Get Reworked Podcast: Back to Nature Is the Future of Digital Work
Organizations are stuck. Far too often, they think about work in a mechanical way that limits their ability to adapt and rapidly innovate.
As we’ve discovered over the last year, work is an ever-evolving experience, says Paul Miller, CEO of Digital Workplace Group. And that requires an organization that can evolve alongside it. Digital transformation is part of that story, but it’s not all of it.
We’re not just moving into a digital age but into a “living age,” Paul says, and ths next chapter calls for companies to think of themselves not as machines but rather as living and breathing organisms.
In this episode, Paul and his colleague Shimrit Janes share insights from their new book, “Nature of Work: The New Story of Work for a Living Age.” Highlights of the conversation include:
- Why we need a new, nature-based vocabulary to talk about work.
- How to move from a hierarchical, mechanistic structure to a more agile, organic one.
- Why organizations ignore the society and environment around them at their own peril.
- The unifying power of purpose beyond mission and vision statements.
The journey from factory to forest is a gradual one, Shimrit and Paul say, but the past year has shown organizations how they can plant the seeds of their future.
Plus, co-hosts Siobhan Fagan and Mike Prokopeak talk about what exactly the Wood Wide Web is and use an embarrassing number of puns to set up today’s episode. Curious? Well, don’t make like a tree and leave just yet. Listen in to find out more.
Have a suggestion, comment or topic? Drop us a line at [email protected].
- Website: Digital Workplace Group
- Book: "Nature of Work: The New Story of Work for a Living Age"
- Science Magazine: "'Wood Wide Web' - the underground network of microbes that connect trees - mapped for the first time"
- Paul Miller on Twitter
- Shimrit Janes on Twitter
Note: This transcript has been edited for space and clarity.
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Mike Prokopeak: Hello, and welcome to Get Reworked, your guide to the revolution of work. My name is Mike Prokopeak, and I'm editor in chief at Reworked.co.
Siobhan Fagan: And I'm Siobhan Fagan, managing editor for Reworked. At Reworked.co, we're dedicated to covering the people, the culture, the technology, and the infrastructure that makes up our quickly evolving workplaces.
Mike: Get Reworked is our podcast where you're going to hear from industry pioneers leading the way into the future of work, reshaping not just how we work, but also why. We're excited to bring you conversations about best practices, workplace trends and key technologies that support the modern distributed workforce. Hey Siobhan, how are you?
Siobhan: I'm doing alright, Mike. How are you?
Mike: I'm good. I learned something new this week. I learned, and this is actually from my kids, I learned about the Wood Wild Web. I couldn't even say it right! I was gonna make a joke about how hard it is to say and even in setting up the joke, I couldn't say it right. Let me try it again. It's called the Wood Wide Web. Have you heard about the Wood Wide Web?
Siobhan: I think I know what you're talking about. But I don't think I've heard it in that way. Or maybe I saw it written in that way and refuse to take on the challenge of saying it correctly. Wood Wide Web. Yeah, that's a tongue twister.
Mike: The idea is that trees are actually communicating with one another across a network that's within their roots. And it's actually tied in with I think it's fungi that are part of a sort of a communication network in a forest amongst trees, which I think is pretty fascinating. Because I think we think about trees in a forest as individuals all kind of grouped together, but they're actually part of an organism that talks to one another.
Siobhan: I definitely have heard about this. I loved this idea the first time I heard about it, the fact that the trees are actively communicating with each other about you know, hey, you seem to be pretty good at photosynthesis, you want to pass along some of that juice over this way. And they're like sure, and they send it through the roots. It's amazing. And any scientists out there, I apologize.
Mike: We're actually going to be talking to a couple people today who think of our organizations as living organisms, something that you know, we haven't necessarily thought about our companies, as organizations, as living things. We tend to think of them as machines in a way, something we've created to carry out an act. But both of our speakers today are actually really interested in this idea about organizations as organisms, and they have written a book called "Nature of Work."
Paul Miller, first of all, is the CEO and founder of the Digital Workplace Group. He's written a number of books, this one being the latest book, but he's really kind of exploring this evolution of what we're calling the digital workplace, and what is beyond that. What's the next thing? And this idea of the organization as a living organization is one idea for that. He's based in the UK as you'll soon find out as we talk to Paul. But we're not just interviewing Paul. We're actually interviewing one of his colleagues as well.
