What if you could change the way your company operates, even if you’re not the CEO? Aaron Dignan believes it’s possible, and in this episode he’s offering a wealth of insights into how organizations are run, the perils of stagnant bureaucracy, and all the various hurdles keeping us from doing our best work.
Now Available on: YouTube | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Transcript
As the founder of The Ready – a global organizational transformation and coaching practice – Dignan helps companies large and small adopt new forms of self-organization and dynamic teaming. He’s worked with clients such as American Express, Microsoft, Citibank, Hyatt, Johnson & Johnson, Airbnb, and Sweetgreen. He’s also an active angel investor who helps build partnerships between the startups and end-ups he advises. Dignan is also the author of Brave New Work, co-host of the Brave New Work podcast and founder of Murmur.
Here are a few highlights from our conversation:
I mean feedback essentially is tension, it’s dynamism in the system, and you can quite literally make the argument that life, being alive is about needing feedback. Everything you touch as you walk, as you listen, as you feel the air on your skin, as you communicate with others, as you run, there are millions of points of feedback, entering and leaving your brain.
…when a metric becomes a goal, it ceases to become a good metric. The idea is that we’re optimizing for something that is a proxy for reality instead of reality itself.
If you actually bring multiple perspectives to the table and they integrate themselves, your likelihood of describing reality goes way, way up, actual reality, not your reality.
So a permission culture is a culture where you guessed it, you have to ask permission to do anything. So the default assumption is you can’t do anything until you’re told that you can.
What’s cool about building a constraints based culture is when you eliminate all those risk surfaces that are, what we call not safe to try or fatal, what’s left is, all this space to think.
00:00 – Intro
01:32 – What’s stopping us from doing our best work
03:50 – Benefits of a hierarchical organization
05:57 – How do organizations lose their way
10:08 – Dealing with third-party timelines
14:02 – On feedback loops
16:51 – How organizations sabotage themselves
20:30 – The paradox of company values
21:30 – On always following procedures
27:10 – Principles vs. values
29:05 – On dealing with information hoarders
36:30 – Why don’t people take risks
40:26 – Positive habits for a well-run company
48:40 – Permission vs. constraint cultures
01:00:30 – Mistakes people make with decisions
01:05:11 – On running retrospectives
01:09:00 – What Jr. employees can do to make a change
01:15:50 – Big companies don’t exist