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Sebastian Klein: Change Your Behavior, Change Your Business — Transcript

Read the transcript from Caitlin's conversation with Sebastian Klein about creating improved work structures and environments through shifts in mindset.
by Ines Bläsius | Oct 31 2019

Caitlin: Welcome to Simplify. I’m Caitlin Schiller.

Ben: And I’m Ben Schuman Stoler.

Caitlin: All right, Ben, I’m going to skip the preamble because today our interview is with a person that you and I both know pretty well, because we worked with him. It is Sebastian Klein.

Ben: Sebastian Klein! Do you call him Sebastian or Seb?

Caitlin: I call him Seb.

Ben: You know him pretty well.

Caitlin: Yes. Seb was one of the original co-founders at Blinkist, which is the place where you and I work, as we’re always saying. There’s also reasons why his background makes him a really appropriate person for this. What else do we know about Sebastian Klein, Ben?

Ben: Yeah, Sebastian Klein is is a bona fide expert, he’s not just somebody that we worked with, like you said. He’s a trained psychologist. He’s one of these serial entrepreneurs. I think he started, you know, more than a dozen, or a dozen or so, companies or ideas. He’s a publisher now, with his own magazine. He started a cooperative called The Dive here in Berlin, focused on the future of work. He touches on some of the ideas that they’re working on in the interview. And, now he’s a published author.

Caitlin: We can also add ex-, he likes to say ex Management Consultant because he did some, I think what he would describe as doing some time in that field, and moved out of it because he didn’t like what he saw and wanted to change it from the inside out. And since then he’s gone on to start some really amazing things, and he has also finished some pretty amazing things, like this book, The Loop Approach.

Ben: Right. And what’s really cool about this book is that you and I sort of lived a lot of the stories in the book, that maybe that’s why we’re so excited about it. He based the book on this transformation that you and I experienced at Blinkist in the last five, six years, toward something a little bit like holacracy, people have, people maybe recognize that term. In any case, some sort of advanced experimental organizational process, which he started at Blinkist in 2014.

Caitlin: Yeah, exactly. And since then, he’s gone on to use this approach and sort of, develop all the tools that are inside of the book, The Loop Approach, with huge businesses and their innovation sectors like Audi and Deutsche Bahn, which is the German train system, and Telekom. So, he’s tried this extensively with his partners in crime, one of whom I should mention, it’s Ben Hughes, who is also his co-author and collaborator and also works at Blinkist.

Ben: Yeah, so is there anything we should listen for in the interview?

Caitlin: Yeah, the main thing that I think that anybody, even if you work for yourself, if you work in a big organization, whatever you do, can take away from this one is this idea of how powerful making a behavioral change can be. We all know that change can be really really hard and we think that sometimes huh, it’s a mindset shift, but the thing is, as Seb recommends, a mindset shift often comes from the outside in, so you start changing your behaviors- you change your mindset, change is easier.

Ben: Cool. So, let’s just play the interview and for just a quick reminder, stick around after the interview because Caitlin and I will be back with something called The Bookend where we’ll make a reading list that will nicely go with this interview, so you can learn more.

Caitlin: We’ll see you in the book end!

Caitlin Interviews Sebastian

Caitlin: Sebastian Klein. Thank you so much for joining me today. This is very special because you’re a former colleague of mine, and it’s great to have you sitting across the table from me and we get to talk about the new book that you’ve written. So before we start, you are a man who has many designations. How do you like to introduce yourself, apart from being my ex colleague and friend?

Sebastian: I like to say that I’m a psychologist. So that’s what I learned in University. I consider myself an ex Management Consultant. I started a few companies, one of them was Blinkist, and the other last two years I’ve been working mostly on the question of what does the organization of the future look like? And it’s still the one thing that, that keeps me busy.

Caitlin: Uh-huh, and that’s what we’ll talk about today. So one of the ways that you’ve started to answer that question, is through all of the work that you do but also through this new book, The Loop Approach. The Loop Approach sets out, or starts out by explaining why the traditional organization is no longer working for companies of today. Can you describe just a little bit about what you mean by that?

Sebastian: Hmm. So I’ve seen this, like just graduating from University being like a young and ambitious person, starting in my first job in management consulting and working with lots of international corporates and what I saw there was not exactly what I had hoped to find. I personally didn’t like those structures and didn’t like the way people were working with each other, on the one hand in this management consulting setting, but also in the corporate world. And what I had learned before in University about how people tick and how they like to interact with each other was also not very much in line with that.

