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Peopletree Soundbites

Episode 2: Engineering a company culture fit for adaptation & change, featuring Michael Friedman

Episode Overview

In this episode of Peopletree Soundbites, Martin Sutherland chats to talent architect, Michael Friedman – President of The Friedman Group –  about the challenges of promoting and deploying talent.

Friedman is an executive coach, advisor to CHRO’s and a phenomenal educator. He also has the extraordinary ability to turn complex ideas into engaging and shareable moments of pure insight.

Friedman is challenging the conventional view of organizations as machines

Friedman is challenging the conventional view of organizations as machines with predictable outputs. Instead, he is proposing an alternative perspective: organizations as ecosystems.

Drawing inspiration from his own backyard, he highlights the importance of the diverse roles of individual role players in an ecosystem where each individual contributes to the overall success and health of the environment. He believes that we have forgotten that organizations, like ecosystems, are full of potential for change and adaptation.

“We’ve become so obsessed with engineering predictability, that we’ve inadvertently put a limit on innovation and possibility.”

In the need to prevent failure with policies and procedures, Friedman believes organizations have lost their self-organising abilities.

“Organisations should also be able to adapt when something isn’t working.”

AI, like chat-GPT can improve the efficiency of promotion and deployment

Friedman emphasises the importance of data and AI, like Chat GPT, as an enabler of promotion and deployment both in terms of process optimisation and improved decision making. He suggests that AI coaching may have a valuable place in empowering individuals to align their skills and passions to fulfil the needs of the organization, effectively helping employees to see the bigger picture, and understand how they add value to the overall health of the ecosystem.

The value of culture in promotion and deployment

The mechanistic view of an organizations, where, as Friedman puts it, “a manager hands over the job description…and assumes that the employee has it all figured out”, ends up boxing employees into roles and does not build a community of passionate, talented people who add value and help the business grow.

Watch or listen to the full episode.


Martin Sutherland

Founding Partner and Director of Innovation and Research at Peopletree Group.


Michael Friedman

President of the Friedman Group.

Time to watch

10 minutes

Key episode takeaways
  • Our obsession with predictability and control – essentially viewing organizations like machines – has put a limit on innovation and possibility.
  • People are not data points. They are complex beings with unique talents and potential, and technology and analytics can help us better understand individual potential.
  • We need to redefine our approach to job design and deployment by embracing the potential of AI, good quality data and a renewed focus on the “why” in our roles.

Peopletree Soundbites: Episode 2

The People Ecosystem Paradigm Shift in Promotion and Deployment