Love as a Humanizing Initiative Part 3

EPISODE 28

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This week, we are joined again by the Humanizing Initiative to continue our conversation around humanistic leadership. We discuss the process of unlearning and relearning together as we examine how we can bring humanity back to the workplace.

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Feel the love! We aren't experts - we're practitioners. With a passion that's a mix of equal parts strategy and love, we explore the human (and fun) side of work and business every week together.

JeffProfile

Jeff Ma
Director

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MohProfile

Mohammad Anwar
President

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Shaista Khilji - square

Dr. Shaista Khilji
Founder of  Humanizing Initiative

Jason Smith - square

Jason Smith
Co-Founder of Humanizing Initiative

Mia Amato Caliendo - square

Mia Amato Caliendo
Co-Founder of Humanizing Initiative

Zoe King - square

Zoe King
Co-Founder of Humanizing Initiative

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Jeff Ma
Hello and welcome to Love as a Business Strategy, a podcast that brings humanity to the workplace. We're here to talk about business, but we want to tackle topics that most business leaders shy away from. We believe that humanity and love should be at the center of every successful business. I'm your host, Jeff Ma. I'm a director at Softway, a business-to-employee solutions company that creates products and offers services that help build resilience and high-performance company cultures. Today, I'm also joined by President and CEO of Softway, Mohammad Anwar. Hey, Moh.

Mohammad Anwar
Hey, Jeff.

Jeff Ma
And we are going to be continuing today, our Love as a Humanizing Initiative series. And we're now in the third episode of diving deeper and deeper into this intricate breakdown of workplace cultures. And in the last episode, in part two, we really dove pretty deep about the problem statement, we talked about, really understanding what we've learned so far as a society and our cultures and the workplaces and why it's problematic. And today, we want to take the next step in the process we talked about of learning, unlearning, and relearning. So today, I really want to actually talk about unlearning, and relearning, and I'm super excited to of course bring back the Humanizing Initiative. The four co-founders, of course, Dr. Shaista Khilji, Jason Smith, Mia Amato Caliendo and Zoe King. And, once again, we're going to use some icebreakers that none of us have seen yet to start us off. And once again, Moh, I'm going to start with you. Okay. So Moh, if you had your own late night talk show who would your first guest be?

Shaista Khilji
Oh, I love that.

Jeff Ma
Do you want to pass it to one of these people?

Mohammad Anwar
Actually, my answer would be coach Tom Herman, who is the University of Texas football head coach, and he formerly was University Houston, head coach of our football team, that I would definitely bring him in. I bring him on as our first guest.

Jeff Ma
Well, I know why I think the story behind him is too long to cover an icebreaker. But I think it's in one of our other episodes. It has to be it must be yes, it must have already. So someone go find that and tell me where's that? Next one, it goes to Zoe, what is the best book you've ever read?

Zoe King
Oh, that's tough. This one comes to mind. So I read Educated by Tara Westover, couldn't put it down. It's such a gift to be able to read about experiences that are so different from your own. And I just I devoured it. So that's definitely one of my one of my favorites.

Shaista Khilji
Zoe, you do you do know that she's a University of Cambridge graduate?

Zoe King
Yeah. Mm hmm.

Shaista Khilji
There you go.

Zoe King
It was such a beautiful story.

Jeff Ma
Even our executive producer in chat is writing all caps yes to that answer. So good answer. Mia, how much coffee or tea do you drink in a day?

Mia Amato Caliendo
I start my day with two shots of espresso and a little bit of oat milk before I work out. And I've at this point in my life, that's as much as I tried to have prior there were multiple, there are multiple afternoon coffees, but I've tried to be healthier, especially because like mo I value sleep. And I found myself wired like 10 o'clock at night and I would also work late so just just two shots of espresso in the morning now.

Jeff Ma
Good for you. Awesome. Jason. What does your morning routine look like now that you're working from home?

Jason Smith
Coffee for sure. First thing what I come downstairs. And if I'm not early enough, then before I get my coffee, I'm assaulted by two children. And it's all sorts of different things like like would you look up the thing about Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild or something that like my daughter has had a dream about that. She's like mad at me for and and then and then if I can get the coffee I'm usually pretty good. And then I usually start work after after that point and try to get a run into at some point.

Jeff Ma
Nice. Nice. Last but not least scheisse to what was your very first job?

Shaista Khilji
Wow. I started my first career was a banker actually. I know a lot about financial industry. So right out of school, I was selected to be a management trainee. And I learned all about investment banking, trade, commercial banking, consumer banking, and then I was placed in trade. So, with a lot of fun, I learned a lot. I learned a lot that I should have learned. And I learned a lot that I shouldn't have learned as well.