So, what I find most frustrating to see is when people are no longer enjoying what they’re doing, when they don’t feel any sense of purpose in the work they do, when they just feel like this is just an exchange, I give my time and I get some money for it and I find this very very frustrating to see and you will find this a lot in larger, especially larger organizations.

Caitlin: I think that the Loop Approach offers two things it seems. The first thing is is sort of a mindset shift, which is toward organizational transformation and away from this older model, and it also offers a toolkit to help you do the transforming. It’s a really hands-on, almost workbook, kind of book which I was really surprised by when I read it.

I’m really interested in the doing part, the toolkit part, but I think that to ground us in what the toolkit is trying to do and why it’s worthwhile to use it, what is this mindset shift that you hope people will get from starting the Loop Approach?

Sebastian: So on a broader perspective, people always say or often say that the old mindset can be described as command and control, or predict and control, this old management idea that like someone makes a plan and then other people have to execute that plan and this guy who did the plan, just, you know, controls them and punishes them if that needs to be done. And this, this new mindset that some, that many people describe is called sense and respond, like a different kind of organization where everyone in the organization is like an intelligent sensor, and tries to pick up information about changes in the environment, and then can also act and make decisions without always like asking a superior to help make that decision. So that’s the broadest level of looking at that change.

And what I did with my colleagues in the last couple of years was also look at what are the underlying principles, because people talk a lot about mindset shift and then it’s often good to ask, what exactly do you mean by that? Because that’s easy to say. And what we did was look at all these different tools, like design thinking or like new ways of organization like holacracy, and try to see what are the similarities, what are the principles and values under these tools, and then you will find something like solution orientation, like more proactive ways of looking at problems, like a bigger acceptance for failures.

And also, much more thinking and cooperation and win-win rather than like, challenge me against you. So there’s a set of principles that you will find below all these tools and also below like newer kinds of organizations that people are talking about.

Caitlin: Mm-hmm and did those correspond with the psychology training that you had? Did those principles line up with what people need at work?

Sebastian: I think so, yeah. I think that most people are born with this intrinsic desire and motivation to do something meaningful with their lives. And I think what happened in the past was often like when we started building these huge organizations people got trained to become more like, you know, servants or like obedient parts of these huge organizations, so I think especially the biggest organizations say, learned how to teach people to like not be in line with their real nature of trying to do meaningful work and being motivated to work with others. And so for me, it was really relieving to see okay, it is possible to build an organization that is more in line with what people actually want and how people can thrive and how they can use their potentials.

Caitlin: That sounds utopian and it sounds like it might be a messy process to get there. How do you start to convince one of these jurassic organizations that this is the right thing to do?

Sebastian: It’s a very good question. And of course, it’s, you have to be utopian a little bit. What you really have to do is first convince the person who can make the decision, because often what happens is that someone at the top says okay, we have to become more agile, we have to be more self organized. And then if you are a consultant to these people you have to make sure they really mean it because often what they really mean is we have to be more we have to be more effective or more innovative and that’s not the same thing as what I usually have in mind.
So, the first challenge there is to find out do they really want that?

Caitlin: Yeah.

Sebastian: And if not, that’s not a good base for a transformation.

Caitlin: How do you find out if they really want it or not?

Sebastian: That’s also a very good question.

Caitlin: You have all these processes in place for it, but is there something, was there like a glimmer of something that you see or a thing that you hear very often in organizations that are ready to make this transformation?

Sebastian: So. I mean, what I’m usually looking for is an organization that has some shared pains. If, for instance, you are the CEO of a part of a bigger organization and you tell me that we have this pain in the organization that we want to be more flexible, so people can use more of their strengths and then work better together, and if you really mean it and if the people in the organization also tell me that this is really a problem right now and if then you as the CEO step out in front of your people and tell them okay, these are the pains and the problems we want to solve, that’s usually a good start.

Caitlin: Okay, so then, you identified a problem, which is that organizations are not aligned with the way that people want to work nowadays, and what actual human psychology dictates is healthiest for us and best for us as human beings.

And you set about creating a process that would bring organizations to this next level, and it’s called The Loop Approach. So then I guess this is the right time to talk about what this toolkit actually is. What is the Loop Approach?

