Our guest, Kevin Pojasek, is a passionate, people-focused biotech executive who has built and led companies in both the US and UK. Kevin is currently the President and CEO of Enara Bio where he brings 18 years of leadership and strategic investment experience in the biopharma industry. He is also a Venture Partner at SV Health Investors and Director at Catamaran Bio, a company he co-founded in 2020. Kevin was formerly Chief Strategy and Business Officer at Immunocore where he helped shape the company’s corporate, R&D and growth strategies, as well as overseeing business development. Prior to joining Immunocore, Kevin was President and CEO of Quartet Medicine, a company he co-founded in 2013 while at Atlas Ventures and held senior executive R&D and corporate development roles at several other venture-backed companies. Kevin has a PhD from the Biological Engineering Department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Living Room Conversations: Enara Expedition with Kevin Pojasek
Rhea = Rhea Ong Yiu (Host)
Kevin = Kevin Pojasek (Guest)
RHEA: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening everyone. Welcome to LIVESciences’ Living Room. In the work that we do we have seen the catalytic power of conversations as well as the impact it has into our world our Living Room is a space for us to connect to explore things and learnings in a casual setting we believe that conversations fuel ideas giving them a new dimension and fully coming alive from a place of resonance and connection through this channel we look forward to engaging with our guests who come with their own stories and personal exploration of the future for to our listeners and followers we hope to create an opportunity to can candidly eavesdrop and chime into the conversation and also bring some resonance in the space of Teal, agile and the future of work.
We hope you will leave with a breath of fresh air and you found courage to explore and infuse your work with new ways to unleash potential in your organizations in this 33rd episode of our Living Room Conversation, I will be your host for this afternoon my name is Rhea Ong Yiu and I’m a catalyst at LIVESciences and I have the honor of welcoming the president and CEO of Enara Bio. A biotech company that’s on a mission to shine a light on the next generation of cancer immunotherapies that is designated to treat a broad patient population he is today not going to talk about all the smart life-changing scientific breakthroughs they’re pushing rather we will talk a little bit about the amazing and era expedition into the Teal world as they have designed their operating system I’m very excited about this so without further ado I would like to welcome Kevin Pojasek to our Living Room today. Kevin, please join me.
KEVIN: Thank you Rhea it’s an absolute pleasure to be here and speak to you again. I’m really looking forward to the conversation.
RHEA: Thank you. Kevin, do you want to tell our guests what is Enara and what are you doing?
KEVIN: Yeah sure so so we can maybe just start with the name which is kind of interesting so Enara means to shine a light where there is darkness in Arabic and and for us it really I think gets to the heart of our purpose and and for the purpose of the organization which you nicely summarized in the intro. And for us it’s really shining a light on new targets new biology with the aim of developing sort of the next generation of cancer therapies so everybody can live free of the shadow of cancer. And so you know, that’s the purpose of the organization and it’s right there in our name. In terms of the just some basic facts about the company we’re a private company we’re venture capital backed, we’re about 55 people strong, Oxford UK is our home base but we have people in the US, people in Europe as well so sort of a even pre-COVID a sort of remote working model and I’m really proud to say we you know, of the 55 people with people from over 20 countries were majority female and I think the diversity of the lived experience of the team the perspectives that bring really helped create and enrich the cultural fabric of the of the company.
RHEA: Very nice to hear what you are doing for the world and also what you are doing to liberate organizations and lead by example in this space Kevin I heard a little bit and
about your Enara Expedition and your journey into Teal I think it’s an inspiration for me personally having heard your story and I thought like hey why don’t we share this with the world right? So maybe I’ll start with my first question around this what sparked this journey for you?
KEVIN: Yeah it’s always a great place to start. It’s the beginning. So I guess for me it
really started I had the good fortune of learning about and experimenting with some of the Teal principles in a prior organization and for me personally this came at a time of change and so I’m I’m from the US originally and moved to the UK with our family of five and so prior to moving I had a career in Boston and had a hand in building several biotech companies was a first-time CEO and used the transition to the UK to kind of reflect a lot on my own personal journey my own leadership style you know, some things I did well some things I could grow on and and I think equally reflected on the environments that I had been in and I think one of the things I sort of dawned on me and I think this is maybe a sort of a common theme for many who have come to Teal or other sort of next generation working principles is that you know, I’ve been in a lot of environments that were either overtly or maybe even more subtly toxic and influenced by people with outdated views of human behavior motivation. Very top-down driven passive-aggressive behavior.
