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Frandsen Recommends: Five Things to Explore on a Meaningful Work Life

10. Aug 2022

A relaxing vacation might give you a new perspective or even an urge to change your relationship with your work life. Brian Frandsen, our Senior Strategic Designer, wants to help you challenge your assumptions of what (work) life can be and help you imagine and maybe even start working on a more meaningful life at ‘the office’

Quick insight

Two thoughts occupy most of my every day: how can my colleagues get as much pleasure and meaning out of the time they spend working at the DDC – Danish Design Center, AND how can I get as much joy and meaning out of my time spent working at the DDC. Well, this is part of my job: to imagine how organizations, work-life, and value creation look in the future. 

And not just at DDC but at companies, institutions, and organizations at large. I realize that other people think of this too. In particular, many people ponder these questions while lying on the beach, walking in the forest, or hanging around the summer house during vacation. Quite a few of my late-night conversations with friends and family during the last month have been about this.

So why just think and talk about it? Shouldn’t August be about doing something about it then? I will give you a few recommendations to boost your thinking and feeling and see alternatives to the work-life you have now. My aim is not to push you to do something rash (I don’t want to be to blame for another big resignation) but rather to take you deeper into something that might answer the questions of what a meaningful work-life could be for you.

  1. Turn your worldview around by reading this book

    Book: The Life of Plants – A Metaphysics of Mixture by Emanuele Coccia

    Imagine if everything we do as humans is to please the plants we find all around us. Plants are the foundation for everything on the planet. Humans depend entirely on plants for air, nutrients, and climate control. So why do we spend so little time understanding their world? This book gives an inspiring, aesthetic, and thought-provoking run-through of the marvelous world of plants and the interconnectedness of everything living. This book (which is, in fact, a lengthy research article) will open your eyes to alternative ways of considering the value of doing stuff (not least the stuff we do at work). It takes us below the green agenda and helps us understand why we should work, design, and be considerate of ecosystems rather than just human society.

  2. Practice your ability to stop thinking and experience a true connection to the world

    Practice: Daily meditations

    Mindfulness and meditation have become a well-known source of tranquility and stress-relieving breaks for many ambitious and busy professionals. But meditation and mindfulness can do so much more for you. It can help you step out of your constant stream of thoughts and into the experience of connecting with the immediate ecosystem you are part of.I started on an introductory course in meditation some weeks ago, and I can already sense the benefits. Sure meditation works as a stress reliever and helps you focus. Still, even more importantly, it can help train your ability to see things for what they are instead of what they seem in the eyes of old experiences, biases, and assumptions about the world and the people around you. It can help you see beyond all the noise of everyday life and realize the real reasons why you feel an urge to change things in your work life. So why not spend your month of August learning and adopting a meditation practice? I can recommend the app Waking up.

  3. Maybe it’s not you – maybe it’s your organization?

    Video: Frederic Laloux presents the ideas of Reinventing Organizations to His Holiness the Dalai Lama

    Maybe the change you are looking for has less to do with you and more with the community of work you are part of (also known as the organization you work in). For many of us, work is not something you start doing at eight and finish at four. It’s not something you leave behind when you physically leave your workplace. So why are we still structuring and talking about our organizations as hierarchical entities only designed for the most efficient way of trading your time and muscle/brain power for money? Why not think of it as an organism where everybody gets to develop their personal and professional potentials for the good of oneself, the immediate community, and the planet as a whole? In 2014, Frederic Laloux developed and presented a theory of the teal organization in his book Reinventing Organizations. The idea has been one of the most promising ways of designing organizations to give room for people to go to work as whole human beings, collaborate on a higher purpose, and influence their assignments, contribution, and engagement. If this sparks your curiosity, take a look at this 25-minute video. In it, you will experience the reaction to the ideas and rationales behind the teal organizations of non-other than the Dalai Lama himself.

  4. Get a glimpse of how real-life organizations are changing

    Monthly webinars and community workshops

    Teal Around the World is a yearly online conference sharing experiences, knowledge, and experiments of transforming organizations to the principles of teal. Between conferences, volunteers arrange monthly webinars/workshops where the community meets to exchange experiences. These events are an excellent way to get a sense of the struggles, challenges, and benefits straight from those already on the path to creating future-proof organizations. There’s an American and European edition of the meetups, so no matter what timezone you are in, there’s one for you.

  5. Take part in our work on designing the future of organizations

    As we are harvesting our experiences by changing the DDC work-life and organization in a teal direction, we explore and develop design principles to support the journey of future-proofing organizations. So my last recommendation to you is to check out what we have already shared on our transformation. Please feel free to reach out if you are interested in becoming part of the endeavors of creating more meaning, value, and engaging working lives and organizations. We’re currently working on an initiative on the subject, so we’re eager to start building a network and learning from others. Stay tuned.

Related articles, tools, cases, and projects:

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