DevOps Institute → on What Does It Mean To Be Human?

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Interview Transcript

hello and welcome to herding humans with Helen i’m your host Helen Beale chief ambassador at Devops Institute and today i am delighted to be joined by Judy Ryan who is CEO of life work systems Judy let’s start with what does it mean to you to be human i love that question Helen and um i think that being human is a little bit like when you use any phrase like what does it mean to have culture what does it mean to be a parent you know what does it mean to be human is a very specific thing for me um and so in my work which is helping people to expand into their potential and to be the best kind of human they can be means an understanding of being human that a lot of people haven’t been introduced to so for me i got involved in this work uh about three decades ago and um i am uh doing this work in my own company for the last 20 years and so what it means to be human to me is to really choose and create the conditions that bring out the best in me and that help me live by purpose and values and my purpose just to introduce myself to this is to create a world where people love their lives and that’s kind of my guiding star so that when i’m having a hard day i can look up instead of down so being human is um taking responsibility for my mood my belief system my uh my behaviors and what i’m creating in the world we’re totally on the same page with that it’s kind of i think being human we have the burden and the gift of consciousness and it’s it’s wonderful to be alive and to be able to acknowledge it and to be surrounded by so much opportunity that it can be quite overwhelming i think at times as well and i think it wouldn’t be unfair to say that you and i probably were born into quite privileged conditions compared to many humans in the world and that gives you a little bit extra burden sometimes you know it’s not just about survival for us it’s actually this the riches that we can tap into ourselves and then also questions about how to redistribute some of those riches or that wealth or that knowledge or their education or that learning in a way that benefits the wider human population um yeah with sir lines i have a little saying about um getting up every day and being the best that i can be or doing the best i can do that day and that’s kind of i just try and live moment by moment um in that respect so i i would like to respond to your idea of riches and privilege because i know a lot of people in the world are wealthy and beautiful and celebrity and famous and they don’t necessarily know how to be a healthy human so it’s not a guarantee that we’re the best human we could be but it it it does give us a little more latitude to discover what it is to be the best human being so let’s talk about that in the context of potential then we’re all this kind of burgeoning kind of pot of possibility as a human what does it mean what is human potential how do you define it what i uh defined as human potential is what is the understanding of what brings a person into their fullest potential and so a lot of us have been raised up and uh you know in our childhoods in our workplaces in ways that have been sold to us about what it means to expand in the human potential but they’re not necessarily getting that result so for me what it means to expand into human potential is to understand what are the conditions that allow us to so we use the psychology of alfred adler which is all about understanding enough about our individual psychology so that we can recognize what conditioning and ways of operating have diminished our expanding human potential so adler believed in we’re born into feeling inferior i mean think about it we’re babies we have to depend on people to you know for our survival so how do we transfer into being people that manage our own survival because if we don’t we continue to believe that we are small and uh unworthy or uh inadequate and that leads to a whole different pathway to a human potential than if we are helped to overcome that so it’s a complex thing to some extent but it’s not overwhelming and complex of understanding how do we move out of inferiority complex into a state of belonging and significance where we are now in a position to expand into potential i think there’s another element of this as well you talked about the early childhood part of being human if we think of that life journey what happens next is we go to school and we’re very much judged in a lot of schooling i think particularly in the western world on our academic performance so it’s all about exam results and how we perform in tests and then we leave education and we go into the workplace and i don’t think there is a very strong culture particularly in our our devops workplace or our i.t technology or information technology workplace to really have conversations about what it means to develop further as a human and what these potential elements are do you see that as well that’s kind of childhood education workplace 100 and a lot of people don’t want to look at the the way that we even raise children because they can’t make the they don’t connect the dots between those systems perpetuating all the way into adulthood and into the workplace so as an example we mean well when we’re trying to raise people into good citizens but what we do is we use a lot of external motivation and control which actually diminishes a sense of self and and we don’t make the you know make the connection between using control models and how that diminishes a person’s ability to be as powerful and as intentional with their lives and so a lot of times what we’re really showing people is that the core