Siobhan: Yes, we're also going to be hearing from Paul's co-author, Shimrit Janes. Shimrit is Digital Workplace Group's director of knowledge. She is also the original author of a report about the nature of work, which they first published back in 2019. And I think it, if you excuse the pun, planted to the seed for this book, Mike.
Mike: Planted the seed. Well played, Siobhan. Well played.
Siobhan: Yeah, had to do that. Had to do that. Shimrit also is the author of many of the research reports that come out of the Digital Workplace Group, and she provides best practice advice on intranet and digital workplace matters.
Mike: Alright, Siobhan. Are you ready to branch out our conversation?
Siobhan: Ouch. Yes, I am Mike. I'm ready to talk to Shimrit and Paul. Should we bring them on?
Mike: Let's Get Reworked.
Welcome to the podcast, Paul and Shimrit.
Paul Miller: Nice to be here with you, Mike and Siobhan.
Shimrit Janes: Hi. Thank you for having us.
Mike: Alright, so first question for you, and I'll direct it your way, Paul, first. So you're the CEO of a group called the Digital Workplace Group and, perhaps I'm presenting myself in a somewhat limited way, when I think about the digital workplace I think of it almost as the culmination of the industrial era. You know, the rise of machines for production, and then we moved into the digital workplace, which is taking machines and using them for knowledge work.
You have a book coming out in early 2021 that is sort of arguing a little against some of these movements at work. It's called "Nature of Work." And so I'm wondering what led you as the CEO of a place called the Digital Workplace Group to go organic?
Paul: That's such a good question. Yeah, it was a guerrilla mission from me to try and undermine my own company. The story of the book is quite interesting, because this is myself, it's the fourth book I've written or co-authored. And the last one was called the "Digital Renaissance of Work."
So it had the word digital, you know, and as you said, might the industrial era moved into the, let's say, the information era, the digital era. And I struggled a little bit with different ideas around what book to write next. In fact, there was a book that had the working title of "Hyper-digital, Hyper-physical," and what it was saying was that the world was going to become ever more digital, and ever more physical. And it turned out talking to Shimrit about this, that that was a sort of interesting idea, but it probably wasn't a book.
And I think, the kind of way that Shimrit and I ended up with "Nature of Work: The New Story of Work for a Living Age," was, I think, the growing awareness of the impact of climate change, of the earth, of different relationships with nature, including human beings because we're part of nature, and really starting to think about work through a different lens.
Paul: And when I wrote the book that preceded the last book, which was called "Digital Workplace: How Technology is Liberating Work," it was really designed at that time to try and describe all the places that we work that aren't physical. And so the term I use was digital workplace. But these terms are all just stories of work. They're really ways of giving language to work. And as we've discovered in 2020, work is an evolving experience. And so what we came to was the idea that we're moving in not just to a digital age, but into a living age and this idea of organizations as actually being alive, which I think is the next chapter in this story.
Siobhan: So Paul, you brought up the idea of giving language to work. And I noticed that throughout the book, you're discussing this new vocabulary, and how the introduction of the vocabulary of digital workplace in part led it into coalescing. And I was hoping that you could talk a little bit about why we need a new vocabulary for work.
Paul: Well, I think language is one of the defining characteristics of our species, and the world that we inhabit now, which is really a world of work created out of industrialization. So all these concepts, we've had a whole debate this year, haven't we about the future of offices. But you know, if you go back 120, 150 years, there was no such thing as an office. There was no such thing as urbanization. These are all concepts and language that we've given, which then create the kind of format and the framework for the world that we work in.
And one of the films that is quoted early on in the book is the film "Arrival," which is one of my favorite films. Aliens come down but they don't come with the usual kind of agenda. And actually, what the film reveals, is that what the aliens are actually trying to give to our species is a new language. Because they know when they give us new language, they'll create a new reality. And being aliens and being able to travel across time, they do that in order that we can go and help them in the future. So this is quite an esoteric answer to your question.
But I think the important thing in the world of work, if you take an organization, let's take somebody like American Express, if you think about them as a machine, a hierarchy, the industrial construct that Ford Motor Company really brought into being at the beginning of the last century, it was very much based on the idea of the organization as machine. But if you then start to think about some terms that we're already using, like flow, like experience, design, user-centered design, collaboration, these are terms not of machine. These are terms that really are reflective of a natural or living way of thinking.
