conversation experienced a moment of grief, like, "Wow! Can I let that go?" But at the same time, being very liberated and inspired by what she said - that once you can do that, you draw on even more conviction, that: "The work I'm doing now, with these few people around me, closest to me, like this is still important and I can do that with a deeper faith". So that was inspiring. And I I've heard a lot of people describe similar experiences of kind of like: "What, really? Oh no. Well, okay". So I think that one was pretty special. And I think also a favourite for me was to meet the nurses from Buurtzorg, because I was such a fan of Buurtzorg and it was just such a surreal and wonderful experience sitting in the garden with those three nurses having a cup of tea. It was a lovely, sunny day and they were so chatty and so down to earth and like: "yeah, of course we give each other feedback", and: "yeah, it's really tough, but it's important", and they were just living it on the front line, doing it, and couldn't imagine why you would ever not do it that way.
Mark Eddleston: I wondered, do you ever take a moment to sort of reflect and celebrate all of the wonderful guests that you've had? So you've mentioned some already: you've had Amy Edmondson, (that's a favourite episode of mine), from Harvard Business School, and you've had London Business School, Gary Hamel, and then the next week it might be Extinction Rebellion - fantastic, and Miki Kashtan, Margaret Wheatley, the creators of Liberating Structures and Holacracy, Corporate Rebels, Aaron Dignan, Enspiral, Ouishare: anybody who's anybody in the world of progressive organisations and self-management. Have you celebrated that?
Lisa Gill: Yeah, I think I could probably be better at celebrating. I'm quite a self-critical person so I'm often onto the next thing. I think I could definitely be better at stopping and celebrating and being appreciative and practicing gratitude. And I think what I've tried to do in curating the guests is, I mean: partly it's often driven by a very personal drive to learn more about something, or if I have a real burning question then I'll go and seek out one of those people, or if I hear common questions, or real thorny challenges people are wrestling with, I'll go and seek out someone who I know is going to shed some really valuable insights. And I've also been trying my best to have a diverse group of guests: so not just people from Europe and North America, not just people who are white, not just people who are academics, not just people who are leaders of organisations, but people on the frontline, people who are doing it - to have a real mix. And so it's been really wonderful to do some more digging and find examples, like Yash in India, or Nearsoft in Mexico or examples over in Australia or in Southeast Asia, and I'm on the hunt for more of those examples because another thread I'm really interested in because I hear so often people saying: "Oh, that wouldn't work in Asia" or "That wouldn't work in Nigeria" or wherever, and I'm curious to really bust that myth. And there are fewer examples, but I know they're out there, so I'm really keen to find those. And what's fun is that people are reaching out to me now saying: "Hey, we're based in this place, and you haven't had anyone on the podcast from this place. And we're doing this and we've been doing it several years, and we've been following your podcast and I've contacted guests on your podcast, and we've had conversations, and I've learned from them. And we've like iterated some of their practices..." - that's really exciting that that's starting to happen.
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Mark Eddleston: Are there any kind of stories that listeners wouldn't hear about? You hinted there about people contacting you to let you know that they've contacted some of the guests that you've had. Do any stories stand out? Because your podcast will have supported the journeys and the transitions of many many organisations. Are there any examples that stand out?
Lisa Gill: Yeah, one fun example is two guests talking to each other: after I had Ved (Krishna) from Yash on the podcast, Edwin from Fitzii, who I mentioned, reached out to say it'd be really interesting to talk to him, and actually Matt Perez from Nearsoft in Mexico. A lot of companies who have parts of their organisation in India, have reached out and said: "Ah, I'd really like to talk to Ved to understand how he's navigated those challenges culturally, and what self-management can look like there. So that's been really interesting. And then the example that I mentioned, kind of generically then, was a guy called Jorge from a company called 10Pines; he's in Buenos Aires (and he's going to be on the podcast himself soon). He reached out to say that he had been following the podcast for a couple of years and they've been inspired by many of the guests, and they had been implementing some of the practices and their own versions of it, and now their own version of self-management is starting to mature and develop. And so he just reached out to say: "Hey, just wanted to let you know we exist, we're doing this and I'm setting up a community in Latin America of similar companies so we can share learnings together". So examples like that really, are such a joy to stumble across that it's making a difference with people and they're actually doing it because I think that was always my hope - was that these stories and examples, and warts and all stories and examples would help embolden people to actually do it to feel like: "Okay, I can try this and there's no perfect template. It's going to be tough, but it's going to be rewarding. Let's just start. Let's try."
