Innovation Junkies Podcast

Tim Creasey on the Workplace of the Future

The Jeffs chat with Tim Creasey, Chief Innovation Officer at Prosci. They discuss the digital transformation of the workplace, finding the right balance between working in-person and virtually, and forced prioritization and resilience brought on by the pandemic.

Tim Creasey:
The digital transformation is when the fabric of who we are gets shifted. The digital revolution was all the zeros and ones. We spent a ton of time worrying about that. Then we had a day and a half to step into the digital transformation.

Jeff Standridge (Intro):
This is Jeff Standridge and this is the Innovation Junkies Podcast. If you want to drastically improve your business, learn proven growth strategies, and generate sustained results for your organization, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

Jeff Standridge:
Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. I’m Jeff Standridge.

Jeff Amerine:
Hey Jeff, Jeff Amerine here, glad to be back.

Jeff Standridge:
We are the Jeffs. Yeah, good to be here.

Jeff Amerine:
Well, we’ve got a fantastic guest today. Really outstanding. Actually, it’s his second appearance on the show. We’ve got Tim Creasey, who is the Chief Innovation Officer at Prosci. Tim has been the CIO at Prosci and is a thought leader in managing the people side of change initiatives to deliver organizational results and outcomes. He’s really been a thought leader and instrumental in the development of Prosci’s unique, integrated approach to change management. And we’re so happy to have him back again. The second time he’s been on the Innovation Junkies Podcast to talk to us today. So Tim welcome.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. Great to have you with us.

Tim Creasey:
Hey, thanks for having me back. Yeah. Really enjoyed that first one and I’m excited to have another conversation with you all.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. We’re looking forward to it to as well. I’ve been familiar with Prosci for a long time kind of coming to the innovation world from the world of change management, organizational transformation, what have you. So just give us just a little bit of glimpse of Prosci, kind of your speaking points there in terms of who Prosci is for our listeners, so that they get an understanding of what you do every day.

Tim Creasey:
Yeah. Prosci as a firm is dedicated on helping our clients build change capability so that they can achieve more successful outcomes in times of change. One of the things our founder learned at the beginning is one of the biggest detractors to change success is driving sufficient adoption and usage of our solutions by equipping and supporting our people through the change journeys we’re asking them to make. So we’ve done a couple of decades of research, built out a whole role-based suite methodology to help us capture people, dependent project ROI on our most important projects and initiatives. So, innovation, transformation, change management, all of them are looking at that coin of change success from a little bit different angle. So not surprising that we’re going to come together today.

Jeff Standridge:
Very good. Well-

Jeff Amerine:
Before we take a deep dive, one important thing we can’t forget, and this is how we normally kick things off as an icebreaker is, and this one is going to be extremely difficult for me now that I’m a granddad, but what is your favorite dad joke of all time?

Tim Creasey:
Favorite dad joke. So I have 13 and 11-year-old boys. So lots of dad jokes going around at the house. I like the dad memes right now. Kind of the picture with like the dad joke observation, but in terms of dad jokes, I am a sucker for science and math jokes. So my very favorite one is why do you never trust an atom? Like an A-T-O-M, like from chemistry, an atom?

Jeff Amerine:
I don’t know why.

Jeff Standridge:
Why do you never trust an atom?

Tim Creasey:
They make up everything.

Jeff Standridge:
Ooh.

Tim Creasey:
They make up everything. Yeah. And we’re in the business of helping organizations achieve change success through each individual that has to bring the change to life. So I’ve actually told that from a stage with 800 people and said, I know this joke is going to crash, but I’m going to tell it anyway, because one person at a time is how change success happens. And those atoms, they make up everything. That’s what you can’t trust them.

Jeff Standridge:
Love it. Love it.

Jeff Amerine:
Jeff, how about you?

Jeff Standridge:
Well, last weekend my wife gave me a list of odd jobs. And so I took the list and I did 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9.

Tim Creasey:
There we go. I like it.

