The discussion will be about Therese and Pasteur’s work at Davis College, a higher learning institute in Rwanda, near the middle of Africa.
Therese is the College’s Transformation Lead and is currently leading Davis in its transition from Orange to Teal. She designs workshops, facilitates training, and supports those around her in navigating change.
She is deeply invested in the process of healing inner trauma, and the possibilities that holds for humans and systemic change.
Pasteur is a senior Faculty at Davis College, and being one of the Teal pioneers in Africa, he has been part of the very first student care circle, a self-managed circle that has piloted self-management and whose success enabled their entire organization’s transition to becoming a self-managed, holacratic organization.
Pasteur says that he is a father, a husband, a teacher, and a lifelong learner. He lives to help others find the purpose of life and live a fulfilling life; and mainly, he is involved in the struggle to make the world a better place.
Living Room Conversations: Living out Teal in the Education System
ANNA = Anna Nestrova (Host)
THERESE = Therese Webb (Guest)
PASTEUR = Pasteur Byabeza (Guest)
ANNA: Welcome everyone! Welcome everyone today’s Living Room Conversation! I am Anna. I am with LIVESciences since couple of years and today I have the honor to talk with two incredible guests. I’m really looking forward to open the scene with them. We are already a couple of quite some time with Living Room Conversation. This is a format for not only for us or for our guests even. It’s a format for all of us our audience. Please engage you’re very welcome to ask your questions to post your thoughts and challenges into the chat and we will be live also in Youtube and Facebook so welcome everyone to today’s Living Room Conversation. The topic of 27th episode is leaving out Teal self-organization in the educational system. And I have with me two incredible guests this is Therese Webb who is chief of staff of Davis College in Rwanda and also Pasteur Byabeza who is core senior faculty in Davis College they will tell us their story and I’m welcoming you Therese and Pasteur
with us today.
PASTEUR: Thank you.
THERESE: Hi thank you for having us Anna. Yeah like Anna said my name is Therese
Webb and I energize roles my main one at the moment is the org transformation lead at Davis College. We’re a non-profit organization and we have two higher education colleges and one is co-ed and one is a female institute. And our main operations are in Rwanda and then we have a small globally scattered team we’re remote so that’s me I work in the UK at the moment so I work, yeah.
PASTEUR: And this is Pasteur Byabeza. as Anna said I’m a co-senior faculty at Davis College but I energize other roles within a couple of other circles. I live in Rwanda and that’s where I am and I’m very glad to be part of this Living Room Conversation. Thank you. I look forward to the conversation.
ANNA: Welcome guys. Let’s start with yeah, maybe present yourself, you already presented yourself, but also in the context of the purpose, let’s start with the purpose of this. What is Davis College and the purpose of the organization and how you personally started your journey there and came to the roles you’re currently fulfilling? Before we start with the self organization journey maybe around the why of what you’re doing together?
THERESE: Yeah sure that’s no worry. No worries. so basically our organization like I said we’re in Rwanda our main operations and Pasteur is one of our faculty we have two colleges and our mission is to educate and empower East Africa’s future leaders to transform their communities yeah we’re we are a very purpose-driven organization I think I’ve spoken about this before where you know, we NGOs, non-profits, charities they’re generally quite purpose-driven and have to be so so we’ve always really felt our purpose and that has really driven us throughout the our last 10 plus years of being in operation. So yeah you know, we all believe in making a difference in the world through the work we’re doing in Rwanda.
ANNA: Thank you. Would you like to compliment Pasteur? What is your flavor here?
PASTEUR: I believe she said it all yeah but people need to understand that we are a school, we are a college and our main business is basically teaching. Okay yeah but we are simply trying to do it in a totally different way. And we’re trying to you know, think of other ways that we can do it and value people and bring about that human experience that people desperately need. Yeah so that’s what I wanted to add, thank you.
ANNA: Thank you. Educating future leaders for a country it’s like really very- very important statement and very statement which deserves a lot of respect as I hear. So what is the story around the how exactly? You just said Pasteur we are looking for different ways to do this. What is what what is it what you what you’re looking for educating these future leaders, what is different compared to education systems?
THERESE: I think I can start and then maybe hand over to Pasteur because there’s so much context here. you know,, we are a school that feed into the market into Rwanda so we have three main diploma courses; which is hotel management, business and entrepreneurship and information systems. And so we are basically feeding the marketplace that we’re looking at what the market needs and then we make sure that our students through internships and career placement have jobs to go into. So that’s how we started and that’s how we started just ten plus years ago but a lot has changed.
