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Hosted by Alix Dunn
Feeling floating and confused about who’s doing what and when in your organization?
Feeling floating and confused about who’s doing what and when in your organization? Nathan Evans was too, which lead him to start Peerdom. At its core, their work believes that seeing something tangible and visual in front of you is a powerful way to make sense of how we work with each other. Nathan applies his scientific background to organizing organizations, in the process making our career path more adaptable. If your organization has this huge pile of work it needs to get done every month, what’s the optimal way of dividing that through well-scoped, dynamic roles? It’s a way of working that’s less hierarchical but more effective, and allows you to see your career as a playground—ever changing and even inspiring. What’s more it allows you and your organization to say “no” to what’s not needed and outside of your goals.
He recommends an article on Roles vs Job positions complementary to the discussion: https://peerdom.medium.com/the-advantages-of-defining-job-roles-instead-of-job-positions-d2817a3c8d46
1. Org charts and job descriptions don't cut it for dynamic, growing orgs
Think of it like this, a job description is something that’s generally created when you’re hiring. But once you hire someone, there is a person and their growth and their strengths shaping the role. And so the job description quickly becomes a document that doesn’t represent your reality. Roles change all the time as strategic direction shifts, opportunities emerge, and teams better understand how to play to each other’s strengths. So, what should you do instead of org charts?
2. Break your work into a few smaller roles to encourage intentionality and specificity
Instead of a static job description that represents a fixed cluster of roles, try breaking it down. With a finer resolution of the work that needs to be done and what people are working on, it’s easier to distribute work around the team. How often should you update your roles? It depends, but quarterly can provide stability while capturing change.
3. Visibility of teams and roles needs to be more explicit in remote
When you’re working together in an office, it’s easy to have a vague sense of teams and roles. When you can’t see how people move within the space, you need a map. Mapping people and roles in a way that’s visual and interactive can make collaboration smoother. It also makes it easier to see bottlenecks, waste and duplication, lack of focus, and if teams aren’t learning from each other and building on each other’s work.
Speaker 1 00:00:06 One of the big insights, I think, is that as visual creatures, we noticed early on that seeing something and having something tangible and concrete in front of you comes with a lot of power. It can be instructive in ways that you just don't have if you're working inside of an Excel sheet or sending around Word documents or something. So we immediately latched onto this idea of a visual map.
Speaker 2 00:00:30 Welcome to the Remote Culture Club podcast. On this show, we inspire and equip leaders to build remote culture that works. I'm your host Alex Dunn, and even though I've been leading remote organizations for over 10 years, I'm always learning more. It's really nice to have you here. And without further ado, welcome to the show.
Speaker 0 00:00:53 When
Speaker 2 00:00:54 Is the last time you looked at your organization's work chart?
Speaker 0 00:00:58 It's probably been a while, and it's probably in some flat, hierarchical, weird pixelated series of boxes that someone very hastily put together in Google Draw or Google Slides. And it doesn't represent at all the dynamism of your organization. If somebody were to look at this organizational chart, it's not like they would have a sense of the personalities and the little things that you do day to day that actually make you good at your role and your job and make your organization effective. So in this conversation, we're gonna be talking with Nathan Evans from an organization called pdo. And Purum is a little piece of software, um, that helps organizations more effectively map dynamic work relationships in terms of the roles, responsibilities of the people on teams. So we're gonna talk about all things organizational roles, responsibilities, how teams fit together, how to stop working in silos, how to think about growth in small organizations when there's not the possibility of just promoting people every year. Um, and we're gonna talk about what Nathan sees as the future of how more dynamic organizations can document what's going on and who's doing what, so that we can be more balanced and effective in the ways that we work together. So without further ado, Nathan Evans from Peerdom.
Speaker 2 00:02:25 Hi everybody. I'm here with Nathan Evans from Kedo, and he's gonna talk to us a little bit about how to more effectively structure our sort of roles, responsibilities, organizational structures in ways that make it easier for us to know who's doing what, um, how collaboration happens in your organization, and generally how to act more dynamically the way that you structure your team. So, Nathan, to get us started, do you wanna talk a little bit about Purum and sort of how you got into this work?
Speaker 1 00:02:54 Yeah, thanks Alex. Yeah, I'm coming from a kind of multidisciplinary background where I studied computer science and neuroscience. I had a foray into music as well. And I think this kind of dynamic background led me to, to looking for work which was going to be dynamic in a, in a certain way and work, which would allow me to represent or bring my whole self. So skills that seem to come from across different disciplines and and backgrounds and just, you know, my, my energy to contribute where I feel like I contribute best. And I stumbled a little bit across this whole new work sphere of which was, it's just a collection of ideas about how to revisit some of the most fundamental, um, fundamentally assumed ways that we work together. I dunno, meeting structures, um, role diffusion or accountability, how we divide and share power things around, uh, feedback, giving feedback to one another inside of organizations, compensation structures, all all sorts of things that I just assumed that there was, I guess from the beginning, a certain model that had to be inherited inside of business.
