5 TED Talks that will make you re-think your company culture

The Filling

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The culture in each organisation is ultimately driven by what its founders believe in especially at the startup stage. Like a person would never compromise on their values, a company shouldn’t compromise on its core beliefs. These should form the foundation of the organisation and help to shape the vision and tone of the company.

There are some well established and universally accepted core values that shape the culture in successful companies, however it is helpful to challenge some of these values as time goes on and the thinking around company culture evolves. This is what these 5 inspiring and innovative TED speakers have sought to do… and why you should listen.

1. How Too Many Rules At Work Keep You From Getting Things Done – Yves Morieux

BCG’s Yves Morieux explains why productivity is hindered by the need for measurement, accountability and clarity. By prioritising processes and measuring people on individual KPIs, we miss out on one essential ingredient – cooperation.

“Based on our analysis, teams in these organizations spend between 40 and 80 percent of their time wasting their time, but working harder and harder, longer and longer, on less and less value-adding activities. This is what is killing productivity, what makes people suffer at work […] We need to create organisations in which it becomes individually useful for people to cooperate.”

2. Why It’s Time To Forget The Pecking Order At Work – Margaret Heffernan

According to Margaret Heffernan, companies are often run according to the “superchicken model” where companies value the ‘star’ employees who outperform others. However research shows that the highest performing teams are not those that are made up of superchickens but those that have the best social connection.

“The high-achieving groups were not those where they had one or two people with spectacularly high I.Q. Nor were the most successful groups the ones that had the highest aggregate I.Q. Instead, they had three characteristics, the really successful teams. First of all, they showed high degrees of social sensitivity to each other […] Secondly, the successful groups gave roughly equal time to each other, so that no one voice dominated, but neither were there any passengers. And thirdly, the more successful groups had more women in them […] The striking thing about this experiment is that it showed what we know, which is some groups do better than others, but what’s key to that is their social connectedness to each other.”

3. Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work – Jason Fried

Ever wondered why you get most of your work done (and thinking time) really early in the morning, on the train to work or late at night – and never in the office (where you are actually supposed to be doing work)? Jason Fried explains how M&Ms (that’s meetings and managers) can disrupt work and offers some tips on how to make your workplace your place of work.


“Now what’s interesting is, if you listen to all the places that people talk about doing work, like at home, in the car, on a plane, late at night, or early in the morning, you don’t find managers and meetings. You find a lot of other distractions, but not managers and meetings […] And managers are basically people whose job it is to interrupt people […] But what’s even worse is the thing that managers do most of all, which is call meetings. And meetings are just toxic, terrible, poisonous things during the day at work.

4. The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown

This is one of the most watched TED Talks ever – and there is a reason. In this day and age, where leaders are asked to be more authentic, Brene Brown explains the common characteristics of people who have a true sense of love and belonging and their ability to be vulnerable and compassionate to themselves and towards others to enable them to create a true connection.

“And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection. The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful.”

5. Why Gender Equality Is Good For Everyone – Men Included – Michael Kimmel

Can I just say – I love this guy! I have been struggling to explain (concisely) exactly how I feel about women in the workplace and at home (despite having a website dedicated to this subject – yes I know!). Even though everyone is on board that equality for men and women is the right thing to do, Michael Kimmel explains it in a practical, funny and very truthful way – that it’s a win-win all round.

“There’s another group, though, that actively resists gender equality, that sees gender equality as something that is detrimental to men. I was on a TV talk show opposite four white men […] And the reason I’m telling you this is I want you to hear the title of this particular show. It was a quote from one of the men, and the quote was, “A Black Woman Stole My Job.” [..] I said, “I have just one question for you guys, and it’s about the title of the show. Actually, it’s about one word in the title. I want to know about the word ‘my.’ Where did you get the idea it was your job? Why isn’t the title of the show, ‘A Black Woman Got the Job?’ or ‘A Black Woman Got A Job?’ Because without confronting men’s sense of entitlement, I don’t think we’ll ever understand why so many men resist gender equality. Look, we think this is a level playing field, so any policy that tilts it even a little bit, we think, “Oh my God, water’s rushing uphill. It’s reverse discrimination against us”. So let me be very clear: white men in Europe and the United States are the beneficiaries of the single greatest affirmative action program in the history of the world. It is called “the history of the world.””