The Wicked Podcast

Peter Thomson: 500%

June 29, 2021 [email protected] Episode 52
The Wicked Podcast
Peter Thomson: 500%
Show Notes Transcript

We talk to Peter Thomson, speaker, author and consultant on the future of organisations about how to increase a company value and its worker's salaries by 500%, by creating self-organised teams.

Author page: http://www.futureworkforum.com/project/500-how-two-pioneers-transformed-productivity/
Get the book: https://bit.ly/500percentBook

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Music:
'Inspired' by Kevin MacLeod
Song: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3918-inspired
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Marcus Kirsch:

Welcome to the wicked podcast where we read business books you don't have time for. I'm Marcus Kirsch. And I'm Troy Norcross. And we are your co hosts for the wicked podcast.

Troy Norcross:

So Marcus A long time ago, an employee of mine told me a really, really insightful quote. He said, life is like photography. It's black and white. And it's best experienced with plenty of contrast. And why am I saying this? Because you, my dear friend, are surrounded and cold and wet and rain. And I am sitting in Portugal in sunshine.

Marcus Kirsch:

That was a long winded slap in the face. Oh, you're so creative, aren't you? Well, yellow, and I'll see you in two weeks. Ah, yeah. First of all that lovely, lovely English summer.

Troy Norcross:

Enough of our whinge about the weather or brag about the weather who's on the show.

Marcus Kirsch:

So today, we have Peter Thompson on the show and his book 500% really great story of a company who managed to turn itself from a normal classic organisation into one that was heavily if not purely self managed by the people who work there. And while they're doing that, increasing the value, or the profit of the company by 500%, which is pretty astonishing. And so it's a great book. What were your insights?

Troy Norcross:

Yeah, well, he talks about fractals. And I told the story during during the show briefly, I was first exposed to fractals. And the concept of fractals as a mathematical equation back in 8889, when I was working for Silicon Graphics, with this idea of making groups smaller, and smaller, and smaller, and more and more autonomous, is really, really interesting. What came out of it, for me that was insightful is not every employee has the right mindset to be able to do that. You really need to have a high level of entrepreneurial mindset to be able to be that kind of autonomous group or to be that kind of autonomous, individual tool. But what were your takeaways?

Marcus Kirsch:

So my takeaway was, that is capital, but what I really liked is just the way the CEOs decided to trust their employees, which might sound like an obvious thing to look at. But in the end, it was actually pretty astounding, and I think is a very brave thing to do. And it's sort of quite more modern thing to look at. And when they started doing that, they just tested things, and a few things didn't quite work. But in the end, they got to this amazing, amazing results actually trusting that your workers are good at our job, they're smart to find new solutions. And they can amazingly perform is a really nice angle that unfortunately, don't find that often. Because we put managers in place that we oddly trust instead, and then manage the hell out of people and make them miserable and make them underperform. And, you know, sort of our surprise where this is even happening. So yeah, I think it's it's it's that trusting aspect, even so it is a little tidbit to know because it was this week, I was talking to Lisa Gill, who is also quite into teal or self managed organisations. And she said, because she knows the company as well, as you said, one of the CEOs hasn't just studied economics, he also studied psychology. And that probably goes a long way to actually have someone with an angle as a leader to go, look, these are people we're talking to here. You know, we trust those people, we hire those people for the right reasons. So let them do their job properly. Let's trust them. So it's trust in your own people.

Troy Norcross:

And with this kind of experience that we're talking to these kinds of people, we're talking to these kinds of companies. We're really witnessing a shift in how consultancy, traditional management consultancy is having to adapt and having to change to these new ways of working these new organisational structures.

Marcus Kirsch:

Absolutely. And I think that's one of my biggest criticism, being around having worked around the big four or five, whatever Now, over 20 years. You know, the business model there is just off, it doesn't seem to apply to modern companies. Because what we want and what we see in the book, what we see in some places are start work really, really well is you have a lean team that's smart, efficient and effective on top of it, right. And what a lot of consultancies seem to be doing is just bringing tonnes of people in, they're all specialists, everyone can only do one thing costs a lot of money. And, and it's all about headcount, whereas the opposite is a modern way of working low headcount smart and having mobility built in. So I'll find that a contradiction too. And I'm not surprised that more and more companies potentially are just getting tired of paying so much money to these consultancies, just bring in too many people and cost a lot of money for way less effectiveness than they might claim. And on top of that, people like McKinsey telling us well, 70% of those projects, where you hire big consultancies, don't bring the business benefits back. So it's all lost money.