I mean you could sort of go on and on and so it was sort of a catalyst for me to think about well there’s got to be a better way and started to do some reading and exploring and at the same time had a had a really good fortune of meeting and collaborating with a gentleman named Namir Hassan who’s now a dear friend of mine and basically what we he he reached this point of his own journey and reached similar conclusions and we had the the the mandate to create a new group within a larger organization and so we grew to about 60 people inside of about a 400 person company and from the beginning we said let’s do things differently let’s set our own culture and let’s experiment with tail principles and so it was just a tremendous experience to you know, learn a lot make some mistakes but you know, I think ultimately have a really profound impact on sort of conventional metrics of success of delivering science into the potential products and and the like but equally and maybe more so on the members of our team and and to see the acceleration that they had in their own journeys and now the impact that they’re having and so you know, I was able to you know, learn a lot from this experience and and sort of once you see the collective impact that you can have and help crystallize my own sort of leadership style I think you know, it’s a proverbial there’s no going back
right? You’ve seen the light and that’s it and so when I when I joined Enara you know, I had the opportunity very early on to just start to put this in place from the beginning and
and start to code it into the company and and you know, and it’s been great and it’s it’s been you know, again many lessons learned here but but that’s sort of the journey and equally Namir is now doing that at his company he runs the biotech company in Oslo and they’re you know, on their own sort of Teal-like journey as well so that’s a little bit of sort of how I’ve come to this and and and how we at least by how I took inspiration to start to bring this to play at Enara.
RHEA: Right. Was there of course when you talk about Teal you we talk about the book of Frederick Laloux was this the the main source of inspiration was there something else that also sparked this for you?
KEVIN: Yeah I mean Laloux’ book is obviously you know, sort of the the source of much of this inspiration without question and in fact we part of what we do at Enara is when anybody accepts and offered to join us we send them a copy of the the illustrated copy of the book and and it’s look it’s not it’s not this isn’t the you know, off-the-shelf operating manual it’s mostly just an inspiration and I think it’s really to take people from an interview process where they hear us talk a lot about the culture to say hey this is real you’re a part of this now and we encourage you to
think about it before you join and and come with questions come be skeptical but but engage
um and that’s how we use it and I think that you know, it sparks all sorts of great conversations when people finally do arrive.
So that was the primary one and then equally you know, we started to work and started to network a bit with some of the Teal practitioners in the space and worked with a few groups who you know, try to bring these principles to life in various forms whether it’s through coaching or working with leadership teams you know, we did some exploring with holacracy and some of the other systems out there as well so I’d say Laloux first and foremost but but as you know, there’s many sources of inspiration these days including you guys.
RHEA: Thank you. Thank you for that. And yeah also very grateful for sharing that because I’m pretty sure our audience on YouTube and Facebook were listening and plugging in to this conversation would be interested to know where they can source out this inspiration so thanks for pointing out that practice that you have maybe it will also spark some ideas to our viewers and our listeners today. Maybe one question, out of curiosity you started with saying that when you’re already starting into some serious conversation before someone joins you that you send a copy of the book right? What’s a day in the life of a new hire joining Enara? And how does that journey look like for the first 20 to 100 days or so?
KEVIN: Yeah you know, it’s a great question I I think you know, one of the the principles maybe
before I answer that is you know, I think you know, transparency and open dialogue is just central to our culture and how we try to operate with each other and so I think what that means is it’s really from when somebody first engages with us and reaches out through the interview process through that period of time where you accept an offer and start which you know, it can be months in some cases which can often be wasted time. How can we use that time effectively and then how do they come into the organization? And then equally I really do believe in having transparent conversations about you know, people who you know, are you know, ready to leave the organization for one reason or another so we really try to put all of this on the table and support each other and ultimately in my view it’s you know, we want to do what’s ever what’s best for the individual obviously keeping the company’s goals in mind and there’s some tensions there but but I think that’s our mindset and so I think when somebody comes in and and I one of the favorite parts of my job is I spend time with every person after they join usually within the first couple of weeks and so really get to ask them that question and what’s it been like? And how have you found the transition from interviewing to starting? What were some of the surprises? You know, etcetera and I think that you know, the common theme I hear is that there really are none and they’re surprised that there are none, right? And that what they heard in the interview and the way in which people interacted with them is genuine and and and comes across on day one to day 100 and beyond and it’s just part of how we operate.
And I think people are surprised because you know, ultimately it’s not the case everywhere and we’ve all grown up in various ways and other organizations or in academia where you know, people can quite often be surprised when you you actually started a new organization so you know, I think that’s that’s one of the features and I think the other the other thing we try to do is try to very early on create a sense of belonging and making sure that when someone comes in they really feel a part of the organization a part of their role and I just think that’s so critical i
I think belonging is sort of really innate in all of us as a core need and often overlooked and and I think if you don’t get that right there there really are a lot of unfortunate consequences that come with that.
And so that’s a you know, it’s a practice within whatever teams they’re a part of holistically within the company we have a lot of different initiatives that people can join that are you know, more social oriented or other ways of interacting and then equally I say to everybody that you know, when people join their first month, first 45 days is a gift to us because they’re going to come in with their own eyes and see what we do. And you know, we can always get better right and so let’s have that conversation and share that gift with us as you settle in and and then start to you
know influence how we shape things and and inevitably we see people doing that in all sorts of ways so those are just some of the things that happen. I mean and obviously the day-to-day work is gonna vary depending on the expertise the different roles they play in the company but I think those are some of the backbone experiences that people share with me.
