Month: November 2019

Book Review: Agile People by Pia-Maria Thoren

Book Review: Agile People by Pia-Maria Thoren

Agile People by Pia-Maria Thoren is one of those books that you wonder why it wasn’t written already. It’s a straightforward book in the way it is written, full of easy to grasp concepts, concrete examples and real-life experiences. And while you read it, you really wonder why is HR not working this way already? This work is high on the experience of the author, a People Management consultant that has turned to Agile (and its various practices) to find concrete answers to the needs that HR has. And the book subtitle doesn’t leave anything out from the fact that what is being proposed is a radical approach. Agile is a way of moving forward and creating value. It’s a mentality that allows people and groups to meet challenges, learn quickly, and respond to change. It’s a different and new way of managing teams, individuals, projects, and development. Pia-Maria Thoren Agile People, page 16 Agile above all. The book talks of Agile, from its principle as a discipline up to its more recent developments. And then addresses several typical …

Organise without managers: is it possible at scale?

Organise without managers: is it possible at scale?

Organise without managers. A dream that many seem to nurture. A few months ago, I already wrote a post with what I thought was a thought-provoking title: do we still need managers? The answer I tried to give back then was that we certainly need proper management, but this does not automatically equate to keep the old hierarchy of managers. The debate about organising without managers is not new, is getting more and more inputs. But one of the critical questions has always been, is it possible to scale a manager-less organisation? The issue arises because most of the cases that emerge about companies without managers are often related to small companies or start-ups: Buffer, Morning Star Farms, Valve Software. Can manager-less models scale? Joost Minnaar, from Corporate Rebels, has published a long but fascinating post on the topic, analysing how large organisations can survive (or rather succeed) without multiple layers of middle management. This study is part of his PhD study, so it is still work in progress, but the article is very detailed and well supported with research and information. He has looked …

Book Cover of The Dark Side of Empathy by Fritz Breithaupt

Book Review: The Dark Sides of Empathy by Fritz Breithaupt

This book, for sure challenges a lot of common assumptions around Empathy and what pushes some of Human Behaviors. First thing first, this book is not against Empathy. The title is probably a bit “sensationalist” and written to drive curiosity. The author is clear from the introduction of the book that he wants to ensure that we understand why people also do “negative” things because of Empathy. Thus simply disconnecting the concept of Empathy linked to moral standards. Empathy makes us human and it would be naive to imagine we should just get rid of empathy, even if we could. Fritz Breithaupt, The Dark Sides of Empathy. A big part of the book is focused on some questions linked to the darkest sides of human history, where the author interrogates himself how it was possible that millions of people did not “empathize” with the victims of the Holocaust (just as an example). “Empathy is a riddle,” Breithaupt says. While it can enrich our lives, Breithaupt says our ability to identify with others’ feelings can also …

Corporate Rebels: driving disrupting culture change

Yesterday I joined the Corporate Rebel event in Milan, organized by Primate. The story of Pim and Joost, the two founders of this “movement” is interesting: “Back in January 2016, we quit our corporate jobs. Like most people, we worked in outdated workplaces characterized by inertia, bureaucracy and a lack of motivation. We simply couldn’t accept that the world of work – for far too many – is a place full of misery and despair.” A feeling shared by too many, considering the data that they have been using as the basis of their work: Gallup’s ‘State of the Global Workplace’ from 2017. If only 15% of people at work is genuinely engaged, what are the others thinking? Their motto “to make work more fun” actually hides something more than just fun. They compiled a “Bucket List” of engaging workplaces to visit and thinker to interview. And went on a road trip around the world to discover what’s making these places unique. Without a background in management or HR, they have been able to bring an “outside-in” perspective on observing the world of …

Movember - Change the Face of men's health


I’m joining the Movember movement this year, growing a moustache in support for raising awareness on some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention. Started by the Movember Foundation in 2003, it quickly has grown to a large scale movement, with more than 5 million people supporting it every year. How can you also get engaged? Donate: Reach out to my Donation Page and do your best for a donation. Grow a Moustache and join the movement. Talk about the issues of Health. So, sorry, you’ll have to cope seeing me with a pair of moustaches for some time this year:-)

Book Cover of Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed

Book Review: Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed

Some books leave a mark when you read them, and I genuinely believe this is one of them. In this book, Matthew Syed is able to thoroughly revert a big part of Diversity Thinking moving away from being “a politically correct distraction, an issue of morality and social justice” and transforming it in a central notion for performance and Innovation. Not just in teams and organisations, but for the entire humankind. The book title: Rebel Ideas have immediately attracted me. Since the appearance of Gary Hamel’s book Leading the Revolution, I’ve found a way to reconcile my “rebel mindset” with the work within a large corporation. This book has given me once more a confirmation that I’m on the right path! Through compelling prose, well-sustained scientific research and many examples of really appropriate storytelling, the books examine how Diversity adds value in all of the human contexts, and especially in organisations. The way it demolishes the perception of “individual intelligence” and instead builds that of “collective intelligence” is staggering, and somewhat unsettling. The book moves by examining the concept of homophily, the …

Herbie Hancock Concert in Milan (Nov 1st. 2019)

Jazz and Leadership: 6 big lessons from Herbie Hancock’s Concert.

Yesterday I attended the Herbie Hancock concert at the Conservatorio of Milan, opening act of the JazzMi Festival. It was a genuinely great experience, to see such a master of jazz play. We had perfect placing (third row). Not more than 10 meters separated us from this real master. But am not here to comment on the (exceptional) music. Instead, as the concert rolled, I could observe a few behaviours that should resonate in an organisational context. Jazz can become a powerful metaphor of (proper) management, particularly in a moment where technologies are causing disruptions, and Digital Maturity is becoming a “must-have”. Jazz and management: a metaphor through time The association of Leadership and Management to music is not new. The metaphor of the Orchestra Director as a true Leader is known. But what is striking about a jass ensemble is that there is nothing like a visible director that stands on a podium and directs the music. So the idea that Jazz can teach Management Lessons diffused itself already some time ago. Grant Ackerman from Columbia Business School wrote an interesting …