The OKR Podcast
The OKR Podcast

Episode 29 · 2 months ago

The Future of Work: Practical Steps for Leaders to Take Now

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Cathy Benko, Former Vice-Chair and Managing Partner at Deloitte, shares her wisdom on the implications of the way we work and the steps leaders, CEOs, CIOs, and CHROs can take to prepare themselves and their organizations for a thriving and more resilient future.

You're listening to the OKA our podcast. We talked about the power of lateral alignment and outcome mindset and empowering teams to do their best work from anywhere. We also talk about operating as a digital company, which is crucial now. Her journeys, learnings and victories from our guest speakers and get expertise from our host to scale your leadership capacity and operate with high impact, trust and efficiency. Here's your host, daydrea pack nod. Welcome to everyone. My name is Daydrea popad and I'm CEO and Co founder at work for it, and today I am very excited to have Cathie Bankoh, who's former vice chair and managing partner at deloit. Tall you a little bit about her background. But we want to have a discussion and get Cathy's wisdom on the implications of the way we work now and the steps that leaders ceeos, cios and CCHRROS can take now to prepare themselves for and their organizations for a thriving and more resilient future in the dynamics of change, of remote and hybrid work that we all operate in now. So with that, let me give Cathy a formal introduction and share her background. Cathy is actually a very season leader. In effact, I met her early on because of a book. She wrote, best selling book on alignment, a topic we both cared deeply about, and she has a great deal of expertise and actually helping organizations think about how do they align on the strategy, mobilize it, introduced new strategies and during her tenure at delight she was its first global e business leader. So she was one of the first leaders to help large enter prizes adopt and adapt to all new technologies and she was its first ever chief people officer in its earliest day. So the spectrum from new technologies, new strategies and how do we organize and call us our talented people around those strategies and technologies are certainly something that Cathy brings to bear. She's got multiple patents. She sits on the Board of Nike and Work Board, I'm delighted to say, and several other organizations and she has, I think, one of the broadest views on how work, people and Strategy Intersect. Cathy, thank you very much for joining our conversation today. Always a pleasure to be with you. So let's jump into the topics and we're you spend thirty minutes, so it's going to be not the deepest we could ever go, especially you and I, on any of these topics that but they are deep ones. So let's start with what's changed over the last few year. So, as we know, there's covid there's just this accelerating pace of change. The way we work, how we work, where we work, all of that is changed and we don't yet know what steady state looks like. And at the same time executives are struggling with to bring everything back actually work from home. They also really need everyone aligned and focus on their strategy. Given the external pressures and economic conditions we operate in, what are the decisions that you see weighing on people and how thinking through them? Yeah, you know, when you think of the contextual challenges today, the last dic a seems relatively stable right not at the time it seemed very dynamic, but in retrospect it's like wow because, as you say, dealing with the pandemic, dealing with, you know, kind of the long term implications of demographic ships, which we've been talking about forever. Well, they're here at millennials on there are now forty years old. Kind of thing that Gen Z and I think now they're all arguing on. You know, what do we call that exgeneration, of which I've birth a few people into, and clearly their attitudes, their belief systems are actually very different than previous...

...generations. So there's this sort of expanding expectation gap between the workplace and the workforce. So when you sit back, it's like, look, we were never particularly good at alignment, but it's even even more difficult now. And in fact, if you step back, and this is before today's environment, there was something like fifteen percent of an employees, of employees could actually articulate the strategy of the companies on which they work. So it's not because they don't care, it's because it gets so caught up in the daytoday activities you sort of lose that farce through the trees. So whatever can be done, you know, a long and continuum of you know, kind of strategic content and the awareness of it, to how informed you are about it, to you know how committed you are as an individual to it, can only is sort of improve or lessen the gap. The alignment gap has, as we like to call it. So that's sort of the intent. But you put on top of this this now work from anywhere thing. You know, work place flexibility has been something that's been emerging and I've actually studied it. Started actually in the late S, early S, and it was called flexible work arrangements and it was done for people, particularly women, who, you know, just couldn't, you know, find a way to fit in, you know, kind of their work into their life and their life into their work, and it was very exception based, very very excession based, and there were a lot of a lot of downsides to it for sure. But now you know the term digital nomad right and so, so many employees have digital components to it. You know, knowledge work, all knowledge work, virtually speaking, has, you know, digital components to it. So whether your pinterest to has announced that. Look, you got to show up in the office once a year to Tesla, who's announced that a forty hours a week butt in see you know you, no matter where you are on that continuum. How to get and keep greater alignment that takes out friction, takes out in efficiencies, redundancies, etc. Is So important and I'm going to like throw on top of that very, very recent, you know, changes around the economic climate. We all see it, we all feel it. You hear that I word inflation all over the place is the R word. Before session, showing up, you see the venture capital guys putting out all of these, you know, kind of guidelines on what their portfolio companies should be doing to keep up with that. So you know, when you step back and you look at this, it's like okay ours, which has been out there in previous you know, sort of versions of it for some time. That and when I look at work for it and it's sweet of products walked into the moment and it's really an amazing things to see. Sometimes things like okay ours might be too early, but they're not too early now because we're all trying to do more with far less. That's right. You mentioned the we were never very good at alignment and we weren't very good at it when we had a five year strategy and we changed it once a year. Right now, if we were very good at it when you we only did it once a year, but every ninety days. The world is phenominally different right literally every ninety days for the last four years. Whatever your thought was true about where your resources would go, what was going to be most important changed and there's no reason to think that the next three years are somehow going to be calmer than the last three. Right. And so now, if we need to iterate and adapt our strategy several times a year and we couldn't get everybody aligned with had to do it one time, the way we did things before, this isn't going to help us do what we need to do now. We have to change the rhythm of the business and we have to actually in an economic environment where we have there's pressure, we actually have to tap the full capacity of the people we have. Right, we really actually need...