And so you know, when we talk about where we are today and what differentiates us from other institutions who are feeding the marketplace is really what happened two years ago right? And we’ve got to speak about that because you know, the global pandemic impacted so many different people on different levels. And you know, when when the pandemic hit we’ve been set for for scaling our business we’ve been set for scaling our campuses like we wanted to have campuses in Malawi, in Uganda were going to open in Hong Kong which is where I came and I lived in Hong Kong at the time. And we had these plans to scale our business and impact thousands and thousands of students by 2030.
But then because of COVID you know, there was a slight economic downturn and because we are a charity, it changed our financial makeup and so a lot of our fundraising events needed to be cancelled and we had to make some really painful trade-offs and actually some really heartbreaking layoffs because were no longer going to scale. And so you know, when such big changes happen because of COVID you know, we had to restructure for economic reasons. It can be really detrimental to like your culture as an organization, like it’s really you realize how fragile your culture is when things like this happen I suppose. And so because we had focused on growth in scale for the first 10 years, 10 plus years, I guess like as many, many other startups so you don’t really focus on building a strong sustainable culture. It’s like a thing about startup culture in general if you think about startup businesses right outside of education as well it’s you focus on getting to market, you focus on like being the first, you focus on like making an impact quickly. And that sort of cultural side of your organization almost gets put on the back burner a little bit. But so what happened is that things changed because of COVID. And then all of a sudden people were angry within our organization and this is a very purpose-driven organization so there was blame that it was distressed there was like people felt what we now know is psychologically unsafe we know the work of Amy Edmondson now because of you know, through this journey that we’ve been on for the last few years.
So we had to make a change. We knew we had to shift things. We had to make a change within our organization because we are wanting to shape the leaders, the future leaders of East Africa and how it’s hypocritical like we are all broken inside how can we impact others if we don’t feel it inside? And so you know, just from just to add quickly we did a load of like pulse surveys and stuff and spoke to so many people Pasteur was part of those initial conversations and realized that we couldn’t go on like this. You know, we couldn’t we had to
create something that was more sustainable and we had to create a different type of organization so that can give that back to our students and to our community but yeah Pasteur- I you were very much part of those conversations in the beginning when we sensed that we needed to make a shift I don’t know if you want to add something to what I just said.
PASTEUR: Yeah sure. Yeah you said it to all the situation was in the sanctuary that we seemed to focus too much on you know, hitting crazy objective which is not a bad thing that somehow we forgot to take care of that human experience and basically that’s what were lacking maybe speaking of from the faculty that’s why I belong and the situation was in such way that there was too much control from managers you know, command control bureaucracy very few people had access to information and people were not allowed to express themselves intellectually and without that intellectual freedom of course, you are missing a lot on their creativity you know, their ability to think differently and that’s what we
didn’t want. And then based on the surveys as you said people expressed their dissatisfaction and then were like okay why don’t we think about you know, that human experience and that’s basically how we started.
ANNA: Thank you very much. When you refer to human experience and culture you mainly refer at least this is my understanding to your colleagues in Davis College right in your in this internal environment and collaboration you have created what have been the external see what have been the external symptoms the external aspects like with your with your students although they are part of the of the internal life in a way but also they’re also a partially external stakeholder and a target group for the for the whole organization and also some other external stakeholders what have been the symptoms also in this value creation stream? Have you sensed something there and some pain points of part of these surveys you conducted at the beginning?
THERESE: Yeah I can speak to that I think that you know, our work is very internally focused at the moment because we feel that there is a lot that needs addressing. I don’t believe that we actively spoke to our students about their experience because their experience at this point and their main focus is getting work right? Like we are placing students into jobs and that is that is one of the main mission statements. And so as long as they get jobs and that’s fine from their perspective but we have sensed internally that there’s more to this right? And as human beings like that do this work we also realize that you know, happiness and contentness in life and having a purpose-driven life is very much part of the experience in education and should be so so it’s what we’re starting to sense for ourselves as an organization is going to eventually trickle down to our students but you know, I’ve said this before as well and as that it’s barely been two years of our journey and I think there’s still quite a bit of internal work to be that we have to do before we’re in a space and place where we can you know, start promoting ourselves as look at look at how this is impacting our students now. So we’re really in the very beginning stages of that conversation and we want to be really mindful about it as well, Pasteur. How are you? How are you feeling about this concept? Because Pasteur is amazing by the way he’s such an amazing part of our faculty and he stands in front of our students everyday. So yeah what’s your experience?