Troy Norcross:

And that's an industrial procurement. procurement wants to buy days of people's lives. And the future is paying for real value. But Marcus, where is the value? The value is in us going to the interview? Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's episode of the wicked podcast. Today, we got Peter Thompson here with us. We're really great and glad to have you on the show. Today, we're gonna jump right in Peter, tell us a little about who you are and why you wrote the book.

Peter Thomson:

Right, I guess I'm most famous for probably writing a book 10 years ago now, which was about the future of work, called future work on me enough. And that's something I've studied for longer than I dare to think about. After my career in HR, I set up a centre at the Henley Business School, looking at the future of work and ran that for something like 15 years. And since then, I've really been, I guess, a bit ahead of the time, some extent thinking about the way the world of work is changing. And because what's happened now, COVID has made the world of work change rather rapidly. So I've studied the whole future of work for a number of years, I now run something called the future workforce, which is a group of consultants around the world interested in the subject. And I came across a company called matte black systems. well over a decade ago now, which we're doing some interesting things, and we'll talk more about what they are, and contacted the two guys who ran the company. And between us and the end, we decided it's an interesting enough story that it weren't a book. And hence, the book, we're about to talk about 500% came came out as a result of that. And but it took probably the best part of five years between the three authors to get the thing Finally, into print. Because a they were their company was evolving. As we were writing the book, and B, we wanted to get the kind of the story right all the way along. So I was in the centre catalyst, with Andrew and Julian, the other authors to kind of get pull their ideas together, as the two guys running this company, and get it into a book. So that's me,

Troy Norcross:

when you They say that wicked problems are problems that change in the process of solving them. And it sounds like your book was in the process of changing while you were trying to write it.

Peter Thomson:

Yeah, it was, I mean, there was a history of Matt back systems having changed from a conventionally managed company, to one which is very much a self management model. And there, we're still getting ironing out the wrinkles at the time we started the book, because it was still early days and having essentially the employees run run the organisation.

Marcus Kirsch:

And

Peter Thomson:

by the time we'd finished, we will I can help I think Andrew and Julian understand more about the kind of management system they set up sort of by accident in a way that experimented with different ways of trying to get people to own the work that they did. And, in the end ended up effectively with with the individual employees running almost Yes, having their own profit and loss statement running their own bit of the company. But we can maybe talk about how we get how we got to that.

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah, it's it's, it's, it's, it's, it's an amazing read. I mean, it's one of the books that I by accident came past To be honest, because it's trying to read more and more around to organisations and self managed organisations and great find, as it's quite a small book, but there's a lot of detail in that which is brilliant. Um, so one of the things by my own experience working in change and transformation often is that regardless of where you look at it, having self managed teams seems to rarely Be a consideration changing the governance model, right? In the end, most companies I know still, either don't consider it or fall back into those habits of having everything managed by managers. What do you think it was, in this particular company that started this even to be considered, and then to be considered to such an extent,

Peter Thomson:

I think it was the the two guys that run the company, I think, a fairly unique in that, unlike most people in a position of power, particularly leaders in large organisations, they, they, their motivation is to have a big budget, I have lots of people to control an empire, and, and organise things and be leaders. And these two guys were almost the opposite. They didn't want to be telling people what to do, they wanted to let let people get on and do their own thing. And so we ended up with something that's a little more like a franchise where the individuals own their own piece of, of the company. And I mean, the the, the obvious stage was when Andrew Julian, like, left the building, because they had an office there, they felt as long as they were there, the employees would still in the end turn to them, despite the fact they said, Look, you're empowered, you make the decisions. And so they had to say, Fine, we just we just going away, we'll work from home. And that, you know, leave you guys in charge. And, and that was really the stage with the message got through to the employees that actually, they were in charge that they they had complete autonomy, they were measured clearly on on their own p&l. But they had to find their own business, they had to get their own suppliers, they had to run, run, they're impressive, they had to design their own product, and so on. And essentially, each individual is an entrepreneur, a manager of their own little business, and so on that to delegate to that extent, I think takes very brave, you might even say foolish leaders running the company, because they are totally at the risk of the employees making potentially silly decisions. And, but so it's very much a model of trusting that the employees are going to do the right thing. They do have great strict measurements into every every month, they they can see how well the sales are doing, how much the product is doing, how much profit each individual cell within the organisation is making, so that the whole company won't go astray, by very much without there being some measurement and correction in there. And you could also argue it's a self correcting model, because the employees if they don't make a profit one month can't afford to pay themselves. It's as simple as that.

