S4 E106 | eXpertease: Karim Benammar and reframing business models

Karim talks about some of his work around restructuring and reframing business models in light of the ongoing and ever-shifting COVID pandemic.

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Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:18
Hello, listeners and watchers. Welcome to the CXR podcast. I’m Chris Hoyt president of CareerXroads, and today’s host for an edition of our podcast that we’d like to call eXpertease where we’re spending about 15 minutes or so with an industry leader, an expert, who shares a few valuable life lessons with us things that we think will help others in their day to day or with various leadership challenges. Now, you can subscribe to all of these and work at CXR.works/podcast and we’re happy to say you can watch or listen to them nearly anywhere you already subscribe to your favorite shows. And today, we’ve got with us Karim Benammar, who is Ph.D. and philosopher specializing in transformative thinking. He gives lectures and workshops for companies and organizations. He studied philosophy in England, the United States, and Japan taught at Kobe University and is the author of Abundance in 2005, and Reframing the Art of Thinking Differently in 2012. Now, you can get more information at KarimBenammar.com and Karim also deliver some pretty great courses at udemy.com. Now, I know those are mouthful online, but we’ll share all of these on the screen. And online those links directly in post production now. Actually, Karim joined us not too long ago, for a CXR workshop on rethinking our actions and reframing our approaches to DE&I challenges, and it was one of our favorite workshops. So we’re excited to have him back and to catch up and share some of his wisdom and experience. Karim, welcome to the show.

Karim Benammar 1:51
Thanks, Chris. Thanks for the introduction. Great to be here.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:55
So I always start out if we’ve if we’ve got somebody on who’s going to be relatively new to that new to the crowd, right and new to listeners or watchers, with asking the participant or the guest, to kind of give us an escalator pitch of who they are. I know we’ve only got about 15 minutes on the line here. But can you give us sort of a one or two liner about who the heck you really are? And why should anybody care what you have to say?

Karim Benammar 2:20
Well, I’m a lapsed philosopher, I used to be an academic philosopher. And philosophy is really about thinking why the world is as it is. And so when I work with people, I kind of shared that curiosity, that you dig deeper and deeper and deeper, and then you try and find out why we do the things we do. And this reframing is all about, when you understand why you do things, you can change it, you have a better understanding of how you could do it radically differently. And you can try it. And it’s a lot of fun. It’s, you know, the idea of transformative thinking is that you think and that it changes what you do.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 2:56
And it’s not just slamming stuff in differently, I understand we’re supposed to put some forethought into into our actions. Is that what you’re telling me?

Karim Benammar 3:03
Yeah. I mean, we tend to do things out of habit, we tend to do things because that’s the way it’s always been done. And when we do things differently, we just do trial and error, which is great if you have three options, or five options. But if you have a million options, trial and error, you know, it will last a long time. So the idea of thinking about it a little bit, taking the time out of your busy schedule, out of doing doing doing, taking the time to think and be open to the wonder of why you do things in the first place. I think it’s a great journey. It’s a journey, I take every day about different things about our money system, about COVID and pandemics about why we what we do at different stages in our lives about working with you and and other people about how we hire people. How we, you know, why do we have the work organization that we have? Sometimes you can get you can get down to too deeply into the rabbit hole. So you know, you go deep and then you you kind of emerge?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 3:59
Well, so let’s talk a little bit because you know, you mentioned sort of trapped trying to do your best to bait the trial and error approach, but it kind of feels like in the last year. Our organization, unlike are very similar to 1000s of other organizations and leaders that we talked to did a whole lot of trial and error with business models and how they work. You know, day to day, whether they’re working at home, whether they’re trying to figure out a hybrid, put it all in I mean, literally restructuring their work. I mean, have you seen a lot of that? In the, I guess in the light that you live in as well, like you’re trying to avoid that and be mindful, but it was almost like we threw everything at the wall for the last year we’ve just been trying to survive.

