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Fortunately this is not what a virtual organization looks like. Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash

I was recently helping a company identify pathways for going international. While expanding geographically, the company also aims to become better at running their organization virtually, i.e. creating a company where physical location is not (internally) relevant and where one should be able to feel included as a full member of the community, even if you’re not sitting at the “mothership” office.

By the way, the internationalization exercise was a fun one. If you’re dealing with these strategic topics in your company, let’s do some digging together. 🧐

In this context, when talking about a virtual organization, I mean one where people exist in multiple locations but have tools for engaging with and a clear feeling of belonging to an organization larger than the one physically available to them every day. …

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Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

There’s a funny thing about the human mind. When thinking about the present or the future, it’s obvious that things can go a million ways. However, past events usually form perfectly logical narratives. Everything in the past seems to have happened in a natural sequence — one event has lead to another and the present seems inevitable.

Anything can happen in the future, but the present has happened precisely as it was supposed to.

I’ve often been asked what my professional story is — how did I get where I am? I tell people roughly the same story I’ll write here. After telling the story, I always try to add this: Even if the story seems logical and smooth, there’s chance and randomness at every turn. …

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Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

I left my previous CEO job at Wunder at the end of February this year. Since then, I’ve been, among other things, looking for my next work adventure. The lookout has been a slow one on purpose. I’ve had conversations with people and companies all along, but I’ve avoided setting deadlines or other types of pressure for when the next challenge should reveal itself.

That search is now over, but more about that later in this post. First, let’s discuss some opportunities that did not materialise so as to explain how I got to what I want to do next.

When I started being open to new adventures, I formed a vague “checklist” for attributes that my new job should have. The list was never an exhaustive thing that I could input to an Excel sheet to score each opportunity, but there was some stuff that remained all along. …

I’ve always been a fan of nonfiction books that can be useful in working life.

Sorry for opening with an awkward description, but I wanted to avoid saying “business books”, as that, in turn, is a bit limiting. A useful book can be a self-help guide or a history book and still provide ideas and insight to use at work.

Like most people, I’ve struggled with finding time to read. There’s so much to keep you busy that making time to sit down and read isn’t easy.

This year’s been different.

For the most of 2018, I’ve been adventuring between two journeys — my previous position as a co-founder/CEO at Wunder and whatever comes next. This situation has given me the privilege to read more and ”upgrade” my brain more freely than ever before. As a result, I’ve read over 20 books so far this year. I’m making this point to recognise that it really is a privilege that I currently possess and that most people in most circumstances do not. I don’t think I’m a better person than you who read less than I do. …

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Me as a competitive athlete. Yes, I do that shit. Image: Thomas Drouault Photography

My CrossFit coach recently gave all of us at the gym the task of setting personal goals for the upcoming 12 months of training. The idea was to write them on paper, put the paper in an envelope and give the envelope to him.

I’m going to do things a bit differently for two reasons:

  1. According to research, you’re more likely to reach your goals if you publicise them. In other words, it’s easier to underperform your targets if you didn’t tell others about them in the first place.
  2. There’s a chance that this stuff might help you set and achieve tour personal goals. …

I often speak with people who own and run growth businesses. More often than not, these companies have an urge to grow, but they don’t really know why. A part of the growth even comes somewhat automatically if they are in a growing industry. But why — Why does your company deserve to grow, or even to exist? Why must your employees suffer the inconveniences of growth pains? Are you going to grow until you’re X people or Y millions in revenue and then stop? What is your purpose and how is that visible in your day-to-day?

All growth companies struggle with at least some of these questions — even the ones who are growing to just boost their owners’ egos and wallets. The ego&money rationale might be enough for the owners, but what about staff, partners and clients — what’s in it for them? …

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I wanted to find a corny picture of freedom, and think this one does the trick pretty nicely.

It’s been an incredible past 3,5 months since ending my previous long-term relationship with Wunder.

I resigned from my previous job to find something without knowing what that something will look like. Many people have congratulated me for this brave jump into the unknown, but courage has little to do with it. First, I think I’m fully aware of how privileged I am to be able to do this in the first place. Most people never get a realistic chance to make this move, but I did, and it’s not bravery. I’ve got the financial means to make it through the in-between period and I’m sure there will be something interesting at the end of it. …

I co-founded a professional services company with three other guys in 2009. We all had different personal reasons for that venture, but our common goal included five parts: We wanted to create a consultancy that would 1) be international, 2) focus on open source technologies, 3) use agile methodologies in software development and 4) would grow in order to have a real impact in the markets we operate in. Most importantly, 5) we wanted our company to be different in how it’s structured and how people’s potential is perceived and valued.

For the last part, we found the principles in Agile Manifesto very relatable. We believed that they’d protect the company from becoming a soul-crushing corporation when it grew past the point when everyone knows everyone thoroughly. …

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After me writing and a friend reading my previous post about organisational silos, we had a great discussion about an adjacent topic and a different kind of silo — one where a person claims to ‘own’ a process or a project at the workplace. This could be stuff like the company website development backlog, intranet content structure, recruiting process or how, when and which kind of coffee should be brewed in the kitchenette.

Don’t get me wrong. Ownership over subject matters is a great and useful concept. There are plenty of issues in organisations when nobody takes ownership of things. …

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Silos — they happen.

Some silos exist in every organisation. Some are easily visible, like ones between two departments that output different things. Some are more subtle, like ones between people in customer-facing jobs and others in administrative ones. One silo that might be visible in fairly small companies is the one between co-owners and regular employees. Dig deep enough and you’ll find ones in your organisation. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Silos are natural, but bad for everyone. The division between ‘us’ and ‘them’ means that people primarily want what’s good for individuals in their own silo and secondarily for people in other silos. Unless, of course, you’re in a toxic organisation, in which case you’re completely ignorant of what happens to the others, or even want bad things for them. …


Joonas Kiminki

CEO at Filosofian Akatemia. We coach, train and consult organisations for the Future of work.

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