of expanding human potential is challenging the sacred cows that we use in families you know like we use things like um do it or i said so or i’m a parent first and then a friend which is basically saying if you don’t control yourself i’m gonna control you instead of saying i’m going to be your friend but as your friend i’m going to teach you how to pick up responsibility for your life and we use a lot of things like dangling carrots and and judging people positive and negative like helen i’m so proud of you which now makes you trying to please me or helen i’m so disappointed in you which makes you feel like i’ve got to you know uh please you in some way so that you’re not disappointed in me or even when we pamper and spoil people so we’re really doing things that actually diminish expanded human potential but we don’t understand it because we think we’re being good parents or good educators and good bosses and and we don’t ever really challenge those sacred cows i feel like we’re always gonna go naturally into conversation about nature and nurture so we’ve just talked about nurture lots of ways that we treat other humans but of course we are all unique individuals that are born in with some kind of genetic coding that determines our personality or our potential as well so i think this might lead us into extrinsic and intrinsic motivations also so let’s start by are we all reaching our potential big question how do we feel about that the metrics show that we’re not that’s why we overs have over 70 percent of the workforce in most companies actively disengaged and disengaged that’s a really startling costly number equally we have about 60 to 70 percent people of people that are being re-incarcerated in prisons so our track record in and really expanding into the best of our potential is pretty dismal and so when i talked about the control models what do you do instead of that a lot of people like the control models because they look like they work just like if i put a gun to your head and said do it or else you’d probably do it or if i bribed you enough you might do it but what we don’t realize is the cost to our expanded potential by using those techniques so adler called that spitting in your soup so we always we put that very ugly image of a picture of somebody spitting in somebody’s soup and what that means is how you have to um take something that appears to be wholesome and and uh make it so that it’s not so wholesome so that people are willing to let go of the control models and move into developing people into personally responsible people and by that just so you know a couple examples when my kids were little which i had five kids by the time they were four years old they knew how to run a family meeting by the time they were between five and 11 they knew how to go to the grocery store with hundreds of dollars and and shop without us adults present and those are just two examples of us consciously using techniques so that they felt empowered lovable connected and contributing and felt a healthy sense of belonging and significance so we’re either diminishing those sense of belonging and significance or were feeding the sense of belonging and significance and so in my childhood as as loving as it was as affectionate as it was my parents didn’t have that awareness and so i felt like i didn’t even know how i belonged and had significance in a in a way that was my own so i hope that kind of answers what you’re saying being human and expanding into potential is very tied to the conditions that we experience yeah i completely get that that the models that we experience in one part of our lives reflect and and direct models in the other part of our life and and in fact you know i talk about myself proclaimed mission of bringing joy to work i don’t see why work is that separate from other parts of our life it’s all our life and i’ve never enjoyed people talking about work life balance because work is part a big part of most people’s lives so i feel that it should be something that people um get lots of pleasure from um so i get the models work across now this um hurting humans with helen we’re talking about human aspects in the workplace and i can see maybe a problem here i need your insights into whether it is a problem we’ve got 70 of the workplace engaged disengaged in a typical organization now an organization has a strategy and a vision that’s normally led by leadership so an organizational purpose how do we align that purpose with the people so that they feel personally engaged with the organizational purpose is that key to unlocking the potential or their odds with each other well purpose is key but a lot of people don’t even understand what a good purpose is and once they understand the purpose they don’t know how to tool up or empower people and and train them and how do i live into that purpose i remember one time i was working with an organization that rescued dogs and their purpose in their mind was we provide a safe haven for dogs the problem was it wasn’t all inclusive and so they were treating each other like dogs you know they were at each other like dogs so we helped them understand that there’s a higher level purpose that includes everybody so we create a safe haven for expanded potential became their purpose and then it include their vendors their employees you know their customers so people want to live by purpose but what where the disconnect is they don’t know how to practically have practical applications for how to actually achieve that they mean well they want to do it they just haven’t been exposed to the con you know to the information for how to practically apply certain things so that that potential can be and that purpose can be lived into does