PASTEUR: Thanks so much Therese. Yeah you’ve just made a very great comment. But I think that somehow connected, yeah, I believe everything we are doing is just internal. But here’s a way it even reflects on the outside world yeah because if you’re running an organization and people are dissatisfied. People are overworked, people don’t have a voice, people don’t express themselves, yes powerfully controlled, they’re micromanaged. Yes, you may get the results but those are short-term results long time you’re gonna see the repercussions. Yeah so I’m not saying anything was the outside world never knew what was happening because we have such a good name outside and everything outside okay but internally there was that sense of dissatisfaction and it was enlightening this service.
ANNA: Thank you. And I think it’s absolutely, absolutely fair and right to say a journey- it’s a journey and there is no end point where it’s okay now- I’m with you know, with treating the symptoms and I am fully self-organized. Yeah, so it’s really a journey and we should acknowledge that it’s never ending and one thing we close and gets open and it’s right? It’s also a good development because how we develop as people as teams and these organizations as well so it’s-
THERESE: And the whole you know, Anna, hierarchy and command control and all of this oh everything that by the way that we described hierarchy right? It’s ingrained in us in our DNA. Like we are born it’s in our households it’s in primary school and secondary school it’s like in our you we get taught when we are going to go into the workforce and you know, you’re basically going to be like a tea runner in the beginning and just do what everybody tells you so it’s very much like from a very young age we’re told that this is the way that life is and we accept it it’s an acceptance thing. And then there’s a few of us who become contrarian we’re like well this is stifling me this is stifling my creativity but because it’s so systemic, it doesn’t happen change doesn’t happen overnight. This is why I think about this transformation journey that we’re on as a lifelong one. Like this is going to be a journey that each one of us individually go on
if it’s not within this organization we will take it to another place as well because it’s a constant like in almost internal type of work that you have to do.
ANNA: Yeah absolutely and especially from early age we’re educated in a different way and even more so the I acknowledge the how you transform an educational system which is like before we enter the work the work life we already tried to work on ourselves in these different in on these different aspects so you mentioned several of the challenges or at least how you had the status quo two years ago. So bureaucracy, lack of transparency like really hierarchical structure and rigid structures. Where did you start? What happened first? Like what happened then after you had the survey results in a way?
THERESE: Well if I’m honest like we had the survey results kind of probably around COVID outbreak if I’m honest but we kind of just sat on them we didn’t you know, when you get results and you’re like my people are a little unhappy I mean I think a lot of organizations do this right like HR sends surveys out they mean nothing because they just sit there and people are like oh so they’re a little unhappy let’s have like a drinks night or something like you know, that’s like do some team building and it’s kind of like that’s how we thought about it at the time and then and then COVID happened. And honestly for us as an organization and even for me personally I just think it was like life-changing because it gave us time to really look at ourselves. Like if you know, if I have to say what happened I think like, honestly like ,burnout happened. Like I think people were so tired and burned out and all of a sudden we had to think about stuff differently and think about work differently.
And so I think where really it started is and our CEO speaks about this openly as well is her own personal journey and her own sort of self-reflection and she started working with an executive coach who you know, together they started exploring different new ways of working. And then at that time I was her chief of staff so we would do reading together and then you know, she would start having conversations with like Pasteur and a few others and all of a sudden a bunch of us were exploring, were learning, were you know, talking to each other. And then it became bigger than that then it became coaching and
therapy. Like what do we need to resolve? What trauma do we have inside of us that needs resolving? You know, we- a bunch of us did leadership circle profiling you know, what is holding us back from becoming integral leaders, what is holding us back from scaling our leadership.
Yeah and you know, I think if I’m honest like that was the start. It’s that individual self-reflection time and I think for any organization who’s interested in this work you can you can declare openly we’re gonna you know, start self-management and like put a system in place start like we did a Holocracy we’re doing we practice Holocracy so you can roll that out you can do you can you know, do all these things and but it starts with internal work it starts with individual reflection it starts with understanding who you are and what your assumptions are about the world because then that will affect how you and impact how you show up for other people. And how you show up for- for in our case for our students and for the world in general.
ANNA: Thank you Therese. It resonates a lot with me it starts any every like impact small or big starts with oneself totally. Also the philosophy we have in LIVESciences and its observation which has been we prove it to be true every day with ourselves and with our clients. Pasteur, would you share your perspective on what happened? At the beginning how this transformation really started for you?
