Care Pods [Enspiral]

Source: Boyatzis (2006)

A big hurdle in adopting alternative organizational “operating systems” (roles, responsibilities, etc.) instead of the traditional, single-hierarchy, authority-driven system has been the incomprehensiveness of those alternative systems. 

Some core elements of the collaborative efforts are simply left unaddressed by the alternative systems. Oddly enough, those gaps often have to do with the human aspects of the collaborative effort: compensation, performance management, hiring/firing, professional development, etc. — you know, the “easy” stuff…

So when I stumble upon a practice that seems to be filling some of these gaps, without relying on the traditional structures — it is certainly worth sharing.  

And such is the case with Enspiral’s Care Pods which offer a very compelling alternative for driving personal and professional development in a way that is not dependent on a manager (as-a-coach) role, or cumbersome feedback cycles. 

At their core, Care Pods aim to “operationalize”, or implement, Richard BoyatzisIntentional Change Theory (ICT) through a series of 8 sessions (that can then be run iteratively, in perpetuity) carried out by a small group of 4–6 people (aka the Core Pod). The slightly more detailed session plan with high-level agendas for each session and supporting exercises, is available in the original doc but here’s the summary of the summary: 

  • Session 1: Overview
  • Session 2: Getting started
  • Session 3: Ideal self
  • Session 4: Real self 
  • Session 5: Developing a learning plan for change
  • Session 6: Implementing the learning plan
  • Session 7: Care pod retrospective
  • Session 8: Iteration

To me, this seems implementation-ready in its current form and already a massive step up compared to the way 99% of organizations are handling personal and professional development today. It’d also offer a few additional tweaks to make it even better, in my opinion at least: 

  • I do think that this approach skews a bit too heavy towards the “self-reflection” pole of the “feedback”<->”self-reflection” polarity (more on this next week). What this means in practice, is that a thoughtful, well designed peer-feedback exercise that extends beyond the members of the Care Pod and carried out between sessions 3 and 4 can provide fantastic fodder for the formulation of a more accurate “real self” picture in session 4, leading to a more effective learning plan in session 5.
  • I would also either extend or split session 5 to create the space to introduce Immunity to Change as a core framework for understanding our “default” behavior, and using it to design behavioral experiments that are more likely to yield the change that we seek.
  • Lastly, I’d sprinkle in 1–2 purely “social” sessions, to strengthen connections between the Care Pod members in a more informal setting (drinks, dinner, some other outside-the-office activity). 

Net-net this is a fantastic practice that I’d be eager to implement in either the future org that I’ll join or the organizations that I’ll be consulting with. 

Care Pods [Enspiral]

Inclusive hiring: a short primer

As the debate about diversity metrics and quotas rages on, I’d like to share my attempt to find common ground and a path forward. 

To do that, let’s start by defining our “north star” first: 

A fully inclusive hiring effort is an effort in which we engage and attract all relevant candidates for the role, evaluate them fairly for exactly what the role requires (nothing more, nothing less) and give them a clear picture of what working at our company is like, so they can evaluate the opportunity fairly.

Note that it doesn’t include any references to diversity, identity, minority, etc. 

Now we can ask: what gets in the way of this ideal end-state? And the answer: our own “humanity”. Our susceptibility to certain biases in our thinking and actions which eventually manifest themselves as selection bias: either we end up selecting/rejecting candidates, or candidates selecting/rejecting us based on attributes, knowledge or actions that have no impact on their ability to do well in the role that we’re hiring for. 

Selection bias tends to creep up across 4 different dimensions of the hiring process. While they may have some overlap between them and are not fully mutually exclusive, discerning between them helps move us forward: 

  1. The way we attract/reach out to candidates
  2. The way we define what success in the role requires (and doesn’t require)
  3. The way we conduct the assessment of the candidate’s performance
  4. The way we evaluate the candidate’s performance in the assessment

With these dimensions in mind, we can now consider specific hiring practices and articulate their impact on helping us create a more inclusive hiring process. While these practices have a compounding impact when used together, they have little dependencies between them and can certainly be used in a more piecemeal or a-la-carte way.  

The list below is not comprehensive and I’m continuously adding to it, but I believe it to be a good start: 

Inclusive hiring: a short primer