Innovation and the Human Experience

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In a world where the pace of work feels as rapid as a cosmic voyage, thought leaders are pioneering solutions that defy convention. Today we unravel an unconventional gem: The unFIX model. Unlike traditional agile frameworks and self-management approaches, unFIX introduces a paradigm focused on perpetual innovation and enhancing the human experience.

We sit down with Jurgen Appelo, a trailblazer in the world of organizational transformation and the visionary behind unFIX, who also happened to be our founder and very first podcast guest back in 2016.

We discuss everything from organizational design and artificial intelligence to the power of personal habits, and how Appelo’s views have changed over the last seven years. 

Learn more about Jurgen and the unFIX model here:

Key Points

  1. Embracing Unconventionality: Unfix model’s emphasis on perpetual innovation and enhancing human experience as a path away from rigid frameworks offers a blueprint for organizations to remain flexible and adaptable.
  2. Continuous Adaptation: The need for businesses to be agile and rapidly responsive to changing global circumstances highlights the importance of versatility, a key feature of the Unfix model.
  3. Decentralized Decision-Making: The Unfix approach to organizational structure, such as reteaming and empowering individuals to select their projects, aligns with the increasing trend towards employee autonomy and can contribute to job satisfaction.
  4. Strategic Flexibility: The balance between maintaining a stable organizational base and allowing for dynamic team reformation as situations demand reflects the Unfix model’s strategy for creating resilient businesses ready for future challenges.

Happiness means different things to each of us. After doing extensive research, Management 3.0 founder Jurgen Appelo discovered a common thread: Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. It is a path you choose, not a destination to arrive at.

So many of us spend our lives in pursuit of happiness. Instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live, embrace, and implement it into our daily lives. That’s why we created the 12 Steps to Happiness at Management 3.0.

You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 steps at:


*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. But remains in spoken English, and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:00:00] In a world where the pace of work feels as rapid as a cosmic voyage, thought leaders are pioneering solutions that defy convention. We’re about to unravel an unconventional gem, the unfix model. Unlike traditional agile frameworks, And self-management approaches. Unfixed introduces a paradigm focused on perpetual innovation and [00:00:30] enhancing the human experience.

Today we sit down with a trailblazer in the world of organizational transformation, our inaugural podcast guest and Divisionary Behind Unfixed. Before we dive in, you are listening to The Happiness At Work podcast by management 3.0 where we are getting serious about happiness.[00:01:00]

I’m your host, Elisa Tuijnder, Happiness Enthusiast and Management 3point0 team member. In this podcast, we share insights from industry experts, influencers and thought leaders about what it takes to be happy, motivated and productive at work. So that loving your job becomes the norm and not the exception.

We will be publishing every fortnight on Friday, so be sure to tune in and subscribe. wherever you get your podcasts.[00:01:30]

Our guest today is Jürgen Appelbaum, a prolific entrepreneur, speaker, and writer working to help businesses survive and thrive in the 21st century. He’s the creator of Unfix, a model for organizational adaptability and versatility and founder and former CEO of Management 3point0, which produces our podcasts, right?

So, hey, thank you so much for joining us, Jürgen.

Jurgen Appelo: It’s great to be here, Lisa. [00:02:00]

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Hey, so a little bit of happiness at work trivia. You’re actually our very first guest all the way back in 2016 when we started. Uh, so we’ve already asked you this question, but maybe the answer has changed a little bit, uh, in the last seven years, but what does happiness mean to you?

Jurgen Appelo: Oh, I don’t even remember what I answered, uh, years ago, so we can, we can later check if it’s the same answer. Yeah. I tell people that happiness is, is, uh, narrowing the gap between your [00:02:30] situation and your expectation. So you can do that in two ways. You can lower your expectations about the world. That’s the Buddhist approach or the Stoic approach, as I always say, and it also has helped me survive 22 years of marriage.

And, uh, the other way is, uh, moving your, um, your situation up, which is what products and services are for. They help us improve our situation and both are, uh, [00:03:00] ways to narrow the gap. But. Surprise, surprise. If you, if you improve your situation, uh, your expectations always go up.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. There’s something called hedonistic adaptation, right?

This, this always, yeah, you move the, you move the post. Exactly. Hey, so, uh, I’m fascinated by, by the new work that you’re doing with Unfix. So it’s not that new anymore, but you know, it’s new for the podcast. Uh, so could you explain us what, what is Unfix? How did you get to it and what does it [00:03:30] do?

