What's up, everybody?
In my years as a manager at Netflix, I was often charged with planning team offsite. Between the cost of running an offsite, and the cost of time away from “real work”, you had to ensure a healthy return on the investment.
Over time, I came to program these gatherings using a “head vs. heart” framework. Did I want the time together to be an offsite for the head: about goal-setting, hiring quality, and subscriber growth in India, say? Or one for the heart: about team bonding, shared vulnerability, and learning for the sake of learning? Of course, the answer depended; on the timing and the context; the mood and morale of the team; even the health of the business.
This week, folks, make no mistake: we are heading straight for the heart. ❤️ Each of our stories are takes on how to deal with the kind of uncertainty that defines our volatile, fast-changing world (and world of work):
- A professor encourages leaders to think and act the way scientists do in the face of uncertainty
- A philosopher wants us to embrace uncertainty; and to learn to “trust” it
- A poet suggests we’d do well to to focus on the questions that uncertainty forces, vs. the "answers” to them.
Thanks for reading -- and have a fantastic week!
Aki + Usman
P.S. We're doing something new! Starting next week, we'll be releasing a short -- think 15 minute'ish -- podcast, in which the two of us bring the previous week's stories to life. So if you're enjoying these issues, you might dig going a level deeper with us, via the podcast. More to come! 🎙️
Amy Edmondson is a professor at Harvard Business School. And if her quote 👆🏻 does nothing other than force us ask what it would mean to “navigate uncertainty with curiosity and passion”, we think that’s a win.
When we go a step further though, her comparison between a traditional leader, and a scientist-leader, gives us a great framework for managing in uncertain times. To the scientist, Edmondson argues, it’s the questions, the experimentation, and the curiosity that matter. And although Edmondson doesn’t say this, we also think leaders need to channel a scientist’s implicit faith that their inquiry will bear fruit. That idea of trust as a prerequisite makes for a great segue to our next story. ⬇️
#Uncertainty #Rebrand #Trust
Martha Nussbaum is also a professor, albeit of philosophy, not business. This quote is from an interview with journalist Bill Moyer. For Nussbaum, the ability to keep an open mind, and to trust in things we cannot control -- is actually part and parcel of what it means to be human. Her quote is full-throated exhortation to embrace uncertainty, as a source of potential, and opportunity. And we love the way she flips uncertainty’s brand -- as fear and angst-inducing -- on its head. 🙃
In story #1, an American business school professor writing in 2022 encourages us to “bring questions” to our leadership. Eighty nine years prior, German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote to a protégé to encourage him not just to bring the questions -- but to “live the questions”; as a means, perhaps, of living some day “into the answers”.
We love this advice, on its own merits; but we also love it as a template for this newsletter. Because we’re here to curate, yes; interesting stories, quotes and insights on the world of work. But we're also here to explore, and pose the questions that these stories prompt. Believing, as we do, that we will all be forced to live into the answers; perhaps sooner than we may think. ✌🏻
Thanks for reading. 🙏🏻