This is a transcript from the AI and the Future of Work podcast episode featuring Matt K. Parker, author and engineering leader, discusses how radical enterprises are defining the future of work
Dan Turchin (00:17):
Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, depending where you’re listening. Welcome back to AI in the future of work. Thanks again for making this one of the most downloaded podcasts about the future of work. If you enjoy what we do, please like comment and share in your favorite podcast app, and we’ll keep sharing great conversations like the one we have planned for today. I’m your host, Dan Turchin and advisor at, in site finder, the system of intelligence for it, operations and CEO of people rein the AI platform for it and HR employee service. The great resignation has every employee reconsidering what to expect from work jobs that aren’t fulfilling are less tolerable when unemployment and all time low and inflations at an all time high, the pandemic has taught us. It’s okay to love what we do. It’s okay for boundaries between work and life to bleed together.
Dan Turchin (01:14):
And it’s okay to leave a toxic work environment. We’ve had discussions recently with future of work authorities, like Gary bowls, head of the future of work at singularity university. And more recently, Jason Corello from Acaia and ventures about the workplace of the future. Today, we get to spend time with another authority in the space who literally wrote the book on how leaders can create high perform organizations built for hybrid first work, listen to how we defines the radical enterprise. Hopefully you’ll learn something that will help you motivate your team or seek higher ground. If you’re let’s say ready for a change. Matt Kay Parker published a radical enterprise a few weeks back in February, 2022. Here we are taping this in March. It revolution the publisher behind gene Kim’s bestselling the Phoenix project and a unicorn project is Matt’s publisher. It is an Anthem for our times in it. He discusses what makes work engaging, and what’s required to combat the great resignation before becoming an author. Matt’s been eight years in engineering leadership roles at pivotal labs and without further ado, it is my pleasure to welcome Matt Kay Parker to the podcast. Matt, why don’t we kick things off by having you share a little bit more about your your background and what inspired you to write the book?
Matt K. Parker (02:38):
Sure, thanks for having me, Dan. Well, all right. So I been in programming for a while now. In fact, my dad, my dad’s dad were both programmers, so I was kind of immersed in it in that whole world from the time I was a little kid and I never really knew what it would be like to work in the field of technology, but I certainly had starry eye dreams about it growing up. And however, once I got into the industry, I would say my first decade doing programming was sort of a miserable experience. Whether I was working at a startup or a really large enterprise, I found the work work itself to be high stress low meaning struggled to see the purpose in a lot of what I did and had sort of a miserable time and really struggled to have fun with the people I was with despite the fact that, that we, we were all passionate about technology.
Matt K. Parker (03:36):
We all loved programming. Somehow. We seemed to constantly find ourselves in environments, which drained all the fun out of it. And about 10 years into my career, I got this email from pivotal labs, which at the time was a small consulting agency. And they asked me if I’d like to come in and interview, I didn’t really know much about them. In fact, somebody I worked with said, don’t go, they do things like pair programming, watch out. But I went anyways and I was blown away by the experience. I discovered that yeah, work and specifically software development doesn’t have to be miserable that you can have a lot of fun doing it, make amazing things, learn from the people around you collaborate and really powerful and ultimately egalitarian ways, ways in which we are truly partners for each other and not bosses and reports, et cetera.
Matt K. Parker (04:27):
And it was a really life changing experience. So I spent, as you said in the intro, about eight years there and I was, I was a programmer. I was a director. I was eventually the global head of engineering. Once pivotal labs became something much larger as it became part of a larger company called pivotal and spread around the globe. But throughout all of that, I really sort of began to think about what makes this experience as amazing as it is and who else does stuff like this? What really makes it work? How far can it go? That eventually inspired me to write the book a radical enterprise. And in it, I end up profiling 13 different radically collaborative organizations around the world. Everything from startups to massive enterprises and manufacturers that are doing and working in ways that are based on partnership and equality, not domination and coercion that have really at think figured out how to supercharge things like passion and intrinsic motivation and turn those into workplaces that are just wellsprings of meaning and fulfillment.