RHEA: I love the the principal you operate on when you said 45- the first 45 days as a gift to the organization because I think too often you know, we we have this tendency to treat new hires as kind of like toddlers trying to walk, but I love that you have a full trust in in your new hires that they can also bring a fresh ideas and fresh feedback into the organization which is true we get in the habit of doing we forget that we are you know, in the in this whole hamster wheel or some sort of.
KEVIN: Yeah and I think you know, if you’re here you know, once you’re here for longer you’re just you know, you’re sort of in it with us again so so I think you lose that some of that perspective at least but as you said it’s good to enforce that and start it early that’s that’s really when the the magic can happen.
RHEA: Yeah I also love what you said, the sense of belonging is so crucial in your company and being remote by design and having experienced two years of COVID, what were practices that were very practical for you to keep this sense of belonging alive in your organization?
KEVIN: Yeah you know, it’s great it was really hard I mean I I think there’s no other way of sort you just gotta acknowledge it as you know, incredibly hard. And I think for us you know, we it was a period of massive growth for us because of you know, the stage of our science and you know, we were able to keep the company running keep the labs open and keep functioning and growing but you have a you lose the sort of personal connectivity with people and then you have all of these new people joining and so you know, all we could do was was do our best and it was just trying to lean in and have conversations that we would try to have in person I think especially for some of the remote hires I mean you know just getting to know them a bit as as as friends one of our leadership team members is based in Switzerland and I remember sitting in the garden having a beer with him on Zoom and you know, and it’s just sort of trying to build that bridge doing what you would do if if you were together right as much as you can but I think that was I mean that you know, it meant a lot to me and I think it is it is important to do that.
I think the other thing we would do and and have always done is a lot of interactive workshops so we do this routinely either in small groups or several times a year as a whole company and different topics and and we we really continue doing it during COVID and I think you know, again the impact and we have to adapt a lot but I think that everybody appreciated it appreciated the connection the conversation and I think it’s all part of our belief that in order to really empower, embody, bring to life a new way of working you have to be intentional and persistent. And you know, we often say that it’s just as important as the work we do in the organization. Equally important is the work we do on the organization. And so taking that time I think really reinforces that importance for people and as well as the connections and everything else so that’s a big part of embedding and evolving the Enara Expedition.
RHEA: Yeah I’m curious because you mentioned you try different concepts now you’re 55 to 60 employees at the moment. I’m curious about like are you if you’re doing holacracy, are you like how large are the circles and how are you doing the split in what context are people belonging to a circle or something like that?
KEVIN: Yeah. So we’ve opted not to do holocracy. I love the principle and and I love how methodical it was I think you know, most of the people who know me well I I’m not someone who copes well with structure and so I’ve got some great people around me who are great at providing that but I’m- I like fluidity and and flexibility and adaptability and and so that resonates a little bit with more with me.
And so what we’ve done in place of that though I mean one of the pillars of the Enara Expedition is autonomy and and you know, it’s borne out of a belief that you know, autonomy is one of the sort of the core motivating principles of humans and human behavior and that people like to have the flexibility to choose you know, what they work on who they work on it with where they do it and and what we’ve set up there then is kind of an operating system to to allow that to happen. Consistent with the purpose of the organization consistent with our values and you know, in the way we’ve done that is you know, it’s very much project based teams and so we’ve operated that way from the beginning and so we’ve really tried to move outside of hierarchy people do have job titles and and there are we have different ways of assessing progress but the the work is all done in in teams outside of any sort of hierarchy and what we’ve done most recently maybe as a tangible example of a workshop was a role mapping workshop and so in order to further embed the work the working practices. And then you know, really bring to life what role-based work means we did a day-long workshop together the whole company the pre-work was really some engagement and discussion around what role-based work means what are roles, how do you define them, what are the accountabilities, you know, how how
does it get delivered, you know, all of that. And then we did a two-week period of mapping of all the roles that all of us do during the day in in in in our work I think we had like 1100 roles come up and then on the day we we broke into small groups and worked together and mapped them and then did some mute mapping and basically boiled it down to a set of core roles that we’ve then continued to work on refining are still working on refining and are are now putting into a set
of visualization software. So we’re working with a great company called Peerdom which I think is part of deal around the world and you know, that they’re, you know, fantastic to put in a shameless plug for them. But they’re helping us with the visualization and thinking about you
know how this how we can bring this to life both in what it looks like today but equally how it’s going to change and flex over time and really represent the company as a living system, as an ecosystem which I think is very much our belief and how we operate.
So that’s kind of an example of you know, how we’ve I think taken inspiration from self management sort of called it our own in terms of autonomy and and how that fits for us and then how we’re bringing it to life within the company because again going back to Laloux’ book I think it is it’s an incredible inspiration but ultimately each organization is a function of their own people their own purpose and their own journey and I think we have to you know, be live to that and and that’s the you know, I guess the spirit behind Enara Expedition and what we’ve put together.