Jeff Ma
Did you unlearn those things?

Shaista Khilji
I did, by learning a few things to learn to own learn those things that you learn?

Jeff Ma
Well, definitely most unexpected answer award goes to Dr. khilji. Here for that one. So let's let's, let's dig in. As I mentioned, we have, you know, if you're listening, and you're not, you're missing a little bit of context, we we broke down very fully in part two, about where cultures are at right now. You know, not not obviously, every organization, but we talked about even just as a society, where cultures are what are we learned to do as, as a society when it comes to culture, and treating each other as humans? And we've identified that there's a there's a problem, there's a gap there. And so what we kind of set out to do for this episode, is to really talk about unlearning. we've, we've learned over decades, how to do business in one way. And now we're looking at how to unlearn it. And I love starting with you shyster, because you seem to have a very good way of putting it all on the table for us. So can you just start us off with what does it look like? What do we mean, when we say unlearned, in this context.

Shaista Khilji
So I think we talked about in our previous podcast about this idea of balance. So and we talked about cultures, how we have perpetuated promoted certain values, and certain certain values, which are deeply entrenched in our cultures. So I think bouncing off the same idea. I would say, a few things that we need to unlearn is that the world doesn't exist, or we should not adopt binary thinking, binary is not been helpful to us, for example, getting more profits, doesn't mean that we cannot live our lives with purpose. Creating shareholder value doesn't mean that we can't create stakeholder value, as well. So I think we have to step out of those boundaries and think about both. And the term that I would use in order to sort of all of us to think about that balance is to engage in paradoxical thinking, Ying Yang, right, both of them can co exist, profit does exist, we all know that. But along with it, purpose can also co exist, shareholders are important. But along with that, stakeholders can co exist as well. So instead of looking at or adopting an either or thinking, we should be integrating our perspectives, and think about both at the same time. But even I would go even further and talk about how there are different permutations on each of those dimensions or polar opposites that we consider to be right. So one, pull, we have profit on the other pole, we have purpose, there are so many different permutations along that dimension. And if we start thinking about as leaders, if we start thinking about those different permutations that would help us move from one to the other in a harmonious fashion. I think that would be the beginning of changing the culture that we so much have promoted in our organizations and even within our economies and societies.

Mia Amato Caliendo
During my research on post colonial theory, and I was trying to think of how we could solve for some of the inclusion diversity challenges that we face today, Ming Jared Chen very, is exactly what Dr. khilji is saying. And he talks about the middle way and the middle way. As we all know, it most obviously can be this, this visual of the Yin and Yang. But it's important to note that you can't have the Yin without the Yang. So it's not a and b, it's that a needs B to exist. And so paradoxical thinking is really about being able to understand how they're two points on the same spectrum. And you have to understand that one needs the other. And finding that balance is where the middle way comes in sort of that both and versus either or.

Jeff Ma
So just to make sure I get it, right, it's not so much like, where left or right on the scale you are, it's more of how much you can integrate both ends into one thing. Is that what you're getting at?

Shaista Khilji
Yes. And I'll realize, go ahead.

Mia Amato Caliendo
Yeah, I was just gonna say and how you can flex, you're not, it's not static, it's very much changing and evolving all the time. So you might go on one side, swing back to the other be in the middle, it's I see Dr. Khilji, rocking with me, as I say that. But it's just, it's not static. We can't be in this like singular location.

Jason Smith
You know, it's interesting, how many places this shows up. So I love like talking about, you know, either our thinking and from, so I'm a leadership coach. And I work with a lot of folks. And we talk about polarity, and how polarity shows up in leaders. And so you've got these two values, right, and they're, they're in conch, they're in contrast to each other. And there's a human tendency to move toward the poles. And really where we want to do is hold the healthy tension between the two. And then if we add another kind of school of thought on this, there's this idea of like non dualism, where if we do hold the tension between the two of them, then we've actually created something brand new, which is kind of awesome.

Jeff Ma
is definitely a mindset, mindset shift for me to think that way. And the first thing that comes to mind, and I'll pose this to Zoey, I think, when it comes to this new way of thinking, though, and trying to bring it back to this unlearning that we need to do to solve this existential problem here. What specifically is the A and the B? Are we talking about what are the poles that needed? Like? What do you what are we saying we need to find that balance?