Sebastian: Um, so maybe first I want to clarify that I haven’t found out that this is needed, like many people have been writing about it in the last few decades and it’s like, it’s just yeah, I just saw this big trend that like many people are talking about we need another kind of organization. And what I figured when, like when I looked at okay, what’s really missing? My impression was that a lot of people talk about, okay, this is the kind of organization we have in the majority, and this is roughly what kind of organization we want instead, but there hasn’t been like a tool set for this transformation process.

So. What I was looking at the last few years is how can you give this process a good structure and what kinds of tools are useful for the process? Because there were quite a few answers on, what should the organization looked like, but not so many answers to the question, if you have an existing organization of thousands of people and you want to change that, what’s a good process without destroying the organization?

Caitlin: Yeah, it sounds like it could be potentially really really messy. Fun and interesting, but messy. So, where do you start?

Sebastian: So there are many different ways, and I guess all of them are effective in a way, and my impression was just to give you like a few ideas. So people talk a lot about changing the mindset of the organization, and that’s a very easy thing to say and very hard to do. And what I thought or what I have found, is that the best way to change a mindset is to change the behavior of people because changing the mindset first and then the behavior next is possible to do, but then you need some sort of therapy for every person or coaching, which is also, like, for instance sending lots of coaches into organizations is a good way of transforming an organization but to do this with all employees might be a very big effort.

Caitlin: Yeah.

Sebastian: So I would always say changing the behavior to change the mindset is the more effective way. So changing the way people work, how they communicate with each other, how they think about work, how they talk about work, and the best way to do this is to go into the teams. So if you want to change an organization, I would always say the most effective way is changing the teams in the organization, and that’s exactly what we try to do with the Loop Approach.


Caitlin: This episode with Sebastian Klein is chock full of great reading recommendations that you can pick up to start learning about organizational transformation. There is Brave New Work, Nonviolent Communication, Holacracy, and, actually a whole lot more. And you know where you can get the key ideas from all of these books?

You guessed it! Blinkist. So, if you’re not already in the know, Blinkist is an App that gives you the key insights from best-selling non-fiction books in these powerful little packs of knowledge, in audio or in text, so that you can learn about love or parenting or business or communicating with love, with the people in your business, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, whatever kind of time you have.

It takes only about 15 minutes to get through the key ideas of one full book. And, one more thing, I know it sounds way too good to be true because how can you actually trust something so short? Are these insight Synopses made by a bot? Maybe you’re wondering and I just want you to know that no, Blinkist key insight summaries are made by real humans, like me and Ben, and we comb through these entire books using a scientific method to finding the best key ideas and helping you remember them. So, I think it’s probably best if you just try it for yourself. Go to, tap on Try Blinkist and you can try it for free, for 14 days, by using the voucher code Loops. That’s L-O-O-P-S. Loops. Try it. Let me know what you thought of it. And now back to my talk with Seb Klein.

Interview with Sebastian cont’d

Caitlin: One of the major differences between a next-level organization, it seemed to me in reading the book, and an old jurassic organization, I keep calling it jurassic organization, maybe there’ll be a movie on that someday. One of the main differences seems to be that you recommend employees have roles and not necessarily job titles. Can you explain what the difference is there?

Sebastian: So, maybe one step back because I also, one of the things I also want to say, is that I used to be quite judgmental about like these large jurassic organizations. I don’t think it’s necessary. Like I am, I would always say or this is also what we try to, the kind of mindset that we try to bring it to the teams to say or any organizations, like, the kind of organization you have is fine. That’s like, the status quo and not everything is bad, like, most of the things you are used to doing are totally fine and we will just find like the most, the biggest pains and we will change them and that’s often a big relief because many of these people in these large organizations are used to hearing like everything you do is rubbish and you need to change all of that, and be like a start-up even though you’re like 200,000 people, and like be more innovative, be more agile, be more people oriented, learn Design Thinking, learn Holacracy, that’s pretty overwhelming.

Caitlin: That sounds really demotivating too.

Sebastian: Yeah, and, but the example you picked with roles versus job titles, that’s actually something, what I would say most of the organizations would benefit from, like to go away from this idea that you are hired in an organization for one certain function and you just stay there, or you can just rise like through a higher level in that exact function. And a role based approach, I would say it’s an ego-free way of organizing power in an organization. So you just try to figure out what’s needed in the organization and then you just figure out on the other hand like, who can do that? And who still has capacity to do it?