Troy Norcross:

We got a question before we jumped out what the what the result was, which was indeed miraculous, and inspirational. At the beginning of the book, they were trying to do things the old fashioned way. They were trying to patch the existing process. They were trying to apply agile they were bringing in consultants. And so my question is, what do you know of their personal journey from command to control in traditional business, to ultimate autonomy of the individual? Because there was a personal journey? I'm guessing, above and beyond just the employee journey?

Peter Thomson:

Absolutely, yes. And that was one of kind of frustration with consultants, or people coming in and advising them and essentially people saying, look, here's a model, call it agile. And here's what you have to do in order to be successful. So they tried adopting the model, they spent money on training the employees, introducing the systems. But the thing the learning they came to was that you cannot just pick up a system from outside an organisation, put it into the organisation and expect people to react positively, because it's like it, they call it the the the corporate immune system rejects things that come in from outside. And unless it accepts that it's something that they kind of own themselves. And so that you get a very small improvement when you introduce some Agile process for a small while, but unless you've got the cooperation and collaboration of the employees, they will find a way of getting around it and stopping it because it's not something that is endemic to them. It's something has been imposed on them and they don't want to have things in pose. So the kind of learning there was you cannot just introduce agile lean, or manual Factoring systems and expect everybody just to say yes, that that'll work. And the learning was what you do is you create an environment where the individuals take responsibility, and they introduce their own process for making things successful. And boy, suddenly you get, as with the title of the book, 500% increase in productivity per employee, because they have every motivation now, to make things work effectively, because they own the profit and that piece of the company and B, it's, it's not just financial, it's it's a kind of a pride in their work. They each individual owns their, their own little entrepreneurial business. And, and that's the way it works. So it kind of answer your question it, it really took the two guys running the company to recognise that don't impose things on people share the ownership of the company. And that's not just financial ownership, but emotional ownership of the results of the organization's everybody's committed to it. And boy, well, they find clever ways of doing things. Because they're, they're motivated to do it. You don't have to tell them to do things in a lean way. They're going to do it as effectively as possible.

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah, it's impressive to see, because I, I've seen the whole agile thing in so many different places, and I think so there's two things you said, one is about, you know, just bringing in tools, the tools often themselves actually really don't change anything, because they're often what's called garbage in garbage out system, they don't change your mindset. You know, they're they're just you can do the old mistakes in new ways, essentially, you know, because they let you do it, because it really substantially doesn't change the people and how they go, how they think about things, and why they do certain things in certain way. It just imposes things. The second thing is is exactly that. It's often that organisations don't really seem to ask the employees about if they want this or not, or how it would help them or if it helps them, it just gets imposed on them. And obviously, then the rejection is immense and often doesn't matter. And I keep always keep tumbling about, you know, the number round about McKinsey saying, at least 70%, if not more of all these transformation efforts are are failing, they don't create the business benefits, as he said, they're incremental, if at all. And if you look at 70% of these efforts failing, apart from the money loss, it seems to be an industry that's utterly in peril, that needs to change, because they're doing something terribly, terribly wrong. Other Western wouldn't have such a bad hit rate. But I wanted to ask one question to follow that, because you mentioned a term I quite like and that has been mentioned around a lot of the, in all of the tech companies, which is value per employee, which was quite a focus for them to drive to change. In that sense, can you explain a little bit value per employee and how that's been driving the change there, please?