Matt K. Parker (05:31):
And so I, I interviewed a lot of people at these companies captured their stories and also tried to do a bunch of research to understand underneath the hood, both from a psychological standpoint, from the standpoint of so organizational design, what really is making all this work. And I came up with these four imperatives that you can read about in the book, which we can talk about if you like team autonomy, managerial, devolution deficiency need gratification and candid vulnerability. And those four things seem to see, seem to be sort of like the bedrock of these radically collaborative workplaces
Dan Turchin (06:07):
For the pandemic. I was at the pivotal labs office in the merchandise smart in Chicago, probably the most innovative workspace I’ve ever seen. And, you know, when you talk about the the culture there and you know, maybe what makes it a radical enterprise? I completely understand what you mean. When we were prepping for this discussion, I said, why don’t you share the most interesting conversation you had while researching for the book? And you said, well, I could, but there’s so many that were interesting. So I I’ll rephrase the question. Tell us about one <laugh> of the more memorable or interesting conversations you had in doing your research.
Matt K. Parker (06:45):
Sure. yeah, no, this is a really hard question. I learned so much from so many people and I’m so thankful for everything they told me and shared with me, including lots of words of wisdom. But the one of the companies I research which at the time was called NeoSoft is now called in Cora is sort of a pioneer and radically collaborative ways of working in self-management. They created a workplace in which their motto is freedom in the workplace. And so I talked to several employees there actually they don’t call themselves employees at all the call themselves colleagues. They say they don’t have employees because they don’t have bosses. Nobody works for anybody else there anyways, they, they really take that motto freedom in the workplace to heart to say that we’re adults we’re equals, we are here to work together to partner together to figure this out together.
Matt K. Parker (07:36):
And we can make smart choices together while respecting each other. And our ability to do that. Now, what struck me in many of these workplaces is how scary it would be to walk into one of them as a new employer, a new hire and never having had an experience of that level of freedom and autonomy and respect and ultimately responsibility and Iris Hernandez. One of the colleagues at NeoSoft sort of explained to me how they’ve come to address that. They said they recognize eventually that like bringing somebody in without doing some kind of onboarding and helping them make that adjustment, it wasn’t fair to them, right? Didn’t didn’t help them actually get over the shock of it. And I said, well, how do you help people get over their fears? And she actually said, well, by and large, they don’t what they help people understand is that to work in this way requires courage.
Matt K. Parker (08:37):
And that doesn’t mean necessarily working without fear. It means moving forward, embracing the environment in spite of their fear. And she describes sort of an onboarding process that helped people come to that sort of idea and that mindset. I don’t know how interesting that strikes you, but there was so much in what she told me about that process, that both speak to the empathy that they have for people coming out of traditional corporate environments into an environment like that. And sort of I dunno, something very powerful about the ideas sort of animating their, their beliefs about what it takes to Excel in a radically collaborative workplace.
Dan Turchin (09:18):
That’s a great example of NeoSoft and you mentioned the four kinda principles that you cover in the book, but if you were to just take a step back and summarize the main theme, how would you describe the core attributes of a radical enterprise?
Matt K. Parker (09:32):
Yeah, yeah, totally. Well, I, there are many terms for these organizations that you can find in organizational science, literature. I don’t know if there’s one unifying term for all of them, but you’ll see where it’s like, self-managing non hierarchical. Sometimes they’re called holocratic in a specific way or Socratic there’s, there’s just this whole plethora of terms, but one of those terms is radical collaboration. I chose the, that term because I believe that word radical or that phrase, radical collaboration really speaks to the experience of what it’s like to be in. And I think that’s maybe the most important thing to first connect with the, of collaboration, the root, the base, the foundation of it feels fundamentally different in these kinds of environments. And you’ll know it, as soon as you walk into it, as soon as you experience it, you can recognize that there truly is a new ground of collaboration.