Zoe King
And yeah, I think it's, it's so hard for us to I think, especially as adults to just embrace ambiguity and the great and but that these two things can, like we were talking about these two things can coexist. And I really do think that it's coming from and as we talk, we're talking about and learning, it's that we're so rigid, as we go through life, and we accumulate these experiences, it becomes harder and harder for us to incorporate new ways of learning kind of into our, our schema and into our minds. And jack Mazur out has a really great adult learning, concept transformative learning. And it's all about how do we as adults, on the learn, the ways that we have looked at the world, our assumptions, our expectations, and that all starts with this idea of a disorienting dilemma. And that's when you are confronted with with information that is in direct contrast to what you believe to what you have grown to know is true for you. And I think with the amb, it could it could be just the very fact of amb, can exist, you know that amb has never existed for me or a and b, I've been told that A and B cannot exist together. But when we encounter an example, where a and b are coexisting, and they're very much both in alignment, that's disorienting, and it's uncomfortable because we have that cognitive dissonance. And so when you have that, that episode of cognitive dissonance and that dilemma, you have, you know, two options, you can assimilate the information so you can throw it to the side, reject it, say that this doesn't make sense with what I know to be true, or you can accommodate it. And we always want to be in that accommodating space. And I think that that's such a lesson that we can glean for leaders is how when we are confronted with these disorienting dilemmas, these uncomfortable conversations where we start to look at what we've always done it this way, but maybe we can do it in a new way. How do we start to accommodate that new information and start to make new meaning and i think that you know, the process of us Learning in general, I think is such an underutilized muscle for leaders and for organizations. And I think it could really help us to navigate, change and instability so much easier if we started to learn how to get more comfortable with those kind of disorienting cognitive dissonance episodes.

Shaista Khilji
I would give examples of, you know, oftentimes we look at individualism and collectivism, right as two polar opposite. And we know that the balance is towards individualism in most organizations, right. So, you're in it for your own self, your self interest is more important than anybody else's interest, which I also refer to as shareholder interest or, versus stakeholder interest. And when you're in that mode, you're not thinking about collective well being, you're not thinking about how you make profit, and the kind of impact that it has on your team, on people within your organizations, on the community on the planet, right. And who said that individualism and collectivism have to be polar opposite of each other. We have to integrate the two in order to develop societies that offer or promote individual dignity, but also collective well being. Another example, another example would be failure and success, who said their polar opposite? Who said that failure is, is is bad? I look at failure. And I think of failure in terms of success in the making. Why can't we use our failures to learn to succeed? Why do we shun people who have failed who we think because we judge, we love to judge others who read, who we feel, have failed, and we don't want to hire them, or we don't want to work with them. We don't want to write with them. If you have an attitude that you can learn from your failures, as I said earlier, failure is actually success in the making.

Jason Smith
You know, I love that concept of failure, as being something that is is tied to success. And I think one of the things that really shaped me was it was an article and I'm completely blanking on the name of it, but it was really talking about like in our volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous vuca world. Failure isn't something to be avoided. Failure is something that is inevitable. And if you think about it that way, then it's like, it's kind of like, if I'm going out for a walk, like, if I'm going out for a walk, like, I know, I'm gonna step in one hole on this walk, like, I can choose which holy step it I'm gonna step in the shallowest hole, I'm not gonna step into one where I get my foot all wet. And so like designing failure into organizational process, I think it's important. I mean, like, let's try and fail here, because we know that it's not going to have as big of an impact, or that we can learn the most from it. And I love that.

Jeff Ma
This is, this is great, I, I'm going to keep challenging you guys. I love this stuff. And I'm getting good stuff out of it. So when, when we're talking about this mindset, you're setting up for me, of these things don't have to be polar opposites that we can. What but what's the process? in getting to that? What does it look like to turn something that is currently an opposite into something integrated and coexisting?

Shaista Khilji
So I'm going to be a little philosophical here, but I think it's needed because I also believe that when you think about leadership, it's not about leadership practice, but it's about leadership wisdom, the difference between practice and wisdom is that practice is all about competencies and skills, which is great, I'm not against that. But what I'm proposing is also wisdom. So when you practice or you gain skills, you think those are the only skills for you to lead effectively. And also sort of question the idea of effectiveness which we're not going to discuss today because I'm going to digress but wisdom is when you know something, but you also doubt it. And I think in this very, very strong masculine culture that we have. We we just feel that when you know something, you know it all We never doubted. And I think doubting is so important in our own personal development, whether you were a leader, formal leader or not. So I would You know, sort of think about challenges to think about not only leadership practice, but also leadership wisdom, where you know, things that you're constantly doubting, why are you doubting, because doubting is important for your learning, because when you know it, and you think you know it all, you're done with it. You don't, you don't open up your mind. But when you doubt, you reflect. And when you reflect, you learn. So going back to your initial question, what is it that we need? I think we need to understand that as leaders, whether in the political world, or in the business world, we should be in a constant state of becoming. What does that mean? That means we should be open to learning, we should be open to seeking, seeking information, because the world changes so fast. Nobody predicted COVID-19 nobody predicted what we experienced, or one went through in 2020. Right? So you need to constantly be proactive. Or if you're not proactive, constantly seek information that helps you challenge yourself that helps you learn. Second thing you need to sense once you seek find information, you need to sense what does that mean, you need to constantly reflect. And you need to be critically thinking you're not only seeking information so that you can believe it. But you're seeking information so that you're critically thinking about it. And thirdly, you're sharing knowledge, right? You seek your sense, but you also share knowledge. And when you're sharing, then you're moving towards more collectivism that I talked about previously. And if you look at all those three elements seeking, sensing and sharing, you cannot do it alone. You have to, you probably are doing it for yourself. But you're also doing it for your community. And you're not doing it alone, because you're doing it in collaboration with so many different individuals, so many different people, so many different units, so many different organizations, because you're in this constant state of becoming.