PASTEUR: Yeah that’s a good question. I think internally I had started a journey of figuring out more about who I am internally, okay? And I’ve done a couple of readings and I’ve been exposed to a couple of ideas and that actually helped me to welcome this idea of you know, creating an environment where people have a voice. I remember I was initially part of the care cycle and the care cycle that is the care cycle the initial cycle that we decided to pilot this holy experience. And based on the survey that sorry the results that we got from the care cycle and that’s why we decided that okay well it’s worth giving it to trial then we said okay can we now invite everybody in the organization to transition now into Holocracy?
For me it has been really a nice experience that is connected to who I am okay personally I believe in freedom, I believe in allowing people to have a voice, I believe in tapping in that creative thinking and allowing people to be who they really are because you know, it’s very easy to put on a mask and just pretend to be who you are not and I believe in the long run you see that even an organization is missing a lot on your creativity, your skills, your ability to bring something on the table. So that how I can describe the experience personally but I believe
there are so many other colleagues my most of my colleagues actually also welcomed this idea because they know how much they were denied a voice by the hierarchies, how much they didn’t have access to information you know, things would take long to be processed. Things that shouldn’t take that long was really people at the bottom like me didn’t have a voice okay, to get something done you have to go through somebody I was totally a climate that nobody who believes in you know, intellectual rebellion would have wanted to be in.
ANNA: Do I understand correctly that you had a small circle originally from like-minded people? Influenced by wanting to make the change in a similar direction, who started this change process for the organization? How did it develop? What experiments did you try first and how was your first initial implementation? How does it resonate with or with a wider organization beyond this core team you formed?
THERESE: Yeah I can start us off. It was quite a process we started with a pilot like Pasteur was saying a pilot of Holocracy we knew we needed a tool or some sort of structure we wanted clear guidelines we and Holocracy made a lot of sense to us the fact that you know, we could follow a constitution and play by a certain set of rules the fact that circles had their own governance process and their own tactical meetings where they can quickly resolve operational issues it also made a lot of sense to us because you know, what Pasteur just said that we debated this a lot this concept of like how our faculty felt like they were at the bottom you know, like they are the people who are like at the forefront of the work that we’re doing they should never feel like they’re at the bottom in fact they should be at the core right that concept of like our faculty is serving our students and therefore they should be the core of our work. And actually everybody else is supporting them to do their best work.
And so we came up with this concept of like student care circles being like kind of at the core of what we’re doing and so if we think about a structure they’re sitting at the core and then we have all these supporting circles, Holocratic circles around them and we very much I’ve spoken about this before as well we very much stick to the rules of Holocracy we don’t deviate and there is a reason for that it’s because we are still very new to the game and it’s you know, it creates safety. It creates psychological safety for our team members to know what the rules are and that we’re all sticking to them because you know, there it’s talking the talk and you know, you want to make sure that you’re also walking the walk you want to make sure that people trust you and that they know that you’re serious. So if we say that hierarchy has been dismantled and that circles have their own decision making rights and they have their own governance structures then we stick to it because we follow the constitution that Holocracy has set out for us. So it is creating an enormous amount of psychological safety for us.
ANNA: Totally resonates with me. Just getting this empowerment not as an empty word but through structures which are actually meaningful for the people who live in them and those are able to shape them in addition yeah.
THERESE: I would just add and Pasteur I think he’ll echo what I’m saying which is we are because we’re on a journey and we think it’s a lifelong one you know, we might become so evolved that and amazing if that happens that we go we want to try something different we don’t you know, democracy maybe we want to like tweak it a little bit to make it more suitable to the needs of like education in East Africa. Or we want to do this slightly different maybe this is
three or four years down the line who knows we are because this is an evolutionary purpose journey for us as well, we are open to all of that now. And we can see how it’s safe to try like it’s
not because everybody has a voice, and we have a structure for people to be heard, we know that we can make changes and we can like adjust and come back again. And I think that’s one of the things that I enjoy the most about this journey of giving people autonomy – is knowing that we can always make changes if we feel that as an organization and sense that.
ANNA: Thank you Therese. I have a specific question. Maybe to you Pasteur I’m coming from academia I spent quite some years at a couple of universities before changing to industry and to LIVESciences also how has has it been for people from academia from educate, from this
educational system coming from there I know I’ve seen so many different constellations and mindsets of like really full command and control exactly as you describe it for your setting but also full self management in terms of also direction chaos. No structures at all or too few structures to support the students, to support what needs to happen optimally. So how like this mindset shift because self-organization requires a lot of self-accountability, self-drive and depending on your already existing mindset this shift, this change management might be less or more difficult. What is your impression dear Pasteur?
