Published August 31, 2023 | Updated August 31, 2023 | 4 minute read
Eight years ago, I found myself taking a critical look at the monolithic corporate culture within which I’d built my career thus far. I knew I didn’t want to leave that world altogether, but I felt a quiet yet persistent murmur echoing in my mind: “There’s got to be a better way.”
I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. My August co-founders – Erica Seldin, Alix Zacharias, Clay Parker Jones, and Mark Raheja – were too. We knew this was more than a stray thought or a fleeting moment of frustration – it was a manifestation of our deep-seated yearning for change.
We saw a corporate culture in which structures looked more like unyielding pyramids than flexible networks. It was a culture that had rebuilt itself out of the rubble of 2008-2009, on much the same blueprint as before. It carried the same entrenched habits, mindsets and methods designed for a bygone era, unequipped for the 21st century’s accelerating pace of change.
This was the spark that started August Public.
We’re a new kind of change management consulting firm.
Unsatisfied with traditional ways of working, August was brought together by a collective belief that a more radical way of working was both necessary and possible. We were a team of dissatisfied, radical, hopeful professionals, and we founded August on our shared vision of a future of work that was joyful, equitable, transparent, and thriving.
We started small, but our vision resonated deeply with the global corporate community. We soon caught the attention of industrial titans who were asking the same question: “Is there a better way?”
The first global organization to come knocking was PepsiCo. In a swiftly evolving market, PepsiCo was feeling the strain of old operational methods and the looming threat of obsolescence. In their search for a new way forward, PepsiCo leadership discovered August, an audacious startup that was asking big questions, challenging norms, and pushing to create something new.
During our 18-month partnership, August helped PepsiCo rediscover its immense agile capacities, and unlocked its ambition to transform its culture. We did this by helping over 10,000 PepsiCo employees reconnect with their own entrepreneurial spirits, and discover their own power to make a real impact in the business. As a result, PepsiCo empowered its people in a new way, leading to measurable improvement in engagement, innovation and speed.
(For more on this partnership read our client case study, Scaling Agile Ways of Working at PepsiCo.)
PepsiCo was only the beginning. Other large, complex organizations soon took notice. The NYC Department of Education, Estée Lauder, Chanel, Colgate, and more – all behemoths in their own rights, all grappling with their own challenges in the face of growing complexity and unpredictability. What drew these organizations to us was a shared belief that, yes, there had to be a better way.
We approach change management through a culture of learning.
The fun thing about bringing agile ways of working to enormous global organizations is that with each partnership, we get to play! We don’t subscribe to formulas of transformation; our work is built on experimentation and iteration, prioritizing long-term learnings over short-term gains.
We catalyzed our methodology with the real-world challenges facing some of the world’s biggest orgs, which led to our creation of the August "Starter Stack”: a distillation of revolutionary organizational theories into simple, everyday practices that lead to sustainable, human-centered change.
As we navigated the inner workings of our more established clients, we used August as a laboratory to test the boundaries of what was possible. This led to new challenges for our own organization. Our passionate belief in self-organization was both a strength and, at times, a stumbling block as we grappled with the balance between autonomy and coherence. Our journey had its share of hitches. We’ve faced moments of ambiguity and uncertainty. We’ve failed big and had to recover. The irony wasn't lost on us; in our quest to redefine work for others, we had to constantly redefine ourselves.
Complex change management through simple, everyday practices
Because we built August on a culture of learning, we were able to incorporate the adversities we experienced into illuminating lessons.
We learned that the aspirational blueprints we so ardently believed in were not just about visions, but about the minutiae of daily operations. How we make decisions. How we organize a meeting. How we interview a job candidate. How we navigate a new risk. There is a vast gulf between the ideals on a PowerPoint slide and the real-world practice of those values in a regular workday. It takes more than strategy to get from big ideas to tangible results. The path to sustainable success is built on the nuanced interplay of human behaviors and mindsets.
Where traditional consulting firms present polished presentations that promise linear results, August cares more about incremental work in progress. We specialize in translating high-level ideas into daily practices. As we've often realized, it's not just about changing processes—it's about reshaping human interactions within those processes.
Yes, there’s a better way to navigate the future of work.
Eight years after my August pals and I came together to find out, “Is there a better way?”, we have discovered the answer: Yes, but it’s not just one way. There are many better ways of working.
These practical, fundamental, everyday practices can unlock a dynamic, resilient, responsive future for even the most established organization.
Our ongoing pursuit of new “better ways” to add to this growing tapestry is what connects us with other visionaries in organizations around the world. Together, we are driving toward a brighter, more human future of work.