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“Freeeeeeedom!” -Braveheart

Since my last newsletter, I finally had the chance to get out and about to enjoy a bit of post-lockdown freedom. I’ve enjoyed long brunches people-watching at local cafes, immersing myself in a movie in a cinema (as opposed to flopped on a couch), and remembering what it means to interact with people in person back in the office. You know, ‘social stuff’.

In this fortnight’s Ko Lab, I reflect on being back in the office and how I believe it contributes to ‘proximity to intent’, perceived value as it pertains to Black Friday and Christmas, and share a couple of job opportunities at Leadership Victoria.

Back to the office and proximity to intent

I’m one of those people who enjoys being back in the office. I like the separation of my ‘work space’ and ‘home space’, the ritual of getting ready to go to work, and simply having the opportunity to simply be around others.

In my last Ko Lab, I introduced a concept I referred to as ‘proximity to intent’ and the idea that in order to better understand someone’s intent comes from both understanding what they’re saying and how they say it. It feels wild to me that there are people who have joined and left organisations during the pandemic without ever having met their colleagues or peers in person. To loosely reflect apply the model, it would mean there are people we work with whom we’ll never understand how they like to work or express themselves.

In the WFH world, we really only get access to what people say in emails, chat rooms, or at best in video conferences (which I believe is a stilted form of communication). By working physically next to someone, I believe we have more opportunities to see the how. The small quirks in their mannerisms, the jokes and anecdotes they crack in the quiet moments that would never have been uttered in a video call, the rambling discussions on the latest movie; these are humanising moments that I believe connect people and build genuine relationships.

And the more I understand what my peers and colleagues are like, the more I understand their underlying intent when they’re trying to articulate something complex or challenging. It also helps me better recognise those moments of friction during video conferences or chat rooms is often a result of how someone likes to articulate themselves, and I get far less hung up on what they say.

I find this is interesting is because the more I’ve matured over the years, the more I’ve come to believe that the vast majority of conflicts that I’ve observed is simply down to a difference in individual style; the stuff on the right-hand side of the model. Another word to describe this? Diversity. More on that in a later Ko Lab.

Boredom in groups

There’s one other addendum I wanted to throw in the mix. I recently read an Atlassian article on the topic of the value of boredom at work, the central thesis of which is that being bored relaxes the mind, which helps you be unfiltered in your thoughts, resulting in both greater creativity and improved mental health. The article (and the research it’s based on) appears to focus more on the benefits of boredom for an individual, but I wonder: “What does boredom in groups look like?”

Right now, one of the discussions I see on how people are approaching the hybrid world is the notion of people coming together only when there’s a strong reason to do so, for meetings that need to be face to face. This may indeed be more efficient or productive, but I wonder if the bigger loss to organisations and teams is actually innovation and creativity.

There appears to be some research available to back this up, such as this 2020 article from PWC. I want to share this particular quote:

“Meeting invites are carefully curated, and meetings have gradually become more efficient to limit fatigue. This is evidenced by the 28% of survey respondents saying that there are fewer or worse collaboration opportunities with remote work, and it is stifling creativity.”

In a survey of 2,700 people, PWC’s own employees felt they were 31% less creative. It makes me wonder if – as a part of our return to work – we need to schedule time for teams to just… hang out together just for the sake of it.

Black Friday, Christmas, and perceived value

My mother gave me the other day a 5kg block of cured ham. Does she like ham? No. Do I like ham? Not enough to eat 5kg and give myself a heart attack. So why did she buy it? “Because it was on sale.” After I took my face out of my hands in despair, I reflected on her motivation. My mother was so attracted to the perceived value of the bargain, that it overruled the logic of: “Does anyone actually want ham?”

With Black Friday come and gone, and with Christmas just around the corner, I was reminded of the economic concept of the ‘deadweight loss of Christmas‘. If you’ve never come across this concept, the simple gist is that if I spend $100 to buy you a toaster but you would’ve been happy with a $10 toaster, that extra $90 I spent is ‘wasted’. In Australia, economists have calculated that close to $1 billion in value simply ‘disappears’ over Christmas.

It’s a very economic concept that strips away the gesture and goodwill that sits behind the gift, but I find it a fascinating way of thinking about perceived value. In the case of Christmas, many buyers are willing to pay a premium on the perceived value of ‘giving’. In the case of Black Friday, the perceived value is often in the savings itself rather than a thing we need. Thus the deadweight loss of Black Friday is the actual item itself (or a 5kg block of ham).

The thing is though, I’m not really criticising this and it’s not a judgment on consumerism or capitalism, but rather a reflection on the dynamic of consumer and market behaviour, and always reminds me to be mindful of what it is I buy.

On that note, if you’re Christmas shopping at the moment and you’re looking for something that’s a bit different for a special someone, you should check out Curiosity Journals. Use the code BLACKFRIDAY or CHRISTMAS and get 10% off.

Did you see what I did there?

Come work with me

Finally, there are two job opportunities at Leadership Victoria I’d like to share:

Now these are roles that are on the more junior end of the spectrum however if you’d like to work with me at Leadership Victoria, or know a young gogetter who would, hit me up!

In closing

If you enjoyed this Ko Lab, I’d really appreciate it if you shared it with a friend or two you think would get a kick out of this. You can send them here to sign up. Time permitting, I’ll try and make it the most engaging and thought-provoking newsletter you get!

And if you come across anything you’d like to ‘Ko Lab’ on, send it my way! I’m equally keen to learn about and share new perspectives and thoughts.

Have a great week!

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