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Punk Rock HR

May 14, 2018

What is the future of work? Katie Augsburger is the Founder and Partner of Future Work Design, an organization that wants to smash the patriarchy and decenter whiteness. Okay – before anyone starts bristling about being pushed out, that’s not her intent. Katie has some amazing ideas of how helping those with least access can benefit all employees.

  • Katie has two answers to the question, ‘How do you fix work?’ The first one is pretty cheeky and involves smashing things, but the second one takes a deeper look at the design of work. But first, she shares a story of walking into a women’s bathroom and finding a row of urinals.
  • We’re told as women to lean into the systems, but they aren’t built for us. Part of what Katie does is to break systems. She talks about how she doesn’t try to get rid of white men; she’s trying to make room for women. If you haven’t heard of the ‘curbside’ effect, then you need to listen to the analogy.
  • Using her theory of the curbside effect, she comes into companies with a radically different way of looking at things. How can we put the least advantaged people in the center of the design, and how will that help everyone succeed?
  • One of the best ways Katie get results is to ask questions. Not the typical questions managers ask quarterly or whatever, but deep reaching questions from the bottom all the way to the top. She talks about how smashing the old system and creating something new has worked out for one of her clients.
  • Companies tend to hire for skills and tech, but fire for behavior and soft skills. It’s this systematized, procedural way of looking at things that creates problems. But Katie believes it’s the soft skills, the behaviors, that will make or break the systems and processes.
  • Laurie poses the question: is it harder for companies to hold an open dialogue on gender issues or race issues? Katie and Laurie share their theories on why it’s more difficult to talk about race.
  • Not every company needs to be smashed. Katie shares a case study of a call center that, despite being an undesirable job, has managed to make THEIR work meaningful and impactful to their employees. Another great company Katie likes is Airbnb, and she reveals why.
  • Katie wraps up the episode with her approach to smashing the patriarchy and decentralizing whiteness, and it comes from a place of great compassion. She’s not interested in pushing out anyone who is white or male; instead, she wants to make things better for everyone by making it better for those who are great employees but don’t measure up on the outdated yardstick.

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