Rolling the Dice on Trust
Organizational Culture and Human Connection
A blog by Johannes Traa (and others)
This blog was founded in 2022 in the wake of the Great Resignation as many people began to rethink what it means to work. It's a project to elucidate the dynamics underlying individuals' relationships with organizations and each other. It's about people, power, identity, and trust.
If you enjoy the blog and would like to contribute in some form, please get in touch! We are always open to hearing your stories and passing them along to a wider audience (anonymously or not). Those who have contributed in the past found the experience both healing and insightful. We'd love to hear from you.
When my graduate advisor “found me out” as “the dumbest one”, I experienced a mental health crisis that shifted the course of my life. Fortunately, time has given me perspective and appreciation for my struggles. I now see not only what a toxic culture I was in, but also how I can help my current organization to do better.
Adventures in Value Creation is a series of case studies in technology innovation and business. This article describes a project that initially appeared ripe with opportunity. However, after a year of hard work, various realizations combined to strip it clean of any business value overnight. The learnings from this mishap shine a light on imperatives for tech innovation: identify the real business problem, understand your criteria of success, and target failure modes.
Leadership stories is a collection of case studies in leadership, each one followed by a behavioral analysis and coaching perspective. In this story, we hear one employee’s experience with an abusive executive. Management below this executive regarded his behavior as “average”, reminding us that the fish rots from the head down.
We all benefit from healthy collaboration and conflict resolution. In this article, I discuss two of my favorite models for collaboration: trust and negotiation. A trust orientation is ideal for teamwork but is often fragile in a corporate business setting. I describe the reasons for this and advocate for a negotiation-first mindset carefully infused with trust whenever possible.
Everyone wants to belong. In a professional setting, that means bringing your full self to work and feeling accepted and supported. This is difficult to achieve in practice because of the tension between human needs and business needs, i.e. corporations are profit-maximizing while people are purpose-maximizing. In this article, I examine the role of empathy in corporate tech and discuss strategies for deploying it for positive impact while avoiding burnout.
Throughout the course of my personal and professional development journey, I’ve come across various assessment tools. I like them because they provide frameworks through which to build self-understanding and understanding of others, enhancing our teamwork and leadership skills. This article is an overview of the assessment tools that I've found most useful.
Katie Almon has been an elementary school music teacher for 10 years and has a Master’s in Music Education. In addition to her day job, she is also a violist in a local orchestra and sight-reads music for fun in both a Baroque recorder ensemble and a string quartet. She teaches all 400 students in her school and knows their names by heart. Although she’s happy with her career now, there were some who doubted her early on. When she thinks back, one professor in particular stands out. I sat down with her to talk about it.
This is a summary of four of my favorite books on leadership in an organizational setting. They provide frameworks to help us make sense of what we see and shape our strategies around decision-making and communication. The authors vary in their focus from group culture to power and politics. Enjoy!