Speaker 1 00:04:03 And I was surprised to find out that there are a lot of people working on saying, okay, well we used to do that for the last century or so, and now there are, uh, alternatives that we could, could be entertaining. And that kind of gave me a little bit of an aha moment in the sense of, okay, actually we can reshape our business practices and processes and be creative also on how we work together. So, so that attracted me to this space and, uh, with a background in, in computer science and then also in in neuroscience, I, I really like this idea of, of organization design, of thinking about how we work together, of looking at it from above and kind of bringing this scientific touch to saying, okay, well what can we, what can we import as ideas about how dynamical systems work, about how, I don't know, neurons communicate with one another.
Speaker 1 00:04:57 Is that going to be informative in thinking about how we can parallelize work and work in less bottlenecked and hierarchical ways? So I think that long, long explanation gives a little bit of the, the tip of it. And, uh, yeah. So we, we founded Purum about a year ago, but it's been, um, in the making for three or four years. It had started as an internal tool, which we were using to organize ourselves in a, in a design and development agency, a web agency. And we were a team of about 20 people looking to, yeah, looking to work together in a way that wasn't like we, we kind of reached that peak where you start to grow the team to a size where eventually it starts making sense to put some type of structure in. And, uh, you start, stop losing track of what is everybody up to?
Speaker 1 00:05:52 Like you can't keep it in your head anymore. We have too many moving parts. And when we, when the founder at the time entertained this idea of being like, okay, we put structure in for the first time, he was pretty sure, uh, that he didn't want it to be like a classical middle management type, uh, structure like the, the, the classical hierarchy. So he kind of shopped around by looking at, at stuff from sociocracy and dipping into holocracy and learning from dynamical systems and cybernetics. And he, and he thought, okay, we, we can create a more fluid way of working together that's more self-organized or self-managed. And, uh, but the, but it has to be very explicit on how power of responsibility and power is, is defined so that each person feels enabled and empowered, uh, to work within their roles and make decisions without having to ask permission to someone, um, for making decisions essentially.
Speaker 1 00:06:49 So we had this model which was slightly, yeah, more self-managed or self-organized, and it required clarity on who's working on what. And at the same time we knew that we weren't going to strictly follow some of the, the classical organizational dogma things like we didn't want to hold sale, adopt the Holocracy constitution, for instance, and start rock operating according to the manual. We just wanted to pick and choose from different ideas that we found out there. And, uh, at the time there was no software that gave that kind of flexibility. So we created an internal tool for ourselves, which was super bare bones, really like create or write the roles that you're working in, list some responsibilities and say who's working on them and, uh, make that available to the whole team. So not just for like the HR or for the founders or for the C-suite or whatever, but democratize it so that everybody has access to understanding who they, uh, who they're working with, who to go to for advice, et cetera.
Speaker 1 00:07:52 And so we, we operated this tool internally works using it and saw how it could, uh, represent a more dynamic landscape. So as, as our opportunities changed in the market as, um, as we looked, uh, yeah, as our interests changed internally, we saw that it gave the flexibility, especially because we were working in roles and we'll go into that I'm sure later, uh, to, to represent a more evolving work scape. And yeah, that was a kind of powerful notion that a lot of other organizations started to contact us for. Uh, and it, and it grew really out of our own needs, I would say this tool. And now, uh, yeah, we work with, you know, several hundred organizations across the world and the rest is history in the making.
Speaker 2 00:08:45 And when we think about sort of those hundreds of organizations, a lot of people in the remote culture club are, um, responsible for small teams, some small teams in large organizations, some small teams in small organizations, um, but I think most of them are thinking about how can I more dynamically document who's doing what, sort of how pieces and parts fit together and what people need to know about, uh, what their colleagues are doing and when they can connect with them for what purposes. And I'm wondering if you could just sort of take us through a case study of sort of how an organization that wants that might go from feeling floaty and confused about who's doing what to using peerdom as a way of structuring and sort of being more specific and clearer, and then kind of the effects that that has for teams you've worked with. Sure.
