Cali Yost, flexible working futurist, explains the new flexibility

remote working expert Cali Yost

Value through Vulnerability (boosted by HumansFirst) Host Garry Turner, Sponsored by Aequip

VtV Coalition

Garry Turner 0:08
We have got the wonderful Cali Yost here who is a flexible working strategist, futurist, founder, author, and speaker and Cali, I have to say, I love how your tagline LinkedIn is reimagined how, when and where work is done. Welcome to the podcast.

Cali Williams Yost 0:27
Well, thank you. It’s wonderful to be here.

Garry Turner 0:30
Oh, well, I’m glad we finally got to speak with you.

Cali Williams Yost 0:37
I think everything happens when it’s supposed to, right.

Garry Turner 0:42
I love that so much as we get going. Would you mind just taking a few minutes just for our listeners to learn a bit more about you?

How did you get into this sort of passion around flexible working?

“It (the current crisis) has got rid of these artificial barriers that we have put around these different parts of our lives. It opens up the door to realise we are all in this together, what’s your specialness that you are bringing to the table and let me show you mine”

Cali Williams Yost 0:53
Believe it or not, it started in the early 90s. I was a very junior manager In a bank, I’d gone through the management training programs. So I was put in charge of a group of people all of whom were older than I was. I was married at the time, I did not have children, but they were all starting to have children, it was actually men and women. And I just kept seeing that the lack of flexibility was causing my business to suffer. So the lending that we did was closely held lending to closely held companies. So in that market, it’s very important to have a strong relationship between the banker and the customer. So when you lose a banker, your business becomes vulnerable. So I just needed to hold on to these people. And at the time, I oddly had become interested in this emerging field of flexibility. I don’t know why. I don’t know what sparked it for me, but I just was kind of looking at it on the side over here.

Flexible working as a field?

I went to my leadership and I said, hey, why don’t we either let them have a reduced schedule or work remotely. Again, this is the early 90s. And my management was like, What? Okay, I don’t even know what that means. And so long story very short, it just seemed to make so much sense to me. And then I actually had a meeting with a CEO of a bank that we had his accounts. And one of our bankers had left again because they couldn’t have flexibility. And he said to me, that was a mistake. And I was confused. And all of a sudden, this man across this desk said to me, oh, I give my people flexibility. And they stay with me forever. And it’s all about good business. And it was one of those moments where like the angel sang, and things kind of stop and I’m like, Okay, this is a real thing, and I am doing it. And so I left banking, went back to business school, got my MBA and just started doing this work back in I guess it was 95 is when I started.

Wow, that’s a phenomenal story.

Cali Williams Yost 3:00
You know, it’s just one of those things where you can see something emerge. And you just know in your bones, that this is a strategic business imperative. And the fact that it does not exist is bad for you, not only the organization, but just unnecessarily bad for people. You also know in your bones because you’ve seen it, that when people get flexibility and how, when and where they work, you get so much more. So all of the things that keep leaders from resisting, shifting their cultures, and making flexibility part of the cultural DNA, it, you want to just be able to show them that if you take the leap, you really are going to reap so much of the reward. So again, I’m hopeful that this moment in time where we’ve all been sort of thrown into the flexibility deep end, and you know, even deserve against your will and in voluntarily, you know you have to do this. It’s going to open the door for all that other good stuff on the other side.

Mike Vacanti 4:05
Yeah, you know, I love that Cali. And I think of when you’re telling the story of going to your managers in the bank first and saying, you know, to explore remote work, and they didn’t understand the concept, and maybe we’re in their minds thinking, why would somebody want to work from the lunchroom? It’s like, no, we’re talking about actually out of the building. Right. And, and so that being in the 90s I imagine that you still bump into some of that rigorous thinking even today.

Cali Williams Yost 4:37
Oh, absolutely. Now, I could almost forgive it. Let’s be real. I could almost forgive it in the 90s because, you know, we didn’t even really have mobile phones. There wasn’t really email. I mean, it was really like I walked into the room and said, let’s just fly to Pluto and do our work. I really do give them all a lot of rope because it was so nutty at the time. Now we have the technology. So it isn’t necessarily the lack of technology. I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years. And I made the strategic decision a few years ago that I really was only going to work with visionary leaders who really saw the need to make the shift for the variety of reasons I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time with leaders who didn’t want to do do the work or understood what was possible.

“You also know in your bones because you’ve seen it, that when people get flexibility and how, when and where they work, you get so much more.”

