Make (more) change happen at your job and in your career.

Start Here | Work Workouts | Learning Things | Blog

See work from another angle(s)

Thanksgiving! A holiday with no gift giving requirements and a distribution of household labor (the cooking, the baking, cleaning the dishes, turkey carving, beer fetching, cocktail mixing…) where the expectations are inherently agreed upon.

It also gives many of us a reason to think about other people—a collective, country-wide exercise that happens on the same day each year.

And if you’ll pardon a blunt segue from the dinner table to the boardroom table, thinking about other people is something much of the workforce could do more often—and specifically thinking about work situations from the perspective of another.

Thinking about work situations from the perspective of a boss, employee, colleague, etc. is a critical tool that separates strategically-minded achievers from the rest of the workforce.

Because most of us rarely see the world from any other angle than our own. 

I was reminded of the idea this week while listening to Brian Koppelman interview Jenna Fischer—you might know her better as Pam from The Office—on his podcast The Moment. Fischer tells the story of sitting through a network test audition for a pilot episode of a new TV show in a room full of actors, writers, producers, and network executives.

An actor thinks everybody is just thinking about their performance and how good they are but in reality everyone has something at stake because when the actor goes in the room and starts performing the material if the actor isn’t “doing well” … I talk to writers and directors who are like “oh my god it’s me, I wrote wrong” or “I’ve directed that person wrong” … everybody is feeling the nerves in the room and that’s why those rooms are so tense I think because everybody thinks it’s about them but it’s about all of our parts.

The actor thinks it’s about them. The writer thinks it’s about them. The producer thinks it’s about them. The network executives definitely think it’s about them.

But of course it’s about everybody. The actor needs the writer and the producer. The writer needs the actor and the producer. The producer needs the actor and the writer. And everyone needs the network executives. The end product suffers if anyone loses sight of the intentions and motives of any other.

In the workplace we call the intentions and motives of other people an agenda. It’s usually used with a negative connotation but understanding another person’s agenda is key to achievement in the workplace. Knowing why other people are making the decisions they’re making will help you make your own. 

Lacking agenda awareness as you sit around a boardroom table is akin to arriving at the Thanksgiving dinner table with the intention of having a sensible political discussion. It could be bad for your relationships.


That’s an endorsement of my weekly pep talk email from my good friend Jade. She’s trustworthy. She’s a healthcare person. And she’s working to make healthcare better through the work. I’m betting you’ll find it valuable every Wednesday, too.


My philosophy on email: Don’t send a bad one.


More Reading

Entropy, or why there is always more work to do

Entropy is a useful mental model for understanding why there’s always more work to do. Entropy happens to everything: sand castles, friendships, abandoned buildings, your team meeting, a project that won’t seem to launch … Entropy is the process of natural systems losing order and falling apart. It’s our effort—our

(at least) Three Windows

There are (at least) three windows for viewing management work. Window One: Yourself. How can you improve how you work? Window Two: The Team and Their Work. How can you create the conditions for your team to learn, grow, and do their best work? Window Three: The Business. How can

Never wondered

Everyone should do more wondering about work, at work, while we work. Is this the best way to do this? Are we asking the right questions? Is this accomplishing anything? Instead, “productive employees” run from meeting to meeting*, to do list in hand, never wondering about what they’re doing or



"It's one email I'm excited to open."

Healthcare is changing. How we work hasn’t. And it’s holding us back.​

Get learning and encouragement to change work through the work.


A Slimmer Work Workout

Be notified when slimmer Work Workouts are planned. Enter your contact information and I’ll send you a note when the sign up is opened.