PASTEUR: Yeah that’s a very good question and I’ll be very honest on this first of all I can’t say that we are implementing self management to the extreme so what we are trying to do we are simply trying to practice holacracy which is more like a management system that allows us to operate in a certain way but we are abiding to a certain number of standards okay? It’s not just we are just coming out and say okay let’s do everything as we please no no that’s not after all we do have our regulators we have a government body called Henk, this is a government body that comes and checks how we’re doing everything. So briefly we are abiding by tried and tested academic standards but somehow we are implementing something that liberates us that allows us to function in a totally different way. Therese mentioned the number of things people having the freedom to express themselves for me, I would actually describe it as intellectual freedom okay that’s allowing people to kind of tap in on their intellectual, you know, their creative thinking.
I mean and that’s what we are trying to create basically allows people to use their creativity bring something on the table, allowing people to take decisions, allowing people to have a voice and you know, contributing, deciding how something is run, allowing people to have access to information that’s really important. Because we’ve been very much denied access to information because every handful of people had access to information and without information in the academia you may not do much and not just academia in every other organization you need to have access to information and know how to make the right decision. So it’s actually a combination of things that have actually contributed to make us feel liberated. We have that freedom we have a voice and that actually has given us way more energy. Thank you.
ANNA: Thank you. Thank you this answers the question yeah. Like in your context how this changed, what change was needed. Therese would you like to complement?
THERESE: Yeah. I mean this is Pasteur’s expertise, I’m not an academic but what I can add is that the reason this is so important the reason this work and giving voice and intellectual freedom and autonomy, agency. The reason we are taking that back and dismantling hierarchy is because actually with our faculty and our academic team, that’s where changes happen in
curriculum that’s where changes happen for what we’re offering our students right? And so
if they feel stifled from a creative level then we’re just going to keep teaching the same stuff to the students over and over again. And sorry but isn’t that just what’s wrong with education in general today? Is that we are stifling the creativity of our academia. And so then your offering remains the same people go into the workforce in the same way people don’t think critically and change happens too slowly in the world. So the way that we’re approaching it is you know, strengthen our people, give our humans voice and make them feel safe to be creative and then let’s see if any magic happens. Like it’s we’re not this is not a rush. Like we are going to give this as many years as it needs and we hope that you know, this formula works but if it does like being a little bit idealistic about this but you know, then our faculty can be incredibly creative and we can give something to our students that can potentially change their lives and the world around them.
PASTEUR: Yeah connected to that, Therese it’s very important to mention that now we have our curriculum we don’t have anything that is set in stone. Lesson plan curriculum everything all the materials that faculty members need everybody can propose a change okay and of course we have an entire process that we have to go through okay? Contrary to what used to be where
you just take everything the way it is and you’re not allowed to critique it you know, how to question what you see and after all with this we’ve realized that if you allow people to question the status quo, you bring in a lot of creativity and it works for the benefit of the entire organization thank you.
ANNA: Yeah, exactly. This mindset shift you don’t necessarily go with a critique but you challenge the stuff you love. And being allowed to do so just highlights your contribution
and your passion about what you do so just this shift in the mindset I think it’s also really major
to consider when we change this how we do stuff. And this is also maybe just to explore
even deeper on this question, what other positive effects or impact you already were able to observe? Like okay we changed we are two years down the road and we see people challenge stuff, people started contributing to curricula, people started to voice their opinion and this contributes to some decision made yeah what else changed?
THERESE: So I let Pasteur speak from a faculty standpoint but from a sort of admin and organizational standpoint I think oh so many things. We have changed the basically our goals for the next year and what we want to achieve. So we are we intentionally set out to slow down and we intentionally set out to focus on you know, if you if you want to bring this back to Teal and loose work you can say we’re focusing on wholeness right? So we’re focusing on making sure that our people are supported and safe and that they have the tools that they need to do this work and what are those tools? So you know, coaching such a big part of moving into self-organization like you have to instead of telling people what to do you have to help guide them there and help support them there. So we’re seeing people in our organization pop up as coaches that you know, not in a million years that they think that they would ever take on a role like that. But they have the opportunity and the platform not to do that and we’re helping them through bringing in external you know, professionals to help guide them and flexing this muscle that’s a big one. Like things like you know, we see instead of people seeking for permission or seeking for approval we have people like going through what we call the advice process which is like so beautiful where you go I hold this role, I have these responsibilities or I’m
accountable for these things therefore I can make the decision myself, however I don’t have the expertise in this, this and this and therefore I’m going to seek the levels of expertise I’m going to speak to these people I’m going to get as much information as I can and then I’m going to make a very informed decision and then roll this something out. And we have seen this a couple of times over the last couple of years and it’s been really beautiful and I also see people thinking about things like instead of managing people it’s like managing projects you know, like the
things that’s on our plates we’re not telling people how to do it we’re all working towards a collective goal of getting something done yeah so that’s just a few examples.
