The following is a conversation between Kian Gohar, CEO of Geolab & Co-author of Competing in the New World of Work: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest,  and Denver Frederick, the Host of The Business of Giving.

Denver: Most every organization is doing things now that they would’ve never dreamed of doing just three years ago. But the question is, has your organization changed enough to stay ahead of the game in this post-pandemic world? Are you shaping the new environment to your advantage? If not, you’ll want to hear from my next guest.

He is Kian Gohar, the founder and CEO of Geolab and co-author of Competing in the New World of Work: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest. Welcome to The Business of the Giving, Kian.

Kian Gohar CEO of Geolab

Kian: Pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Denver: Kian, the book makes the point that the way we work hasn’t been working for a real, long time. What’s been wrong with it?

Kian: Well, we have these processes and muscle memory of how work was developed in the post-war era in the middle of the 20th century, and that worked for society that was industrializing, that was modernizing, and coming out of a massive cataclysm. And we stuck with that model for decades until the ‘90s when the internet really started becoming a tool for communication.

And then, as we know, over the next 20 years after that, we started using technologies to digitize a lot of our processes, but we were still very much wedded to this model of how business was done in the mid-20th century. And it took the pandemic/forced work from home experiment imposed across the entire world for us to reassess some of those assumptions of what work means and why we do it.

And to say: Hold on a second! The way we’ve been doing work and processes and meetings for the last several decades– it worked for us in the past. But now, we have all these new technologies and tools to be able to be more effective at it, so why don’t we reinvent some of those processes?

And so, the pandemic forced us to reassess those assumptions. And we actually came out on the other side, thankfully, for the most part, not with too many scars, but realizing that there are some benefits of reassessing how we do certain ways of working.

And so, now, we’re in this environment where, okay, we can put to rest the muscle memory that we’ve had for decades of how particular work processes should be done, and reinvent them in a way that is more distributed, more agile, more effective and efficient. And so, that’s what I’m really excited for organizations to do– is to reinvent how they work going into the future.

Denver: Yeah, really cool. You know, it is amazing how slow we are to change unless we’re forced into it. I don’t know what that is about human nature, but we just keep on doing the same things over and over again.

Well, one of the keys to competing in this new world of work that you talk about is “radical adaptability.” In fact, it’s part of your subtitle, so why don’t you define it for us?

Kian: Radical adaptability is a methodology to be more proactive and predictive about how change may occur, and it has four sub-components. And these sub-components are inputs or things that teams can get really good at. And we go into each of those in great detail in the book of how you can learn those practices… that, ultimately, they add up to becoming a more radically adaptable team in an organization.

And let me just put these four parameters out there. And let me just say that I hate buzzwords. And so, I know that these will sound like buzzwords. They’re not meant to be that. These are actual practices that teams can learn and deploy every week, every month, to get better at.

So, the first one is collaboration and inclusion. How can you learn to ideate and make decisions faster in different ways than you have in the past? The second one is this idea of agile management. Agile is historically a term that’s been applied to software development processes, but how do you run experiments quickly, as a management team, to identify what works, what doesn’t, and then use that data to then run the next experiments?

We ran a lot of experiments in the pandemic in the new world of work. And we realized that running experiments is exhausting. And so, the third component of becoming radically adaptable is this idea of how you build the muscle for resilience, and how do you make sure that you can bounce not just back, but bounce forward from each of these experiments so that you have the stamina and the endurance, as a team, to cross the finish line?

And then finally, the fourth component of radical adaptability is this idea of foresight. How do you start to learn to be able to see around corners about what may happen in the future? Now, nobody can predict it perfectly, but we can develop a skill set for having a methodology for consistently being able to see what might happen sooner than it hits you in the face.

And so, we interviewed over 2,000 executives from 300 organizations globally, non-profits included, to really understand how they behaved during the most radical time of uncertainty the world has ever seen in a very short period.