Mark Eddleston: Yeah, and I know myself that there'll be loads and loads of stories that you're not aware of, so it's one of my go-to resources when I'm working with clients, and then particularly when you're working with a client, and there's some people in the team who are really into the ideas of self-management and looking to be a champion in their team or organisation for the transition, and Leadermorphosis is one of the first resources that I point them to, to learn more about it and dig a little bit deeper.
Now, for the listeners that are perhaps newer, (and so that's, not sure what is there, fourtyfive or fourty-something?), there's fourty-something episodes at the moment - so quite a lot to catch up on. If someone were new, just come across the podcast, where would you say they should start? So there are a few episodes that kind of stand out.
Lisa Gill: Yeah, I think if you're in the beginning of your journey, I think quite a good one to start with is the episode with Chuck Blakeman, because he does quite a good job of giving the context: mapping out the industrial era, all the way up to, what he calls 'the participation era': where we are now, and all of the limitations of that paradigm of work and why it needs to be reinvented. And it's quite a fun episode - he's quite provocative. And I think also the one with Gary Hamel for similar reasons - that he gives quite a good bird's eye view almost of some of the things, some of the patterns that are going on from an academic's perspective. And Chuck is not an academic, but he's an author - he's written a great book called: 'Why employees are always a bad idea', which I really enjoy. But also, he's been a practitioner of this stuff. So those are two good ones to start with, to get an overview if you like - an introduction.
And then it really depends on who people are and where they are in their journey and what sector they're in, or what kind of organisation they're in. So there are quite a few case studies and episodes now from health and social care companies, so I can point people in that direction if they're in that space. Or if you're a small organisation, or if you're geographically in a particular place and you're interested... so then it really depends. But I think the few that I mentioned that have been real turning points for me are often the ones that I say, from a personal perspective: "Listen to these" - like the ones with Helen Sanderson and Miki Kashtan and Margaret Wheatley, are a couple that I think are easy ones to engage with, like, they're pretty resonant with most people.
Mark Eddleston: Yeah, those are three great, great episodes there. Now, you answered the last question with "it depends" and I find that when people ask questions about self-management, very often that's the answer I give. So the space that we work in is maturing, how do you imagine it might be looking over the next year, and particularly with what's going on at the moment? So, mindset's been mentioned, and that's the focus of the episode with Miki Kashtan, (which is really worth a listen). And you mentioned just earlier that often people say: "Oh, that wouldn't work here". Now with remote work, which we can all relate to at the moment - only last month, everybody, (well, not everybody), but a lot of people were saying that that wouldn't work. So do you think that perhaps there might be an opportunity to accelerate some of the more progressive ways of working because we're experiencing now a live example of adapting quite quickly to something that we thought wasn't possible?
Lisa Gill: Yeah. I'm in the process of having some follow up conversations with some of the guests, because I'm really interested in all of these organisations that are decentralised and are, I guess, much more intentional about how they work and how they are together. I think these organisations will be much more resilient, will be much more able to adapt and support each other to come up with really creative and innovative solutions in tough times. So I'm really curious to see how those examples come out and I'm planning to share some of them on the podcast and some of my writing. And I also think it's maybe accelerating as you said; some things that have been broken or limiting for quite a long time, like how we do meetings, like face to face meetings by and large, are often not very productive, not very human, often they're the same few people dominating them, and we're realising all of these things even more so now that they've been transported into the online meeting space. And also things like how we distribute resources, like salaries and things like that, and money, and if you have transparent finances, people are much more responsible and able to together, decide how do we make tough decisions together? There's so many wonderful examples of companies where people have voluntarily reduced their salaries in order to save, in order to avoid layoffs, or getting really creative because they can see the figures and they feel this collective sense of responsibility to do something together. So I think my hope is that we'll see more of that.
And I think also I'm really interested to see how things develop in terms of governance and the legal structures of companies, because I think those are really not fit for purpose. And at the moment, a lot of organisations are having to kind of bend and have create these work arounds in order to fit into those structures or if you're audited, or if you have quality and compliance, audits and accreditation stuff, similarly, they're not designed for these kinds of organisations. So I really hope that there'll be the next wave of this movement will be developing more fit for purpose, structures and ways of setting up as enterprises and organisations that serve us much better.
Mark Eddleston: Yeah, and there's already some interesting examples of organisations that have different governance structures and approaches. So what are some of the ones that that you look to as examples of how it could be?