Jeff Ma
I'm gonna give our listeners some time to rewind about three and a half minutes and take some notes because that was some solid gold. And welcome back. Welcome back. Second, listen through. That was amazing. Thank you for sharing that. That was just nuggets and nuggets of wisdom, which I'm going to doubt a little bit. Not, did I do, right? Okay. Just kidding. Um, but But yeah, oh, my gosh, so much, there's so much to break down there. But, you know, as I keep considering, like, what this looks like, what all that looks like, as I continue to pull us into, like, the tangible world, you know, Are there examples of literal things to do, and tips to actually apply, you know, maybe just a story or an anecdote here, of that process coming to life.

Zoe King
Doctor Khilji, when you and you talked about doubt, I thought a lot about curiosity, and kind of, you know, time for introspection and time to kind of examine things in a different way. And I think, in the way that we currently kind of structure work, there isn't a lot of time for that inward introspection, that time for curiosity. And I was at a professional development session, and and the organization was talking about how they provide employees, just with structured time, where they asked them to just explore, and that could be, you know, a professional development opportunity that could be taking a yoga class that could be reading a book, but the fact that the the organization had really institutionalized this idea of structured time to be unstructured and to be curious, and I think that's kind of when we start to see, you know, that having that opportunity to to doubt and I think that, you know, in our in our work, we're so on autopilot, and we rarely get those moments to reflect and to, you know, really think about what it is that we do because it's not it's not necessarily efficient. But I think as leaders, how do we start to kind of build that into our practice? To have time, to be creative, to be curious to be messy. And I think that's kind of when we can start to break down that wisdom in those, you know that A and B of of what we think is and what might not actually be.

Jason Smith
I think from a, like a process perspective, I'm thinking back to transformational learning. I mean, I think the way that leaders really embrace this idea of not knowing of the ambiguity of, of being open to being wrong, and finding a new way, is it's really leaning into that disorienting dilemma. And it's leaning into adversity, because adversity is oftentimes a that is what caused the disorienting dilemma, you're, you're, you're presented with information or situation that that says, like, oh, the way I'm doing things, or the way I'm thinking about things isn't enough, there's a better way. And then you're presented with the choice like, do I stay in the current that we kind of recognize maybe a little bit smaller than it needs to be? Or do I enjoy, try to move and bridge this gap to the new thing? And, and I think that it takes courage to bridge that gap. It takes support, like coaching, like soy said, reflection, to be able to think through and to be able to see the things that you can do to move into that new place. And I think that in for the sake of right, like what so what if we bring in a concept around adult development theory. So this is a concept, it's a very simple concept, it's that adult progress through predictable stages about development, just like children. We are, we need a series of transformations for leaders to really mature to have that wisdom, to be able to work with all the complexity that we're there with instead of shunning it, pretending it doesn't exist, or presenting a simplistic response to it that is going to fail. That's really what I think what we're missing is organizations that do that, that that utilize the workplace as a place of transformation, and to create experiences that that move leaders toward a place of maturity.

Jeff Ma
So, Mia, what does relearning look like?

Mia Amato Caliendo
Yeah, no, I think, you know, like some of the things that I was thinking about as examples. I mean, Michelle wrote, Michelle Obama wrote a whole book about becoming and how she had to continue to evolve throughout her life, and all these different stages of her life, and what, what experience she's had, what challenges she's faced, but I also think about cultures, how much cultures evolve over time, given what happens at different times, in, you know, in their existence. And so I think that learning is essential, because one, it's about survival. You know, we have to adapt to be able to progress and evolve. But I think it's really dependent on what it is we're trying to accomplish. And what it is we're trying to accomplish is also dependent on what it is we define is a successful version of that accomplishment. And I think that kind of goes back to some of the things we were talking about earlier is how do we what do We reward. And, you know, in a lot of organizations, you see rewards being based on individual performance. And I think that's shifting, there's a lot of research out there about how organizations are shifting and looking at team performance. And that's how things are being rewarded. So I think, what we need to learn is that no one person works in a silo. And we have been so individualistic and how we work. And I think that that comes from a division of labor, you see that in bureaucracy. And while I think that stems from a place of trying to divide, divide and conquer, if you will, it's also being a huge detriment to a very big part of our community.

