Parker Simon’s multidisciplinary work explores perception, meaning, strategy, and design. Believing many of the world’s challenges have roots in language, he sees human literacy as a transformative force for progress. He’s involved in creating Like Humans, and has previously worked in mens’ fashion and advertising.
Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?)
In my view, the most urgent architecture today is human organizations. Groups of people working together to do things (organizations) are statements about our society – and our biggest shot at carrying progress within it. But deeper than organizations, really, are the stakes of human mental health: from it falls all decisions about and qualities of our reality. I’ve heard some say the biggest threat to the human species is depression.
How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
The consultancy I work with, Like Humans, helps leaders align their organization with the intrinsic motivations of their team. Like Humans was born during a business school research study on happiness, and over several years has developed the insight that many organizational challenges (and organizational successes) have a fundamentally common source material: human development. Like Humans is a catalyst helping companies build their Organizational Health. We help them clarify their values, strengthen strategy, upgrade feedback, and deepen diversity. We see the shift to values-based organizations as a key social trend in the 21st Century. If you’d like to learn more about it, reach out at likehumans.com!
What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
Authentic organizational purpose. It kicks in when human beings feel challenged at the job-level, because a fulfilling purpose reminds us that we are building into something bigger than ourselves.
Provide a quote (either yours or someone else’s) that you live by and/or that represents why you do what you do. Also tell us: why did you choose it?
“Immediately begin to form the habit of thinking ‘why’ concerning any effects that please or displease you.” Frank Lloyd Wright wrote it, and after finding it I couldn’t un-see it. Investigating “you” and the way “you” perceive “the world” has been a foundational concept in my awareness.
What is “required reading” or “required viewing” for people who want to understand what makes you tick personally/professionally/creatively?
Metaphors We Live By (George Lakoff, Mark Johnson) – Showed me behind the curtain of reality to see the assumptions that underly our language and figuring. Encountering this book was a key event in my life.
Cosmicomics (Italo Calvino) – The range of imagination is very, very far. Calvino pushes intellectual limits, but doesn’t let it dry out along the way – he illustrates the beauty in imagining things differently.
Understanding Media (Marshall McLuhan) – McLuhan points out what’s right in front of us: that everyone fixates on the content, but fewer reflect on the effects of the form itself. Media, messages, tools, and technologies are entering our lives at ever-increasing speeds, but what are these really doing to the ways we’re adjusting our human lives? This book deeply challenged me to think about the “moth effect” in society.
What is one discipline/industry totally different from your own that has inspired you, and how does it impact your work?
I’ve found a lot of life-changing inspiration through explorations into Eastern philosophical/spiritual perspectives. Zen, Hindu, and other Asian cultures contain insights that are different than the common sense of the West. They have helped me develop my relationships and my ethics.
What’s one surprising thing we should know about you?
When I was in college, I lived exclusively with international students and often disguised my nationality for fun.
Where in the world are you?
Los Angeles, CA