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Todd Jick | Columbia Business School Professor
This week we meet Todd Jick, a professor at Columbia Business School and a leading expert in Leadership and Organizational Change. He has co-authored Managing Change and The Boundaryless Organization, and actively consults with companies on leadership and transformation.
Todd Jick has twice received the Singhvi Prize for Teaching Excellence with popular MBA courses on Change Management. He previously taught at Harvard Business School and he actively consults with companies on leadership and transformation.
[00:00:00] - Professor Todd Jick
So there is a leap of faith mindset that I think the leaders that you're working with and that I'm working with have to basically embody, recognizing that they can't be foolproof. That there aren't three-ring binders of you do it this way, then you stop, then you go here, then you go there. I know they would love to see that, but I think you have to give them the appreciation that they're part of a laboratory of change. They're part of experimentation.
[00:00:34] - Doug Foulkes
Welcome to Episode 41 of "The Future of Work", the podcast that looks at every aspect of work in the future, and it's brought to you by WNDYR and Pattyrn. We release two podcasts a month featuring industry experts and thought leaders discussing how work is changing and evolving. You could say the future of work is now.
[00:00:56] - Doug Foulkes
I am Doug Foulkes and this week with WNDYR CEO, Claire Haidar, we meet Todd Jick. A professor at Columbia Business School and a leading expert in leadership and organizational change. Todd has twice received the Singhvi Prize for Teaching Excellence with popular MBA courses on change management.
[00:01:16] - Doug Foulkes
He has co-authored "Managing Change and the Boundaryless Organization" and actively consults with companies on leadership and transformation. In a packed show today, we look at what has actually changed in the past four decades. Practically, what is the starting point when an organization wants to change and the positive and negative reactions leaders have taken post-pandemic? But first, Claire asked Todd why he chose organizational change.
[00:01:44] - Doug Foulkes
Just before we join the conversation, a word about Pattyrn and WNDYR. WNDYR teaches you how to work smarter using tools that enhance collaboration and identify unnecessary barriers, breaking legacy behaviors before they destroy your team's, professional, productivity, and personal health.
[00:02:04] - Doug Foulkes
Pattyrn is a new product that identifies trends across multiple platforms. Email, calendars, tasks, video conferencing, and workflow management, and then combines them to help each team member learn and grow as individuals, as leaders, and in comparison to their peers in the marketplace. We can do better together. Check them out at wndyr.com, that's W-N-D-Y-R .com.
[00:02:30] - Claire Haidar
Professor Todd, welcome. It's so good to have you on the podcast with us today, and we're honestly just so privileged to have you as one of the world leaders in the field of organizational change with us here today. I'm going to dive right in and I'm going to ask you to share with us why organizational change?
[00:02:52] - Professor Todd Jick
Well, I could be smart and answer why not? But the real answer is Claire that years ago when I was doing my PhD and thinking about what field I wanted to look at, I examined a merger of two hospitals and discovered that this very change caused friction and havoc in a way that bothered me tremendously. The goal of making one plus one to three was so far afield we weren't even at one plus one equaling two and the reason was that they didn't handle change well.
[00:03:29] - Professor Todd Jick
And everything about that said to me there's something wrong, something misguided about the way organizations are managed that they can't handle changes and I wanted them to be places that people would be proud to be at and that would be well-performing. So everything about my interest was I thought organizations could be better than they were and I was going to work as it turned out my entire now 40-year career trying to figure out how to get them to that better place.
[00:03:59] - Doug Foulkes
From my side, nice to meet you and good morning to you.
[00:04:00] - Professor Todd Jick
Thank you. Thank you. Pleasure to be here with you as well, Doug.
[00:04:09.040] - Doug Foulkes
Thank you. Professor Todd, in your co-authored book, "The Boundaryless Organization", you look at a bunch of things but amongst them the breaking the chains of organizational structure, improving efficiency, cultural change, competitive success, and leveraging resources. Now, this book was first published back in the mid-1990s, and these are points that we're still grappling with today. So my question really is, what has changed? What main trends have you seen or noticed emerged over the past few decades?
[00:04:38] - Professor Todd Jick
The Boundaryless Organization was something that we wrote in the mid-nineties out of a lot of work we did in a very, very impressive organization at the time, General Electric. It was the gold standard of management approaches and we were trying at the time to figure out whether what they had done at General Electric was something that was transferable to other organizations.
