Founder of The Ready and two-time author joined Adam to talk about his insightful new book Brave New Work. He’s helped large and small companies develop plans for becoming more productive, faster or whatever they felt they needed to become to create companies that satisfy their teams, customers and stakeholders.
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Adam Pierno 0:17
Alright, welcome back to another episode of The Strategy Inside Everything I have today very special guest who is introducing his second book. I’m I’m dumb, I thought I thought this was your first book, Aaron. But Aaron Dignan is joining us today he is the founder of The Ready. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit. But he’s also written a book that is called brave new work. And I think those two things are not unrelated. Aaron, welcome to The Strategy Inside Everything.
Aaron Dignan 0:47
Oh, awesome. Thanks for having me.
Adam Pierno 0:49
As soon as I saw you start talking about your book, I don’t know about a year ago where you started talking about the process and getting close to finishing. I know what that whole process is, like I thought, Oh, this conversation to have to have on the show here.
But before we dive into brave new work, tell me more about your career. Just give listeners a sense of context of where you’ve been and what you’ve done.
Aaron Dignan 1:13
Yeah, I mean, I’ve, I’ve been working with other organizations, almost my entire career actually came right out of school, working in the brand, strategy, space building and launching and changing brands. And then from there kind of pivoted into more of the digital space and worked on, you know, how different exponential technologies like 3d printing or robotics or AI or social media back when it was a wild and you know, new novel thing, affected organizations and shape their their worlds? And then more recently, have really become enamored with organizational change and organizational design? And what does it take to create places that are more adaptive and more human? And the bureaucracies that we you have come to know and love?
Adam Pierno 2:02
Yeah, well, let’s, let’s go right into that. I mean, tell me, tell me, what makes it more human. I’ve been inside huge organizations on the agency side, and also on the brand side, and they’re far away from human, they become the Borg, these weird organizations of compliance and matrix rule following and just, it’s not human, it’s the it’s the exact opposite.
Aaron Dignan 2:28
Yeah, I mean, I think we have, we’ve inherited a way of working is what I like to say, you know, it’s, it’s something that most people don’t really think about, or consider you, you start work and you go in, and whatever is done is what is done. And you sort of take it as, as tacit, that this is how we do it, we have these terrible Monday meetings, and we’re all you know, our calendars are filled with more like that, for the rest of the week, we have too much email to go through, we have very little autonomy, we’re often waiting for instruction or approval or review. You know, we’re always using tools that are outdated or outmoded in some way, or we’re under leveraging the tools around us. So there’s just a lot of trapped capacity in the system. And I think that’s just because, you know, a way of working that was born on a factory floor has mostly persisted, and in many ways has metastasized into something that was you know, designed to try to create more efficiency. But in the in the process has sort of become very anti risk and very anti human, as we say, like, it’s sort of it flies right in the face of what it means to be, to be whole and to feel like you’re engaged at work. And so we think a lot more about compliance and control, and avoiding, you know, possible scenarios that might go wrong, than we do about creating environments where human beings really flourish, and where we can, you know, do the best work of our lives.
Adam Pierno 3:50
Yeah, it’s funny because the the free flow of creative companies has been overtaken, and they’ve adopted the, the efficiency rigor of corporate world, which is a shame, because they’ve tried to go and pull in these things. So they could be more comparable to their clients, but it’s sucking the life out of those agencies and organizations, it seems like,
Aaron Dignan 4:15
yeah, there’s a quote in the book about, you know, when you fight monsters and gaze into the abyss, be careful, you know, become a monster, right? Which I think is, you know, very much the case, like, when you work with large bureaucracies as an agency or as a partner, you know, there’s, there’s an effect, it has an effect on you. And it starts to maybe shaped the way you see the world and the way you write policy and the way you think about structure and all that kind of stuff. So I think there is a little bit of a transference that goes on that that is, you know, pernicious. And then the other thing is that the the creative space in the agency space has become subject to a lot of the bigger macro economic forces that I think are dangerous, right consolidation, creating, you know, just a few fortresses that hold everybody inside a single system, that is a publicly traded entity that has short term, quarterly goals to hit, you know, suddenly you get into into a world where the incentives are actually encouraging this behavior. Even if in the long run, it’s probably not a good thing for anybody involved.
