How I Became A Corporate Jester
In the last month, my role at Aster Group (a housing association) has changed, from working in finance to being a Corporate Jester focused on cultural change and business transformation.
My role, along with many others across Aster, is to make sure that individuals and teams are able to make the changes that are needed across the group, as only then will we continue to move forward in making Aster a great place to work, where people enjoy what they do.
Aster is a big organisation (>1,300 staff and 30,000 properties spread across the south of the UK) and it would be easy for people to have taken part in events such as company away days, and the recent work with Corporate Rebels but not see their lived experience be any different despite what they heard communicated.
In the last month, my role has changed, from working in finance to being a Corporate Jester focused on cultural change and business transformation.
Part of my role, alongside that of our Transformation Network (TN) - a group of ~100 colleagues from all levels and areas across the business - and the learning work stream, is speaking to as many colleagues from across the business as possible, to better understand where they are versus where they want to get to, and then helping them to get there.
There will be challenges people are coming up against, be that with team structure, policies and procedures, or constraints that they feel are unnecessarily in place.
For some people, the message from the leadership and what the organisation is delivering may not match their daily experience, and it’s important that we recognize this and help them to work through this.
Because my role is across the whole organisation, I have a view of what is happening across directorates in terms of working practices, specific challenges, flexibility, and future plans. Therefore, I hope to be able to signpost people to others who have similar issues, are trying out new things, or are further along the journey.
I hope to be able to signpost people to others who have similar issues, are trying out new things, or are further along the journey towards a progressive workplace.
So...the Corporate Rebels...
...In May, more than 250 managers from across Aster attended an event facilitated by the Corporate Rebels. Part of my role is working with these managers to help them think through better, more effective, more enjoyable ways of working for themselves and their teams.
The topics discussed and conversations had at the Corporate Rebels event permeate through the whole business. They were picked up on at the ‘This Is Aster’ event, and the language (such as supportive leadership and freedom and trust) is already becoming embedded in conversations, meetings, discussion topics and presentations.
The topics discussed and conversations had at the Corporate Rebels event permeate through the whole business. They were picked up on at the ‘freedom and trust) is already becoming embedded in conversations, meetings, discussion topics and presentations.
So Aster continues on its transformation journey, with examples being...
We continue our transformation journey, with examples being; (1) flexible working in large parts of the business; (2) re-design of office spaces; (3) self-managing team experiments; (4) focus on talents and mastery.
If you want to find out more, feel free to get in touch!
*Tim Goulding is an internal rebel at Aster Group, a housing association with properties across the south of England. He has a broad range of experience, primarily within the financial arena, across the private and public sectors. He loves talking to people about different ways of doing things, and is always learning, so if you want to get in touch and share learning, feel free to connect to him on LinkedIn.
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Really interested in the concept of "Corporate Jester". The role of the Jester in Medaeval court was to bring the King down to the level of the people and reconnect him with his court. The Jester had the power to tease and make mock of the King in his authority in a way that would have been treasonable for others. If the King was on the wrong track and the people needed to reign him in they could use the Jester as agent provocateur against the authority figure and hopefully the message would get through from the "floor" to the "Chair". Ultimately though the Jester ends up sustaining the status quo as far as authority goes, reinforcing the Kings status by enabling him to ride the will of the court. Surely what we should be aiming for is a dismantling and reworking/ redistribution of authority across a wider base. The Jester is no rebel!
Netflix - one of the pioneers on our Bucket List - is known for doing things differently: not just revolutionizing the entertainment business, but also by experimenting with radical management principles. The most eye-catching are its famous culture deck, the unlimited vacation policy, and the 5-word expense policy "Act in Netflix's best interest". Even more powerful than these 'exotic' practices is how they give and receive feedback.
When I was asked to speak at a University of Michigan symposium on the subject of humility a few years ago, I honestly knew little or nothing about the subject. Beyond a general understanding of what the word meant, and that it was probably a good thing to have, I wouldn’t have had much to say about why it would matter. In the intervening months of inquiry, I’ve learned a lot.