[00:05:02] - Professor Todd Jick
So we identified a variety of syndromes and challenges and diagnoses about organizations and some of the potential remedies at that time, and you just listed many factors that seemed very timely. Had you said to me, Doug, you just wrote a book last month and you publish it, and you dealt with issues of cultural change and organization structure and the like it would seem like we're talking about today's issues.
[00:05:29] - Professor Todd Jick
So in many respects, I think we were quite clear clairvoyant at the time and identify deeply difficult and challenging issues for organizations and in some ways are timeless. And we also proposed some remedies. In some respects, those remedies are just as timely today but, of course, things have changed.
[00:05:48] - Professor Todd Jick
At the time when we were concerned that larger organizations had become too slow and too bureaucratic, nonresponsive to customers, too parochial, too domestic, et cetera, and they were not led by leaders who could actually, in our terms, break down the boundaries, the barriers. What were those boundaries? They were hierarchical boundaries. They were silo boundaries. They were things again that people still talk about today and we wanted to propose in which companies, organizations could become not boundary-free, not free-wheeling and chaotic, but boundaryless was sort of the construct.
[00:06:28] - Professor Todd Jick
In essence, we were saying, how can organizations get out of their own way and enable their own goals and performance, and I would say align with human and social needs? Well, those questions and that big question remains just as relevant today, but in some ways has increased, I think, in its complexity. So I stand by what we did at that time, but I would say we have seen things change in many respects. I'll give you a few examples. I'm sure we'll talk about these during the podcast.
[00:07:00] - Professor Todd Jick
We never asked these questions in that period in the 90s. Are our workplaces compatible with the values of a new generation of millennials and Gen Zers? Are our workplaces inclusive, not just participative and collaborative, which is the words we used to use, but inclusive? Are we able to function effectively in a truly global world of doing business, respecting different cultures and practices?
[00:07:29] - Professor Todd Jick
Those are questions we didn't ask then, and those are questions which are highly relevant today. So I'm very keen to answer these questions, and I'm really asking can we really make the experiments in new work practices, in new cultures and structures work? I think we must but how is what I think we'll talk some more about.
[00:07:51] - Claire Haidar
I love those three questions that you just pinned down there, and I think that flows perfectly to where we're wanting the conversation to go. So if you were not asking those three questions back in the early 90s, if we were to ask ourselves those questions now, can you go down into the details around that? What does a compatible workplace look like for these new generations? What does an inclusive workplace look like? And what is the globally effective, functional organization look like?
[00:08:25] - Professor Todd Jick
Now. You know, Claire, you just violated a key premise of my professional life which is that I ask the questions. I try and get other people to answer them.
[00:08:34] - Claire Haidar
No, no, Professor Todd, you're on the podcast today.
[00:08:39] - Professor Todd Jick
Okay. All right. Well, so much for being agreeable to this idea. So I have to be able to answer those questions or at least think about the answer to those questions because they are critical to our future workplace. I'm going to maybe give you some broad answers. If we want to go into any one of them more deeply we can do that. But the issues about millennials, about inclusion, about cross-cultural, are all critical. So let's look at what would it take to work or help to remedy those issues.
[00:09:11] - Professor Todd Jick
Let's start with leadership. The old leadership model is clearly not going to work with either that demographic or that value system or that geographic reality because what was more autocratic or directive or domestic-oriented and often quite culturally insensitive is not going to work. And I want to maybe just focus on the fact that the model of the old leader, of a more central all-knowing leader, which we have I think rejected now for a long time, is clearly not going to work.
[00:09:46] - Professor Todd Jick
When you have a millennial generation that is knowledgeable in their own right, conversing with the technology in a way that their bosses may not be, committed to the values of inclusion in a way that the organization probably has not demonstrated. And so the necessity of working with that generation, working with those values is right in front of us.
[00:10:10] - Professor Todd Jick
So the leader has to be oriented very differently and accept the fact that their own authority is much more diffused and they rely on and can in fact, entrust to that generation much more than they would in a typical boss-employee situation.