...all of the resources we can get execute on strategy we have. When talent is scarce, time is scarce, capital is scarce, supply king goods are scarce. Right, it changes the imperative for how we use our resource, how we use the talented people we have. Your point on on knowledge workings, right. Are they contributing to the strategy or they're doing things on the side? Let's talk a little bit more about iteration. Obviously, the classic version would be there's a long range strategy and there's a really big plan and we send six months on the plan and we hammer and all the financial details, but the perfect plan and the perfect commanders in command and control. That's not working for the younger part of the workforce. It's not actually working in the world that changes so fast either. What's your guidance on how people out to be thinking about adaptation, iteration and acceleration? Well, it seems acceleration only does one thing and that's accelerate. Right, velocity only accelerates. You know, I've never seen it actually dial back. It just kind of continues to sort of dial up. So you know, and when you step back. In fact, I've spent a fair amount of time interviewing CEOS and asking them, you know, if you want to know where you're going to be in you know, pick your time horizon, one year, three years, five years, where would you go? Where organizationally would you look for that? And the answer across the board was, well, I would look at my strategy and so well, that's interesting, but that's actually where you intend to be. Where you're actually going to be is the summation of all of the you know, kind of work and resources that are put into the things people do every day. The tasks and activities, project that type of thing, and if you aggregate that and compare that to your your strategic direction, you'll find a vast amount of slippage. And so the idea of trying to better hardwire strategic content and objectives with the activities really it unlocks value, right. It keeps things a lot more manageable, so you're less likely to bear off course. It delivers incremental value. It actually is also more adaptive, so because you know you're halfway through what, you know kind of thought you want it to be and then you know some external course takes place and say, Oh, I got to I got to rethink that or, you know, maybe there's something else I should be taking advantage of, etc. So when you look at it, even from a team perspective, right, there's a tendency. We all want to get stuck done. I believe we all have, you know, kind of virtuous intent to deliver, you know, to the best of our ability. The deliver to the best of our ability delivering what? And the more again, you can move people along that continuum of being aware of where, you know they're trying to get to being better informed as time goes on and then committed to actually achieving the goal as opposed to completing the work task. Now there are a lot of work tasks involved, but it's not just about the work tasks yet. I think there's a big switch that we see right where there the larmer range strategy and it ties to division and it's you know, where we're going to invest, maybe where we're not going to invest, instead of choices. But the very seldom is that translated into okay, and these are the incremental outcomes were going to drive this quarter on the path to three years from now, and when we don't actually have that clarity on what the first installment of value on the strategy is this quarter, the chances that we really arrived three years from now extremely limited, and the data supports that. Right BCG just two weeks ago they thirty...