Caitlin: So then, one of the most important things that you tried to ensure when you go into a team, to help them transform is alignment. And a huge part of getting to alignment is communication. And you have some really interesting methods for ensuring good communication, or helping teams to develop frameworks for that.

Can you talk a little bit about what do you recommend for people and what are some, what are some success stories there?

Sebastian: Yeah, I’m very fascinated by the language people use in their work and it’s also pretty effective way on, a pretty effective way to change the way they think about their work is by looking at the language they use. And for me the most important underlying idea is making people more proactive and giving them more ownership and trying to get them to a point where they, for instance, stop using the idea of I must or I should and rather, just think about okay I want to and I can do. But for many people it’s also quite mind-blowing to look at the language they are so used to use everyday in their work and just change it a little bit.

Caitlin: Could you give me some examples of some some words or some ways that people talk about themselves and their teams, some old ways of talking about them versus some more evolved organization ways of talking about them?

Sebastiain: So two of the concepts that I like and we use in the Loop Approach are nonviolent communication and radical honesty. I think are pretty helpful and yeah, to give you an example, what often happens is that we are discussing something and either I’m opposing, I’m opposing you, I get angry at you and I say nothing, and then later on I will talk to my colleague and tell them about your terrible idea of like launching this new campaign and how stupid I think you are. So this is like the, and this is like sounds funny but it’s happening a lot in organizations that people talk more about each other than with each other and that’s very toxic and like destroys or like harms the relationships. And it also has to do with these old hierarchical silo organizations where it’s just, like in these kinds of organizations it’s not helpful to openly oppose someone, or like to confront someone, or to disagree because it’s not going to help you. It’s just, it has the risk of harming you, so people say nothing and they start complaining to someone else. Or what happens is that I might get into an argument with you and say I think this is a stupid idea and like, how can you be so arrogant suggesting this, this is none of your business. And tools like radical honesty or nonviolent communication make it easier to then, find a better way of disagreeing and discerning, like discerning between a judgment I might have which is only an idea in my head and not at all useful to talk to you and what I’m observing.

Caitlin: In the book there’s this example of how you might confront a colleague who has not responded to your email.

Sebastian: Mmm-hmm.

Caitlin: And you might say, Sebastian hasn’t responded to my email in two days. He has no respect for me. He doesn’t care about my ideas. This is awful. I hate him. He’s a terrible colleague. And all of that is not a nonviolent approach to thinking about the subject and it wouldn’t be a nonviolent approach if I went to you with that. If I said, Sebastian, you didn’t respond to my email. You have no respect for me. I can’t stand this anymore. I hope that you get fired. That’s clearly, we’re exaggerating, but with that same problem in mind and my same feelings in mind, how would you how, would you switch that so it would be a more productive approach to solving this problem?

Sebastian: Hmm. So it’s it’s easier to talk about this than to actually do it. That’s my disclaimer. But I think the most important question you always have to ask, or like the one thing you always have to realize is that it’s your problem. It’s not the other person’s problem. And all of the judgment that is going on in your head is not very useful, and is, whatever makes the other person emotional and angry or like gives them the impression that you’re judging them, is going to make the conflict only worse. So for instance what nonviolent communication would suggest is that I don’t tell you, why are you so disrespectful to me? You haven’t answered my email, would be to say like to spare the part with the disrespectfulness because that’s only in your head. Maybe I was just busy or I have a, I’m terribly organized or like I was sick.

And just tell me, you are upset, like it made you angry or sad or whatever and you saw that I didn’t respond to your email, and then you can ask me why did you do that? And is there anything we can do to change that in the future so that you won’t be upset again? And then we can talk about it, because then, we’re only talking about facts like we both can agree on the fact that I haven’t responded to your email. We can probably not agree to the fact that I was disrespectful. Um, and usually it’s also very hard then for me to debate or to question the fact that you are upset because this is like your emotion and you own it, and there’s nothing in me to question that and then it’s much much easier to talk about it and it’s, describing it always seems so easy, like an easy mature way to deal with conflict. And as I said in reality it’s often, not so easy because we’re often in autopilot, but, when I’m working with teams that sometimes happens that I just asked them to go through these simple processes and then people say like I thought I thought we had been talking about this for three years and the other person says no, this is the first time I hear from you that this is a problem and I just, I just didn’t get the message that you thought you were sending all the time.

