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Brave New Work

The Ready
72 episodes
This podcast may contain explicit content.
What’s stopping us from doing the best work of our lives? It’s the way we work. Whether you’re building a startup or reinventing a global enterprise, every day is a battle between chaos and bureaucracy. But, what if there’s a third way? Aaron Dignan and Rodney Evans help teams all over the world discover a more adaptive and human way of working. Now it’s your turn. Each week, they’ll bring you a counterintuitive take on a common challenge at work—and you'll hear from guests who have been there and found their way to something better. This isn’t business as usual. This is Brave New Work.

Disclaimer: the content and artwork of this podcast are the property of its owner and are not affiliated with nor endorsed by Audiotrails.

Basecamp and politics in the workplace

In the past two weeks, Basecamp—a software company with a general track record of outspoken, progressive values—has lost a sizable chunk of its workforce. The reason? A memo from the company's CEO that banned "societal and political discussions" in workplace channels. In this episode, we break down…

This and that

We're opening up the mailbag. In this episode, we tackle the topics of some of your most fascinating questions, from gossip to peer feedback to all-hands meetings. Apply to work at The Ready: In the United States: http://theready.com/team In Europe: http://theready.com/team Our book is available n…

Vanishing Asia w/ Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of WIRED Magazine, has spent years documenting and photographing life in the furthest corners of the Asian continent—and in the process, he's recorded a way of living that is quickly disappearing in the face of the continent's bracing visions for the future. In this…

Transformation at scale w/ Bill Anderson

Changing the way we work is a difficult task at a company with 150 employees. But what about one with. say, 20,000? In this episode, we talk to Bill Anderson, CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals, about his recent work in reshaping the company's structure and processes, change at such a large scale, and th…

Changing the world of working agreements

Work is all about agreements—policies, processes, principles, goals, workflows, etc. So if you're starting a company from the ground up, how do you give teams the power to align on all of these things in a clear and inclusive way? What if there's already a company out there that's documented the ex…

The mythic and the mundane w/ Gayle Karen Young

One of the most important aspects of organizational change and complexity is embracing fluidity. Rather than be mired in rigid lines and forced structure, we want to be dynamic, adaptive and—in a certain sense—poetic. In this episode, we talk to Gayle Karen Young, an organizational development cons…

The right way to onboard

What's it like to onboard at a company where you don't have a boss? In this episode, we talk to The Ready member Alastair Steward about his experience onboarding at the company, the concept of a "prologue," and how to situate yourself effectively in a self-managed organization. You can find Alastai…

The company retreat

It's a time-honored tradition: the company retreat. But when that conjures the specter of Ramada Inn basements and conference rooms and three-hour presentation blocks, it's clear that an update is in order. In this episode, we strategize the most efficient and effective ways to reconnect and rechar…

Mastery in the age of self-management

The workplace is a wealth of knowledge. Each member of an organization is a master in their own specialized field, and in the 21st-century workplace, we're often exchanging knowledge, teaching and learning by equal measure. But in a future where self-management is key, how do we ensure this is done…

Change through experimentation

Leaders in the workplace often talk about experimenting within the existing structures. But in the excitement and flurry of change, we often forget the goal of experimentation: to make it a real learning practice. In this episode, we discuss how to plan, structure, and assess change experiments wit…

The future of the workforce w/ Todd Jick

It's one thing to talk about what we'd like the future of work to look like—but what about the people who'll actually make up that workforce? Wha do they want out of their work, and how do they want to shape their organizations? In this episode, we talk to lecturer Todd Jick at the Columbia Busine…

Solving our system problems

There's a thing that often happens when we try to add complexity our systems: in an effort to implement procedure and reduce "risk," we often massively overcomplicate the system at its core. It seems the more we try to distance ourselves from the humans working in our systems, the more we ruin what…

The Hiring Process w/ Kelsa Summer Roidt

If there's one structure in the modern workplace that feels particularly resistant to change, it's the hiring process. For years, we've followed the same basic structure: whittle down vast pools of potential, qualified candidates down to one lucky winner. But as we consider adapting our workplaces …

Brave New Work and Capitalism

You’ll often hear us talking about collectivism, balance, and sustainability on this show—to the point that you may well wonder, do these socialists even care about growth and profit? We do. But not in the unchecked way that has become normal in the last half century. In this episode, we let our en…