Speaker 1 00:09:32 One of the big insights, I think, is that as visual creatures, we noticed early on that seeing something and having something tangible and concrete in front of you comes with a lot of power. It can be instructive in ways that you just don't have if you're working inside of an Excel sheet or sending around Word documents or something. So we immediately latched onto this idea of a, a visual map, a kind of exploratory map or one which is interactive that gives the sense of depth and allows you to zoom in, zoom out, et cetera, and, and kind of navigate around. And using that kind of map analogy, we've, we've seen that you can really go from this kind of vague notion about what people are working on to something which is, which is forcing you to be explicit about what that is. And the kind of typical trajectory I'd say is, you know, an organization comes to us maybe in some sort of growth phase where they're like, okay, now we can no longer track who's working on what anymore because we could keep it in our heads before, but now it's no longer possible.Speaker 1 00:10:39 And we need to start making sure that several problems arise when, when everybody's working on their own independent assumptions essentially. And when everybody's like, I think that that person's doing this, and I think that one is doing this, you have a sense, a general sense of ac accountability diffusion going on in your organization, which means that there's waste people work on the same things in parallel and they're unaware that they're doing the same things. There's learning going on somewhere in the organization, but it's not being transferred to the other ones who are working on similar problems, ego battles going on because of people being like, that's my terrain and why are you stepping on my toes? Hey, I wanna, you know, like I was, that's my duty. And I think that those are all totally valid things and are problems that arise when you're just like being fuzzy about it is working on what, and that can go away by doing the exercise of making a document that's like, okay, this is the current word scape, this is what we're working on.Speaker 1 00:11:34 And also, um, by defining what you're working on and who's working on it, you're also defining what you're not working on. So that should in principles, scope your priorities to, to being like, okay, if, if that doesn't exist in our document, if that's not on our map yet, then why is that? Is that a new opportunity that we should be be considering to bring into the map or not? Or is it, um, is it something that's just out of, uh, that shouldn't be that we're wasting time on because we've decided to not scope that. And I think that that starts to give, uh, a kind of set of meaningful, yeah, it starts to help on, on sculpts conversations around who should be working on what, if we're duplicating work, et cetera. But it also helps f work in a way that, uh, that's a little bit more efficient.Speaker 1 00:12:20 So this organization will come in and they'll say, okay, we're, we need to be clear. And, and usually at that point, um, they're either coming from kind of two, two schools background. Uh, one is, uh, and, and the most traditional one I'd say is that they say, okay, we know that we've hired people for jobs so far, so we have a, I don't know, senior marketing lead and a head of development and uh, et cetera. So they have this like job title and that job title is coming with, uh, description. And the job description is just a wide variety of different responsibilities, which, which might actually be spanning several different disciplines. It's just that they're clustered together into this kind of monolithic box called a job. And what we've observed is that, you know, describing work as a collection of jobs is like, uh, is, is is not very efficient because those jobs can't, the level of description of the job can't possibly represent the kind of, uh, dynamic on the, on the ground changing work landscape that's there.Speaker 1 00:13:29 So, you know, you, you write this job description and you post it and you hire somebody for it, but like two or three weeks later already what they're working on wasn't in that job description and that's totally normal. And everybody's like, ah, yeah, that's right. What I got hired for is not what I'm working on now. But that, that means that there's waste going on in the system in some sense. You're not representing accurately what work needs to be done and you're not accurately talking about how that work is changing over time. And so, uh, yeah, I I think we, we try to encourage that you, that you break down a job into smaller constituent roles. So you think about a single person not holding one job per se, but uh, but being the holder of several roles and those roles are a little bit more scoped in nature.Speaker 1 00:14:18 They have fewer responsibilities, responsibilities that are actually relevant to one another. And that really talk about re repeating work that happens in that like particular focus. And, um, and with that, with that framing with, uh, you know, each person can hold several roles and even a role can be held by several people, you, you get a different organizational model that starts to emerge as well. One, which is by definition slightly more, uh, descriptive or agile or, uh, able to represent the moving work landscape. Because I'll give a good example. If you are working as a software engineer and you have just, your job is software engineering and one of your, one of your roles is to, I don't know, deploy some piece of code into the world and all of a sudden a piece of software, like an AI software comes along and that part of your job, which was deploying this thing is just handled out of the box by this AI algorithm part of your job, essentially just got automated away. And instead of being like, okay, now we fire that software developer because their jobs being automated away, you can say one fraction of that job has been automated away and we know that 20% of their work is gone, but now since we described them by smaller units, we can also say, what can we use that 20% capacity to instead focus on that that's of relevance. And so I think this model of of, uh, smaller well scoped roles and holding several of them gives a lot of more flexibility.Speaker 2 00:15:53 I mean, I think what I'm hearing there too is just intentionality and specificity with what people are actually working on unlocks sort of more control and more clarity in a way that is powerful because you're not sort of thinking about a unit of human <laugh>, you're thinking about a subset of activities that can be, yeah, can be moved around or can be, um, sort of, uh, meeted out in different ways.Speaker 1 