Peter Thomson:

Yes, because I think what what they've done is said each employee is essentially an entrepreneur, each one is running their piece of the company. So what you the value that an employee brings? Is their own profit, essentially? Because that's, that's what they contribute to the company as a whole. But what the difference, I suppose is that it no longer are you talking about an employee being somebody who you pay per hour, who gets a salary, you're now talking about an entrepreneur. And interestingly, they lost most of the original employees, only one one employee kind of lasted all the way through. Because most people, when they go to work, want to kind of have a secure salary and so on. And this is a fairly insecure environment they've set up because if you don't succeed in running your business effectively, then you literally can't afford to pay yourself because you haven't got enough enough profit. So it takes a certain kind of person to make this happen. Now, they therefore are motivated to create value, because they they see themselves running a mini business. And as I say that the nearest model I can think of is a franchise where each individual runs their own company, but they're under an umbrella. They have a common brand they share with other colleagues and collaborate when they need to. But but they're measured ultimately, on the obviously the profit they make financially but their customer satisfaction and And so on the sort of measures that you would expect from, from a small business. And then when it came down for to recruiting people into this scenario, they ended up looking at people, people who had already had a career in a conventional organisation found it very difficult. Because what you have in a conventional organisation is people specialise. Whereas the whole problem here is that if you're running your own whole business, one individual there is one day dealing, doing selling to customers the next day, negotiating with suppliers the next day designing a product The next day, filling in their accounts doing their administration, everything a small business person does. And for people who worked in corporate environments, that's just alien, because they've specialised in something and they rely on the legal department to worry about something or the HR department something none of that exists. They managed it, as you see the story during the book, to get rid of all those overheads, simply by creating an internal market and saying fine, what's the value of the accounts department. Now the counterpart will say, Fine, we'll charge you as 10 pounds per invoice, because that's what it costs us to cut an invoice, the employee says, Well, I could write an invoice out for less than that myself. Now, if I need professional accountancy advice on some, because I'm not an accountant, I'll go by that when I need it. But I'm not going to pay for the overhead of having an accounting department all the time when I don't need it. So just in time, internal services as and when you need it is a much more cost effective model. So that's the way it works. And the power is in the hands of the generalist employee to choose when they need specialist advice, as opposed to having a tax on the employee, because you already have overhead departments, you've kind of got to pay for some way. So that's the kind of changing model. And that says the value that so the employee because the employee owns, owns that. That's kind of the value of per employee, if you want to look at it that way. And therefore you can convert very easily to look at. It's a smaller number of employees and a larger turnover for the whole company. Because you haven't got all these unproductive employees who are overheads, and you buy in the overhead service when you need? That's the kind of

Troy Norcross:

model. Okay, so my biggest question after reading the book, is, at what point does that break when you start scaling? Because Mike was talking about four. So the four souls that we're all roughly in the same geographic space in the same factory? And yes, I understand a franchise model can be scaled internationally and globally. And everyone adheres to the same kind of general principles and a franchise model. But in that particular model and having a marketplace, what happens when I've got a factory in Warwickshire, and I've got a factory in Beijing, and I've got a factory in Wyoming. How does that go small to go big scale? Where does it start to break?

Peter Thomson:

Yeah, I think it starts to break probably where you are, you have multiple locations. So I think you've picked on a good example. So you get you have to go to more of a higher type team model. Maybe where you've got your you'll have groups of people running a small business as opposed to individuals running a small business. But as long as you've got it under one roof, they could go 20 3050 employees quite happily. At you get a point at which there's, they still don't need the central overhead departments to support them. But they do need a level of collaboration between the individuals that starts to eat up more and more of their time. As always, individuals can get on and do that a little bit of the business and occasionally collaborate with a with their colleagues when they need to, that's fine. The minute you get to a stage where they they're in their interfaces start to began to do great, then that then starts to be over Do you maybe need a bit more structure, but I would say in a single location manufacturing, remembering this is a manufacturing organisation. You could run this model up to 100 150 employees and still not have any layers of management on the top. Partly because one of the things that Andrew and Julian have done is put in place. they've written the whole software package that kind of reports back to them on how things are going and quite an efficient way. And so they do have, it may feel like it's a loose control model because they've let people get on with running their own mini business. But actually they do have some real To be tight control, so if somebody goes off their plan, it flags up to them quite quite quickly.

Troy Norcross:

It's the old trust but verify.

Peter Thomson:

Absolutely, yes. So they have the right kind of management person they employ is an auditor. So somebody who checks up on the figures on their behalf. So they do have, you know, somebody, keeping an eye keeping a close eye on on the performance of the organisation. And that's financial performance, but it's also quality control as well. Those are the the customer satisfaction, the number of returns or product there are, and so on. And all of those measures, again, in the book is not just productivity, but quality, reliability, product, delivery times, and so on. All those things that measure their success in a manufacturing environment. They've got it, they've got measures in place to make sure that it that it happens.

