S02E16 Creating an Organization without Managers, One Step at a Time, with Nathan Donaldson

“You can’t be productive unless your team is happy… It’s not the foosball tables and the perks. It’s that deeper happiness that comes from doing some meaningful work for people that you like and respect, working with people that you like and respect.”

S02E16 of the Rethink Culture podcast shines the spotlight on Nathan Donaldson from New Zealand. Nathan is the CEO and founder of Boost, a custom software agency for government that runs without managers. He is also the author of the book “Unicorns Over Rainbows,” which focuses on making lasting, meaningful changes to organizations. Nathan is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Democracy in the Workplace from WorldBlu. As a designer at heart, he loves solving hard problems. Outside of work, Nathan enjoys computer game racing and embracing the great outdoors with activities like mountain biking, surfing, and snowboarding.

Nathan explains how his company operates without traditional hierarchical structures or managers. Instead, Boost’s 25-30 employees manage themselves with the help of coaches, displaying a high level of responsibility.

The podcast is created by Rethink Culture. Our goal is to help 1 million businesses create healthier, happier cultures, by turning culture into a KPI. Visit rethinkculture.co to see how you can create a healthier culture at your company.

Production, video, and audio editing by Evangelia Alexaki of Musicove Productions.

Listen to this episode to find out:
– How a Dunedin controversy sparked a young Nathan’s interest in political and social justice issues.

– What inspired Nathan to co-found his company and how the early internet shaped his entrepreneurial path.

– How a business crisis led Nathan to seek mentorship, embrace continuous learning, and adopt a no-manager approach.

– Why overwhelming your team with numerous ideas is counterproductive and what to do instead.

– How the Good Small Change framework focuses on implementing small, manageable business changes.

– The three key components of the Good Small Change framework: curiosity, accessibility, and safety.

– The importance of empathy in leadership and how Nathan improved his empathy skills transforming his leadership style.

– How Nathan’s Scottish-influenced upbringing fostered a multicultural, client-focused team culture.

Further resources:

– Nathan Donaldson on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nathandonaldson/ 

– Unicorns Over Rainbows: Make lasting, meaningful change in your organization, by Nathan Donaldson: https://www.amazon.com/Unicorns-Over-Rainbows-meaningful-organization-ebook/dp/B0CC4PF4F7

– Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love, by Richard Sheridan: https://www.amazon.com/Joy-Inc-Built-Workplace-People/dp/1591847125

– Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace, by Ricardo Semler: https://www.amazon.com/Maverick-Success-Behind-Unusual-Workplace/dp/0446670553

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