Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Cartoon of the week

Source: ©Clint Clarkson adapted from a comic by Neil Von Heupt. 

Anne says: I spoke with Neil about his cartoon and what underpinned his scenario – here’s his response:

“I like shiny things! Every conference exhibition is crowded with them but it’s too easy to start the learning design process with trying to work out how we can use our latest toy. People get so distracted by all the shiny things that they forget why L&D is there and their starting point shifts away from where it needs to be. In this cartoon the designer (who originally had ‘LD’ in a superman shape on their chest) did a great job. They responded with enthusiasm to the client’s suggestions, but then called them back to the right starting point. It also lowlighted (like highlighted, but subtler)(by the satire of excess) that training is likely not the solution, another tough call from the ‘Super ID’.”[ID = Instructional Designer]

This is a valuable reminder for any workplace designer – it’s NOT about the technology, it’s about how we use the technology.

How the ‘Sharing’ Economy Erodes Both Privacy and Trust


Anne says: This article is part of a series in The New York Times on privacy – the Privacy Project. Don’t dash over there just yet though, I think you need to start here. The premise of this article is about the changing nature of trust and how this is eroding our privacy.

“Our relationship to privacy is inseparable from our idea of trust.”

In the “sharing economy” we’re expected to allow others (we don’t know these people and are not likely to ever meet them) to know things about ourselves before we’re admitted into this trusted network – for example Airbnb. There’s an interesting quote that frames the perspective of Airbnb, from CEO Brian Chesky: 

“we don’t think you can be trusted in a place where you’re anonymous.” In order to participate in services like his, Mr Chesky argues, you need to expose yourself.

And so, a new model of consumerism is demanding customer transparency. However, that is working on the basis that trust = transparency, and transparency requires you to reveal information about yourself and even permit surveillance to third parties or people we know little about. Then, the article provides examples of doggy walker cams, nanny cams and Uber’s “shared trip status” to demonstrate how surveillance is now a required state of transparency or we become suspicious. That’s not trust, right?

So before we start talking about privacy, let’s consider what information we’re being asked to share to become a “trusted member”, what level of transparency and/or surveillance you expect or are prepared to permit of your personal information and spaces. There’s a reminder that the suspicion of privacy – what’s going on that they don’t want us to see – is not a new concept. For example, the role of the chaperone who was intended to make privacy respectable – but of course, that’s not at all private! 

To bring this back to the current context, the closing argument reminds us that the current privacy debates are more about how digital economy is eroding our privacy under the guise of trust. If we don’t share our details, there must be something we’re trying to hide. The final comment should be a basis to shape our approach to privacy:

“… in order to treasure privacy… our tolerance for opaqueness, uncertainty and disconnectedness – and our faith in the decency of others.”


Inside Alan: the French health-tech startup with no meetings and transparent salaries

Shooting de l'équipe de l'entreprise Alan, complémentaire santé montée sur le modèle start-up et s'adressant aux indépendants et aux entreprises du digital. L'équipe est photographiée dans ses locaux à Paris 10e le 3 avril 2018.

Christoph says: I admit, I am a sucker for new ways of working and behaving in the workplace. I want to work in an environment where I am appreciated as a human being, not a machine. We spend about 13 years continuously at work (that is about 24% of a typical working period of 50 years). Compare that with 368 days of our lives socialising and 115 days spent laughing. I am smelling a complete mismatch here. So, I am all up for new ideas on how to make the workplace more human, fun and rewarding. This will not only benefit employees but also the company in the long run. 

I don’t think you can simply copy and paste what other companies are doing differently in creating that enjoyable workplace but you should be aware of it and potentially be inspired to run your own small experiments to try out new things (see Lean Change Management approach). So, let’s look at Alan, a French health-tech startup with over 160 employees: 

Culture Hacks at Alan

  • Quarterly desk shuffles
    • Some companies have clean desk policies, where staff needs to find a new place to work at every morning. I like the idea of forced quarterly shuffles, as the clean desk policy usually results in people still mostly sitting with the people they know already. 
  • No meetings
    • Meetings are normally used to make decisions. But meetings normally take place at one time, in one room attended by only a handful of people. At Alan all decisions are being openly discussed in a forum. This is not meant to discuss issues to death. This is not about a democratic approach. The reason for doing it this way is that you need information to be able to make decisions. Furthermore, they would like to provide the highest level of transparency possible. 
  • Weekly personal reviews
    • Each Tuesday everyone is asked to take a step back from work and review his or her goals for the week. If you have too many, that is not good. Equally, if you have none, that is not good either. 
  • Transparent salaries
    • Everyone in the company can find out how much everyone else is paid and how much equity they have — and, the idea is, to understand why. Employees are graded based on a career framework, which takes into account how much impact they have on the company.
  • Lunch & Learn Budget
    • Since people are usually busy working, there is often not much time for learning, even though it is a critical activity in our world. Alan offers employees a budget to take a colleague for lunch from who you would like to learn something new. 

Alan seems to have success with their approach. Very few employees have left the company since its inception in 2016. They have been able to recruit top people in spite of fierce competition for talents. They are planning on hiring up to 80 people this year. It will be interesting to watch what happens when they scale that fast and bring in new people, new complexities. 


Humans could learn from puppy teamwork

Whoopi says: Collaboration is not a spectator sport, you have to step up and contribute value to your team. Watch this video I found, which pretty much shows my humans just how Golden Retriever’s think – together!


The hidden biases that drive anti-vegan hatred


Jakkii says: Whatever your view on veganism – and, for that matter, on meat eating – this is a fascinating article on bias. You might even find it a little confronting, depending on your level of “moral schizophrenia” (see the article for more on that reference). 

What’s particularly fascinating to me in this piece, is the discussion of the multitude of strategies we can (and do) employ to resolve our cognitive dissonance, in this case with regards to eating meat. It is, of course, easily extrapolated out into other instances where two beliefs we may personally hold conflict with one another. And, I think one of the interesting aspects of considering bias with regards to something that is, for many people, an every day occurrence such as eating meat, is that it’s so much more likely that you and I are affected by this kind of cognitive dissonance with regards to eating meat – maybe you even hate vegans!

Now, maybe you’ll read the article and disagree, but just maybe you’ll read the article and recognise some of the moral dilemmas and deep seated bias it discusses within yourself. Either way, it’s a worthy basis for reflection on bias, cognitive dissonance, and how humans internally strategise to resolve it that is applicable to a range of subjects – including in the workplace.


Social Media

Five interesting links on social media this week:

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: we look back at 2019 and forward to 2020, and reflect on how we connect tech and business trends with global megatrends. Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.

The stories this week

01:18 Looking back on 2019 predictions

08:54 Understanding global megatrends

17:56 Our predictions for 2020

Other stories we bring up

The NYT predicts what devices will invade your life in 2019 tech predictions for 2019

IBM’s tech predictions for 2019

Deloitte’s annual tech trends for 2020

Forrester’s predictions for 2020

ZDNET’s trends for 2020

Our podcast with Hugh Durrant-Whyte on a future of automation

What was said at Davos on climate change

Climate Change Takes Center Stage in Davos

Davos on climate and economics


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