Jeff Amerine:
You guys’ material is just so much better than mine. So I’m going to go to a Bud Amerine favorite. Bud Amerine was my dad and we did lots of road trips as a kid. We drove all over the country and we’re military family so he would, invariably, when we were driving through a new little town, as we were going by the cemetery, he’s like, “Why are people so excited about having the cemetery on this road, in this town?” I was like, “I don’t know. Why?” He said, “People are just dying to get in there.”

Jeff Standridge:
You know, it’s interesting—

Jeff Amerine:
That’s terrible. Right?

Jeff Standridge:
Well, so that’s one of my favorites. We were riding our bikes one day and I had a group riding with me and it was a couple of women about my age and then a younger man. And so we were riding by a cemetery and I said, “Hey Chris, you know why that cemetery has a fence around it?” And he goes, “Why is that?” And I said, “Because people are dying to get in there.” And he goes, “Ha, ha, ha.” And I said, “You know why they won’t bury me there?” And he goes, “Why is that?” And I said, ” Because I ain’t dead yet.”

Jeff Amerine:
See, like I said, you got much better material.

Tim Creasey:
Right. Yeah. Thank goodness.

Jeff Standridge:
You recently wrote a blog called The Questions… I’m going to get the actual title of that. The Questions Leaders Must Ask to Create a Workplace of the Future. We’ll invite our listeners and viewers to go check that out on the Prosci website. But let’s talk a little bit about why we’re having conversations about the workplace of the future. So if you kind of kick us off that way, that’ll guide us into the discussion today.

Tim Creasey:
Yeah. Great question. And I think it’s top of mind. Now, I want to… before we jump in, the blog title was Questions Leaders Need to Ask and Answer, because I’m not going to come here and tell anybody that I’m going to provide you with the answers of what your workplace of the future needs to look like. I think that’s… to start it out, it is, my favorite quote I’m using right now is answers have a shelf life, questions can last a lifetime. And especially in this world we’re living in of rapid iterative, continuous change. If we try to run around with the answers, they’re going to be outdated by the time we even get them on the shelves. And so leaders will need to arm themselves with a great set of questions to ask and answer and re-ask, and re-answer as we step forward in the organization.
I think the reason we’re talking about re-imagining that workplace, that future of work right now is that we’re in an interesting place in this pandemic. Two years ago today, I was sitting in the back of a classroom at the Prosci headquarters watching a prototype of our new methodology being delivered while penciling in how I was going to try to take our existing legacy methodology and pivot it completely virtual, because we had delivered no in person, a virtual training and all of a sudden had space, shared space being taken away from us.
And that’s what the global pandemic gave. For us, all of us in terms of workplace is shared space was taken away from most of us. We figured out how to do it apart and we’re about to get to start to step back together now. Every time we say we’re about to get to start to step back together, we have no idea what’s on the other side of that as well, but that’s part of designing the workplace of the future is leveraging the capabilities we’ve grown, the new perspectives we have, the new priorities we have and shaping them into the workplace we all can thrive in. So there’s no going back to what was, that’s the thing. I was thinking about this, when you all talk about innovation, you talked about it’s challenging the status quo. The question to you all is what is the status quo of the workplace?

Jeff Standridge:
Oh, so he’s taking the interviewer side of the equation here.

Tim Creasey:
What is it? The workplace March 3rd, 2022, or is it March 3rd, 2020? Because I know a lot of folks who the status quo they still feel like they’re living in was this pre-pandemic status quo that they wanted. And so they’re trying to get back to what was, and if you want to bring innovation into how work can now be done, what’s in front of us is I think where we can shift this focus to.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. You know that’s a good point. We talk about that one thing required for innovation to occur is constraints. And so pandemic is one of the constraints, now being post-pandemic and figuring out that we can work differently than we did, and oh, by the way, employees have different expectations about what work should look like than they did 18 months, 24 months ago.

Tim Creasey:
100%.

Jeff Standridge:
And-

Tim Creasey:
To that point, what my very first question we can pick up here is what have you done since March 2020 that you would’ve told me was impossible in February 2020?

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. I think-

Tim Creasey:
Think about how many different things organizations and teams and people have done that they would’ve told you were impossible a month before. So just like you said, Jeff, the constraint of the pandemic yielded the innovation that grew all of these capabilities that we didn’t even have. We hadn’t even started to grow. So I’m surprised you’re both named Jeff, so I know it’s so easy to not mess up who to-

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah. Tim, to your point, I mean, to that, in the Startup Junkie in the conductor universe, given the fact that we were very much a high touch in-person event and mentoring organization, we had to quickly take 100% of all our content, it’s 250 sum events a year and figure out how to make that digital. Now it was something we had always aspired to. We knew that digital content was going to be important, but when the spigot was turned off and there was no other alternative, that was the catalyst that forced us to do something we had wanted to do and we had… because we had no choice. So, I mean, I think there’s a lot of people that will have a similar story to say this was a matter of necessity. We had to do it.

Tim Creasey:
For sure. And Jeff, we were in the same place as an in-person training company. The way I describe it is every organization was somewhere along a spectrum of what I’d consider pandemic response. Like no, no, we’ll just get through this. Just keep plugging away, we’ll get back to how things were. Over to organizational evolution and a lot of that’s more transformational at the pace at which it happened. And we and you, it sounded like had a matter of days to make that jump from no let’s just hold tight, we’ll go back to what it was to realizing we had to pivot the entire operational model. There’s different organizations and parts of organizations that are still, I think, dragging their feet and not quite leaning in to what we grew and what we now expect.

Jeff Standridge:
Well, let’s also take an example of where technology and capability existed, but it was never adopted in widespread fashion and I think of telehealth. And you tell a lot of these primary care physicians that have resisted the use of telehealth throughout their entire careers or throughout the last decade when the technology’s been available. And now the question was, okay, then don’t get paid.

Tim Creasey:
Yeah. And-

Jeff Standridge:
That’s the constraint.

Tim Creasey:
Let’s go down this path because I called the involuntary digital transformation, it happened in a lot of workplaces. And I often will tell the story about this along with music and money, because think about how in both music and money, we disconnected proximity that you had to have it with the experience and stability to actually use it. So think about music, you used to have to have the cassette player, the CD, the 8-track, the vinyl, then all of a sudden, as long as you had access to it, you could enjoy the music. Right? Interesting.
Think about money, you used to have to have it on you. And at first, it had to be a goat, and then it could be currency because we created something that was easier to move. And then as long as you had access to it, you could spend it anywhere. So it used to be, we had to have proximity to have the experience, but then we started to pull those apart with the digital transformation that happened in a lot of our personal lives, but work, it’s something like telehealth is a great example where we didn’t bring… and that’s why I call it the digital transformation is when the fabric of who we are get shifted. The digital revolution was all the zeros and ones. We spent a ton of time worrying about that. Then we had a day and a half to step into the digital transformation and that’s where that involuntary nature and all of the learning, I think steeps.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. And we’ve got workplaces now that… there are many large companies who have said, “We don’t really have plans yet to go back into the office.” Not that they’re not ever going to, but they’ve still not made plans to return back to a, pardon of my expression, butts-in-seats type of workplace.

Tim Creasey:
Yeah. And I think my next question and it’s part of that blog is how are we going to be strategic when we do reclaim shared space? Because we’re not going back to what was, but there’s certain time… one of my other phrases, my two boys hear more than any is time and place. Time and place. And it usually gets like a dirty dad stare. Fart jokes. Playroom, no problem. Grandma’s living room, you get a dad stare, time and place, time and place.
That wrestling, backyard, go for it. This nice restaurant, time and place, time and place. And so I think that notion of, it used to be we always had to be together. The answer to what is the office for was where we had to go do work. Then that no longer is the answer. So now the question becomes, time and place. When we do share oxygen, how are we going to make the most of it? And when are the right times for us to make sure we’re sharing oxygen and when are the times that it’s okay that we don’t? So I got a fun analogy we can pick up and play with this one too.

Jeff Amerine:
Well, Tim, this is one that I have to say that we think about, I won’t say struggle with, but think about a lot because it’s easy or became easy during the pandemic because you had no choice to be completely remote all the time and zoom, what our Google Meet was the universe of interaction. Now we’re in kind of this hybrid mode and the question I have and I’m sure that Jeff has as a leader is, how much is enough? How often do I actually have to be there in proximity so that you can kind of lead by walking around, I think there’s an importance to out at times of making sure that people know you’re present versus how often is it fine, like today, for example, I’m working from the home HQ, because I needed the isolation to be able to do podcasts well or some other things that we’re going to be primarily online. So I think leaders are going to struggle with how to make that balance right. Not just for themselves, but for the organization.

Tim Creasey:
Yep. 100% and we got a couple of different frames that organizations are using. I’ll usually talk about hybrid by schedule or hybrid bespoke in terms of determining when we are going to share oxygen. And a lot of that depends on what is the of value we’re trying to get out of that time together. So I’ll give you this analogy, about June 2020, Prosci launched a return to the workplace advisory board, which was pretty early. This is June 2020, little did we know this was going to be a couple year experience. But it was leaders coming together to talk a strategic change leaders coming together to talk about what are we even doing? And it’s fascinating to look back at how that group and the conversation evolved over the course of those two years. But late 2020, one of those advisory board members was a university.
And they were trying to figure out what classes to bring back on campus and what to keep off-campus, because they had to manage to 25% utilization of the space. Different constraint, not the constraint of expectation and flexibility versus shared oxygen, but the constraint of how many kids you can have on campus. And they started to ask themselves this question, they didn’t really, but this is the way I phrased the question, when and where does the where really matter? When and where does the where really matter? And so we started playing with this examples, anatomy lab. Does the where matter anatomy lab? Oh yeah. You don’t want that on the kitchen table, right? 18th century, French lit does the where matter? Not so much except for those two group projects. And so they went through their whole curriculum essentially saying, when and where does the where matter?
We’ve started to pull this internal at Prosci, we’ll do a side-by-side that says, what of our work is more like anatomy lab? What of our work is more like 18th-century French lit. So we’re working as a leadership team to set expectations around when is our work best served together and when is it not necessarily better served other? But it’s wild, you can take like a single employee’s job role. I’ve got a video editor on my marketing team, video capture, that’s anatomy lab work. You have to be where you’re capturing the video. Video Editing, that’s more 18th-century French lit work. Even within a particular project, project kickoff is anatomy lab work. The 15th check-in, the 15th weekly status update, that’s more like 18th-century French lit work. And so constructive work, collaborative work, if it’s contentious, that’s more like anatomy lab. If we’re storming and norming, that’s more anatomy lab work. So I don’t know Jeff, that there’s a singular right answer to how much is enough, it’s more around, are we being thoughtful about being together when it’s best served?

Jeff Amerine:
Hey folks, this is Jeff Amerine, we want to thank you for tuning in. We sincerely appreciate your time. If you’re enjoying the Innovation Junkies Podcast, please do us a huge favor, click the subscribe button right now, and please leave us a review. It would mean the world to both of us. And don’t forget to share us on social media.

Jeff Standridge:
So let’s talk a little more Tim, about the conditions that you see influencing the future of work. So we’ve talked about a few of them, but walk us through that kind of list, if you will, and tell us a little bit about what each of those are.

Tim Creasey:
Yeah. So we got the very first two, I call the involuntary digital transformation. We kind of mentioned that. And right after that, I call that the instantaneous remote work experiment. And just one little, a bit more nugget on this one, at Prosci, we wrote pivoted from a very headquarter centric organization to fully remote in a day and a half. And I’ll often do the thought experiment. What if as a leadership team in the absence of the pandemic as a constraint, we would’ve given the organization 30 days to move completely remote? What do you think would’ve happened? Had we just made that decision sometime in 2019? It would’ve been-