[00:10:29] - Professor Todd Jick
Also, that workforce wants to do its work differently. It doesn't want to work in the same way. So not only does it not want to take autocratic authority, it also wants to work where it wants, when it wants and with a lot of feedback. Those are again not typical structures in organizations of this traditional model. So the Millennials and Gen Zers are pushing for much more flexibility of work hours. There we go into the pandemic conversation I'm sure we're going to have, much more flexibility in terms of the use of their technology when they want, where they want, as opposed to sitting at a desk, and the organization must be flexible to respond to that.
[00:11:17] - Professor Todd Jick
I'll just make one last comment, which is about technology because obviously, I'm alluding to the fact the technology has made us all more connected, allowed us to be able to work cross-culturally much more readily and the like. So it has many positive features to it, but I don't know that we have fully exploited it in terms of understanding its enabling of the collaboration and creativity and knowledge sharing, knowledge sourcing that it affords us.
[00:11:46] - Professor Todd Jick
My own children who are millennials themselves are right there with a walking search engine in the hand, and in a way that we wouldn't have thought before when we had to work down a hierarchy of work across a silo and say we need to speak to somebody who is expert in it when you can gain that expertise so much more readily.
[00:12:07] - Professor Todd Jick
So I've given you many different aspects to it. Each one of them again deserves its own answer. But there are many ways in which I think leadership and the workforce, values, and technology all are going to need to be upgraded and updated to respond to those challenges.
[00:12:23] - Claire Haidar
It's so interesting, Professor Todd listening to you because us as an organization practice organizational change and change management in every aspect of the work that we do with our clients. This is an area that I've also researched deeply and it's a research that I did my Master's thesis in as well hence the passion for it in the [inaudible 00:12:48] introduction to you.
[00:12:50] - Claire Haidar
One of the things that we always work through with our clients is we basically teach them the basic principle which you would be very familiar with is that in order to make change successful inside an organization, you have to be working at that leadership and the system and process and the individual level. You can't ever just be working across one of those and it's so beautiful for me to hear you actually say that. Because for me it's like, yes, he's living his truth. He lives and breathes in his work every single day.
[00:13:20] - Claire Haidar
So it's just great to hear that coming through.
[00:13:23] - Professor Todd Jick
And now for you, Claire, it's obviously serving your clients well and so giving them good advice is critical and I'm glad we are aligned on that advice. I feel a similar responsibility, although I also have clients I would say in terms of the student generation that I'm schooling and that are going to be going to those very workplaces that you're working in.
[00:13:44] - Professor Todd Jick
And I want to give them a realistic picture of the challenges of change, the difficulty of organizations, some of the frustrations they likely will encounter. But also give them the tools to hopefully motivate and equip them to be able to play their role in those very changes that you were advocating so that they are partners in that journey and can in fact work with the current leadership as well as themselves at one point becoming leaders and be progressive leaders and be able to do these very things.
[00:14:18] - Professor Todd Jick
So we're synced up because we're each trying to contribute to this challenge in different and hopefully it aligns well with each other.
[00:14:25] - Doug Foulkes
I'm just going to take a 10-second break to ask you if you're finding this podcast of value. If you are, please follow us on your platform of choice. Remember, we have new content published twice a month.
[00:14:37] - Claire Haidar
Let's get really practical at this point in time. What is the starting point? Because you yourself said it earlier in the organization, the hierarchies still exist, the silos still exist, the autocratic leadership still exists, the bureaucratic systems still exist. What is the most impactful starting point?
[00:14:57] - Professor Todd Jick
When you say modernizing organizations and I would agree with that verb or transforming them, that is a big gulp to ask. I mean, there's a lot of momentum in the inertia and stasis category, and yes, there are many forces for change and many reasons to change. But when you put those two forces against each other, inertia often wins out. So how do you start it seems to me has two bases.
[00:15:23] - Professor Todd Jick
One is have you the confidence from seeing others that have done this themselves that you can learn from? Are there demonstrations with specific answers to your question because obviously, the starting point for any organization is going to vary by circumstance. But what are the techniques and what are the specific ways in which companies can in fact transform themselves?