And from that, we were able to pattern-match the learning into these four key skills that, we believe, if you get good at, you will become a radically adaptable team that can face the future regardless of what new things come about.

…one of the most interesting things we learned in our research is that collaboration isn’t just in person anymore.”

Denver: Yeah. You know, just that last point you make about thinking about the future and trying to predict the future, just stopping to think about it… even if you’re wrong, it’s going to put you that much farther ahead of the game because generally, we don’t even stop to take that moment. We’re just living so much in the moment.

Let’s touch on a couple of those. Let’s start with collaborating through inclusion, but you indicate that most teams lack the essential collaborative behaviors needed to be a top-performing team. Where are they falling short, Kian?

Kian: So, we’ve historically thought about collaboration, again in the 20th century model of: we get everybody in a room, and we brainstorm ideas. And maybe there is a team leader who listens to those ideas and then makes a decision. That is what we consider collaboration to be. I think that is one form of collaboration.

And, we couldn’t do that in the pandemic because oftentimes, we couldn’t meet in person for health reasons and safety reasons. And so, we had to reinvent what it meant to ideate and to come up with solutions to team problems, and do this in a way that was virtual. And so, I think, the kind of behaviors that good teams deploy when it comes to collaboration is: first of all, having a level of time for individuals to really think on their own about the particular problem.

So, individual pre-work that you might be asked to think about. And then you come together as a team to discuss that pre-work. And this may look like a conversation, a discussion, a debate. It could be a variety of online note-taking that you’ve used individually, and then you’re collaborating on a whiteboard to see which of these ideas that you’ve come up with are the best.

And then from there, taking it to a prioritization. So, how do you prioritize the various, many ideas that came about from your team and then figure out: “Okay, let’s just say, for example, these three are the most important ones. Why don’t we now run a small experiment and a quick, agile experiment to see whether this idea works or not?”

And then, there’s this feedback loop where you ran the experiment, and then you’re communicating that back to the team again, and you restart this process of collaboration. And so, I think one of the most interesting things we learned in our research is that collaboration isn’t just in person anymore.

Now, you have remote collaboration and also what… I think this term Is really important… is asynchronous collaboration. So, asynchronous means you’re doing work with someone if you’re not in the same time zone or if you’re not co-located, or maybe you’re not even, you know, working the same time hours.

And so, how do you move a project forward without being in the same physical room as someone? And that is the concept of asynchronous collaboration. And so, teams are relearning these behaviors, learning new muscle. And that sometimes can be very hard when, let’s say, you want to be an Olympic champion gymnast… doesn’t happen overnight.

You have to start by learning the flow routines and stretching, and sometimes it hurts, and sometimes you fall. That’s the kind of growth that it takes to learn new skills. But we, as experienced managers, with sometimes decades of experience, including myself, sometimes don’t want to learn new skills. We just want to do it the way that we’ve always done it because that’s easier mentally for us. But that is, I think, no longer an option.

…this methodology of teaming out is one where you ideate first with your team, but then you ask your partners and your vendors and the teams that report to your teams to think about the particular problem as well, obviously not to the same extent and commitment, but so that you can get the best holistic idea of how to solve a particular problem.

Denver: Yeah. You know, I’ve kind of looked at the synchronous/ asynchronous balance. And, I guess, if I had a parallel to it,it would be the way I watched TV, because back in the ‘90s, I would always watch synchronously, and it would be called CTV on Thursday nights, which I think was Frasier and Seinfeld and some other show, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or whatever the heck it was.

And that’s the way we all did it. The way we did it in our offices, we all got together in a room. Now, we all binge watch, or we watch it on our own time. So, the idea of having the way we live our lives now finally seep into the workplace and say, Well, why don’t I just put this on a video and have everybody see it, you know, when they want to see it, instead of having to be in the same place for 30 minutes? It really does make a lot of sense.

