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Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

How to Create an Amazing Brand with Michael Roderick

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Michael Roderick to discuss brand strategy and his work around creating “referrable brands.” This conversation covers a wide range of topics related to brand strategy, including his AIM model which stands for Accessibility, Influence, and Memory. We apply this framework to a variety of business examples, including my own efforts at Zander Media. I hope you enjoy!

Podcast Notes:

3:30 Michael’s background
Robin refers to:
Made To Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
6:30 How Michael and Robin know each other
Responsive Conference
Responsive Org Manifesto
10:30 Teaching and learning
15:30 Transitioning from teaching to starting a business
Michael mentions:
Linchpin by Seth Godin
18:15 Michael’s talk at Disrupt HR
20:45 Referrable brands: Accessibility, Influence, and Memory
24:00 Michael’s podcast
26:30 Applying AIM to Zander Media
30:15 Influence
34:00 Memory
40:00 Lin Manuel Miranda, Geico, and Apple
46:15 Find more about Michael:
Small Pond Enterprises
LinkedIn
47:45 Find more about Robin:
Zander Media
Responsive Conference
Robin Zander Show Podcast
Newsletter – Personal
Newsletter – Responsive

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Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive Robins Cafe Special Needs

How to Ask Better Questions with Daniel Stillman and Robin Zander

In this episode, my friend, Daniel Stillman, interviews me for his podcast, The Conversation Factory. We discuss how to ask better questions, the value of loving, non- judgmental questions, and my story.

I hope you enjoy today’s podcast as Daniel flips the script and interviews me on the art of asking questions.

Line Notes

1:15 How Robin describes himself

5:15 Responsive Org

Mentions:

Responsive.org

DonorsChoose.org

10:00 How do you define learning?

14:30 Asking loving questions

17:45 Practice versus performance intervals

22:30 Physical and emotional pain

Mentions:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini

24:30 Asking loving questions

29:00 Robin’s interest in asking questions

32:30 Anat Baniel

37:00 The Option Institute

40:45 Categories of questions

Mentions:

Larissa Conte at Responsive Conference

45:15 Robin’s Cafe

47:00 Find Robin:

Categories
Culture Learning Responsive

Larissa Conte on Ritual and Transformation

Larissa Conte is a systems coach, ceremony designer, and rites of passage guide through her business, Wayfinding. She also works with The Ready doing organization transformation to fuel the future of work. Larissa specializes in facilitating transformation and alignment across scales to foster power that serves.

With deep experience in the energetics and mechanics of transformation, Larissa helps individuals and groups develop refined sensing and listening, shed what no longer serves, and dynamically steward greater creative energy in their lives and companies. Her work weaves 10+ years of experience in the diverse fields of leadership coaching, organizational culture consulting, ecosystems science, strategy design, holistic healing/wellness, ceremony, somatic intimacy coaching, and wilderness survival. She’s worked with hundreds of leaders across startups and the Fortune 100, and is based in San Francisco.

As change agents, within or outside of organizations, attendees of Responsive Conference are those most responsible for other’s transformation. Onstage at this year’s conference, Larissa will invite us to consider our own blind spots, and the taboos we are failing to address that keep us from doing our best work.

Show Notes
3:00 Thinking and sensing
7:30 Physical injuries and emotional challenges

  • Mentions: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

9:45 Wayfinding
13:00 Moved by feeling
17:30 Minimum amount of challenge for maximum change
19:15 Rite of passage
23:45 Larissa’s personal rituals
26:30 Beginnings and endings
30:00 Closing a meeting
31:15 What is going on culturally
36:30 Tensions coming to the surface
42:00 Unique voice

45:30 Redefine mastery
48:00 Resources:

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Creative Culture Entrepreneurship Podcast Responsive

Responsive Audiobook: Chapter 10, Conclusion

I’m excited to share a chapter of my book, Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization. The full audiobook version of Responsive comes out in late September 2018, but in the meantime, I am excited to share it in podcast form.

Here’s an excerpt:

To tackle 21st-century challenges organizations may need to structure themselves quite differently than they have historically.

Throughout this book, we have seen a wide variety of examples of Responsive principles in practice. A common theme is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to how we structure the organizations of today. Instead, each of us must find a level of comfort with the particular Responsive systems and processes that support our needs. If an organization’s leaders can be honest with themselves about current realities—what is working and what isn’t—they may find that to remain adaptable requires changes to their organizational structure.

A resilient organization adapts itself, constantly, to the ecosystem within which it exists. The era of Taylor’s principles of scientific management is over; but instead of disregarding Taylorism or any models for organizing, a Responsive organization keeps in mind those ideas without losing sight of the new demands placed upon organizations today.

If you’ve enjoyed this chapter of Responsive, you can purchase a Kindle or print version of the book on Amazon. And be sure to check out the Responsive Conference, coming up September 24-25th in Queens, NY.

Categories
Culture Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Responsive Audiobook: Chapter 9, Diversity and Inclusion

I’m excited to share a chapter of my book, Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization. The full audiobook version of Responsive comes out in late September 2018, but in the meantime, I am excited to share it in podcast form.

Here’s an excerpt:

You might think that disruptive, forward thinking, companies like Uber and Google would have addressed inclusion and diversity. But Uber has faced a slew of recent challenges: including well-documented allegations of sexual misconduct throughout the company. Meanwhile, Google, is facing Department of Labor allegations about extreme gender pay disparities. Outside of technology, too, this problem is pervasive. More cases of sexual harassment, in fields ranging from journalism to government, are becoming public with increasing regularity.

Diversity and inclusion issues range well beyond gender and include discrimination related to race, religion and disability to name a few. Companies need to be open to listening to employee concerns about inclusion, and fostering environments that encourage dissenting viewpoints. Organizations should strive to create environments in which people can thrive.

Diversity and inclusion are complex concepts, and a full discussion of their impacts exceeds the scope of this book. What’s relevant for Responsive organizations is that diversity of opinions can create higher-performing teams, and that diverse populations continue to experience discrimination and exclusion.

If you’ve enjoyed this chapter of Responsive, you can purchase a Kindle or print version of the book on Amazon. And be sure to check out the Responsive Conference, coming up September 24-25th in Queens, NY.

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Creative Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Responsive Audiobook: Chapter 8, Transparency

I’m excited to share a chapter of my book, Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization.

The full audiobook version of Responsive comes out in late September 2018, but in the meantime, I am excited to share it in podcast form.

Here’s an excerpt:

Lessons in Transparency

Just Try It On

Not every company is going to immediately experiment with the transparency of normally private data. The specifics of a particular industry matter, and regulated industries may not always have a choice about what they are obliged or forbidden to share.

But it is a common trend for Responsive organizations to at least experiment with the openness of information. Information is a critical factor in empowering all people within the company to do their jobs well. Transparency can change mindsets, broaden people’s perspectives, and create positive effects on culture. If making information public is not an option, consider making more information available internally.

Leverage Technology

Technology is both a driver of growth and a challenge for Responsive companies. Technology is disrupting entire industries and changing consumer patterns and communication possibilities globally. No edict says companies must be fully transparent, and yet the world is increasingly connected. Data and knowledge that are guarded heavily may be leaked or accidentally distributed despite best efforts and it can be useful to recognize and adapt to this fact. Organizations willing to proactively explore how technology and data openness can create benefits are a step ahead of those more guarded and reluctant to embrace the realities of technology progression.

If you’ve enjoyed this chapter of Responsive, you can purchase a Kindle or print version of the book on Amazon. And be sure to check out the Responsive Conference, coming up September 24-25th in Queens, NY.

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Creative Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Responsive Audiobook: Chapter 7, How to Experiment

I’m excited to share a chapter of my book, Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization.

The full audiobook version of Responsive comes out in late September 2018, but in the meantime, I am excited to share it in podcast form.

Here’s an excerpt:

How to Experiment

Experimentation is at the heart of any Responsive organization. The goal is to react quickly with the best information at hand, and then respond to feedback, whether it be from clients, the market or employees.  The following three components are needed before companies can experiment successfully.

Trust

A vital component of any organization that wants to experiment is trust in the people actually doing the work. There was a point in catering the first annual Responsive Conference where the outcome was simply out of my control and I had to trust the people to whom I had given authority. In Buffer’s experiments with remote work, there was a willingness to trust that their employees would be productive outside of a traditional office setting. Had things gone poorly, they could always have moved back to a single location.

Culture

Culture is the second principle which makes a successful experimental company. General Electric couldn’t have embarked on the changes former CEO Jeff Immelt ushered in without a willingness to experiment with new visions, plans, and actions (see Chapter 6). While opinions of success vary, depending on whether we’re considering shareholder value or improved culture, GE is now a more agile company with a more human-focused culture than it had before.

Similarly, at Culture Amp, it took Didier Elzinga’s thoughtfulness and a company focused on the well-being of people, to leave behind a model of compensation that did not suit the needs of that organization.

Incremental Change

Finally, incremental change can be used to ease the process of implementing Responsive principles. Incremental change can minimize losses and maximize learning from “failed” experiments and allow successful trials to be quickly built upon, scaled, or improved further. This doesn’t mean all Responsive change must be small (as we’ll see in the next chapter), but it is important to factor in the gains afforded by small cumulative adaptations.

If you’ve enjoyed this chapter of Responsive, you can purchase a Kindle or print version of the book on Amazon. And be sure to check out the Responsive Conference, coming up September 24-25th in Queens, NY.

Categories
Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Responsive Audiobook: Chapter 6, Controlling and Empowering

I’m excited to share a chapter of my book, Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization.

The full audiobook version of Responsive comes out in late September 2018, but in the meantime, I am excited to share it in podcast form.

Here’s an excerpt:

Characteristics of a Cult—or Any Poorly Run Company

The mechanisms that cults use to attract and keep members are actually used by all organizations to some degree. Cults just do things in extremes.

  • Cults place a “high demand” on their members, progressively raising the bar as people move toward the inner circles of the organization.
  • They allow for varying degrees of commitment and involvement, but the more members become involved within the organization, the more external communities are forbidden.
  • Cults are ideologically intense and offer simplistic answers.
  • They encourage conformity within the organization.

Cults are jealous of inclusion in other organizations and actively try to shut down member’s participation in alternative communities.

If you’ve enjoyed this chapter of Responsive, you can purchase a Kindle or print version of the book on Amazon. And be sure to check out the Responsive Conference, coming up September 24-25th in Queens, NY.

Categories
Culture Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Responsive Audiobook: Chapter 5, Leadership

I’m excited to share a chapter of my book, Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization.

The full audiobook version of Responsive comes out in late September 2018, but in the meantime, I am excited to share it in podcast form.

Here’s an excerpt:

Each person must determine how they will lead, but that leadership always stems from character and values. The leadership demonstrated by Stanley McChrystal, Pam Slim, and Adam Pisoni is rooted in what they personally value. The particulars of how that leadership materializes will vary depending on the situation, but an organization can’t surpass the quality of its leadership. As Chris Fussell has said of the team of teams approach, leader behavior is the essential element that allows a plan to succeed. Investing in leadership—your own and that of your teams—can only pay dividends in the long run.

If you’ve enjoyed this chapter of Responsive, you can purchase a Kindle or print version of the book on Amazon. And be sure to check out the Responsive Conference, coming up September 24-25th in Queens, NY.

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Creative Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Responsive Audiobook: Chapter 4, How We Organize

I’m excited to share a chapter of my book, Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization.

The full audiobook version of Responsive comes out in late September 2018, but in the meantime, I am excited to share it in podcast form.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the past there were big and complex tasks that required many people working on them. The ‘transaction costs’ involved to get coordination between people was high, so the concept of a Manager was introduced. As the number of Managers increased, a Manager of the Managers was created… and hierarchies formed.

This resulted in order, clarity of authority, rank, and power. They reinforced a single primary connection: manager to worker, and enabled a command and control style of leadership that was terrifically successful during the industrial era.

If you’ve enjoyed Chapter 4 of Responsive, you can purchase a Kindle or print version of the book on Amazon. And be sure to check out the Responsive Conference, coming up September 24-25th in Queens, NY.

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Culture Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Chris Fussell & Rachel Mendelowitz of the McChrystal Group at Responsive Conference 2016

I hope you enjoy this talk from Responsive Conference 2016 with former Navy SEAL and New York Times best-selling author Chris Fussell (@fussellchris) alongside Rachel Mendelowitz (@rachelowitz) as they discuss “Team of Teams” and new ways of organizing companies of the future.

Alongside General Stan McChrystal, Chris runs the McChrystal Group – an organizational design consultancy that works with companies all over the world to do in industry what Stan, Chris and the US Military did during the Iraq War. In the book Teams of Teams, Stanley McChrystal and Chris outline how they took the special operations branch of the US Military – a stereotypically bureaucratic organization – and transformed it into a adaptive, agile system.

This video was recorded at the 1st Annual Responsive Conference in 2016.

Learn more:
http://responsiveconference.com

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Creative Culture Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Responsive Audiobook: Chapter 3, Purpose

I’m very pleased to share, exclusively for this podcast, a chapter of my book, Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization. The full audiobook version of Responsive comes out in late September 2018, but in the meantime, I am excited to share it out in podcast form.

Here’s an excerpt. Subscribe and listen to The Robin Zander Show for the full chapter!

The Morning Star Company

Doug Kirkpatrick was one of the earliest employees at The Morning Star Company. Founded in 1990, Morning Star would go on to trailblaze self-management in business. But as might be expected of any start-up, let alone one committed to innovative management, the company’s early days were intense times.

Morning Star is a tomato-ingredients manufacturer based out of Sacramento, California. The agribusiness and food-processing industries are notoriously old-school, known for strict command and control structures and rigid bureaucracies. The small group of employees who initiated the Morning Star project had a six-month window to start up the first factory and had committed to beginning operations on a specified day and even at a specific hour. They were a high-performance group, and Doug describes those initial weeks as a high state of flow, with each person striving cooperatively to bring the new company into existence. The company consisted of seasoned employees, and Doug, at thirty-four, was considered quite young.

Several months before the factory opened, the owner of The Morning Star Company, Chris Rufer, called a leadership meeting. The Morning Star founder and twenty-four members of the team met on the job site. They pulled steel folding chairs into a circle, and Chris passed around a page titled “Morning Star Colleague Principles.”

The sheet included just two points:

  •      Don’t use force.
  •      Keep your commitments.

The group spent several hours discussing what these principles meant. Questions cropped up. What happens if you have to fire somebody? What if someone quits? In the end, no one found a reason to reject these ideas, and every person there had reasons to embrace them.

Together, the group concluded that these two points were necessary and sufficient, and they would make up the core of all human interactions at the company. Adopting these principles wouldn’t change the day-to-day operations of the nascent company, but they’d have clear guideposts by which they’d proceed.

What they perhaps didn’t fully process at that moment (and what Doug has spent his career implementing, first at Morning Star and now with companies all over the world) was the far-reaching ramifications of adopting those simple principles. Consider, for example, that “Don’t Use Force” effectively implies:

  •      No one can require anyone to do anything.
  •      No one can unilaterally make anyone do anything.
  •      No one can fire anyone unilaterally.
  •      Each person has a voice within the company and each voice is protected; no democracy or majority rules.
  •      Checks and balances will be inherent.

At the time, it didn’t register how profoundly that meeting, and its eventual outcomes, would impact the team, and its members individually. As Doug said, “What we did would end up being very radical—but we were so busy we didn’t necessarily see it since it didn’t seem immediately to impact our day-to-day lives.” More than two decades later, those principles—don’t use force and keep your commitments—continue to serve as the bedrock of a successful, self-managed company.

Shortly before opening, Doug and his colleagues celebrated his thirty-fourth birthday outside the same farmhouse where Chris Rufer had called that fateful leadership meeting. The company has gone on to become a model of self-management and the world’s largest tomato processor, handling between 25% and 30% of U.S. tomato crops.

If you’ve enjoyed this chapter of Responsive, you can purchase a Kindle or print version of the book on Amazon. And be sure to check out the Responsive Conference, coming up September 24-25th in Queens, NY.

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Creative Culture Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Responsive: What It Takes To Create A Thriving Organization, Chapter 1

I’m very pleased to share, exclusively for this podcast, the first chapter of my book, Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization. The full audiobook version of Responsive comes out in late September 2018, but in the meantime, I am excited to share it out in podcast form.

Here’s an excerpt. Subscribe and listen to The Robin Zander Show for the full chapter!

 

On the Shoulders of Giants

Responsive has been built on a community of which I am just a single member.

I am grateful to the six people wrote the Responsive Org manifesto, and began a movement: Adam Pisoni, Aaron Dignan, Matthew Partovi, Mike Arauz, Steve Hopkins and Alexis Gonzales-Black. They put words to a problem faced by organizations today and gave us a language to describe the challenges and tensions that have long existed in the workplace.

I would not have written this book without the friendship of Steve Hopkins, who taught me how to run an un-conference, and the handful of collaborators with whom I produced my first Responsive events.

I’m indebted to the fifty-plus leaders who I’ve interviewed on my podcast, The Robin Zander Show, who described big ideas like non-hierarchy and holacracy in simple language and gave me hope that I could write a book to do the same.

 

How To Use This Book

My career path has never followed a traditional route. My first job out of college was as a management consultant, with a gig as a circus performer nights and weekends. Of course, I couldn’t tell the consulting company that I was in the circus, but I also couldn’t admit to my fellow circus artists that I wore a suit to work. I am not content to live in such a binary world. I want to live in a world that encourages the full expression of every individual, and I am dedicated to building it. Improving the ways we work seems like a great place to start.

Responsive is a compilation of tactics and accompanying short stories about innovators on the front lines of the future of work. It is designed to be a choose-your-own-adventure exploration into how we work in the modern era, the approaches and perspectives employed by high performing organizations, and what makes those methods so effective.

While this book can be read cover to cover, I have designed it so that you can jump to those sections most interesting or relevant to you right now. Ultimately Responsive is intended as a reference guide as much as a road map—a resource you can return to again and again as you dive deeper into Responsive and the future of work.

 

A Responsive Café

I have a vested interest in discovering what works for myself and my small team. Throughout this book, I’ll share stories about my small business, a coffee shop in San Francisco, where I work with my ten-person staff to serve coffee and avocado toast and to build community.

I founded “Robin’s Café” in late April 2016, with no prior experience as a restaurateur but armed with a clear purpose: to foster a nascent community that I knew could exist in our corner of San Francisco. We had exactly three weeks from inception to opening day, so, unsurprisingly, our first week of operations was a mess. Attendees of a conference I had organized on site wanted to support the café, creating a bona fide lunch rush on our very first day.

In those early weeks, we were a team of four, often making up recipes on the spot to cover orders. I look back on those times now, after having a tough day, and realize that no matter how terrible things might seem, it will never be as chaotic and insane as those first few weeks.

We desperately needed additional staff. One day, a man named Frank quietly dropped off his resume during our usual morning rush. I was up to my elbows managing an exploding keg of cold brew. But even in the midst of a coffee emergency, it quickly became clear that Frank was professional, playful, and knowledgeable about the food service industry. I hired him, and he soon became indispensable at the café.

On May 20, 2016, Frank had been scheduled to open the café. Around 9:30 a.m., I got a call that Frank hadn’t shown up. “Was he sick?” I wondered. I checked to see if he’d sent me any messages, but there were none. I called him, but it went to voicemail. A week later, I sent an email, mostly in jest, with the subject, “Are you still alive?” The staff and I just assumed that Frank became a “no call, no show,” something not uncommon in the service industry. Frank’s cutting contact was a simple case of job abandonment. Still, it somehow didn’t seem like Frank, and I wanted to make sure he was okay. I tracked down his brother on social media and messaged him. I heard nothing for several days.

Then, out of the blue, Frank’s brother called me. “I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” I remember him saying, “My brother is dead. He was hit and killed by a train.” In that moment of shock, while I digested what I’d just heard, Frank’s brother went on: “I want you to know how happy he was to be working at Robin’s Café.”

Frank’s death is a constant reminder to me of how truly transient and changeable business—and life—can be. As a small business owner in those first few weeks, I had to be resilient, not just in my response to Frank’s death, but to be able to mentor and support those at our café and in the community who knew him. I was determined to build into the ethos of our organization this realization that circumstances can change in an instant. I wanted my team to be resilient when times got tough and grateful for the days when work felt more like play. I like to think that in some way this commitment to resilience and good humor is a small homage to Frank.

That same ethos is what has compelled me to write this book and to share just some of the ways that ground-breaking organizations and individuals are exploring human-centered work. This book is an invitation to see the value of Responsive approaches and bring them into your organization as fits your vision and culture.

If you’ve enjoyed Chapter 1 of Responsive, you can purchase a Kindle or print version of the book on Amazon. And be sure to check out the Responsive Conference, coming up September 24-25th in Queens, NY.

Categories
Culture Learning Podcast Responsive

“Empathy, Compromise, and Courage” – Adam Pisoni at Responsive Conference 2016

This video was recorded live at the 1st Annual Responsive Conference in 2016. Come see Adam Pisoni live again this year at the 3rd Annual Responsive Conference on September 24 and 25, 2018 in Queens, New York.

 

Building Yammer

Adam Pisoni (@adampisoni) co-founded Yammer (which sold to Microsoft for 1.2 billion dollars). He recounts how he learned about about Conway’s law. “At Yammer, we believed in rapid product iteration. Once we realized the organizational structure was part of the product, we then had to believe in rapid organization iteration.” The engineering mantra at Yammer became: “We’re not smarter than other people. We just iterate faster.”

This insight led Adam to recognize that he and the engineering and product teams at Yammer were not just building a product but building a company (at least, if they were going to be effective). He began to investigate what it would mean not just to rapidly iterate on Yammer’s product but to iterate the organization’s structure itself.

In other words, he began to explore whether Yammer could become more Responsive. What Adam was clear on, was that their product didn’t exist in isolation. Yammer, as a communication platform for enterprise businesses, was particularly well placed to recognize the challenges of the current working world. Eventually, Adam put these thoughts into a manifesto and shared them with CEOs and C-level executives. The response was an enthusiastic affirmation of their ideas. The result of this thinking led Adam to co-found the Responsive Org movement.

 

Experiments in Education

Adam realized the education system in North America is largely still reliant on an assembly-model way of teaching and thinking. Consider the structure of most schools: there are grades, segregated by age; there are alarm bells which tell students when to move from one classroom to the next. The most common form of learning is to passively sit and absorb lectured lessons.

More subtly, subjects are taught according to a linear progression. Math education in the United States, for example, moves from algebra, to geometry, to advanced algebra, to precalculus, to calculus. This progression to trains students to think about math in a way that only entrenches a hierarchical, linear view of how to how the world works. School in the 21st Century is still designed to produce people to work in factories.

Adam was bold enough to tackle revitalizing the education system, by optimizing administrators’ time and budgets. He founded Abl Schools, a collaborative platform for administrators and teachers. Abl has re-envisioned how principals relate with their teachers and facilities and how schools use their time. The idea is to help schools better manage the day-to-day to be able to achieve its educational goals, starting with the company’s first product, a cloud-based master scheduler.

Exciting possibilities emerge when we reconsider even behemoth institutions like the U.S. education system and experiment with new approaches that leverage technology and new models of collaborating. What is necessary, is the willingness to experiment.

A Diverse Founding Team

Adam Pisoni has been open about the challenges of creating diversity in founding his company Abl Schools. He writes:

“If your founding team is homogenous, it will likely develop a narrow culture which is well suited for that narrow group of people. That culture won’t be as self-aware of the lack of inclusion in the culture, but it will feel inclusive for everyone within the tight knit founding team. As new employees with different backgrounds join, they will be more likely to reject or be rejected from the culture than to add to it. While you may be celebrating how strong a culture and tight a team you have, you may also be unaware of the ways you’re actually reminding that new employee that they don’t belong.”

While there is a lot of conversation about fostering an inclusive company culture, very few Silicon Valley companies have an equal gender split between male and female employees, and even fewer have women or underrepresented groups at the highest levels of leadership.

As Adam explains, this doesn’t actually mean teams of straight white men can’t produce great companies. He argues: “I believe diverse founding teams can produce better outcomes. A team of white men can come up with good ideas. But I believe a diverse team can come up with better ones.” The curiosity and perseverance Adam has demonstrated at Abl Schools is an example of what can be done in any number of genres by founders just starting out.

If you enjoyed this episode of the Robin Zander Show, you might also enjoy hearing me and Adam in conversation, recorded at the Responsive book launch party last November.

At Responsive Conference 2018, Adam will be joined onstage by Anthony Kim (Founder, Education Elements) to dive deeply into the problems facing our current educational practices, and what can be done to improve them.

Learn more:
http://responsiveconference.com

Categories
Culture Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Steve Hopkins at Responsive Conference 2017 – “Culture First”

I’m pleased to share this talk at Responsive Conference 2017 with Steve Hopkins (@stevehopkins), Director of Customer Success at Culture Amp and a founding member of the Responsive Org movement.

Steve is passionate about helping clients develop a responsive operating culture that they can be proud of. At Culture Amp, Steve does this by guiding clients through successful culture change programs using the Culture Amp HR and People Analytics platform.

This talk was recorded live at the 2nd Annual Responsive Conference in September 2017. Learn more at http://responsiveconference.com

Categories
Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Responsive

Aaron Dignan at Responsive Conference 2017 – “Let’s Disrupt the Modern World of Work”

I’m pleased to share this keynote address by my friend Aaron Dignan (@aarondignan), founder of The Ready, at Responsive Conference 2017.

Aaron Dignan sees the same phenomenon everywhere he looks. Our most trusted and important institutions – in business, healthcare, government, philanthropy, and beyond – are struggling. They’re confronted with the fact that the scale and bureaucracy that once made them strong are liabilities in an era of constant change.

Aaron is the founder of The Ready and a founding member of the Responsive Org movement.

This talk was recorded live at the 2nd Annual Responsive Conference in September 2017. We’re gearing up for Responsive Conference 2018, and excited to have The Ready leading an interactive Teaming simulation.

Learn more at responsiveconference.com

Categories
Creative Learning Podcast Responsive

Revolutionizing Education with Anthony Kim and Alexis Gonzales-Black

I am so excited for today’s interview with two guests. Today we are speaking with Anthony Kim (@Anthonx), the founder and CEO of Education Elements, as well as Alexis Gonzales-Black (@Gonzalesblack), a former guest on the podcast and speaker at Responsive Conference.

We are here today to talk about their new book, The New School Rules: 6 Vital Practices for Thriving and Responsive Schools. I had a blast conducting this interview and sitting down with them, and I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Show Notes

1:30 How Anthony and Alexis met
4:30 Holacracy at Education Elements
7:00 Check ins and check outs
9:00 Balancing tensions
12:15 Assumptions versus known facts
14:15 Alexis’ background in education
15:30 Recruitment and retention
17:45 Inefficient processes in education
24:00 Team of teams autonomy
27:15 Tailor Responsive concepts to fit your personal teams
30:00 Sharing information transparently
32:30 School structures have not revolutionized enough
36:00 The New School Rules book structure
38:00 Planning and predicting
42:15 How to make change with mini experiments
45:15 Creating better work conditions for teachers
49:30 Safe enough to try
52:30 Contact Alexis and Anthony:
Website: The New School Rules
Amazon: The New School Rules: 6 Vital Practices for Thriving and Responsive Schools – If you like the book, please leave a review!
Linkedin: Alexis and Anthony
Twitter: Alexis, Anthony, The New School Rules
Anthony’s Website: Education Elements
Alexis’ Website: Thoughtful Org

If you enjoyed this interview you’ll also enjoy my first interview with Alexis Gonzales-Black, where we discussed her backstory, rolling out Holacracy at Zappos and much more.

And, don’t forget, tickets are on sale now for Responsive Conference 2018 – where both Alexis and Anthony will be onstage!

Categories
Podcast Responsive

How To Run an Un-Conference

How to Run an Un-Conference

Organizing events is a community effort, especially events as open to interpretation as an un-conference. I first sat down with a small group interested in Responsive Org events in 2015. Of that initial group Steve Hopkins was a founding member of the Responsive Org movement, Dori Rutkevitz was an active organizer in the related Reinventing Organizations community, and all of us were enthusiastic to learn more. Steve’s initial proposal to organize an un-conference was met with enthusiastic support by everyone at the table, followed promptly by “What’s an Un-conference?”

In the two years following that first meeting, I have produced and directed more than a dozen un-conferences and several more formal events. This short article is the playbook I wish I’d had when I began organizing events.

What is an Un-conference

An un-conference is any event where the agenda is set by those who attend. The rules of an un-conference are simple:

Rule #1: Whoever shows up are the right people
Rule #2: Whatever happens is fine
Rule #3: Whenever it starts is the right time
Rule #4: It is over when it’s over

In less flowery language this just means ditch expectation and don’t try to control the experience.

Flow of the Day

After attendees arrive, an empty conference agenda is posted on the wall with time slots and a variety of meeting spaces. Leaders share a theme or question they would like to discuss and post it in a time slot. If you post a topic, it is your responsibility to turn up to that session and introduce your topic or question. If you are not hosting a session, you are free to attend whichever of the sessions you are interested in.

Attendees are encouraged to adopt any of a number of roles:

Leader — who is facilitating each breakout
Scribe — is someone responsible for taking notes for each group
Nomads — give attendees permission to move between break-outs

The Law of Two Feet

Everyone at an un-conference is encouraged to practice the law of two feet. The law of two feet says that if you become uninterested at any point, you are encouraged to leave and join another session. In an un-conference you are also invited to take breaks at any time, with the idea that it is sometimes in the breaks that the ‘A-ha’ moments arrive.

Roles & Responsibilities

There are three main components necessary to a successful event — recruiting, production, and a strong facilitator.

A Word on Recruiting

In my experience, it is helpful to have an extended network to help with recruiting, not just a single person. All other logistics can be handled by a single person.

Production

Among the organizers, someone has to be in charge of logistics, including:

— Venue sourcing and on-going communication
— Setting the date
— Attendee arrival emails
— Day-of logistics
— Recruiting

Facilitation

A strong facilitator can make or break any event, but especially one with as fluid an agenda as an un-conference. Facilitator on the day of the event. It is essential to have one strong facilitator overseeing each un-conference, to welcome attendees and provide context for the event.

How to Facilitate an Un-Conference

Here are some tips, most learned the hard way over hundreds of hours of practice in the last two years.

1. Stay Centered

Despite having spent a fair amount of time on stage, I found myself getting nervous and feeling rushed in the hours leading up to a day-long un-conference. My single biggest piece of advice for a facilitator is to arrive with plenty of time to spare so you won’t feel rushed. You are responsible for the framework within which the attendee experience takes place. As such, staying grounded and centered is the single most important thing you can provide, even though in the moment it may feel like it is more important to make sure the space is set up or the coffee is ready.

2. Don’t Participate

This one might seem odd. It can seem like the entire point of organizing an event is to participate. In my experience, doing so decreases the ease with which I was able to coordinate new sessions, lead an end-of-day wrap-up, and refocus attendees when necessary.

In my view, the facilitator of the un-conference is there in service to the attendees. I have found it gets in the way of the attendee experience to actively participate in sessions and workshops that occur throughout the day.

3. Practice

The facilitator should practice before the beginning of the un-conference. Review these guidelines for a successful un-conference and be able to describe un-conference rules from memory. Practice your welcome speech.

4. Incorporate movement

I have always found it very useful to incorporate movement into events. When we have short periods of movement interspersed with other kinds of learning, we shortcut the passive sit-and-absorb tendencies we all learned through the education system, and which have carried over into most events. Read this article on the importance of movement within events.

Conclusion

Events are a lot of work, and sometime I have learned to produce of necessity. However, in this hyperactive digital age, I’m convinced of the value of what Tony Hsieh calls “spontaneous collisions” — the value of people spontaneously cross paths. If you’re considering putting on an event of your own, I encourage you to do so. When we create a container — an event or gathering — we create the opportunity for emergent possibilities to fill the open space.

Interested in learning more about the un-conference format or the Responsive movement? Join our Future of Work mailing list or check out my new book Responsive: What It Takes To Create A Thriving Organization, which comes out tomorrow!

*Acknowledge: This un-conference format is derivation of Open Space Technology, founded by Harrison Ownen.

Categories
Entrepreneurship Learning Podcast Robins Cafe

Adam Pisoni and Robin Zander – Live at Robin’s Cafe

This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at Robin’s Cafe with Adam Pisoni, co-founder and former CTO at Yammer, co-founder of the Responsive Org movement, and founder and CEO at Abl Schools.

If you missed it, I recommend starting with our first podcast episode back in 2016!

In conversation from stage and then Q&A with the audience, we discussed founding Yammer, the Responsive Org movement, and his efforts at Abl Schools to revitalize the U.S.education system. Exciting possibilities emerge when we reconsider that even behemoth institutions like the U.S. education system can become Responsive!

Adam has implemented a variety of future of work principles at Abl Schools. He has been very open about the challenges of building a diverse founding team at Abl Schools.

While there is a lot of conversation about fostering an inclusive company culture, very few Silicon Valley companies have an equal gender split between male and female employees, and even fewer have women or underrepresented groups at the highest levels of leadership.

We will explore the challenges and lessons learned at Abl Schools, and tactics any founder can apply in the effort to build a Responsive organization.