Jurgen Appelo: Sure. Well, I remember, um, uh, being stuck with Management 3.

0, uh, at a point where I thought, how do I offer people suggestions for organizational structure? Uh, my thinking was that. Every team needs to be a value unit. Every team needs to offer some value to some stakeholders, whether customers and users or internal customers and users, but then I didn’t know how to proceed beyond that.

So [00:04:00] I had to let that slide. Uh, similar for a while and then I went in other directions. I, I, I left the, I left the Mesh with the Load team. I worked on startups and other stuff. And then, uh, at some point, things started clicking after I read a couple of books, including team topologies and dynamic reteaming and other sources on, uh, jobs to be done, et cetera.

And, uh, Somehow, things became clear for [00:04:30] me. And then I thought, okay, now I have suggestions on organizational structure. How do I offer that? And I have always had very ambivalent feelings towards frameworks. Um, I, I like the frameworks for capturing good ideas of, Things that work in some organizations, I don’t like them as static packages that need to be implemented and for which it can be certified.[00:05:00]

So I had this love hate relationship with, with frameworks. And I’ve always said that Manjaro was not a framework. It’s, it’s a toolbox of, of useful ideas. That’s how I have always positioned it. And then I thought, um, if I Start something else, it should not be a framework, it should be an unframework. And I had to think back to pattern libraries, which have been popular for a while, on and off.

And I think that’s the better [00:05:30] name to offer people. A lego box, I use that as a metaphor sometimes. Lego box with options, things for you to try. Nothing is mandatory, but some Lego blocks are very obvious things to use, and others are quite special. It depends on your context. So that’s how I started Unfix as suggestions for organizational structure, and now we are moving beyond organizational structure into goal setting and reteaming [00:06:00] and other cool stuff.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, sounds great. Yeah, when you just said this hate love relationship with structure, with organizational structure, I just had this flashback of doing my first Prince 2, not even agile than the first one, 10 years ago or something. And you know how rigid that was. So just, yeah, just the fact that you can play with these things, that’s great.

And so how do you see the synergy actually with, with Management 3point0? Like there seems to be a synergy there. It seems to be working together quite nice.

Jurgen Appelo: Absolutely. Um, in fact, just today, a few [00:06:30] hours ago, I answered someone’s question, uh, about performance appraisals and how to, how to pay people, uh, with the answer.

I think this is a Management 3point0 question that you’re asking, you know, not, not an unfixed question. Yeah. Um, because in the patterns, I offer the governance crew, which is intentionally drawn blue, by the way, because that is the Management 3point0 color. And I say, this is where the managers go in [00:07:00] the base, which is the tribe that holds all the teams.

And I say the managers sit there and they should not be anywhere else. They should not be on the teams themselves. They should make it easy for people to do reteaming and reteaming is very difficult if you have managers on teams protecting their territories. So, I always say managers should go into the governance crew, they are the chiefs, the chief executive officer, the chief product, the chief [00:07:30] whatever, um, that’s important stuff, they manage the system, not the people, that all of that is true, they have to stay out of everything else.

Um, and, uh, that is the fit. Um, I, I do not offer much advice on how to do that stuff in the blue governance group, because, hey, I’ve been doing that for 10 plus years as part of Manage 3. 0. I, every time I tell people, well, just read the books, they’re already there. Why bother? Um, there’s a, there’s a [00:08:00] team focusing on that stuff, but also on the leadership aspects on the other part of it.

Crews. So, for example, a value stream crew could have a captain, like an airplane can have a pilot or a ship can have a captain. It doesn’t mean that the pilot or the captain decides on everyone’s salaries. That doesn’t make any sense. The pilot doesn’t do performance appraisals mid flight. Uh, that’s, that’s weird, but the captain is responsible for the journey.

[00:08:30] Um, so the captain has a leadership role, not, not a management role, uh, in, to use that metaphor. And also, Management 3point0 has things to say about leadership,

Elisa Tuijnder: of course. Yeah.

Jurgen Appelo: Um, so yeah, the questions come in and I, there’s so much to do, to be honest, in terms of finding patterns and building out the pattern library, it makes no sense to duplicate what is already there.

In fact, I keep telling the team, we only offer [00:09:00] stuff that does not exist elsewhere, or when I think we can do better, where we offer something that the rest doesn’t offer, like. I borrowed four patterns of team topologies and made a tiny bit of modification to how they are defined, but I tried to stay true to the colors and their, and their meaning.