So the importance I think, is that organizations at the moment in my mind are really quite stuck in a certain way of thinking that's quite mechanical. And so we're trying to move from the metaphor, if you like, of the factory to the metaphor of the forest. Shimrit, help me. Please explain what I tried to say there but with some level of eloquence, some level of clarity.
Shimrit: You explained it beautifully. I think the big thing for us was this idea of story and the power of story. If you think about modern culture, and the way that we consume stories, and film and books, and theater, and podcasts and all the rest, it's really about trying to understand ourselves better, I think individually as a species. And that's something that has been in existence for thousands and thousands of years back to the first cave painting.
And so, as Paul was saying, if we're trying to better understand ourselves, not just now, not just what has happened in the past, but who we can be in the future, and how we want to approach work, and what the world of work means. What is the story that we want to tell around that in order to understand what it is that we're trying to achieve, and to better communicate with each other, and to imagine what that world could be? If you imagine we're at a crossroads. There's multiple different paths that we can take. So which one are we going to choose? And so if we continue with this story of the idea of digitalization, which is important, it's a huge factor and feature of modern life. But do we really want that to be the protagonist? Or do we want to be the kind of central characters of that story?
And so if you go back to industrialization, the agrarian age, yes, it was a lot of it was about the emergence of different tools and the impact that they had in the same way as digital has been the emergence of a tool and a way of being, but throughout all of that, it's about the work of the individual, the community, the society, and what we as humans can do with those tools. So I think having a new vocabulary and a new language that helps us re-center ourselves and kind of our place in nature as well to try and reconnect that in midst of the climate crisis, as Paul said, felt really important to us with digital than becoming a tool that we use, rather than the central driving force.
Mike: I think it's really interesting that you're using a very physical metaphor of nature and talking about organizations because, and actually I think you mentioned this in some of your work, referenced the work of Peter Senge and his work around the learning organization. I think his book, "The Fifth Discipline" came out around the early 1990s. And the idea was that organizations are not just machines that put out a product. They are learning organizations. If you really want to be successful as an organization, you need to continually invest in learning and that learning needs to come back in in sort of a virtuous cycle of continuing innovation. I guess the question I'm driving at is, why did you hit on specifically nature as the way to organize this idea that you had about work and the future of it? Was it a particular moment that you came to this sort of realization? Or was it sort of just a culmination of a number of different experiences?
Paul: Actually, what happened, Shimrit, you and I started chatting didn't we about the human body? Yeah. And we started bouncing ideas around. And we were talking about what's after the digital workplace, what comes next? Because digital workplace is not the kind of final version of what work is. And we started really talking about the idea of living systems. And it wasn't you and I that came up with that idea. It's been around for 20 or 30 years, really. We thought, well, maybe the kind of metaphor here is the human body. Maybe, maybe that's our reference point. Because I think it's really important when you're talking about something that's new, is to talk to people in terms that are very familiar, something they know either from history, or something that they know because it's all around them.
And then we felt that the human body was a little bit, kind of a bit too focused on the human being in a way, because work involves more than just human beings. It involves things that human beings create, invent, relationships. And at that time, there were the school strikes. Greta Thurnberg was kind of central within the in the news. It was early 2019. In a way, we knew that our society, our species had to wake up to an entirely different relationship with that which is alive. And I think we kind of felt a bit of a mission around that, didn't we?
Shimrit: Yeah, absolutely. And I think while nature is of the physical realm, and I think obviously when we talk about work, we talk about digital, a lot of it feels not physical. But there is so much within that that we don't yet know that we're discovering that is unseen to us. If you think about the energy flow from the sun to plants in the way that they live, for example, it just felt like such a rich vein of analogy and metaphor if you're going to talk about knowledge flow. If you're going to talk about connection and collaboration, the idea of the physical workplace in the digital workplace, relationships networks, it felt to us as though the natural world is so rich with those ideas already that it felt like a good way to try and change the conversation about them away from just a digital way of thinking about it. But really the kind of at the heart of what it means to collaborate, what it means to have knowledge flow, what it means to have relationships in work, and all the rest.