[00:15:47] - Professor Todd Jick
So I'll use the fact that I teach a course at Columbia Business School called Advanced Organizational Change. You referred only to the organizational change in your first question but the reality is those students are taught the basics of understanding resistance and forces for change, et cetera. In the advanced organization change course, in some ways, I have kind of your client profile. That is, I have students that are more likely either they go to the consulting firms and work with companies on this, or we'll go to the companies directly, or will start a company and want to build one of this kind. And so I need to be able to show them that this can work.
[00:16:23] - Professor Todd Jick
You can, in fact, make these changes.
[00:16:25] - Professor Todd Jick
So I provide as a number one starting point, examples, specific illustrations of companies that are changing the way they work. And I mean, big-time changes with radical transparency, with radical restructuring of the hierarchy to a more team-based or decentralized structure, and with perhaps constant feedback, some combination, or perhaps even all of those, to show them that this exists.
[00:16:52] - Professor Todd Jick
Well, five years ago, those company examples were few and fewer and far between, which meant that I was subject to well, that's an interesting example, Zappos, of working away from a hierarchy, but it's kind of a crazy company and God bless Tony Hsieh, but it didn't work out so well for him and it's just sort of quirky. God bless Bridgewater, really interesting on its radical transparency, but a very charismatic CEO, one-of-a-kind type, not transferable.
[00:17:23] - Professor Todd Jick
And the 1, 2, 3, 4 examples could be someway written off. Not today. Today, there are examples from many, many, many industries, many spheres. Startups who build it from scratch. I mean, that sort of Spotify or the Netflixes, large traditional organizations and how they transformed, like The ING Bank or Accenture itself that's doing all sorts of interesting things and performance management.
[00:17:52] - Professor Todd Jick
There are many examples. So it's hard to then say it's just a quirky shoe company in Las Vegas. We don't have that today, and that encourages people to see that there are ways to do it, whether you build it from start or whether you use it transformatively which is probably more of what your clients are facing. So helping them see actual techniques, actual examples of how it's done. And again, Spotify has been an example for many other companies. Those companies don't imitate exactly everything that Spotify did, whatever their first steps were, because they're not Spotify, but they do similar things and that's helpful.
[00:18:31] - Professor Todd Jick
I want to mention the second factor quickly, which is about mindset. So techniques, specifics about how you set up a performance management system or how you start with a pilot or whatever. Those are the techniques. The mindset says no matter how you cut it, you can't prove that the future is going to be better than the current state. You can prove that the past hasn't gone well or that the past versus the present. You have data. You don't have data in the future.
[00:18:58] - Professor Todd Jick
So there is a leap of faith mindset that I think the leaders that you're working with and that I'm working with have to basically embody. A willingness to take a leap of faith into new models, recognizing that they can't be foolproof. That there aren't three ring binders of you do it this way, then you stop, then you go here, then you go there. I know they would love to see that, but I think you have to give them the appreciation that they're part of a laboratory of change. They're part of experimentation.
[00:19:29] - Professor Todd Jick
And that is exciting but it's also a little foreboding at times because you don't have the manual that goes with it. But what you do have is a certain confidence and mindset which says that the status quo is not sustainable, that continuing the way they've been is not going to be workable. So there must be the search for new ideas, new workforce practices, a new future, and although it's not proven, and although it will come with bumps and bruises, it will still be likely better than the current state.
[00:20:02] - Professor Todd Jick
So it is worth the journey. It is worth the leap of faith. And as I say, what other choices do we have than to seek out new models and new ways of working? So I answer your question with techniques and a mindset and the combination I think gives people the confidence to move forward.
[00:20:20] - Doug Foulkes
With such an established and experienced career as you say, you've created the courses and taught many of today's current thought leaders. It obviously could be just so easy to rest on your laurels. How do you as a person keep yourself on the cutting edge of organizational change?
[00:20:35] - Professor Todd Jick
So first of all, Doug, I have a very, very unexplainable experience, which is that my students each year remain 28 years old. They seem to never age. Each September they return they're still 28, and for some also unknown reason in the same September, I have aged a year. So there is a certain revitalization that occurs by the fact that the gap between my students and myself continues to enlarge year by year. But what it gives me is tremendous youthful enthusiasm that each year they bring and not just enthusiasm, but knowledge.