And whenever people ask me questions in more detail about the platform crew or the, [00:09:30] the facilitation crew, that is the enabling team, team topologies. I simply say, well, go read the book, Tint Apologies. It’s already there. I don’t have to rewrite the book. The information is already there. We just borrowed the same observation because the patterns already existed.

And that is true, I think, always for anyone who creates a pattern library. The patterns are already in use. The first book [00:10:00] that was called a, a Pattern Library by Christopher Alexander in the fifties or last century or the seventies, uh, I don’t remember. Um, was about urban planning and city design. Mm-Hmm.

Well, cities already existed before, uh, last century .

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah.

Jurgen Appelo: The patterns, the, the, the good patterns like. Public Square and Promenade and things like that, they already existed. What Christopher Alexander did was he captured those, he gave them a name and [00:10:30] he explained why these patterns work well, but he did not offer a framework for how to build a city and this is how you implement the plan for your city.

That’s, that’s not a custom library. So I want the same approach with organizational structure and the other stuff we’re doing.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so you’ve talked a little bit. You’ve dropped this airline or air aviation kind of terminology a little bit. And that’s made me think, how does this work in practicality in, in, in organizations?

How does it, how does [00:11:00] OnFleeks look in practice in a company? And I know you just said that it’s, it’s almost like a sandbox that you can work with, but could you walk us through a sort of a practical example to make it more tangible?

Jurgen Appelo: Sure. Sure. Well, as I said, the patterns are already in use, we’re just observing and giving them a name.

So, um, there’s actually a book. Uh, called a team of teams by General McChrystal, where he described that teams, small teams, should feel part of a larger team. And once you see that duality, that you actually [00:11:30] have teams at two levels, which we call crews and bases, then you can decide what do we put where at which level.

For example, in the Agile community for I’ve been part for 15 years or something, part of the community. I’ve always heard, don’t change your team, um, because when you change your team, you will hurt velocity, you will hurt throughput, because then people have to do re [00:12:00] teaming. Um, well, not if you do it smartly, and you have two different teams, a crew and a base, and you do some things at the crew level, and some things at the base level.

For example, At Tesla, they do reteaming every three hours. Now, that’s extreme.

Elisa Tuijnder: It’s an extreme example.

Jurgen Appelo: They have small teams for three hours out of a larger team of, I don’t know, a hundred people or whatever, who all know each other. Again and [00:12:30] again, quite a lot of times per week, they work in a different combination.

Joe Justers offers keynote on this topic because he has worked there at Tesla, and he says after a couple of weeks and months, you work with everyone in the whole factory and you know things about paint, about engines, about doors, about AI. So learning goes through the roof. Now granted, this is not for everyone, this style of working, but it works for Tesla in their context.[00:13:00]

Less extreme is another example. Redgate Software has published articles on their re teaming, which happens only once per year. That’s Not that often, but once per year people can choose to work on another team, and there’s a bit of a marketplace, uh, on, they have a ritual for that, it is all facilitated, and everything, and people have their first and second and third choice, and then they swarm [00:13:30] to where they want to contribute, and about one third of people on average move to another team, so it’s relatively moderate.

I see those two examples, Tesla and Redgate, as two extremes of reteaming. There are options in between. I have written a case study on PipeDrive in Tallinn, where they’re reteaming every couple of weeks or every couple of months, depending on the size of the feature that they work on. So a mission team, two, three, four people creates [00:14:00] one minimal marketable feature.

When this is done, released, they dissolve and they form another. Sub team or another feature, but always within the same tribe of 20 people, I call that a base, but it’s the same thing. So it’s a relatively small team of teams, but at the lower level, the groups can reform continuously, but at the higher level, the base level, there they do forming, storming, norming, performing, you know, all that stuff, [00:14:30] the team building, team agreements, etc.

Because, as you can expect. Um, an airline crew, when they go on to a flight, they don’t have time to do thrust exercises, or, or anything like that. That makes no sense, right? They are a team for a couple of hours, maybe, maybe a day at most. And then they dissolve, and then they form a different crew on another plane, but they have rules for how to do the reteaming within a larger team of teams.

So [00:15:00] if you look at those two levels, and you manage those, and you decide, what do we do where? A team agreement, great idea, but is that for the crew level, or can we decide on that at the base level, so that We don’t have to make a new team agreement every time, or just one day, or for just, for just two weeks.

