At the Brain-Based Workplace, we help values-driven organizations become more Peacefully Productive & Radically Response-able in two ways: by applying evidence-based insights and best practices from the fields of psychology and organizational behavior; and through incorporating ongoing, data-driven learning cycles drawing on design-thinking principles. Using these perspectives at the individual, team, and organizational levels, our coaching and consulting work focuses on excellence in the following domains:
See How We Work for details and examples of what we offer.
What Guides Us?
Mission-driven organizations do urgent work in our communities and for the environment, but internally they are often plagued by burnout, high turnover, and frustrating inefficiencies. This presents a stark dissonance: the values of advancing sustainability and benefiting people--the very values that drive the external products of their work--are not integrated into the internal dynamics and processes of the organizations themselves. We focus on clarifying and integrating these values into an organization's communication, decision-making, and management practices.
We use two anchors, Peaceful Productivity and Radical Response-ability, to provide the foundation for this effort.
What is Peaceful Productivity?
Peaceful Productivity is a way of working individually and in teams that prioritizes both maximizing productivity and engaging peacefully with ourselves and others. Our perspective sees these two priorities as mutually enhancing, not mutually exclusive. This balance is achieved through understanding and working with—not struggling against—the way our brains evolved. Our thesis (and the evidence aligns!) is that when we treat people as people, not machines, they and their contributions appreciate.
This represents a paradigm shift from that of the assembly line that dominated the Industrial Revolution to the knowledge workers who pervade the Information Economy. Unfortunately, many workplaces are stuck using an Industrial-era psychology while hoping for Information Age work. It’s like using a typewriter to send an email—no wonder there is so much frustration!
What is Radical Response-ability?
Radical Response-ability refers to people who initiate goal-oriented action, responding flexibly and creatively to this end regardless of what obstacles arise. As opposed to reflexive reaction, they use all interactions (even and especially challenging ones) to respond intentionally in service of goals they have actively chosen or created.
“Radical” suggests that they address and act from root causes and assess all effects of their actions. While many organizations claim to promote empowerment, their structures and mindsets actually implicitly encourage approval-seeking, compliance, risk avoidance, and blame. Individuals and organizations founded on Radical Response-ability systematically root out these behaviors and the structures and mindsets that support them, replacing them with new paradigms of work that support Peaceful Productivity.
Theory of Change
We use 3 Levers for Transformation: Skills, Structures, & Stories. Structures activate and enable the skills they trigger, and skills in turn bring structures to life. Stories give meaning and direction to this life.
We work with individuals to develop their habits & capabilities across our 3 domains to promote Peaceful Productivity & Radical Response-ability.
We work together to create personal and team structures that make valued behaviors easy to do and promote their adoption among new team members.
We identify the dominant stories and mental models in an organization that guide what is done, along with the why and how behind it. We then engage our clients in assessing the alignment of these stories with their skills, & structures, refining each of these three Levers to ensure they are as effective and values-driven as possible.
The Organizational Learning Paradigm
"A quick fix is neither." -Christine King
You can iterate your culture just like you iterate your product! Drawing on agile and design thinking principles and tools, we guide and teach processes that reveal the skills, structures, and stories in need of development and transformation. This process involves an ongoing and collaborative Data-Define-Dream-Design-Do cycle: Data gathering to see what is currently happening; Defining the challenges (organizational dynamics that both support and impede innovation & execution) based on data patterns; Dreaming up wildly successful futures; Designing interventions that bridge current reality and future dreams; Doing the planned intervention to test assumptions & efficacy; and gathering Data again to assess efficacy and inform next steps.
This entire cycle takes place in collaboration with the client; it is a process we guide and participate in, but distinctly not one we just do and deliver. If you are looking for a consultant to diagnose and fix your organization as you might look to a doctor to diagnose and fix your back, the Brain-Based Workplace is not a fit for you. If, however, you are looking for a consultant to discover new data to be interpreted through new lenses, and to support you in transitioning to a more ideal future using that information and understanding, give us a call. We cannot just chauffeur you to your desired future, and we refuse to pretend we can to impress (and ultimately disappoint) you; we can navigate together and learn what the conditions for success and transformation look like, while working with you to develop the skills and structures to get there.
What We Do
In addition to helping organizations clarify their values and translate them into concrete norms, our workshops, retreats, and ongoing coaching & consulting focus on excellent Skills & Structures in the domains below.
Giving & Receiving Feedback
Communication & Conflict Resolution
How We Do It
Once we have identified an individual, team, or organization's growth areas, we use the modalities below to help them get there. While these modalities give a sense of what we have done in the past, we work with each of our clients to customize an offering suited to their needs. We also leverage a lightweight technology to ensure sustained behavior change after the session--then use the data from that to iterate going forward.
We run workshops for small teams to whole organizations, ranging from 1-hour sessions to multi-session modules over several weeks or months. A far cry from the token annual training, our workshops engage participants in determining the desired changes and practicing them together.
Retreats & Off-sites
We coordinate on- and off-site retreats for all staff, department teams, or executive leadership. We generally view retreats as situated in the middle of a transformation process. In this light, we partner with our clients and participants beforehand to ensure the retreat enables the pivotal personal and interpersonal changes needed, and we follow up afterwards to make these changes into enduring habits. The retreats themselves are always grounded in participatory, experiential learning.
Based on the organizational learning process described in the Approach section above, we engage with change-makers in organizations over the course of several months to effect systemic, enduring transformation across one or all teams.
We provide 1-on-1 and 1-on-team coaching across all levels of an organization. The intensive format of coaching enables individuals to make dramatic performance improvements and, in doing so, can support larger organizational change efforts. For leaders wanting to raise their game to have the most powerful impact possible, coaching is a terrific place to start.
Where We Work
The Brain-Based Workplace is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. We work with organizations locally and across the world.
