What books and readings should inspire a Rebel at work? As you have probably noticed I have been reading a lot of books that mention “rebellion” or “revolution” in the workplace. Some others are in my reading list and am sure I will continue the discovery. I have always defined myself as an eclectic personality, and really feel to be on a mission to redefine the role of HR as a true enabler for the Human Being to express its humanity at work.
But I am profoundly aware that traditional work practices and managerial frameworks are a big obstacle to this. A reform from inside is very complicated, if not impossible. Most of the success stories come up from the moment of deep crisis, or from intentional design rooted at the beginning of the organisation. The only way to really reform an organisation today is by adopting a truly Rebellious Mindset, capable of dismantling existing paradigms and smashing assumptions and biases.
What I’ve tried to do here is compile a list of readings put in a somewhat “logical order”, to serve as an inspiration and guide for a truly revolutionary platform. This the origin of the Rebel at Work List of Books.
Are you ready to be a Rebel at Work?
These are books that explore alternative organisational models, focusing on the thinking behind the organisation, and offering concrete examples and case studies on how a new model was applied in practice.
This book by the two Corporate Rebels Joost Minnaar and Pim de Morree offers an excellent dive into many organisational case studies derived from the author’s exploration bucket list, organised around the eight key trends of change they have identified.
A thorough take on how to dismantle bureaucracy in modern organisations. By examining a number of organisations mostly from traditional industries that have managed to move on to moire human-centric approaches, the authors build a case for a strong revolution of modern firms.
This book is an analysis of concrete cases of organisations that turn their focus outside-in to really develop all of their internal talents. Something that would deserve becoming a truly new organisational paradigm.
The first book I read, many years ago, that introduced me to the concept of being a “Rebel at Work“. It focuses on the change that is necessary to implement as an individual and within the organisation, to bend the rules and be performing in the organisation.
Budgeting is probably the first process that I can think of that needs a Revolution. In this book, Bjarte Bogsnes introduces key learnings from two large implementations and discusses how the entire organisation needs rethinking.
Here you see the tale of a rebel that has truly tried to make sense of the entire concept of management, but couldn’t find a true answer and has decided to follow its own path, intentionally building an organisation that is today a symbol of creativity.
This book is a thorough tale of the distinguishing elements of Netflix successful culture, with its coherence between Reed Hastings’ vision of simplification, and the implementation of ad hoc practices around the world.
A milestone example of democracy principles applied within an organisation. This is the story of Semco, a Brasilian company that got revolutionised by the intuition of Ricardo Semler, and his pursuit of an alternative model to perform.
A book that guides us through the different ways of “getting things done”, an alternative to hierarchy. The book provides a practitioner tool on how to demolish the idea that there is no alternative to hierarchy.
This classic book describes with incredible humour all the negative aspects of the bureaucratic hierarchical organisation. Yet, everybody immediately relates to the truth behind these principles, despite its ageing structure.
One of the first books interrogating itself on how organisations should be reinvented to be more human-centric. And presenting the idea of a new “Teal Organisation” model.
One of the first books suggesting a new model of organisation based on a reinvention of the traditional model of organisation. Unbossing becomes a mantra applied to all organisational units, creating a new “unlimited” form of organisation.
This section of the Rebel at Work List of Books is focused more on the individuals, and their characteristics in the way they work in organisations.
Matthew Syed compiles an excellent book that is based on the concept of Divergent Thinking. Diversity and Inclusion of people with different ways of thinking( the real “rebel talent”) is a winning argument for teams that want to perform. But goes against standard assumptions of management thinking.
David Epstein builds excellent research on what is the advantage of being a generalist rather than a specialist. Through Music, Sport and Science, Range is a book that celebrates the “T-Shaped” competency model of successful individuals, going against the theory of deep specialisation for all.
This book explains the reasons and ways that the US Army found to adapt to a dynamic and networked enemy. Overcoming a traditionally siloed organisation was not easy, but was key to success. Scaling successfully a team model is a key strategy to sustain an organisation that is adaptable and resilient.
With this Book Harvard Professor Francesca Gino offers an overview of the characteristics of the Rebels within organisation: people that bend the rules for the success of the Organisation.
Todd Rose builds in this book a strong case against the tendency to think in terms of “mathematical average” of all human problems. This has led to bias and organisational errors. He then introduces a new way of working based on the respect of the individual.
In this section of the Rebel at Work List of Books, you will find thosethat provide insights on the necessary Leadership attributes to Leading the Revolution, as Gary Hamel put it.
With its continuous parallel with Jazz, Frank J. Barrett introduces a new model of Leadership based on autonomy and improvisation. Definitely two attributes that are needed within an empowerment framework needed to ensure true transformation.
With this milestone book, Amy Edmondson explains how important Psychological Safety is for the success of any organisation. Based on concrete case studies and examples from her work, she describes the environment that can help success.
In this text, Simon Western explores its theory of the Discourses of Leadership and specifically analyses the eco-leadership discourse that should mark a new era of human-centric organisations. A truly interesting take on the idea of Leadership and on its impact beyond organisations.
The milestone book by Simon Sinek, that examines the role of having a true Purpose to give meaning to one’s life, especially in a working context. Here seen as a key transformational leadership attribute.
A tale of a practical experience in introducing self-management in a team, using agile principles as a guide. Through this, a big learning on the value of distributed leadership.
Kim Scott discusses here the necessity to build on authenticity for a leadership impact, with Candor becoming a true attribute. Candid Leadership becomes a key way to enable radical thinking in the organisation and drive change.
The books listed below offer contributions to “think rebel” even if their main focus has been to provide broader methodologies and frameworks. I concentrate here on people management and leadership
Laszlo Bock with his work at Google has reinvented the way HR conducts a big part of his work. Google became a behavioural analysis research lab, delivering some of the key understandings for us.
This book is really a Toolkit of all available Agile methodologies for every HR professional to succeed in transforming its organisation. The author examines the way HR should work in a completely different way, adopting the relevant tools as needed.
A classic book about Management. Considered the “Management bible of the Silicon Valley”, it might be odd finding it here in a Rebel’s list of Books, if it wasn’t for the reason that most managers don’t even act like what is suggested in this book: focus on Output.
A milestone book that examines in detail the OKR methodology. If implemented well, it’s a tool that helps with dismantling the issues with traditional performance management approaches and provides a true focus on results.
This is only an initial version of the Rebel at Work List of Books that will grow over time, so make sure you bookmark it and come back often. Also, I do welcome Book Suggestions that can enlarge the list. You can always have a look at my current Reading List as well.
Cover Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash
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