That saves us time. And, uh, yeah, those are, those are all options. I’m not saying that you should do this, but I want people to be [00:15:30] aware of the possibility, because what we’ve always said that you shouldn’t change teams because you hurt your velocity, that turns out not to be true. There are different ways of keeping velocity high.

And stable, uh, permanent teams is one option, but the other options are, uh, have a team of teams, uh, basically.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, I really like that. And it’s really got me thinking as well. And I think, you know, throughout your career and also what [00:16:00] permeates through all what you’re saying now, you’ve really focused on, you know, adaptability, versatility, and agility.

Um, why do you think it’s so important for, for leaders and for good successful organizations as well?

Jurgen Appelo: Okay. What happened in the last few years, we had a pandemic, we have a war going on, we had an energy crisis, we have AI. revolutionizing the world of work. Climate change is having more of an effect on people.

It’s like one crisis after the other. [00:16:30] We have barely recovered from the previous one and the next one announces itself already. So multiple

Elisa Tuijnder: ones at the same

Jurgen Appelo: time, multiple ones. It’s like, okay, well, we sound like, can we have, please want it to have one at the same time.

Elisa Tuijnder: Can we have the roaring twenties first before we roll into the next

Jurgen Appelo: one?

It must be so tiresome for, for a manager, a mid or high level manager. And I actually think that shows the need for the organization to be [00:17:00] truly flexible and versatile because there’s so much going on and you have to respond so fast to things emerging or happening like COVID. The fastest companies were able to switch to, to remote working within, within two or three weeks.

That was relatively easy for them because they already had very. Decentralized decision making and so on. But for other companies, this was a very, very painful thing to do. So the pressure on [00:17:30] organizations has increased, I think, and it is relentless and it will not go away to continuously reorganize yourself, depending on what happens in the world out there.

And that is why I try to offer. Uh, patterns in the unfixed model, the name is intentional, by the way, unfixed, unstructure yourself, be more flexible, more fluid in your approach to, uh, offering value to customers. And, um, yeah, I, I just borrow good [00:18:00] patterns that I see. I, I invent nothing myself, basically. I just use the good stuff and credit, uh, people and authors and speakers for that.

And turn that into a pattern library for versatile organizations.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, it’s, I saw a keynote once where the, where it was all about innovation. Actually, it’s like, nobody’s coming up with the newest of newest ideas. Actually, you’re always putting all these good things together to create something new, and that’s really the, that’s really the base of innovation.

And that’s never left me that, [00:18:30] that insight.

Jurgen Appelo: Yes, innovation is a recombination of existing ideas as many people. So, and I, I completely agree.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, exactly. Hey, so throughout your career, you’ve not only focused on this, you know, agility and versatility, but you know, you also works on happiness at work, right?

So hence the podcast. Um, do you think that sort of these ways of working, this, these unfixed ways of working will lead also to increased happiness at work?

Jurgen Appelo: Um, I hope so. There’s no

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:19:00] guarantee. But how could it contribute to it then?

Jurgen Appelo: Yes. As a side effect. I hope so. But I’ve always said that happiness in itself is not a goal.

It is sort of a side effect of doing something meaningful. And, um, I, I, I think that is also true with the work that I do. I mean, it makes me happy working on, on this pattern library, uh, not every day. I mean, that’s part of life, that some things suck, and sometimes I’m frustrated and that’s just the way things are.

[00:19:30] Um, but overall, I think I’m working on something meaningful, meaningful, and that makes me happy. Um, I, I hope and think it’s the same for most of the people that I work with. Um, and we’re not supposed to make each other happy all the times. As I said, it’s a byproduct, a very beneficial byproduct of working on something that makes sense and is important.

So in that sense, yes, I think, uh, it, it could help people be happier. And also organizations [00:20:00] that Apply patterns to be more flexible, um, but in not all cases, because I know not everyone is happy at Tesla. Um, it might not be the context, uh, the environment that, that they need as a human being. Um, but not every company needs to be Tesla.

Um, there are very other kinds of, uh, ways of organizing yourself, whether you use stable teams or mission teams or, or liquid teams, uh, whatever. These are just different [00:20:30] options, but I think leaving the decision to a large extent to people within a base and having them decide with each other what makes sense for us.

Are we going to swarm? Are we going to have static team boundaries? Um, what works for us? Uh, that in itself should help people be happier and feel safe that they have control over their own destination and, and, and autonomy over their decisions, uh, with, with each other. And they might say [00:21:00] for a year or two, okay, let’s have steady, uh, teams because it makes sense.