Okay. I’m going to try to out-buzzword you because that’s what I always try to do with my guests… is outdo them, and I want to know a little bit about co-elevation of which the animating principle is “teaming out.” People are probably saying, What’s this guy talking about? And I’m going to say, “Kian’s going to tell you.”

Kian: Yeah, so co-elevation is a term that my co-author Keith Ferrazzi developed, which is this idea of: How do you go beyond thinking about just your individual responsibility on a team, but rather creating a process by which you are committing to each other’s success?

And so, you’re not just elevating yourself, but you’re co-elevating each other through peer-to-peer relationships, peer-to-peer coaching, to be able to help each other accomplish great things that you individually may not be able to do. You know, every day, we come to work with different levels of energy and resilience.

Some people have more financial resilience; some people have more family resilience. And so, we recognize in the pandemic that, you know, we could see into each other’s living rooms through Zoom and Microsoft Teams technologies, that we had different levels of resilience. And so, nevertheless, we, as teams, still have a particular project that we want to accomplish and an end goal.

So, if I’m lacking energy to accomplish a particular thing, or I don’t know how to do it, how can my team, my teammates, help me, not only de-conflict some of my own challenges but help me be able to get across the finish line? And this is through, historically, we’ve thought about the relationship as from a manager to a peer.

So, the manager is coaching the employee on a particular thing. But we are now increasingly thinking about instead of having a hierarchical manager-employee relationship, how can we help each other, as a team, in a sort of a matrix connected world of an individual helping another individual at the same level on the team to accomplish their goals?

And so, I think, this is the idea of co-elevation: How do you think about drastically rethinking your commitments to each other and your ability to help each other cross the finish line, even if it’s not your own responsibility on the team, because ultimately, it’s the team success that matters?

And so, that’s the idea of co-elevation. And how do you think about this idea of teaming out? Which is, okay, so you have your own particular team to try to solve a problem, but now we’ve learned that it’s actually really easy to go beyond your existing team, so maybe one layer lower.

So, maybe the teams that are reporting to your teams, or maybe the suppliers and the vendors and the partners you work outside of your team, and ask them for their ideas on how you can solve a particular problem.

So, during the early days of the pandemic, when we were all locked down, we recognized that it was really valuable to have very quick conversations with mentors and with people outside of your team to get insight on a particular problem.

And so, this methodology of teaming out is one where you ideate first with your team, but then you ask your partners and your vendors and the teams that report to your teams to think about the particular problem as well, obviously not to the same extent and commitment, but so that you can get the best holistic idea of how to solve a particular problem. That’s the idea of teaming out.

Denver: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a hard mindset I think for a lot of people because we always, as individuals, have ourselves at the center. I was speaking to somebody recently who  was working on a project like this, and she said that at the end of the project, she didn’t even know what her individual contribution was because so many of her colleagues iterated… and she iterated on so many of the ideas of her colleagues.

She said, “All I knew was that I was a part of a great piece of work that solved the problem.”  And that is a little bit of our mind shift of having ourselves in the center, and it’s really making solving the problem and helping whatever we’re trying to do become the center of it. And so, I mean, do people have trouble making that transition, or do you find it relatively easy?

Kian: I think, it’s a matter of incentives, and we have historically thought about rewarding employee success by individual metrics of how they contributed to a team. And, again, it’s that idea of that the manager decides, and then there’s a hierarchical relationship.

And, I think, organizations that are doing better at this process are those that have realigned their incentives and how they reward employees, not just for obvious individual success, but also team success.

Denver: Yeah.

Kian: And so, recognizing that, what she said is beautiful… I love that, that, you know, she was part of a great team that accomplished something that was really hard to do, and that’s ultimately what we want to be a part of. And you know, we, as humans, want to be part of something that matters… that our ideas make us feel like we belong and that we have impact. And so, I think, it’s terrific that she said that.

And we live in such a fast-paced time, where technology is changing things not every five years, but every 18 to 24 months. And so, managers have to learn new skills. And so, we have to get away from this mindset that what worked for me 5 or 10 years ago will last me another decade because that’s just not the reality.