Cali WIlliams Yost

So what I’ve seen from the visionary leaders, so I will juxtapose that to leaders who resist is they just understand things have to change. They just saw it for their business, the business as usual. The status quo ultimately was not going to prepare them for success in the future, that you have a whole new generation of people that are walking into the workplace just inherently flexible. They see work as a what they see work as a thing you do, they don’t see work as a place you go, so you to attract and retain and motivate that generation, you really have to meet them where they are and adapt your workplace accordingly.

flexible working Flex Strategy Group
Flex Strategy Group, flexible working experts

Also, it’s a shift in mindset. It’s a letting go that I think a lot of them are afraid of that if I let go, it’s just going to be chaos. Nothing’s going to get done. And how do you know people are working? How do you? How do you engage with them? How do you? It’s a whole new way of leading that I don’t think they they necessarily were confident they were going to be able to make that pivot. So this is what I’m hoping again, we’re here. We’re in it. How do you now leverage the learning of this moment, and adopt some of that new leadership and really now embrace this flexible working so that you can, again, not only get through this crisis, but at the other side, attract and retain the top talent? Really help people be their most productive, leverage all this technology, leverage the workspaces that you would use. So you maybe don’t have to have as much physical space but you’re really using the physical space that you have. How are you serving your customers more effectively? I’m hearing a lot of doctors say my patients love telemedicine because they don’t have to come all the way into the office and their relatives can participate in the in the appointment with them. Yeah, I see financial planners saying, you know, I thought I had to be physically in the in the same room with them. People want to meet after work people want to meet before. There’s just a lot of wonderful benefits from strategic flexibility done well. So that’s what I’m hoping.

Mike Vacanti 7:43
Love that we are at the point of time, as you say, the the recognition is there now to move forward. The technology and tools are there. There was one more limiting thought that we were starting to touch into a little bit and it you know, I think of myself going to work as a as a teenager and at a manufacturing factory. And I would walk in at a particular time, and I would punch the clock. And I would take my physical timecard and punch it into this thing on the wall, and it would make the stamping noise. And I would do that at break. And I would do that at lunch. And I would do that at the end of the day. And most of the workforce has never had that experience. Yet we hold on to that mentality of eight to five, nine to five, that those those rigorous hours. And perhaps this is the opportunity to really let go all of those limiting beliefs in our heritage that no longer serve a purpose.

Cali Williams Yost 8:48
You know, especially now it’s interesting.

You know, time is such an organizing framework, right. So that’s part of it is like what’s the organizing framework around work? You know, there’s also legal issues too. I mean, there’s some real legal parameters that also reinforce some of that time related boundary thinking. But it’s interesting currently in this crisis, remote experience we’re having and also even people who aren’t working remotely. So manufacturing organizations, for example, they are having to break with those time boundaries. And two reasons. One, a lot of parents are not able to work in those, you know, eight to five, they have children that they now have to not only just watch, but educate, because they’re not going to school. So you have parents now saying to managers, I’m coordinating with my partner, I’m coordinating with whatever support I have, but I’m now working from 7:00 to 11:00 and then I’m going back on from 3:30 to 8:00 If you need me text me, but I can’t participate in meetings. So you have managers now that you have people who are kind of operating at these different periods of time, just out of necessity right now. So that’s an interesting coordination.

“It (the current crisis) has got rid of these artificial barriers that we have put around these different parts of our lives. It opens up the door to realise we are all in this together, what’s your specialness that you are bringing to the table and let me show you mine”

Cali WIlliams Yost

And then in manufacturing, which I think is also very important to consider, they’re having to switch over to this AMD teaming framework where they’re having to potentially extend shifts, so maybe make more shifts happening at different times. And then staggering those shifts and so that people are not in the space at the same time to allow for the social distancing. So again, it’s kind of breaking some of those constraints of time and saying how do we operate now in this new normal, so it will be interesting, when the health concerns are no longer as pressing to see then what else ultimately happens when we go into the next phase, it’s going to be very interesting.

Garry Turner 11:05
I love that Cali and Mike, I think one of the things I’m hearing a lot at the moment, and there’s a phrase actually that someone used last Monday on our HumansFirst call, was one of her colleagues said, Now I’m running at 30 to 40 miles per hour. Seeing and sensing. More than I did when I was running at 90 or 100. And I think that realization for people that actually this slowing down, I’m now seeing and sensing the world, in this peripheral vision and not this myopic focus. How does that play into some of your work around remote working and how you help people design work? Do you think going forward now people are, like almost forced to wake up to some extent.

