Kieran Rose is the guest on episode 2 of our podcast Unf*cking Work - available wherever you get your podcasts. Kieran is also an Autistic parent, published academic, published author and International public speaker. He has worked professionally in and around the autism field for around 20 years, consulting with global organisations and institutions, advising businesses, lecturing and researching on subjects such as Autistic Masking, Autistic Burnout, Autistic Identity, Trauma and Stigma.
What is the one thing you would do to unilaterally unfuck work?
I would remove all unnecessary systems, bureaucracy and hierarchies and change the focus to People First. People are so different and have such differing needs that most systems are immediately redundant the moment a human engages with it.
What is the best example of unfucking work you’ve seen in the wild?
I don’t know that I’ve seen one perfect example, but I’ve certainly seen organisations that have dumped interview processes and also those that have become massively flexible around their staff’s needs.
These are mostly small businesses and often those with a social focus. The removal of unnecessary hierarchies automatically means that businesses become less about having formal systems and become more about matching individual ways of working.
Who is your unfucking work icon? The ultimate Work Pirate?
Historically it would be Stanley Marcus of Nieman Marcus, whose focus was entirely on a great customer service experience. He talks a lot in his autobiography about supporting his staff to the best of his ability in order to enable them to support Nieman Marcus customers to the best of their ability.
While I don’t really engage in the business world a great deal, somebody I admire is Nicola Jayne Little of Mint Business Club and Celebrate Difference. As an employer I’ve watched her unwittingly, then wittingly gather scores of Neurodivergent people around her either as an employer or as someone who gathers entrepreneurs to her side. She seems to intuitively recognise strengths and recognise that people have to work differently, because they are different.
Recommend a book, podcast or article to our Work Pirates crew that made you think differently about work.
Daniel Priestley’s Entrepreneur Revolution, which although isn’t strictly about unfucking work, it is about entrepreneurial mindsets and made me think deeply about the restrictive structure of corporations and larger businesses, and the flexibility of small businesses which enable them to meet employee needs and provide services in unique and individualised ways. If employers want revenue, they should be looking at meeting the individual needs of their employees before anything else. A happy workforce is a productive one.
Priestley suggests a world of business in which many small and micro businesses work together to provide niche need and personalised product, rather than large conglomerates giving everyone identical experiences and products. Those concepts sooth the part of my brain that struggles with formality, conformity and hierarchy.