[00:21:14] - Professor Todd Jick
So the first part of I think what you're asking me is, how do I stay refreshed? How do I stay on the cutting edge of this? I practice what I preach. And what I have preached is no leader can know all the answers. You can't have centralized leadership so I say to the students on the first day, I have 40 plus years of experience in this field. Yes, I could sit here and lecture you for the entire course but that would neither be appealing to me nor, in the end, appealing to you.
[00:21:43] - Professor Todd Jick
Nor does it speak to the fact that you have knowledge, even from your five years of work experience, because your five years of work experience has been times in, let's say, I have a class of 70 students, times 70 across many different industries, across many different places in the world, and they have a tremendous wealth of knowledge that I want them to bring. And guess what? That extends my knowledge because it gives me a lot more information, data, about different challenges, different experiences, different things that are going on.
[00:22:15] - Professor Todd Jick
For example, I ask myself the question as they tell their stories about their experience, is it easier to make change in a larger organization or small organization? The simple answer is it must be easier in the small than the large, and then you start looking at small organizations. They tell you stories and you say it's the same. It's just a smaller microcosm of the same phenomenon. Then somebody says, well, this is all interesting but how do you make change in a family business when your father is the boss or your mother is the owner or whatever it might be?
[00:22:49] - Professor Todd Jick
And you know that says, okay, we talk about resistance to change. How about having that conversation with your parents. Then what do you do? And so I get charged up by the challenging questions they're asking and the fact that I have to search for those answers. I hear a story about 360 Feedback being used globally and discover that one of my Chinese students says that in China there's only one answer to 360 Feedback when rating your boss. That's a five. Give them a five, a perfect score. That's the answer.
[00:23:22] - Professor Todd Jick
So everybody's preaching on 360 Feedback will open up transparency or open up dialogue. Is every boss in China a five? No, but culturally there are a five because bosses are only bosses because they are deserving of a five. That's a cultural framework that is not in the west, but it is in China and it's important for me then to think about what parts of organizational change management extend universally or cross-culturally and which don't. So the more these students bring the richness of their questions and their experiences, the more I'm stimulated to grow and deepen my own thought leadership.
[00:23:59] - Professor Todd Jick
I'm challenging organizations to reexamine their basic management models, thinking about the hierarchy, thinking about feedback, thinking about silos, et cetera. I wonder whether I should challenge my own field of change management as to whether it is perhaps locked into some old assumptions, whether it is built on some premises that are no longer as relevant. Some of the questions I was raising before about millennials, about inclusion, about cross-cultural. And so I have written an interesting piece about how change management, the field of thinking in change matter itself might consider and should be changing.
[00:24:37] - Professor Todd Jick
One of the key models that everybody I would think on your podcast is familiar with is the old Kurt Lewin model of Unfreezing, Freezing, and Refreezing. You've got to get people to get out of the current state. You've got to give them someplace to go, and then you lock that in. Well, who's locking things in anymore? [inaudible 00:24:54] refreezing the basic construct and then we go to a stasis. Where is the stasis in our world today? Show me an industry that's in stasis. Show me a company that's in stasis.
[00:25:06] - Professor Todd Jick
So I've also refreshed myself by challenging my own career and the own thinking that I've done over my career. So practicing what I've been preaching through the way in which I teach and through the way in which I write about my field. That's how I keep myself young, not quite 28, but certainly young and active.
[00:25:25] - Doug Foulkes
It's incredible. Just before I hand back to Claire, actually, it's quite interesting what you're saying towards the end of your answer there. I wanted to ask you about another one of your books, one you've co-authored with, and I hope I pronounce the name correctly, is it Maury Peiperl?
[00:25:37] - Professor Todd Jick
Peiperl. Yes indeed.
[00:25:41] - Doug Foulkes
It's called Managing Change, and it's widely considered as the go to resource in many business schools around the world, I'm sure. What in your opinion then makes it stand out from the rest. Looking to the end of your last answer, is there going to be a new chapter in the revised version?
[00:25:57] - Professor Todd Jick
Well, now this fun conversation's become a lot less fun if you're saying to me, "Where's your next edition? Where's the new chapter? Let's go. Let's get right to it." So thank you, Doug, for bringing a dose of reality into this conversation. First of all, thank you for your kind words about the book. We're both very proud of that book. It is in its third edition. It is widely sold, and we're very happy with it. I think what we did with that book certainly what we intended to do was make it practical as well as conceptual.