Jeff Ma
This might not resonate with everyone, but I think a lot about agile as a as a process. Something that if you understand what it's really supposed to be, it's built off of values and principles that are very much aligned to what we're talking about. But in practice, many businesses take it and they just try to add it on top of what they currently do. So they skip the unlearning part. And I think it's the best analogy in my mind, of what unlearning and relearning how that's different from just learning. Because you can take something like agile or Scrum, whatever you whatever other tough process which inherently requires a mindset shift and a and a real change in behavior in teams. And team structures, he had to change it all. To make it successful. It's written in the bylaws of it right. But you'll see organizations see Oh, that's, that's the new trend that's working. That's, it's shown to prove results. So let's learn agile. And they'll bring it in and they'll do all the ceremonies. They'll do all the processes, they'll they'll call people, Scrum masters, they'll give new roles to people. But they change nothing else about their culture and their behaviors. And to me, that's what stands out as that critical step of unlearning, that has to happen to be successful. If you don't stop and first say, hey, let's look at all let's introspect, on all the things that we need to first, unpack, unravel and discard in what we currently do all the things that are hurting and harming us, and then add this layer on top, you end up with I mean, when I see this done, it's, it's a complete mess, it's a lot of money spent, it's a lot of time wasted, it's a lot of people frustrated, it's a lot of times worse than it was before you started trying this change. So that's, that's, that's my kind of, you know, I come from a project management background, he's like that. So I will always go towards these types of examples. But that's what is coming to mind for me.

Mia Amato Caliendo
And I think it's an agility at scale, I think it needs to be able to expand. So and which kind of goes back to it being agile, because it needs to be able to evolve and change as it goes. So it's something that's not so rigid. And I think a lot about this idea of purity, this idea that, you know, when we have a concept, or we have a plan, that it's it has to be pure and has to stick to this, the schedule it, it has to stick, and like this ability to be flexible. And to shift gears, if you might have to be, you know, to sort of attain what that goal is. There's not a lot of room for that. And while you know, you know, Zoey mentioned ambiguity and has how as adults, we don't deal well with ambiguity, because we've gotten used to the way things work. And as we've gotten older, we've learned how things work. And those things change. So not just agility, but protecting its ability to evolve and scale.

Shaista Khilji
And I want to, I want to go back to this idea of on learning, right. And, Jeff, I really liked what you said, you have to discard what you've done or how you've done things. And I'm I'm going to give you an example here, and I'm gonna, it's a hypothetical example. But that might actually help us understand this idea of on learning and how crucial it is because without unlearning, we cannot learn something new, or we cannot learn to behave in different ways. So if I'm, if I'm a leader, I'm used to working with a lot of freedom with a lot of autonomy. And whosoever my bosses has given me that immense amount of freedom and autonomy to do things, let's say I have developed this new product, which is one of the star products in my company. And I'm known for creating that product. And I thrive on that independence and freedom and autonomy that is given to me. And then I have a new boss. And the new boss works very differently. And the new boss wants to be more involved. And let's say the new boss walks in, gets very frustrated with my way of doing things because I know that I've been successful, I know how to be successful. And the company is successful only because of a product that I created, right? So even if I'm working on a new product, I just want to do it my own way I want to do it in my own silos with my own team and this new leader, new boss of mine wants more involvement. And so rather than engaging in this sort of conflict, conflicts can be good. I don't think conflict is the right word rather than engaging in this battle of two personalities. One is trying to get more involved the other person which is myself, I think, you know, I work with autonomy. I love this freedom. If I switch my mindset, and think about what is it that my boss wants? How is this boss different from the previous boss that I've had? The previous boss gave me a lot of freedom, autonomy, rather than thinking about my own need, which is more freedom and autonomy. Let me think about what is the need. This new boss of mine, and what I find out when I ask the right questions, so you have to learn to ask the right questions, because that's very important in the process of unlearning, I find out that the only thing this new leader or new boss wants from me is more involvement and more respect, because they feel that I do not give them the respect that they deserve. Right. So by recognizing other's needs, along with your need, really helps you come to a better place. And then you can develop this relationship where both of you can collaborate, and can be more successful, really, so it really requires for you to unlearn right, in terms of discarding the way you've done things. But for that to happen, you have to recognize other people's needs are as important as your own needs. So if you really want this collaboration of this relationship to work, then you need to recognize other individuals needs as well.