Adam Pierno 5:21
Yeah. And, and and we try to in the agency world, we try to mirror we try to look similar to our clients, and it just keeps pulling us closer and closer to not being necessary. In addition to
like you that we’re pretty we are you? Yeah, we’ve stamped out everything that made us valuable.
Aaron Dignan 5:41
Yeah. And you see that too, with people moving from, you know, client side to agency side and back. You know, one of the things I often talk about with clients, there’s this concept in the book of an operating system, which is basically all the assumptions and principles and practices and norms and patterns of behavior that kind of make up the foundation of the the way we work. You know, we assume that we need an annual budget, and we assume that a conference room needs a table and chairs, and we assume that, you know, people need to be reviewed, and so on and so forth. And what’s weird about this OS is that everybody has one that’s been imprinted on them from their work experience. So when you go in and out of a client, site, environment and agency environment back and forth, you’re actually bringing the OS with you. You know, you’re you’re actually kind of mixing up the batter. And and I think that is, that’s one of the reasons for what you’re describing.
Adam Pierno 6:34
What what types of, is there a specific type of company that you work with? Or is it does it cross all kinds of different boundaries?
Aaron Dignan 6:42
No, it’s super, super diverse. So I mean, you know, in the same week, we might be working with a 100 person, nonprofit water charity, and the country’s largest energy utility and one of the country’s largest banks. So it’s, yeah, it’s extremely diverse. Because I think actually, that’s part of the incriminating here. We have these tension cards that we use with clients. It’s a little thinking tool, kind of like the idea of cards, if anybody who’s listening has seen those. And each one represents a very common bureaucratic tension, something that can drive us crazy, or frustrate us or slow us down. And what’s fascinating to me as I put those cards in front of people in all three of those contexts, and everybody is like, Yeah, all those right, like, that’s all present.
Adam Pierno 7:29
That’s true for all of them.
Aaron Dignan 7:31
Yeah. Because the way of work, and I’ve done this as far away as Manila, I mean, it’s, you know, what’s amazing to me is that this way of working this kind of, you know, matrix, siloed bureaucratic, short term obsessed, kind of, you know, hollowed out thing has become the norm as far away as I’ve ever traveled.
Adam Pierno 7:50
Right? And so it’s it repeats itself across no matter what type of company you’re working with.
Aaron Dignan 7:56
Yeah, totally. It’s, it’s incredibly repetitive. And that is insane. Some ways, it’s a bad thing, because it talks to the state of the world. But in other ways, it’s a really good thing, because it means we can all help each other, you know, organizations that figure something out, there’s a high rate of transfer ability, there’s a high rate of spread, and possibility. So I you know, in many ways, it’s great because we become this community of practice. And we can recognize that those industry lines don’t actually matter all that much. There are little things that are bespoke and contextual, about the structure and the workflow and the value creation process and each industry. But the vast majority of what we’re doing is very similar. And we can and we can change it to be similar in a in a more, you know, kind of modern way.
Adam Pierno 8:38
What, as your as you’re meeting with all different types of companies, is there a single trait that you notice in a company that is more apt to take on the work after the workshop? Or after the work you do that make it true? Or is it? Or is it across the board when it works? And when it does?