[00:26:28] - Professor Todd Jick
So although it's used as a textbook and therefore to educate the students and practitioners about it. I think they need both, meaning they need as the book has specific case studies of specific change, challenge situations, and think about how they would handle them. So real-world examples of what you would do if you were in this situation type dilemmas. And that speaks to people who want to be on the ground who want to say, yes, if I face that situation or actually, I did face that situation and I would have turned right but I see the logic of why you might turn left and do it differently.
[00:27:04] - Professor Todd Jick
So part of the value of the book that we at least hope we had achieved was to be practical. But then there's also conceptual work that sits with it. So it's one thing to just say. Well, I had this experience and therefore it must be universal or that's the end of the story. But in reality, the benefit of being an academic as well as a consultant over many years is you see the broader picture.
[00:27:28] - Professor Todd Jick
And part of what I think the book attempts to do is give people some challenging conceptual advice, such as I'll give you a few examples. One of them is around the term that's often used in change management, in the world of change, which is resistance. And the word resistance refers to people who are going against the change and therefore in the way, they're an obstacle. It has many negative or pejorative associations.
[00:27:55] - Professor Todd Jick
So one of the pieces in the book happens to be about redefining resistance not as the resistors of change, but as the recipients of change. And if you look at people as recipients rather than resistors, it changes your understanding of their reactions. If you were in that situation, you received this news, this communication, you were the recipient of this impact. How would you have reacted? That's different than well, you must be a lesser person and therefore we call you a resistor. You're a bad person.
[00:28:28] - Professor Todd Jick
So we tried to reconceive the notion of the impact of change around how people in fact experience it without putting a judgment on it but more a description of what that's like. And the more you understand people's reactions in response to change, the more likely you are able to manage through the change because you're more respectful of that.
[00:28:52] - Professor Todd Jick
In fact, even their reaction which we used to call resistance, might be some useful insights into some of the obstacles or issues associated with the change that you would benefit from hearing. That it need not be if you're not agreeing with what I'm trying to change here, you must be a lesser person get with the program. Instead, it is let me tune in to what you're saying and maybe we can make it better together.
[00:29:15] - Professor Todd Jick
So that's one example, and the second one just quickly is that the question about vision. Everybody always talks about we have to have a vision for change. Okay, that's terrific to have that vision. Now, my question that we asked in a book was, when do you need to refresh the vision? How long does that last? And in a fast-changing world, is there such a thing as a steadfast vision just as there is a steadfast strategy?
[00:29:39] - Professor Todd Jick
And of course, the answer is no. You need to be thinking about some aspects of the vision that are steady and that retain and remain, but others that need to be rather continually refreshed. So the whole notion of you must start with an anchor or a vision is certainly still important. But when you refresh it is a more interesting conceptual question which then has a practical component. That's what we tried to do in the book. Give people a sense of if you were there, how would you handle it? And maybe you might handle it differently if you think about it in different ways.
[00:30:10] - Claire Haidar
Professor Todd, where I want to go now is our current reality within the pandemic that we've just been living through. And what I'd like to ask you is what have you seen have been the top three reactions that leaders have taken? And I'd love for you to talk through both the positives and the negatives.
[00:30:35] - Professor Todd Jick
You know, I did a whole series of talks that you can probably find about leadership and the pandemic and they were subtitled "When you are rising to the occasion" because I was hoping that we see more rising than falling. Your question is about where the leaders rise and where did they disappoint us? I think on the rising part, finally, leaders became human. They actually saw people as human beings with lives, families, issues, in-laws, parents, dogs, you name it, but they actually saw them as human beings. And I think in the workplaces as we had pre-pandemic, you just see them as the VP of this, the director of that, and just what have you done recently to deliver the results?
[00:31:23] - Professor Todd Jick
It was inescapable during the pandemic through Zoom in the like not to see the human side. And I think that softened the leaders to the good and I think it created relationships that I hope will be long-lasting. So certainly one positive is that it opened up the humanity that I think makes for a better workplace condition and better working conditions with the way in which people will, in fact, you learn to respect and validate each other.