that make sense completely and this practical application is so important we talk about it such a lot in devops and sort of practices and we talk about outcomes and we talk about measurement and metrics so i’m wondering um is it possible to achieve 100 potential or even exceed that how do we measure it how is there are there other metrics other than the amount of people that are saying they’re disengaged how do we measure our progress as individuals and organizations on this journey to fulfill potential i would say 100 is pretty um ambitious because there’s free will and there’s a lot of people that are really addicted to the way that it’s always been so we’re really fighting centuries of using control models and extrinsic motivations so it it it’s challenging for people to consider that that is not as helpful and how do we upgrade for uh two reasons that’s difficult people don’t want to go out of their way to change and they feel like it’s um a strike at their actual identity to change the way that they do their human systems and it’s really ironic because we wouldn’t uh block at upgrading our phones for example or our pcs but when it comes to upgrading our human systems people feel as though they’re going to lose ground they’re going to lose credibility they’re going to lose their sense of importance and yet to upgrade our human systems creates an incredibly uh masterful and and uh effective and proud set of leaders so there’s a lot of to do with free will in recognizing what needs to shift and then choosing to commit to that so when people do commit to that what what we work for is how do we get the results that people say i want what they have because it is fighting against centuries of uh conditioning there’s a ton of people that will support and promote and and and really uh you know hold on to with the death grip some of the ways we’ve been doing things because they don’t want to consider that those are wrong or not as effective so i think we have the potential to be incredibly expanded but until we have the information we don’t know how to get there and a lot of people are starting to understand that there’s a new way of functioning that we all need to do but they don’t know how to get there so my belief is that when you know better you’ll do better there’s a lady called brit andreata then if you’ve come across brits she’s um he used to work at linkedin chief of learning she’s written a few books one of them is called wide to resist and she researches neuro research quite a lot there’s a lot in there when you say about hundreds of years it’s kind of thousands maybe tens of thousands of years we’re actually evolutionary or biologically wired to resist change because it’s dangerous and scary there was a cartoon i used to use a lot when i was consulting when i was trying to talk to people about adopting devops and it being organization change and you’d say um first cartoon is who wants change and everyone puts their hands down because it sounds sounds good and then you go who wants to change and nobody’s got their hand up because they’re all like i don’t get attention i’m as fine as i am and then you ask who wants to lead the change and then everyone leads leaves the room because leading the changes it’s a horrible position it’s such hard work and you can make enemies and things like that so well it doesn’t have to be painful it doesn’t have to be difficult it doesn’t have to be um you know confusing or difficult but the perception is that it is yeah and so once you believe that it’s difficult to change and to uh find the pathway to change in a positive way then people do do fall into fear and limiting beliefs so the the real challenge is how do we help them understand how to go through the change process and to and and to recognize that it works and for a lot of the world right now and i see the world because it’s workplace but it’s society there are a lot of people that really hold on with a death grip to you know doing it the way that it’s always been done because they are so afraid and they and they don’t connect the dots between doing it that way and the problems that we have and there’s another issue there we call it um change fatigue you have change apathy you probably do as well where people have been through large transformational changes which we see a lot in organizational redesign and things like that and things have been horrible i used to work within organizations there’s an organization redesign every 12 months always just before christmas everyone had to reapply for their jobs or face redundancy very unpleasant and that what it does to the brain is it creates an avoidance approach so whenever anybody then says something about change in the future they go even further further away from us we have to create that approach response that novelty and excitement but what is this what’s the role of leaders versus the role of individuals when we’re trying to make the change and what we really what i’m loving here is in the past i’ve often talked about um digital transformation or devops transformation as the the moniker for the change that we’re trying to create and i don’t really like either of those terms mainly because they both have the word transformation in them and devops is very um kind of abstract in its thinking anyway but what we’re really talking about here is a much more evolutionary change when we’re incrementally trying to encourage every individual human in an organization to find the tools to become a better person right and where there’s an assumption that that’s going to deliver a higher performing organization which i don’t think is an unreasonable assumption if we know that reaching a potential makes you likely more engaged and therefore likely