They say those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. As true a statement as it is, it’s missing one crucial element. If you never confront the reality of the present and get to the heart of why you are where you are, you won’t be able to unlearn the habits that got you there in the first place. In this episode of Unlearn, Barry O’Reilly talks with Dom Price, Work Futurist at Atlassian, who shares insights on facing the reality of the present, unlearning outdated practices, and embracing new ways of working to drive meaningful change and growth in organizations.

Dom’s early work experience started in London at Deloitte, where he spent three years as an accountant. His job left him unfulfilled and passionless, but that all changed over sushi. Don’s boss at Deloitte offered him the opportunity to work in either New York or Sydney. Despite the allure of New York’s size and boldness, Dom chose Sydney for its smaller team environment, where he could have a more hands-on, full-stack experience. This decision marked the beginning of a diverse and interesting career journey that eventually led him to Atlassian.

Embracing Reality and Unlearning Past Practices

Dom highlights the importance of facing the honest reality of the current situation in organizations. When leaders truly acknowledge where they are today, they can pay homage to the past while also identifying areas that need to be unlearned or improved. Not only will this allow those leaders to eliminate what is holding an organization back, it will also shine the light on what is exceptional and should be elevated. Taking this approach will help break away from average practices and strive for continuous improvement. [Listen from 05:10]



Collaboration Over Silos

Barry and Dom discuss the significance of breaking down silos within organizations to foster better collaboration and communication. This begins with recognizing that the entire company runs day to day on the hundreds of small tasks that require input from every team member and department. When collaboration and breaking down silos becomes a priority, a company can enhance its efficiency, productivity, and overall effectiveness. Equally as important, this type of culture honors the diverse perspectives they bring. [Listen from 15:46]

Seeking Growth and Avoiding Plateaus

Over time, companies trend toward mediocrity and status quo, but Dom stands firmly against the plateaus that seem inevitable. There is always a place for growth and improvement, and it requires each person involved to challenge themselves, step out of comfort zones, and actively seek new opportunities. Instead of complacency, a mindset of continuous learning, adaptation, and growth will ensure excellence and innovation. [Listen from 25:43]

Practical Change Initiatives Over Theoretical Transformations

Dom discusses the pitfalls of theoretical transformations, such as Agile transformations, that lack a clear understanding of the underlying goals and realities of the organization. Instead, he advocates for practical, action-oriented change initiatives that address specific needs and challenges within the organization. By focusing on tangible outcomes and being honest about real issues, companies can drive sustainable change and meaningful progress. [Listen from 35:34]

Balancing Heritage and Innovation

Not all of a company’s past should be unlearned, nor should its achievements be forgotten. There is a balance to strike between an organization’s rich heritage and the need for innovation and adaptation. Dom shares how companies can find a balance between honoring the past and embracing innovation, and companies can leverage their heritage while staying relevant and competitive in a rapidly changing environment. [Listen from 37:40]