RHEA: Okay. Yeah thanks, Kevin for that inspiration. Just curious very quick one how many
roles did you manage to bring-?
KEVIN: That’s a good question, I should know the answer to that. I mean it probably boiled down to I want to say it was probably in the range of 40 odd roles? Maybe 40 to 50 core roles that had sort of you know, multiple activities and accountabilities and I think that will evolve. And I think the other thing I’m actually particularly interested in is I think this is mapping the core work I think once you then map the spatial relationship of the roles and how they map with teams there’s going to be a lot of white space and I think the magic happens in that white space and how do you understand the interaction between the teams? How do you ensure the ecosystem is appropriately communicating? And resourced to work?
And so I think there will be some ecosystem level roles that will emerge as the next step but that’s I think that to come. But yeah I think it was on the order of 40 to 50.
RHEA: That’s a significant drop from 110.
KEVIN: Yeah exactly. Exactly. And I think those were I think the 1100 were more activities and then we could we could we could coalesce the activities around roles and then and then work on defining the accountabilities and the components of the roles.
RHEA: Yeah. Great. Okay, there’s a question from Bianca and I think it’s related to this conversation. Were there any objections at all about changing the setup to make it more
KEVIN: Yeah you know, I think the we started this very early on and so we were we did have a team there was probably about 15 people maybe 12 something like that and I think when we started the conversation was let’s talk about why we’re doing this, let’s talk about the inspiration let’s talk about you know, what some of the challenges we’re trying to overcome and let’s try to envision what a future state of success looks like.
And I think what I’ve said from the beginning is the only sort of rule I’m imposing here is we’re going to do this right? There’s no going back. We’re on the Enara Expedition and we’re on it together. What that means and where we go and how we get there is up to all of us right? So I’ll contribute to that but it’s very much an emergent property of the organization and the people within it.
And equally I said to people is like look this may not be for you right? And this isn’t maybe what you’ve signed up for and so that’s okay. And let’s have that conversation. It doesn’t have to be today, it doesn’t need to be you know, but it could be at any point of your journey. If this if if this isn’t for you let’s have the conversation and what we commit to is helping those folks transition you know, supporting them on the way out supporting them to find their next role and and you know, I think we’ve done that you know, reasonably successfully over over the course of the company’s life and so I you know, I think there are tensions that come up along the way and I think at various points people can get you know, a bit unstuck. But all we try to do is just say raise them and let’s talk about them. And I think the worst thing that can happen is if you’re an environment where you don’t feel comfortable doing that and you don’t raise them inevitably you’re in your own head it ends up spiraling you know, and you ultimately end up drawing a conclusion that’s probably you know, would have been different if we had talked about it and worked through it.
And so that’s what we try to encourage really at all levels and and then I think you know, almost always you’re able to kind of work through the tension or define a path that is going to be right for everybody so yeah I mean that that’s a short answer to the question I think.
RHEA: Well, thank you. I think it’s it’s very important to acknowledge the fact that you know, not I mean this is not for everybody and some people struggle more, some people struggle less with it. But there are challenges to be had, maybe curious. Before I move on to the question from george over there I do have one question that is more like what are the values? Because leading an implementation of an operating system like this requires some values and some leadership behaviors that allow you to be successful. What were key for you?
KEVIN: Yeah absolutely yeah I think you know, we spoke at the outset or at the purpose of the organization and you know the impact we want to have really for everybody who faces cancer in their life I think the equally there’s a you know, maybe not often discussed but I think a dual purpose of our organization and basically you know, and this is sort of very core to my purpose and close to my purpose and what I I want to bring to life but you know, my belief is what we’re doing is really hard we’re working on brand new science that really has never seen the light of day and trying to turn that into a medicine that’s going to help somebody. And so I think we could all work very hard and you know, we all aim to be successful but we may not be so I think if or even if we are and and I think the the view is if we can create an organization in a time and space where everybody looks at each other at the end of whatever period of time a month six months a year when they leave saying hey I’m better off having spent time at Enara and work together and we can use that as a legacy to take out you know, what is often talked about as some of the negative aspects of work and replace it even with a modicum of positivity, happiness, well-being, impact that those people can then take on you know, what they can enjoy in their lives during the time they’re here but then take with them.
I mean I think that’s a really another way we can be impactful as an organization it speaks to how we you know, try to be deliberately developmental and work with our team so that that’s I think another purpose that then ties into our values and so we have six values within the company they form the acronym; ASPIRE. And you know, basically the first one is Act with unconditional positive regard. You know, it’s basically you know, assume the best intentions and
and engage with people from that place of optimism and support the second is actually Support. So to support each other grow and develop and that really speaks to some of the developmental journey that we’re on. The third is Promote. And it’s promote a fun and passionate collaborative work environment which I think we do most days. The next is Innovate. And so it’s by discussing ideas and data and issues openly and so it’s both the transparency component which feeds into one of our other pillars in our expedition but really everything and doing that openly. The fifth one is Respect of each other and value each other for our diversity and our perspectives and our lived experience that we can bring to the company. And the last one is Embrace. And it’s embraced our shared goals and ownership of our collective journey.