Jeff Ma
I love that, like learning by way of empathy. Amazing. I like while you're speaking, My mind goes to just how incredibly simple this can all be, like in my mind, and learning can just be simplifying. Because I think of let's say just three people who have a great idea. And they want to make it happen. They can get in a garage, and just build an amazing app or product or whatever, they could build a company from a garage like ground up in weeks. And you know, a large corporation can get three great talented people also together on a team. And in that same timeframe do much, much less. And and what is the difference between those two. And to me, it's, it's their it's their motivation is their drive is their passion. And it's the culture. We talked about startup coaches all the time. And you're it's almost it's spoken like as a positive thing in many ways. But I think what they're really getting at is that they don't have things to unlearn. In those contexts, they can just learn from nothing, it's simple. So these large is, so the large businesses have to unlearn so they can get this. So they can allow people to have the space to be a startup within their own space. And that's, that's something that just strikes me as very well, so much less complex, in my mind. Now, when it comes to unlearning is just discarding and kind of allowing people to work the way that they will do best.

Mia Amato Caliendo
I think there's a little bit more responsibility, though, when you have a larger organization. And the complexity of that business is significantly different than when you're trying to build a product or an application from the ground up. And you only have three people that you need to think about and consider. So if you have an organization that's 200,000 people, it looks really different, because your decisions impact that many more people who are doing that many more jobs. And so it you know, I think that's why the agility at scale is so significant, because it does look different, like we can act like it's not different running a startup in a garage, versus running a fortune 500 company, right? Like it is significantly more complex. And so the challenges are more complex, and the people issues are more complex than being successful is more complex. And so being able to really think of others becomes challenging when it's 200,000 Plus, or, you know, an arbitrary large number.

Mohammad Anwar
But if you just as take this further, Mia, but if you were to look at it from teams inside of these large corporations, and you know, they're already siloed, the way we've described it, right, they do divide and conquer approach. Anyhow. So if you look at it from those smaller groups, or silos, or departments or teams, with lesser number of people, and if, if they're in the team, and they start operating, like a startup where they're able to, like take all of these restrictions or structures and forget the way that they used to do things and try to do it, like from scratch, could be potentially and possibly still have similar type of results. And then hopefully, that all comes together in a cumulative VI, you know, doing it at scale, like you were describing or asking about, I think, I think there's something to think there. If you were to take that same concepts to smaller teams.

Mia Amato Caliendo
Yeah, and I think to play devil's advocate, it would be you know, are they resource the same way?

Jeff Ma
Yep, and you know, and and part of agile a big part of Agile is on how you build your teams. Like a lot of the practices of truly going agile are letting people select their own teams and choose their own projects, and do the things that they think add the most value. That's actually, when you look at the highest level of that agility. That's, that's the right way to build your teams. If you sign them, you're always going to get a little less out of it. But but to build on what Muhammad was saying, and to be Devil's devil's advocate, I, I think, I truly believe and maybe this is just the kind of like the, you know, you know, just optimist in me at times, that yes, we talk about the largest fortune 500 companies, you're facing, obviously, different situations and scales. But I feel like those things that you mentioned around those obstacles that really get in the way of more people to worry about, I think they can be traced back to culture, and behavior, not that it's solvable that I mean, you're not going to get the efficiency of three people in a garage who just want to get it done. But I think we can definitely strive for close. Because if you have a culture where it's very well known and felt that a mistake is okay. Because in that garage, if that guy makes a mistake, they're like, hey, it's just the three of us, all we can do is pick it up and push harder and get it done tomorrow. And unfortunately, in the corporate workspace, a lot of times that's they spend the next few days blaming each other and worrying about whose fault it was and who gets punished. That same time could have been spent in a culture that really allows the boss says, Hey, guys, no big deal. We learned. Let's move on. And I think you can get close. I mean, I just I call me a romantic. But I think it's possible. And I know that's what we strive to do Muhammad every day. And it's hard. It's definitely hard. But I'll get the doors. I'll be back home.

Mia Amato Caliendo
I have an argument that we talk about, and Dr. Khilji. I don't know if that's where you are going about the care romantic versus being a realist.

Shaista Khilji
I know I love romantic and Jeff. I do.

Mia Amato Caliendo
Yeah. I agree. As a romantic in my heart. I agree.

Jeff Ma
I'm married guys.

Shaista Khilji
I know, of course, of course. No. But you know, if you bring it back to this individual level, and if you take your ego out, I think that that can solve a lot of problems. And you know, when we think about a wisdom when we think about learning, and when we think about you know, those personal relationships, whether you're in a large company or a small company, and two individuals interacting with each other to leaders interacting with each other two teams interacting with each other, one failing the other succeeding both failing, I think, at an individual level at a very sort of simple level, if he could start thinking about in terms of just removing ego from the situation, I think that can lead to much better on learning, learning and re learning.

