Paul Millerd takes a look at business growth data from the 1970’s onward to build a vision of future organizations and explain how the changing business landscape will impact the work environment.
I have studied organizations, people and motivation and am fascinated by the changes that have unfolded in my relatively short career. I’ll defer to Neils Bohr to qualify this entire piece:
‘Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future’ — Neils Bohr
Since I can’t predict the future, I promise this will contain ideas that are not fully baked. I hope you can help me improve them.
Most people agree that that change is happening and that the pace of change is accelerating. However, if you look around, our modern organizations are not much different than they were 20 years ago. When I talk to people and HR leaders about their organizations they share with me the feeling that something is not right and that organizations need to evolve.
I’ll get to my vision of that future, but first wanted to call out three trends that I believe are driving this uncertainty.
Points discussed in this article include:
- Process excellence
- Purpose-driven cultures
- Adaptive technology
- Agile teams
Read the full article, The Future of Work: What Winning Organizations Will Look Like in 2025, on the Boundless website.
An uplifting and sage post from Paul Millerd on what politics has become, racism in America, and why love eats politics.
I’m sitting down right now at 11:03am in Spain to write this. I am not sure where I’ll end up or if I’ll hit send this week, but I wanted to give it a shot to write something amid the pain and anger in my home country.
I write this after spending the entire month of May fighting an infection in my gums trying to hide my fear of facing long-term health issues again and then in the past few days, finally finding a treatment that seems to be working.
I also write this
From the perspective of living abroad for the last two years, watching people in my country increasingly become sucked into polarizing narratives.
…and as someone who will inevitably have to deal with the challenges of race in America if I am lucky enough to become a father.
America, America, America.
As a white man in the US it has become a tricky time to say anything. The overwhelming pressures are to parrot popular political narratives or stay silent. The pressure to “take a stand” within the two political frames is overwhelming. Even many of my non American friends are amazed at how often they are asked where they stand on American issues.
Topics covered in this article include:
- The political divide
- Trauma and the body
- Signs of hope
Read the full newsletter, Love Eats Politics for Breakfast, on the Boundless website.
Paul Millerd’s latest newsletter explores four questions surrounding the state of work, schools, and creativity and shares unexpected thoughts on the future of work.
The US has lost 38 million jobs. Some of those may come back. Many will not. Going into 2021, the US will likely have the highest unemployment rate in the last 100 years.
I’ve written quite a bit about the fragile labor economy and believe the gaps I’ve written about have become more visible than ever.
Here are the questions I’m thinking about for the next year.
#1. What happens when work doesn’t seem a necessary part of our lives?
In Max Weber’s famous treatise on Capitalism published in the 1800’s, he argued that a central element that enabled capitalism to emerge and succeed starting in the 1500s was the fact that so many people eventually developed a “spirit” for capitalism.
Many people incorrectly equate this spirit as greed, but as Weber points out, greed is timeless and universal not a product of capitalism. It has been seen at all times in history and in all types of economic systems. Instead Weber suggests that capitalism might have become so effective because of its ability to restrain greed:
‘Capitalism may even be identical with the restraint, or at least a rational tempering, of this irrational impulse.’
By channeling this natural human urge into work, it can theoretically benefit not only the greedy person, but society at large.
What then motivates work?
Included in this article:
- How does unstable work relate to how people think about the future?
- How will the cross-generation disconnect be resolved?
- What is the role of making stuff and our relationship to optimism and the future?
Read the full article, Four Work Questions, Alternative Path Stories, Facebook’s Deeper Game & Creativity, on the Boundless website.
Paul Millerd invites your mind on an adventure into utopian thinking and a timely reminder on the circular nature of life.
Millenarianism is defined as “the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming fundamental transformation of society, after which “all things will be changed”.
I ran across this concept in a fascinating book by John Gray called “Black Mass” where he explored how humans have consistently been drawn toward millenarianist movements. He goes through the history and characteristics of these movements and also applies it to the then current movement to go to war against Iraq during the GW Bush presidency. He showed how their campaign and the associated propaganda embodied many of the traits of these kind of movements.
If you read the book, you can probably skim the parts about the early 2000s, but the broader perspective on these movements and how they continue to occur throughout history was eye opening. Once you become aware of these tendencies you see them everywhere.
He explains the five traits of milleniarism movements:
- Collective, in that it is enjoyed by the community of the faithful
- Terrestrial, in that it is realized on earth rather than in heaven or in an after-life
- Imminent, in that it is bound to come soon and suddenly
- Total, in that it will not just improve life on earth but transform and perfect it
- Miraculous, in that its coming is achieved or assisted by divine agency
Read the full article, What is your preferred pandemic utopia, on the Boundless website.
As more people get used to working remotely, Paul Millerd shares valuable advice and fourteen tips that should not be followed.
I’ve either put these tips into practice in my own life or can confirm that other people have. People rarely talk about these practices in public because there is a certain amount of shame and embarrassment about telling people you work less.
