I want you to help me change how the world works.
Most of us spend the majority of our waking life at work. We pass that time getting to know our colleagues and trying to accomplish something with them that's worthy of our collective effort. Days, weeks, months, years slip past us, though, if we're complacent and if the design of how we work is flawed.
I believe that the time we spend at work should amount to a legacy we're proud of. I believe that we should have the opportunity to find personal meaning at work. I believe that we should design our organizations and the experiences we create for employees consciously, with thought and purpose. And I believe it's possible to change the status quo.
In 2014, I founded NOBL. Today, we are a global organizational design firm committed to these beliefs. We help the world's most ambitious and compassionate leaders design better organizations. Across five continents, serving dozens of organizations and thousands of employees, we have made work better.
But we have so much left to do. Therefore, I've made this my life's work. Honestly, I could use your help. I know sites like this are typically reserved for self aggrandizement (and this one is too, boy how), but I also want to convince you to take action.
I was born into relative privilege, I've been lucky, and I've worked tirelessly, too. I was five years old when I got my first computer. I was ten when I started coding. I was seventeen when I became the head of technology for a venture-backed startup. I was twenty-one when I started advising the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies about the early web and nascent digital technologies. I was twenty-seven when I fell out of love with what technology could do and became obsessed with what organizations couldn't; what bureaucracies, perverse incentives, and silos did to harm invention and imagination. Now, in my mid-thirties, I am a champion for conscious organizational design and with it, meaningful work. I've helped new technologies achieve exponential change in our societies, but that change has yet to create substantial benefits for most workers. And yes, I believe and have proven that treasure and fame await companies courageous enough to reimagine work.
I live in Los Angeles but am unmistakably Texan by birth. I challenge authority, resist complication, love a Western, and savor smoked meats.
I've been incredibly fortunate to work with clients at Warner Bros., Pepsi, CNN, Volkswagen, Bank of America, HBO, Nasty Gal, Calvin Klein, Levi Strauss, esurance, The College Board, Bloomin' Brands, Ford Motor Company, GE, Nike, Taco Bell, Reddit and others.
Rules I Try to Live By
Write down everything you learn. Learning something for a second time is too painful and unnecessary. While you're at it, try not to let the next generation repeat your mistakes. (be a scientist)
Hire people smarter than you. Truthfully, this was my grandfather's rule and it's a good one. When hiring, I've tweaked this slightly: hire people who can listen to a problem long enough not to rush into an overly-simplistic solution.
Rescue a dog. Why miss out on thousands of years of selective breeding that have produced a creature that lives to love and protect you? Cats are nice too, just less user-friendly.
Avoid restaurants with gift shops. I worry about the quality of food when a restaurant has diversified its revenue streams.
Embrace beauty. It's usually either a rare accident or work of severe sacrifice.
Leave your hometown. The world beyond is far too welcoming and far too educational to ignore.
Don't buy a suit or expensive motorcar. Yes you can buy the appearance of authority, but you should earn it and find ways through the work to prove it.
Collect heroes of fiction. You'll never be them. Your life will never be as narratively clean. But you can live for an ideal and embody a purpose just like them.
Wake up with the mindset to be better. Routinely, I am not the person I wish was. I owe the people in my life more. I can only repay that debt by trying each day to be better.
Move your limbs. Not everything originates from your brain.
How I Might Help You
Hire NOBL to make your workplace a better place and your work more meaningful. A good way to test if your culture is ready for change is to invite us in for a "lunch and learn" where we share what we've learned and what we believe.
Join NOBL. I want you to do the best work of your career with us.
Steal from NOBL. We share everything we learn.
Ask me to speak at your event. I promise to be interesting.
Email me for help. I can't promise to be quick or useful, but I'll try.
Some of the People Who Got Me Here
My family, Al Brooks, Scott McClain, Jill Peterson Farley, Laura Chavoen, Josh Spear, John Windsor, Alex Bogusky, Rob Schuham, Winston Binch, Lucy Blair Chung, my clients, and my employees. These people all saw something in me and gave me the opportunity to find it for myself. No one is self-made.
Proof That I Can Speak At People For You
I'll happily speak at events on these topics:
How to consciously design your organization: how to follow your purpose to guide your strategies and design your organizational structures and systems
The future of work: a tour of new ways of working sourced from the world's highest-performing teams
Why innovation fails: how an organizational status quo kills new ideas
Essays I'm Proud to Have Written
In reverse-chronological order:
Onboarding is more important than hiring
Women and People of Color You Should Support
Admittedly, I'm still learning how to be an advocate. But these people have bowled me over and there's no excuse for their lack of celebrity.
On the emotional costs of organizational change: Bree Groff
On the collision of service design and organizational design: Lauren Currie
On the infusion of positive psychology with leadership studies: Dr. Kim Perkins
On building service design teams: Jessica Leitch
On supporting social businesses: Mark Eckhardt
On the design of effective workshops: Alison Coward
On the importance of employer branding: Kathryn Minshew
On leading diverse technical teams: Tatyana Mamut
On the impact of technology on social relationships in the U.S. and China: Christina Xu
On building cultures of continuous learning: Heather Taylor Portmann
On marketing and brand strategy: Celestine Maddy
On making big innovation bets in an era of thinking small: Rachel Mercer