Paul: And then I remember when we kind of happened on the forest as a metaphor. And we started saying, for example, in the forest, the roots of the forest are invisible, but the quality, the health, the vitality of the root system influences the health of the forest. So if you're an organization, let's say you're Citigroup, what is the root system of your organization that you can't see it's not visible to the naked eye, but it dictates the health of the system. So it could be culture. It could be behaviors. It could be technical infrastructure.
And then we started to say, well, maybe if there's a cluster of trees in the forest that for some reason decided they're going to suck all the nutrients of the forest into themselves for their own benefit. So they might thrive for a while while the rest of the forest degrades. But actually, over time, the whole system fails. I think we started to get pretty excited, didn't we, when we started to see the ways that you could, if you like, map HR processes, knowledge management, migration, which creatures live in the forest permanently, which ones come through time, where's the gig economy fit into this? And then we started talking to a few different organizations about this. So our clients and so on, and they started to get excited. And we thought, actually, this is something that's got real mileage to it.
Siobhan: So Paul, you bring up the work that you do with different organizations. And I'm wondering if you have any examples of an organization that perhaps haven't fully embodied this idea but are moving in that direction? And what specific steps have they taken to start moving in that direction?
Paul: Do you want to pick this one up, Shimrit.
Shimrit: Yeah. So one example of an organization I would say is on that journey is ING. They have done a really great job of rethinking their organization and how they structure themselves to move from being hierarchical, to actually something that's a much more agile organization who can be more adaptive to the feedback loops that they've put in place.
So in nature, you can see how structures and organisms are able to very quickly react and adapt to their changing environment. And that is through the presence of feedback loops, for example. And so ING, in restructuring themselves in that way and in an agile structure, are able to much more quickly respond to, for example, internal feedback to feedback from their customers. And that allows you to deal much more easily with complex and quickly changing environments. So that was one example. Paul, if you have another ...
Paul: I'll give one noncontroversial one, then one controversial one that Shimrit and I can sort of argue about. So the noncontroversial one is that there's a company called Mindful Chef. They're based in the UK, they're the latest in the companies that deliver meals to your home, you know, the recipe boxes, and so on. What's interesting is that they were set up with a sustainable and social ethic around the entire organization. So every time I buy a meal from them, they donate two meals to poorer parts of the world. They also have already arrived at net zero in terms of their policy.
Now, for Mindful Chef, I would say they're a good example of a living organization and nature work organization. Why? Because they're bringing together all of the different aspects, including commercial success in order to create this new story of work. It's both got a, if you like, a marketing side to it, but it's also part of their ethics.
The controversial one I would say is Amazon, the company, because there's different aspects of Amazon which I would say don't reflect a nature of work model to do with kind of workplace practices and things like that. However, if you look at their ability to innovate, their ability to generate new ideas to solve problems, and then reapply those ideas to other areas of opportunity, and to replicate, there's definitely things that resonate with our book in terms of regeneration, of life cycle. So it's interesting when you start to think about organizations across the 12 elements, you could see some organizations might perform quite well in some areas, and quite weakly in other areas. And you start to get another example. And I think, without wanting to inundate you both with too many examples, I think you've got the example from Leon as well that we talk about in the UK, Shimrit.
Shimrit: There's just one more, I think, which is an interesting example and that we saw quite a lot of during the pandemic. And if we take the nature of work idea that you are a living system, that you're nested within society, and that you're connected to society, you're not in a vacuum away from it. And the example that Paul gave, of being able to redirect resources that has been found to exist within forests, what we saw in the UK, for example, is Leon who are kind of they call themselves healthy, fast food. During the first lockdown, they obviously weren't able to serve their food, but rather than shutting everything down, they formed a collaborative network with people who would normally be considered their competitors. So other food organizations, other logistics organizations as well, and were able to collaborate very quickly in order to serve food to health workers.
And so to us, that is a way of recognizing not just that you have your purpose as a food organization with your customers, but you have a role and you have a strength in terms of what you can provide society in a moment of need. And not only that you can collaborate with others in order to form that network in order to quickly serve and to redirect resources. So there are a couple of different examples.
Mike: I want to come back to the controversial example. You talked about Amazon as one that can maybe be seen in two ways. Picking up on the nature metaphor, many local economies may see Amazon as an invasive species. It comes in and sort of is so successful, that it outcompetes the native competitors in the area. How do you deal with that sort of massive disruption that happens when you have a company that is so good at innovation or so good, or because of its scale is able to take over very quickly, and push out the native species that maybe were in the local economy.