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah, there's one, there's one line in the book, I think, I'm really hoping, right? Is that right? Because it's a great line, it's like where it says don't measure time, nothing says beginning I don't know. where time is just a factor that is not as important as you see AC it seems to matter to a lot of organisations yet. This case it doesn't. And speaking as a consultant as well, we often get paid by time, especially if you're freelancing. There's a lot of that element there. And you've given X amount of time and need to be done X amount of time, and it never seems to really add up. Because also new ways of working like agile also don't necessarily say, Oh, it's done by them. We just iterate till it's good enough, right? Because that's what you want to go in your mentioned quality assessment. So if you say don't measure time, why, what, what's, what's the angle they're over in the organisation? Well, the only

Peter Thomson:

way, if you if you pay me, by time, the longer I take, the more you pay me. So where's the incentive to do anything quickly? You know, whereas in this case, if they do something slowly, it takes more time. And they're losing money, because they're not working and producing something. So it's very much it is we talk a lot about managing by output rewarding people for results. This is absolutely what you do. Because the time is time is irrelevant how long it takes them, to do something is a cost to them. If they can't be doing something else at the same time, it's not an it doesn't relate to their income. So there's every incentive to work more effectively get more output in the same time. If you pay pay them by the time there's absolutely no incentive to do that. Obviously, they they can't produce anything at all. That's different. But the good example in the book is, when conventionally when the when it first started, we're trying things they were paying overtime to people for working late. And so people were having to work, they could never get the job finished. So they simply said, Tell you what we'll do, we'll buy out the overtime by simply paying everybody a salary, which he fixed rate, but which included their average overtime for the employees for the previous six months. But we now Don't insist they work the hours, within six months, every employee that one was now working regular hours didn't need to work the overtime, because actually, they proved that they can increase productivity immediately by something like 20% just by doing that, because people were really slowing down in order to get paid more. So that's what conventional work does. They have the one person who was still working long hours, turns out, had domestic problems and wanting to stay at work and not go home was their motivation. So just just prove the point that paying for time just it just decreases productivity.

Troy Norcross:

So I think from from Marcus's perspective, in my perspective, I really wish more procurement people would begin to think like this. But if you if you want to buy a day of my life, you can buy a day of my life. And it's easy for a procurement person to measure a day of my life and put a price on a day of my life. Instead, what I want to do is I'm going to deliver a value to the business in a new business model in a new value proposition in a new go to market strategy. And that's much more subjective as to whether or not you actually delivered on that or didn't deliver on that. And it makes it more woolly and people like concrete things that they you know, it's less objective. It's more, more concrete, but I I completely agree that I think when you give people the latitude and the flexibility, Marcus and I might complete something in a day's time. Because we've got 20 odd years, each other experience that a junior person might take five days to do. So where is the value in all of that, but anyway, it's a, it's a small kind of off on a on a runner?

Peter Thomson:

Well, I think it's a fundamental point here, because the traditional view of work is, I buy you, in order to get something. So I pay you, I bribe you with money per hour, in order for you not to be doing something you'd really prefer to be doing, I can get playing golf or going fishing or whatever. But I have to buy by that by the hour, because the unit of what of your life that I'm buying is his time. And that's as employment, you get a job, you kind of achieve your objectives and the job but I, I own you, as your employer for 38 hours a week or whatever, whatever it is, I'll let you have a little vacation if you if you bathe yourself. But otherwise, I own you. Right. And that's that's time as opposed to being a business relationship, which is I, I only employ you because I want you to do something for me. So I want you to produce results. Guess what, if you're smart enough to do it in three days a week good for you go play golf for the other two days, I've got what I want, right. But in a corporate environment, if you clear off to play golf for two days, you'd soon get fired, because you're not doing the job. So but doing the job means filling the time available with useless corporate stuff, that is not very productive. So hence, the fundamental difference between buying you by the hour, because you, you know, you really prefer to be doing something else. And I'm, I'm bribing you, versus me, creating a work environment, which you actually want to come to, because it's satisfying it, you achieve something, you're motivated to do it. It's an environment where you're kind of really happy, and you want to do it. And that's kind of the independent entrepreneur versus the employee. And what matt black systems has done is created a corporate environment, if you like, that has, it has entrepreneurs in it, who want to achieve something who enjoy doing the job, as opposed to people who prefer to be somewhere else, but it being paid by the hour to come in and look busy? Slightly cynical? The difference?

