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Work Futures Update | Chaos for the Fly

| Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic on Innovation | Sad Digital Nomads | Changing Change |

Photo by Andres Herrera on Unsplash

Beacon NY 2020–11–08 | I had the best sleep last night since New Years.


Quote of the Moment

What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.

| Charles Addams


How To Manage Disruptive Talent | Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic debunks the idea that businesses are pushing for greater innovation, when in fact they are tied up by the fear of failure:

It is nearly impossible to find a company that disagrees the idea that innovation is important, just like nobody thinks a culture of innovation is a bad idea. And yet, those same organizations are reluctant to invest in innovation unless they are sure that it will pay off. “Sure, we can put in place a culture of innovation, so long as you show me for sure that there is an ROI”. As Jeff Bezos noted in his early Amazon years, “if you know it’s going to work, then it’s not innovation”. So, having a culture of innovation means embracing failure as an option, not least because the alternative more than pays off for it.


The Digital Nomads Did Not Prepare for This | Erin Griffith relates the tales of various people who opted to escape their immediate surroundings to avoid the worst effects of the coronavirus, often with laughable results.

It turns out there are drawbacks the trend stories and Instagram posts didn’t share. Tax things. Red-tape things. Wi-Fi rage things. Closed border things. The kinds of things one might gloss over when making an emotional, quarantine-addled decision to pack up an apartment and book a one-way ticket to Panama or Montreal or Kathmandu.

And this wonderful one-liner that perhaps explains all the mishaps:

Americans have never been especially good at vacation.


The road to successful change is lined with trade-offs | Maya Townsend and Elizabeth Doty disentangle some key threads around the so-called resistance to change in organizations. When leaders have concocted a plan in isolation, and then spring it on the rank-and-file being asked to implement the change, the dynamic can become adversarial:

Traditionally, leaders have started with the belief that the change they have launched is patently right. Its merits are not in question, they believe; at most, it might need minor tweaks. With this stance, the work of change becomes convincing people and overcoming their resistance, and all too often, box-checking exercises take the place of frank discussion.

Yet we have found that the most enduring change initiatives — those that drive real results — are based on leaders’ assumption that they are seeing only part of the picture and thus need to learn more. These leaders ask hard questions and engage in trade-offs as early as possible, talking with those who raise concerns not to gain their compliance, but to improve, refine, and pressure test the proposed change.


So-called resisters have a point. Opposing views often have clear, important messages that leaders would do well to heed. The people who hold these views may be the ones who most vividly see the potential losses or risks associated with the initiative.

Organizational change expert Rick Maurer explains, “There [aren’t] ‘resisters’ out there just waiting to ruin our otherwise perfect intervention. People resist in response to something. The people resisting probably don’t see it as resistance; they see it as survival.” Critical voices are important and ultimately essential in breaking through superficiality and developing the thinking needed to wrestle with trade-offs successfully. Many times, in side conversations, people have told us stories about speaking up out of a sense of accountability, realism, or integrity.

When change leaders gloss over unintended consequences and contradictory perspectives, they lose the opportunity to capitalize on the tension between views that can lead to unexpected and valuable insights. They sacrifice the chance to achieve real commitment from the people whose job it will be to implement the change.



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Stowe Boyd

Stowe Boyd


Insatiably curious. Economics, sociology, ecology, tools for thought. See also