Paul: One of the elements or chapters in the book is on threats. And I would say that the idea of pushing out stifling competition, obviously, you know, we've got legislation that's come up during the industrial era to protect against monopolies. But I think the area of biodiversity.
So if Amazon was starting to think about itself as a nature work organization holistically, the areas that I think it would probably look at, are not areas around regeneration, intelligence, but would look at our section on purpose and the idea of deep purpose. So I would say that Amazon is an organization, if you asked me what its purpose was, I would struggle to know exactly what its purpose was at a deep, fundamental level.
If I look at the example I cited with Mindful Chef, I can see what their purpose is as an organization. So I think that if they started to take an approach that was about deepening their purpose, was strengthening their own biodiversity to take my example from the forest earlier on. Yes, Amazon does have the capacity to remove whole areas of competition, but actually, is it ultimately degrading its purpose or its relationships, and actually sowing the seeds of its own disease in the future. And I think as an organization, they've probably got the capacity to think strategically like that.
Shimrit: I would agree. And the idea of biodiversity here is essential. You said the idea of an invasive species that actually can potentially remove the diversity that exists within the marketplace. And I think we know that within nature, for example, within ecosystems, biodiversity is critical. You need to have that richness and that variety of species in order to have a healthy ecosystem. As soon as you have one species which removes that biodiversity and you have a homogeneity, that can be the signal of an ecosystem that is actually in decline and is dying. So using that metaphor within the idea of Amazon, I think could be incredibly helpful just to think about the impact that that has on the wider ecosystem of which it's a part.
Mike: I just have to throw this in there, because I learned about this company in reading some of your work and I think everybody should know about it. And that's Who Gives a Crap, that's the name of the company, and it manufactures and sells toilet paper, paper towels, tissues with the purpose of generating funds to improve sanitation in developing countries. So I just loved the name, but also worth mentioning.
Paul: Yeah, what what I was going to say was that if you're starting to look at longevity and sustainability, and I think the same characteristics demonstrated, but let's not single out Amazon, just on their own because we've come through an era of resource depletion and degradation. And one of the concerns that is expressed when people are looking at balance sheets is that if you're actually taking things from the earth and not paying account for the future, if you like, you're spending the future on the present.
And I think one of the things when you start to get into this issue around demographics, and we think that the nature of work, and the new story of work for living age, is particularly appealing to a younger demographic, to the kids at school and people and this was true pre-COVID, and I think COVID has only been an accelerant of this, is you really need to kind of start fulfilling a whole range of different characteristics if you're going to be able to attract the best people into your future, not just for the next five or 10 years, but for the next 50 years.
And I think that's where taking a much broader view of this becomes important. But it's interesting, you mentioned Who Gives a Crap, Mike. I think what we've seen is that the organizations demonstrating these new kind of approaches, new practices in workers' movement from from factory to forests, tend to be smaller, startup organizations who have got a much more rounded set of ethics around them.
Siobhan: It's interesting that you touch upon the scale of the businesses and how these smaller and newer and more agile businesses are able to adapt. So my question would be for these organizations that have been around for a longer period of time, what can they do to adapt themselves to this new approach of work? Or is it just a case where the ship has sailed and catch you next time?
Shimrit: So I think one of the big messages of the book and the first thing you read when you open it up is your organization is alive. It's the idea that this isn't something that you need to transition into. It's something that your organization already is. It just may be that you haven't approached it in that way.
And when you think about your organizational strategy, you think about the work that you're doing, you're not necessarily making those decisions with that knowledge in mind. And so if you run a larger organization, such as a lot of DWG's members, we've got organizations who are much larger and global, and it can feel intimidating to think you need to start changing your whole organization in this way.
I think there's a few things I think, number one, yes, an organization is a single entity. But I think it's also made up of a multitude of different communities and different structures. And so if you want to start to make decisions about your organization to make it more adaptive, more generative to think about how its diverse, about the different relationships that exist. If it feels too much to try and do that on a global scale, are there parts of the organization that possibly lend themselves more to that way of thinking as a way of starting to experiment a little bit, whether that's an innovation team, or a different part of the organization where it makes a little bit more sense to try out some of the things that are suggested.