...percent of organizations achieve their strategy and in part it's because it's so far out in the future. The world's changing so quickly and we quickly fall into a pattern of reacting. Think the second driver there is executive. One outcomes and everyone else speaks output. So we have a lot of activity but we don't actually have a common language for describing the outcome of that activity so that we could see whether it's going to add up two outcomes on the strategy. And this is what I love about actually okay. Ours is a common language and an organization. When every person can actually define the value created and value the intended create, two things happen. We can compare value and we get smarter prioritization, and the second is we then go decide what we're going to do to get to the value versus we take the to do list and hope it creates value. And that shift to a common language, I think, is so potent. The second part of that, I think on okay are is, goes back to the iteration topic where, okay, we're all clear on the Vou're trying to drive and we know it can add up to what we want to achieve on the strategy. And then each quarter we look up what changed in the world, we look down at our feet, what's true around us, and then we ask what did we learn, and then we iterate again, right, and so you start to get this purposeful value or into propulsion that allows organizations to, I think, be better lined and on adapt right to truly nonstop high speed change. That's, you know, the velocity of value right. It's not the velocity of activity. It's tempting, as every organization is, to measure how fast they're doing something that they can't describe why they're doing it. Yeah, I'm going to take us in another direction because it's a big topic as well and, as I said, we could go along on all of these. They're all deep wealth. But let's turn to for a se get to the subject of inclusion and diversity and inclusion, and there's a different nuance around that now when we have people at home, when we all get on a zoom call and the three loud people are loud and the seven quiet people are very quiet. Like there's this an actual sort of, I don't know, greater friction for people who are not who don't yet feel included to insert themselves into a world of work that is all digital and all online. And my thought is exclusion actually is rising even as we're trying to give more attention to inclusion, and by inclusion I mean in value creation, not just inclusion in payroll, inclusion and value creation, inclusion and participation. What are you seeing around not just how to increase diversity, but what are you seeing around including people in creating value for company and cause they are, including them a career opportunities really so, you know, inclusion is a big topic. We've been striving through various forms of diversity and inclusion for many years and and in many respects, I think you know we've made progress. We've certainly made progress, you know, if you compare back to the s. But clearly we have a long way to go and the notion of one size fits all, you know that just doesn't hold anymore. One size fits all worked in an industrial model, the corporate ladder kind of model, because everything was systematized, the kind of work was very routine and therefore systematize. The way careers were built, that you go up Rung by run by Rung of the ladder, was all systematized and it was easier to do as well, because the people at one wrong had previously done the work of the wrong below them. So you do the work and then you become a supervisor, then you become the manager. That doesn't hold today at all. In fact, you know, fewer than twenty percent of leaders have actually done the...

...work of the people they lead, and a good part of that is because the work has changed so much, but not just the work, the composition of the workforce. Today in this country fewer than fifteen percent of families have a traditional family structure, and so you need more sort of customized experiences in the workplace. There's many ways to build a rewarding careers and essentially, you know, kind of more adapt of ways on how work gets done, how careers get built, on how even community within an organization is fostered. All of those, you know, sort of evolved. When you look at particularly where we are now, and that the notion of, you know, kind of proximity bias is actually tending to come up a lot. You know, it used to be that you know people who got to the office first. You know, you see their cards in the parking lot by six or seven am and it's there till eight o'clock at night. There's just this presumption that, well, they're harder workers, so and so therefore they should be rewarded for that. So the shift of performance from facetime, whatever that is either virtual or real, to more outcome based is a really important thing. And the notion of also teams, actually that you work more in teams as opposed to each individuals contribution. It helps both on the alignment side because you know, you stay better aligned with the bigger picture, but you also are more, can be more inclusive that way. So the notion of what gets done and the different ways it's done and the different experiences that people bring to help get that work done are really all part of an inclusive, a more crusive culture. And okay, ours in that respect, provide sort of that Magna Carta. It's like that, that thing that centers everyone on what it is you intend to achieve, regardless of where you are working from or you know, regardless of you know how much people contribute through their efforts as opposed to through their facetime. Yeah, and let's pick up on that threat around teaming and teams have clarity and, excuse me, the proximity bias. And talk about individual performance management, which has a lot of those assumptions baked in, which is individuals can single handedly move big needles for companies and that the more hours you put in, the more valuable you are, regardless of how much value you genuinely create. Is that model? Is that to dated? Is there? Is there something that should come after individual performance management? Well, you know, I mean individual performance management has itself, you know, kind of been morphing over the past number of years. You know, there is a big move in a couple of years ago on how performance reviews should not have scores or numbers or something is attached to them that you just tell, you know, kind of people where they are, but you don't necessarily peg one versus the other. It's sort of like nobody gets a grade and that's you know, there have been people arguing both sides of that, the merits of it as well as sort of the demerits of it. But when you look at the more team based work, and there's now a shift under way to suggest wait a minute, maybe what a leader should be evaluating is the performance of the team and the team members, those contributors, those members of the team, they're the ones that then, you know, within the team decide you know kind of you know kind of who really was extraordinary and in terms of their contributions, because when the leader doesn't see that, they see the work of the team and they can evaluate that. Boy, that was great. That was not so hot. It took forever to get whatever it is and the then, within that, leave it to the team members,...