And so to me that’s really speaks to agency and autonomy and that we are all in this together what we bring on any given day is what everybody else will take away and so it’s trying to create that sense of impact and and accountability and folks so those are our aspire values and you know, what we try to do then is you know, bring those to life in conversation in the ways in which we behave we’ve created Enara ethos which is a set of behaviors that are meant to bring to life the positive assumptions we have about the work we do together and how we do them it’s to overcome limiting beliefs that we may share we may have personally that we may share as an organization and then what we started to do is we you know, there’s a whole separate conversation around performance management I know you’ve had some podcast discussions on this but what we’ve tried to simplify that down to is two two things and this is our we
call it compass which is our our the way in which we sort of you know, measure people’s progression and so the two things we look at is how do you live the values of the company
and what’s the impact you’ve had on the roles that you’ve fulfilled over a period of time? And we try to have these conversations on a rolling basis but at least quarterly and and so the values
are brought to life in part through you know, how we measure progression over the period of time somebody’s out Enara.
RHEA: Thank you Kevin that was very inspiring to hear your values and how you show up
and how it motivates your team to also show off for the organization and for the patients that
you will be helping later on with your treatment right? So question for you as a leader inspiring other leaders, what would be your advice for anyone who’s like ‘oh that sounds really cool’ I want to do that as a leader where would you say okay ‘take the first few steps and think about it really hard’?
KEVIN: Yeah I think that you know, the answer to that question for me at least has been and and through this I try to provide advice in the same direction, is that I think this is an inward journey. You know, you can take inspiration from the outside and conversations with leaders you admire or books or whatever but I think until you really look inside and think about what does leadership mean to me? What’s my authentic self? What are my limiting beliefs? What are my values? What’s my purpose? And really try to connect with that. I think for me that’s been the journey and that’s it’s not an easy journey and for everybody it’s gonna be a different journey but but I think that piece of advice of you know, yes take inspiration outside but but also look inside and do that through conversations coaching whatever the the catalyst is for that I know for me that’s really what’s helped crystallize a lot of this for me and then so that’s maybe a slightly unconventional view but I mean I think in more conventional ways I mean I really do believe and I think this is sort of I guess often quite often said now so maybe slightly cliche but I really do believe in servant leadership and that my role as a CEO and a leader in the company is to provide what everybody else needs to make decisions to drive the business to succeed in their roles. And that in some ways is a measure of how successful I am. You know, if I, you know, believe that the fewer decisions I’m responsible for probably the better leader I am in the company. Now, inevitably we’re all involved in all sorts of things during the day but I think it’s a framework as a as a kind of a north star for leadership I I think that’s that’s that’s really it and then I think that manifests throughout the organization right so it’s about setting a vision and being clear on what we’re trying to achieve but empowering people to do it having the organizational structure that enables that and doesn’t let hierarchy and ego and all of the
you know, more conventional forms of leadership encroach on what we’re trying to achieve
um and then it’s about supporting people right? So having conversations, coaching and trying to draw out what people are trying to achieve, what their purpose is and how do they want to see their journey across the company. You may come into one role but be really interested in another role so great let’s make that happen.
And that’s more the catalyst piece of this so yeah I think those are some of the components and sort of how they come to life but it really is about viewing leadership not as something that you know, is for you it’s for others and and trying to live that on a daily basis.
RHEA: Yeah and another conversation I had with another leader there’s always this let’s say dilemma that many leaders in self-managing organizations experience is that there’s this tendency of I’ll go with what the leader says or kind of there’s a this like bystander effect when there’s a decision to be made how do you deal with that?
KEVIN: Yeah it’s a great question and and it is it is a real tension and I think you know, the benefit of servant leadership is everybody can do it right you could be anywhere in the organization at any stage of your own personal journey and behave that way and embody that and and and role model that so that that’s great but equally I mean we as part of the autonomy pillar you know, and our project teams and roles we do operate using the advice process right? So basically anybody who sees tension can or something that needs fixing can own that and do it but their one sort of framework is they need to seek advice from people who are knowledgeable will be impacted by the decision etcetera and I think one of the tendencies there and and one of the pitfalls of that could be oh well I’m just going to go ask my boss or well you know, somebody more senior than me and then inevitably if you get some advice it’s I’ll just go with that decision.
So I think we especially some of the more experienced teams members of the leadership team often talk about how can we give advice in a way in which it promotes and and maintains decision-making with the individual who’s seeking that advice and not given as a ‘oh yeah just you should go you know, why don’t you go do this’ right? And so it’s about language it’s about being mindful of behaviors trying to be present in the moment and altering that you know, which is is hard at times but I think that’s really you know, the best you can do and oftentimes you know, you could do this in by asking questions back and you know, sort of taking more socratic approach I mean there’s lots of sort of tools to be able to to do that but that’s what it’s just the tension that we see and try to be live to and manage as best we can with our our behaviors is we have those conversations with people across the organization.