Karim Benammar 4:43
Yeah, well, you know, when you get a pandemic, when you get a global crisis, which changes a lot of the way we do things that kind of forces you from an external You know, there’s an external push that forces you to do things differently. So that that’s good, that that really shake things up and I think we have an amazing opportunity because we’ve been shaken up by that. The other hand, once, when you’re faced with a crisis, you tend to fall back on the stuff that you know. So yes, we started working from home, but people initially, you know, use the same schedule as they had, if that they were in the office, they, you know, started the thing at eight or nine o’clock, they stayed till five, they had the same meetings for the same length of time, you know, so basically, they transposed everything online, it was just a horizontal move, we did that with education, we did that with work, we did that with, with with kind of, you know, even parties and drinks everything. Sports, you know, people were doing kind of a aerobics at home, but but the same structure. And to me, that’s a horizontal shift. And that’s perhaps the best you can ask under the circumstances, because, you know, we didn’t know what to do. But the the the opportunity is to take a shift into the vertical stuff, and ask, you know, now that we’re working from home, why should a meeting last for an hour? You know, why do we organize it this way? Why do all these people join? If we’re recording it anyway? Could I watch it later? Things like that, you know, the opportunity to really organize things differently is there and, you know, fine the first few months, you’re just in shock, you’re just tried to cope fine. But after a while, and I think we’ve seen that with some, you know, some organizations that they’ve really started rethinking how they work. I’ve seen that with quite a lot of, I’ve worked with quite a lot of large company, think about banks, or, you know, large bureaucracies that were suddenly working from home. Initially, they did the old way. And eventually they started really rethinking how they work.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 6:34
What would you say? Because I mean, everything you’re saying is resonating, right, like we did it with one hour meetings, we did stick with stuff that was still a meeting that probably could have been an email, right? We have that in real life, and then we carried it into the, you know, the digital experience as well. What would be one great shift that you saw, that you would encourage everybody to really take note of, and maybe some of these organizations where they’re restructuring that work, or sort of reframing how those meetings are conducted is the one that stands out.

Karim Benammar 7:04
Yeah, there’s one, it’s a double one, I’m going to cheat a little bit and give you two aspects of it. But it’s a very powerful one. It’s to work when you’re at your best. You know, some people are morning people, some people are evening people, some people are night people. And there’s a few hours a day when you’re extremely productive for the really high quality work that you need to do. And I found when you give people the freedom to work different hours, they will gravitate to that time, and work there. And the reason it’s linked to a second thing is is because of the family situation. People with young children said I spent the afternoon with my children. And then the evening when they’re in bed, I do a bit of extra work. You know, the whole idea of nine to five was because we had to commute, you know, all these structures of nine to five working, whether it’s an office or a factory, these are 60-70 years old. You know, they’re very old structures. And it’s, it’s, you know, it’s interesting that with kind of apps, and Uber and all that stuff, in terms of kind of very low paying jobs of bicycling, bicycle deliveries and stuff, we’ve radicalized it, everything is by app, everything is micro work and all that kind of stuff. But in the serious jobs, we’ve stuck to the most traditional way of doing it. And it’s not adapted to what our strengths are. So you can work in the hours that are best for you and best for you in terms of your productivity, but also best for you in terms of your your enjoyment of life, you know, what is your other role?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 8:28
Yeah, well, Karim Why do you think that is? Why do you think why do you think we couldn’t make that shift in this one area that really makes up a considerable portion of our day to day of our lives? Why is this one thing so difficult for us to move from right to sort of evolve it?

Karim Benammar 8:46
Well, I think I think, you know, you see that artists, writers, people are self employed, they’ve had to come up with their own structures because nobody tells them when to work, right. And if you’ve had time in your life, when you’ve been independant, you can probably realize that’s not so easy to do. It’s simpler to have a boss who tells you you have to show up at this time and stay until this time and just be there. You know, and so we’ve we’ve, we’ve replaced real active work through being present. And we’ve replaced coming up with the structures that that are meaningful to us by just following the structure of basically a father figure or a mother figure, you know, we’re infantilized, we’re adults we have our own kids, we make life and death decisions, we make decisions that impact our lives and everything. But as soon as we’re at work, we turn into little kids who follow what the boss says. And the same goes for managers you know, they you know, you have the oversight you have over the people working for you is probably stronger than the oversight you have over your of your own children. You know, you don’t know what your children doing all day long. But you know, what the people in your office are doing all day long. So you know, it’s why do we Why is this self inflicted? You know, why can’t we grow up and and have our own autonomy when it comes to work? You know, that would be the strange thing is not the thing. We’re moving The strange thing is the thing we’ve been, we’ve been doing for all these decades.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 10:04
Yeah, yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, we had a wonderful meeting the other day where we had a guy on the line who’d been a work at home. Flip, I think you and I talked about this last time, we were on the line, but he, you know, he’d been working from home for 15 years. So the pandemic and the shift and everybody had a, you know, heading home instead of into the office every day, it’s no big deal for him, he didn’t expect any change. However, he started walking more. For some reason, it also pandemic related, but he started walking more on the neighborhood where there were more people in the neighborhood during the day than he’d ever seen before. And he starts meeting these people that it turns out, are his neighbors, he had no idea that they were his neighbors, he’d been living next to him for six or seven years, and he’s getting to know his neighbors more now. Because they’re at home. And it seems to be creating this shift in sort of how he thinks of community in which he lives in. And that change that would have never otherwise occurred with these folks sort of nine to five thing it, you know, out of the space, and it seems to be much healthier for him. And he’s worried about everybody going back to work, because now he’s gonna lose his his community and comfort.

