great-work-tm-230x198I had the chance to sit down and be interviewed by Michael Bungay Stanier, Senior Partner of Box of Crayons, a company that helps organizations do less Good Work and more Great Work. I know, how cool is that tagline? Michael asked if he could interview me as part of his Great Work interview series. We had a blast. Take a look below at Michael's overview, thoughts and of course an audio version of the interview itself. Enjoy! ______________________________________ My guest today is Dan Pontefract, who’s Head of Learning of TELUS. Dan has a lot of really practical experience thinking about how to get people aligned in doing meaningful work that makes a difference. He’s also speaking at the upcoming HRPA Conference.

His new book, Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization, is a really powerful read that introduces five or six of Dan’s original models on how he sees the world. So we’re going to uncover some of the real issues around employee engagement and how to do things differently.

In this interview, Dan and I discuss:

  • The fundamental error in treating employees like numbers (or gladiators)
  • The need for connected leaders who are equally involved in “becoming, being and going beyond”
  • Why trust is crucial to organizational success
  • How to increase people’s capacity to trust
  • The role of collaboration in creating employee engagement
  • The 3-33 learning model

(Scroll down for more in-depth podcast notes.)

Listen to my interview with Dan Pontefract.

0:00:00: Dan outlines his background in education, and explains that one of the main things he works to change in organizations is their tendency to treat employees like mere numbers – or “gladiators” in a Roman army.

0:05:02: Michael and Dan discuss some of the few positive examples of organizational change, and note that many people are afraid to change. Dan introduces the notion of the “connected leader.”

0:10:03: Dan explains that a connected leader must be equal parts “becoming, being and going beyond.” They don’t just focus on execution, but also on the foundation that leads to execution, and the results of having executed. Michael asks about crucial foundational behaviours, and Dan explains that trust is at the root of organizational success. They discuss how to increase people’s capacity to trust.

0:15:00: Expanding on the importance of establishing trust within an organization, Dan and Michael discuss the need for collaboration and looking beyond the manager-subordinate relationship.

0:20:05: Dan and Michael talk about why leaders should focus on engaging people who actively want a purposeful career, rather than those who are disenfranchised by the system.

0:25:02: In response to Michael’s question about the 70-20-10 learning model, Dan explains his own 3-33 learning model. Michael wraps up by directing listeners to additional resources on Dan and his work.



Find out if you’re currently blooming, budding, stunted or in need of renewal through the Work-Life Bloom Personal Assessment.



  • Dan is a conference organizer’s ideal speaker. Not only did he inspire and energize our group, but he also masterfully adapted his content so it resonated with the audience and our conference theme. As a bonus, Dan is able to nimbly navigate to adjust to a reduced time slot when other speakers went over time without sacrificing the impact of his session.

    Director and General Counsel
  • Dan accomplished what we set out to do, which was not only to be inspirational, but also to leave everyone with tools and food for thought / self-reflection to improve their personal and professional lives.

    Hermann Handa, FCT
  • Dan challenged us to have clarity of purpose, both as individuals and as an organization. He related inspiring stories drawing on his experience in business, technology and academia. As he said, ‘There is no ownership without belonging.’

    Christian Pantel, D2L
  • Dan Pontefract suggests leaders must be transformational and transactional, collaborative and considerate, daring and decisive, inclusive and insistent, playful and formal, harmonious, and humble, encouraging and results-driven. In a word, Flat.

    Robert Morris
    “How to strengthen engagement, empowerment, and execution, then leverage them for a decisive competitive advantage”

Media Appearances

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