Road trip to “Make Meaningful Work” from San Francisco to Portland to Seattle to Los Angeles (interim observations)

Daniel Szuc
Mar 31, 2017 · 4 min read

For the last few years JoBot and myself have been lucky enough to be invited to join some friends and colleagues for a wine weekend in Sonoma Valley, California.

Its a nice way to reflect on the year together and to enjoy some practice conversations in a relaxing setting that is wine country (thank you Dana Chisnell and Jared M. Spool for organising this)

The benefits of day dreaming and conversations as we drive to Sonoma Valley

Given where we are currently at in the study of the “Make Meaningful Work” project and the conversations and presentations over the last 5 years, as we lead up to a “Make Meaningful Work” event in Hong Kong in 2018, we thought it would be a nice idea to present and workshop our current thinking on this topic in a few cities, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles, and in some companies, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Amazon, around our wine weekend together.

We wanted to leverage on the trip to learn about what frustrations people are facing in their project work, challenge our own assumptions about the meaningfulness of this project and to examine overall how this may help us all answer:

How can we “Make Meaningful Work?”

Interim observations

The good news is that people are intrigued and increasingly receptive to this topic and want to be part of our continued study to help with the practices and tools to help “Make Meaningful Work” in their own projects as we go forward.

Here are the 20 x interim observations to date as a way to both document where we are right now.

We also want to see if we have enough evidence from our presentations to support the observations below as we will continue to make sense of the data when we get back to Hong Kong and see what we need to learn with the gaps presented as part of the user research to collect more project stories.

In no particular order:

  1. Listening more intentionally to our heart, towards understanding our best self, as we consider what it means for our own, team and company narrative in the work we do.
  2. Collecting a library of project behaviours that are either getting in the way of or advancing meaningful work.
  3. How to be at our best and authentic self at work as we would be at home or in any other context.
  4. Encouraging flow in projects for better conversations for iterating on meaning.
  5. Finding guides or mentors to help with where we are now and the path ahead.
  6. Best practices that can be collected and codified to create permanence that can sustain healthy futures going forward.
  7. Going towards the healthier futures and being intentional about not going back to old thinking.
  8. Recognising, talking about and letting go of toxicity that may exist in our day to day work.
  9. What it means to be lost in the noise of day to day work, speed and deliverables without other routines to regain focus in our work.
  10. Having a well understood narrative for yourself, team and company.
  11. Connecting people and data points for continued clarity about the personal, team and company narrative.
  12. Everyday acts that contribute to flow so we feel less stuck.
  13. Being busy, what this feels like and how this may be contributing to number 8 above and what that feels like.
  14. The idea and possibility that everyone in a project team has something they can teach in the spirit of .
  15. The small steps needed for learning.
  16. Daily practices and ultimately documented activities that lead to habits to help with the small steps needed for learning.
  17. Recognising and practicing an openness and receptiveness to continuously learn and improve.
  18. Being aware of your reactions to what happens to you and what you do about it.
  19. Contributions to our attitudes.
  20. How clearly defined roles can help with all of the above.

And if I may:

What we can learn from other fields like theatre, film making, cooking etc about how to work in cross disciplinary ways to make meaningful work together.


Please also read of this lovely piece by on our from Portland to Seattle and subsequent learnings as related to the 20 x high level interim observations above.

Thank you

Thank you to some of the people we have met along the way on this trip to the US and who continue to inform, guide and inspire — Cyd Harrell and family, John Philpin, Kim Lenox, Stephen Calvillo, Matthew Oliphant and Oliphant family, Madonnalisa Chan, Alex Chang, Scott Berkun, Ona Anicello, Kristin Valentine, IXDA Seattle, Refresh Portland, Susan Wolfe and Primitive Spark.

Make Meaningful Work

How can we create an environment for people to move from sleepwalking to sparkle to make meaningful work?

Daniel Szuc

Written by

Make Meaningful Work

Make Meaningful Work

How can we create an environment for people to move from sleepwalking to sparkle to make meaningful work?

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