...and that tends to be more inclusive as well, because every member of that team has a perspective and has a voice in, you know, sort of the three hundred and sixty almost evaluation process of each other. That dovetails so nicely with the other things going on in how work gets done. So we in noting tech companies, but now increasingly, for example, in large tech or large enterprise it organizations, the notion of what a team is is changed completely. It's not an artifact on an org chart, right. It's the set of people, the network engineer, the UX engineer, the developers a product, management of business lie is on. Nobody reports to anybody in that group. And yet that's the team that's going to advance a product. And somebody might be a member of that team for says months, but report officially to somebody else. Right. This classic Matrix that much faster moving member ship now than in the past, and it's challenging for a manager to actually know enough about what that team's doing, because they're not they don't have oversight on what that team is actually delivering against. And it's also challenging for the employee to feel fully seen by the person is doing their performance review, who's a distant relationship to what's happening in that in that local team, and what I see in very large and a price way outside of technology, it's just a wholesale movement in their it organizations and parts of their business organization to that more dynamic teaming structure, and there's this real tension between individual performance assessment and which team you're really a primary member of and even how many teams you're a member of over the course of the year. Okay, now I'm really conscious of our time. Every one of those was a full topic. Let's take advice on where to from here. So there's some Brittleness, some latency, some fragility and our old management and operating models. What should the management and operating model look like? How organizations need to think about changing the way they manage, the way they kind of the operating rhythm of the business so that both the company and the people in the organization can actually thrive well wanted. Adoption of okr helps a ton because it creates this awareness and again tries to hardwire a strategic intent and the objectives with the activities that are taking place within that and not just one to one, one too many, many being in many members of the team and frankly, there's there's no one objective that a company is trying to achieve at the same time. So it's sort of like helps many too many, and hard wire staying connected on the value, the delivery, the output, the outcome, not the tasks, the number of transactions type of thing that get put into them. So adopting that kind of mindset and that that type of framework, it's, I think, really important. You also need a system of record and so that when it changes one place, it proliferates out and changes all these other things and everybody is centered on that central system of record, as opposed to you've got the all these sublagers all over the place and broken down into whatever makes sense. In some companies it's monthly and some companies it's quarterly and some companies, you know, it may be longer than that or it's probably all of those things, depending on what function and what the efforts are under way. But I think that's an important one as well. Being faster. We talked a lot about velocity, but just the incrementalism actually buys options. It's kind of hedges in some respects on what might be coming next, and so you don't get on this long, this you know sort of long timeline, and on that timeline something changes and then you got to go all the way back to go and, you know, start all over get so that the notion of keeping things faster and...

...more inclusive. Teams by definition almost make inclusion easier because, as you say, you've got, you know, somebody representing it, somebody representing marketing, supply chain, whatever else. That it the way that that comes together. And then, you know, using more of the capacity of the organization to execute the strategy and by bit, by being, you know, better aligned to it. You know, these you'll also often find fly information right of V formation. They can go seventy percent farther when they're flying in formation, and so maybe we can learn something from the geese on that. If you look at by cyclist, they move as a draft off of each other. They are far more efficient as a team. So the you know, kind of I think the connection between the capacity the organization and the execution of the strategy is the another component, if awesome. So, okay, ours a modern method of getting everyone aligned, team oriented as opposed to individual performance oriented a single source of truth. On what strategy did we aligne on? And that drives the cadence of monthly business reviews, weekly staff meetings. Right, how we're actually driving not just align it, but accountability for the strategy, and then the ability to adapt, iterate, move more quickly along maybe not quite a straight line to your strategy, but to weave and lend faster towards it. And then, I think, finally, the watch words for that you ended with are the are the ones for this year and next, right, which is use your time and your resources as wisely as you can't really harness the capacity of the talented people you have in your organization, and if you don't have a mechanism to do that, you probably aren't doing that. All right with that, Cathy, let me thank you very much for sharing your wisdom and your ideas any one of those conversations. What teams are outcomes over output inclusion? They're all really juicy topics in and of themselves, but thank you very much for sharing your perspective and your your wisdom from actually having a front row seat to how organization's very large scale have done this for quite some time. You very much appreciate that. And then let me switch to an offer a couple ways that if you're curious about okay ours and you found the session intriguing, and couple ways you can learn a bit more about that. There's a terrific recording on how Google famously used okay ours to accelerate. You can get that and will put those actually in the chats. You can just link to them and we'll send you a list as send you links afterwards. Being is just published an article on okay ours that answers five of the most important CEO questions on the topic. McKinsey, there's a terriffic podcast that brings it into practice and really goes deep on Ok ours and the technique specifically. And then, lastly, to go back to the geese comment right, if you are actually all aligned you go much faster. We did a benchmark report in two thousand and twenty one of organizations that have used work board for aligning and driving accountability on their strategy versus their competitor. So we looked at all of our customers who are using workboard at scale and we compared them to their closest competitors and indeed they had one point seven x higher revenue per employee and thirteen percent more revenue than their peers. It's quite the proof point on flying information, you just fly faster. You can also get that benchmark report and see the real data there as well, and with that let me wrap up again. Cathy, thank you very much for joining the conversation and steering...

...your wisdom with us. You've been listening to the OK our podcast. Subscribe in your favorite player so you never miss a moment. Thanks for listening. Until next time,.

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