more productive so thinking about that in the context of what’s the role of a leader and what’s the role of individuals in an organization and how do we tie those together to ensure that all of the humans reach their potential so a couple of things when you talked about change fatigue the reason i believe there’s change fatigue is because we’re still trying to change within an old world concept and approach and system and so it does feel defeating because you’re trying to change but you’re changing within these constrictions that diminish people’s sense of self and their sense of celebrating their power and knowing how to use it effectively so once you understand that model to do the change process in there’s a an excitement there’s a passion and there’s a hope that comes with it and what the leaders need to do is they need to understand the evolution of culture transformation and i know you don’t like that word but um i’ll call it culture evolution most people are not familiar with where culture is evolving culture is moving out of a hierarchical set of parameters that have been you know evolving but still very hierarchical so a leader needs to understand what kind of of his system do we need to use that is not hierarchical and a lot of them don’t either understand it or they’re afraid that it’s going to be milk toast and ineffective and touchy feely and it’s actually highly challenging and fulfilling so so once a person a leader understands so in our work the biggest challenge we have is is helping leaders understand what they don’t know that they don’t know about really basic things that need to happen in the change process and the model that they need to shift to i hope that under you know that explain completely and we have um totally in devops as well we look towards models like hellocracy and we look towards flattening hierarchies and scrum’s always had it that we have small autonomous multifunctional teams but um to me it’s really intuitively obvious that giving individuals the autonomy over their roles and looking at dan pink’s working drive and knowing how important an intrinsic motivator autonomy is it makes a lot of sense to flatten the hierarchy remove those management layers distribute authority and all those things that we’re trying to do as we move towards a teal organization or an organization that looks more cellular or more like an organism but i think there’s two main barriers i think one is it’s really hard psychologically for leaders to let go of what they consider to be power and status and i think it’s really hard for individuals that have worked in that sort of environment for a long time to change their habits and behaviors to being empowered as you say if people are being used to being diminished and directed then suddenly being told that they have choices and authority over what work they should choose to do and how to do it is really hard yeah it’s it’s conceptually understood by a lot of leaders but they don’t actually buy into it and participate in it for example when we work in organizations to transfer them to a shared power teal organizational model a lot of times the top leaders say oh that sounds great you guys go ahead and do it but they don’t participate themselves so in our um our model we have the the leaders uh participate from ceo to frontline staff and that’s new for them and they feel a little bit like wait a minute i’m the big cheese you know and my my uh sense of self i remember talking to a business woman who had achieved a high level of success in her company but she did it through um men teaching her kind of the doggy dog uh step on people kind of uh you know approach and after talking with me she understood what that was costing the people below her but she was really unwilling at this point to do it differently even though she has the position and the power because she’s already arrived and she don’t want doesn’t want to put that at risk and so she kind of went away sad saying well i know i should do this but i just don’t want to put it at risk you know in essence my success even if it was at some point yeah yes so what are the conditions and conversations then that we need to have in order to expand human potential the first one that we focus on is understanding what inferiority complex is how amazingly common it is there’s a a new uh like a current person that’s teaching that which is Brene Brown she’s talking about shame and vulnerability and that’s exactly what Adler was all about and she said that when people call her from around the world to speak they say to her “Brene, you’re so funny and you’re so smart and you’re so amazing but how about you not talk about that shame stuff because it’s a little dark and it makes people uncomfortable” and her response is “Until we deal with that that’s my number one platform well that’s my number one platform” because it was Adler’s number one platform and when i learned about Adler i realized why he didn’t get a lot of press for years and years because if you understand the inferiority complex and approach from that as a starting place we have to get rid of our power over power under uh win-lose dynamics and a lot of people aren’t they don’t want to do that you know so what i’m seeing is people are kind of like alcoholics hitting bottom and then they’re willing to try something different so first thing is understanding what are the things that occur that cause the inferiority complex because um when we have that inferiority complex and we hide it most people can hide it like i’m fine i’m great you know and then what happens is that uh they don’t recognize it and so they enter into internal and external struggles and those internal struggles are depression anxiety addiction