Aaron Dignan 9:00
Yeah, no, I mean, I think there are a couple traits that I mean, the first one, obviously, is that when people in power, are frustrated, or tired of the old way, then that’s, that’s a sure sign that there’s there’s possibility there, which, which is obvious, but it actually matters quite a bit. If they’re not ready to flip the table over, then, then there’s an uphill battle ahead, because there’s a lot of mental model shifting, and we know what’s important to them, and what’s you know, how did they sort of think about their own control and their own identity, all that stuff can be, can be a big gap. But the actual trait that I would say, org wide makes the difference? Is there certain organizations we meet where, when they get excited about something, they sweat it, they get into it, they get obsessive about it, they lean in on it, and and they’re going to make it their own, they’re going to master it, and I can’t quite figure out what makes that true. It’s a very emergent property. But, but you’ll meet teams where you’re just like, oh, wow, these folks did the reading. Like they’re into it, they’re trying things there, they kind have a, you know, an attitude of, let’s get into it, and let’s make it our own. So I think that, that kind of willingness to make the time and to bring kind of the passion and energy to it really does make the difference, because those teams in six months will go from zero to 100. And another team might spend two years kind of debating and toiling. And, you know, that’s, that’s a problem, right? Yeah. Yeah, it’s it we’re so good at I mean, one of the things I always always joke about is like, the best defense against fixing bureaucracy is bureaucracy itself, like it is built to not be tipped over. And so there are a lot of things that that will resist, but when a culture has that hunger, at its heart, that sort of creative energy, then then things go really fast, which actually is one of the reasons why we’ve had you know, more success than not when we work with creative companies and agencies and things like that.
Adam Pierno 10:54
Oh, yeah, that that makes sense. They’re more willing to try new things and willing to get back to a creative place.
Aaron Dignan 11:00
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, they’re like, let’s do it, you know, as soon as they buy in, philosophically, then then everybody’s game to kind of, you know, get get out the pen and paper. And I think that’s, that’s a big missing piece. I mean, even the idea of like, let’s put some post it notes on the wall, or let’s draw something or, let’s, let’s think out loud. You know, that’s such a, such a nascent and kind of, in many ways dying trait, when you go into the bigger bureaucracies that are not working creative industries. And so you have to kind of pull that out of them as well. They’re like, Oh, you know, even if they want to work on structure, you’re like, Cool, let’s, let’s move this table out of the way. And actually, you know, break some eggs. And that’s like, too scary. But, but when you work with, you know, more of a creative firm, it’s like, oh, we’re so built for that, like, Who do you want around? tip marker, a chisel? Tip? Mark?
Adam Pierno 11:50
Right. Let’s go. Yeah, they’re just totally ready for it. Yeah. And what was so you’re not, you don’t have a system, you’re not replacing a co goal, bureaucracies format for another one, you’re bringing in the idea of where can we find gaps and and take out pieces, challenge them to think about how they can take apart bureaucracy and put back together something that’s more efficient and has more solo on it?
Aaron Dignan 12:14
Yeah, we’re our our thesis is that we need to be aligned on the principles, but the practices can emerge. So thinking about things like autonomy and transparency and trust, you know, sort of acknowledging complexity and our need to deal with uncertainty. Like if we can align on that stuff, then then the culture can kind of run it from there and figure out well, what’s their version of what makes that work in their world. And that’s fine. So it’s sort of a principled take on on the change. And our goal, of course, is not to get to some end state of like, oh, now you’ve installed, you know, agile framework, XYZ dash, you know, that seven, you’re done. The goal is continuous participatory change. So how does every team in the organization, whether that be an internal team, or a project team, or a client team? How do they take ownership of their way of working, pay attention to it, and always be living in this process of what’s the most present tension for us? What can we try? That’s an alternative? How will we know if it works? And just continuing to kind of loop? So we’re working in the business and on the business? Oh, that’s interesting. And do they? Did you get kind of feedback reports from them that there’s that they maintain this? And there’s people that do it? Or do continue to do it? Do you have to keep having regular sessions with as they companies are living things, there’s new people coming in, and people leaving people that move to another place? It is, I mean, it is a moving target, I think it’s a lot like diet and exercise, right? Like you can get really fit, and then you can lose it. And other people really turn it into a lifestyle. And the X Factor there has to do with kind of how it’s held and protected and, and how sacred it is. So I think, you know, yeah, we’ve had clients that we talked to years later, and they’re like, oh, we’re still you know, we’re still doing this stuff. And it’s still helping. We’ve had clients that leave and go somewhere else and bring it with them, and tell us about their successes with that. And we’ve had clients that three months later have like, totally slipped, and they’re not going to the gym anymore. It’s just back to what they have. Yeah, so that is, you know, all things are possible. But I do think that, you know, the vast majority of teams once they’ve tasted a way of working, that really honors their humanity and honors their creativity and is focused on kind of creating a very resilient system. It’s awful hard to go back. So even when they backslide, the people themselves are kind of like, ah, I might need to look for the next thing, because I just don’t know if I can work in a place like this anymore.