Jason Smith
You know, I think with with this, and I think that's a great point about about ego. You know, I think we, what I've noticed, to really make our learning work, I think I think we need two things. Number one, we need to stop enshrining our systems and processes like their gospel. And that's that's what systems thinking, right? It's the understanding that like this system was originated from three people, five people sitting around a table, solving the problem that was in front of them, it deserves nothing more than that recognition. The other thing that we need to do, I think, is is in this ego point is, is separate ourselves from the organization to I think a large degree, it doesn't mean that we're not dedicated, it doesn't mean that we're not interested in the mission and things like that. But what I've noticed is that when, and one feeds into the other, when senior leaders are promoted up through the ranks of an organization, then it's almost like they become an appendage of the organization, where they're afraid to change the systems and processes, because these are the system processes that allowed them to succeed. So how could they be wrong? And then we get this gospel thing happening. So I think separating ego and then that systems thinking piece, those are critical to learning.

Zoe King
And, Jason, I think with that, I think, you know, we're undercuts all of this, I think is a real trust and a real atmosphere of psychological safety. And I think with that, de-stigmatizing failure, with that a trust in teams like Jeff, what you were saying, I think, I think we can achieve that. I think it's making sure that our team feel empowered, to be able to act as little startups within within the organization. But you know, if they are conceptualizing an idea and then they start to list out of the areas of bureaucracy that they're going to hit along the way that's going to stifle anything that they're going to be able to come up with. So, you know, Jason, what you said about about the gospel of these organizational processes that we just hang on to for dear life? How do we start to look at those, as they are inanimate objects, and, you know, really looking at who are these systems serving at the end of the day, and whether that is incorporating some sort of a, you know, feedback loop in an organization where we re examine our systems on a quarterly basis or on an annual basis, like we start to look at these things that could start to present as bureaucratic hurdles that stifle creativity.

Jeff Ma
Yeah, I love this discussion. Because it was, as I think about our audience, and like, what, what is the takeaway here, I'm looking at this idea that a lot of the things we strive for, like even as we talk, we talk about all the things that should be happening, we talk about all the ways you should look at things and do things from cultural perspectives and process perspectives. I think a lot of the instinct is for a lot of that to sound appealing to some, or maybe it's a turn off, I don't know. But either way, it's not like a lot of work and sound like a lot of change, and a lot of stress for people who are in decision making positions. And I think the takeaway to me is that if you want to be able to have your team start this new learning and to achieve, if you want a team on your, in your business, that is that three person startup that generates you your next big product and becomes you know, catapults you into the future, you have to take this moment right now, to focus on unlearning. Because those are the things that are preventing you from having one of those teams, and you have the talent probably in there, you can probably find the passion from the right people that's probably hidden there. But everything Jason's saying every I mean, everything everyone's saying, has kind of pointed, the same conclusion that I'm having is that there's just so much work to be done in the realm of what to discard, and what to have the courage to get rid of, and try. Because it's not when we say failure is a path to success. It's not just at the individual level where they're doing work, an organization needs to embrace failure, and be like, I'm willing to get rid of this gospel, to give people a chance to see what they're made of. And that That, to me, resonates wholeheartedly, and you know, romantics unite, where we can we can win this thing, guys, I think. And I think,

Mia Amato Caliendo
you know, knowing that it not all it's not a one size fits all that every organization, every problem, every person, every collective group has a different approach and their approach. If it's working, then it's working, it might need to change, but it could be different from their neighbor. Yeah.

Jeff Ma
If you're just listening to audio, Mohammad is still here, he's just nodding his head,

Mohammad Anwar
I am mesmerized with all of these discussions. My brain is like, Oh, my gosh, this is gold. I'm just processing stuff. I'm really enjoying it.

Jeff Ma
He's got a pen in hand. He's been taking notes.

Mohammad Anwar
Yes, I have.

Jeff Ma
So to kind of to kind of close this all out. You know, I think that if you put the two episodes we've done on this topic together, we've we've established where cultures at, we've been pretty clear about where it should be going. And now we're we just talked about kind of trying to tie those, you know, get rid of these paradoxes that we might have in terms of how we see, you know, a having a growth mindset about all this, essentially. And how important that is. Is there anything else from you guys, or Muhammad, of course, you're you know, welcome to join, as on top on this, that you'd want to share as a takeaway for the listener. So what if I'm listening to this, whether I'm a leader in the organization, or even just in the middle or on the bottom? Like, what is something that I can practically take with me and start doing?