00:16:16 Precisely. And I think if this also gives a lot of opportunity to saying if the organization is this huge pile of work, what, what's the kind of optimal way of dividing and distributing that work, uh, across people? And, and it's a hugely complex problem, but it's definitely one where if you don't have resolution, like the kind of finer grained resolution on what's actually going on, it's really hard to, it's too pixelated to divide and define that work by just jobs. And, and so, I mean, you could think of it also on the other end of the spectrum, like at the most extreme version you would have just like this huge mountain of tasks to be done. Like, I don't know, email the respond on this email or, uh, write this document, et cetera. And I think at the, at the fringes, every individual who's working, especially in knowledge work, has some sort of to-do list that they're, that they're working off of, whether it's on paper and some software.Speaker 1 00:17:16 And that's totally normal because like as humans, we, we do think about like, what are the tests I need to do today? And, and you could also just have this huge mountain of tasks that you try to separate and divide out. But that somehow to me does, feels like two detailed, like it's the type of work that's gonna happen and be finished within a morning. And since it's like that, it doesn't make sense to be documenting it. So I, I really feel like roles hit this sweet spot in terms of, in, in terms of describing or aggregating tasks together in some way, way, but like not being as monolithic as a full job, uh, somewhere in between like the super volatile task list and the almost never changing job, um, in terms of theSpeaker 2 00:18:02 Spectrum. Yeah. You're also making me think about, um, career trajectory. Cuz I think in smaller organizations, growth and progression is really difficult to promise and enable for people that are trying to grow, um, in terms of their professional development. And I think having clearer, um, responsibilities under a role makes it possible to imagine that a more junior person might be able to take on, you know, aspects of a more senior role, um, and that that becomes a way that they can grow and it's easy to see that they're taking on, you know, their job is constituted like sort of more and more as a senior role, um, which allows them to sort of change and, and grow in, in that position without having to get a new job, um, necessarily until that is appropriate.Speaker 1 00:18:47 Totally. I think that's, uh, that's a super point because we've seen this other thing. I mean there, it was kind of already foreshadowed by, by this like management article in, I think it was in the eighties called where, I don't remember who wrote it either, so that's a terrible reference on my side. But, uh, but the concept was around, it was called the Peter principle, and the idea was that as you get promoted in a kind of corporate ladder, you end up being promoted to a place where you're like essentially useless for, for the workplace. And the concept of that was, was simple. It's like you are a fantastic, uh, salesperson and so you're promoted to be the manager of the sales team and then all of a sudden the task that you have to do are things like people conflict management, uh, hiring, and you're great at that.Speaker 1 00:19:36 And then you move to the head of the department and then you're only dealing with strategy all day and eventually you're moving into a set of task that have nothing to do with sales any longer, but that's what you were excelling at. And not everybody climbing that ladder naturally you should have to inherit all of the tasks of this like next box up the ladder. And what decomposing that box into several roles does is it gives the flexibility that maybe some super junior person is just excellent at, at hiring or maybe some junior person is really good at being a conflict mediator. And it doesn't have to be the quote unquote manager who bottle or who boxes that into their job just because it comes with the, with the promotion or whatever. And I think that allows for a more healthy redistribution of work. It can also be the case, but being explicit about the fact that, you know, if you're going into this quote unquote leadership position, then all of a sudden these are gonna be the responsibilities that are usually back like bagged in with that.Speaker 1 00:20:33 And if they can be decomposed and that can be delegated in a different way that offers some type of, uh, interesting flexibility. And coming back to your question, or I guess your point on mobility and kind of progression within, within it, it, I have to admit that this model of like granular roles ends up, yeah, it ends up changing a bit the way that we understand progression because a kind of classical, classical progression line would be like climbing the ladder in a, in a usual position based hierarchy. It's like you become the manager, the manager of managers. No, no, no. And so it's pretty clear what progression means. Like if you get the promotion, you can be like, I've moved from there to there. And in a kind of role-based system, it could be the case that, you know, half of your job or three-fourths of your job has changed or evolved over time and just parts of it have been swapped out for other bards.Speaker 1 00:21:32 And is it the case that that role is more senior or than that one or not? I'm not actually sure. It's more about, um, tailoring and customizing your own job over time. So it's like, what are my current interests? Where am I wanting to go? How can I take on more responsibilities on something that I want to grow in, et cetera. And, and so I really like this analogy. Uh, I read an article the other day about saying it's not about climbing the corporate ladder, but it's about playing in the like career playground. And so it's more about moving laterally about saying, what next thing am I going to be working on? Where else can I be going? And that adds a lot of complexity. That means that there's no single unified vision of what it means to progress. It's, it's actually up to each individual at the end of the day. It's like, how do you want to be progressing? Where do you want to go? What are your current skills of what would you like the new things to be? And and that requires, um, some attention like on the personal level, but also I think being explicit about what roles are there and being able to be like, I would love to hold that role or that batch of roles within six months or something like that can make those conversations a lot more, um, meaningful on the individual level.Speaker 2 00:22:44 Yeah, super interesting. I mean, I'm wondering when, it sounds like you've got some opinions