But certainly one of the biggest ones is self-reflection like people are just really starting to take a moment and ask themselves what part am I playing in this like if this conversation went this way could I have approached it in a different way to have that my the outcome that I was seeking? What does this person need? What do I need? Yeah I think those are all you know, again part of the human experience that we’ve spoken about before.
ANNA: Thank you very much and what resonates with me is a lot of series is yeah just
train this muscle and how the structure can support us actually training these muscles.
I don’t know if you would like to compliment Pasteur around the changes you observe, the impact you observe maybe some different aspects?
PASTEUR: Sure. Everything is actually connected to all the tensions that we are having who are connected to that lack of the human experience. Maybe they changed the obvious change and I believe of course from myself my point of view and I believe it’s pretty the same thing with my colleagues is that sense of satisfaction. Sometimes job satisfaction may be connected to a number of factors but but something as small as having a voice feeling that you have a voice and it’s true you are valued, your voice is valued and you are accepted the way you are you
don’t have to put on a mask for me that’s the one that really stands out from the rest and that comes a lot there’s so many things that comes along with that feeling of satisfaction job
satisfaction. Because you feel you are valued you have a voice and as opposed to the situation where you’re simply working for a paycheck you just wait for the end of month yeah so that
job satisfaction is not connected to how much you’re earning it’s not connected to the most important factor is that feeling of satisfaction and it kind of brings a lot of energy within you that contribute to achieving the purpose of the organization that’s the one I wanted to talk about.
ANNA: Thank you maybe- oh sorry yeah go ahead.
THERESE: I was just gonna say Anna I’m sure like we can all resonate with like when Pasteur was speaking like we can all remember that one teacher or professor or you know, person in the front of the classroom that impacted how you thought about something because of the way that they delivered a message. You know, and it wasn’t and it was because they were so passionate about it, or because they were so energized or you know, the way just just the way they showed up for their students and that’s the difference here. Like when you give people agency and autonomy through structures within your organization and they’re energized to then go and do the work that the purpose that they feel inside of them, it shines through into what they deliver in a classroom and that makes the impact on the students. It’s not even just like of course curriculum is important, of course what we teach is important but actually on a much more simple level if we scale it back to what we remember from being in the classroom then that’s certainly something that stands out to me when Pasteur talks about his work.
ANNA: I guess this is really really powerful totally totally makes sense to me and I think it fits very well now with one comment or question we have in the chat by Menard. He says how can we pursue more teachers or the people who guide our students to be as creative and open with these changes? It’s exactly referring to what you just both said like this passion and this
I am fully now in there for you to fulfill this purpose and these are exactly how the how behind it’s I guess even interpret here Menard please excuse me if it’s not your intention but it’s how do we create a movement now what you started what you drive this passion you spread in Davis College but how do you what would be your dream like spreading this movement and exactly pursue more people to to spread this passion and grow this passion in their students? What is the dream after this experiment?
THERESE: What is the dream? Oh that’s a great question. So I think you know, again. I want to hear Pasteurs comments on this but I do believe that it you can pursue and and create a movement but ultimately I will sound like a broken record, but this is what I truly believe and I believe this is my purpose is to change human beings. And to make sure that it starts with the person and their internal work. To help them resolve their own trauma and to help them become integral leaders and I think that if you are able to you know, strengthen a human soul then and work towards their purpose I think then you know, the way that they show up is very different to
somebody who hasn’t yet experienced that themselves.
I also start you know, doing purpose work has been really interesting I’ve just really started thinking about the what with what I’m doing in within my organization as something completely different you know, what we’re doing we’re such a living organism at Davis College. What we’re doing is impacting a greater ecosystem you know, we’re all part of creating systemic change. And so we have to think about what we’re doing in our behavior because it’s going to impact on the greater system in some way so it’s like a coach said to me once, an executive coach is like keep your focus on what you’re doing just make your impact here and others will follow because it will just sort of resonate and it will shine through the work that you’re doing so yeah that concept of like living Laloux’s concept of like you know living organisms and a garden and like making it flourish and and watching it grow that sort of that sort of analogy really sort of resonates with me so I know I haven’t really answered this question but I don’t think there is an answer. Pasteur?
