I am thoroughly enjoying my extended study leave! It is such a privilege to engage in un-rushed, dedicated time to read inspiring writings that both challenge and stretch my thinking. In the busyness of a scheduled life, we don’t often have the discretionary time to hit ‘pause’ and actually ponder what has just been read.
Here’s one such tidbit I came across while enjoying undisrupted reading time on a 4½ hour flight home from Toronto. Stanford Business Books share the following story: Matt Fineout, a Project Architect, worked for two days trying to reduce the square footage in a building he was designing. At the end of the time he had created an acceptable reduced plan…then he ripped up the paper containing the layout. His explanation was, “We proved we can do it, now we want to think about how we want to do it.” (Managing by Design) Just think how innovative we can be once we realize we can survive in this new way of working; how exciting when we get to the place of not just surviving, but actually thriving!
I’m two and a half months into my research leave. So far I have engaged in the following: twenty four one-on-one interviews, five books read*, three Design Thinking courses completed through IDF, and several academic papers consumed. Perhaps it’s time to hit pause and share some initial insights gleaned as well as questions I continue to ponder.
- While a focus on people is important, it is also vital to create processes. How might we encourage leaders to create these processes in collaboration with their team members?
- Many managers are tired and starting to experience burn-out. They have the same responsibilities as before, but now have the added need to build into their people who are both remote and co-located. As many organizations move forward with hybrid formats, how might utilizing a more agile approach with sprints be more effective?
- One size does not fit all. We can’t rigidly state that remote is the right option…each organization needs to decide the best configuration for their unique culture and context.
- Freedom comes with responsibility, autonomy comes with accountability. When someone chooses to work for an organization and be part of a team, it is imperative to realize that freedom and autonomy are contingent on being responsible and accountable to the team…no matter where their work gets done. How might we facilitate a conversation among team members and leaders to clarify what this looks like?
- Many organizations are giving managers responsibility to figure out the best way to make hybrid work for their unique teams. How might design thinking serve them well in creating processes, and open the door to more innovative practices?
- There seems to be a disconnect between upper level leadership and the workload of middle managers. How might we more effectively bridge that gap and help those leaders learn how to support their managers.
- More focus needs to be paid to biases. Many leaders are blind to such ways of thinking due to years of mental models that ignore these tendencies. How might we support leaders as they work through unintentional biases?
So this is what I’m hearing, learning, and pondering so far. I don’t have answers, but believe that creating the right questions will help an emerging hybrid or work-from-anywhere workforce find their way to incredibly innovative ways of working. Perhaps the stories of those I interview, paired with relevant readings will provide further insight.
Books read so far: