15 - Questions Everything (While Remaining 'Chairborne)

Alexa is riding solo on this one joined **LIVE** at PERKSCon San Francisco by Craig Forman, Lead People Scientist at CultureAmp. We hear Craig's journey from the military to people science as they discuss fear, shapes, equity, data, and how to re-think the way that an organization can decentralize without losing ‘control’. Don’t fight the inertia, yo… go with it.




Release Date: September 28, 2021

[00:00:00] Host: Morning. This podcast is about the realities of working in people operations. This is not a stuck-up PC compliance-based or employment law podcast about stuffy outdated HR practices. Shit will get real here, and we assume no responsibility.

[00:00:16] Alexa Baggio: We had a strict no-alcohol policy, and everybody was like, "Oh, don't drink. HR is here." Meanwhile, I'm like mid-crack a beer. If they're that disengaged before, they're going to be that disengaged at the office, just be sitting at their desk looking at Facebook. They are going to find ways to [unintelligible 00:00:30].

[00:00:31] Host: This is the People Problems Podcast with Alexa Baggio and Tyson Mackenzie.

[00:00:40] Alexa: All right, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the live recording of the People Problems podcast. My name is Alexa Baggio and I am joined today at our first live recording with Craig Forman. Craig is the Lead People Scientist at Culture Amp where he works closely with some of Culture Amp's largest clients to help them evaluate and take action to bring more humanity to work. He's also played a lead role in building Culture Amp's Culture First community. He's a veteran of the US Air Force and holds a master's degree in organizational psychology and joins us live today from PERKSCon, San Francisco. Welcome, Craig.

[00:01:09] Craig Forman: Thank you. Wow, glad to be here. All right.

[00:01:11] Alexa: Thanks for being my first live guest ever.

[00:01:14] Craig: Thanks for being my first live host in over two years.

[00:01:16] Alexa: There we go. All right. First all around. I love it. Let's do this, Craig. Let's get everybody a little bit warmed up to who you are. I would love to hear a little bit about how you got into this space. I mean, you obviously studied it a bit, but let's just do a quick background on Craig.

[00:01:27] Craig: Quick background on me. I think key things I always like to point out, one is got off to, I don't want to say a rocky start, but had a lot of transition growing up, moved around quite a bit, and then decided I wanted to go to college. I didn't have money, so I went to the military. That's when I spent four years in the Air Force, brought me out to California. Came out to California, I was in the military, wanted to come back out here. I had gotten my undergraduate degree in business and set up a life for myself.

During that time, I went back to school and realized I wanted to focus on organizational psychology. I got that degree about 10 years ago and stayed focused, got myself into tech, HR tech on the client services side, spent time at LinkedIn, and then eventually about four years ago, went to Culture Amp. We were just getting going and joined their people science team. It's been an amazing ride ever since, and really getting to lean into what I believe the change I want to make and how I want to impact the workplace in the world. That's what I've been up to for the last four years.

[00:02:17] Alexa: Did you fly anything cool in the Air Force?

[00:02:19] Craig: I was what we call a chairborne linguist.

[00:02:23] Alexa: What does that mean?

[00:02:23] Craig: I was a linguist, and chairborne, meaning that I was not airborne by any stretch of the imagination. I didn't spend any time on a plane. They sent me to language school in Monterey, and I was in intelligence, and we listened.

[00:02:34] Alexa: Well, that sounds like a perfect segue. You studied linguistics, and you were chairborne, and then you decided you want to get into organizational psychology.

[00:02:41] Craig: Many years later.

[00:02:41] Alexa: Many years later, and now what are you working on? Tell us a little bit about the work you do.

[00:02:45] Craig: Yes. I would say the first two years, I spent a lot of time with our clients. Transitioning from that client success role. Some of you might know about Culture Amp. We have tools that help organizations listen, take action around culture. We've moved also into performance management. I would work with our clients, helping them think about how to use these tools, how to bring these tools in-house, and thinking about their approach, not just the tools, but the philosophy behind what we were building.

In that journey, because I was so passionate about this space and being able to go to conferences and get involved, just really putting myself in the community, going to these conferences, and then we started building events. Culture First Global, we've run for three years now. I just raised my hands that I want to be part of that. I got involved in with our speakers and our content, really helping amplify these messages and the people in this community.

Then that transitioned. Really, we had built a community in the world. We were doing events and people were coming out and saying, "Well, we want to do more of this. When's Culture Amp coming back?" We keep having these conversations. At Culture Amp, we knew we could only do so much, so the question was, well, how might we go bigger? We decided to start launching chapters. We can't do it ourselves, but we can empower people in the world that want to host these conversations, that want to be talking about how we can change our workplace, what it means to be authentic and vulnerable as a way to drive culture-first organizations.