Cali Williams Yost 11:45
You know, it goes back to this word, I tend to say a lot. So I’m going to apologize in advance if I just say it a lot, because I don’t mean to repeat it over and over again, but it really does. Describe where I think we are. It’s switching from automatic to intention. So all of this there is an opportunity. So when work was nine to five in the office, you go there you come home, there’s sort of an automatic pilot that I think a lot of people could find themselves operating in. Whereas now it’s, again, that goes back to what am I trying to get done? And now it’s how and when do I do it best? Where is set for a lot of people, it’s remotely, you were doing it remotely. But then how and where do I do that best? There’s, there’s a sense of thoughtfulness that has to go into that. And also you’re being forced to, you know, really think about what is going on. And I’m going to tell you right now I’m also going you probably are hearing my child come in, okay, so this is the other piece of this intention led us to happen, which is we have people now trying to remote work in spaces where all their other family members are remote working, flexible working. So in terms of sensing a lot of hearing a lot of you know just negotiating with they’re doing as well. So, again, it goes back to that intentionality that we didn’t have to have to deal with before.

Garry Turner 13:21
It reminds me, Cali ,of that. One of the things that’s making me chuckle the most at the moment is not more than 18 months ago, the professionalism. Remember that attache who was abroad and his wife came in with kid really no, I right. It’s like 18 months ago, that was like viral. Haha, look at them. I know they were back on the news three weeks ago, being interviewed.

So like, I just think what’s really fascinating and I feel you’re both speaking to This Is this the belief systems that we have held or not challenged for so long? It’s literally like the color ceiling has gotten. So I like inclusion. I think about race and gender and sex and just do we really need to hold on to those isms anymore? Cali? And how does flexible working help us give minorities more freedom to not have to maybe come in as far for travel or they’re just the whole opportunity to redesign work in society, I think is really exciting. If we grab it.

Cali Williams Yost 14:26
Well, um, I just think what it’s done again, is it’s sort of gotten rid of, of this, these artificial barriers that we’ve put around all these different parts of our life. So you can’t help now when you are interacting with somebody in their home, you really can’t help but see their life. You really can’t. And it humanizes things in a way that it really didn’t before. So I can’t help I’m going to be honest, like I’m like, oh Garry, that is a really beautiful painting of the ocean behind you. Do you love the ocean? Like it makes me think? Does Garry really love the ocean? I wonder where that was. And, you know, perhaps you might think Cali’s background is is relatively sparse, well, then you would find out I am in a temporary apartment right now because we unfortunately, schedule construction to happen right in the middle of all this. So, you know, again, it humanizes. It just makes people human. And I do think it opens up the door to say, we’re all in this together, like we all, you know, what’s your specialness that you’re bringing to the table? Let me show you all of mine.

Mike Vacanti 15:42
Right. No longer What are you hiding? Right. And without that discovery, we can get into what we’re actually what we need to do together. Yep, exactly. Cuz I’m not sitting here trying to evaluate and figure the other person out.

Cali Williams Yost 15:57
Right. And, you know, again, I think We’ll figure out what the boundaries are. After that, you know, maybe there is a little bit of Okay, so maybe there are some people and I want to be always mindful of this because I see this when I go into organizations, there are some people who are very private and don’t want those boundaries breached and so I do think part of this is going to be figuring out that, that fit for everybody and and pulling them together and coordinating them in a way that’s comfortable for all for all people.

Mike Vacanti 16:36
You know, in the vision that you had, again, back in the 90s, when it occurred to you and then you shared that brilliant moment when you got to the client and, and, you know, the trumpets, yellow angels, moment of clarity.

So, having that that vision back then, and then watch it take place incrementally and watch them and those barriers come down. It often occurs to me that so much time is still spent in the pursuit of figuring out how business best works. And I have to believe that we already have that answer. We already know very well how business works. And for 20 years now, you’ve been envisioning how it can work better. Can you share some of that journey of what that’s like helping people discover forward, rather than wait for every brick on the path to be laid before they’ll take a step forward.

“I have been so blessed to deal with some of the most amazing visionary leaders over the years. And I keep coming back to that because that really is where it begins is somebody who says we just have to do this differently, and we’re all going to dive in.”