RHEA: Thanks Kevin. There’s a question from George about some share of experiences, challenges, and mistakes in trying to establish Teal values within the organization. Can you share some of your big challenges and what you did about it?
KEVIN: Yeah I think you know, the I think some of the learnings along the way and this is both with an aura but even some of the work we did before is and some of this may just sound obvious after the fact but I think as you get caught up in it you get really passionate really excited so I think one is pace right? And I love this stuff and really I’m energized by it and and equally I think to have an impact you’ve got to really frame it up deliver it and then embed it and it can’t just be okay let’s do a workshop on this and then workshop on this and workshop on this it has to be a cohesiveness to it and so I think the pace is really important to get it right don’t go too quickly, bring people on the journey and ensure as you commit to doing something you’ve got a path to follow it up and embed it and make it work and I think the work we’ve just I was just speaking about around role modeling was probably the best we’ve done where there was a lot of preparation work there was a day together and a ton of follow-up and we had sort of the arc of the whole thing set from the beginning and we really started conversations early to engage and then and I’ve walked people through this throughout so I think that’s probably the best we’ve done we’re sometimes yeah you know, it doesn’t always stick and and or we’re moving around a bit.
And so I think they’re so so pace I think you know, another thing is it having a visual and being able to tell an arc of a story so we use the Enara Expedition I think helps it helps provide clarity it also grounds people and you can talk about the various components of the culture work within the same framework that is orientating and so oftentimes when we talk about things about self-management or Teal principles or even more tangible things like the advice process they can feel very you know, sort of ethereal at first. And so it’s how do you then create an arc of a narrative piece them together make them real for people such that it changes influences behavior and then embeds? And so I think there’s a lot of storytelling and and just engagement that’s really required for that. I also think you just have to recognize that you know, people are on their own journeys they’re going to be at their own personal phases of growth. And you know, some people may just want to come to work and work at a great company with great people and
go home at the end of the day having had a impact on the work that they do you know, there’s probably people on the other you know, and maybe not entirely seeking you know, self-actualization through work right? But it’s a bell-shaped curve and there’s going to be people who are trying to get everything out of this and so assuming that everybody’s going to be you know, of the same mindset of the same area of their own journey is you know, again it’s obvious but I think it’s it’s worth stating that you’ve got to sort of see where people are at and then and then sort of go from there. So I think those are those are some of the things you know, I think
i think and one of the things we’ve done to help with that at least on that is we’ve done some workshops we spent a lot of time on our values and how we bring them to life through behaviors. One of the I think one of the more impactful things we did was small group workshops on personal values so they’re basically like an hour or 90 minutes long kind of high touch entirely focused on people surfacing their own personal values and I think it kind of I mean it I think blew me away how impactful it was for a lot of people and I think it allowed them people to see oh okay that’s a value for me that’s maybe why I behave a certain way or that’s why that’s really important to me and and I think it helped break through and and hopefully create some more of the connection to the to the work that we do but even more broadly in people’s lives and that helps I think with the connection and and helping with with the pace and engagement and I think the other.
I mean I guess the other thing will go I mean I sort of touched on it before but I I think this can’t be you know, we’re running a business right so this isn’t I mean you can tell this is really personal for me and it’s close to my purpose that’s really important but we are running a company and so we need we still need to be it can’t be all altruism right we have to make sharp decisions as an organization we have to engage with people and move them on if they’re not the right fit for the company and I think you know, you just have to recognize that and again it’s about having the conversations it’s about being transparent it’s about putting everything on the table and behaving that way throughout and I think that is you know, you still see it where i’ll have people come to me and say oh I’m leaving and I said okay let’s have that conversation you know, what what are the motivations you know, my number one thing is I want anybody who’s considering leaving to be happy in their whatever role they take but oftentimes it’s because of some misconceptions or other things and we can very easily through conversation overcome
them and say oh okay well I’m not leaving that’s great let’s do that instead right? So I think it’s
just trying to keep keep that transparency and the conversation open but also recognizing you know, we still have to make decisions.
RHEA: That’s really a very important part about Teal and these type of human centered approach to organizations and leadership. In the end it’s still a business. And thank you for pointing that out I think that’s a that’s a critical thing to to think about that it’s not about all purpose but it’s about the business being successful so that you can actually fulfill what you’re there for and yeah so one thing you mentioned innovation and one thing that kind of like played in my head when you mentioned that was how do you create environment that is you know, allows people to feel like hey this is safe enough to try safe enough to fail. What kind of safety nets do you provide people in in this sense especially because you are dealing with something that is very close to patients as well?