Adam Pierno 14:41
Right, then it’s then it’s just a different a changed.
State point of view.
Aaron Dignan 14:46
Yeah, it’s like flying first class, like, it’s
Adam Pierno 14:48
not gonna, you’re not going back after that. Yeah. Now, you, you the title of the book, brave stands out to me in brave new work. Tell me Tell me more about bravery here.
Aaron Dignan 15:02
Yeah, I think I mean, as we’re, as we’re working on the book, and as we’ve been doing this work in the wild, we’ve just noticed that when you’re jumping from one system to another, it’s a kind of a rite of passage, it’s, it’s a moment of risk, it’s a moment of vulnerability, you’re trading one form of control for another, you’re trading, you know, one kind of identity as a leader for a different kind of identity. And so, you know, it’s not, it’s not for the faint of heart. And it does require a certain amount of commitment, and courage. And so, you know, when we found the play on words, that was brave new work, I was like, yeah, that is what it’s about, actually, it is kind of about, about bravery. And, and, you know, making a choice that you can’t quite see the other side
Adam Pierno 15:46
is the opposite of bureaucracy and the world of management consultants, where we could sit down and do the work ourselves and figure this out. Or we could pay these guys from, you know, whatever, Accenture to come in and give us the same answer. But then we can point at them. If it doesn’t work, you know, it’s insulation that bureaucracies are built to absorb. And there’s, there’s layers and layers of, quote, unquote, accountability, which all means, well, it wasn’t me. And it wasn’t all you and it wasn’t all him, and it wasn’t all her, we all kind of share the blame. And then the person at the top gets the gets the victory?
Aaron Dignan 16:22
Well, and there’s so many misconceptions in that kind of consultative work where you get the PowerPoint dropped on your desk. I mean, one of the things I talked about in the book is the difference between complicated and complex systems. And a complicated system is something like a watch or an engine that is has caused an effect in it that can be predicted and fixed by an expert. And a complex system is something like traffic or weather or a six year old or a garden that is inherently surprising, that is inherently uncertain that has a kind of a, you know, an unpredictability at its core, because of the way the agents in that system interact with each other. Nobody ever comes in and says, honey, I fixed the garden. And so you know, so what I think happens is we misunderstand what the organization is, we go look for a watchmaker to give us a new part. And it’s like, oh, cool, the answer can fit in a PowerPoint document. And when we can just implement that, and then we’re fixed. But the reality is like, No, no, no, you have to learn by doing this is like this is gardening. This is parenting this is, you know, being in a complex system, this is navigating weather or climbing a mountain. And so the only way to improve our way of working is actually to go start doing stuff. The only way to actually understand what will help and what will hurt is to try stuff, there’s no way to be sure when you’re looking at a deck of you know, of methods and practices and structures and org charts, whether it’s correct or not, you can run that all day, it won’t matter. So there’s a kind of a default new bias that we need, which is like, learn by doing, start by starting, you know, just go do. And then if it helps feed it if it doesn’t help starve it and continue to rinse and repeat.
Adam Pierno 18:02
Yeah, I mean, any system that has people in it is a flawed system. So there’s no when a consultant comes in and starts looking at the org chart, and you can have an identical org chart to the company next door. But the people are different. So yeah, and their motivations are all different, their background is different, their education is different, their goals are different, their their comprehension is different. And skills in different areas are all different. And so everything is House of Cards.
Aaron Dignan 18:28
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more the one of the kind of founders of the Toyota method of working there kind of lean approach.