[00:31:48] - Professor Todd Jick
I think we also learn to the positive something about trust. And I say this now, and I'll give you the negative at the same time. So on the one hand, there was a lot of skepticism about how people would be managed, entrusted/controlled, old model, when they are not visible when they are remote. And, of course, a lot of skepticism, it's kind of the old negative theories of people that people would, in fact, be trustworthy. And guess what? Many, many leaders discovered they were trustworthy.
[00:32:21] - Professor Todd Jick
Not only were they trustworthy, they probably worked more hours than they had previously because they worked at all hours of the day and night. They probably had less supervision and yet were able to accomplish more tasks. And so in some ways, it built not just an understanding of people and their humanity, but also an ability to trust them that had not been there previously.
[00:32:43] - Professor Todd Jick
And I guess the third positive and then there's the underside of each of these, is that I think we have through this as leaders created the opportunity to create a new kind of workplace, this sort of hybrid workplace that's being talked about. 87 different versions of hybrid. But I think some notion of it's not just going to be five days, nine to five, nine to seven, whatever it is, but it's going to be some kind of a work-life relationship and integration of personal and professional lives which is going to allow for more flexibility.
[00:33:18] - Professor Todd Jick
So we've penetrated that boundary between the personal life and the work-life in a way that I think will be productive for us going forward. Now, the underside of each of these are the bottom three. So we did establish that humanity but now as we start back into the workplace, will we start to relapse and treat people much more back to the sort of VP and director rather than understanding them as human beings? And I think there's a chance that that's going to occur.
[00:33:45] - Professor Todd Jick
The trusting of people that I'm describing in the affirmative had an unfortunate mirror image of software companies that were surveillance tools for managers that boomed during this period. That of course has built on a lack of trust that's built on a sense of we can't really know what they're doing, and we better find out and so whether we have cameras on their computers that tell us are they sitting at their computer or not? Are they looking at this site? Are they looking at that site? Or whatever else is going into that surveillance, those software companies boomed.
[00:34:19] - Professor Todd Jick
Those leaders in my mind relapsed in what they were doing.
[00:34:22] - Professor Todd Jick
And finally, if the hybrid workplace is the more positive outcome for leaders, you also again have a number of CEOs now they're saying, okay, everybody you enjoyed your pandemic. Back to work. I'm here. I'm in the office. I'll see you Monday at 09:00 AM, and I don't want to hear about the in-laws that I have to take care of, be the ageing parent to this to that, you're back to work. And I think, again, there's a possibility that we again find ourselves getting back to the old normal rather than creating a new normal.
[00:34:54] - Professor Todd Jick
So I have days in which I'm optimistic based upon what I saw and, of course, I would like to believe, I'm sure you do too, that your clients are in the more positive examples and can sustain it. But there are still examples otherwise and one of the key premises of the talk that I gave is when it came to laying off people. A few companies handle things with great humanity and great care and all too many companies did Zoom layoffs in which in three minutes they basically said you're out of here and that's it through some robotic voice.
[00:35:27] - Professor Todd Jick
We have a legacy now this past year that is going to be remembered by employees, to the good and the positive examples but for others where the trust I think was perhaps broken, there's going to have to be a lot of rebuilding going forward.
[00:35:41] - Doug Foulkes
So my last question, Professor Todd, is, again, more of a personal one. You've been speaking about working remotely and the impact of the pandemic. How has it affected your personal day-to-day life? Is it a change that you would ever predicted?
[00:35:57] - Professor Todd Jick
Well, I'm sure you know the expression about old dogs and new tricks. And, of course, the phrase old dogs don't learn new tricks. To the extent that I'm in the old dog category, which is only by my formal passport age but not by my mental age, I have to say I was a resistor. Now I'm going to use the term resistor, of MOOCs online courses, any kind of experimentation away from my mainstream strength which was high touch, not high tech.
[00:36:35] - Professor Todd Jick
So when the pandemic came and I was forced as everyone else, and in my case, in 10 days time to shift from a course that was going to be my 40th year of teaching new material, but always in similar ways to having to convert to Zoom teaching, that really forced me to consider, do all dogs learn new tricks or not? And I'll be damned, I was not going to let that happen to me.