Denver: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s funny because I think every organization kind of says what you just said about the team and all the rest of it, but their performance management system is the old performance management system as an individual review, so the incentives are not aligned with what they profess to be, what they want in their organization.

Kian: That’s right.

Denver: And you can get cognitive dissonance out of that.

Kian: And I’ll say this, it is hard to learn new skills. Again, there’s that joke that it’s hard to teach an old dog new skills, but you still can do it. And I think we live in a time where, you know, we thought historically that you learned a skill, and it would last you for 20 years of your career, and you got better at it.

And we live in such a fast-paced time, where technology is changing things not every five years, but every 18 to 24 months. And so, managers have to learn new skills. And so, we have to get away from this mindset that what worked for me 5 or 10 years ago will last me another decade because that’s just not the reality.

And so, we have to learn new skills and unlearn the ones that don’t make sense. And some of that will include rebuilding how we measure, and aligning incentives with the ultimate goal of the output, which is better team engagement, better team productivity, better team collaboration.

Denver: You know, another old saying, Kian, is that: it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, but you believe there can be an advantage in working in sprints towards measurable outcomes. Explain.

Kian: Yeah. So, a marathon is this idea of having, let’s say, you know, a longer goal of accomplishing a great thing. And so, we believe that that can be too difficult to accomplish. And so, the way you actually, practically do that is– let’s use a marathon analogy of 26 miles, 26.2 miles, and you break it down as a runner into chunks– like the first five miles, or the second five miles.

And so, you have these internal milestones as an individual who can think about, Okay, how do I get myself through that really hard 15th mile so then I can run the next five miles? And so, using the same methodology or analogy, the idea is to take a much bigger project and break it down into smaller chunks with measurable objectives that allow you to really be able to do these short sprints to interim outcomes.

And then, you pause, and you say, Okay, what worked over the last, let’s say, two weeks of this sprint?  Or again, in the, let’s say, running analogy, what worked in the last five miles?  How can I tweak my behavior and be able to pivot if I need to, and then do another five miles or another sprint?

And so, this idea of running sprints is that once you break a very large goal into small, measurable outcomes, that then you repeat, and you tweak, and you pivot because, ultimately, it’s very rare in life that your end goal is really 26.2 miles. I mean, that’s concrete in marathon-speak.

But in like building a project or starting a new initiative, oftentimes, priorities come in, and they change the direction. And so, you have to think about: Do I need to pivot midway? And so, if I started a two-year transformation project, and I spend the entire two years thinking about the same parameters that I had at the very beginning of my initiative, I may have missed so many different inputs that required me to maybe change what that outcome would be in two years’ time.

So, I think, it’s really critical that we, yes, have a larger goal in mind, the marathon, the finish line, but we have to, as managers, break it down into small sprints that allow us to have real, concrete results that allow us to then  continue to the next one.

And then, ultimately, the end goal is that we’ve achieved the marathon, but we want to do it in such a way that it’s not so complex and daunting, but rather things that you could just get started doing.

…we have to make sure that mental health is an important topic and that we are creating workplaces and workflows that allow teams to run really hard at big problems, but then gives them the resources and the downtime to recuperate from those really hard experiments, so that they can really be able to re-energize and be able to rinse and repeat and do that again.

Denver: Yeah. Yeah. It makes all the sense in the world. I think that aside from the fact of just being a good strategy, it’s the way our minds kind of work. You know, everything is much faster. We want Amazon faster. We want “likes” on Facebook faster. We want to do something.

And it breaks up the monotony of a long, long slog by doing it in little sprints like that, where there’s a beginning, a middle and an end, and you kind of re-energize or reboot, change direction, and do it again.

Well, with all this going on at work, how does leadership need to change? What skills and traits are now in demand that maybe were not so much so five years ago?