Adam Pierno 18:35
Aaron Dignan 18:36
Yeah, yeah. He used to say, Stop trying to borrow wisdom and think for yourself, right? Yeah. Yeah. Just just you know, you can’t, you can’t rubber stamp someone else’s operating system any more than you can rubber stamp someone else’s personality, like, well, I really like the way he carries himself. So I’ll just do it like that.
Adam Pierno 18:54
Well, let’s, let’s go there. Do you think that is part of you’ve worked all over the world, you’re doing this, but in America specifically, do you think that’s part of the problem that Americans and companies here for the most part, especially big, bureaucratic companies, instead of innovating, are looking for an easy answer for whatever it can be plugged in and used picked up and used not to do it because it’s more efficient, instead of creating new solutions that are better that are more suited to our work style? Or our customers or our system?
Aaron Dignan 19:27
Yes, I mean, and I don’t think it’s just limited to the US. I think that’s literally what executives are educated to do. I mean, if you get an MBA, you are being taught to go through cases find the answer and replicating the answer again. So so there is there is an addiction to like, give me the answer, what is the correct answer? What is the right move? Instead of saying, you know, there is no such thing, or we’re in an emerging space, we need to be, you know, we need to be exploring and feeling and sensing. And, and it’s really just because, you know, as the world has become more complex and dynamic, the the nature of the of the challenge changes, you know, it used to be like, Okay, how do we make a consistent box of cornflakes that tastes good. And that’s the kind of challenge where there are some right answers, and there are some repeatable patterns. But when there are 16 brands of Oreo, and you’re trying to create a new product, they’re going to launch into a grocery store and create a national brand out of it. You know, that’s not the way it’s going to work, it’s going to be extremely unexpected. Nobody saw our x bar coming, nobody saw a five hour energy coming. Nobody like this stuff, this stuff is going to be emergent. And so that means we’re not looking for the answers. We’re looking for the questions, we’re looking for the experiments that we can do to learn more.
Adam Pierno 20:46
And how do you handle that case? Study culture, because because I’ve, I’ve come across my share of MBAs, and you’re exactly right, they want well show me the data, and then show me your case study. And then we’ll put those two things together and will prove that the problem when we’re solving is is right for this solution, and then we’ll put it in a PowerPoint deck and move forward. And that’s, that’s great. But that’s not the world. In a lot of cases, you’re solving something for the first time if it involves people or the internet.
Aaron Dignan 21:14
Yeah, exactly. I think we just try to start building new mental models early on by certain kinds of play activities, you know, giving people problems to solve in different contexts with different constraints to let them experience different ways of working. One of the metaphors I use in the book is the difference between a lighted intersection and a roundabout. So you know, these are two different operating systems for the same problem space. The problem, of course, is two roads crossing, and we need to make sure people don’t hit each other and that they can get through the lighted intersection takes the approach of control and compliance, which is, you’re not to be trusted, we will tell you when to stop and when to go. And you’re also not really on the hook, like you can kind of check your phone while the light is red and not be present in in the space. Right, disengage. Yeah, exactly. And so that has a whole apparatus around it, of electricity and algorithms and control centers. And you know, there’s a whole lot going on there. The roundabout, of course, takes the opposite tack, which is more trust and autonomy based, there’s a couple simple rules are enabling constraints go with the flow of traffic, give the right away to the people in the circle. And, and yet, you know, when we actually look at the just the predominance of them, there’s 1000 times more lighted intersections, right, then then the roundabout. Meanwhile, the roundabout is safer, higher throughput, cheaper to build and maintain and works better when the power goes out. Right. So we talked about this stuff with leaders and say, like, well, what is the nature of the system that you’re working on? You know, and what is the what is the approach that you’re going to take to get what you want. And if you take a lighted intersection approach of control and compliance, you’re going to get a certain set of outcomes, but you’re going to limit potential, and you’re going to limit people’s engagement in the problem. And if you take more of a roundabout approach, you’re going to have, you know, you’re going to think and try and figure out what those right constraints are. But once you do that, there’s a lot of judgment and freedom and creativity in the system and the potentials higher, but it asks more of us. And there’s a whole spectrum of choices in between. And so a lot of what we get into with them is, you know, based on what we’re focused on here, is a case study approach really what we need, like, what is the nature of the problem? What is the nature of the of this, you know, solution that we’re going to create here? And if they can recognize that they’re dealing with complexity, that they’re dealing with dynamism, then we can say, Okay, great, well, what’s the best way to deal with that? I often make this analogy of you’re, you know, you’re in a room with gold bullion in the center of the room, and you need to get it to the car, what do you do? Well, you make a line of lemmings, and you hand the bars down the line. And again, the cards great, like that was business in the 1920s.
