All posts filed under: People Management

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 …

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 Like most people, we worked in outdated workplaces characterized by inertia, bureaucracy and a lack of motivation.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 …

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 …

The key dangers of Thinking in Categories

In a fascinating article on HBR by the title “The Dangers of Category Thinking”, Bart de Langhe and Philip Fernbach, analyse the critical issues related to thinking in categories in several domains. Humans tend to simplify reality by splitting items into groups, and in its nature, it derives from our capability to survive. Your mind is a categorization machine, busy all the time taking in voluminous amounts of messy data and then simplifying and structuring it so that you can make sense of the world. This is one of the mind’s most important capabilities; it’s incredibly valuable to be able to tell at a glance whether something is a snake or a stick. Bart de Langhe and Philip Fernbach, The Dangers of Category Thinking, HBR Fall 2019 Derek Cabrera further states that, in many ways, categories are useful structures for organising information. “There are many ways in which thinking is an act of classification, so categories are embedded in cognition itself. Because they help us situate and structure information, using categories can make us feel like we …

The future of HR? Is Human.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reasoning (again I would say) on the role of HR. I’ve been especially challenged by the idea that “HR is a job for losers“. I have tried to understand where we can still make the difference, which around (re)taking ownership of the relationship between the “work” and the way the organisation uses it.  I think I’ve now come to an (initial) conclusion, and this is probably going to be the area in which I will be reasoning most in the future. I genuinely think some part of our profession has moved in the wrong direction in the past two decades, chasing a path that has derailed us from the real objective of our job. And in a moment where technology becomes even more present, we must take an entirely new different approach. The future of HR is Human. I know I’m not the first using this concept. The first article I could trace dated back to 2012 and was focused on Diversity. But it is in last months that I’ve heard this …