We launched that, really, January of 2020 for all intents and purposes. COVID hit, and we had launched about six chapters, and then we just pivoted to-- We are fully virtual. We figured out how to run human-focused virtual events. We've launched to date about 65 chapters globally, supporting and learning every day about what it means to build a community. I'd never set out to be a community builder. I set out to help organizations work better, but that's been the crux of my work for the last couple years.

[00:04:22] Alexa: That's awesome. Let's talk a little bit about, so you guys focus on community and you focus on culture, both very loaded, very vague terms these days. Let's talk a little bit about what some of the stuff you're seeing in your communities. What are some of the things that "are in the culture's zeitgeist" right now that you're working on?

[00:04:36] Craig: Well, first, and you're absolutely right, completely loaded. I'm really careful with these things. I don't like just running around. I have a definition of culture. The way I define culture is the way we do things around here, and that's this broad definition. That could be your family, that could be when you go to the grocery store, that's here right now. There's a culture of how we act when we're in these environments.

I think what I've really learned is that when we're talking about organizational culture, it is a bit different. I think about what our CEO Didier Elzinga says about our brand is our promise to our customer and our values or our culture is how we deliver on that promise. I like that because I think it takes this idea of how we do things around here, big picture, but we come together in organizations to do something. If we don't produce that thing in relationship to our customer, our community, it seems like moving forward, then that's what it's about.

What are the values of a group of people deciding to do something in the world as an organization, not a family or not a conference attendees? What are the basic levels of what we need to do here to be successful in the way we want to do it? That's how I think about culture. When it comes to community, gosh, it's just how do we come together?

I think true community is that relationship. I think that word gets thrown around a lot. I'm still learning and exploring what that word means. I didn't set out to be a community builder, it sort of happened, but the true way to do it that I'm learning, and it's tricky especially for organizations letting go of control its relationship with a group of people and an alignment and how do we support one another and not like, "Oh, this is a way for us to get the world to know about our next product release." This is at least not in our community.

[00:06:04] Alexa: That's why community gets so loaded now. Everybody says, "We'll build a community around." It's like, "What are you building around? Just a product or around relationships that people need around?"

[00:06:11] Craig: Also what type. I want to be careful. There are user communities, right? If you're at Salesforce, the Trailblazer community, they want to know about probably new releases, what Salesforce is doing. In our case, we're an acquisition community. Acquiring people to know about us, what we're doing in the world, what we stand for. That's a different community as well. If you're interested in this, there's a book called The Business of Gathering. David Spinks from CMX wrote a book recently. It's not a big book, but I think he really lays it out well about different types of communities, how to think about communities and organization.

[00:06:41] Alexa: Awesome. Thanks for making sure it's not a big book because I clearly won't read the bigger book. [chuckles]

[00:06:46] Craig: Just in case you have a lot of books and you-- [crosstalk]. It's a quick one.

[00:06:48] Alexa: I must not look like a reader I guess. Awesome. We've defined culture, we've talked a little bit about the work that you're doing, and we've talked about focus on community, but you have some really interesting thoughts that I think some of this is really structured around the how. People talk about culture a lot, but when you talk about changing culture, where do you even begin? You're taking something that feels intangible.

Culture feels a little bit like dark matter. It's like we know it's there but nobody's really sure how to tangibly change it. What are some of the things that you're focused on that are maybe more tangible things that you've worked with, and then maybe we could talk about some of the things that you're focused on going forward?

[00:07:21] Craig: I think one of the things that's so interesting to me is what you just said, it's true, it's so intangible, what is it, and every one of us knows what good culture feels like. We know what it feels like. We use this phrase-

[00:07:32] Alexa: You know when it's good and you know when it sucks.

[00:07:33] Craig: -Culture First. There's many times in meetings we'll say, "That just feels like that's the Culture First way to do it." Like, "Did we take in everybody's--" If we messed up saying maybe that wasn't so Culture First, now we know it's obscure, but these sorts of things do have a right brain element that don't always have words and don't always have numbers and metrics, but we know it, we feel that it's emotional. We know we feel good. We know when we were taken care of.

We know when we feel safe. It's how to do that. I think the important thing that I've learned and that I share is that here we run metrics and we look at organizations, but I think it's really important to tease out. Don't try to mimic. No one has your culture. It's like a family or anything else, an organization. It's like learning from others but not mimicking. I see that a lot. "Well, what do they do? Let's do it." That might not fit in your world, but what can you be inspired by that, and what can you learn from that? I do think metrics and good tools like ours are important to help--

[00:08:21] Alexa: What are some metrics that you think are actually really helpful?

[00:08:23] Craig: I'm honest. Well, look, here's how we do it. Engagement, this idea of say, stay, or thrive. Are they going to be there? Are they looking? Will they recommend you to somebody else and thrive? Will they go above and beyond? We have a section in our engagement survey that asks those questions and rolls it up and says here's how people feel. If you're a manager and I say, "People aren't proud. Go take care of it." What do you do?

Then the rest of the tool, and I think it's by design, I'd like to think our question sets are great, but these buckets under that that have real actions around communication, around do you feel a sense of belonging, what about your career journey? There's usually a group of questions for each of those but we roll those back and relate them to engagement saying, "Okay, yes, you asked all these questions, but which ones have the highest relationship in your organization to engagement? Go focus there."

Again, we stayed away from being consultants on our people science team. I don't know. It's your company, but the goal is how do you take this information with your knowledge, your organization, you need to own your culture again. You can't outsource it. I think the metrics are, really, how do you use the metrics? We talk about collect, understand, and act. Just running a survey is to collect, but what tools do you use to understand that information, and how are you being supported, and what tools do you use to take action?

That's where we spend a lot of time. How do you work with managers? How should an organization respond to these? You do too much and you don't communicate that at anybody. All that great information. People feel like nothing's happening because of a survey. It doesn't really matter. Do one or two things well.

[00:09:46] Alexa: Yes. One of the things I hear a lot from both our audience, our community, our listeners, is people struggle with, "How do I act on an organizational level?" Because everybody assumes, "Okay, we've identified an issue. Now we have to roll up a change or figure out the fix or take the action, but do I have to do that across the whole organization to start?" I'm sure that the implementation here has to be different based on the size of the organization. What would you recommend for people who are-- You don't want to roll out something to 10,000 people. If you have it, maybe gut-check that on a smaller basis would be my guess.

[00:10:17] Craig: I'm going to answer that, but I'm going to answer probably in a different way than I imagined, and we can come back to the more organizational piece. This has also been working with organizations, taking data, sitting with them. These policies are great. It's wonderful to take this information at an organizational level, try to implement things, but be the change you want. What's the thing? You're [unintelligible 00:10:33] belonging and acceptance in your organization as a leader.

What's something you can do next week that makes you a little bit better around belonging and acceptance? I think we have to get out of this idea that we're going to fix it systemically. We do need to look at our organizations and where systemic issues-- How do we build better organizations? In the end of the day, we also have to-- It's that piece of if we're going to decentralized organizations, if we're going to ask for people to take more personal accountability and ownership, then we all have to lean into that, and we can be safe to do that.

Can managers really share what's honest and on their mind? Can employees come in and talk? Are our leaders modeling that and doing that and saying I'm willing to change and I'm willing to look at alternatives and how can we be better and how do we continually move better? I always say that; to fix it out there, just all of us, how can we be one step better? Organizationally, I do think we need to be looking at who's in power, how is power distributed?

This idea I think for a long time of decentralized structures, we need especially now. I felt this way before, but with everything going on, it's so weird sitting here and post-COVID now, but thinking about this new world and how we're all working, I think a lot of things we spoke about before need to and are starting to happen now. Organizations didn't want us to go everywhere and work all over the place.

We saw that. Now they had no choice. Two years later, it's forcing the hand of what does that mean when people are decentralized, how do we distribute authority a little bit better when everyone is not in the same place?

[00:11:54] Alexa: It's not just location. You seem to be implying some sort of organizational structure change.

[00:11:58] Craig: Correct.

[00:11:58] Alexa: It's people are everywhere, but also maybe the organization needs to not look like a pyramid.

[00:12:02] Craig: It's a different type of organization. Go back just so we can close the loop. I do say, and this is my background, when you ask about what organizations can do, look, that's a big question. Find good tools, get good solid information not just for you but to empower your teams, and make data-informed decisions, especially around culture. So many people make decisions on how it feels or, "That was the lowest score. Let's go do that."

In a tool like ours, you can see that has the lowest impact on engagement. You're spending your time over here because it was a low score, focus on some-- Good insight, good diagnostic tools to help you understand and listen to your employees. You can take informed decisions that truthfully no one's going to finally be able to tell you. In the end of the day, you have to have the good input and know your company and make the best possible decision in the moment.

[00:12:42] Alexa: Yes, totally. Taking that one step further, you've got the diagnostics, you've identified the issues, now you're dealing with a dispersed and decentralized not only physical team but potentially-- Again, depends on scale, size, et cetera. Now we're talking about an organization that's got to do change in a very different capacity. Maybe you go hybrid, maybe you go flexible, any of those things. How do you think about restructuring the organization for that? Sounds like that's a little bit of what you're proposing.

[00:13:10] Craig: Yes, proposing and I think it's happening.

[00:13:13] Alexa: All right. Where were we before and where are we going?

[00:13:15] Craig: Where were we before? Look, now, again, we're talking about large sets, but for the most part, you saw organizations that wanted people to come in, be centralized. Even now, will come back three days a week or four days a week. I often think about I'm holding up a picture like a pyramid. You've seen organizational charts. These are designed structurally.

It made sense that data can move up quickly, information can move up quickly, decisions can come down quickly, but we've also built in lots of competition and other things along the way. I think energetically a lot of organizations want to hold that really tightly because it played into how we operate command and control, how information moves. That is shifting. To your question, I think, number one, learning and growing, which I think we're all doing around how do we have-- just even hosting meetings, virtual meetings.

Stop trying to do your meetings the way you did them before virtually. There's different positives and negatives I think to that. We could talk about that. How do you run those meetings? I think it still goes back to what I talked about before; listening, truly listening, and engage in that conversation with your employees. What are you hearing, are you being honest with yourself, and how do we incrementally shift it? People might be really happy.

Maybe you have a lot of engineers that like, "Look, we like one meeting on the beginning of the week. We like to check-in at the end of the week. That's it." Everybody's happy with that. Then follow that and empower those people to do their best work. I think it goes to what I'm learning also in community of this idea of trying to let go a little bit and trusting that people do have the answers. Jason [unintelligible 00:14:43] talks a lot about performance management.

He's written some books on it. He said to me once, he's like, "No one has to tell you, manage you to get up in the morning and make sure you feed yourself, take care of your kids." You don't have to manage. We know how to do things. I think it's how do we start to build that and expect that and show up that way in our own organizations, be the change around letting go of this idea of control and opening up and trusting and how might we have that conversation with your teams, with your leadership?

Again, I'd love to say you do X, Y, and Z, but I think at the end of the day, you need to listen, especially if you have a large organization, and you need to take informed decisions, and you need to have a diverse group of people that represent your organization around you to make sure you're doing it in a good way.

[00:15:25] Alexa: I truly never thought until you mentioned this, that if you think of an organization as a pyramid, and for those of you that can't see Craig, he keeps making the pyramid signal. He's implying that organizations are structured like pyramids, and that's totally true. If you think about it, it's a really easy way to disseminate information and culture from the top down, but based on the competition comment you made, it can be very hard to go from the bottom up.

It sounds like a lot of what we're proposing is how do people at the base of this community, this group, this team, how do they get information up to the top such that the culture can change. When you're dispersed, that's hard, like all these different things are going on. I think one of the things that being remote and all of the last year and a half has taught everybody is you can't infantilize people. Management is not about control. It's about optimization. That seems to be a fundamental change.

[00:16:12] Craig: Hopefully it will be more going forward. It has been.

[00:16:14] Alexa: It has to be.

[00:16:14] Craig: If we go back in history, if you would just look at this with an objective lens, go back to before the industrial revolution where a lot of these came from, post-World War II, you had a strong military command control, you had manufacturing, you needed people to get a certain amount of these things off the line at a certain amount of time, we're going to measure everything.

Maybe that was what we needed back then. It's gotten us to this place, but we talk now about psychological safety, we talk now about lack of competition and cooperation, but we still put people-- I just want to question and not even in a bad way, but I do see a lot of the stuff we say we want, we'll never-- you're not going to get there with these policies because I feel like we have structures built that keep these going.

If every level it gets skinnier and skinnier, then be honest, there's competition here, and we're competing with each other. Is that what you want in your organization?

[00:16:57] Alexa: Well, is that bad? Is that good?

[00:16:58] Craig: It depends. What are your values? Maybe you're an organization. I've always said that. I said culture is-- your culture is how you deliver on your promise. If you are a hardcore competitive banking company, say it, call it out, own it, attract people that want to do that. It's not bad in itself, but I think it's just been blindly followed. I think, look, I was in the military. I love that. I love that it taught me-- The 82nd airborne division can get 70,000 people anywhere in the world in 24 hours. Think about that.

That's not done decentralized. That's not done with everybody has a say. That's done with command and control. That's done with process and procedure. Cool. They do what they do. When you go into these companies and they're talking about innovation and creativity and psychological safety and there's a structure in place that doesn't promote those things, I just want that critical conversation to say, "Is this the best structure? Are there other ways?"

To your point, get outside your organization. Do you have a top-down information source to how you get your information in general? We're living in a world where it's everywhere all around all the time and the better we can tap into it and maybe this is community and leverage community each other. The answers aren't like this. They're all around us.

[00:18:07] Alexa: Have you seen any organizations do different structures or even just teams? It doesn't have to be a whole organization. We don't have to move the Titanic here, but have you seen anybody do this in really innovative ways, good examples?

[00:18:17] Craig: Yes, there's companies that get referenced a lot. There's a company in here for last 20 years. It's a company called Morning Star. It's a tomato company. They have like-

[00:18:26] Alexa: I don't know this. Do tell.

[00:18:27] Craig: -I want to say 60,000 employees. They have no managers. They have one of these completely-- They've been successful for 20 years. We can look this up, the Morning Star. I'm throwing these numbers out, but there's a great example of a company that's looked at redoing it. You talk about Zappos' Holocracy. Now I'm not saying Holocracy is the answer. It might not have been, but what an interesting experiment at a large scale and quite successful, especially when Tony Shay was around, leading that and saying, we can do this in different ways.

I think you're going to see more of the smaller companies that are coming up now. You seem way more completely-- companies that are starting with ever having a location. I think you're going to see companies that just find it-- is native. They're starting distributed and then they'll meet once a quarter somewhere in the world. That's the perk of working there; that they're going to come together somewhere in the world, but the rest of the time they can be wherever they want.

There are a number of examples large and small. GitHub, I think is another one. They're definitely out there pushing the boundaries. I think what we're going to see in the next 5 to 10 years is companies coming up. Also, I'll say that I think this blockchain, and what we're seeing there, you're going to see a lot more-

[00:19:31] Alexa: It is a great example.

[00:19:32] Craig: -decentralized organizations and playing with things that we never thought about as far as how things are organized.

[00:19:36] Alexa: I feel like if the last decade was characterized by the move towards the consumer, it was every feel good, Zappos you win an award for being on the longest customer service call.

[00:19:47] Craig: I think it was like eight hours or something.

[00:19:48] Alexa: Yes, the Ritz-Carlton or Marriot was like, if it's under $500, just give it to the guests. You heard all these incredible stories about ways that companies were taking care of the customer, and now I feel like we're finally in the age where it's like, this is actually about the employee now. It is like, okay, we've learned all of that about how to take care of consumers. Why are we not doing that for our own teams? We're in the dawn of the era of like, okay, let's talk about that.

When you're in a retail environment or you're in a store environment, a dispersed, which was the old-school dispersed environment, retail chains, banks, all these different branch-based organizations, you had to have these decentralized teams, you had to have structures like this. It's actually not new. It's just new to organizations that are used to being in big headquarters and everybody's on the same floor and it's very top-down.

Now I think we're going to see people start to look at those and go, "Wait a minute. There's something here." There's a way that they're managing in these almost tribal. It's like these that we've got tribes all over. They all have a little bit different cultures, but there's two or three things we hold together. There's a few one or two layers above that that holds the glue together. That's just a fundamentally different way of thinking about groups of people. I'm personally really excited for it because I'm like, I don't know why we've been treating the consumer so well for a decade, and then the people who deliver to the consumer poorly, how does that work?

[00:20:59] Craig: Personally, I think that we dealt with what we had building a massive economy and I think that--

[00:21:06] Alexa: And growth. That's a downside, growth too.

[00:21:07] Craig: I think for in the '80s, '90s, one-size-fits-all, let's grow fast, which probably technology and everything else only allowed for that, how you get 60,000 people or 10,000 people in an organization. I think what we're seeing is a world where that doesn't have to be the way. You can have policies, you can treat-- I'm a parent. I was once a technology worker without kids, way different lives, way different needs. Even when technology was happening, in the early days, as a parent, I'd be like, "I don't feel like I belong here. Is it bad because I don't want to come to beer night and I need to get home and it's dinner time?"

I think we're seeing more and more, and this is exposed that too, that we can have different values, benefits for different employees that we have different needs in our lives.

[00:21:48] Alexa: Yes, not to go dark, but there's been a lot of really ugly examples of when the culture gets a little too cohesive. We work in some of these stories where you're just like, "I don't know if that was the healthiest culture to just call it out." Maybe there should have been some people that stepped aside and didn't go to beer night and, "Hey, I'm going to go. I got baths tonight. I'm on bath duty." We don't need to constantly be feeding into this idea that we're overly cohesive.

[00:22:18] Craig: When we get too many people together and there's a large group, that becomes the norm. If we open up and say like, we're building for this collective, then you can have pockets. That's great. Maybe if you're in your 20s, and you're in the city, you don't have kids, and you're making some money and you want that-- That's great, but that doesn't mean everybody wants that, and that shouldn't be the standard.

[00:22:34] Alexa: I'll just say, I see a lot of fear in sometimes this conversation around people worrying about the conversation of equity, worrying about we don't want to create different cultures in different places, we don't have different experiences for different employees. What do you think about that? I think that's a little bit of an unachievable bar.

[00:22:53] Craig: Here's what I like about fear. If I'm worried about something or scared about something, that usually means I'm paying attention to it, I'm thinking about it, so good. Because that's what's going to help us build and help mitigate that versus I'm not worried about that. Yes, that's what we need to be thinking about. There's no one solution that doesn't have positives and negatives and that concerns me too. What does that look like?

When we start to come back, is there going to be some sort of system where the people that are in the office are getting-- Some of that I'm scared is human nature, and how do we have to build systems to help offset that because we will float into that as people when we come together in a space. How do we stay intentional? How do we set our intentions if we don't want that to be the case? I'm scared about that. What are we going to do?

[00:23:39] Alexa: It's an opportunity to be thoughtful.

[00:23:40] Craig: I think so. I think that fear is a really healthy thing if you listen to it and don't let it drive you from-- If you can listen to it and say, what is it telling me? That's important.

[00:23:49] Alexa: To your earlier point, if you can use the data and the cross-checks and some of the diagnostics to say, look, the cultures in these two parts of the organization, they are different, but that's okay. It's okay.

[00:24:01] Craig: This is what we need to lean into.

[00:24:02] Alexa: It's okay that they're different.

[00:24:03] Craig: I also do a podcast with Sprout out of Australia. I interviewed a woman Cherry Ward who's the Head of People for Thiess, one of the largest mining companies in the world. It was so interesting too because sometimes we have these conversations from certain perspectives. Here's a woman that's I believe in Western Australia who has mines in Asia and in Australia all over the world and when she talks about having to build cultures in different community, there's no like, well, should we, shouldn't we?

There are religious things they have to think about, there are mining towns around the world running. Some of these people are Muslims, some are Christian. It's funny. I don't think she stops to think about is it right to have one-size-fits-all or not? She just does it. I think we need to get better at that too. It can be. Our San Francisco office--

[00:24:47] Alexa: Two things can be true at once.

[00:24:48] Craig: Well, we have the values that connect all of us. This goes back to the community we're building. Building the community, one of the questions was how do we build a community globally, but not be too prescriptive? We leaned into this. We just came up with these five pillars and said we can't prescribe what Berlin, what Dallas, what Melbourne, Australia needs to be talking about. What if we have these pillars, these kind of almost five values, and say, "Well, let's follow those, and we can deal with what comes up."

Build, go build. I think where I'm going with that is even in our organization, Culture Amp out of Australia can set our global values. If we're here, if we're together, these are our four big values, but then also have space to say San Francisco can have a subset, and New York can have a subset and Melbourne. They're different. They're different cultures, different ways of being, different needs, and allowing as long as they roll up and they can stay connected to the larger that let people build. Thiess can't have some mine out there hurting people and not from a safety procedure, because that's part of their culture, they have a value of safety.

[00:25:44] Alexa: They're going to interpret all that differently. A little bit of a spoiler, one of our future episodes with a gentleman named Ryan Bond, he is the head of people for a restaurant group, and they must have over 100 restaurants. They're different chains. They're franchises, they're Applebee's, they're this, they're that. You've got over 100 restaurants, you've got thousands of employees. Everybody is like the definition of dispersed.

They came up with what they call mindsets, which is basically like these are the four or five things, these mindsets we expect you to operate with that are-- It's like values but it's almost like an operational value set. He's like you just cannot work here, you cannot be hired, you cannot stay here if you don't operate by these mindsets, but everyone interprets that mindset a little differently. Like the way that you may walk in and be like, "I'm going to--" I forget what they are off the top of my head, but something about the guest experience.

How do I treat a guest when they come in? They have one about the guest experience. The way that I interpret that may be different than the way you interpret that, and that's okay as long as the North Star is the same, which is like it's about that guest walking away and being like, "That was an awesome experience." I think that's the thing we have to-- You're right, you have to let go. You have to let go for that to happen and it's very hard for big organizations to let go, Craig.

[00:26:54] Craig: Also, love them in the process too. What I mean by that is this is how it's been. There's a lot of people that have reason that was the game they played, the game is changing. Of course, there's going to be resistance. Of course, now I want to say healthy resistance, but we have to expect that this is going to be hard for those that have also come up in a system that worked that way.

[00:27:15] Alexa: Yes, change is hard.

[00:27:15] Craig: Now the games are changing. [unintelligible 00:27:17] let go of control, but it wasn't even like walking around going, "I'm going to be in control." It was like that was your job as a senior manager, and how you control it, and the metrics, and the reporting, and how-- It's a shift and it's how do we all do this together? It's changing. We're changing. I believe that. We're seeing with this-- I'm fascinated with this great resignation of like what does it mean? Where are people going? Why? I think it's just a resettling, a reshifting, and a redistribution. Again, people are voting--

[00:27:41] Alexa: If you weren't paying attention to your culture before.

[00:27:42] Craig: -they're voting with their feet. People say, "My company says we're going back four days a week. Do you think that'll work? They say this is going to work." I'm like, "You're going to find out soon enough."

[00:27:52] Alexa: Yes. It's going to work for some people.

[00:27:53] Craig: They can think it works, but if everybody's saying, "Well, the place down the street is letting everybody be flexible two days a week and are really hearing their needs," then believe me it's not going to be long before that large organization changes their mindset.

[00:28:02] Alexa: Yes, I mean, Apple came out and was like, "We're going hybrid, but here's exactly the days you have to be in the office." Everybody went, "Wait, what? No, thanks."

[00:28:08] Craig: Maybe they'll say, a company like Apple, it's always been known for being a little intense and commanding and controlling, that people say, "That's Apple. I want to be here." Great, it works for them, but they're going to find out quickly. I guarantee-

[00:28:19] Alexa: How many people work at Samsung now?

[00:28:20] Craig: -they'll change their tune if everybody moves to another company. I think the market's going to dictate some of this not just because the company puts their foot down. There's a lot of shifting happening.

[00:28:29] Alexa: What do you think are some of the easiest things people can do if they're like, "Look, we need to figure-- we are one of the companies that's coming up against the way we used to do things, knowing full well COVID has accelerated cultural expectations and all these things." What are some of the things that companies can do that are super low-hanging fruit to just get the ball rolling internally about this kind of change?

[00:28:51] Craig: The first thing I'd say is have an honest conversation with yourself and your organization based on your level of influence on what are you doing to listen. Really, what are you doing? Are you, "Oh, I talked to five people"? There's a lot of bias could be in that. What are you doing to listen as an organization? Where's your data and insights coming from? Because if you have more than 60, 70 people just because you think you're talking to everybody, guarantee--

[00:29:12] Alexa: Don't just hide by [unintelligible 00:29:13]

[00:29:13] Craig: That's self-selected. Who showed up to talk to you? Who's willing to share? How are you aggregating data at a large scale in a good positive way with good design? I just say what information you usually make decisions versus it just got check or a couple of our leaders think that. Then the next piece is really holding yourself accountable to as an organization and yourselves. If you lead a team, saying, "Are we accountable?"

I'm going to look at this and say, "I'm going to do X, Y, and Z." I guess it's just do one small action, like use good-- somehow get decent data, whatever that means in your organization, it's better than it was yesterday, use that data. Then the other piece I said is to everybody particularly leaders is do your own work. What gets in between you and maybe you're getting that feedback and you don't want to hear it, that's fair, but that's your stuff. Do that.

[00:29:58] Alexa: You can curse at People Problems.

[00:30:00] Craig: Yes. I would just say it's like the idea I keep saying; we fix it by fixing it. How can we individually, if we're asking that of our organizations to be one step better, how can we be one step better? I think if we're all questioning ourselves and questioning our organizations at the same time, we can start to make movements and get towards what we want to be, these things we talk about wanting to create and I hope we create.

[00:30:20] Alexa: I think it's a really important takeaway which it's one step at a time, it's 2 degrees at a time, and eventually you turn around 360.

[00:30:27] Craig: None of these sorts of things-- They do over time. You look back-- It's the whole analogy of a marathon starts with a step or whatever. Just take a step every day. Just like, what can I-- I always like that Gandhi quote, "Be the change I want to see in the world."

[00:30:39] Alexa: Who is that?

[00:30:40] Craig: Gandhi.

[00:30:40] Alexa: Oh, yes.

[00:30:41] Craig: Be the change you want to see in the world.

[00:30:42] Alexa: I know it's not you [laughs].

[00:30:43] Craig: I'm just saying, even myself when I get frustrated or annoyed, that to me has become a trigger of being like, "Oh, what am I annoyed about? How can I be the change I want to see in the world? People are not communicating with me enough. I'm not getting enough information." It's like, where am I not--? [unintelligible 00:30:55] when I fix it with me, it seems to fix itself around me. Especially for our leaders, if we're doing more of that and staying open to feedback, listening, hearing others, letting go of this idea that you've got it all together and everybody else needs to just follow.

[00:31:08] Alexa: Or that we just put a bunch of rules in place and everybody follows suit. That's never how change happens ever.

[00:31:13] Craig: I have young kids in elementary school [unintelligible 00:31:15]. They're not coming up in a world that's designed. A reckoning is going to happen because I'm watching it and what I'm seeing in the education system saying they're not being set up for what we are being set up, like sit in a row, a person in front, there's a person in charge. To me, it's coming because--

[00:31:30] Alexa: I have a friend who makes TikTok videos with her class every day. I'm like, "This is just not the world I grew up in." Some of it's great. It's awesome. Closing thought, what are you most excited about in the future for your kids when they're ready to go to work?

[00:31:44] Craig: I'm most excited because I think a lot of these things I'm talking about I thought a lot about when I did my grad degree. This idea of decentralized organizations and Holacracy excited me. Again, I never want to say that's my thing, but the idea of it. I was sitting in this world pre-COVID and here's what came up for me. I'm going somewhere with this. It was about two or three months in. I was saying or writing the future of work, this thing I always spoke about, and it just was like in a moment that's gone.

We had that luxury sitting around talking about what might be, what is in the future. It's this idea of the now of work. As we pull out of this, what excites me most is that all of these things that I think really people with great intentions and large organizations have been talking about, but we've underestimated inertia. When things are moving a certain direction, hardest to change.

All of these conversations, all these ideas around what it looks like to be a manager moving forward, belonging, inclusivity, equity in the workplace, that we just got a handbrake pulled on inertia that no one could do collectively on our own. It's going to start to release. What I'm most excited about is saying to people in the world that feel this way, that resonate with this, that believe a better world of work is possible, is like, don't just sit on the sidelines when the seat is back up, do something.

That's what the Culture First community and what we're building around is just bringing people together so they can meet each other and their communities and in general and action is built into what we do. Can we all just do a little something? What excites me most is that inertia got pulled and we have an opportunity to play a part in crafting what our new world of work looks like. I don't have the answers. I don't know. It's about a conversation, this is about trying new things, it's about being open, and it's about letting go of what was.

[00:33:16] Alexa: Yes, I think it's about releasing humans.

[00:33:18] Craig: For my kids, I hope they have a world where more people feel engaged and are doing great work and the opportunities. I just think about addiction, depression, the things that we see in our society and how much of that is-- I've had bad jobs, and how hard that is, and can we have more people feel more fulfillment at work? Maybe part of that is in what we've been thinking about things.

[00:33:38] Alexa: Yes, totally. Well, I'm excited for that future. Where can people find you if they like what you have to say and then want to get in touch, Craig?

[00:33:44] Craig: Well, always I'm here. I represent Culture Amp and cultureamp.com. I'd also say if you want to learn more about the community, go to chapters.culturefirst.com that you can see if there's events going on. They're all virtual right now. Something intrigues you-- Also, I know we're in San Francisco. I've been helping with the San Francisco chapter. We're looking to build that out. Please reach out to me. The place I love to be connected is LinkedIn.

Connect with me on LinkedIn. As a matter of fact, gosh, I haven't done this for a live. I've done this a long time. Connect me on LinkedIn, but there's a trick where you're in a group, you can open it up and see who's around you and they connect with one another. It's great when people-- Look, when we get done, if you want, I'll help with that. I shut my phone off. Connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm really engaged there. That's been my platform and if we're connected, we can have our first degree so you can shoot me a note. That's how people can get in touch.

[00:34:27] Alexa: Awesome. Thanks for being here, Craig.

[00:34:28] Craig: Yes, thanks for having me. Thanks for being first for all of us. I know that this is a pretty exciting experience. This is the first time I've been in front of people in over two years live. Thanks for being that and it's exciting to start to tiptoe back into this. Thank you for really make-- I was nervous too. I have a young one that's not vaccinated, and I really appreciate what you've done to make this a safe environment. You've been very intentional about it. I know. I appreciate it. Thank you.

[00:34:55] Alexa: Thank you. Thanks for being here. Thanks, guys. This episode was executive produced by me, Alexa Baggio, with audio production by Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. [unintelligible 00:35:05] music was also done by the wonderful Ellie Brigida of Clear Harmonies. You can find more information about us and future episodes at peopleproblemspod.com or follow us at People Problems Pod on all things social. Thanks.

[00:35:16] [END OF AUDIO]


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