Gustavo Razzetti’s Remote Not Distant was, for me, a gift that I did not anticipate receiving simply based on the title. I was under the impression that Razzetti would be primarily focused on the practicalities of setting up environments to foster healthy remote and hybrid environments, but he went beyond that, diving into the importance that organizational health and culture plays in a workplace regardless of the modality. CEO of Fearless Culture, Razzetti combines his personal and vocational expertise with the experiences of several other companies that had to quickly adjust to the impacts of the pandemic and the new normal that has since emerged for so many of us.
With a love for the practical and strategic, Razzetti’s book in many ways spoke my language. I appreciate the simplicity of the chapter recaps, the accessibility of various tools to utilize and customize, and the equipping of leaders to act in the areas they need to. Reminiscent of Poole’s Leadersmithing, I found this book to be one that leaders could utilize at different seasons and stages as they lean into organizational transitions and ensuring health within the sphere of influence they hold. A few other key connections I found include:
- Kahneman: How to model and use System 1 and System 2 thinking both individually and collectively when navigating organizational transition.
- O’Toole: Razzetti elaborated on the psychological safety needed in an organization in order to speak truth to power as well as providing some practical models that allow employees at all levels to voice their opinions, ideas, and concerns.
- Northouse: Distinctions between management and leadership and identifying the different types of leadership that are needed when navigating a hybrid workplace.
- Lyons: The hybrid workplace being a key component of the technological revolution we are currently in.
- Busch: The importance of having solitude and how allowing employees to work in environments that foster their best self can positively impact the workplace.
I think this book is a foundational reading for leaders who are navigating the tension of deciding on and implementing hybrid options for their employees. For those that do allow employees to be partially or fully remote, I would suggest coupling this reading with Agarwal’s Sway, giving specific emphasis on her discussion surrounding technology and bias. Additionally, readings or workshops on differing generational or cultural perspectives when it comes to the value of remote and hybrid work would be critical for leaders walking this out.
At the beginning of this post I stated that this book was an unexpected gift for me personally as I find myself in a leadership position within an organization that is actively attempting to figure out what remote and hybrid work looks like – and if it even can work. There are so many different perspectives and theories that people are clinging to, some who are more productive away from the office and others that are utilizing the remote status to do less and have less accountability. As Razzaetti states, “70% of organizational transformations fail because of culture-related issues.” As he expanded upon the components of what organizational culture is and does, especially the realities of building trust, it led to a refreshed understanding of what I am experiencing at work right now. It has helped to temper my frustrations and instead re-approach this leadership challenge equipped with new language to use and share as a new normal takes a more concrete shape.
 Razzetti, 15.
12 responses to “Intentional Transformation”
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Kayli, I am always amazed at the many connections you make to the current book from previous readings. I find that a struggle often. In the church context, we’ve wrestled with the new reality of hybrid ministry and have made a number of changes in the anticipation of online work and ministry only growing in the future. Since you are in the academic world, what implications do you see of hybrid workplace for your setting?
Thanks, Roy. In many cases, I have found that high performers have appreciated hybrid work much more in that the distance allows more work to be done. In that, it has become harder to make personal and relational connections that often make jobs easier when working with other offices. The main challenge is that within higher ed, there are certain offices that can and cannot operate remotely given the student needs. This then becomes an equity issue among employees which I know our administration is actively trying to walk through. For me, I had a hybrid schedule prior to the pandemic so there was not significant change for me other than more of my coworkers becoming comfortable with zoom meetings or phone calls rather than in-person.
Kayli: I thought Razzetti did a great job with this book, too. Remote work is a relatively new phenomenon but Razzetti deals with the subject insightfully. I got the sense this book will guide companies for several years to come as they try to navigate remote work and culture. I hope churches and other ministries embrace hybrid work like the education world is.
I agree, I think this will be a great resource book for many sectors, especially those who realize we have a ‘new normal’ rather than waiting to ‘go back to normal.’
Kayli, I asked Michael this question, and I’d also love your insight. You and Michael have a unique context around organizational culture in that you both work for higher education. As you process Razzetti, what are the most challenging aspects of social change within an educational institution?
I also chimed in on the string in Michael’s comment section, but from my specific role, I would say the pandemic and forced remoteness for our students highlighted even further the social capital differences within our student population. When classes and activities are in person, there are certainly challenges, but largely it provided a level of ‘sameness’ that I think we did not realize. When things shifted, you immediately saw the students distinctions in terms of family, economics, and other areas (example: some students had their own room at home and could log into a zoom class without disruption, while others share an apartment with several siblings in one room – also all trying to be online, and still others without access to reliable internet). These realities, while always present, I think were made more visible and un-avoidable to address in ways that I think will ultimately benefit the higher ed institution if addressed well.
Kayli your flexibility in responding to life’s situations shines through in your review of Razetti’s work. Do you see a lot of flexibility among the international students you work with? What do you see as the relationship between flexibility and global leadership?
Great questions, Henry.
I don’t believe you can engage in global work effectively without flexibility. Cultural differences with time orientation alone speak to the need for flexibility if there is a desire to see real relationships and outcomes.
In regards to international students, the pandemic was interesting. The US State Department allowed current international students to remain in the US with fewer regulations than normal, but also prevented new students from obtaining a student visa if the school was remote. This has been challenging, especially for our students from regions of the world with limited access to reliable internet. While my institution has not seen a decline in international student numbers I do know others that have seen a dramatic decline in the last few years.
Kayli, well done, per usual:)
1) How in the world do you keep all these different thoughts and principles in mind with the books we have read? For me, I feel like it is building a snowman… I pack it on and it becomes part of the whole of my thinking, but I lose the distinction and can’t remember where it came from!
2) If you could have your desires fulfilled for your current work context, what changes would you make to allow for more of this hybrid change?
Eric – My trick with making all of the connections is using Obsidian. I have notes from each of our readings and have been rather consistent in identifying the key concepts and connections, making it relatively easy when we have new reading to fold into the mix.
If I could wave a wand and something change, the culture at my workplace would be one of trust and ultimately believing the best of the other. There would also be open conversations about how to work collaboratively to make hybrid work for all offices, to the best of our ability, rather than a more individualized approach between employee and supervisor. I still do love being in the office and connecting with coworkers and students in person as there really is no substitute, but I really do get more work done when I’m not in the office.
Kayli, like Eric, I appreciate your connections to our readings.
Can you say more about this connection for you…”O’Toole: Razzetti elaborated on the psychological safety needed in an organization in order to speak truth to power as well as providing some practical models that allow employees at all levels to voice their opinions, ideas, and concerns.”….especially because Razzetti says we must approach trust from a given not earned process
Hi Kayli. I too found the practical nature of this book a gift. I agree with our colleagues that your connections with previous reading is a great review. I’m interested to learn more about which specific “tools” that Razzetti shared that could assist you in developing the type of culture beneficial to your students.?