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The Newsletter | Edition 110
Progress Report is dedicated to providing inspiration for action. In our Off-White Papers, we provide practical guidance on how to respond to our rapidly-changing world. This newsletter explores those topics in real-time, with information and action steps on how to make progress now.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” This powerful maxim on the value of data and the importance of precision, often attributed to visionary business thinker Peter Drucker, is more relevant today than ever before. We measure our steps. Our calories. Our likes. Our calendars. We have apps to measure how much we use our apps. It’s never been easier to live a well measured life. However, there are two problems with this quote. First, Drucker never actually said it. And second, it overlooks the profound importance of life’s immeasurables. How can we build a culture for ourselves and our teams to thrive in the space between the numbers?
  1. Reconsider those in your orbit, from Megan Jamieson
  2. Embrace choose your own adventure," from Barry Shafrin
  3. Let go of performative spaces, from Claire Choi


From Megan Jamieson


Casual friendships are key to our emotional lives, but "fringe friends" are slowly disappearing. These loose connections to others, although seemingly inconsequential at a glance, have the potential to introduce you to a hobby, invite you to an event, or even become your partner. As these friend groups start to disappear, we’re experiencing a much lonelier personal orbit than ever before.


Those aged 16-29 are two times as likely to report feeling lonely often or always, compared with those over the age of 70. And it's not as if young people don't want connection—the amount of money Gen Z is willing to spend on social activities is proof that people still want to cultivate social circles. As we continue to adapt to the post-pandemic world of work, all eyes are on the office to cultivate these social circles. In the UK, there are even talks about how socializing at work could support the 54% of British Gen Zers who admit feeling lonely and isolated when working from home.

As personal orbits become sparser, those on the fringe of it become even more important. Think of it as Saturn’s rings: just as new moons can form from the particles in the rings coalescing, acquaintances can contribute to wholly new dimensions of yourself you never knew existed.


Embrace your gravitational pull.


  • Dive into the deep end together. It can be daunting doing new things alone, so find people who are willing to explore with you. If you’re based in NYC, take a look at RecCreate Collective—they bring together people with similar interests and organize workshops from cake decoration to dinner-party hosting.
  • Embrace free-form social gatherings. Be comfortable in spontaneity and embrace unhurried hangouts. For those in Europe, The Offline Club in Amsterdam offers offline events and digital detox hangouts that promote creativity and connection.
  • Walk the line of symmetry. If someone reminds you of another person you know, tell them. People who radiate similar energies will probably get along, so play matchmaker. Lean on your network as a means for unearthing commonality and connection beyond yourself.


From Barry Shafrin


According to Gallup, only 1 in 5 employees feel their performance is measured in a motivating way. At the same time, Gallup finds employees whose manager holds them accountable to metrics are 2.5x more likely to be engaged in their job. How do we square this conflict? Managers must actively collaborate with individuals to identify the KPIs that matter most to their personal growth, rather than enforcing one-size standards across teams.


A good KPI is a directional measure of ongoing performance, not a binary end target. The latter approach can actually deter peak performance—dissuading those primed to overperform from giving it their all, amplifying feelings of burnout from constant monitoring, and even incentivizing misguided or illegal activities in ultimate pursuit of metrics.


Empower employees to chart their own metrical growth journeys.


  • Offer a map. Clearly outline overarching organizational and team-wide goals to establish a unified understanding of what success should look like. But don’t stop at the what, make sure to offer visibility into the why, outlining how your team’s efforts clearly support the company’s macro business priorities to build agency and buy-in.
  • Let employees design their route. This does not mean relegating growth to the employee alone, as “lack of career development” often represents the number one cause of job attrition. Instead, it means supporting employees with agency to identify their own goals to be measured against. Consider encouraging employees to consider less traditional metrics. For instance, tracking idea kill rate and degree of innovation can indicate not only the breadth of ingenuity an employee offers, but also their ability to prioritize and succeed.
  • Act as a compass. Managers need not be the only avenue towards growth. Once goals are identified, managers serve a vital role as a directional guide to connect employees with others across the organization who support growth and development. Studies have shown that internal networking sharpens communication skills, increases job satisfaction and well-being, and reduces voluntary turnover.


From Claire Choi


Whether it’s a habit tracking device or a true beast like Tiktok, quantifying how we experience ourselves and the world around us feeds into the “society of effort.” One where feelings of social connection and self improvement are only rewarded when we “show in the eyes of others.” One where being part of a community is dependent on external performance.


It’s not surprising how easy it is to fall into this type of behavior given these technologies are built with the primary goal of increasing engagement and usage at the cost of our wellbeing. An added layer of difficulty comes in when we try to redirect and look to our physical environment to do social connection and self improvement “the right way.” Unfortunately, with the death of third places, there’s a severe lack of options for in-person connection.

So what can we do when the infrastructures we interact with are starting to feel like they’re working against us? And what does it look like to build spaces that are centered on belonging over performance?


Think back to the last time you felt a sense of meaning or belonging. What was it about that moment that made you feel that way?


In the moment we’re in now, the workplace has potential to take on new importance, and by tapping into our own definitions of belonging, we can all help shape the next iteration of office culture. The workplace is unique in that it brings together people with such different backgrounds and passions, all united under a shared vision and dedication to craft. And as we continue to navigate the world of hybrid/remote work, the role of the workplace becomes increasingly critical to preserve and nurture—a bright spot in a swirly haze of grays and black.

This isn’t to say that the workplace is the only place we should look to find a sense of belonging, but it’s a place to start. The truth is that the constant reframing, experimenting, and questioning of our surroundings is all a part of discovering how we define what is immeasurable to us, and to others. I encourage you to share your interests, learn more about your coworkers, stay engaged in company-wide conversation—maybe even create the bright spots yourself.

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