And I think also, it's about what you're prioritizing. If you're thinking about diversity and inclusion and equity already, for example, to us that's an example of biodiversity. So can you rethink the way in which you approach that in a way that fits the nature of work paradigm. And if you're thinking about creating new teams and new structures, what can be learned from nature in a way that is more agile, for example, in that way.
And so I think it it can be broken down into parts in order to make it manageable, and just in the way that you start to if you're a leader, or if you manage a team, just the way that you approach your people, the way that you speak to them the way that you do internal communications. You can start to feed the way of thinking, the nature of work way of thinking, into the way that you do that storytelling. And it's not something that's going to happen overnight. It's more the way in which you approach your culture and your organization. And it's more a transition into that way of thinking for me.
Paul: So DWG, we're about 100 people across Europe and North America, fully distributed. We haven't had offices for 10 years. And you might think, well, we're quite far on this journey of becoming a living organization. But inevitably, there's an awful lot of work that we need to do.
So the way that we're going to use the book next year, 12 elements, one a month, and we're going to look, and each chapter ends with questions to ask yourself, and we're going to be looking at our own organization through the lens of life cycle, purpose, habitat, intelligence, relationships, etc., in order to say that, if we are wanting to become more of a living organization, more of an expression of the nature of work, what do we need to do.
And just to kind of add to this, because I think this is also gets into the nature of structure and power inside organizations. So we're currently looking at what would it take for us to become an employee-owned organization. So I own most of the shares in the company, I could sell the company, but I don't want to.
But what I am interested in is giving people in the company, actual ownership of the company so that as I get older, the company can go and evolve. So that its actual legacy becomes more than we got big, we sold out and that was it. That's the end of the story. That's a story we all know and understand. The story that's more exciting and interesting to me is about the restructuring and the redistribution of power inside the organization.
As another example, Unilever, who've got a great history in creating kind of community-based facilities. So they created 100 years ago, something called Port Sunlight, which was a, in some ways quite paternalistic, but they created housing and communities and schools, and all the infrastructure for their staff in the north of England. They're now looking at becoming a B Corporation, which commits you to social and ethical standards, environmental standards, and they would become the largest B Corporation in the world. And Austin, Texas is wondering whether it's got the capacity to become the center of B Corporations.
So this is a period of profound change for organizations in the last four years, five years, they've become political. Organizations have become opinionated around environment, opinionated around diversity, opinionated around politics, and that's not going away. And so I think all organizations are having to stand up as we saw during Black Lives Matter. It's like, well, where are you on this. And in the past, going back 10 years, most organizations would have said, this doesn't include us, we don't have opinions in this area. Now they're part of a social, political and environmental fabric. And that's why I think something like Nature of Work provides the ingredients for a new story,
Mike: To maybe bring this into a close, let me pose this challenge to you. Every organization has a mission and vision statement, most of it is full of completely meaningless words that don't necessarily tie into anything that is actually real. So what's a tip that you have for a company that is trying to make this purpose, thinking of themselves as an organism that is, you know, supporting its ecosystem, its environment, what tip do you have for them to try to make their mission real?
Shimrit: Very often, organizations’ mission and vision statements all sound the same. They could be for any organization because I think everyone ultimately wants to change the world and do good.
I think it needs to become more real and more, everyone uses the word authentic, but more authentic to what the organization can actually contribute. And also, it can be co-designed, instead of coming from just the executives, for example, who are sat down trying to think about what the organization does and can do, what would it mean to co-design that purpose with your people that you're employing, with the people that you actually serve, whether that's customers or clients, or whoever it is. And so what are the specific things that you want to be able to contribute?
And it's OK, if it changes as well. It may be that you revisit that mission periodically every three years and say, have we achieved this, what is it specifically that we want to be able to contribute. And I think it can be multi-layered as well.
You know, one of the things that we talk about in the purpose element is this idea of layered purpose. And the idea that yes, you need to be able to survive as an organization. And you see the same in nature, we feel it ourselves as individuals. We have kind of an individual purpose, which is to survive. But then the other side of that is how we contribute to society. So I think thinking through that layered idea of purpose, thinking about can it be co-designed and crowdsourced with the people who are actually delivering and receiving your services and products, and making it specific as well. So it's not just a generic statement about we wish to serve and provide the best for our people. What does that mean in reality, I think, will really help to start to make that more real to who you are as an organization, and something that you can start to track against as well.