Karim Benammar 11:08
Yeah, oh, but are we going all in back to work. You know, I think this is this is a great example, you have a horizontal shift, we’ve had to work from home, that’s just horizontal, like we said before, that people have started questioning the vertical shift and asking, you know, why do I work these hours? Why? What is the relationship to my manager? What is the relationship to my co workers? What is the relationship to my community and all that stuff? What is the ratio to my family? And they’re realizing that there’s, there’s quality at work here as well? What is it? What is quality time, you know, we, we talk about work life balance, we talk about quality time, but but it’s always within the strict the restrictions that we set for ourselves, and suddenly realizing you can have a different quality time, how are you going to enjoy your life, you know, you don’t really live to work. Although it may seem that way you work to live, right work is something that that gives you structure and meaning and makes you enjoy life. And those are the good parts, if you have an interesting job, I love my job, I know quite a lot of people who really love their job. Having said that, you know, there’s also living and living, there’s also kind of choices and structures that you can make, and how can you get your your work to support your life rather than the other way around. And, and, you know, this kind of even working 40 hours a week, or working just for one boss, or the kind of things that you’re engaged in, you know, if people really had a say in, in how they would share their work with employers and one employer or several employers, you might, you might have a whole whole range of different work arrangements. And like I said, the interesting ones are done on the kind of lower quality jobs, you know, that the, or, you know, lower quality is not a nice thing to say, but the, the app world, you know, they kind of appifying all these interactions. So I think there’s an opportunity there not to copy the apps necessarily, but to how do you appify work so that, you know, I can say, these are my most productive hours, this is a project I’m working on. And I’m going to put in the work here. The walking, just one more thing, walking makes me realize that, you know, you’re so much more creative, when you walk, I go for long walks, and I record myself with ideas, and later that turn those into lectures and turn those into papers and articles and books. All my books have been written that way, you know, the abundance was written walking in the beaches in Brazil, where I was, I was for a year and but but you know, people, people have meetings, you know, just with audio, just like a podcast, you’re talking to one other person or two people and you’re walking. And while you’re walking, you’re just having a great conversation. And that’s a way of working as well. So let’s see if we can integrate that. And I want to encourage people to to, you know, this is this has been an extremely costly pandemic and extremely costly crisis in terms of deaths, of course, in terms of people who are very severely ill people who have lost loved ones. In terms of money. It’s it’s, it’s 1000s of billions, 10s of 1000s of billions, the cost, right? So let’s let’s make it work for us, let’s let there be some fundamental changes that increase people’s quality of life that come out of this experience. We’ve all been pushed to it. That’s my hope. And I think that’s the opportunity there is there?

Chris Hoyt, CXR 14:20
Well, I think we’ve got a tremendous amount of opportunity with you know, but bigger organizations and leaders who make the decisions to help balance that find those sort of work zones or work windows that are most productive, who sort of evolve the work that they expect or when they expect to work to get done either to survive or to be more productive, and then we’ll see which organizations just just can’t make it work and they’re going to suffer some attrition and some churn so it’ll be it’ll be really interesting Karim I want to thank you again, we’re gonna throw it up on the screen again, it’s KarimBenammar.com and Udemy.com Karim, thank you so much for being on the show. We really appreciate you,

Karim Benammar 14:53
Chris, thank you for having me and good luck with revolutionizing your work.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 14:58
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