100% New York

Talent’s US leadership team called into New York City last week to develop plans for how we can build our business on the US East Coast based around key hires and acquisitions.

One part of our trip involved attending Virgin Unite’s B Team 100% Human at Work event at EY’s Wavespace Innovation Lab in Chelsea Manhattan on the ‘Future of Work’.

Talent US team pictured with Jean Oelwang from Virgin

A great list of presenters and panellists were headed by Simon Sinek who gave us a compelling presentation called ‘The Infinite Game’ about how many large corporates are fundamentally flawed due to short term decision making.

‘The Infinite Game’ is grounded in 5 key pillars:

1. Just cause

More than your “why” or purpose, a just cause is what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning. It’s the passion or hunger that burns inside that compels you to do what you do. Your just cause is what powers you to outlast your competitors. It propels you forward in the face of adversity and empowers you to persevere when you feel like giving up.

2. Courageous leadership

Playing the infinite game requires leaders to prioritize the just cause above anything else. They are willing to stand up to the pressures of the Board, Wall Street, or popular sentiment, and stay true to their cause. This struggle is often too great for a single person to tackle alone, so it requires all the leaders of the organization to band together and act in alignment.

3. Vulnerable team

Sinek says being a vulnerable team doesn’t mean it’s acceptable for everyone to walk around crying. It means you’ve invested the time and energy to build a culture in your organization where people feel safe to be themselves. They can admit they don’t know something or that they made a mistake. They can take appropriate risks without fear of retribution or retaliation. If you’re people don’t feel safe, that is your fault, not theirs.

4. Worthy adversary

In the infinite game, adversaries are acknowledged and treated with respect, but our success or failure isn’t measured against them. Ultimately we are competing against ourselves, and our success or failure should be measured against our just cause. Our adversaries may push us to improve our products, services, marketing, etc., but in the infinite game we are constantly striving to become a better version of ourselves in order to fulfill our just cause.

5. Open playbook

Too many organizations pursue a variable cause with a fixed strategy, Sinek theorizes, rather than pursuing a fixed cause with a variable strategy. Having an open playbook means leaders and organizations are willing to have flexible strategies and plans that change as needed to pursue their just cause. An open playbook also means you are transparent with your strategies, so all members of the team can literally be on the same page. Leaders resist being too transparent with information because they fear losing control. They distrust how people will use that information so they hold it close to the vest. That only results in people making sub-optimal decisions because they don’t know all the plays in the playbook.

Further notable sessions from Just Capital, Amanda Nguyen founder of RiseHolocracy, Ripples, #Metoo, and Total Brain were interspersed by regular breakout workshops using EY’s amazing technology Mural, where we discussed today’s challenges and tried to define the shape of tomorrow’s companies.

Thanks to Jean Oelwang and Anna Gowdridge from Virgin for another fascinating day and we look forward to helping you guys drive this movement.

Next day it was over to Talent’s office at Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan to focus on a few exciting initiatives of our own and catch up with a number of partners including brand specialist Julie Cottineau who has made a big contribution to the development of the Talent brand.

Always great to be in NYC!