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 …

Organisation Design for Agile: Start with Governance

As we approach (re) organisation design work to support business transformation, we are often faced with the fact that few organisations address one of the critical components of Org Design: Governance. It’s essential to make decisions on who decides, at all levels of the organisation, to avoid stall and bottlenecks. A truly agile organisation can only be built on a firm decision making backbone. I’ve recently been involved in a large organisational redesign process, and have kept meeting functional leaders who always started the discussion by introducing a new Org Chart for their function. I’ve already discussed the fact that I think Organisational Charts way too often end up being a simplistic representation of an Organisation. What however is way too often missing in these design efforts, are answers to what I think are the key questions to be answered in organisational design: How do we align on priorities? How do we make decisions? How do we communicate decisions? How do we ensure that decisions are followed up? How do we mitigate risk? How do we ensure …

Design your Data Organisation

A key component of Digital Maturity is the capability to exploit data do derive knowledge and support business success through predictive analytics, which is why many organisation are now creating Data Science departments focused on this job. But how can we create a successful Data Science team able to be successful? How do we make sure we’re not just following the latest hype? How can we position these roles within the framework of our organisations? One of the critical aspects that are driving Digital transformation is the availability of data. The quantity of data that is produced every day somehow already passes human capability to understand. But what do you do with this data? This is the crucial question that most organisations are trying to answer. One of the critical aspects that are driving Digital transformation is the availability of data. The quantity of data that is produced every day somehow already passes human capability to understand. But what do you do with this data? This is the crucial question that most organisations are trying to answer. Data Science, …