But if they, something happens in the environment outside and they have to change structure. I hope that they are smart and wise enough to do so accordingly, to deal with a threat or opportunity and do some reteaming where necessary because they want to.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, yeah.

Jurgen Appelo: And that’s, yeah, that’s happiness as a side effect, you could say.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. So in all the years of, you know, working in this space, around happiness and [00:21:30] agility and more in the management leadership space as well. Have you seen positive changes? Are, are more organizations actually, you know, embracing this people first philosophy and the success that comes with that?

Jurgen Appelo: Yes, I have, but no organization is perfect. it’s also the move. Yeah, one of my favorites examples is Hire, the Chinese company that I visited a long time ago, where they just had gone through the revolutionary change of firing all their middle [00:22:00] managers and turning into a network of 3, 000 micro enterprises, as they call that.

Uh, that was super inspiring. And, uh, Hire has done very well since then, there are now 4, 000 micro enterprises, uh, several books written on the company, they’re called the most creatively managed company in the world. People seem to be overall, uh, very proud and happy to work there, but not everyone, because it’s a very competitive [00:22:30] environment, it basically turns the company itself into a market.

And, uh, it forces everyone to behave like an entrepreneur, and let’s face it, not everyone is an entrepreneur. Uh, it’s, it’s, there’s something that you should want and like and, and be able to do well. Um, there are other organizations where you don’t have to be an entrepreneur. They organize it in a different way, but they could still have.

Great results. So, uh, hire is a special case, but every [00:23:00] company is a special case, I think. And, uh, I always, I’m always reluctant to answer the question, um, which company do you think is a great example of, of, uh, um, a 21st century organization or something because there are good parts and bad parts with every, every example that you, that you can offer, uh, whether that’s Tesla or, or higher or Apple or Amazon or whatever, they are, they’re good, they’re good sides and they’re bad [00:23:30] sides.

And it’s, it’s almost like human beings, isn’t it? They’re not, none of them are perfect. And, uh, but we can be inspired by, by different organizations or humans for the good things that they do. And then, um, try to see them as, uh, yeah, as, as leaders in specific areas. And, uh, Tesla is definitely a leader when it comes to, uh, experience and, and, uh, very rapid innovation.

That’s something we can learn [00:24:00] from, but they have a tough work, uh, culture that is not fit for, for everyone.

Elisa Tuijnder: Thank you, everybody. Yep. Yeah. Hey, so the world has, has changed quite a bit since you were last on the podcast. And, and you started with, you know, management, trying to move companies from management 1.

0 to management 3. 0 and, you know, agile was actually, you know, starting to become a buzzword, but it wasn’t, wasn’t yet there. What, what is, what is the next thing? What is, what is the next buzzword? What is the next, you know, Is everybody going to move towards this reteaming and all [00:24:30] the time or is that already, are we already too late for that?

Jurgen Appelo: Well, uh, the buzzword is ChatGPT, of course,

Elisa Tuijnder: um,

Jurgen Appelo: and AI and et cetera. You have to throw in these words at least a couple of times in any podcast. Um, but, uh, seriously, um, I, I think reteaming is important, but it’s a, it’s a minor issue. I mean, you can’t create organizations without having to do reteaming.

It’s just an option that is on the [00:25:00] table that should be on the table that people should consider without any bias or, or anything, but it’s not a major thing in my, in my opinion. I think, um, indeed. Mention the word again, AI is going to have a significant impact on the way we do our work. And it’s something that I definitely would like to learn more about on about what is going to be that impact.

Like an example [00:25:30] again, I get back to Tesla. As an inspiring example, the AI decides what the backlog looks like with the reports that are coming in from all over the world and cases and issues and problems, etc. It turns into a list of things that people should work on. So the backlog is there. There’s no.

There’s not one product manager manually shuffling work items up and down or something. No, the machine knows [00:26:00] what needs to be done. The intelligence is there. It’s just that the machine cannot improve or figure out the paint problem. That’s a human thing to explore. What is wrong with the paint on this type of car?

So there’s an interesting sort of reversal of roles where the machines do the management. Of, of the work and the people, uh, carry out and choose what they wanna work on because it’s all swarming at Tesla. They, they decide for themselves, I would like to do the pain job. Who’s with me? [00:26:30] Mm-Hmm. , I would like to fix this problem with the doors that just came in.

