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April 11, 2020

The New Work Revolution Manifesto

In the wake of recent events, it’s become clearer than ever that the way we work needs a revolution.

Let us explain.

Work, and the way we’ve been doing it, is the single most dominant organizing story in our lives.

It largely determines where we live, the people we interact with most, our primary social status, how much (or little) freedom we experience, and in some countries — like the U.S. — even whether we have healthcare or not.

For well over a century, the way we humans have collectively chosen to work has been driven by a set of principles that ensure a near-constant undercurrent of endless consumption and gladiator-like competition, with a single measuring stick: “Who’s got more money.”

At the feet of the false god of profit, in big and small ways, we’ve sacrificed the personal health (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) of untold millions of our human brothers and sisters.

To a large degree, we’ve even sacrificed the sustain-ability of the single home we all share, our planet.

But now, this short-sighted view of work has been laid bare by a genetic organism less than a micron large.

The emperor has no clothes, and we’ve all seen his nakedness.

Many of the things we thought work was made of — the commutes, the meetings, the dress codes, the strict hours, a clean separation of “business” and “life,” the endless pursuit of another dollar — have been shown to be almost entirely without real lasting value.

Furthermore, many of the roles and positions we laud with overwhelming amounts of money have been shown to be literally “worth less” than than the “lesser” jobs we insult with minuscule paychecks.

And those jobs — the ones we thought were worth less — well, it turns out they are the Essential ones: the cleaners, the teachers, the nurses, the shelf-stockers, the garbage collectors, the farmhands, the warehouse workers, and so on.

They are the ones who actually make our entire society WORK.

So today we say…

No more.

No more endless consumption.

No more absurd inequality.

No more plundering of our planet.

No more stupid workplace rules that don’t add value to our lives.

The way we work needs a complete turnaround (which of course is the literal meaning of Revolution).

And with that NO, we say YES to a new way forward.

We say yes to healthy boundaries.

Yes to work that gives us life and energy.

Yes to more autonomy, more freedom, and more transparency.

Yes to appreciating the delicate interconnectedness of our systems.

Yes to leaders that treat our planet as a true stakeholder in decisions.

Yes to organizations that welcome the fully human person to work.

On behalf of all beings, we say YES to a Work Revolution.

Join us.

— Josh Allan Dykstra // April 11, 2020

January 10, 2013

What’s A Tribe For?

Some people think a tribe is a vehicle to sell stuff, like your album or your book. Of course it can work like this — and it’s becoming harder to sell anything without a tribe — but we are more interested in something a little bigger.

We are interested in tribes that put a dent in the universe, tribes that make a difference.

So, to be completely clear, we are not building a tribe to sell anything. That’s not what The Work Revolution is about. If the stuff we produce (books, conferences, events, seminars, whatever) is valuable as something that moves the conversation forward or connects you to ideas and resources which help in a meaningful way, great. (Of course, the side benefit is that monetary support helps us organizers continue making said ‘helpful stuff,’ because we can afford to keep buying silly things like food.)

In truth, I suppose, we are “selling” something: a new story about the way we work. But that part doesn’t cost any money.

Be warned, though — adopting this vision certainly costs other things, like the forgoing of a “normal,” status quo life.

But we’re guessing you’re not interested in that, anyway.

The real point of what we do — what this tribe is for — is to create a work revolution. To help you, the true Revolutionaries, continue doing your great work in remaking the fabric of the workplace. That comes first, always.

If we ever start to mix up the order, we trust you’ll let us know.

March 26, 2012

The Roasting Pan Effect: How Abolishing Dress Codes Might Very Well Kickstart a Work Revolution

Have you heard this story? A woman is preparing a roast for the oven, and she cuts off both ends of the meat. Her friend asks: “Why are you cutting off the ends?” She replies that her mother always did it. As it turns out, her mother chopped off the ends of the meat because it was too large for the roasting pan.

I love this story (I featured it in The Work Revolution). It is a cautionary tale that reminds us to ask the question Why? for everything we don’t understand. Recently, it has also inspired me to think about the fine line between Tradition and Blindness. What is the difference between the two, and where does one end and the other begin?

According to Wikipedia: “A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past.” Traditions can be beautiful things, rooting us to values that are important. They can also be functional in the sense of not reinventing the wheel to deal with life events or situations. They simply provide the script that we can follow for weddings, funerals, even government.

It’s not hard to see, however, how tradition can lead to blindness. What once worked in a given situation and time might cease to work in the future. If we aren’t clear about the specific reasons for traditions and the context in which they were created, we are at risk for clinging to dysfunctional traditions that waste our time and give us grief.

Which is exactly what has happened in the world of work. Our world has shifted dramatically in the last 20 years to create a global workforce that is always on. It is more important now than ever for organizations to be agile and fluid, to adapt rapidly to the swiftly developing currents swirling around us. But if organizations can’t even let go of outdated, unnecessary, and stifling traditions, such as dress codes*, how can they possibly adapt to the much more important shifts in their competitive environments?

In The Work Revolution, I challenge every individual to think about what they can do now, in any given work environment, to make changes that make them happier and more engaged with their work. I suggest in the book that tackling the dress code might not be the best place to start. But actually, I am officially reversing course on this. I am now hereby tackling the institution of dress codes and using this as my battle cry in The Work Revolution. I am convinced this is the best place to start. Why?

  • It’s an easy change that any organization can make today. It requires no reorganization or process redesigns. No hiring or firing. One email from your CEO or President does the trick: “You may all hereby and forever more wear the clothes you choose to wear to work. Business casual is dead. Be comfortable, and be who you are.”
  • It costs $0 to make this change, officially making it the cheapest employee perk on the planet.
  • It is so very nice to get up in the morning and not worry about whether what you feel like wearing fits into the dress code policy; the psychological impact is huge. Multiply the impact by the number of individuals in your organization, and you can see how this one change can make a huge difference every single day.
  • This is a very visible change. Visible changes can create momentum for questioning all of the organizational traditions that might not be working anymore. One small change can lead to much bigger changes.

I work in an organization that has no dress code (and I will never go to work for one that does). We wear what we want. And this is also the case at Google and Facebook and every other savvy startup on the planet. It’s the least we can do to create some sense of humanity at work. And it’s a tangible reminder to ask Why? for everything we are doing in work, lest we fall prey to Blindness.

//

* The exception to the dress code rule is, of course, that some organizations have legitimate requirements for dress rooted in actual business requirements. Bankers do not fall into this category. Doctors and nurses do.

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