about how roles should be structured <laugh>, um, and I'm wondering sort of when you see organizations try and slot their organizational way of working into peer dumb or when you have conversations with organizations that are struggling, what do you think they're getting wrong about roles and responsibilities? Um, that, uh, they, if they could see it more clearly, it would be easier for them to sort of tap into the dynamism of what is on offer for their teammates.Speaker 1 00:23:14 Yeah. Um, if I'm coming off opinionated, that is not <laugh>, that's not my goal because I have to admit that yes, of course I ca I came in and, and with this, with my background also, that that spans several, several careers. And in parallel, I do love this ability to like tailor your own job and represent yourself through different roles. Nevertheless, we noticed early on that, um, that in order to to document clarity around who's working on what as a company and as a software, we, uh, do not need to be opinionated about how people do that. So that means that we were very careful to become, to, to be agnostic with the way that we design the software such that teams can also come in and if you want, you can describe a quote unquote role as a job and it can be a job description.Speaker 1 00:24:11 And that means that just like you would normally do on a, on a classical, uh, job, um, posting, put a job title, talk about the description about what, like more or less the person's doing input varied responsibilities or qualifications, whatever, like inside of purum you can describe your team as a collection of jobs just like you would be able to anywhere else on a classical organic route. And that's important for us because we don't want it to seem like you have to do some sort of organizational, um, transformation or upend your, your model or change radically the way that you work. It's more about like this very beginning starting point is probably right now you have an organogram or some what structure to your organization and that organogram or idea of who's working in which teams and who's reporting to who or whatever is likely not shared with the whole team.Speaker 1 00:25:11 So it's like people that's usually used in HR contexts or it's usually used from the like C-suite in order to understand how the structure of the organization is and like maybe for hiring and stuff. But, but that document is not first, it's not a living document. So it's like only updated when somebody's promoted or hired or fired essentially. And it's also not shared usually. And so our, our idea is like if you can have a document which is slightly more representative of what's currently happening and you check in and you also share that across the team, so everybody has equal access and transparency around who's working on what, that that can actually be valuable for everybody in terms of their daily work as well. So I, I just wanna clarify that before I sound too radical and opinionated, but coming back to the idea of, um, of what pitfalls I see, I mean on, on this opinionated side, like if somebody clusters too many responsibilities and ends up making a role, which is too bloated, um, I see that that can lead to the same problems of not being sure about what somebody's actually working on.Speaker 1 00:26:22 So, and on the other hand, uh, like too fine grained is also kind of absurd because then it's not going to be that relevant. So there is this like magical art of defining something with just enough <laugh>, just enough description for it to be relevant for a while, but um, not too much such that it's immediately updated. JustSpeaker 2 00:26:44 Quickly on that, is there a cadence of redefinition, um, that you have seen work? So is it people should revisit their purum profile or sort of how they describe their job to their peers in a map? Um, once a month? Is it once a quarter? Is it once a year? Sort of what are you, what's your sense on that?Speaker 1 00:27:04 Uh, this is the, uh, also a magical question. I feel like from what I'm seeing it, it differs from context to context. I mean, one, one thing that we, uh, we work with such a wide range of different organizations that the way that they implement it and govern and choose how to update their map a wildly ranges across the organization. So it might be the case that there's like one, uh, single, you know, uh, map maker who's in charge of updating everybody's roles and responsibilities as soon as um, as soon as they're told either from individuals or from, uh, from like team leaders or whatever. But that also can go all the way out to a completely decentralized technique, which I've, I saw Greenpeace used for instance, they were giving everybody editor writes and being like, you can log in and update on the fly your own thing so that it kind of percolates up and creates this like more, uh, a more up to date version because you decentralize that work across everyone.Speaker 1 00:28:05 And I know that that's talking about the how, how to, uh, update that and not about the frequency, but I mean, what I've, what I've seen is, yeah, a month or every quarter tends to be where people land on that. I heard an interesting thing yesterday from one of our, the coaches that we work with who said, we played around with different rhythms on updating and we landed on every quarter, not because there are changes happening within the quarter, but because we intentionally wanted to be slow in representing those changes. So it's like if we deem that it's important to understand the work going on, but if we just like threw every new opportunity in the map every day or we've said like, oh, what I worked on today falls a bit out of my role, so I'm gonna make a new role today. Then they saw, they saw that as being potentially wasteful because it might just be noise.Speaker 1 00:28:58 And it's like by waiting three months for there to, it slows you down enough to say, what are the repeating things where we notice this is definitely has like a enough of a tension or a big enough delta between what we want and where we, where we are. And, and I can understand that. So I think the exercise comes down to how fast do you think that things are changing on the ground and how, how much do you want uh, that to yeah, to be represented in the most current documents. So it's, it's a, it's a bit of a, you know, a delay in some sense.Speaker 2 00:29:33 That make sense to me. I mean that there's that tension between, or there's that sort of the spectrum of chaotic cuz I could imagine monthly updating being like, wait, what's happening? And I could imagine, but then you sort of, the payoff is clarity, so like specificity and actually like it's been recently updated, which means it's right. Um, and