Who wants to, who wants to work on that with me? So they swarm, they self-select the people are autonomous in what they wanna work on, but the backlog is machine generated. And that is one example of, of I think a future that we’re. Where some parts of the thing that we thought had to be done by people , uh, yeah, manage the system, not, uh, not the people.

Uh, part of that can be [00:27:00] done by machines or by the, by the ai because, uh, they might be more reliable and quicker in setting the priorities and hopefully in an unbiased way decide what needs to be done. Uh, first, and um, yeah, that’s, that’s something I think is going to have a much bigger impact in the next five years, five, ten years.

Yeah, it’s going

Elisa Tuijnder: to go faster. Retaming itself. Retaming

Jurgen Appelo: is, is part, I think, a small part of that larger picture. And, [00:27:30] um, yeah, my guess is as good as yours, Elisa, but this is what I’m betting on that this is going to be the main, the, the biggest driver of change in the next few years.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about the AI things and some of them scare me significantly.

Some of them I think, Oh, this is actually going to be great for us. Um, but it seems to be a bit of a crystal ball situation at the moment, right? It’s going way faster than we can catch up actually. Absolutely. And. Yeah, what do we do with people? And I’m guessing there is reteaming is going to be an interesting [00:28:00] tool for people that need to switch quickly between a role that’s become redundant or a role that is completely changed and that’s not maybe in their skill set anymore.

Jurgen Appelo: Yeah, for sure. And I look forward to actually asking AI for advice on how to organize the company. Like, there’s a lot of knowledge out there on the web and captured in books and blog posts and whatnot. Um, what we now ask [00:28:30] coaches and consultants with their limited capability of understanding all the options.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, yeah, and assessments and all these things. And

Jurgen Appelo: yeah, I think at some point we might ask the machine, hey, I have this problem, that needs something that we need to do with these people. Um, how do you suggest that we organize ourselves and what. Kind of processes do you think we should be applying? And oh, by the way, could you remind us to, uh, uh, when we [00:29:00] should do those, uh, processes like, uh, goal setting or backlog, uh, evaluation?

Yeah. Or whatever. Um, we could ask more and more of these questions, I think to, uh, to an AI who’s going to offer us ideas for organizational structure. Business processes, instead of relying on consultants and coaches to know all this. Yeah, and yeah, so that’s similar to where we’ve had it with with self driving cars.

They don’t take over [00:29:30] completely, but we’re moving. into a position as humans, uh, where we watch if the machine is not doing anything stupid, but letting it make some much better suggestions than we could have come up with ourselves as Human with limited brains.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. And limited information. Yeah.

Jurgen Appelo: Yeah. A limited information for sure.

And I think that could be the win win. I mean, wherever I go travel around the world, I use AI for navigation [00:30:00] and so on, but I decide whether to left or right, because sometimes the machines are wrong and do something silly. Where I think, well, this is obvious, this is, this is a stupid, a stupid approach that you, that you offer me here, but that combination, that combo of machine offering suggestions about humans deciding yes or no, this is a good idea.

This is just plain silly. That I think we’re also going to have with process and structure very soon.[00:30:30]

Elisa Tuijnder: What leads to a happy life? What are the various ways to be happy? Happiness means different things to each of us. Yet after doing extensive research, Management 3point0 founder Juergen Appelow discovered the common thread. Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. It is a path you choose, not a [00:31:00] destination to arrive at.

So many of us spend our times in pursuit of happiness. Yet instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live it, embrace it, and implement it into our daily lives. We created the 12 Steps to Happiness at Management 3point0. You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 Steps at management3o.


So, are the most successful organizations going to be the ones that are so quick enough to adapt to, to everything, but also to this AI and, and integrate it as, as well as they can? Or, because there is somewhat of a drive as well, somewhat, especially in the United States, I feel that every time I’m talking to them.

to drive to go back to pre pandemic times and like, you know, the good old office days and waterfall structures and because they feel like they’re losing control, I [00:32:00] think, and that’s a way of getting the control back.

Jurgen Appelo: Right. Well, that’s a great question actually, and it makes me think of What happens now in the music industry that long play albums are being sold again and music cassettes are being sold again.

This sort of retro movement, people want to go back to the good old days where you had to make an effort to get music. I was, I was a few weeks ago, I was walking past a record store here in [00:32:30] Rotterdam and there was a line of 20, 30 people waiting. And outside for the store to open because apparently there was a special day at which they could purchase a certain LP, a long play album.