Advice on working remotely Paul shares include:
- The morning routine
- Asynchronous communication
- The bi-modal workday
- Expectations of motivation
Read the full article, Don’t Follow this Advice on Working Remotely, on the Boundless website.
Paul Millerd explores what it means to achieve your goals and why the simple goals stop working and you either have to keep raising the stakes or change your orientation.
In 2015, Kevin Durant left his team of nine years to join the best basketball team in the world. In the NBA, great players like Durant are judged based on whether or not they win championships. This undoubtedly influenced his decision to join the team with the best chance to achieve that goal.
Except when he ended up winning a title, he didn’t find what he expected. His friend Steve Nash reflected on Durant’s confusing emotions that summer:
‘He didn’t have a great summer,’ Nash told me last year. ‘He was searching for what it all meant. He thought a championship would change everything and found out it doesn’t. He was not fulfilled.’
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The realization that achieving a goal will often not fundamentally improve your overall well-being can be a challenging moment for people.
It is also a moment where people can choose to orient in a new direction or double down on the same path. This seems like an easy decision to make, but over and over again, people continue back down the same path.
Points explored in this article are:
- Reaching a WTF?! Moment
- A Brief Detour To Grapple With Happiness
- What About Work?
- Have A Little Faith
Read the full article, The 2nd Chapter Of Success, on the Boundless website.
Paul Millerd tackles the origins and meaning of culture and provides a framework and lens for thinking about organizational culture in ways that can shape your corporate culture.
Culture is a messy term. In 1952, two Academics, Kroeber and Kluckhohn, completed a comprehensive review of the term and found that by then there were over 134 definitions.
As Kroeber and Kluckhohn explored the history of the word, they found all roads pointing to Germany, where the word was emerging as “cultur”:
Kant, for instance, like most of his contemporaries, still spells the word Cultur, but uses it repeatedly, always with the meaning of cultivating or being cultured
It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that the word started to form into the modern form of the word, adopted by Anthropologists and other academics who were studying foreign cultures.
Sir Edward Tyler’s book Primitive Culture from 1870 is often marked as a shift toward the modern definition:
‘that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.’
By the 1950’s there were over 100 definitions of the word and that was before organizations started using the term.
In the 1980’s, Edgar Schein’s research expanded the scope of the world to modern organizations and the way we talk about companies has never been the same.
Areas discussed in this essay include:
- How culture arises
- Why the idea of a unified, single culture is wrong
- A framework for thinking about culture (hint: it’s not actually a pyramid)
- The two factors that shape how a culture solidified
- The role of anxiety in learning and culture
- The stages of culture development
- Identifying a “strong” culture
- How to assess culture in your own company
Read the full essay, Edgar Schein’s Anxiety & Assumptions: Powerful Ideas On Culture, on the Boundless website.
Paul Millerd shares greetings from Taipei and his thoughts about shorter workweeks, including recent news from Microsoft Japan where they implemented a four-day week and saw productivity jump 40 percent.
Three years ago I was an office worker in New York City, working in a prestigious job making more money than I ever imagined (some of my peers in New York had much different standards!) yet a storm was brewing inside and one that had been totally invisible to many who knew me my entire life
As I got better at my job and better in navigating the corporate world, I struggled to find a deeper reason for why I was there. Early in my career I was learning a lot, but over time it seemed that no one really cared about learning at all. Working on your career narrative, pleasing executives and making money seemed to be the only thing people worked on. Not the kind of learning I was excited by.
This led to a creeping nihilism which I only clearly see now. I’m really just going to make PowerPoint slides and work 48 weeks of every year?
Points covered in the article include:
-My weird life and living the dream
-Shorter work week: A real trend in 2020
-The happiness ruse
-A poem by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
Read the full article, My Weird Life & Shorter Workweek Zeitgeist, on Paul’s website.
Paul Millerd shares a comprehensive guide on how to communicate complex information in simple ways, and how to create memorable presentations with 20 secrets from strategy consulting and persuasion science.
How do you build a memorable and persuasive presentation?
I spent over ten years working in the consulting industry at places like McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group and now as a freelance consultant. Communication is central to everything the consulting industry does and in some ways explains why the industry has been so successful for so long. Yet, across the business world and increasingly in the entrepreneurial community, few understand how to present information in a compelling way. Most default to the behaviors of their colleagues or the templates that their company provides. While these methods may result in a beautiful slide, the content tends to fall short.
I am motivated to help people tell remarkable stories, communicate complex information in simple ways, and to teach people how to be memorable. Over the past several years, both through my work and through my research, I have identified many “secrets” of what it takes to create compelling and impactful presentations.
The article covers the following points in detail:
-Make your message memorable
-Structure your message
Read the full article, 20 Secrets From Strategy Consulting & Persuasion Science To Create Memorable Presentations, on the StrategyU website.