I can imagine sort of needing to play with that toggle, um, and thinking about what environment you wanna create in terms of the level of speed of change.Speaker 1 00:29:58 Exactly. And I think that's exactly the, those are the two trade offs that you're, that you're balancing.Speaker 2 00:30:03 Um, cool. I'm wondering remote explicitly, so sort of for remote organizations, what do you think they should be thinking about when thinking about visibility into organizational structure? Or like why do you think it's so hard for remote organizations to kind of figure out who's, where do weSpeaker 1 00:30:21 What? So I have to say that pre pandemic times, this was like pretty obvious for everyone when people were working in the same office, they'd be like, well, that guy works on that team because he goes and sits over there and sits next to that person and if he works on that team, probably that team knows what he's doing and we're all good. And so there was this kind of like false sense of understanding what everyone did just by physical geo, like geographic location of where everyone's sitting next to one another. And also this notion of hallway chatter that gets you some knowledge about what other people are up to and what they're working on because of like random coincidence. And now in the, in the kind of remote world where there's no clear water cooler to meet around, I think that we saw that the, that a tool like Purim can be of great help because there's just this like fuzzy connection between you and your colleagues <laugh> somehow it's a, we're all working on stuff together and we send messages to each other to collaborate, but, but there's still this lack of understanding about what the geography of us working together is because it's distributed and we're in different time zones or we're in wherever, like in different places.Speaker 1 00:31:33 And that idea of taking that intangible fuzzy, uh, tissue that's connecting the different people working together and making a, making a tangible map out of it can have a lot of impact. So that, that shows you that there's a, there's a space in which you're all existing and it doesn't, you don't get that sense when you are like in a peer-to-peer chatting tool like Slack or something like that. Either you get work done, you can send messages around, but like seeing a list of names doesn't give you that same sense of, of, um, geometric uh, togetherness as being, being posted on the same map and being like, okay, this is, this is where people are working. There's also collaborations going on between these groups, et cetera. And I think that that, that, yeah, we're, we're incredibly visual creatures and, and that ends up having an impact. So, so yeah, a lot of remote teams find a tool like Purum super useful to, to just be like, Hey, we're all working together and here's what we're working on and yeah, you're all on the map kind of thing. Yeah,Speaker 2 00:32:37 I like the idea of you're all on the map. I mean, I'm wondering, I have two more questions. The first is connected to the second. The first is, um, how do people recognize if this is an issue they need to work on more? So sort of what are the signs that you think organizations will see if they're struggling with specificity, mapping responsibility, clarity, that kind of thing?Speaker 1 00:33:05 Yeah, often I, I feel like it comes down to bottlenecks. Usually what's going on inside of organizations and in terms of like work distribution is rising frustration around feeling like you're kind of spinning, spinning the wheels without there being, uh, that much advance. And usually that comes from people having to like step in and pick up tasks outside of their roles because it wasn't very clear about who should be doing that before or not. And when it feels like there's like a lot of waste and not focus on being like, I don't actually have to care about that at all anymore. Um, there's some, there's some like the ability to like go to a profile and be like, these are the things I'm working on and nothing else gives you a, a very simple decision making criteria and do I work on this or not?Speaker 1 00:33:58 And it's like, that falls out of my, that falls out of my rules and I don't, and I don't need to. And I think if it continuously rises up as work and still nobody's claiming it and we're like, who some people are picking it up different times, then that's a good point to be like, look, this is the 10th time that we've said to each other that the social media is not being updated, but nobody's taking control over it. We got to create a role and be explicit about who's holding it and have maybe that hard conversation like, why has nobody been gravitating toward it? Is it because we need to hire? Is it because it's, uh, there's a misunderstanding about what that role entails, like who are the candidates for it and why is nobody volunteering or why does the role not exist? And if, and I feel like these situations of frustration just arise where it's like, this is just not getting done and it doesn't see, and we know it's important, but why, why is it not getting done?Speaker 1 00:34:54 And vice versa, if you start having issues on, on kind of, you start observing these patterns I said before as well, like, knowledge is not being shared in the, in the right kinds of ways. So, uh, you see that somebody went through doing this whole podcast thing in one department and they're like, have this whole machine going for how they invite people and how they do the interviewing and they have this whole beautiful description about how to, how the people should be handling and they have a whole process behind it. And then some other department or a team is, is looking to do the same thing. They should be building off of the, the shoulders of giants in that sense. And, and it's a waste if everybody's like starting from scratch within the same organization to do the same types of things. So if that kind of knowledge transfer can be made because there are explicitly two like web, uh, web, I don't know, or podcast, podcast leaders going on in the organization, those two people should be in touch with one another somehow, or at least they should be understanding where there are touchpoints or not.Speaker 1 00:35:59 So I think this, um, this idea of knowledge sharing and uh, and speeding up for, to not just like work in parallel in isolation is important and even more important in remote settings where it's like, I'm not really sure what my colleagues are doing like 300 miles away. So those are two things that come to mind.Speaker 2 00:36:21 Yeah, so visibility into what is going on outside of your area of responsibility, just so you can kind of connect dots in the organization and