You can get that music on Spotify instantly, but that destroys the experience, right? That has no value if you just click play on Spotify. It is not the same as owning [00:33:00] that Sleeve that you have to stand in line for for an hour and a half at a record store. And I think we’re going to have both. Spotify is not going to disappear, but people rediscover the value of putting effort into something and having to wait for something because the anticipation itself is also It can also be joyful.

We have a word for that in Dutch, voorpret. You know that. We have a word for the joy of [00:33:30] anticipation. I look forward to, to the second June movie in November this year. That’s voorpret, because I love the first one a lot. And it would reduce the value of the June movie if there, if a new one came out every week.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. That’s,

Jurgen Appelo: that’s no fun. Absolutely. So, I think we’re going to have the same in product and experience design. Not everything is something that we want to have instantly, [00:34:00] because it reduces the value if it is available instantly for everyone. Then it becomes a commodity. And I think we’re going to see a split with organizations where they have to choose.

Are we going for the commodity, or are we going for the exclusivity? And you see that already in the music industry where artists make the most money with their concerts, right? Because that’s exclusive. That’s an experience. There’s only so many people who can get into a stadium

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:34:30] and

Jurgen Appelo: music on Spotify is a commodity.

So companies have to choose, do I want to be a bakery brand that has hundreds and hundreds of bakery shops all over the, all over the country while it turns sort of into a commodity competing with other bakeries and so on? Or do I want to be that one exclusive bakery in my city that has the best bread and everything is made in the traditional way?

By hand, [00:35:00] no AI involved, and people pay extra for that. They stand in line for that experience because they know no machine was involved here. It is genuine craftsmanship. And both are options. I think we have both.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, and that’s where storytelling comes in as well again, right? Like the whole, the narrative around it and, you know, concerts used to be just, hey, here’s this person on stage and that was fine.

But now like festivals become about, also like you said, the Vorbrett, like there’s festivals that, you know, you have [00:35:30] to start talking about six months in advance to start getting stuff from them. And like everything becomes about the story around it. And that is Yeah, very expensive at times.

Jurgen Appelo: You see the same thing in, well, for example, in retail, I noticed that there, there are two, uh, sort of popular kind of stores.

They are the cheap ones, where the cheapest of the cheapest, where people feel great about having it, having something as cheap as possible. Cheaply as possible.

Elisa Tuijnder: And

Jurgen Appelo: then on the other side of the [00:36:00] scale are the expensive ones where people feel great at having purchased something very expensive, very exclusive.

Um, like in the Netherlands, that would be the difference between the action versus the bag worth, you know, what I’m talking about. And then in the middle, It’s going to die out because the stores have to choose. Are we going to go for exclusive experience or are we going to go for commodity? Because in the middle, people don’t care.

[00:36:30] And we’ll see that, you’ll see it also in music, we’ll see that in software, in all kinds of industries, I think.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. It’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be interesting times, but and they keep coming, right? The interesting times. Hey, so, uh, as you know, we’re really big at Management 3point0 and at the podcast as well, we always try to end or, or one of the last questions is about tangible practices.

Cause we really like those, those things that our listeners can start implementing tomorrow or next week, whenever they feel ready for it, but that doesn’t need a number of [00:37:00] senior buy in or something crazy. Uh, you’ve come up with a lot of our practices as well, and they’re, they’re absolutely fantastic, but can you leave us.

today as well with, you know, a simpler, smaller step, uh, or some practice that you, uh, that you’ve been using recently. Yeah, to build more versatile and resilient organizations, because we’re all going to need that.

Jurgen Appelo: Hmm. Difficult. Um, I would choose gamification on your own habit forming. This has been quite successful for me.

Um, yeah. I am proud to [00:37:30] say that I have run a marathon recently, and thank you. It was not a spectacular time, but it was my first one, and I’m happy that I completed it, and I would not have been able to if I hadn’t done it. practice running on an almost daily basis for several years long, and I made it my habit, and I never expected that I would do that because I hate sports.

And, um, but what I did was I turned it into a habit successfully, and I think [00:38:00] that is the way to move forward if we want to make any kind of change in organization, because We can do any number of presentations and webinars and podcasts and write books and so on, and I contribute to that myself, but nothing changes if people don’t change their behaviors.

And changing your behavior starts with, uh, habit forming. So habit books like tiny habits, uh, by

Elisa Tuijnder: atomic habits, by BJ Foy

Jurgen Appelo: and James Clear, certainly, [00:38:30] uh, they offer great advice that is very applicable, um, that I have applied to myself. With with success, and it includes gamification, which is very personal.