PASTEUR: I don’t have- okay I just wanna comment maybe I don’t have an answer but I think if we can get as many people if we can get as many people as possible to embark on that journey of transformation here I’m talking about things like something as simple as learning to distance ourselves from our ego. You see tremendous change in every other area of our lives. So our somebody talked about the question is about creativity on the side of the students and it is very much connected to creativity on the side of the teacher because as a teacher the one guiding okay so your creativity as a teacher, it is somehow connected to so many things including the journey of transformation I’m talking about. And your creativity will definitely impact people around you students even your family, your colleagues at work, and everybody around so that’s what I wanted to add.
ANNA: It’s infectious how we reflect on ourselves and how we behave. It also impacts exactly as you said a lot of the others but definitely. Thank you very much for this message and now it’s now it doesn’t feel even so right to go back to the to the other questions I have after this spread the passion and grow this fractal of yeah of self-organization and self-accountability to the world. But I still want to ask one questions around your journey because it’s not only successes and cool experiments and yes, we start with ourself and yeah it’s more or less but what are the challenges? What were the resistance points you observed? What has been your approach there also? May be interesting for our audience.
PASTEUR: Oh the challenges are many maybe a few of them that comes to my mind. People everywhere are too much rooted into hierarchy and naturally people exist to change uh so when you want to bring about change of course you get a you’re gonna get a couple of people who resist the changes that you want to implement and if you are lucky enough at some point they realized that those changes were needed. So I believe you also and Therese agrees with me
maybe we may not have enough tools to measure the amount of resistance that we faced.
But Therese can agree with me that there was some level of resistance within a couple of people. Yeah and so that’s very normal and it’s very okay we don’t want as human being we take time to understand the rationale behind changes.
So as an institution that we also have to go through that but a few months down the line now we’re saying bye bye to those resistance that feeling of resistance that’s what I wanted to mean so that’s one of the challenges but there are so many others allow me to another challenge by the way that comes to my mind, is that we don’t have so many references. We among I believe we are the first institution in Africa that is trying to work in that way so we don’t have so many other organizations at least within the African continent to emulate, to learn from, to see how are you doing it, what can we do differently. But since we’ve allowed ourselves to try something new as long as we are conscious like he’s bringing something that we want, yeah we are okay to go and then who knows maybe what will happen in the future that’s what I can say.
ANNA: Thank you.
THERESE: Yeah that’s certainly you know, in the beginning when we embarked on this journey we part of our exploration was just like reading as much as we can about other organizations that that did this work and even those that don’t call themselves Teal but you know, like Semco
or Morningstar and you you oh man you know, you look at them and you’re like wow what if we could be like them that would be so amazing. But Pasteur is right like there wasn’t a lot of examples that we could exactly draw from. And so making it up as we go has been a challenge because you know, you sometimes you just want to speak to somebody who has been through something like you-
ANNA: “Just tell me how to do it, if possible, exactly!”
THERESE: “Tell me how to do it” And I think something that something that a coach said to me once is stop trying to control everything. Stop trying to have a road map. Throw away the road map. Like there is no road map for you, you have to have a rough plan and go. And then it’s not it’s like therapy, it’s not linear. You’re gonna go forward, then you’re gonna go back, then you’re gonna go in circles, and you’re gonna like go that way, that way and then you’re gonna like you know, it’s just you have to be willing to do that and it’s you know, focus on your people. Like people they are the ones the relationships and your organization focus on your people and if somebody is in a space and place where they don’t want this, then let them go gracefully. Because if you as an organization have decided that this is the path for you then actually
you’re doing that person that you know, you’re it’s almost inhumane to make them work in this way. There are several places that will take them on in their talent and their skill set and they will flourish there and become an organization where you know, you help people say goodbye to people when they leave this journey but welcome them back in when they’re ready for the next part of this journey right?
So that also makes me think about traditional HR practices of like
onboarding and off-boarding and all of that sort of stuff. It’s like that’s the sort of stuff that we’re trying to rethink like why do we on board and off board people in this way? Like why don’t we just like you know, say best of luck come back come back when you’re ready we love you like you know, there shouldn’t be animosity. It should just be a growth process for everybody.
But yeah there has certainly been resistance and backwards and forwards and I just think that that advice that we had about like don’t try and control it, just sense it and like make adjustments as they’re needed it’s been that’s been the most insightful thing for us.
THERESE: Thank you. I really liked exactly this growth mindset behind our processes onboarding and offboarding it’s not something finite. It’s not something which okay from now on it’s like this and it’s just a developmental journey together or a bit apart and maybe the future who knows what is the current- what is the current I don’t know aspect like organizational aspect is the process or a role you are reshaping or evolving with this mindset give me one more one two more examples?
