Colin Newlyn

Pirate, Sage, Explorer,
former Corporate misfit

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,….”

The opening words of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ perfectly encapsulate my corporate career.

The first part of my career was the best. Fun, exciting, full of opportunity. The last part of my career was the worst. Draining, depressing and oppressive. The middle was a mix of the two extremes.

So I know what good looks like, what it feels like. And I know what bad is too. I never understood why there was so much bad around when good really isn’t that hard to do and is really, well, good.

At the end of my 20 years or so in the corporate world, I was burnt out, emotionally numb, and physically stressed. I’d been pretty successful, achieved some things I was proud of and enabled my family to grow and prosper but it had come at great personal cost.

This experience shaped me, more profoundly than I realised. It’s taken me many years to fully understand what happened and how it affected me. This has been alongside a process of recovery and self-discovery that has grown my knowledge of myself and of how people and organisations work.

I’ve always felt that what happened to me was unnecessary and counter-productive, yet I found out that I was not alone in my experience. In fact, I was lucky because at least I had the good stuff!

At the time, I lacked the awareness and knowledge to realise what was happening and I lacked the language to describe it and the tools to deal with it. Now I have developed and acquired those, I want to share them as widely as possible because I feel even more strongly that none of this is necessary and it is a shameful waste of people’s potential.

I used to rant and rave about this and asked myself what I could do to stop it happening. That’s led me to ‘Decrapify Work’, a project to inspire and equip people to take action that will effectively impact their work, to lead the change that they want to see.

Because it doesn’t have to be like this. We’re not meant to be living like this. It can change. It must change.

Who I am

I’m a bit of a rare breed, I am happy looking at both the big picture and the detail. I am extremely practical but also a bit of dreamer. This means that not only can I envision a different future, I can also figure out what needs to happen to get there – or to start moving in the right direction at the very least. I can take the theory and apply it so that stuff actually happens.

My approach is a mixture of rationality and intuition. I have been told I am a sage, with a lot of wisdom. Well that has been hard earned. I am a good listener, open-minded, non-judgmental and empathetic. I like to coach people to find their own solutions to the challenges they face. Everyone’s journey is different, and every organisation will have its own path to a better future. I want to work with people and teams to co-create those futures.

I’m also a pirate, a bit of rebel (although a very polite one), a contrarian and a free thinker. I challenge the status quo and the ‘received wisdom’ rather than following the herd or jumping on the latest bandwagon. I look for different perspectives, the angles that others might not see. I like to break the rules (well, ignore them really) and come up with better ones.

And finally, I’m a bit of an introvert (I am hating having to write this about myself), so I like to think about things first before taking action. However, I also love to work with people and am a strong team player.

I am not your conventional consultant or coach. I have no desire to be. So, let’s do something different.

What I believe

The way we approach work is no longer working. It’s failing on its own terms, its dysfunction is damaging organisations, and the people within them. It’s simply not fit for purpose as we move into the 2020s.

Too many workplaces are uninspiring at best, toxic at worst. They don’t need to be, and together we can change them to make them more purposeful, more productive, and more humane.

We have the opportunity, the vision and the means, and it will be imperative for organisations to change if they are going to survive, so why not start now?

Everyone has the power to effect change, although many may be languishing in a state of learned helplessness. It is entirely possible to take control of our working lives and to have a positive impact on the people around us, at work and at home. History teaches us that change is unlikely to come from the top (and top-down change is rarely effective anyhow). So, the future of work is going to rely on networks of autonomous groups and individuals, self-organising and working towards a common purpose. That’s how this shift is going to happen. It will start with change makers who are rising up within their organisations but, mostly, are not yet at the top.

The biggest single shift that needs to occur, is a move from seeing organisations as machines to seeing them as organisms. That altered perspective changes everything.

Act now

I believe we are on the cusp of something great. COVID-19 has cracked open the old model and shown change is possible. We can work based on trust and respect, we can balance work and other parts of our lives so they all benefit, we can have freedom and responsibility. We can stop surviving and start thriving.

If you want to grasp this moment, then I’d love to work with you, with your team or with your entire organisation, to help shape the future and ‘decrapify work’.

It’s going to be very different from before. We’ll have to be flexible and experiment, learning, growing and drawing our map as we go. I’m up for the challenge, and for having as much fun as possible along the way.

If you’d like that too, then let’s have a conversation and explore what’s possible. You might just be surprised at the answers.