Clients & Testimonials
Partial Client List
"I think it was an extremely valuable exercise for us. Far exceeded expectations."
"I've been to a lot of these culture workshops over the last few decades, and this was one of the best workshops I've ever been to--and we do this for a living."
"Jack strikes the right balance between rigorous intellectual theory and concrete hands-on tools that I can use the next day. He takes nebulous concepts like "culture" and "communication" and makes them very concrete, with actionable insights and real results. Weekly meetings with my team turned from boring checklists to opportunities for real connection and action. He taught me how to truly support my team without needing to solve their problems for them -- which not only helped them grow as leaders, but also helped me avoid burnout."
"Immediately able to spot ways to improve our feedback processes."
"I have managed teams for 9 years. I learned how to be a manager though mentoring and self study. I found my sessions with Jack were extremely helpful and informative. I would have loved to have such informative and structured coaching sessions early on in my career. Coaching like this would have minimized my errors in the past. I hope every first time and to-be managers go through this training, these sessions are invaluable!!"
"I loved how concrete the exercises were!"
Biomedical Engineering: Systems Neuroscience & Neuroengineering
“You've been so helpful. I'm really learning to love and live by my values, which I think will really enrich all of my life! Finding myself through leadership....who knew??!”
“I think we've really made significant progress on our initial goals…and I can assure you that what you are doing is transformative for us.”
"Very constructive! Adjusted how I thought about conflict."
"The workshop is incredibly relatable. An easy-to-understand workshop through something we believe to be really complicated."
"These skills are so important for workplace harmony and productivity. Thanks!"
“I like the practical application… the Tiny Habits part was really interesting and I think forced us all to get VERY deliberate and really start breaking our actions down. I also really like the way you allow for free flow conversation but also effectively bring us back in.”
T-REX Group: The Renewables Exchange
"I’ve been doing this [work] for thirty some years and have never done something like this. This was the best offsite of my entire career. Thank you.”
“I’ve been having better disagreements.”
“Thank you for one of the best workshops I have ever taken part of. I truly enjoyed your workshop and took away so much that I can use personally and professionally.”
"I'm excited by the idea of attaching new habits to existing behaviors and look forward to practicing it."
"Thank you for bringing your incredible knowledge, skills, experience, and passion to our retreat. We all so appreciated it!"
"Jack and the Brain-Based Workplace recently led a strategic planning retreat for The Jewish Studio Project. It was game changing for us. Jack provided the perfect balance of push and support. The activities were engaging and constructive and built on one another generatively and seamlessly. Jack was made for working on the hard stuff with organizations. He is wise and his soft presence, keen intuition and quick processing make it feel like you're working with someone who you’ve known for decades. We are so grateful to have found him as a consultant."
Jack started the Brain-Based Workplace in 2014 to integrate and apply lessons from a career spanning the for-profit, nonprofit, and education sectors. Jack worked in commercial finance for a Certified B(enefit) Corporation. He also taught psychology, which forms the foundation of much of his consulting and coaching practice, and he continues to teach mindfulness & yoga.
His educational background includes a management degree from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania; a Master's in Education from the Reach Institute for School Leadership; and certifications in systems thinking and Tiny Habits.
Jack is devoted to working with people to make enduring changes that leave them more liberated and empowered to act and interact in the healthiest, most fulfilling ways possible. He specializes in applying this work within values-driven organizations.
Fun Fact: Jack's favorite compliment was when someone told him he was "a voracious learner."
Phone: (704) 756-1637
Alison is an expert in facilitation and experience design. She has trained hundreds of people on how to facilitate and has run countless work sessions with C-suites down to operating teams. Previously, she was a director at Jump Associates, where she worked for 6 years helping Fortune 1000 companies grow new businesses and reinvent themselves. At Jump, Alison ran culture for 5 years, planning and running retreats helping both Jump and their client companies define their purpose and values, as well as how to roll them out across their organizations. Clients ranged from industry leaders like Starbucks, to mid-sized organizations like Stanford Medicine, to startups like Prefer, a startup focused on the future of work. She has worked with a variety of organizations on how they can maximize performance and collaboration while minimizing burnout at the same time.
Alison is also active in teaching strategy and innovation methods, and she has taught business boot camps hosted in California and Chile. Alison holds 3 degrees from the University of Pennsylvania: a M.S.E. in Integrated Product Design, a B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, and a B.S. in Economics from Wharton.
Fun Fact: An avid swing dancer, Alison has performed around the world and designed her own dancing shoe.
Andrew Molina (affectionately called Mo) is a design strategist specializing in user research. In addition to building People Experience programs for organizations, Mo facilitates design strategy workshops and conducts user research efforts for organizations that want to deepen their understanding of their customers, including for clients such as Mitsubishi Estate, Udacity, and others.
He is a former curriculum designer at Stanford's d.school where he also coached students in applying design thinking to social problems in developing economies through the class Design for Extreme Affordability. Mo received undergrad (management science and engineering) and grad (computer science) degrees from Stanford and facilitates Interpersonal Dynamics, a course at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Fun Facts: Mo likes to climb rocks, is an actor, and loves playing games (board games, card games, made-up games, you name it). He's also on a quest for the world's greatest donut.
Masha is a coach and consultant with over a decade of experience at the intersection of private and non-profit sectors. Previously, Masha managed Learning & Impact programs at Omidyar Network, where she supported a portfolio of global entrepreneurs, designed and delivered learning events, and drove Equity & Inclusion initiatives. Earlier in her career, Masha was on the Portfolio Management team at Hall Capital.
Masha holds a BA from Stanford and an MBA from Berkeley-Haas with a focus on social entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping individuals and organizations embody their values, align with their purpose, and realize their potential.
Fun fact: Masha is a published poet.