Kian: Well, you know, I think this idea of resilient teams and employee wellness is something that is at the forefront of management and leadership. It became very top of mind, during the pandemic, when employees were really burnt out because they were working very long hours, oftentimes remotely and without an intentional plan for team engagements.

And so, we recognize that we have to make sure that mental health is an important topic, and that we are creating workplaces and workflows that allow teams to run really hard at big problems, but then gives them the resources and the downtime to recuperate from those really hard experiments, so that they can really be able to re-energize and be able to rinse and repeat and do that again.

And so, this topic, I think, of wellness and employee engagement and mental wellbeing is really top of mind and will be, because we are living in a world that will never be as slow as it is now.

Denver: Yeah.

Kian: The future will always be faster because of the nature of technology change. And so, if we think we are exhausted with how much work we’re doing now or how much we are running fast at things, it’s just going to get faster.

Denver: These are the good old days.

Kian: These are the good old days. And so, learning how to manage one’s energy levels and resilience and your team’s resilience and energy levels is really critical. The second goal, I think, I’d say, that is really transforming how we lead is this concept of artificial intelligence. And it’s something that’s been around for decades, but it is becoming increasingly not just a hype, but a part of the zeitgeist, but real transformative in terms of how people make decisions.

And so, learning these skills around new technologies like generative AI and how they can be deployed within your organization and team are going to be very, very critical, because they are going to transform the future literally like the printing press did.

Denver: Yeah. How has it changed the way you operate because I’m sure you’re using it on a daily basis, probably several hours a day? How has it changed the way you go about your business?

Kian: Yeah. So, I’m doing a major research project with about 10 global corporations to better understand the interaction of how humans can collaborate with AI to be more effective at work. So, we’re very interested in looking at the human engagement piece of this, and doing this with my colleague, Jeremy Utley, who’s a professor at Stanford.

Denver: Right. A recent guest, by the way, just a couple weeks ago.

Kian: Oh, really? Awesome. What a small world. I love Jeremy.

Denver: Likewise.

Kian: We have so much collaborating on projects together. And, yeah, so I use generative AI on a consistent basis throughout my day. And so, I use it as a platform to explore ideas around a particular project. So, let’s say, I’m launching a new client initiative or, for example, I want to do some more research around Topic X.

I will share some ideas with generative AI and ask it to consider some assumptions that I’m not thinking about, and ask it to maybe develop a particular framework or way of thinking that allows me as the human to then edit my creative process, to then do things that are higher order, more interesting, more creative than me having to start from a blank page.

And so, I use generative AI on a daily basis to help me reassess my assumptions around a particular topic, to help me generate new ideas, and then also to categorize and analyze some of the concepts that I’ve already developed. And so, it is part of my workflow. I use it on a consistent basis for ideation and collaboration.

Denver: Well, I love that prompt about what assumptions have I failed to take into account. That’s an absolutely wonderful one. Another thing that companies and organizations don’t do as much as they should, at least in your mind, an under-utilized tool would be the small breakout rooms. Tell us how they can be leveraged to really be impactful.

Kian: Yeah. So, in our research that was with Harvard Business School and came out in this book last year, we recognize that when you’re in a meeting room with a bunch of people, 74% of them will not raise their hand to answer a question if you ask an open-ended question. Like, how many times have you been in a room or a conference or a board meeting room where you ask a question and you just hear crickets?

And it’s because 74% of the people don’t feel comfortable enough to speak up. Maybe they haven’t thought about the idea enough; maybe they haven’t really developed a plan; maybe they’re shy, maybe introverted, whatever the reason is. The reality is you’re missing 74% of your team’s ideas.

And so, to really maximize ideation, we found that it’s critical to actually go into small breakout rooms in your meetings, whether in-person or virtual, because that actually creates a psychologically safe space for people to speak up and share their ideas.

And when you have these smaller breakout rooms, and then you come back and reconvene as a larger, report-back session, people’s willingness to share goes up 90% because they’ve first gone into a smaller breakout room. They’ve tested their ideas. They know that it’s a safe space.