Paul: Just getting back to the mission and vision, I think one of the things that organizations that I was talking to people at HSBC, the bank, this week, and they said that one of the things that the pandemic has uncovered inside the organizations, I've heard this multiple times, is actually the organization's ethics and values actually proved to be really resilient when this pandemic came.
The levels of empathy, of flexibility, of adaptability inside the organization, the way that the leaders actually did lead the organization. And I would say, dig into that. What's the folk story? What's the mythology that's been created this year that you can build on? Because the journey to becoming a nature of work organization is a gradual process. It's a journey from factory to forest, as we call it. And I think this year, has actually shown organizations the ingredients of its future.
Mike: Well, thanks so much for this conversation, Paul and Shimrit. Where would you suggest people go to follow up and learn more about you and your work?
Shimrit: So the first place I would say is we have a website set up, which is natureofwork.com. Through there, you can download a PDF of our first chapter, which is the first element, which is purpose, and you can read that for free, and get a feel for how the book looks, the kind of tone of voice and some of the ideas. You can also pre-order the book on, which is actually being released on the 14th of January 2021.
Beyond that, I would say you can connect with Paul and I either through Twitter or LinkedIn. I think Paul, your handle is @PaulMillerSays, if I remember correctly, and mine is @ShimritJanes, and you can follow us see what we're sharing about the book. And I'd say if you have questions or want to discuss it any more, just reach out to us. We're pretty friendly and happy to have a conversation about it as well.
Siobhan: Shimrit, I have to say that during your last thing that you had to say you inspired to the nerdiest office party game ever. And that is to cut the mission statements from a bunch of companies, put it in a hat and then have everybody guess the company. So if I make that game, you're getting full credit. But thank you both for joining us today.
Shimrit: Thank you, Siobhan. Thank you, Mike.
Mike: Well, that was a fun conversation. What are you walking away from our conversation with Paul and Shimrit with?
Siobhan: It's funny, Mike, because I think we're I'm walking away with where we started, which is those root systems of trees and the interdependencies between the trees. And how if one tree fails, then the whole ecosystem gets thrown off. I think that was really powerful when Shimrit was discussing Amazon in those terms.
Mike: Yeah, I agree. I think it's a really rich metaphor, as you just said, to think about organisms. As we were having the conversation, I kept kind of uncovering new aspects of it as I was thinking about it, and which I think is really promising for them. I'm really eager to see how people respond to their work this year.
Siobhan: No, I agree. I think that there's a lot of areas that we could have dug into deeper and looking forward to hopefully following up sometime later next year.
Mike: I think there's a couple aspects I would have loved to have probed a little bit more. But maybe that's something we can do in a future conversation, things like the individual within the organism, how do you support the individual because so many people in this last year are just struggling to survive in many cases, not just thrive and have a mission. They're just struggling. Their mission is to put food on the table. So would love to hear more from Paul and Shimrit about that as we go forward.
Siobhan: So that brings me to our next point, which is if you have a question, if you have a suggestion, if you have thoughts for a future podcast, why don't you get in touch? And as Shimrit said about herself and Paul, we're pretty friendly. So drop us a line either on Twitter or on LinkedIn. I am my name - @Siobhan__Fagan. And you can also just find me on LinkedIn very easily. Mike?
Mike: And I'm @Prokotweet on Twitter. So would love to hear from you and love to hear your comments and thoughts about this topic or any topic related to the future of work. See you next time, Siobhan.
Siobhan: Bye Mike. 'Til then.
Mike: Additionally, if you like what you hear, please post a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you may be listening. And be sure to share Get Reworked with anyone that you think might benefit from these types of conversations. And then finally, be sure to follow us at @GetReworked on Twitter as well. Thank you again for exploring the revolution of work with us, and we'll see you next time.
About the Authors
Siobhan is the editor in chief of Reworked, where she leads the site's content strategy, with a focus on the transformation of the workplace. Prior to joining Reworked, Siobhan was managing editor of Reworked's sister site, CMSWire, where she directed day-to-day operations as well as cultivated and built its contributor community. Connect with Siobhan Fagan: