All posts tagged: Future of Work

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 …

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 …

Customer and Chef in a Japanese Restaurant

Who Owns the Experience?

We have all heard the concept of Experience Economy that dominates the evolution of our world today. Most companies have realised the importance of thinking in terms of experience and have started adapting, focusing on Customer Experience as one of the critical drivers for success. People have been nominated Chief Experience Officers, a number of design tools are put in place to support this, a number of other more focused “experience” concepts are appearing around (Content Experience, User Experience, Product Experience, Digital Experience, Employee Experience, Supplier Experience…) but one question comes over and over again.  Who Owns the Experience? Most of the resources I’ve accessed state that we need to create some ownership at a very senior level (like the already mentioned Chief Experience Officer or Chief Customer Officer).  Think of this person as being like a film director (…). Just as a film director is responsible for producing a cohesive and engaging film, your “director” of customer experience is in charge of building a cohesive and engaging customer experience program. Roy Barnes and Bob Kelleher, Who Owns Customer Experience Unfortunately, stating that just one person “owns” …

Build your Skills: Systems Thinking

I’ve always been fascinated by pictures of Planet Earth from outer space, especially those at night. You recognise the planet, then the plethora of illuminated cities. The largest ones seem globes of light in the night. Smaller cities look more like bland spots. In some areas, you can also see the main roads connecting the towns. Sometimes you see an isolated light place in the middle of the night. You still own a clear perception of the planet versus the deep black of the outer space. Perceiving this, the whole composed of the parts, as well as the relationship between the components, is System thinking, the critical skill that I will illustrate in this post.  In a recent post, I wrote about the dangers of Thinking in categories. I pointed out that to overcome the limits of categorical Thinking, it is necessary to drive models and tools of what is called “Systems Thinking”. However, it’s not just a question of means: I genuinely believe that Systems Thinking should be seen as a skill, and ability to foster and develop, and that …

Build your Skills: Decision-Making

In my organisational experience, I noticed that one of the most complex skills to master is Decision-Making. This even though anecdotal evidence tells that each of us takes many decisions every day.  Many decisions might be easy to take. What to eat for lunch, where to go over the weekend, which blog to read next… At work, however, things often look different. For sure, an impact can be due to some issues in the operational governance model of your organisation. Unclear rules, not formalised delegation, blurry roles definitions, unset escalation routes, all these aspects may hinder or stall your decision-making process.  In many cases, organisational absences are an alibi. Many managers tend to avoid or delay decision making also in areas entirely within their scope of work. Why?  There can be multiple reasons. However, from my experience, many people have not been taught how to make decisions.  Very often, we identify Decision Making as a Process. If you look at it this way, there are multiple places where decisions can be stuck. There are many alternative models here, but the one …

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 …