then, um, repeatable things happening in different pockets of the organization and learning in a sort of tandem way so you're not yeah, reinventing things that you don't need to and you're not missing opportunities to learn and get shortcuts from other people that maybe are adjacent to you but are working methodologically in similar ways. Yeah.Speaker 1 00:36:50 Two, two other answers just came to my head while you were where you're going down it and one echoes what we talked about before, which is this idea of like self-care progression. So if people are kind of feeling stuck and like they don't really know what it would look like to be in this organization a year or two years from now, having this kind of clear role map, uh, or being able to be explicit about what opportunities are out there, I think that that can also help Yeah, as a document that you can bring into mentoring sessions to be like, look, let's talk about what's option, like what's out there and what, where would you like to be? Because that also gives people a sense of purpose and direction. And so I think that, um, this can also really help be like, okay, for, for retaining and, and keeping people around is like, look, we're we, this is what we do.Speaker 1 00:37:40 This is everything that's out there. What would you love to be working on and what's blocking you from getting there? And I think in that sense, it's like a tool like this or being explicit about roles is a great, um, reference for for people who are holding those kinds of mentoring conversations. And then lastly, I think it can also, if people feel like they're overworked, I think this whole idea of distributing and dividing work visibility on who's working on what and what everybody's committed to. So I mean, we have one, one feature inside of Periodo, for instance, where you can take your collection of roles and you can, uh, you can define what approximate percentage are you spending working in each of your different roles. And, and what that does is it says on a granular level, like, Hey, I'm working five days a week, but like about one of my days is dedicated to this about a half day to that or, or whatever, like 20% of the time.Speaker 1 00:38:36 And in some, if I am being very honest about how much time I'm really spending on each thing, it gives this collective sum of how much work I think I'm committing to, and, and it can kind of immediately show me where I'm being, like, I'm committing to way too many things, or I'm, I'm trying to do 150% of work in a, in an 80% job, and that means that this should be redistributed in some way. Like I should be doing a hard look at which roles am I just like they keep hanging out and they're still on my portfolio, but I just haven't done anything for the last six months about, is that because they're no longer relevant and we should be getting rid of them? Is that because it's something that we need to be doing, but I'm just like dropping the ball and somebody else should be picking this up?Speaker 1 00:39:24 And I think that that can be a very honest way and also a way for individuals to, to stop feel like, and stop feeling like they're just saying yes to two many things as well. I was like, this is your yes package. Is it, is it sustainable for you as an individual or not? And if not, shave it down to make it so that it's actually reasonable. And that can have a lot of, a lot of really positive benefits psychologically. I can say personally, if I look at my, if I trim sun rolls off and I'm like, I don't have to worry about that anymore, that's great. Like there's a, there's a sense of relief that comes from being explicit about being like, I took that on, I took that on and took that on, but now I'm explicitly handing that over to somebody else or removing the role because it's no longer relevant. And there's a sense of like, my, my to-do list just shrank.Speaker 2 00:40:11 I think also those two points, Mary, because I think there could be someone else in the organization that wants something that is currently overextending you and that if you don't know what those things are and you're not clear on that, then it becomes impossible to sort of make thatSpeaker 1 00:40:26 Trade. This is one of the cool things I think we're working on is a kind of internal job marketplace for that very reason. Like you can flag a thing and be like, Hey, I would love to get rid of this role in six months, who's who's game? Or, we need more help in this who's game. And this kind of like, I love the idea that you, instead of living in a, in a kind of organization where everything is assigned in some sort of top-down mechanism, it's it's kind of, uh, volunteered for in a bottom-up way. And I think that psychologically this really helps with, with, um, feeling engaged in your work if you feel as an adult that you got to choose and craft your own job by being like, I'm working on this because I am committing to it, rather than being like, this was handed to me le yesterday. I think, yeah, there's, there's something that, that just makes you feel like you're, you're committing your own ship and uh, that agency has a lot of of impact in the way that you show up and do work.Speaker 2 00:41:29 Yeah, totally. Okay, my last question, um, and feel free to plug Peerdom in your answer. If people were thinking, what steps can I take now if I'm noticing some of these, um, symptoms that you describe, um, what's some sort of rudimentary or sort of first steps that you would suggest people take to start on a path of better documenting, more dynamic sort of work structures?Speaker 1 00:41:51 Yeah, good question. So I think the very beginning is, okay, say you have to kind of put yourself in one of two categories. One is you already have some type of documentation, which is, might be an organogram, it might be job descriptions, it might be written in an Excel sheet or in a, in a document or whatever. You have some type of way of being like, we know more we've, we've described something before. In that case, you're pretty much already ready to go because you could start translating that and then into a map and creating a map to be like, this is what our current status is. I usually recommend also that organizations don't like come in and give me this like fantasy world where they wish they were working, but rather they, they take a snapshot of being like, this is where we're at right now.Speaker 1 00:42:39 This is how we're structuring, this is what, and then you can have, once you see it, it's really easy to hold conversations around like, what is the next step to change? Rather than like, let's sit down and engineer our perfect future and put that in. Because I think, I think it's really only through this like, here's where we