Jeff Standridge:
It would have been done it on day 29. I mean…

Tim Creasey:
Day 29? No, no, no. By day 180, we would’ve realized that we were already six months behind and we would’ve broken in 15 different ways. We would’ve come up with 30 reasons why it was impossible to do. I mean, and that’s that involuntary digital transformation piece and how many sparks of innovation took place because we had to and we had to in a day and a half. So that’s those first two conditions. My next two are iterative and adaptive by necessity, change became iterative and adaptive by necessity. We don’t get to look five miles down the road, we get to look to the bend, try to get there, and put ourselves in the best position to be on the other side of the bend.
And that comes along with shifting success horizons. And this notion of shifting success horizons, I think will really amplify the need for an expectation of innovation in organizations, because we’re not putting a success flag on the horizon three years out. There’s a little while there where it was three days and three hours that we were trying to get to, now organizations are more in that, three quarter. The Horizon’s lifting a little bit, but it’s not back to where it was pre-pandemic. Next to one is an acronym TTWWADI and I’ll see if either of you two know what that means. TTWWADI. It’s not-

Jeff Amerine:
I have no idea.

Tim Creasey:
It’s been in the change management lexicon for a long time. It stands for That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It.

Jeff Standridge:
Oh sure.

Tim Creasey:
So you’ve heard it a bunch of times.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah, sure.

Tim Creasey:
You just never seen it as the acronym, but that’s the way we’ve always done it. And I put this into the shifting conditions of the future of work today, because can anybody say that with a straight face? I mean, they probably made it through our dad jokes without laughing, but if they think about reflecting on their organization and is there anything that’s going on that that’s the way we’ve always done it here? I imagine not based on the last two years.
The next two are kind of fun too and they kind of go together. I call the next one, the paradoxical humanity infusion in two dimension. The paradoxical humanity infusion in 2D. Because as soon as we all went to this remote work experiment and we all ended up on 2D and little Brady bunch video tiles, it feels like we get to be could become completely disconnected. And certainly, there was some of that disconnection that happened.
At the same time, you were now looking into the living room and listening to symphony of the lives of every person on your project team. And that’s a different… that’s just a different dynamic in terms of the connective tissue, the humanity inside the connective tissue. Because maybe back in the day, I could walk past Jeff every day and just be like, “Yeah, that’s just a guy I work with.” Can’t do that anymore when I am listening to his child screaming about math homework. And all of us are living this shared collective trauma while at the same time, getting this crazy intimate view into the lives of the people we work with. So that is that paradoxical humanity infusion that happened in two dimensions. And as a result of that, the people-side cannot be unseen.
And we talk about change management as the people-side of change. That anytime there’s a change, there’s a technical side where we design, develop and deliver this solution, a technical people side, where we make sure that solution is engaged, adopted, and used. And that’s the way successful change happens. That people-side of the change coin had been able to be ignored. Yeah. A lot of projects ignored the people-side of change. The old email on Monday, for training on Tuesday, for go live on Wednesday, that is ignoring the people-side of change. You can’t ignore the people-side once you’ve seen into the living rooms and listened to the symphony of the lives of your teammates. So that’s kind of the top half of the conditions. I’ll stop and see what you all think about this paradoxical humanity and the people-side of the organization that may not have been there ever before.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah, I think that’s very interesting. There’s a lot of these memes, you talked about dad memes, there are a lot of these memes that come out with people saying, getting ready to go to work and they’re dressed from the waist up or folks saying, “I’m trying to decide today, what am I going to do and where am I going to go to the day? Do I go to the bedroom, to the living room or do I go to the dining room, to the basement or?” And I like to… A lot of times, I’ll go home early because I’ve got something I need to do. And so I’ll take my last couple of calls at the end of the day sitting in my chair in the living room. And so, my wife needs to go back and forth and so I’ve said, “Can you crawl when you go behind me so that you’re not…?” And she’s like, “No, no, I’m not going to do that.” She told me, Amerine, that… Go ahead.

Tim Creasey:
No, do you remember that viral YouTube video right before the pandemic? It was I think he was for the BBC, he was a British newsman doing a news story. And the toddler comes in and the wife calmly crawls in and they were mortified, right? And we passed it around 30 million of us watched it and just laughed at how terrified he was. And now it’s like, I’m absolutely not-

Jeff Standridge:
That normal.

Tim Creasey:
… crawling behind. Absolutely. You expect a dog to hop up on the lap. I mean, that is a fascinating shift when you start to think about like, what it truly means and it starts to ripple in.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah.

Jeff Amerine:
And I think-

Jeff Standridge:
My wife told me at the start of the pandemic, she said, “Listen, I know that you are not an essential employee, but it is essential to our marriage that you go to the office every day.”

Tim Creasey:
Yeah, for sure. We-

Jeff Standridge:
Go ahead, Jeff.

Jeff Amerine:
I was just going to say the adaptations have been really, really interesting as people got comfortable and are still comfortable. We had, as an example, there’s some people that I network with that I’ve worked with for years and we would have this kind of coffee or bourbon gathering every month just to get together, to share what was going on. We took that online and actually we got more people involved. And instead of being out somewhere, I’d bring over the bottle of bourbon or whatever, and it’d be like show and tell, but it became a normal kind of thing because we couldn’t get together for a while. And it was kind of entertaining too. We probably had greater participation because it was easy for people to participate.

Jeff Standridge:
If you look at what we’ve done as a team, about once every couple of months, we’ll have a happy hour and it’ll be from 5:00 to 6:30 or something like that and everyone will bring their favorite beverage, but once we’ve been there and just kind of caught up for 30 mins… And it’s not just our team, it’s expanded out to some of our colleagues, we’ll do trivia. And so we have a trivia game and so that’s something that would’ve never happened outside of it. And it’s probably done more to build the team dynamic than what we would’ve taken the time to try to do under normal circumstances.

Tim Creasey:
Yeah, absolutely. And I think those are all those things that we learned, not because we wanted to necessarily, but we can leverage those into re-imagining this future of the workplace. I got to present one hour for a, it was a master’s class at Pepperdine on innovation and creativity. This was like the second week of January, let’s say. So right before then, things were looking pretty good, the class was supposed to be in person. And I was going to be beaming in as the one guest presenter, which that in and of itself was kind of cool that they had embraced that.
Then of course, numbers pivoted right around the turn of the year, they sent out an email a day before that said, “Hey, everybody, it’s now going to be a virtual class. Here’s the zoom link.” Zero beats skipped for that class to pivot into virtual. And as a facilitator, I got to actually go back in and pull annotation and screen engagement. And I actually got to leverage some other facilitation tools and engagement tools I typically would use in a virtual space that I had to walk around when I was going to be up on a screen and they were all going to be in a classroom. I mean, that speed at which… and nobody breaks a sweat to move a 50 person class to completely virtual in a day and a half, like that’s fascinating that we have that kind of, again, agility kind of baked in.

Jeff Standridge:
That is. That really is. I had a thought on that talking about changing a class, kind of at the spur of the moment. So here in the South, when it snows and ices, we generally had snow days. Well, snow days are just about a thing of the past. Kids today, they don’t get to come to Jeff and Lori’s house and have chicken spaghetti like they used to after sledding. Back when my kids were young, it’s like, “Nope, we’re going to convert to zoom today. Class is going to be via zoom.”

Tim Creasey:
Yeah. Crazy.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. So let’s talk then about some of those questions. You talk about reflective questions and future of work questions. So talk us through maybe the highlights of some of those as well.

Tim Creasey:
Perfect. So in terms of those reflective questions, we touched on one already, what have you done since March 2020 that you would’ve told me was impossible in February 2020. Because again, we’ve done so many things that are not the way things used to be. I often will ask people to reflect on what did you learn about yourselves and your team that you didn’t know you could do? Because I do think that would help us identify some of those things we just spotted in terms of speed of moving.
Another one I like asking is what did you miss the most? We were all together, we all had to move apart, we spent a lot of time there, now we’re getting to move back to together again. What did you miss the most when we had to be apart? Because I think that helps us identify what we value most when we do get to come together. So when we’re able to share oxygen, we can make the most value out of it. So those are kind of the reflective questions coming out of it. Two years of a lot of pain and suffering, but learning and growth. How am I different today than I was two years ago and how can I leverage that into what we want to design together going forward?