disengagement stress you know all kinds of things and they also enter into um external struggles like war and all the isms and all of the greed and the corruption and all of those things and we can see that all over the place right so so the very first starting place is understanding that humans need to create conditions where the inferiority complex isn’t propagated and then we need to go well what do we do instead and that is how do you help people have healthy belonging and significance so they do feel empowered lovable connected and contributing which sounds very touchy feeling but it’s extremely important and it’s the reason i do this work honestly helen because i was raised in a very affectionate safe family but my parents didn’t know how to actually see me be curious about my perspective and really um learn for me just like i was learning from them and so what that caused in me was a feeling of i don’t exist i’m not lovable i’m not seen and heard that’s happening all over workplaces schools uh it’s kind of like the belief instead is you’re a blank slate and my job is to write on you which costs incredibly it’s not giving love to people and doing love for people it’s being receptive to them and delighting in them and when you do that that’s a core of the four core needs that’s one of them that uh prevents them from being effective so in a prison in florida there was an illerian approach and the recidivism rate which is repeat reincarceration went from 60 to 70 percent down to four percent so if we can create that we in a prison with hardened criminals and and part of it was that the people working with the uh criminals went in and said you’re no different than you’re no different than me take yourself out of the monster box we all want these four core needs you just thought the only place you could get them in is in a game and you were willing you they were so important to you that you were willing to um uh over override your conscience and your fear of uh imprisonment that because that’s how important those were so what if we help you get those four core needs met without having to do those things to get them recount those coordinates for the audience what’s that recap the four core needs for the audience um feeling that you’re empowered like think about a lot of minorities and a lot of or you know people around the world they don’t feel empowered they feel dominated and coerced and then lovable is not doing things for people it’s seeing them and uh and delighting in them and being curious about them i remember going to a therapist in my mid-twenties and i was depressed and then you know had anxiety and i said to my therapist why do i keep having this dream that i’m walking around my house of origin and there’s nobody there and there were eight of us and he said because intellectually and emotionally you aren’t there’s nobody there for you and it really made sense to me and it’s really a keystone of why i do the work that i do because it’s a subtle thing but it’s extremely uh destructive and discouraging the other two are we need to feel connected in a healthy way and a lot of us have learned how to disconnect because the inferiority complex puts us at odds with each other and we also need to feel that we’re contributing and that’s another really big one because people want and need to contribute but because we’re in so much inferiority complex we don’t ask for contributions and so people are frustrated in that or you know in deficit around contributing so those are really key in addition to they’re they’re the opposite of inferiority complex can you believe we are practically out of time and before we do some summaries of takeaways though um you’ve mentioned adler and brown i wondered if there was any other behavioral science or psychology um sources that you would recommend for the audience i would say adlerian psychology is extremely rich there was a book written about him a couple years ago called the courage to be the courage to be uh uh i think it’s the courage to be disliked and the authors were from japan and they said in the forward of their book that adler was at least a hundred years ahead of his time and i felt that way all along i think our culture is getting into so much pain and dysfunction they’re more receptive to consider that psychology model so i personally have a bias toward that being an incredibly powerful psychology model perfect so key takeaways to me i’m gonna take i’m gonna call it elk we have something in devops already called an elk stack this is different audience this is the core conditions you need to create in order to drive the behaviors that will get you engagement and get your people happy so just to summarize that that’s empowered being loved being connected and contributing i think that’s such a powerful um quadrant if you like of of conditions to have what about you it’s not being loved it’s feeling lovable and what that does is and that’s what’s missing in so many like the millennials and the gen z’s they don’t feel that and so it is discouraging it discourages them and is there anything else that you’d like to leave the audience with today um my the biggest thing i could leave for you is that there are hope there is a hopeful path and be excited after this conversation to really consider it yeah be hopeful that’s such a big one yeah because you did maybe you didn’t know what you didn’t know yeah wonderful thank you so much judy it’s been a pleasure chatting with you as always thank you audience for tuning in to herding humans with helen and we’ll see you next time thank you Helen i appreciate the questions in your your understanding of them thank you it’s been a pleasure same year

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