Caitlin: It’s amazing how that can happen.

Sebastian: Yeah, but also the tendency of seeking for concerns and avoiding conflict with other people and trying to get everyone on board is also pretty, it’s just a very strong human desire to like, keep your social relationships healthy and like not upset other people.

Caitlin: So, if I’m someone who’s listening and I’m interested in moving my organization, or at least my team away from more of a command and control structure where decisions are made above my head and I don’t get any say in it, what is the thing that that I can say to my boss to sell them on trying this?

Sebastian: Mmm. I mean usually there’s like, depending on who we talk to in an organization, there’s like different drivers for what people are looking for. And I mean there are many, there are many bosses and like leadership people who want their people to be like more purpose-driven and to find greater fulfillment in their work, but it all, many of them are also very interested in like learning how to do more effective meetings and to be faster in the work and I think all of what we’re describing here is just helping both of these needs, like on the one hand it can and it does create like a more people centered organization, but it also makes the organization more effective and just better in a sense. And especially with a team, like if we’re not talking about like a huge organization, in a team you can get very quick results.

Caitlin: Mmm-hmm. Like how long would it take to implement the Loop Approach and see how it’s working in your team?

Sebastian: So what I usually do is, I need three workshops, with a team, like two days each and throughout these six days we just look at all the most important aspects of their work and try to find fixes to the biggest problems, like for instance, changing the way they do meetings, changing or like finding a purpose or changing the way they align, or introducing like a road system.

Caitlin: Yeah.

Sebastian: Or introducing a technique like nonviolent communication or some of that in order to change the way how they deal with conflict. The team’s between these two day workshops, they usually need like two months to integrate this into their work. And now if you do the math, then you need two to three months, and then you should usually see quite some effects.

And what also happens is that since we’re changing the way people work and the way people talk about work, this is usually also translating into other teams because, or it’s not happening if the teams are absolute silos and no one talks to other teams, then you won’t get like these spillover effects, but fortunately most organizations are not these strict silos. And then like if your team starts to talk differently about work and you start doing meetings and working with other teams then some of that will also spill over to these teams.

Caitlin: If there were one central idea about creating a next level organization, what would it be?

Sebastian: So if people only take one message from the book, I hope it would be that they feel more empowered to start a transformation because what I want people to take away is this idea of, everyone can start a transformation and actually like, you are the only person that you can change and there are many ways how you can start that and they are many ways how you can start in your team and your circle of influence, and the only way of yeah, starting a transformation is by doing that.

Caitlin: Cool. Thank you. And then, last question, have you read anything lately that you’ve really loved?

Sebastian: The first book that comes to mind is Madame Bovary, which I’m reading right now, which I find very inspiring. But it’s, for me it’s often also quite interesting to do this kind of time travel, like to read what it was like to live in a different time and a different country and to also see that people are, like people back then had the same kind of problems we have today. For me, at least it’s often very inspiring and uplifting.

Caitlin: That’s lovely. Sebastian Klein, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been a pleasure to talk with you.

Sebastian: Thank you.

The Bookend

Ben: Welcome to The Bookend where we end with books.

Caitlin: Hooray!

Ben: Today was businessy.

Caitlin: Indeed. So let’s get down to business books.

Ben: Yeah.

Caitlin: They’re not all business books, though.

Ben: But maybe before the books, we should wrap up the interview a little bit.

Caitlin: Yeah.

Ben: That was a really, that was, like you mentioned in the intro there was going to be an intellectual conversation. You two spoke a lot about the theory of organizational development.

Caitlin: Yeah.

Ben: What like, what can we nail down here? What’s one thing you want people to remember from the interview?

Caitlin: Yeah, I think that’s a really good observation. We did speak a lot about, a lot about theory and some about practice toward the end. But I think the really practical thing to take away here, echoes or just touches again on what I said in the very beginning, which is that change, we all know change is hard, anybody who has ever tried to adopt a new habit knows it’s hard, or to, you know, start a new workplace, even. It’s hard. It’s different.