THERESE: Oh can you can you reframe that question for me? I don’t know if I’m understanding it correctly.
ANNA: With this mindset you said, you rethought- rethink how you think about the processes for example in a chart on boarding and onboarding do you have another like similar example where you completely rethink a different part of the you know, a process or a role where like before we was doing it this way and now we like totally reshape it in this new mindset, growth mindset do you have other so like I find it quite quite cool how self-management and this mindset manifests in your organizational structures? Is the underlying question.
THERESE: yeah I think I mean the most obvious one and I think I’ve spoken about this before is the role of the manager right? Like it doesn’t exist anymore. Like we don’t manage people, we coach. And I think this is a coaching this is something that I can speak about a lot as well but I think that this identifying who your coaches are going to be giving them support, giving them you know, the training that they need because it’s it’s a skill and it’s like it’s a muscle that you need to flex and so so that’s something that’s really important that we have focused time and attention on and you know, even things like okay this is outside of HR. But finance processes for us right now you know, we really agree with the concept of giving as much information to our organization as possible. Like how can we make decisions if we don’t have every single
bit of information? Like how can we make decisions about what direction we’re going to go in
if we don’t know what our financial situation looks like? You can’t expect people to agree or disagree if they don’t have all the context right? And I think in the past that sort of transparency we that I think senior management and this is happens everywhere when you have a hierarchical organization, is they they keep that information to themselves because it’s going to protect everybody we’re like protecting like we’re a parent right? It’s like no we’re all adults like that’s all. If we can all manage our lives, and manage our own finances at home and like raise children and like you know, surely we can do that within our organizations as well. So it’s that concept of like – and we work with Lisa Gill on this – it’s that concept of like changing from the parent-child relationship which we can talk about with managers and coaches as well to adult adult. Like we are all adults and this is how we interact now. This is the information this is the context now go and make decisions.
ANNA: Yeah. Yeah, really cool yeah it’s exactly like the journeys, yes we have now all this mindset and we are conscious with ourselves and what we want to achieve but now let’s transform the different structures in the organization so they like to really also manifest this mindset would you like to compliment Pasteur? Or say something in addition and or have had maybe you have attention I don’t know. [Laughter]
PASTEUR: Yeah from my point of view things are easily processed now because there’s no bureaucracy. It doesn’t take years to get something done maybe if it had to be done by a different office it is totally easy because there’s no bureaucracy that you know, take things to take years to be processed where they can be easily processed and that’s one. And maybe another thing is that managers used to rely on tight control mechanism to get things done you know, a lot of micromanaging as I said. Now they allow people to like to be who they are. They like to do their own things okay of course we have mechanism to see who is doing what and how they are doing it but there’s that sense of creativity that comes along with less control mechanism okay and you’re allowed to express yourself. So those are the changes that happened maybe another thing there’s nobody who sits there and thinks they have answers to all the questions. Yeah you can consult a colleague maybe to get maybe their input you just
don’t sit there and think that you can do everything you can reason for other people you can make decisions, no, no, no so you can go through a process where you get input from others maybe you’re the one to make that final decision because it’s something maybe connected to your role but you are very aware that you may need input from others. In that sense they feel valued and you also feel that you’re making the right decision because you may be consulted people will be affected by that decision so those are the changes I can talk about.
ANNA: And this is the purpose of the organization to make a right? Decision at the end of the day and there for me, the biggest takeaway was is create human workplaces where people are acknowledged and valued and they feel so and they can like really if they’re empowered to contribute to the fullest and I thank you so so much for this conversation. This hour really flew I totally agree with our director thank you very much Ken and all the team for supporting us in the background. Thank you very much Therese and Pasteur for this cool conversation. And I’m sure we will stay in touch. I would like to thank you and our audience also as well for putting your questions and challenges on the chat and also for tuning in with us.
I would like to advertise some events which are coming for us if you still want to be part of tomorrow’s Global Team Meetup, please make sure you register today. It’s tomorrow starting in the afternoon, European time. And the next Living Room Conversation is on May 18th also 14
o’clock Europe city. It will be with Tyrance Billingsley so welcome and make sure you subscribe. And if you liked our conversation, you can watch it later and you couldn’t maybe tune in you can watch it later on Youtube, on Facebook and also on Spotify and yeah. See you next time with LIVESciences and Living Room Conversation. Thank you!
THERESE: Thank you!
PASTEUR: Thank you so much!
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