Show Notes

4:00 Intentions
7:00 Yammer and Conway’s Law
10:00 Starting Responsive Org
11:45 Theory of Responsive
13:30 Challenges of these changes
16:00 Iterate in the shape of your organization
18:00 Adam mentions:

19:15 Adams transition to education
21:30 Mindsets
24:30 Dropping out of high school
26:30 Education limitations
30:00 Diverse founding teams – podcast and article
36:15 Social emotional skills
40:00 Responsive Org tensions
46:45 Balancing success and time with experimentation
51:30 Egos and fear of failure
53:30 Integrative decision making
57:30 Value of experience
1:01:00 Diversity
1:04:45 Abl’s work in public schools
1:07:30 Measuring impact
1:10:00 Playing with boundaries of leadership and structure
1:15:00 Hiring that focuses on diversity
1:20:00 Purpose of diversity
1:24:30 VC’s reporting on diversity of companies they fund
1:26:15 Robin’s Book: Responsive: What It Takes to Create A Thriving Organization

Don’t forget to give a listen to my first podcast with Adam Pisoni, as well.

If you have enjoyed The Robin Zander Show – which just passed 50 episodes! – or benefited from any of the work I’ve done over the last several years, take a look at my new book Responsive: What It Takes To Create A Thriving Organization.

It is out on Amazon. I’m extremely proud of this book, and it’d mean the world to me if you’d check it out!

Categories
Physical Performance Podcast

Chris Fussell: Former Navy SEAL shares how leaders build a Team of Teams

My guest today is former Navy SEAL and New York Times best-selling author Chris Fussell (@fussellchris).

Chris is the co-author of Team of Teams and was a speaker at the 1st Annual Responsive conference in September 2016. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Chris over the last year.

Alongside General Stan McChrystal, Chris runs the McChrystal Group – an organizational design consultancy that works with companies all over the world to do in industry what Stan, Chris and the US Military did during the Iraq War. In the book Teams of Teams Stanley McChrystal and Chris outline how they took the special operations branch of the US Military – a stereotypically bureaucratic organization – and transformed it into a adaptive, agile system.

Chris’s new book is called One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams. In it, he outlines the tactics and tools they used during the Iraq War, and are now teaching in larger organizations. In reading the book, I’ve enjoyed tactics like their multiple-thousand person daily video conference, and the emphasis placed on how to build an underlying narrative throughout an organization of diverse and distributed teams.

In this interview, Chris and I also dig deep into what it meant for him to be a Navy SEAL, his upbringing and family, how he and his wife maintained contacted their relationship while he was deployed overseas, and how he thinks of an emphasis on what he calls “physical readiness” happening in cycles throughout life. Chris and I went pretty personally into a lot of aspects of his life in the service that I’ve always wanted to ask about.

Over the time I’ve known Chris, I’ve been really impressed. He’s unflappable, but also humble. He presents solutions to some of the most complex problems facing organizations today, but also talks candidly about challenge and what is need for transformation – whether a single person changing their mindset, or an entire organization changing their operating system.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. Here is… Chris Fussell.

Show Notes

3:30 Team of Teams and the military
8:30 Navy SEALs
11:30 Chris’s upbringing and training
14:30 Going through BUD/S
16:30 Early experiences as a SEALs
19:30 Being humble and good at listening
26:00 Chris’s remote relationship
33:15 Physical practice
39:30 Outlets
42:30 Closing down emotion
46:30 Transition back to family life
50:00 One Mission
57:30 Operations and Intelligence Forums

Books

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World
One Mission: How Leaders Build a Team of Teams

For more from Chris

If you enjoyed this interview with Chris Fussell, you might enjoy his presentation at the 1st Annual Responsive Conference. Sign up for the Responsive Conference newsletter here.

Categories
Entrepreneurship Practical Philosophy

Doug Kirkpatrick on The Morning Star Company and Building Self-Managed Organizations

Doug Kirkpatrick is the author of Beyond Empowerment: The Age of the Self-Managed Organization.

He spent the first season of his business career in the manufacturing sector, principally with The Morning Star Company of Sacramento, California. In addition to being a world leader in the food industry, the Morning Star Company is known for being a completely self-managed organization, which we discuss in the interview.

Doug now engages with the Morning Star Self-Management Institute and other vibrant organizations and leaders to co-create the future of management.

I asked Doug to come on to the podcast because he has more experience than most with non-hierarchical organizations and I appreciate the philosophical underpinnings that shape his thinking.

Connect with Doug Kirkpatrick on LinkedIn

Categories
Podcast

Alexis Gonzales-Black: Zappos, Holacracy, and How We Work in the 21st Century

alexis

“This is what the future of work looks like – we just have to figure out how to talk about it.”

My guest today is Alexis Gonzales-Black, an early advocate of the Responsive.org movement. I had heard Alexis praised as an incredibly innovative thinking on “the future of work”, and it was certainly my experience that she brings enormous enthusiasm and insight to bear on the topic of organizational design.

Alexis co-led the rollout of Holacracy (which is a system of self-governance) at Zappos – the world-famous shoe company. She describes what is was like to be in the room when the CEO Tony Hsieh walked in and declared that the company needed to operate more like a city. Alexis now works in organizational design at IDEO.

I’m really impressed with the work she as done to date, and I hope you enjoy this interview with Alexis Gonzales-Back.

Show Notes

00:00 – 4:30 Turning Zappos into a city
4:30 – 6:30 Working under Tony
6:30 – 9:30 Holacracy at Zappos
9:30 – 13:30 What is Holacracy?
13:30 – 17:00 Transition from recruitment to implementing Holacracy
17:00 – 21:00 Alexis’ history that lead to her interest in self-management
21:00 – 25:30 Responsive.Org as an identity
25:30 – 29:00 Responsive tensions
29:00 – 36:00 Hierarchy
36:00 – 38:00 Education
38:00 – 40:00 IDEO

Learn more about Alexis:
LinkedIn
Thoughtful Org

Categories
Creative Entrepreneurship Podcast

How Not to Join a Cult with Bob Gower

bob-gower

Bob Gower (@bobgower) has one of the most eclectic career paths of anyone I know. I met Bob after he published the article “From Sex Cult to C-Suite” and I was so intrigued by the range of things he had done in his life that I reached out to him. We have been collaborating ever since.