But, the thing that I really took away from this conversation with Seb, and from The Loop Approach in general, is that you can make change easier by actually just changing your behaviors. The way that he has teams change behaviors is he has them talk to each other in different ways. He has them call themselves by roles instead of titles. Like, I’m not senior vice president, I am the dishwasher emptier, because the senior vice president can also be the dishwasher emptier. So it’s more about thinking about what you’re actually doing in your day, rather than what you “are”. And I really like un-yolking the professional from the personal in that way, it seems really healthy to me.

Ben: Yeah. There was another, there was– I was at the Search Inside Yourself Course Workshop this fall, you remember? And one thing they used to introduce the process is this concept, or this paradox of, do environments and structures and organizational design mold behaviors, or can you work on your inside, can everyone sort of work on the inner processes and then change the structure that way?

Caitlin: Hmm.

Ben: And that paradox is really difficult because when you think about a company of like, you know, let’s say even a couple hundred people, not to mention the huge corporations, how do you then respond to the challenges of this technology-fueled era? Do you change people or do you change the structures? And I think how Sebastian says teach people to be more in line with their real nature, right? We’re not actually built to be servants to be not thinking automatons of corporations.

Caitlin: Right. We’re not built to be senior vice presidents, we’re built to be people who empty the dishwasher, we’re built to be people who read the ads on your podcast, we’re built to do things not to, not to define ourselves by a title.

Ben: Right.

Caitlin: Yeah.

Ben: So should we go into the books?

Caitlin: Yeah, let’s do it.

Ben: You want to start, or should I?

Caitlin: Um, I’m going to kick it off because you’ve got two, which is awesome. But I will kick it off with this first one, it’s No Hard Feelings by Mollie West Duffy and Liz Fosslien. So it’s very trendy to say that you should “bring your whole self to work” or you know, have emotions at work, be a person and that, you should, you should do that. But what does that actually mean, you know, when you stop to think about it? This book tells you how to navigate those really popular dictates without oversharing and weirding out your colleagues while still protecting your vulnerabilities and also acting in integrity with everyone in your professional life by being true to who you actually are.

Ben: Cool.

Caitlin: Yeah.

Ben: No Hard Feelings. I don’t know that book.

Caitlin: Well, it’s pretty great, and I think that we just might hear from these authors in season seven, but I don’t know.

Ben: Ooh, season seven shout out.

Caitlin: There you go.

Ben: It’s going to be 2020 when that comes out.

Caitlin: It is.

Ben: Wow.

Caitlin: Hope we make it.

Ben: Me too. Okay.

Caitlin: All right. How about your books?

Ben: I got a couple books. Okay. So first of all, there’s a, there’s a new book that came out in February this year, 2019 by Aaron Dignan called Brave New Work. And, this is very much in line with Sebastian Klein’s interests and passions. Aaron Dignan is a consultant, also, whose work’s with organizations on the future of work. And that’s what the whole book is about it. There’s a couple really great concepts in there. I’ll tell you one. The difference between the traffic light and the traffic circle.

Caitlin: Okay.

Ben: So there are more traffic lights than traffic circles in the United States of America, but everyone knows the traffic circles are actually far more efficient, because, they work on principles. Right? And the one principle, or there are two principles. Streetlights assume that people need to be told what to do, right? Red means stop. Green means go. But roundabouts, so traffic circles, mean the exact opposite. There’s only two rules and people can respond to them how they see fit. One rule is, follow the flow of traffic. Obvious. And the second one is, yield to the cars already in the circle. That’s it. Based on that, it’s totally up to drivers to apply the rules and navigate the intersection.

So you can think of that, in organizations, how in the past people have been told red means stop, green means go. And now it’s like, here are the principles. You know, energize them as you see fit.

Caitlin: Mm-hmm. That’s really cool.

Ben: You could think about the difference between complicated and complex.

Caitlin: Tell me more.

Ben: Or should I-

Caitlin: I just want you to simplify that for me.

Ben: Okay, that’s the name of this podcast.

Caitlin: Low-hanging fruit, Ben, I had to take it.

Ben: Thank you. So, complex systems are like traffic and like weather. They’re dispositional, you can guess what’s going to happen, but you can’t exactly predict what’s going to happen. We have an idea, there’s a percentage of it’s going to rain, but we can’t say exactly. Complicated issues are causal systems. X happens, Y will be the result.

Caitlin: Okay.

Ben: Something can be very complicated, like a big machine but it’s not complex. You know, what’s going to come out at the end.