Cali Williams Yost

Cali Williams Yost 17:42
I have been so blessed to deal with some of the most amazing visionary leaders over the years. And I keep coming back to that because that really is where it begins is somebody who says we just have to do this differently, and we’re all going to dive in. Let’s do it and They step up, and they put the mandate out there and they’re willing to create the space. And you guys use this word earlier, when we were talking, create the space for experimentation, create the space for sort of fumbling around and learning new ways of communicating and coordinating and planning the work and allowing people to it creating a model of shared leadership at the end of the day.

That’s what it is because we spend so much time that saying it’s managers that have to control this, actually, they play a role for sure. But it’s a it’s all of us. It’s employees doing their part. It’s teams coordinating with each other, and then it’s managers, creating the environment where people know what the priorities are, and that ongoing dialogue between what’s expected and what am I doing and giving people the resources they need and coaching them, you know, there’s it’s a coaching model of management, it’s not a super top down really creating the space for people to not only learn to do things differently and think about things differently, but then put it into action and make the mistakes but also have the victories and feel really good about it.

People have said to me, how do you keep doing this for 20 plus years, and still love it so much. And honestly, it’s the magic of watching those light bulbs go off, and just seeing the productivity it’s unlocked the sort of passion for their jobs, how good they feel about their work, how good they feel about their life, like in the craziest smallest things that they get to do that they are so excited about like honestly, it does not take much that’s what I see the leaders I’m like, they people just want the smallest things like I was able to go to my son’s science fair. Like and manager will say that’s great and it means so much to that. person more. I was able to stay home truly this is a mind blow. I was able to stay home and get my dishwasher delivered during the week. Otherwise I was going to have to wait four weeks for a Saturday delivery. And you know you think about it. Why does that mean so much to you? Well, I you know, have clean dishes for four weeks rather than having to deal with washing dishes and not right.

“People have said to me, how do you keep doing this for 20 plus years, and still love it so much. And honestly, it’s the magic of watching those light bulbs go off, and just seeing the productivity it’s unlocked the sort of passion for their jobs, how good they feel about their work, how good they feel about their life”

Cali WIlliams Yost

So all of this means something or recently a leader said to me, he has a bike path from work in New York. So he either can go 15 minute path, which is more direct, or he can go along the river which takes him 20 more minutes. And he said, the days I get to do my 20 minute longer ride coming to work. I just feel so great. By the time I get here, and my phone is on. The leader of this department can get me if she needs me, he said, but man I just love those days, and I appreciate them so much. So, you know, again, this is why it’s so powerful. And then let’s just talk about this moment order now. So that organization that did that work, to shift to high performance flexibility, for the talent purposes, for the People have said to me, how do you keep doing this for 20 plus years, and still love it so much.

And honestly, it’s the magic of watching those light bulbs go off, and just seeing the productivity it’s unlocked the sort of passion for their jobs, how good they feel about their work, how good they feel about their life reasons for the leveraging of resources, all of that they’re able to switch on a dime when they needed to, in response to this crisis. And that is what I’ve heard over and over and over again, is they all knew what to do is they just did it. And that was not why they went into it. But they knew on some level that this was what it was going to prepare them for. And they are still operating because they were set up to do it.

Mike Vacanti 21:54
That preparation is a word that you know, has been used a couple of times in the past. conversation and I think it’s so critical. We still have some time but little time before things start winding back. And doors start opening again. How quickly can companies prepare and start making that adjustment? You know, I love that you said, people, people respond to that freedom of choice, right, Cali. And once they understand they have that freedom of choice. It’s amazing how many times they’ll choose to do exactly what you may have asked them to do. But the attitude is totally different because they had that freedom of choice, rather than being irritated for all those days. Because my dishwashers not there. I can fully focus on what I’m doing. So the path to getting there in this abbreviated window in this time of great need Is that something companies can turn on and prepare in a hurry to to accomplish?

Cali Williams Yost 23:10
So it’s very important to understand that what we’re in right now is a remote work like a rapid crisis, remote work response. This is not an intentional cultural shift to high performance flexibility. This is a very different situation. But still, I think that organizations can put some degree of structure around this, they can begin to set themselves up to ultimately leverage what they’ve learned in this moment. So I do think that it’s very important to leverage whatever technology you have. I’m not a big fan of all of a sudden adopting all sorts of new technology in this moment. I think it’s a lot for people.