But if you turn the lights off, and start moving the gold at random in the room, now, what approach would you take? Ryan?
Yeah, I would go, I would make lots of you no quick short movements, I would communicate a lot, we’d be calling out to each other in the room communicating. As soon as we had some information, we’d be sharing it, we’d be you know, trying to capitalize on it, when we really felt felt the brush of the gold against our leg, like, you become very sense and respond oriented. And so you know, my, my, my point here is like, that’s the world of value creation today. We don’t know where where the value is, we don’t know what might happen. So we need that iteration. And we need that communication and that openness. And it doesn’t you don’t you know, it doesn’t really do you a ton of good have a leader in a dark room. Right? That’s right. What are they? What are they going to do? You know, they they only have one piece of the information right there holding the elephant’s tail. So I think that, you know, it’s a really good example of what we’re up against.
Adam Pierno 24:47
I wonder if there has ever been, and if there isn’t, we would actually do this together a psychological study of people’s reactions and receptions to traffic lights versus roundabouts and what we can learn about their personality types based on that we should white paper, that thing? Oh, for sure. Yeah. Now
Aaron Dignan 25:05
you get really interesting reactions. And you get interesting pushback. And I’ve had arguments with people that work in that industry about what is true and what isn’t true about the data. But you know, the fundamental reality is that, you know, they’re there, there’s no one right answer, there’s no one solution, that’s gonna be perfect for every context. But most people can agree with me that 1000 times more traffic lights when they underperform the way they do is probably not the right ratio. Right? The same thing is true at work. Like we don’t need 1000 times more process and policy and compliance based approaches to things if we have a problem with travel spending. A travel freeze is not our only option.
Adam Pierno 25:50
Right? Exactly. There’s there’s other ways to attack the problem. And and whenever you get a case study as as your solution, if you dig not that deeply, you’ll find how the case differs from your situation. And I think the idea of applied thoughts scares middle managers.
Aaron Dignan 26:08
Yeah, of course it does. Because again, they’ve been trained and incentivized to reduce risk at all costs, and to comply and to ensure compliance. And so you know, they’re they’re playing the game that, that they’ve been presented to, one of the things I have a lot of fun arguing about with people is what is our true nature. And a lot of people like to characterize their colleagues, the middle managers, the colleagues that are, you know, stuck in the mud in some way in their eyes, as being of a different nature than them, right. Like, they don’t get it, they don’t see it, etc. And my experience was like, No, no, no, it’s not the fish. It’s the aquarium, right. But for 20 years, they will look like that they will appear to behave as if, right, that’s not who they are. And in fact, I find that a lot of these people that folks most warned me about at the beginning of projects, six months later, are the biggest advocates. They’re the people that people come to me like, what did you do with, you know, what happened to him? And it’s like, these are just people with conviction that had to, you know, flip the model, and they had to see the environment in the context changed, then as soon as the rest of the operating system aligned with a new way of working, they figured it out.
Adam Pierno 27:17
Yeah, right. Well, when someone is incentive inside the system to perform a certain way, and they get rewarded for one thing, and discouraged from doing the other thing, they tend to optimize towards the thing that rewards them if that’s like, common sense. Exactly.