And so, this is really critical– and we’ve found actually the number of people that you can have in a room before attendees feel like they don’t have the right kind of psychological safety to share, and then they stop speaking again– is four.

Denver: Wow.

Kian: So, when you’re doing breakout rooms, do them in small groups of four, because that’s the magic number where people feel like I can be heard; my ideas can be vetted; I won’t be judged. And that is so critical to coming up with ideas to solve whatever problem that your team is trying to address.

Denver: Oh, thanks for giving me that number because I was going to have to check with ChatGPT after this interview to find out what that number was. It’s four.

Talk about younger workers. What do organizations need to do or be mindful of when it comes to the Gen Zs in this new world of work?

Kian: Yeah. I did this other research project last year looking specifically at Gen Zs and how they are different from other generations. And we don’t want to make broad generational stereotypes, because everybody’s different, and everybody comes at work in different ways.

But what we found actually was that Gen Z was very, very, interested in this idea of purpose and authenticity. And there was a report that came out last year by McKinsey, I believe it was, looking at: What are the most important criteria for Gen Z workers? And authenticity was number one on top of the list.

Ninety percent of them said they want to be their full, authentic self at work. And so, they come to work with this expectation that they want to be themselves, and they want to work in places that have purpose and have meaning.

And so, I think, for older, let’s say, generational cohort leaders and managers of Gen Z, recognizing that we are driven by authenticity and purpose is really critical to being able to lead them in a holistic way.

Denver: Is it enough though? I mean, 70% of Gen Zs are looking for another job right now. And, what else do you think that organizations need to do? I mean, retention is a real challenge.

Kian: Yeah. So, I mean, when I was the age of a Gen Z–you know, the oldest Gen Z member is roughly 25, 26– And so, when I was in my early 20s, I too was probably looking for jobs all the time. I think that’s a normal function of that stage of life. And so, it’s not unique to that particular generation. I think it’s interesting to look at: Are they more willing to look for jobs now than, let’s say, the average 25-year-old who is a Millennial at that age or Gen X at that age?

And so, retaining Gen Z… one of the most important things is making sure that you have, first of all, a pathway for them to learn and to grow. One of the challenges, I will be honest with you, of having a distributed work culture is for those of us who have existing networks– you know, older workers with 20, 30 years of experience– it’s easy for us to reach out to our friends and colleagues for advice and team out.

When you’re a 24-year-old, young adult into the workforce, you don’t have that existing professional network to reach out and team out and be able to get advice from. And so, these younger generation workers, surprisingly, actually want to be in the office more than I would say mid-generation or older-generation folks because for them, they see this as a pathway for mentorship, for visibility, for peer-to-peer learning.

And so, finding that right balance between giving flexibility to your teams to be able to work in a distributed, asynchronous environment but, at the same time, creating physical spaces and experiences for your teams to come together and learn from each other is critical.

And then, the last thing I’d say is, you know, we’ve heard about this idea that Gen Z is quiet-quitting or like they’re doing the basic minimum amount of work without really quitting.

Denver: Yes. Bare-minimum Monday, I guess, is one of the latest.

Kian: Yeah, exactly. And, I think, the way to counteract that is instead of having quiet-quitting is to have loud leadership. What I mean by that is by role-modeling the behavior that you want to see.

And as a leader, as a manager, being very clear in your communication, being very clear in your authenticity, being very clear in how you want to achieve great goals, and setting yourself as a role model really for your younger Generation Z workers to say, “Wow, I like that behavior; I want to follow that.” So, that’s the antidote to quiet-quitting, loud leadership.

…the workplace is not a democracy of decision-making, and I think it’s very important that both leaders and younger employees are aware of this assessment. The workplace is a democracy of ideas and a democracy of sharing ideas.