I do think that managers and leaders can start to be specific about priorities. I don’t know how well that is done in most organizations right now, I think there is a tendency to sort of think people are working because they’re showing up at the office, whereas now, you have to be a lot more clear about this is what our priorities are, and then make sure you’re in that ongoing cadence with your people. Okay, how are you? You know, are we accomplishing that goal? Are we having problems? What do we need to get done, you know, having much more of an active dialogue around priority setting updates, that is what is required in a flexible working culture. So practice that right now. Make sure you’re having those updates. And I do think there is an engagement on the part of individuals in terms of being intentional on their end also about what it is they’re doing and how, when and where they’re doing it best. So that is also the beginning of the shared leadership model that ultimately has to be in place.

“And I do think there is an engagement on the part of individuals in terms of being intentional on their end also about what it is they’re doing and how, when and where they’re doing it best. So that is also the beginning of the shared leadership model that ultimately has to be in place.”

Cali Williams Yost

But again, I think there’s going to be someadaptation that’s going to have to happen once the crisis is over, where you’re going to actually have to go back and say, Okay, so what skills do we need, because everybody’s going to be kind of coming at this from a different place. And you want to have a consistency in terms of how people are thinking about their jobs, thinking about work, about how teams are coordinating with each other about how people are using technology and about how managers are leading that. There will probably be some inconsistencies once this is over that you want to round out. And then you want to actually execute on going forward for this next phase strategy of the business. So right now it’s survival. Okay, like we want the business to survive. We want to get through this. The next phase is going to be okay, so what does growth look like? What does our market look like? And then how can we align that flexibility to achieve those goals? So that’s what I think we get. There’s some near term things you can do to begin to put some of that structure around it. Again, like being clear about what the priorities are, leveraging the technology you have, helping, coordinating and communicating with each other effectively, helping your people be intentional about what they’re trying to do, and then leverage what you’ve learned from that on the other side.

Garry Turner 26:29
What’s coming up for me, Cali, is really interesting. You really are just proving for me, importance of the human connection throughout this whole journey, transparency, intentionality, listening, clarity. These are all things that when we’re super busy in our heads, they are the things that get left behind, there’s a real opportunity to really beef up that sort of humanistic connection, isn’t it? So that we all thrive as we come out of this, what it feels like?

Cali Williams Yost 26:57
Yes, and you know what the irony is you do That you get more performance and productivity, right? Because that’s one of the magic parts about shifting your culture to become more flexible is that you do have to focus on what it is you’re trying to do. Like what are we doing? And that requires more discussion and more conversation. And more human humanness. But people often ask me, why is there such a bunch of a bump in productivity? Well, because you are finally talking to each other. You’re being thoughtful about what you’re trying to do. You’re being intentional. You’re being creative. All of a sudden, people are saying to each other, why are we having that meeting? Or could we do that differently or better? Or, hey, I had this really good idea. And there’s an openness to that that didn’t exist before. And that makes you more productive and more effective. So it’s a win win on on both sides.

Mike Vacanti 27:55
Is there an element, Cali, where people perhaps don’t feel they have to capitulate to, they don’t have to fit into the mold as firmly as they may have been, you know, as they as they walk in the door every day,

Cali Williams Yost 28:14
I think they feel there’s more flexibility to just be their best self. Does that make sense? Because again, it’s not one size fits all. I will say this. Interestingly enough, I think there is a fear that when you open things up and you say to people, okay, so this is what we need to do. Now you determine how, when and where you do it best, nobody’s going to show up, okay, to the physical office space. Actually, we find interestingly, that people do want to be physically together, they do, there is an element of physical interaction in real time, interaction that people do really enjoy. So there’s a continuum of that. You have the people who really just don’t like to work remotely, that there are people right now who are just cannot wait. To get back into a physical office, because that’s their preferred way of operating. And then you have the people who, left to their own devices, they do, like being having less of the overwhelm that they sometimes feel in a physical place.

“people often ask me, why is there such a bunch of a bump in productivity? Well, because you are finally talking to each other. You’re being thoughtful about what you’re trying to do. You’re being intentional. You’re being creative.”

Cali WIlliams Yost

So again, it’s kind of people can determine what works best for them. There are some managers who will still like to have that one on one face time together in a physical environment. Then there are some managers who just are very comfortable leading and managing off of a collaboration platform like Asana, where they’re just writing notes to each other. And it really all depends. And I find there’s just more openness to figuring out what that looks like, for each person for their own dynamics.