Lisa Gill: Yeah, well, I know that there are a few folks in my networks who have legal backgrounds, and they're doing some clever things. It's not my area of expertise but I know that there are some cool things going on about how you can set up governance structures from the beginning so that almost like the company's purpose is boss, and everything is about filling that rather than accumulating wealth for a few people. And I know that people like Matt Perez, who's one of the founders of Nearsoft, is interested in looking at employee ownership, for example, because I think if you follow the logical conclusion, if you follow one from self-management is to get to employee ownership. I think that's an option. But he's really interested, and I know others are too: looking at employee ownership in itself is not a cure at all, it's not an antidote. You can do that in a way where employees are co-owners of a company, but it may not mean anything different in terms of whether they can actually influence strategic decisions or not. So then really, it can become a bit of an empty gesture, really. But how could we look at employee ownership in a way that's really holistic, I guess? So not just like on paper, but actually what that means, and really having a co-owner mindset that stems from real, actual kind of co-ownership rather than just something symbolic, if you know what I mean?
Mark Eddleston: Yes. Now, a few questions ago I asked you how has the podcast changed your thinking over the years - and conversely, I'm curious, how has it reinforced your thinking? Were there assumptions that you had when you set out with Leadermorphosis that have been reinforced by the conversations that you've had on here?
Lisa Gill: A few things come to mind: one is this constant reinforcement that it's really tough, it's hard, but it's so worthwhile, and it's so rewarding, so, the commitment. And it really is a practice; it's a lifelong learning journey and everyone I speak to says that so that I think that's been a confirmation from something that I already had a pretty strong sense of. And I think it's quite common that people are bumping up against some of the same challenges and it seems like most many of these organisations struggle with recognising that some kind of feedback system is really important, for example to be able to know, as Miki Kashtan put it: "we learn by knowing our impact on others". And I know like, Bryan Ungard is of a school of thought where he has different thoughts about feedback, but there is still an emphasis on development. But that's also really hard to do. So no one has cracked this relational human stuff, mindset stuff - how to be as a leader, how to create that paradox of how to create environments where everyone is powerful, and and yet, at the same time, allowing for natural leadership and hierarchies to emerge that's really tricky and there's no magic pill for that. So I think that's also been something that's been confirmed time and time again.
Mark Eddleston: Yeah, I'd say it's probably the hardest work I've ever done. And yeah, I think there's no pill; there's no capsule that you can swallow and that's it away you go - you're self-managing, and it's funny: For organisation A, could well be fatal for organisation B and I think that's quite frustrating, perhaps for leaders when they're chatting to people working in this space when it's: "Okay what do we do? How do we do it?" And we respond with: "Well, that depends."
So, yeah. I was having a chat with a friend just this week about invitation, because he was working with a group where it wasn't so much invited by the whole group, just one. It was a lot of hard work because the invitation wasn't there. So, when is a good time to begin experimenting with this stuff? Because I think that some of the listeners might be like a lot of the people that come along to Reinventing Work; some are curious, but they're not quite doing it. Is there a good moment to begin this journey?
Lisa Gill: Yes, the million dollar question, isn't it? Is there a good moment to begin this journey? I think again I find myself turning to Frederic and his infinite wisdom in this and I think his insights in the journey videos are such a brilliant resource that have followed on from the book. And he has some really wonderful questions for people to reflect on, particularly if you're a founder or a leader around: what's your personal purpose? Why is this interesting and important to you? And I also think if you aren't someone who has decision-making power, if you're in the middle of an organisation, I still think that you have some power and agency to do some trojan mice experiments, and that's why I love Liberating Structures; that you can always influence things and be intrapreneurial: "Why is this important to me? What could be possible if we did this?" Because I find if you come from that place, rather than a place of: "Oh, this is what we need to do to remain competitive" or, "this seems to be the latest trend" or whatever - I find that people connect with a very personal sense of purpose and a kind of compelling vision of like: "This is just my hunch, I think it could be interesting to explore. What do you think?" - and find some fellow travellers for the journey, and even if you don't, I've heard really touching stories of people, particularly in the public sector for example, who are feeling really lonely, like: "I'm the only one in my organisation that is into this stuff and gets this stuff. What do I do?", you know? And I think that's why the Reinventing Work movement is so great, because I think finding your fellow travellers, whether that's in your organisation, or outside your organisation, find your "islands of sanity", as Margaret Wheatley says, because you need that tribe. And I think to find people to learn with together and just to be so curious, and it's exploring whatever medium suits you best.