[00:37:01] - Professor Todd Jick
And so this old dog did learn new tricks. I worked very hard in the way in which I've been talking about companies trying to work hard to crowdsource information about best practices about Zoom teaching, to ask as many questions that I could to people that I thought would be helpful, to accept the fact that there'll be some bumps and bruises, but that I would work in a new way, but that it was going to be not only a necessary way but potentially even a better way in many respects, to do my core business which was to do teaching.
[00:37:34] - Professor Todd Jick
So I ended up feeling like the remote experience, that very strong positive for me that at my stage of career having established myself well and everything I've done, I felt like I've proved to myself I could learn a new skill in a significant way. And it was very fulfilling to me to be able to do that. I would also say it's not actually a bad experience to spend more time at home and less time commuting and finding myself observing and enjoying things that I haven't done before.
[00:38:10] - Professor Todd Jick
I moved out of New York City during the pandemic time and experienced the seasons in a more rural setting which meant that I got to see birds and nature and all sorts of things that were of a passing interest in the old days and became a primary interest in the new days. And again, it taught me, open your eyes. There's so much more to be taken in if you allow yourself to do it. And so both building up a skill set, opening myself to learn.
[00:38:40] - Professor Todd Jick
I feel very proud survivor of all this, and even a proud thriver from this whole once in a 100-year experience that may, who knows, come back in some other form. But I feel like I'm ready now for even more changes and as somebody who's been preaching change for many, many decades, I think now I've actually even practiced it.
[00:39:04] - Claire Haidar
Professor Todd, I love that piece that you just shared right now. That's actually the question that I wanted to end this conversation on. I wanted to ask you, what is your tool kit that you yourself used to navigate change to? So whether that's personal change or career change or change in core structure, I think in many ways you actually just have answered it for us. But is there anything else you want to add to that?
[00:39:30] - Professor Todd Jick
As I say, it's easier to ask the questions and answer them. It's easier to preach about change than practice it, but it's a very short-lived paradigm if you live that way. I think part of it is what I have described as a career in which I built on what I had done as an undergraduate, which is I was an anthropology major. Anthropology major was a cop-out because I couldn't decide what I wanted to do so I said, how about the study of humankind? That seemed like a good [inaudible 00:40:02] What was not under that topic?
[00:40:04] - Professor Todd Jick
And it was a way of saying, I have been a product of curiosity all my life, and curiosity, in the end, does entail change because it opens yourself up to new possibilities. And so part of what I did even living in New York City is we would pick an area of New York City and we would say, we haven't been there before, my wife and myself, let's just go there on a Saturday and explore. I love going to places and just asking people questions.
[00:40:32] - Professor Todd Jick
I love my students, crowdsourcing their life experiences and their change experiences. So as long as I remain open to a world of, I think, tremendous variety and variability, I'm going to be able to allow myself to be personally changing. I didn't know that I'm the perfect model of it. I'm not peripatetic. I'm not in one or two years rebuilding my whole skill set and dropping out of one profession and doing another profession. I've been pretty integrated in what I've done, but the integration has been flexibility and opportunity, and those opportunities have always come before me and now I feel myself opened up even more to those possibilities, and I enjoy it.
[00:41:11] - Professor Todd Jick
It's a blessing and a privilege to have the kind of life that I've been able to lead with the tremendous universities I've taught in, with the tremendous clients I've had with people like yourself, spending time with me like today. And so I feel like I wouldn't have done anything differently and I look forward to the next decades when there'll still be 28 and I made just to put another year or two on my odometer in the meantime.
[00:41:34] - Claire Haidar
Professor Todd, thank you so much for joining us today. I have thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. Doug and I both share a favorite podcast with one of our previous guests and I want to tell you that you have just moved up into my number one position.
[00:41:51] - Professor Todd Jick
That is far too kind and far too [inaudible 00:41:54] but I will take it as a great compliment. Thank you very much, Claire. You and Doug have asked wonderful questions. You prepared well, it was a delight to talk with you today.
[00:42:01] - Doug Foulkes
And we are out of time. Professor Todd Jick has left the building. If you found this content of value, please follow us on your preferred platform and share it with friends and colleagues. Just a reminder, for more information about WNDYR and Pattyrn, you can visit their website, wndyr.com. And so from me, Doug Foulkes, and Chaos & Rocketfuel, stay safe, and we'll see you soon.