Jeff Standridge:
So do you find, as you’re asking those questions, I mean, those are not questions we’re normally asking ourselves hence, the reflective questions. Do you find reticence or resistance on the part of some of the leaders you work with in asking those questions or knowing how to ask those questions or engaging in that dialogue?

Tim Creasey:
Certain, it’s interesting, the flavor of the day, however the weather’s blowing and especially when we’re talking about recaption in the workspace, you’re seeing at least today while we’re recording this, there’s a lot of people getting back together again. And you’re seeing all of that energy in social media. The question and I work real hard to phrase the question, it’s one of these, if I had longer time, I would have written a shorter letter. There’s a bit of that here where there’s a lot of time and energy and effort put into the crafting of the question so that the question itself creates the context into which that leader can step and start to tell the story. So even the context of what have you done in the last, since March 2020 that you would’ve thought was impossible or you would’ve told me was impossible before, it takes somebody out of the context of where they are today, into the context of the breadth of the experience so they can start to do some of that answering. I had a… You want to hear a story? We talked about skiing last time I was on here.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah. Yeah.

Tim Creasey:
I had this interesting experience on a chairlift a couple weeks ago about the power of context when we’re communicating. So we’re on the chairlift, it’s me and my third year old and this 12-year-old, a family friend who’s 12 and I’ve never skied with Jacob, the family friend yet. And the three of us are going to the top of the big hill. And I had seen Jacob and Carter do a little bit of a hill at the bottom of the mid-mountain. So I kind of had a sense of how good he was, but being the responsible adult, I really wanted to see how hard are we going to go down the hill when we get to the top? It’s his first day on the hill this year and he is got new skis.
And so I said, “Jacob, do you like doing jumps?” And he goes, “Oh well, it’s kind of my first day on the hill and I got these new skis and I’m kind of breaking in,” and I realized he wasn’t going to be able to give me the answer I wanted which is how comfortable context of right now on that chairlift, going up with his buddy’s dad on the first day on the hill. And so I did something that I… and I feel kind of, I thought it is pretty brilliant. You’ll have to tell me what you think. I said, “No, no Jacob, the very last time you went skiing last year, did you like doing jumps?” And he goes, “Oh, I was just in the trees nonstop hitting everything,” and I thought, “Ah, right?”
Now I have the answer I was looking for. My read was comfortable are you on a hill? Do you like hitting jumps? He couldn’t answer the question because he was in the context of right now. When I helped him contact shift to the last time you went skiing last year, all of a sudden I got the data I was looking for. And so, I don’t know, that was an interesting notion of how do you bring context into the… to that conversation? And as we’re talking about the return to the workplace, the context of the conversation, when we get into these reflective questions, the context of the reflective questions creates helps us start to identify what we want to bring forward and pull forward.

Jeff Standridge:
A lot of writing going all on right now about the war for talent and the great resignation. How do you see the context of those two dynamics affecting this future of future workplace kind of an environment?

Tim Creasey:
Yeah, very nice. So the great resignation is certainly something we’re seeing in the literature. I’ll pull forward to more of my conditions of the future of work. One of them I call forced prioritization. It’s one of the things I think everybody got out of this pandemic was forced prioritization, stack ranking what mattered, in a way that we never had to stack rank what mattered before. The other thing we all got was a little bit of defacto resilience. Whether we wanted it or not, we just earned some resilience, making it through the last couple years. And so we had this conversation in our return to the workplace advisory board last summer, and one of the gentlemen said, “Imagine a project manager who was sitting there February 2020 thinking, ‘Man, I hate my job. I just hate my job.’ But leaving this job, going to look for a new job, that sounds like a hard hill to climb. I don’t know if I got it in me to climb that hill.'”
That’s February 2020. Think about that same project manager February 2022, “Man, I hate my job, do I got it in me to climb the hill of looking for a new job? Of course, I do.” I just survived two years in a global pandemic locked in my house with my two crazy kids for 18 months, I could find a new job. So forced prioritization, that stack ranking of what mattered, and this defacto resilience, I think is creating the condition on the employee side. You put that up against new expectations around flexibility, work-life harmony and I think it’s going to be fascinating to watch how organizations respond to creating the conditions in which employees feel like they can show up and really deliver the best they can.