Working through a crisis

It's been quite a week for these United States of America. And as Americans, we tried to do what we always do: keep working. In this episode, we discuss the volatile, unprecedented political situation we now find ourselves in, as well as ways to take a step back and recognize that some things might…

The folly of the annual performance review

It's the end of the year! And for many of us, that also means the return of the dreaded performance review. As we strive to make our workplaces and organizations more human, how can we reinvent this outdated tradition into something... actually useful? In this episode, we discuss how the standard p…

Epistemic Injustice w/ Cat Swetel

When we begin to reckon with inequality in the workplace, a useful place to start is the concept of "epistemic injustice"—what we know, how we know, and who gets to decide and influence our reality. This concept goes deeper than simply who is in the room. This is about the stories we bring with us,…

The connection between love and work w/ Doug Kirkpatrick

While we often throw around terms like "the future of work" and "new ways of working," the reality is that much of the wisdom about how to self-organize and self-manage has been around for a long, long time. What we can learn from this is that there's really nothing new about this moment—except for…

The Hangover

It's been almost a year of working remotely due to the pandemic. And we haven't exactly been doing it right. We've just been hanging in there with too much Zoom and not enough coffee. As a result, we're a little toasty. In this episode, we talk about what we're seeing and feeling, and what it's goi…

Finding fit with self-management

If you've been listening to Brave New Work for a while you might be wondering, "Is a self-managing workplace right for me?" Or, if you're already in one, you're probably curious, "How can I better recruit (and screen for) those that are a 'fit' for new ways of working?" In this episode, we're joine…

The conversation technique that leads to radical alignment w/ Alex Jamieson and Bob Gower

We often wait to talk about the hard stuff until the shit has hit the fan. But what if we made space for difficult conversations before they become difficult? That's the insight at the heart of Radical Alignment, a new book that introduces a four part conversation technique designed to get couples,…

This is justice informed w/ Xavier Ramey

Three months ago, we started a conversation about diversity here on the show. And within our own company, that work has continued in earnest. Yet, we've only scratched the surface on what it means to realize true equity at work. We want to go deeper. We need to do more. And we need to make sure tha…

Liberating Structures w/ Keith McCandless

Complexity calls for a new way of working—and in particular a new way of meeting. What matters isn't the individuals in the room, but the relationships between them. Indeed, we need new interactions that change the dynamics and outcomes of our gatherings. No more limiting structures, it's time …

How Software Shapes The Way We Work

One of the most common tensions we hear from teams is "our tools and technology are not maximizing our potential." Let me translate: our company uses crap software. We experience this for many reasons—status quo bias, frugality, security, and one-stop-shop pipe dreams. But the problem is that softw…

Humanocracy w/ Michele Zanini

We talk about bureaucracy (and its downsides) on this show all the time. But what about a humanocracy? What would that look like? Luckily, Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini have written a wonderful book to explore that question. And their answer is simple: we have to abandon the ways of the past and al…

Clarity & Coherence

At a sufficiently large scale, any organization that has maximum "diversity" across all variables will become average. Why? Because taking a stand—any stand—is the basis for the boundary of the firm. It's what separates what's inside from what's outside. We must answer the question: "What makes us.…

Strategy w/ Lorin Thomas-Tavel

We recorded this episode in April, and to be honest, it kinda feels like April never left. All the themes that were present then are simply louder now. What has become clear in the meantime is that strategy (e.g. what is happening, what matters, and what are we doing about it) is more important tha…

Even Overs

Prior to the 1940's, the word priorities (plural) was rarely used. Because the word priority means that which comes before anything else. It's one thing! But these days, it's not uncommon for leaders and boards to demand multiple, often contradictory outcomes at the same time. We want faster …

Participatory Governance

Making decisions at work can be perilous. It's not always clear who has the authority to make them. And even when it is, it's usually just a chosen few that benefit. So, it's no surprise that making decisions about how we govern the organization—designing the rules and roles that underpin everythin…

The Shadow Side of Self-Management

The stories of self-management and decentralization from evolutionary organizations like Buurtzorg, Morning Star, FAVI, Haier, and others are often told breathlessly, as if it was "happily ever after." But, the truth has to be more... nuanced, right? Indeed it is. More adaptive and human ways of wo…