In 2016 the RSA Fellowship in the South West of England agreed to support Nick Parker FRSA and Lee Norburn to deliver a series of workshops explaining and exploring the concept of ‘next stage’ organisations, where wholeness, evolutionary purpose and organisational self-management are core traits.
In the end, we called the programme Reinventing Work South West RSA and our aim was to make the South West a crucible for the ‘next stage’ way of organisational being, following research by Frederic Laloux and his lecture at the RSA.
Over 200 organisations attended the workshops and many of those are now finding their way to ‘next stage’; one winning an award for culture change, another turning a year on year loss into a substantial profit. Nick particularly wanted to create a self-sustaining, self-managing network. This has happened and is being driven by some of the Fellows and non-Fellows who attended the workshops in Bristol. They have their own website Reinventing Work and an ever growing footprint in the UK and around the world. As with all ‘next stage’ organisations, leaders emerge and evolve. For now, in Bristol, it is Mark Eddleston, Mike Dunn and Alice Sowerby, with Mark leading on the global movement. He wrote the article below, which is a great example of work started by RSA Fellows being taken forward and expanded in the South West.
Reinventing Work: Bristol turns one in a few weeks time. We’ve grown and evolved considerably since our first meetup in July 2018. So almost a year into our journey I thought I’d introduce what we’ve evolved into as of July 2019. Also to share how you can get involved and contribute to our growing movement as we continue to take shape and adapt.
Reinventing Work is a global grassroots movement of ‘reinventers’ who want to learn and practice new, more human-centred ways of working. There are a number of monthly meetups around the world where we get together to share practical advice, explore ideas, look at the patterns found in existing self-organising teams / self-managing workplaces and how we might put these into practice. Why? Because, globally, 85% of us are disengaged at work. With your help, we want to help put this stat right. Reinventers participation is valued and you don’t need anyone’s permission to get involved with or to start working on whatever you are interested in. If it floats your boat and meets our purpose — making work better, one place at a time — then go for it!
That’s right, Reinventing Work has spread to five continents and counting. We’re currently in:
More and more chapters are emerging and we’d love you to start one where you live. You don’t need our permission, and we’ll help you as much as we can. Here’s a Trello board with some ideas on how to start your own chapter, and you can contact Mark to chat first.
New to new ways of working?
If you are new to this world but have a sense that work just isn’t working, then watch this excellent 45 minute Google Talk by Aaron Dignan, Author of Brave New Work. It’s the perfect place to start — I can’t recommend both the talk and the book highly enough.
A few excellent next stops include:
- Leadermorphosis: a podcast exploring the emerging world of self-management and progressive organisations, hosted by Lisa Gill. Each episode features a guest thought leader or practitioner offering their perspective on new ways of working.
- Corporate Rebels: a fantastic blog offering a wealth of knowledge, thought, practical advice, and real world examples of organisations working in new, better ways. I’ve linked to an excellent article written by Lisa Gill. Head over to their archive, it’s a goldmine.
- Liberating Structures: if you’re convinced (or curious) about new ways of working and want to practice some, I know no better place to direct you than the Liberating Structures app. Experiment with as many as you can!
- Reinventing Organisations: a seminal book on new ways of working. I prefer the illustrated version as it’s better organised and neatly summarises the full text. You can download it and pay as you feel.
- NOBL Academy: offers leaders practical resources and critical reads. There is also a weekly newsletter that is obsessed with helping leaders spark cultural and organisational transformation.
Reinventing Work: where to start?
A great first action in your workplace would be to:
- Gather a group of colleagues for a lunch and learn to watch the talk above.
- Then spend time discussing new practices you would like to try, and old practices you would like to stop. Why not try a circle discussion for this.
- Seek to agree on a time bound, safe to fail experiment — try a new process to see if it’s more efficient, or remove a process that slows things down.
- Get a date in the diary to evaluate the experiment and to discuss new ones.
- Share the resources listed above and arrange a regular lunch and learn to explore them.
Reinventing Work: Discussion
Discussion between reinventers tends to take place over on Slack. Hit ‘Channels’ on the left and join the discussions that sound interesting to you. If you have any questions or would like to seek advice on any aspect of new ways of working then ask away — we’re a friendly and supportive bunch.
Reinventing Work: Meetups
If there is a meetup local to you then come along to hang out with and learn from others who are passionate about new ways of working. If there isn’t one yet then you are very welcome to start your own.
We tend to do a lot of meetup organising on Slack and Zoom (or similar). If you would like to get involved then head over to Slack and hit ‘Channels’ to find #admin-bristol or your local chapter’s admin channel. In the spirit of transparency we encourage working out loud in these channels, rather than sending direct messages between co-organisers.
Reinventing Work: Decisions In between meetups, proposals can be made and decisions taken on Loomio. Everyone has permission to be involved in decision-making, to start a proposal and to ask reinventers to make a decision.
Reinventing Work: Blog
You can read articles from fellow reinventers about new ways of working and you can write them too!
Reinventing Work: The Future
We know better than to try to predict and control this. We hope that there will be more meetups in more cities helping more people to reinvent work. But we don’t want to grow for growths sake, rather to make a meaningful impact in our workplaces — to make work better, one place at a time. It’s been a fun ride so far and it feels like we just got going!
Our purpose is to make work better, one place at a time.