But I find conversations are like the smallest currency of change - if you can have lots of different conversations with people, then your path, at least your first step, you don't need to know the whole path, right? Just a sense of what might be possible and a first step. And then there are things like The Ready, they have their Tension and Practice cards where you can start with a particular area, start experimenting or there's different schools of thought - do you go big and transform everything at once? There's no one way to do it but I think it has to start with self and also to think about: "What's my learning edge in this? What's going to be difficult for me in this? What do I have to let go of in order to do this?" Because yeah, it's gonna be tough; change is not something to do to other people, you know? It starts with changing ourselves first.
Mark Eddleston: You mentioned Liberating Structures there, which is one of my favourite tools. Now, let's pretend Lisa, that you're you're working in an organisation and your boss doesn't have time for all of this stuff, but you're quietly going out of your mind in a very hierarchical organisation. What might you do first, if you didn't have that support, you didn't have so many fellow travellers and you had a sceptical boss that wasn't wasn't ready to explore some of this stuff? And of course, the answer really is: "It depends", but are there any go-to tools or approaches or practices or maybe even resources to explore?
Lisa Gill: Yeah well, I would say the best way to learn is by experiencing. So I think that's why I'm such a big fan, like you, of Liberating Structures, and it's worth having a look on meetup and seeing if there's Liberating Structures meetup where you are in the world there, growing, or maybe you can set one up if there isn't one. But if you're very new Liberating Structures, the free app is a really good entry point, and to start, that's something you could do where you could just propose in your next meeting, like: "I wanted to try something, just for 15 minutes - the purpose is this - I think it might be interesting to see if it's useful, if it's valuable. Is everyone okay if we try this?", and then just try it. And the thing with Liberating Structures I like is that it's changing by habits rather than trying to do some big culture change. So I think Liberating Structures are a really good active thing you can do.
And meetups of course, like Reinventing Work - find a Reinventing Work meetup in your city or start one; that's the great thing that you've done, Mark, is to make it really spreadable movement - it's open source; you can just set it up and have conversations with like-minded people. I've been to Reinventing Work meetups now in London, in Melbourne, and Sydney, so we're trying to do bingo and go on all the continents. And through that you'll find the different books and podcasts - Helen Sanderson has a podcast now: A Cup of Teal, which is brilliant, particularly examples in health and social care. And Aaron Dignan has a podcast now: the companion podcast of the book, Brave New Work. So there's lots of resources out there and find the ones that work for you - find humans, (I think that's what makes the difference) find some humans to talk to, or to learn with, because otherwise, it can feel very lonely and it can be tough, you can question your sanity a bit, I think, or feel discouraged. So it makes a difference to find your travellers.
Mark Eddleston: It can be a big first step, can't it? Finding the courage and the bravery to suggest a different way of having a meeting and perhaps to experiment with Liberating Structures. But I think we've got the evidence to show that: I think there's the well worn Gallup Stat that 85% of us are disengaged in work. So I think with that we can trust that most people are at least a little bit fed up, and will be up for trying something new if you suggest it and the worst they can do is is say: "No".
Lisa Gill: Yeah, exactly. And I've had enough guests on the podcast where we, sort of, laughed about the fact that there's really little to no evidence that the old way of doing things works - this industrial paradigm, like you said: the engagement stats, productivity stats, you know. Gary Hamel talks about the cost of bureaucracy; it's not working anyway, so it's like, what have you got to lose? It's worth trying something, isn't it? Do a pilot, experiment with something. I think that's a key mindset shift - it's not about this kind of old way of thinking about change, where you change the whole thing and then freeze it and then change it. It's like much more adaptive.
Mark Eddleston: So I guess when we spoke about turning the tables and having you as a guest, I think the idea was to have you share your learnings. Is there anything that we've not covered that you'd like to share?
Lisa Gill: I don't think so. I think we've covered a lot of ground actually, and I think my hope for the podcast is to continue to unearth these lesser known stories and examples and to dig into some tough topics. And I'm almost trying to push myself in terms of my comfort zone as well like, not just to interview people that I agree with wholeheartedly, but also to talk to people who have a different perspective and to have a kind of, healthy debate. So that's also part of my hope as the podcast continues. In terms of my learning - I guess a sort of meta learning from the podcast has been how transformational conversations are: that yeah, I'm not the same person I was when I started the podcast. Through these conversations it's changed me, it's changed who I am and how I think and I hope that people experience that transformation to some degree at least, just from listening to them. But I hope it inspires people to, as they are, reaching out to the guests and having conversations with them themselves and other people. I really think dialogue is so key to this shift.