Caitlin: Okay, like a really elaborate booby trap.

Ben: Sure. So organizations, complicated organizations are booby traps. Complex organizations are abstract art.

Caitlin: Cool. I like it.

Ben: Yeah?

Caitlin: All right. Yeah, we got there.

Ben: Okay.

Caitlin: We’re at Yes. Yes. Yes. Shout-out to Reply All.

Ben: I do think we should give a shout-out to the Holacracy book. Holacracy is a organizational system developed by Brian J Robertson. It’s changed a lot of our lives, I think, even though we’ve not always applied everything exactly to the rule of Holacracy, it’s a new way of building an organization. It’s very trendy, but the book is worth reading because there’s some really, I think really powerful examples. For example, think of an organization as the cockpit of an airplane and every single person could be a piece of the dashboard, could be a warning light, could be an indicator, and if it’s only hierarchical, that only the pilot and one or two gadgets is allowed to actually do anything, and nobody raises their hand to do anything. Nobody, nobody can contribute, then the airplane can fly. Not to mention that when you’re in the air, if no warning light goes off, even though the machine isn’t working.

Caitlin: Right.

Ben: Right?

Caitlin: That sounds a lot like what Seb said about intelligent sensors.

Ben: Exactly.

Caitlin: How people in an organization have to have to sense new information and shifts, and you know throw up a flag about what’s going on so that they can change course.

Ben: Totally.

Caitlin: Got it.

Ben: And then apropos that, there was an E-Book that Sebastian Klein and Ben Hughes, who wrote The Loop Approach.

Caitlin: Yeah.

Ben: wrote a couple years ago called Blinkracy.

Caitlin: Yeah, I remember proof.

Ben: That’s right, and Blinkracy is about how we took Holocracy in Blinkist.

Caitlin: Yeah.

Ben: and made it our own.

Caitlin: We’ll put a link to that in the show notes.

Ben: Yeah, we should.

Caitlin: It’s still good. There’s a free PDF still out there somewhere.

Ben: Somewhere. So those are my books. Holacracy, Brave New Work and the Blinkracy book which is just called Blinkcracy.

Caitlin: I think, yeah, or Blinkracy 101, something like that. Again, we’ll link to it, we’re not sure what the title is anymore. It’s been kind of a while, but it’s still great. All right, so then. Let’s put this one to bed.

Let’s, let’s exit the traffic circle. Simplify was produced by Caitlin Schiller, Ben Schuman-Stoler, Ines Bläsius and Christoph Meyer.

Ben: Yeah, if you enjoyed this episode of simplify, please consider rating it, leave us a little review on Apple Podcasts, we really like it. Send the Spotify link around, add it to your playlists, Spotify’s got new playlists.

If you don’t know, even though we talked about it again, today Caitlin and I do work here at Blinkist which is an App. You can also find us on the web or on your favorite App store. Go to or look up Blinkist in your favorite App store. What we do is take the key insights from the world’s best non-fiction books and turn them into these little capsules that you can read or listen to in 15-20 minutes.

I highly recommend checking it out, obviously, but if you liked this interview, definitely highly recommend it even more, and you can find The Loop Approach on there, and any of the other books we discussed. So, do that. The easiest way to do that is to go to, go to the top right, click on-

Caitlin: Try Blinkist.

Ben: Try Blinkist.

Caitlin: and then you’re going to have a field for a voucher code, type in Loops, L-O-O-P-S and then that lets you try Blinkist for free for 14 days.

Ben: Yeah, and you can email us at any time at [email protected], you can write to us on Twitter, I’m @bsto B-S-T-O and Caitlin is…

Caitlin: @CaitlinSchiller, just my whole name.

Ben: Yeah.

Caitlin: So.

Ben: Is Ines on Twitter?

Caitlin: I don’t know.

Ben: She’s on, maybe she’s on Instagram.

Caitlin: She’s a lady of mystery. I’m not sure, I’ll have to ask her for next time.

Ben: Tik-Tok. Search Ines on Tik-Tok. I don’t think that’s how Tik-Tok works.

Caitlin: I’m not sure how Tick Tock works. I’m feeling like a really old Millennial today. All right, so cool, then that’s it. Thanks for listening.

Ben: All right, checkin’ out.

Caitlin: Checkin’ out.

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