Matt K. Parker (10:25):
And the root of radical is Radis and Latin, which is root or ground. And that’s why I chose that term. Ultimately, what we’re describing is a form of collaboration that is non coerced, and that is based on freedom of commitment and freedom of honoring those commitments. It’s a high degree of individual responsibility within these organizations, but all sort of based on an idea of partnership and equality. And so you can see them actually take many startling different forms. The organizational forms themselves had many different varieties. You know, you could see environments kind of like what I experienced at pivotal labs based on these self-organizing self-managing teams with people, doing things like pair programming, very openly collaborative, collaborative in a very synchronous way, right? Or you can see structures like at higher. The number one appliance manufacturer in the world, which is and up and do thousands and thousands of micro enterprises and basically are using not bosses and managers to dictate who does what and what work happens, but actually internal market based mechanisms to saying like internal market based forces will dictate what moves forward, what products how people are interacting between micro enterprises, what kind of contracts they’re making between each other, or whether they’re going outside the company to do things right.
Matt K. Parker (11:50):
So there’s many different ways that this began to manifest in these organizations, which is another reason why I thought it was important to try and synthesize okay. Despite the fact that there are many different forms of organizational structures, what is, what is salient underneath the hood? And I think it really does speak to this process of managerial evolution, right? So taking power out of the hands of a static dominant hierarchy and evolving in, into the hands of sort of the self organizing self linking hierarchy of teams team autonomy itself, right, is, is front and center in all these different organizations and autonomy on many different dimensions, the who, the what the, when the, where the roles people play, right? Like a lot of that autonomy exists within these companies. And then also a process by which it seems like their interactions are very much about establishing a very safe environment, right?
Matt K. Parker (12:42):
And so this drives to the imperative that I call deficiency need gratification, which is a term I borrow from the field positive psychology, but ultimately just speaks to an environment in which people safe to take risks, which then leads to innovation, which then leads to higher performance in these organizations. And then lastly, the process of candid vulnerability, because they have these high safety environments, you see people fearlessly saying what they think in ways that are almost startling at first. But you all also see them being very vulnerable and doing it by not just saying here’s what I think, but here’s why I think it, here’s the sort of hidden chain of inferences inside my head that people wouldn’t normally share, because the second you share it, you make it open to examination, critique, exploration, even in validation, but you also make collective innovation possible. It’s those sort of swirl of imperatives that I see sort of defining a radically collaborative enterprise at heart,
Dan Turchin (13:43):
The connotation of radical is often a little fringe experimental, maybe, maybe even a little dangerous. And I’m thinking of like the book radical candor by Kim Scott, the way you described kind of a, you know, a self-managing organization. It seems like something that, you know, wearing your expert hat, you would advise every organization to adopt some of these principles and become more quote radical. Is that, is that one of the feces in the book?
Matt K. Parker (14:15):
Yeah, absolutely. You know, and you know, that was an open question I had going into it. I certainly had my own experiences with radical collaboration, but I did have this question. How far does it go? Does it only make sense in certain places? Would it break down? But I think ultimately when you step back and say that this is fundamentally about a paradigm of partnership and equality in the workplace, it becomes obvious not only that, that would apply in so many different places and so many different organizations and industries, and it would make sense there, but that, that it would actually supercharge the organization. Because once you start centering an organization around that paradigm, right, you start treating people like humans, not like robots, right. You start creating an organization, which is fundamentally based on the idea that they will be productive to the extent that people feel passionate, that they’re following their intrinsic motivat and really engaging in them that you create this sort of very powerful vehicle for innovation.