KEVIN: Yeah yeah no I think there’s a couple of components in there I mean there’s
definitely the regulatory piece which is a you know, I think a common discussion in the LIVESciences about how does one sort of square deal with you know, GMP manufacturing
different clinical practice regulatory practice and again there I think they’re you know, I think there are ways of squaring culture with regulation. I think probably much more importantly though on a day-to-day basis is trying to create an environment where people can take risks and can try new things and can fail and feel comfortable doing that. And I think we you know, we try to do that and and bring that to life and support people in that through conversations and you know, ultimately if anything goes you know, I think we all have each other’s back right? So I think hopefully everybody realizes that from a fundamental perspective and there’s no there’s no you know, I or you it’s all we. And so if it goes well it’s us and if it goes wrong it’s us and we’ll figure it out.
And so I think that’s that’s one I also think and and I think this is I’m kind of pretty keen to go there next as an organization I think one of the things that holds people back from engaging in a
um self-managed or autonomous organization is certainly all the structure stuff but if you solve for that I think it becomes limiting beliefs I think a lot of people you know, myself included how you know, you have these voices in your head that say hey you know, I’m not good enough I don’t belong here and I think just acknowledging that and talking about it and trying to unpack that and liberate people from those and recognize that it’s not just you it’s all you know, it’s sort of common and we all have our own flavors of it I think trying to get rid of those limiting beliefs is a big path to helping people take more risk engage more with the advice process you know, fail more and then I think maybe just the third I mean we try to have this concept of you know, sort of rapid decision making right? So the get the information you need make a decision and then evaluate the decision and make another decision if you need to versus you know, I think it’s a lot of us are trained to be scientists. You know, we like to go and read all the papers and have all the conversations know every single last detail and then make a decision and oftentimes you’re never going to have certainty well you’re never gonna have certainty and and and you know,
just spending more time is more detrimental to what you’re trying to achieve and so make a decision learn from it make another decision so that’s just sort of another framework we try to think about for for helping people to you know, sort of move things forward a pace.
RHEA: Yeah just wanted to backtrack a little bit to the pillars of the Enara Expedition Kevin there’s a question from alejandro would you share with us some of the other pillars?
KEVIN: Yes that’s right I know we didn’t we didn’t really touch on those yeah so so we have three pillars of the expedition so the first is purpose and values the second is autonomy and the third is authenticity so purpose and values I think we’ve covered in terms of you know, our purpose of helping patients and and bringing shining light on the science that we do and then helping each other grow and succeed we touched on values I think we touched on the autonomy pillar and what that means role-based working and structure and then the third pillar and probably many ways the most important is authenticity and it’s really just another word for wholeness right it’s just the the idea that we could all be more effective more engaged and happier quite frankly if we feel comfortable bringing our whole selves to work and engaging from that place taking off the masks setting aside the ego and really just trying to work together on at a fundamental level on what we do and so we do kind of all sorts of things to try to engage this different clubs different social outings you know, sort of a lot of just fun conversation in the working environment and you know, try to raise tensions where they may come up in terms of you know, people feeling left out or not engaged and helping so.
Those are the three pillars and and those you know, again are certainly inspired by Laloux’ work but really sort of put in the lexicon and framework that has arisen and emerged from the work that we’ve done with Enara Expedition.
RHEA: Yeah that’s those are really great and I can relate quite a bit to these three pillars that you have. Very similar to what we have in our lifeline as well. Question Kevin with Enara you do need a few senior people who have had experience in maybe at the large corporates, you do need a mix of the younger ones coming out of the university launching Enara as an expedition and having a quite a different approach to work, how was the experience like for you and the organization as a whole?
KEVIN: Yeah it’s great and and I think you know, what’s been interesting is we do have all of that diversity you touched on right? Senior people have been working in the industry for 30 years and in larger companies to people joining us straight out of academia you know, sort of first industry roles and I think you know, all you can do is set a common language you know, part of our hiring process is really built around mindset and ensuring that regardless of your journey where you’re at your previous experience that you have a growth mindset. You have
an understanding and belief and embrace of the principles that we operate with and you know, I think it’s then just looking at what is the experience of each person and how can they bring that to work at the company and and we get all benefit from it and so I touched on before you know, my you know, I love operating in a fairly unstructured environment and not surprisingly members of my leadership team don’t they like meeting agendas, they like minutes, they like actions so what we’ve agreed on is okay let’s set it up so that you know, somebody else can do that part of it and we can share the work it doesn’t have to be sort of me leading it all and and vice versa.
And then I think the other thing we’ve tried to do because I think regardless of the experience that you come with you’re always going to come with a learning edge right? What is it that I’m working on what is it that others are working on based on their own journey and their own experience to get better as a leader to get better in their roles and so part of what we do as a leadership team is spend time surfacing those talking about those and then supporting each other and developing those learning edges right and that could be through coaching conversations or instant feedback hey in a meeting I notice you did this I know you’re working on that next time maybe try something else or or all of that and then we’ve had an open conversation with the organization we did this fantastic it was called feedback day where we we basically kind of put the pens down for a day and just spent and we sort of had some sessions on how to give and receive feedback and what it means but then just spend time having conversation with each other to give feedback and try to instill that practice.