Jeff Amerine:
And some of that is a follow on that defacto resilience, as it relates to the talent is, they don’t have to. They feel like they have options. They feel like they have options. So in other words, if that bond between employer and employee has changed, because it’s like, hey, if it doesn’t meet my criteria, I’ve dealt with this. If it’s not something that then I’m going to be comfortable with in terms of I’m really now more comfortable with working more at home than at work, then I’ll just leave. And I know I can because I’ve got a set of skills that are valued.

Jeff Standridge:
And so many more jobs have gone remote. We’ve said this and Jeff, I know you know that I’m involved in kind of the economic development entity here in our community. And one of the things we’ve talked about is, people can work from anywhere now, many jobs have gone remote. And so we could really see the opportunity out there to recruit some new talent to our area if we have the right amenities and the right quality of place and what have you. But the flip side of that is if we don’t have the right amenities and we don’t have the right quality of life and the right cost of living, we could lose the talent we have.

Jeff Amerine:
I can remember in, and this is well before the pandemic, it’s probably 10 years ago, working with some high-end engineering folks in Nova Scotia, actually. And we were talking about place and different things in geographies and regions and one of the guys said, “Well, you know what, it’s been,” and they’ve had to do this just because it’s a location, they said, “It matters a whole lot more of who you’re with rather than where you are. And the fact that we’re able to virtually be connected in ways we never thought would be useful before, I think really puts kind of a fine point on that.” And talent has internalized that. It’s like, no, I’m going to live where I want to live and I can work for anybody because I’ve got these skills that don’t require me to be in this specific place.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah.

Tim Creasey:
And I think leaders have the propensity to overcorrect when they hear this conversation and say, “But place still matters. We still need to get together.” And that’s not what we’re saying. We’re saying both and. Right?

Jeff Standridge:
You’re right. That’s right.

Tim Creasey:
Both people need flexibility and it matters when we share oxygen when we do it on purpose. A family friend here where I live, well, so I live in Idaho. All you got to do is look at market real estate. The real estate market here will you that people can move and work from wherever they want to because it’s going nuts. But family friend that used to run a PMO of a pretty big organization here in the state.
I was speaking to him last summer, he’s like, “I lost my three best project managers because we have tried to force people back into the office 100%.” Employee says, “I don’t want that. I don’t think I need to.” Company says, “We’re not sure if we can trust that you’re working if you’re not here.” Employee says, “I just proved for a year and a half that I could, I’m out.” He lost his three rest project managers, then the fourth and the fifth, then he’s gone too. He left six months ago, because he’s like, this is nonsense for an organization not to embrace what its people just showed it could do and craft an environment where everybody can succeed in delivering the best they can to help the organization achieve its best results.

Jeff Standridge:
We’re talking with Tim Creasey, who’s the Chief Innovation Officer for Prosci. Tim, it’s always a pleasure. We could continue this conversation and go on and on and on. But I have a sneaking suspicion and there’s going to be another opportunity for us to get back together. As they say here in the South, the good Lord willing and the Creek don’t rise. And if you’re willing to do that with us, but it’s been a great conversation and we appreciate you for spending the time with us today.

Tim Creasey:
Yeah. Thank you so much again for having me on. I do. I think, they’re all cousins, innovation, transformation, the people side of change, leadership, all of this is how do we help organizations achieve who they set out to want to become. And I think workplace in and of itself is going to be a place ripe for innovation because we hadn’t innovated there for so long. We never took the advantage like we did in music and money to take more command and agency over space. So thanks for having me, I’m looking forward to next time.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for coming on. We appreciate you.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah, we appreciate it very much and we will definitely look forward to the one. This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. Thank you for joining.

Jeff Amerine:
Hey folks. This is Jeff Amerine, we want to thank you for tuning in. We sincerely appreciate your time. If you’re enjoying the Innovation Junkies Podcast, please do us a huge favor, click the subscribe button right now. Please leave us a review. It would mean the world to both of us. And don’t forget to share us on social media.

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