Matt K. Parker (15:17):
Then it becomes hard to say like, well, where wouldn’t you want that? Where would you want people to be disengaged and mistrustful and lacking? Meaning like, where would you want that? Well, nowhere, right? Like you would want the opposite of that. Pretty much in any organization, assuming you want the organization to succeed, you can even see these ideas of radical collaboration in places like the military, right? The military is known for command and control hierarchy or rigid hierarchies, et cetera. But if you read books, like turn the ship around, which I’m sure many of your listeners have checked out by Lieutenant David Ark, like these ideas behind radical collaboration, ideas like pushing authority to information are, are, are seen to succeed even in places like the military. So, yeah, so it’s hard for me to imagine a place where you wouldn’t want this fundamental shift in the way people collaborate and work with each other because there’s so much economic benefit, organizational benefit and human benefit that goes with it.
Dan Turchin (16:18):
Talk about implicit threats in the workplace, in the book, talk about some of those common implicit threats. And specifically, I mentioned in the opener, you know, in the context of the great resignation, a lot of employees are rethinking, what’s reasonable to expect from an employer, from a workplace. What are the, what are some of the the indicators that, that that you’re in an environment where they’re implicit threats?
Matt K. Parker (16:45):
Yeah. So I do speak to, well, I think fundamentally most corporate workplaces, traditional corporate workplaces are structured today by and large, around implicit, as opposed to explicit threats, right? Maybe this wasn’t the case a hundred years ago, maybe it was very explicit do this, or you’re fired right. Kind of workplace what the boss says goes or else. And I think a lot of people find themselves in workplaces that fundamentally aren’t actually that different. Right. But the, the way that manifests is much more implicit, right. Workplaces that are today based on quote unquote good management practices, like performing annual performance evaluations, compensation adjustments, right. And pay for performance schemes and bonus schemes, et cetera. Ultimately, those are all still fundamentally places in which they attempt to motivate a workforce with carrots and sticks. Right? So in those kind of places, you’re often asked to do thing by someone in power with a smile, but you know, that there is an implicit threat behind it that there’s a performance evaluation around the corner or a performance improvement plan with your name on it, if you don’t get it right now.
Matt K. Parker (17:49):
and so I think, I think a lot of people have woken up to the fact that there’s something fundamentally off about that, that that’s demotivating to be in a place like that. And it’s actually needless, right. That way of organizing work. I mean, if you think about manufacturing a hundred years ago, maybe you could say that there’s, there was at least a rationale behind it, right. You could say like, okay, they had, they were building this thing and they were gonna build a thousand of ’em. They were trying to figure out how to mass produce it. So, you know, maybe scientific management, even though it was ultimately dehumanizing and self-defeating, you could at least imagine the rationale behind it. But when you start to apply those same ideas to the domain of knowledge, work, the domain of programming and software development a world in which it’s fundamentally volatile in which the needs of the users that you’re building for are ever shifting and ever changing right.
Matt K. Parker (18:42):
In which requires a great deal of creativity, innovation, collaboration, how could you possibly try and apply an outdated idea, like command and control dynamics and scientific management to a workforce like that. It it’s of course going to fail. And it has been failing for a long time. Productivity has been going down for quite a long time now, because disengagement has been going up right today. Now 84% of people are disengaged in their jobs. That’s a startlingly bad number, right? Like it’s just, it’s almost unfathomable that we would go about day to day, not, not waking up every day saying, oh my God. Right? Like, and in fact, that’s, what’s happened now people have woken up and we’re seeing phenomena like the great resignation we’re seeing people saying enough is enough. There’s gotta be you something better here.
Dan Turchin (19:32):
If you’re talking to an audience that mostly consists of technologists and investors, and in general, I’d refer to it. Most of us as desk jockeys in a book, you talk about some of the differences between creating a positive work environment in, let’s say a manufacturing setting or a blue collar setting versus white collar. Talk to us about how the principles in the book apply differently to jobs in state of manufacturing sector.