And impromptu we each of us shared our learning edge for the company and what it means to us and how we’re working on it and and and all of that and so I think that mindset says hey regardless of what you’ve done if you have the growth mindset if you believe in what we’re trying to do and you want to help move us forward and enrich the tapestry of the in our expedition come and work you know, work with us and work on yourself and so I think with that perspective I think it it’s very good I think you know, where it doesn’t work is you know, people who come in with with a high degree of ego and and value hierarchy or people who like to be told what to do you know, I think those are some classic things that just won’t work. And so we you know, try to make sure as we go through interviewing people that we you know, pick that up and can can assess that and equally sometimes we don’t get it right and you say okay well we you know, didn’t get right you’re not happy we’re not happy let’s you know, just just transition. So yeah, I think those are a few thoughts on that topic.
RHEA: Thanks Kevin. Oh the hour has flown by super fast. We’re almost at the top of the hour but I do want to squeeze in one last question to kind of tie a bow around this conversation. If you were to look at the different facets of Teal with Enara Expedition, what are the three things that you’re most proud of?
KEVIN: Yeah no thanks for that question. I think for me I really think that I’m most proud of the impact I see this having on others in the company. And I think that’s true at Enara it’s certainly true of the organization I worked in before where there’s quite a bit of diversity and you know, the people that we work together with I think really you know, was able to come out of that surviving and then thriving and have taken that on themselves and I think if you know, I just think about if i’d come to this sooner or you know, well if we can have that impact on people sooner the sort of force multiplier of that, especially with people earlier in their careers bringing that to their next organization and beyond could be really tremendous. And so I’m really proud of that.
And I love hearing the stories and conversations with people who have experienced this and we’ve worked together on it so so I think that’s great I think you know, I’m also really- I love the transparency of conversations we can have as an organization and I mentioned the feedback day that’s a good example but equally you know, I have conversations routinely with either members of the leadership team or others where I can tell that it’s not natural for them to have this conversation right? It’s about ‘I’m feeling uncomfortable about this or I’m worried about that’ and I think the tendency would be well ‘oh you’re not supposed to talk about that’ or you know, whatever and and just the fact that we can we could do it really openly I think it’s just it’s great. And it’s enriching and I think it just helps with the whole you know, sort of cultural vibe of the company and equally I think the conversations we have within our teams is you know, great on that transparency level. And then I think the the last thing i’d say is I think as an organization we’ve gotten really good and we can always get better, but I think we’ve gotten really good at embracing change which is pretty much a constant in our business especially when we’re you’re in the research stage and working on novel biology. And that I think requires all sorts of different components of this sort of wrapped up together but I think as a metric of success of a team, of a company your ability to kind of rapidly understand, absorb and respond to change is you know, a clear hallmark of the success of the culture of the company and ultimately the road to success of the business and I think that you know, the better we can do that the better off we’re going to be. So I’m really proud of how good we’ve gotten at that. And again I think that’s directly tied to the Enara Expedition we’ve had lots of practice as well there’s been lots of change so you know,
um that helps as well I suppose.
RHEA: Thank you Kevin. I’ve had lots of ‘light bulb’ moments and this conversation has definitely sparked a few new ideas for me as well and I hope it’s the same for our guests today who are listening to this conversation.
Before we close this session I just wanted to take a moment to invite you for the next events that are coming up and it’s on your screen grab your phone kind of scan the QR code so you can sign up for the Teal Network Global Teal Meetup that’s happening tomorrow. Join three conversations with different hosts and just explore what you know, what new things could happen and could emerge out of that conversation. That’s happening tomorrow at 2 p.m central east- eastern- Central European Time, sorry. And we also have next week a guest from the United States from the Business Agility Institute, Evan Leybourn will be sharing the couch with us in our Living Room Conversation so please stay tuned to that scan the QR code and put a pin on your calendars to be able to join us at 4 pm next week.
And with that I just want to say thank you to everyone who has been here with us who has been engaging in the conversation on the chat as well and who has been listening in. We hope that you will walk out of this conversation inspired and having a spark of courage to try something different in your own space. And before I say adieu, I just want to give a final word to Kevin.
KEVIN: Well thanks Rhea, it’s been a pleasure as always chatting with you. And yeah I will say thank you to you and your colleagues I mean I think the Living Room Conversations that you are having are very incredibly inspirational and so important to just create another and really engaging resource for people as they consider different paths for the future of work and try to bring that to life in their day-to-day. So it’s an absolute honor to be here chatting with you and part of it and look forward to you know many more interactions to come.
RHEA: Yeah, thank you Kevin. And thanks everyone for joining us this afternoon. This has been your host, Rhea and I see you hopefully in two weeks or so. I will not be posting the next one but I will be back. Speak to you soon. Thank you everybody.
KEVIN: Thanks. Bye bye.
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