Denver: Yeah. And I think a lot of it gets back to what you were just talking about with ChatGPT in terms of leaders make assumptions about Gen Z that Gen Z doesn’t make. So, recently I was talking to somebody, and a Gen Z says, “Well, when I come into a workforce, I think it’s a democracy. And I think my vote counts as much as anybody’s vote.”

 But when the leader tells them that their voice is going to be heard, but it doesn’t have the same weight as the senior executive team, they’re like, Oh, Okay. But we never even think of telling them that, you know, we think it isn’t  an even democracy. So, it’s so interesting.

Kian: I want to just noodle on that for one second. So, the workplace is not a democracy of decision-making, and I think it’s very important that both leaders and younger employees are aware of this assessment. The workplace is a democracy of ideas and a democracy of sharing ideas.

So, you want to create workflows that allow everybody to feel like their voice matters by sharing it, and saying at the outset, “We want to hear everybody’s advice and everybody’s input”  It does not mean that everybody has a veto, right or that decision-making authority. It ultimately comes down to the team leader.

And so, if we set that expectation upfront, then people understand, Okay, Great. I can feel included but I recognize that the team leader ultimately makes that decision based on the priorities that they make.

Denver: And I’ll tell you, if I was in a small breakout room, I’d feel that much more included because I would’ve had my voice heard, at least somewhere, as opposed to nowhere. 

Let me close with this, Kian. You say that, going forward, organizations need to build what you call a Lego Block Workforce. Tell us what that is.

Kian: So, the Lego Block Workforce is sort of like, if you know Lego blocks, you put them together in different kinds of shapes and forms.

We have gone away from the post 1950s workforce model where everybody comes into the office; everybody has full-time career employment guarantees and a nice pension. We’ve seen that all change over the last 20, 30 years because of a variety of technologies that allowed us to have more gig work and different kinds of contractual agreements.

And so, we live now in a world where you don’t have to decide: Do I need to hire somebody full-time or not? You can contract out, based on a particular project. You can use gig work, and increasingly you can use another Lego block of workforce called AI. So, how can you use AI to automate and do some of the tasks that somebody else may have done for you?

And so, for each organization, there is no one-size-fits-all policy of what the future of work should be like. You have to step back and think through: What are our ultimate goals? And then can we create a workforce that is nimble and agile and that we can scale up when we need to? And you can do that by putting these various pieces of Lego blocks together.

Some are full-time employees; some potentially might be contractors; some might be offshore contractors who are working in a different location, and some might be AI coworkers who are helping you automate some tasks. And so, building this gives you the fluidity and the capability to be radically adaptable as an organization so that you can make changes, and you can be nimble as things change.

Denver: That’s a great visual we can all identify with. Well, we’ve just scratched the surface of the book, Competing in the New World of Work: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest. Tell us a little bit about Geolab and the other things that you’re doing. What will people find if they come visit Geolab website?

Kian: Yeah. Geolab is an innovation research institute around the future of work. And so, we design deep research on different technologies and workforce practices that will influence the future. And then, we develop leadership training programs for companies, leaders, organizations to learn through different platforms like educational content and conferences and workshops and coaching.

And so, we are very deeply interested in how the entire space of the future of work is evolving, and we do research around that. Our latest research project that we’ve launched is looking at how generative AI can be a co-pilot tool for facilitating collaboration and ideation and brainstorming and problem-solving.

And, we are very excited by this because we see the potential of how it can accelerate the time to getting to a better idea. And, we are at the very early stages of understanding how to use AI as a co-pilot in the workplace. And we’re designing programs and learning modules and ways for companies to be able to teach their own employees about how to use these new tools as a way to help them come up with better ideas faster, more efficiently.

Denver: Interesting work. You’re a busy guy. I want to thank you, Kian, so much for being here today. It was a real pleasure to have you on the program.

Kian: Thank you so much, Denver.

Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving serves as a Trusted Advisor and Executive Coach to Nonprofit Leaders. His Book, The Business of Giving: New Best Practices for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leaders in an Uncertain World, is available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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