Learnings from Slack’s Frontiers 2018

I spent the last two days in New York City attending a conference held by Slack, a company whose mission is to make work simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.

I attended because Lindsay McGregor was one of the keynote speakers. Lindsay is the co-founder of Vega Factor and co-author of Primed to Perform. She delivered Vega’s “101”, a summary of the science of total motivation (tomo) – a speech I’ve heard at least 4 times. It never gets old. I won’t elaborate here because frequent readers of this blog know all about tomo. If you are new here, search the archive for Primed to Perform.

To keep this post short (as usual), I will list here some of my learnings from the conference. Each bullet point may one day become it’s own post.

  • A speak-up culture starts with a listen-up culture. Good listening breaks down silos.
  • The more innovative an idea, the more likely it is to be rejected. To improve your chance of adoption, make the unfamiliar familiar.
  • Create psychological safety to promote trust and spur innovation. Put out a problem box (not a suggestion box) for employees to raise problems and then assign executives to champion solutions.
  • Ask employees to “kill the company”, or to “kill the department”, or to “kill the idea”. This borrows on the concept of pre-mortem, where you dream up in advance why a venture failed in order to prevent fatal mistakes.
  • Encourage help-seeking, with tools like Givitas.
  • Offices are not natural for human beings. We’ve only worked in offices for about 100 years. Meaningful workspaces are at the intersection of tools, space and culture.

“We shape our buildings. Thereafter they shape up”

– Winston Churchill.

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