Matt K. Parker (20:01):
Yeah. Okay. Well, I think, I think they certainly, they seem to manifest differently. Although there’s a, there’s a caveat there that I’ll mention, but the two most prominent manufacturing organizations that I mentioned in the book higher which is the appliance manufacturer, I mentioned a minute ago and Morningstar, which is the number one tomato processor in the world. Right? So taking a, every, every year’s crops of tomatoes and turning them into puree, it dices, tomatoes, et cetera. Those two are both self-managing companies, radically collaborative organizations, and the way they structure their work, wasn’t like the way I was seeing it inside, right at the collaborative technology organizations map black systems actually is a third manufacturer that I mentioned in the book. So if If we look at higher in map black systems, for instance, you can see that fundamentally they’re, they’re using a lot of market based mechanisms.
Matt K. Parker (20:52):
They’re essentially taking a lot of what’s good about free market economics on a global level, the good, not the bad stuff. Cause I know there’s plenty of bad stuff we could point at too, but the good things about it, the idea of independent economic agents being able to autonomously compete or collaborate on an open market freely with agency that that idea they’ve taken an internalized. And so at map black systems, for instance, you can see that turn into a fractal organizational model in which every single employee in the company becomes an individual company of one owns their own sort of profit and loss payment balance sheet. And ultimately the pay they a take home, which is much higher than their, their industry peers, by the way, is a function of the value they create, right? So there’s this implicit sort of profit sharing baked into their model hire does something different, but they don’t do it at an individual level.
Matt K. Parker (21:39):
They do it at a micro enterprise level. So teams of 10 to 15 people, sometimes full fledged mini companies within the company <affirmative> are, are, they have their own profit and loss statements and balance sheets and stuff like that. And they’re ultimately taking home their pay based on the value they’re creating. And that sort of market based mechanism is also dictating, which of these micro enterprises are moving forward and which ones are dissolving, right. And which people are spreading out and going to other sort of more profitable areas of the business. So I think that’s what I saw in a lot of manufacturing companies. However, I saw different mechanisms at play inside technology organizations. On the one hand, you can still see a lot of team based autonomy inside most technology organizations that have radically collaborative sort of structure. But pay for instance tended to be such a clear cut.
Matt K. Parker (22:30):
Like I individually made a certain amount of value in a value stream. And therefore I take home a certain amount of money. They would tend to use things like the dimming pay system named after w Edward stemming, one of the forefathers of lean manufacturing which is really a pay system that fundamentally says it’s nonsense to try and pay individuals within a system as if we could measure an individual’s impact on the system. Most of the impact that it, that you think is that you think you can apply or say is belongs to an individual within a system is actually has a lot more to do with the system itself. Whereas diming would say, he said he has a great quote, something like a bad and will be a good employee every time. Right. so it’s this idea, the sort of most more systems theory lens that I saw at play in a lot of technology organizations.
Matt K. Parker (23:19):
And so when they would apply something like the dimming pay system, they would say, you know what, the value we create in total as a total system, that’s what gets reflected and E of our individual pay. And so they would have sort of set salaries and set raises, right? They were very transparent, open, no one had any question about how much money people made, because all you had to know was how long had they been there and how many raise cycles had they gone through? And you would know what they made, right. There was no attempt to create any sort of quote unquote meritocracy within it. Cuz they believe that that was all kind of bump in the end. So I don’t know, those are some of the differences I saw within these, within these two different sort of, you know, the manufacturing world versus a technology organization world.
Dan Turchin (24:04):
So let me challenge you on that management philosophy. So there’s this thing called the Hawthorne effect came from a study of the Hawthorne works factory in in Illinois, in the 1920s where they found that workers were more productive when careful when they perceived, they were being carefully watched by management. So let’s say you are coaching managers in a manufacturing facility and you give them those great examples, Morningstar, you know, et cetera, you say, Hey look, you know, here, examples of how less a self-managing organization is more productive. And they say, well, you know, the only way to get the most productivity outta my team is if they know that, you know, they’re, they’re being watched carefully. Who’s who’s right.
