Dan Pontefract is Chief Envisioner at TELUS, a Canadian telecommunications company, where he heads the Transformation Office, a future-of-work consulting group that helps organizations enhance their corporate cultures and collaboration practices. Previously as Head of Learning & Collaboration at TELUS, Dan introduced a new leadership framework–called the TELUS Leadership Philosophy–that dramatically helped to increase the company’s employee engagement to record levels of nearly 90%.
He is the author of recently published The Purpose Effect: Building Meaning in Yourself, Your Role and Your Organization as well as Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization. A renowned speaker, Dan has presented at multiple TED events and also writes for Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today and The Huffington Post. Dan and his wife, Denise, have three young children (aka goats) and live in Victoria, Canada. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria.
Here is an excerpt from Part 1 of my interview of Dan.
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Morris: Before discussing The Purpose Effect, a few general questions. First, of all the feedback you have received since Flat Army was published, what has been most gratifying? Please explain.
Pontefract: There have been a few instances when an individual approaches me—via a particular medium—and provides the following, paraphrased feedback: “I wish our organization (or my leader) was operating like a Flat Army.” It has happened enough that I’ve noticed it as a trend. As you know, I wrote Flat Army for leaders, employees and the organization at large to transition into more collaborative, transparent and harmonious entities. When someone lets me know that the Flat Army framework is a) appreciated and b) needed, it puts a spring in my Canadian step. My only regret is that there are not as yet more people aware of Flat Army. Perhaps after the revised edition that I’m likely to release in 2019.
Morris: What was TELUS Transformation Office’s original mission? To what (extent (if any) has that mission changed significantly since then? Please explain.
Pontefract: When we first launched TELUS Transformation Office (TTO) in early 2014, we thought there would be a long lineup of corporate and public sector clients wishing to have their organization assessed. Our assessments are 100-hour investigations into culture behaviours, technologies, learning, leadership and so on. At the end of the assessment, a thorough ‘report card’ is produced for the client. We originally thought this would be the primary source of time spent with clients.
Two and a half years later, the assessment part of TTO is roughly 25 percent of our time. The other 75 percent revolves around more hands-on coaching and facilitation, seminars and keynotes, change management strategies, and adoption practices. We’re more about being organizational culture change Sherpas than we are assessors. Assessments are still important, and are still being done, but it’s just not how we spend most of our time.
Morris: In your opinion, what is the TTO’s most exciting new opportunity to serve its purpose between now and the end of this calendar year?
Pontefract: Actually, I think for the foreseeable future, TTO is going to spend more time as Sherpas of both organizational culture and purpose. What has donned on us is that it’s hard to disentangle culture from purpose, and vice versa. Our clients (and potential clients we are in discussions with) have begun to see (like I have) the unique relationship of culture and purpose to employee engagement. I suspect TTO continues to refine the relationship, spending our time well past 2017—not just 2016—with this important formula.
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Here is a direct link to all of Part 1.
Dan cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
The Purpose Effect TED Talk link
The Purpose Effect website link
Please click here to check out my review of The Purpose Effect.
And here to check out my review of Flat Army
Link to Michael Bungay Stanier’s interview of Dan