In this interview we dive into what does it mean for humans to be fully mature and how can organizations support human development.

Bob is a part of the curation team and a speaker at the upcoming Responsive Conference, taking place on Sept. 19-20th in Berkeley, CA.

Show Notes

1:30 – 5:30 Adulting
5:30 – 9:30 Why sustain a business?
9:30 – 14:00 Maturity, values, and purpose
15:00 – 19:00 Bob’s eclectic background
19:00 – 22:00 Organization applied to people and organizations
22:00 – 25:00 Messes that work
25:00 – 29:30 Experiencing the world while also faking it
29:30 – 34:00 The cult
34:00 – 36:00 Trying something new
36:30 – 40:00 Cult-like behavior elsewhere
40:00 – 44:30 Freedom after leaving something
44:30 – 47:00 Good Company
Bobgower.com

For another podcast episode discussing The Future of Work, listen to this interview with Mike Arauz:

And if you’ve enjoyed the Robin Zander Show, stay up to date with goings-on and get weekly tactics via the newsletter.

Click Here to Sign-Up

Categories
Entrepreneurship Practical Philosophy

Meredith Haberfeld on Fostering Leadership and Building High Performing Organizations

Meredith

My guest today, Meredith Haberfeld (@merhaberfeld), is the co-founder of Think Human, a coaching company that has worked with a wide variety of organizations – including, among many others, SoulCycle, Spotify, and Flat Iron Health – to foster leadership and build high performing organizations.

Meredith looks at things from a unique viewpoint bridging a scientific, business savvy, and soulful perspective. Since we first met over coffee half a year ago I have been increasingly impressed with Meredith, and how she carries throughout her professional and person lives.

I had the opportunity to spend time with Meredith’s family on a recent trip to New York, enjoyed late night conversation on human development and organization design, and saw first hand the quality with which Meredith treats everyone: using questions to foster each person towards growth.

Meredith will also be a speaker at the 1st Annual Responsive.org Conference in the Bay Area on September 19-20th.

Show Notes

2:00 Meredith’s personal story
5:45 Think Human
9:00 3 lenses: Science, business, and soulfulness
11:30 Coaching and training
15:00 What differentiates the people that work at Think Human
18:00 Building the right team
21:00 Shifting an organization
25:00 Rewire your brain
34:00 Meredith’s experience with SoulCycle
37:00 Having a clear vision
41:00 Building wins for everyone
44:00 Meredith’s vision as a parent
47:00 Meredith’s purpose
Reach out to Meredith: http://www.think-human.com/

Categories
Entrepreneurship Podcast

Adam Pisoni on Founding Yammer, Responsive Org, Abl

Adam-Pisoni (1)

My guest today – Adam Pisoni (@Adampisoni– is the co-founder and former CTO of Yammer, a business communication software company which sold to Microsoft for over 1 Billion dollars.

I met Adam last year as a part of the Responsive Org community, which Adam co-created.

Adam’s new company A.b.l. is the next step in building resilience and responsiveness at work and beyond. We discuss how A.b.l. is striving to impact children’s lives through changing how schools allocate resources, which drive the day-to-day operations of student’s learning.

Throughout this conversation – and all of Adam’s endeavors – I’m impressed with his playfulness in the face of big and challenging issues. Among other examples, Adam is constantly considering the diversity of his own company. Tech start-ups are predominantly straight, white men. Diversity in Silicon Valley is a hot button issue and Adam tackles it head on, voicing his strong opinions, recognizing his own privilege, and being willing to be proven wrong.

I couldn’t be more pleased to have Adam on the podcast. He’s a tested and proven entrepreneur – which I take to mean just a starter of things.  His efforts to start the Responsive Org movement have paved the way for many of my own events and community organizing. Adam is thoughtful, curious, and playful in the face of challenge. I hope you enjoy this rambling conversation and interview with Adam Pisoni!

 

Quick note: If you enjoy this conversation with Adam Pisoni, check out the 1st Annual Responsive.org Conference, happening in the Bay area, on September 19th and 20th. Adam will be a speaker, and it is going to be an incredible event. Check it out here!

 

BOOKS DISCUSSED

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankindby Yuval Noah Harari

 

SHOW NOTES

2:30 Always Be Learning (A.b.l)
4:00 Origin of the education system and the need to update
9:30 Adam’s life growing up
12:30 Adam’s perspective on privilege
17:00 Being a contrarian at Yammer
21:00 Naming the Responsive Movement and predicting its future
27:30 Working in large (Yammer) vs. small (A.b.l) organizations
30:00 Building a diverse workforce from the start
34:30 Hiring at Robin’s Cafe
40:30 Moving beyond the comfortable
45:00 Compassion for other people
48:45 Robin’s key lessons from opening the cafe
50:30 Breaking of hierarchy stereotypes
56:00 Robin’s Cafe – 3153 17th Street on 17th and Shotwell
            Monday – Fri 8am – 5pm
            Saturday – 9am – 4pm

 

FIND ADAM

Twitter: @Adampisoni 
Linkedin: Adam Pisoni 
Website: ABLschools.com

 

Join Adam, me, and a host of amazing speakers at the 1st Annual Responsive.org Conference. Hope to see you there!

Categories
Entrepreneurship Podcast

Steve Hopkins – Coffee Connoisseur, Yammer, Culture Amp and Building Responsive Organizations

IMG_2115

My guest today, Steve Hopkins (@Stevehopkins), is one of the original signators of the Responsive.org movement. In this interview we discuss Steve’s history and his current work with the start-up, Culture Amp. We cover his experience building Yammer alongside our mutual friend, Adam Pisoni, why he moved to San Francisco from Australia, and his love of coffee.

We also touch on parenting and sports, to better understand how to manage people and work as a team.