Matt K. Parker (24:50):
Yeah. Well they’re both right. And I’ll tell you why. Okay. So in a, in a, in a place where you see the Hawthorne effect happening where productivity actually goes up the more the managers like micromanage and observe and measure and you know, do all the scientific management techniques, you’re actually witnessing theory. the self-fulfilling prophecy of theory X, maybe you’re some of your listeners, I’ve heard of theory X and theory, Y right theory X, the X is a sort of pictorial pneumonic. You can imagine a worker crossing their arms in front of them and saying, I’m not gonna work unless you force me to, unless you, you know, give me carrots or beat me with sticks, right? Like it it’s very much the belief that workers are inherently lazy and unmotivated. And unless you, the manager does something to motivate them, either with incentives or disincentives, they aren’t going to perform well.
Matt K. Parker (25:38):
Well, the truth is that’s, that’s, that’s not true in the beginning, right? People are inherently intrinsically motivated. And this is born out by the last set years of behavioral science research and a motivation theory or into motivat human motivation. But what we have discovered is that that inborn intrinsic motivation can be attenuated and even basically destroyed by coercive environments. So if you believe that people are inherently lazy and then you act that way toward them as a manager and you create a whole sort of environment based on carrots and sticks, you will eventually create an environment in which people are lazy in which they are unmotivated because you’ll have sapped all the intrinsic motivation out of them, right? You will have attenuated it to the point of destruction, right? Sometimes it’s almost UN coverable. It’s a really fragile and really precious human resource that can be destroyed by coercive environments. And so I think that’s what we’re witnessing when we see something like the Hawthorne effect, right? Cause you, you can go in and measure that sort of thing, but only in an environment that’s already gone way too far in the wrong direction and would need a lot of rehabilitation to get back outta it.
Dan Turchin (26:52):
We talk a lot on this podcast about trends in the workplace, the future of work and work behaviors. But we also talk about the potential impact of new technology. Any examples of innovative uses of technology that you would say enable greater productivity or kind of power these radically collaborative environments?
Matt K. Parker (27:14):
Hmm. Yeah. I wish I had a good answer here. Now, many of these organizations are doing innovative technology things, right? Like hire is not only the number one appliance manufacturer, but the are increasingly the leader in smart appliance, manufacturing and internet of things. There’s another organization pod group. And the, that I profile in the book a little bit, they’re also an internet of things manufacturers. So some of them are playing in the, in very sort of cutting edge technology spaces, doing a lot of artificial intelligence machine learning stuff. However, the underlying secrets to their success. I don’t think you can point to any specific technologies to say at least, you know, like digital technologies or anything to say, that’s what that’s, what’s enabling it. It’s in fact, a lot of human to human interactions and practices structured and unstructured that creating this sort of radical collaborative environment, that’s supercharging innovation.
Matt K. Parker (28:08):
That’s creating these sort of circles of trust between people and really allowing people to take risks, to fail, to try again. Right. You know, I mean, if you think about someone like Thomas Edison, right? Why do we all know who Thomas Edison is? Because he failed more than anyone else else. Right. Which actually helped them get to a successful product. Right. and a lot of these organizations are creating the same kind of environment environments in which people can fail quickly, can iterate quickly until they find the thing that is succeeding and running forth in the market. And they’re doing that through practices that engender a lot of on the ground trust support, and ultimately collective collaboration, innovation.
Dan Turchin (28:54):
So a lot of this seems pretty pretty, pretty radical. Let’s say you’re talking to an audience of a bunch of managers who maybe, you know, they’re not in their heads saying it generally seems reasonable, but where do I start? I mean, is, it’s such a cataclysmic shift in the way we think about organizations. You know, let’s say the endpoint is a self-managing organization. What’s the starting point.
Matt K. Parker (29:17):
Yeah. Well, I think there’s good news and bad news here. The good news is there’s lots of starting points. The bad news is there’s lots of starting points. It’s right. And so it can almost seem daunting. Right? I try to show the stories in the book, like some of the, about half the organizations in my book started out not as radically collaborative organizations, but instead ITER towards that and evolved it over time. And I try to tell those stories as best I can in the book to give people inspiration and ideas. The good news is for starters, if a, if a management team decided they wanted to shift their organization from, you know, top down control to self-management, self-organizing the radically radical collaboration, the best thing they can do is not do that themselves. <Laugh> like for the same reasons that that trying to force something on someone else with all the best intentions often backfires in your face, it would backfire here too, right?