Garry Turner 29:52
It’s, it’s lovely, isn’t it, Mike we’re sort of coming to this personalization of work, which was sort of, for me even a dream two years ago, when I really sort of stepped into this space of culture and you know, human centered design. It’s fascinating, because I just, it feel I must, it must feel for you like it’s been a long time coming on the one hand, but at the same time you’ve seen progress, I guess incremental adoption over time. Could you might speak with that. I’m really curious, just as before we wrap up as to what that journey has been for you and maybe what maybe what are some of the challenges for you? What what sort of value through vulnerability, what’s maybe one of the biggest challenges for you on that journey, if you would mind sharing that retreat?

Cali Williams Yost 30:32
That’s a great question, Garry. A couple of pivot points for me. I first got out of business school and I worked for Families and Work Institute, which was one of the leading edge think tanks in the area of flexible working and I was just so blessed and grateful for that opportunity because truly was wonderful. But what was happening in that those early days was there’s a sense that this was a top down HR policy, one size fits all policy. And I saw pretty quickly that actually, no, that it was a process, it had to be a process where you would consider all the different variables of a particular job or a particular business that the process was consistent. But the inputs would be different. And so then the outputs would be different. And there had to be a space for that. And also critical to that was individuals had to play a role. You couldn’t sit passively and have the organization give you flexibility, you need to play an active role in that. And so I went out looking for that skill, that skill set for individuals, could not find it. So of course, I was like, Well, I guess I got to write the book.

That’s where the work life fit piece of this comes in is for flexibility to succeed in the organization. individuals need to be capturing that flexibility and intentionally using it not only day to day, but then at major life transitions. My books were really the solution set for the individual to come to the table as a full partner. And then the next pivot point for me was that decision I made to really focus on the visionary leaders that were coming along and I was meeting who wanted to make that culture change really, fundamentally shift their cultures and make flexibility part of the DNA but also part of the strategic decision making. And you know, the frustration there probably was I just saw, so I would meet so many leaders that I would see all the possibilities for their organizations, and they just for whatever reason, couldn’t make the leap. They just either didn’t have the support from their senior leadership. In many cases. It’s because HR was telling them oh, we have this. We’ve already done it. We really they hadn’t, but they couldn’t fight that, you know, is like. I thought we’re just gonna keep building a momentum with one leader at a time, one organization at a time. And here we are. And so my hope now is the doors been opened. And now let’s all walk through. And let’s now make this part of our culture and the part of the way we work.

Mike Vacanti 33:24
So wonderful. And, you know, you had you had mentioned again, that you get a chance to work with visionary leaders and by intention, because it’s those that are going to step forward and and they’re visionary to start with and they’re looking to how do we expand from here? So that’s brilliant. And then you also spoke to bumping into some of the old mindset and the difference between those leaders. Is there one is there one limiting belief or thought that you would ask them to evaluate. For those that are stuck in becoming visionary, is there something you could recommend that they remove from their, from their arsenal or their thought bubbles to to help them move forward

Cali Williams Yost 34:21
Two. One is this intense fear of abuse, which I don’t understand. I think, you know, we’ve said this, but there is such a fear that if you open the floodgates, people are just going to abuse the privilege and not work. And when the truth is, they’re going to give you more, and so maybe there’s going to be 5% let’s say it’s 5% that just can’t seem to get it together and make it happen. I’m going to tell you nine times out of 10 when that person comes across the radar, you look more deeply, that person is just fundamentally a performance problem. It’s got nothing to do with the flexibility, it’s that this person is just not a good match. And so we have to address them as a performance problem that they are. So I would just say, you know, really try to get past your fear of abuse. And know if that happens, you’ll deal with it, but just see the vast possibility of just all the good that can come out of it. The second thing I would ask them to do is say, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Okay, you train your people to be intentional about what they’re trying to get done and how when and where they do it. You train your teams to coordinate with each other in an intentional fundamental way. And then you give your managers the skills and tools to be a really fantastic coach, motivator of your people. And then you say, hey, let’s spend six weeks practicing together with this new way of being what is the worst thing? I mean? I like the worst thing that can happen is nothing. Okay.

You know, but there’s a whole lot of awesome, that could also happen there. And so we always do a pre and post before and after we do our, our pilot after the launch. And the reason we do that the reason I started doing that is I wanted to show nothing bad happened. So the question is this, you know, during the pilot period, how did how did what we’re doing impact productivity, high performance, flexibility, impact productivity, I just want to see no negative. But inevitably, after six weeks, we see a high percentage saying it’s grown, it’s improved. So, you know, it’s these two fears. It’s this fear of abuse. It’s this fear that something productivity is going to take a huge hit and wheels are going to come off the bus that keeps you from just seeing all this wonderful upside. And I would just ask them to challenge those two mindsets.