Aaron Dignan 27:33
And I think sometimes we mistake behavior for satisfaction. Like one of the things that’s true is people that work in those systems feel a deep sense of something’s wrong. And you know, being unfulfilled. I, you know, I regularly counseled executives who are stepping back from a 20 or 30 year career and being like, what did I just do? Like, what was that? And, you know, am I proud of that I like, there’s a story, I’m telling myself, but what do I really feel the nature of the work that we did, and the way that we did it? And the reality is like, nobody’s going to feel amazing about that. They’re going to feel amazing about working in ways that really honor humanity and creativity and expression and participation. And, you know, Britt, really bring everybody along and solving, you know, interesting problems that actually, you know, help us and move things forward for our communities. Do most of your clients understand use the word dynamism? Do they understand how dynamism and the dynamic dynamic nature of the world is washing over their business? And is that something they get intuitively? Or is that something you have to work to make them accept that it’s because everything around them is changing, they need to be thinking about a new format to receive information and output work. I think there’s a very high level of acceptance and awareness of change and of dynamism. I think the hang up is what to do about it. And sometimes, you know, when the only tool you have is a hammer, then you know, no matter what’s going on, you kind of reach for it. And so there is a little bit of like, we need to, we need to tighten up these processes and get even more compliance and really lean into what we know works, because the world is moving so fast. And it’s and it’s scaring us, as opposed to we need to really adopt a new approach. And it’s not that most clients don’t get that, but that if there is a hang up, that’s the hang up, it’s this sort of emotional, instinctual response to kind of go back to what has served us in the past and double double dip. Right? And and when we are aware of that, then we can step away from it. And a lot of people do. I mean, very, very frequently, we have clients come in the door, they’re like, already accepting all of this as a given. And all they’re saying is, it’s just the change part. That’s hard. So how do we how do we help
Adam Pierno 29:52
now? What do we do now that I’ve taken a girl, right?
Aaron Dignan 29:55
Adam Pierno 29:57
What? I want to let you go, I know, I know, we haven’t stopped coming. But what was your favorite or most revealing part of working on the new book? What as you were writing it? You know, what, what memory do you have that jumped out to you during the writing process? I
Aaron Dignan 30:15
mean, I think what was interesting about the book is just going back and kind of tracing the thread of where a lot of these ideas of new ways of working have come from, and recognizing that almost none of them are new. I mean, I you know, I went back to texts that were 1020, 3040
years old cases that started in the 70s. The reality is that the way to work that really serves us well, has been around at the fringes for a very long time in different manifestations, at wl gore for decades. Morningstar for decades at Handelsbanken for decades. And, and has been written about my you know, I mean, I, I don’t know, I probably acquired two or 300 books, in this in the research for this one, that we’re sort of chipping away at this. So it’s not that it hasn’t been said, it’s just that it hasn’t been heard. And it hasn’t been given a platform doesn’t we don’t tell stories of these companies on the cover of our magazines, we tell stories of you know, near monopolistic digital technology.
Companies, you’re talking about one of the so that’s like, those are the stories we tell and glorify. And, and and those those those the stories that reinforce the the narrative and culture about, you know, the purpose of businesses profit, right, and the it’s the goal is just to dominate, become a billionaire, right, essentially, and crush everyone else, which is, you know, that’s, that’s one thing we can do. But I think one of the points I make towards the end of the book is, the problem is not, you know, just like the basic tenants of capitalism, of competition of, of, you know, going out into a marketplace that’s open and free and seeing what works. The problem is what we value and what winning is to us, right winning to us is monopoly, then we’re going to find ourselves very dissatisfied. If winning to us is something more than it can be, then it can be quite transcendent. And so you know, there’s this quote, I used in the end of the book, you know, if if, instead of competing for who’s the best in the world, we were competing for who’s the best for the world? What would that look like? And I think that, you know, how exciting would that be? And, and it’s possible, I mean, it’s, you know, there, I found 70 cases that I was able to sort of use and leverage in the book, there were hundreds more that I didn’t have time to go study and dig into. There is there is a movement here in almost every industry in category, but it’s still the 1%. You know, it hasn’t it hasn’t hit that tipping point yet.