Zoe King
Jason mentioned this earlier, and I want to reiterate it, I think this whole year has been one big disorienting dilemma, layered upon disorienting dilemma. And Jason, you talked about leaning into that disorientation. And I think when we can start to instead of straying away from that conflict instead of you know, turn back to that, that uncomfortable feeling of I don't know what to do with this, I don't know where to place it. Let's be more curious, and let's inspect it and reflect on it. And I think that is where the real change comes. So I think that we can, you know, we're in this moment. And I think that there's so much to be learned from uncomfortability. And I think, if we can be a little brave and lean into that feeling of being uncomfortable, and that vulnerability, I think so much learning can come from that.

Shaista Khilji
And I would, I would like to say that, if there's one thing that COVID-19 this pandemic should teach us is that we cannot predict the future. Nobody knew, in November 2019, what was going to happen in December, January, February, March, and we're back in December now, right. So this idea of control, I think it is applicable at the organizational level, but it has to start at the individual level for each individual leaders, we have this unfortunate tendency to want to control things. And I literature refers to it as the own view, like you own it, right? When you own something you want to control it. And what I think COVID-19 should teach us all that you cannot own it all, you need to give up control. And so that I would refer to as the unknown view, right, so in your interactions with others, in your interactions with yourself as well adopt an unknown view. Be and you're I think it's very similar to what Zoe and Jason talked about, as well be curious. And know that not everything that happens to you happens around you, is completely within your control. So we have to learn to go with the flow sometimes as well. And when we learn to go with the flow, by seeking, sensing and sharing, wonderful things do happen to us. And to be honest with you, I can share my personal example. I think I've grown as a person over the past 1520 years. And as I embarked on this journey of self growth, one thing that really helped me a lot was adopt an unknown view, knowing that I cannot control it all. Knowing that you have to put aside your ego. And then you have to look at other people's needs in order to move forward and you can extend the same time. Right now I'm talking about the individual level. But you can extend the same concept to the organizational levels as well, as we talked previously, it's about a sense of responsibility. To our community, it's a sense of responsibility to this planet to this global society. As leaders, the decisions that we make impact not only us, or 100 people or 400,000 people that really impact a lot of individuals impacts societies. So being very cognizant, adopting an unknown view, being in a state of perpetual becoming, seeking, sensing, reflecting, putting aside your ego, I think could could help us move in the right direction, to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Mia Amato Caliendo
I think I want to add just one another thing to that, too, is I'm Schumann pusad talks about the persistent interrogation of eurocentrism and post colonial theory. And I think that's something that's really tangible that can be taken away along with Dr. Kill G's unknown view is what, like, what are you interrogating within your sphere of responsibility within your scope? Are you constantly questioning those things that are just sort of accepted as norms? And I think that'll lead you to a lot of interesting, a lot of interesting core or I should say, root cause of some issues. But I also think it's not always about the answer as much as it is about the question.

Jason Smith
You know, and I would just build on these thoughts and say, it That's right. I mean, like the question, right, and I think that like that leads me into a like a very practical thing. Slow down, like, take a minute and when somebody tells you when the vaccine hits, and we kind of resumed some sort of normal, what kind of normal Do you want that to be? I mean, like this is a wonderful opportunity for learning. Like there's a one line from one of my favorite authors since john O'Donoghue, wonderful guy, some Irish guy no longer with us, unfortunately. And he says, I think this gets a doctor killed cheese point. He said I would love to live like a river flows carried by the surprise of its own unfolding. have that right? Like it speaks to this like this curiosity. This is like the the wonder, right? Like the lack of control that if we embrace it, like we can experience as leaders and can bring into organizations?

Jeff Ma
Well, if there ever was an episode to just watch over or listen to over again, this is it. I know I will. Because I did not take notes. And there are a lot of things that everyone has said that I need to retain. So hopefully, listeners got as much out of as I did. This is an amazing conversation that has really opened up a lot for me, personally, and I really appreciate, of course, the humanizing initiative. Jason Mia, Zoe shyster, thank you guys, so much for this conversation, a lot of insightful golden nuggets to to take from this. Mohammed, thank you for joining as well. This was definitely a wonderful experience. And I, I'm hoping we continue this. I think we're planning on continuing this this series in some way, so that we can continue unpacking these topics. And there's, I think there have been just five minute segments here that I think could make whole other episodes. So definitely going to dig into that and explore that opportunity. Here at love as a business strategy. We're posting new episodes every Tuesday. And we hope you really enjoyed this one and the other one, so please, if you want to leave any feedback, we'd love to hear it software, comm slash labs, la abs. And all as always, like a review, five star review on Apple and Spotify are always great. And with that, thank you all for this conversation. Thank you for listening. We really appreciate it and we will see you soon.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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