Matt K. Parker (30:19):
You can’t, you can’t say we’re gonna to create a radical collaborative environment in which people have security, autonomy, fairness to stuff, esteem, trust, belongingness, and that’s in turn going to supercharge our innovation. You can’t, you can’t do that while also forcing it on people. It has to be a collaboration. And so empirically, we can say that there are three primary transformation methods that, that seemed to be working in the world today. One of them is a bottom up transformation strategy in which really there is no one at the top saying, I want this to happen. And yet success created at successive layers throughout the organization from bottom up, actually create a sort of flywheel effect in which the Chan transformation becomes unstop. So that’s one type that’s happening in the world. It’s maybe not the most common because it’s scary, right. And can be squashed by overwhelming power from the top, but it is happening.
Matt K. Parker (31:11):
And I think that’s good for us to know. The second broadly speaking transformation strategy that’s having success is one in which there is some enlightened leader at the top supporting it and a groundswell of support from the bottom iterating, trying and innovating on the organizational structure to create the grounds for radical collaboration. And self-management the third approach is something that is being pioneered by a consulting agency in Europe called K2 K. And they are essentially the organizations is that wanna go down. This road are going to K2, K and K2, K is coming in and say, okay, we’re going to shut down your company for a week. We’re gonna take everyone in your company to go visit other progressive organizations, radical collaborative organizations. You’re gonna learn everything you can from them for the next week. You’re gonna come back together. And a pointed group of people are going to essentially put together a set of recommendations for how you’re gonna go about this.
Matt K. Parker (32:02):
And then you’re gonna take a vote the company. And if 80% of you want to go forward with it, then you can, right. Otherwise it failed, right? So that’s actually something that’s being pioneered right now and sounds kind of crazy. And also <laugh> really awesome and adventurous at the same time. That’s actually working right now in the world as well. So I don’t think there’s one size fits all. I think you can start in many different places. I like to say that radical collaboration really does start with each one of us, right? It doesn’t matter how draconian your workplace is, how toxic it is. There isn’t anything that stops you from adopting a mindset of partnership and equality from treating the person, sitting next to you with respect and trust and giving them the autonomy, security, fairness esteem that they deserve as as a fellow human being and trying to get the same thing in return.
Matt K. Parker (32:51):
It really does start with you in creating that sort of mindset. That doesn’t mean I don’t, I’m not one of those people that thinks that, you know, people should try to be here inside a truly toxic workplace and, you know, change, change everything from the ground up. I think that’s foolish, right? Like there, there are clearly times where you should cut your losses and move on and go to somewhere else. But I don’t think that’s maybe the majority of workplaces around the world. I think a lot of workplaces are actually filled with a lot of people. Who’ve if you got them one on one and asked them what, how they felt about everything, they would feel a lot like you feel. And that’s actually a really powerful place to be because everyone recognizes this. Isn’t good. We could do so much better. Right. Then there is hope that you can actually make something happen within your workplace right now, you know, and you can take that a step further, not only from adopting an individual mindset, but to now try radically collaborative meeting practices, for instance.
Matt K. Parker (33:44):
Right. And they’re simple. I fact, I just wrote an article that maybe you could share in your show notes or something like that for helping people get started with a radically collaborative meeting. And of course that, that isn’t going to change the world or change your organization. But I, I had to say that those kinds of experiences tend to be addictive. They tend to catch on, they tend to spread within an organization because they’re fun because they make us feel like something better is possible because they help us experience something better. and then people just wanna naturally do it again, try it more, see where else they can apply it. So anyways, those are, those are some of the places I recommend starting
Dan Turchin (34:25):
Matt, you just became the spokesperson for the next generation of work. I want, I want you to use as as many soap boxes as you have access to, to preach the gospel of of radically collaborative and, or organizations. Just beautiful to hear you describe what’s ahead. I’m not letting you off the hot seat without telling our listeners a little bit more about the book where they can get it. Anything additional that you’d like to share about where they can learn more about some of the principles you discussed today?