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah, and it's talking about my the cynical view, but sad view is, we always have more questions than we have time. So and this is the case yet again, here. And here we are again. So I'll ask the last question for today. Even so we have so many does does. What we like about the book is that there's so much evidence and really step by step, seeing how a self organised company actually came to pass, including failures, little failures here and there, and adjustments and whatnot. So it's a very, very authentic, open view on this, which makes it really quick, great book that doesn't just talk about the theory of teal organisations or self managed organisations. So therefore, I want to ask you, because you've seen this so up close. Do you think then, therefore, teal organisations are more self managed? organisations are the future and every company should be like that? Or is there a limit to it? Or is it not for everyone? Or sort of what's your view at this point? on that?

Peter Thomson:

I think very clearly what what motivated me to write the book was this is a bit of an outlier as a company. They are an extreme of non management, the two directors running a company who walk out of the building, and just leave it up to the employees with a bit of a bit of control, but nevertheless, leaving people so it and it only works, because the individuals that they have there are themselves entrepreneurial, and and self motivated. So one of the debates I've had with Andrew and Julian is how scalable is this? And also how practical Is it because if we've got a workforce generally who have been used to or in indoctrinated by conventional view of work, it's actually quite difficult for them to adjust to this one. They've got to take a lot of personal responsibility. They're going to take risk. Okay, now the reward is there, but a lot of individuals want a safe job where it's always they perform adequately it's fine. This this is you running I mean, Any business, it is more risky. So one of the practical issues is finding the right people who who will perform in this environment. And one of the things they'd have to do is look at recruit people who study young graduates almost who have not been polluted by the conventional way of, of working in order to make it happen. So, to that extent, is difficult to see an expanding to a vast proportion of of business. But in wet because it is that much more productive. They in there in the aerospace industry, they can be more competitive than other people, and therefore, they will win business and they'll survive in what now, particularly in the kind of post COVID era, is a is a difficult environment, the aerospace, I think they will survive with other small companies working conventionally may go bust because the proof of this is in the increased productivity, hence, the title of the book 500%. That's how much per employee they've increased the revenue, which is pretty dramatic compared with any other increase in productivity.

Troy Norcross:

And speaking of post COVID, a little birdie tells me that maybe you've got a new book coming out what would like to have a quick mention of the new book before we wrap up?

Peter Thomson:

Okay, thank you very much. Yes, never going back how COVID changed work for Beth better. It's just a way it's taken the last four months have been writing it with a fellow author, Mark Thomas. And we've just observed the massive changes that have happened in people's approach to work with enforced home working being the kind of catalyst with with COVID. And now we're really interesting time where people are talking about work becoming much more hybrid. So people will want to work more remotely, they will want to go back in the office for meetings, but not to sit at desks and do conventional knowledge work. And so we've got a whole new era. The challenge there, of course, is now how do you lead and manage organisations, which are now hybrid, you don't have everybody around you all the time, you got a much more distributed organisation, you know, you can now employ people the other side of the world to work for you, because we're much more used to having meetings on zoom. And all those things that have suddenly happened over the last year have accelerated a change towards more much more virtual working, and the kind of that's what the book looks at.

Troy Norcross:

Peter, with any luck at all, we'll have you and your co author both show up on a future version, or a future edition of the wicked podcast. Marcus, I don't want to thank you very much for your time today and we wish you a great weekend. Okay, thank you very much. It's been a pleasure. You've been listening to the wicked podcast with CO hosts Marcus Kirsch and me Troy Norcross,

Marcus Kirsch:

please subscribe on podomatic, iTunes or Spotify. You can find all relevant links in the show notes. Please tell us your thoughts in the comment section and let us know about any books for future episodes.

Troy Norcross:

You can also get in touch with us directly on Twitter on at wicked and beyond or at Troy underscore Norcross, also learn more about the wicked company book and the wicked company project at wicked company.com