Mike Vacanti 36:55
That’s really excellent.

Garry Turner 36:58
It’s brilliant. It’s Thank you for so much actionable information, like I’ve just been popping all over the place listening to you, Cali around, wow, you could try this. You could try that. Because I work within a big corporate day job. So I’m just thinking like, how do you? It’s just, it’s so applicable. Like you’ve given a gift today like this. So you really have because if people are open, they can run that experiment tomorrow with their team of five people. Yeah, go you go and let’s practice remote working. Let’s, let’s put in place this practice and run it for six weeks and see what happened. It doesn’t need to be a big top down, corporate sign off, does it you can just run your experiment in your team.

Cali Williams Yost 37:40
Well, I will tell you most recently, the projects that we’ve had have been what I like to call sort of, you know, visionary leaders within a bigger organization that just said the way we’re doing it is not working. And so I’m doing it my way because I just need my business to operate differently, and it’s so interesting to see after they do it and while they’re doing it, people are like, Huh, like, what’s that? Oh, no, no that and then afterwards and they see what happens. And all of a sudden, it’s like, oh, wow, okay, you know, so you really don’t have to wait. You can take the lead. And, again, we’re in a crisis period right now. And so my advice right now would be, just put some pretty simple things in place. Don’t go crazy, trying to innovate. You’re already innovating in real time. But just be intentional about what you want to learn from this period, and then how you’re going to take it and you’re going to build on it in a very deliberate way in a consistent, deliberate way to get everybody on the same page and moving in the same direction. That’s where you ultimately want to go.

Mike Vacanti 38:52
Such sage advice, be open minded about the possibilities to this time. That’s the best decision to me is become open minded about what’s next. Yeah, that’s that’s wonderful Cali. Offline some time I have a story to tell you about that remote working how people want to come back together as I was leading a merger and acquisition and I was out in Seattle and there’s a story with that, but it was one last point because you had made it about the intention and about the expectation of how people can come together and work. One key area that often comes to failure over over that management thinking and being able to bring together remote teams is through mergers and acquisitions. And it was just one last question I would ask of you is, you know, do you see that? Is there an example of that playing out positively in the merger and acquisition evironment?

Cali Williams Yost 40:05
We helped a global professional services firm do a very quick culture shift pivot a few years ago, they were behind, and the CEO said I got to get ahead, so we did it, and it was so fascinating. The cultural DNA was so strongly set in that main organization, they have probably in the last seven or eight years doubled in size, through merger and acquisitions, that strong cultural framework has allowed them to integrate all these acquisitions continuously scaling. They are now trying to help some of the parents in the organization, looking for cutting edge things that you are doing with other companies. What they are already doing is innovating. It just keeps going, it just keep evolving. It’s been wonderful to see where they are taking it.

Mike Vacanti 40:05
I wanted to put it out there, because we are coming out of a cycle where businesses have been quite deflated. There will be siginificant m&a activity because this is a heads up for them to get ahead.

Cali Williams Yost 40:05
One, there is still a lot of short term financial pressure on the senior most leadership of organizations that keeps them from being able to do some of the culture shift because there is a slightly delayed tail in seeing the return. It’s keeping them from making the shift. It shows the world of finance the strategic power of flexibility that will show The ones that didn’t are going to struggle. Two, boards need to educate themeselves about the strategic power of high performance flexibility so that they can support senior leaders.

Garry Turner 40:05
I did not expect to get that insight.

Cali Williams Yost 40:05
That is one of my hopes–that there is a recognition in the financial system that this has to happen.

Garry Turner 40:05
Thank you.

Please Note: The content above is a semi-automated transcription of the podcast episode. We recommend listening to the podcast, in case any of the content above is unclear.

Garry Turner

With over 20 years of international sales, business development and relationship-building experience combined with a deep understanding of people, team and culture dynamics, Garry Turner serves individuals, teams and leaders as a strategic advisor and interpersonal catalyst.

Mike Vacanti

Mike’s mission is simply to help as many people as he can discover their potential, embrace a growth mindset and achieve at inspired levels individually, as a brilliant team and for the betterment of their company and community.

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