Adam Pierno 32:49
Not yet. But hopefully the the stories you’re telling will start moving in that direction, as it as an author, as a creator, as you realized more and more, we’re doing research. And I’ve experienced this, too. And I’m telling these stories, I’m writing this, but it’s already been documented. It’s already collected in these other places, and maybe you’d have to read 510 20 books to get a lot of this and it hasn’t been told in this way. Did you? Are you encouraged or discouraged? As you were writing to realize, like, Okay, I’m, I’m re telling these stories, because that can be one of two things it can be well, like, when you’re having a tough day, and you’re not, the words aren’t flowing, it’s like you discouraged yourself, and that dark voice comes and says, What are you doing this books already been written? Or it’s, nobody’s ever told it in my voice. And because nobody knows about these books, they need to be pointed to them. And I’m going to be the vehicle that does that. Yeah, no, I think that’s
Aaron Dignan 33:49
really well said, and you know, there is an imposter syndrome that creeps in any creative project, or you’re just like, what am I doing? You know, but the reality is, I just kept coming back to the basic simple premise that while I had read and enjoyed so many of these stories, almost every person that I meet has not.
Adam Pierno 34:09
Right, right, exactly.
Aaron Dignan 34:09
So it was it was very simple to just be like, Look, you know, what I’m accountable to do here is not to be original, but to, to try to create something that is even more accessible, and even more convincing. And if I have to borrow some of the stories and cases and anecdotes and quotes that have found that I have found most compelling, and that makes my ego feel a little weird. So be it. I mean, that’s, you know, that’s the job. So I did I really took the tack of like, make it the most digestible, most accessible, most simple, condensed, kind of distillation of what has affected me and, and put it out there and see what happens. And you know, of course, nobody so far has been like, you’re a plagiarists.
Adam Pierno 35:01
That’s not what I was. That’s not what I was implying. Right away. No, but
Aaron Dignan 35:03
I know, but I feel what you’re saying. And what’s funny is like people, even people who do connect with the story, like have such an interesting little paragraph, and I’m like, yeah, guess what, there’s a whole book about that. Right? Go read the book. So to me, it’s become more of a of a way finding tool, like the sign the signs that the book posts up or to the others, to those stories to the original storytellers, the original creators hundred percent, you know, I give hats off to them. So that’s, that’s my, that’s been my take on it.
Adam Pierno 35:30
In my, in my first book I got is, I wouldn’t say as many but I got a fair amount of comments about the bibliography and people saying, oh, because of you, I found Phil Barton. You know, like, because of you I found this book and the bibliography for me that people come to me and say, you know, oh, I read Ferriss book, I didn’t know who he was like, that’s, that is as meaningful to me as they’d like to enjoyed my book or they got some benefit from it. So I pointing to other people who have told the story story or a story better is is something that I’m aligned with I get it.
Aaron Dignan 36:05
Adam Pierno 36:06
Well, where can people find the book? I know it’s brave new work calm. Is it available everywhere?
Aaron Dignan 36:12
Pretty much is right now. Yeah, if you if you strike while the iron side, it’s pretty much everywhere. Brave New York, calm has more info and some other things to do. And then the ready calm is the site for for my organization. And there’s more, you know, other fun things there as well.
Adam Pierno 36:27
Absolutely. And where can people find you if they want to hear more, you’re thinking,
Aaron Dignan 36:32
I pretty much use my name on any platform that I’m on. So you can find me on Twitter @AaronDignan LinkedIn the same. Occasionally I click over to Facebook, but not all that often. But those are those are good places to find me.
Adam Pierno 36:46
Got it. Yeah, I’ve been following you on Twitter for a while and the listeners to the show are sick of hearing me say that. That’s how I get most of the guests come on, or people that I follow. Sothank you for making time. I really appreciate it. This was fantastic.
Aaron Dignan 36:59
Yeah, thanks for the questions. All right.