Like I gamify things with with spreadsheets and numbers because I’m a numbers person. So I want to see that my target has has come closer to 0. 2%, uh, uh, uh, on a daily basis, things like that. Um, but for other people, it’s something else. Um, you have to figure that out, what [00:39:00] works for you to make a habit stick.

So I cannot offer generic advice, but I can offer the suggestion, please, read on habit forming.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, it’s so important. It’s funny how often it comes back in the podcast as well.

Jurgen Appelo: On how to change your own behaviors, because if you cannot even change yourself, then why even try changing other people? Uh, let’s not pretend that you will be able to go.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, but habit forming is really hard [00:39:30] and, and yeah, very context dependent and sometimes you do really well for a while and then all of a sudden get shaken up and yeah, very important. Hey, I just want to ask one final final question, you know, as our first guest and now our most recent guest on the Happiness at Work podcast, I don’t want to let you go without asking one more thing about happiness at work.

Like, do you have, uh, again, something simple, practical for people who just want to enjoy their work more, enjoy their careers more, to get some more happiness at work?

Jurgen Appelo: Um, gosh, [00:40:00]

Elisa Tuijnder: I’m sorry, I’m putting you on the spot here.

Jurgen Appelo: You are. I think it is, I think it’s important to just stay authentic. Um, and. The word radical candor has been dropped a couple of times last week in various contexts.

Um, great book written on that topic. Um, and, uh, I think that is a starting point. It is important to take into account people’s feelings and emotions and so on. But first of all, foremost, you need to [00:40:30] be transparent and authentic about what you need from others. Because if you don’t draw boundaries around yourself, then people could take advantage of you, or they’ll make you unhappy, but they don’t realize it, and so on.

So you have to be radically open and honest, specifically in a remote environment, about what you need as a person. And for me, I, for example, I don’t want too many meetings scheduled in my calendar, and people [00:41:00] try all the time. Hey, can we quickly have a chat about this or that? And I say, no, no, I don’t want that, because it means yet another thing in my agenda that locks me To a computer and a place where I’ll have to be in order to take that call.

It means stress in my day and, and things. And then the work that I want to do with that afternoon is suddenly breaking up into mm-Hmm. A before the, uh, meeting and then after the meeting. And so I say no, only when it is [00:41:30] really, really necessary. Well, it is a complex conversation. The rest can be done Asing.

That’s me. Yeah, I need that in order to be happy. Other people thrive when they have other pe others around them. . Yeah. All the time. Yeah. They can bounce ideas off and I, I perfectly accept that. But, um, this is what I need, uh, as a person to, uh, to thrive and, and remain happy in the work that I do. Just draw my boundary, and that is something you [00:42:00] have to be very clear about as a, as a teammate.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, I think that’s not only great advice for, for work, but that’s great general life advice. Yeah. Hey, thank you so much, Jörgen. Uh, just in case our listeners want to, you know, See some more about Unfix or want to get in contact with you, not through meetings because we don’t have too many of those. Uh, where, where can they find you?

Jurgen Appelo: Well, it’s very easy. Unfix. com. So yeah, couldn’t be, yeah, [00:42:30] couldn’t be easier. Um, we’re rebuilding the website actually as we go. Uh, cause the current one was made by me a year and a half ago already, but we’re rebuilding it, it should be completely done by the end of the summer. And the pattern library is growing.

I’m now working on goal setting patterns to offer more than just OKRs in terms

Elisa Tuijnder: of

Jurgen Appelo: strategy and yes, habit forming is also going to be included and so on. So, uh, by [00:43:00] the end of this summer, we should have an updated version of the entire model, a little bit bigger than it was before. And so it will keep evolving.

So I hope to see some people at unfix. com and our community. Which you will find there on the website as well.

Elisa Tuijnder: Sounds amazing. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast, uh, again. And, you know, when you have a new book or a new venture or, or next update, uh, yeah, we’d hope to see you again then in time.

Hopefully [00:43:30] in another seven years, maybe. Hopefully we’re still going then at the same time and, or maybe not. Maybe everybody’s happy.

Jurgen Appelo: I hope it’s not going to take seven years.

Elisa Tuijnder: Okay, right.

Jurgen Appelo: I will definitely return.

Elisa Tuijnder: Fantastic. All right, Jörgen, thank you so much again.

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