Matt K. Parker (34:59):
Yeah, absolutely. Well, the book itself is out and you can buy it on Amazon. It’s called a radical enterprise, pioneering the future of high performance. You can go to Barnes and noble or to your local bookstore and probably find it it’s even an airport. So if you’re happen to be flying around, check the bookstore in your airport and beyond the book, there’s also a new and quickly growing slack community that I created for the, for people interested in these ideas it’s named after the book, but it it’s really meant to be a space for people excited by the ideas of radical collaboration and self-management to get together, to collaborate, to share stories, experiences, what worked and what didn’t. So that’s another way that you can I think get more involved and you can find that, but just going my website, Matt K parker.com the publisher that I publish with it revolution, as you mentioned, they’re doing a book club. It starts in a it it’s running from March 24th into April. So I’m not sure when this podcast comes out, but if it comes out before then or during then just go check it out, sign up. There’s both an asynchronous aspect to it where you can just chat asynchronously with other people, and then there will be live sessions as well. So definitely check that out.
Dan Turchin (36:15):
So Matt, this book’s gonna be wild, these successful, and of course, we’re gonna have you come back to tell us about the sequel, give us a, give us a preview of coming attractions. What what if, if you hypothetically come out with the sequel, what what was left on the cutting room floor that would, would would be good, good topics for the next one?
Matt K. Parker (36:35):
Yeah, well, you know, I am in my consulting work that I’m doing right now with an enterprise, I am very much trying to navigate really what it takes to go from here to there, right. What it takes to go from hierarchy to hierarchy and what that looks like specifically within this organization, what kind of conversations to start with? What kind of things to focus on at first, I’ve discovered that a great deal of both pain, frustration, and tension within a lot of higher organizations is due to the lack of around what someone’s job is and what they actually have authority to make decisions about. This certainly speaks to my own experience. In fact, on the back of the book, I put that what’s amazing about these radically collaborative workplaces. One of the things that’s amazing about them is the complete lack of corporate bullshit.
Matt K. Parker (37:30):
And I know that’s a strong word, but I think anyone who has experienced bullshit within a large enterprise knows what I’m talking about. And and what I, what I mean is that in so many large companies, you discover that, you know, you may not have power to solve a problem. And then the people you talked to who you thought had power to solve it also don’t seem to have any power, right? It seems like all you can find are people that are empowered to say no to stuff, but who is actually empowered to say, yes, well, a lot of this is due to the lack of clarity that people have have around what their job is. And what is the domain of authority associated with that job? Oh, I am a product manager on a team. Therefore I get to make decisions about a product backlog.
Matt K. Parker (38:10):
Oh, you’re a portfolio manager. You get to make decisions about high level success criteria as across a portfolio. Right? Whatever it is actually that turns out to be a really great place to start with it, doesn’t solve all the problems, but just getting that clear and discovering, okay, now that we have some clarity, we can just see that these three different roles are all intention with each other, cuz they all believe they can make a decision about the exact same thing. No wonder we’re so dysfunctional. That turns out to be a really powerful place to start. So I think it’s stuff like that. As I dive into sort of my own consulting work, I’m trying to get ideas for sort of a more like workbook style, pragmatic things that people can try within their company to move the needle forward.
Dan Turchin (38:52):
There you have it. It’s a great Matt Kay Parker. And you know, you are coming back. Talk about the sequel, right? I’m committing you to it.
Matt K. Parker (39:00):
I’d love to Dan. Thank you.
Dan Turchin (39:02):
Good. This was so much fun, Matt. Thanks for coming. And and hanging out that’s a wrap for this week. This is your host Dan urchin of AI and the future of work we’re back next week with another fascinating guest.