are and here's the next small step to take to get to where we're toward where we want to go. Is is really the only way to see actual progress. And um, so yeah, that, that's a matter of translating some things into the software. It's like adding your teammates, uh, um, saying who, yeah, assigning some people to roles, being like who's working on what currently. And that, that document can also, um, which segues into the second category, which is you ha have no documentation in any way, and there you might want to then collect information around what people are working on.Speaker 1 00:43:34 And I think there, it's, it's pretty straightforward in some sense. Like you have a couple options. One is you have this beautiful mastermind who auto, who knows what everybody's working on every day and they can just, you know, create this top-down chart. It's very unlikely in this case. So usually I recommend to go to everybody or at least ha have at least somebody who's aware of their team context and do this. And in that sense, you can distribute the work a little bit. It's like either, like I said before where everybody's contributing or maybe one representative for teams of five or six or seven or whatever. And uh, they create like their local context, what are people working on around here? And we put that all together and it creates this like higher yeah, bird's eye view of, of what everyone's working on. And that that first documentation is just should be based off of like, okay, what in the last month or two did you work on?Speaker 1 00:44:34 Where have you been spending your time? What roles are they? Um, can you define, can you define a piece of work? Uh, and you like split your job in a way such that you could in principle hand that part of your job over to somebody else because it could be somebody else who's, who's doing that part of your job. And I think that exercise can be done pretty easily with any anyone. And the, the that first category I talked about where you already come in with documentation, you can also augment that documentation or refine the, the it using that second technique as well. So you can, you can say, well look, we do have these job descriptions and everything, but if we want to be a little bit more closer to the work, we can also collect some feedback about what people are, are actually working on up there. Yeah,Speaker 2 00:45:18 That's great. And if people want to find out more about purum and use it potentially, what should they do?Speaker 1 00:45:25 Yeah, so everything's through the website. There's, you can go to pureem.com or purum.org, you can start a trial. We have a free month trial to, to work on. And that is usually, we seen that, that's usually enough time to already like put in a map to already collect feedback. It's, the software was really defined or like designed to be incredibly simple out of the box so that there's not a big learning curve. I mean, you can add your colleagues, you can add a role and you can like put them into groups of roles or teams. And, and that's out of the box. The core product is really just that. It's around the role map, of course, then we add a lot more functionality through, through an app store where you can add additional modules and those modules cover different, different operational touchpoints in your organization. Things like, uh, goals and, I don't know, like O K R KPI stuff or, uh, giving feedback to one another or defining cross-functional projects or these types of things. And all of that functionality is completely optional, but additional, uh, but can be added on top of the map. And I think the, yeah, the starting point is really just visit peer's website and start clicking around because it's, it's, it's not overwhelming in terms of menu options or there's no, there's no big manual you need to read first.Speaker 2 00:46:53 Yeah, it's also really fun to look at the examples, um, and like poke around and sort of see how organizations are structured. Cause I found it really interesting to sort of see how much I know about an organization by looking at its map <laugh>, um, and how much, like what I would ask if I were talking to someone in that organization. So I feel like it's also fun to like see how other teams have documented their setup.Speaker 1 00:47:15 Yeah, I think that's actually, I'm glad you mentioned that. So this, this showcase of different organizations that we have, these are pido customers who have opted to make their maps completely public, publicly accessible. And um, I mean it's sort of my hidden agenda that at some day someday this can become a repository, oh, I guess it's not so hidden anymore, but, um, uh, a repository that, that people can really, like we said before, you build off of the shoulders of giants. So if I were to go in and I see that they're, uh, organizing themselves with these like classical communications roles, why should I have to rewrite roles from scratch? I should be able to just like copy and paste them into my map and start building things in a faster, more informed way through, through learning from, uh, how others are doing it. So it's kind of like dissolving these boundaries between organizations and getting us out of this.Speaker 1 00:48:12 Like everybody does everything behind closed doors scenario where I, I mean it's, I'll admit, I know that it's, uh, useful in, in your competitive sphere to not be, uh, super, super open about everything you're working on. But in most scenarios, if I understand how an NGO is organized internally, that's not really, that doesn't really change. There's no competitive advantage there. <laugh>, no, there's no competitive advantage. And also for them, it's actually good to collaborate across NGOs because they're also looking for ways to, to, to do that. I give NGOs as an example, but even in the private sector, like a catering company, it is just like zero, zero problem for me to learn from a catering company as a software company. So I think that, um, that that should will become a bigger part of the way that we end up sharing and kind of democratizing organization design. Making it so that you know how you structure your organization, the complexity of the roles, the way that you define them is something that's of learning material for you to build, uh, new organizations in a more fast way or to update or transform your organization through, through learning how others have done it before. Cool. Okay.Speaker 0 00:49:27 Well thank you. This was awesome.
Discover the 5 states of remote (and which one you’re in)
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Discover the 5 states of remote (and which one you’re in)
Find out the #1 dynamic that holds teams back
Get a sneak peek of our signature course