All posts tagged: Leadership

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 …

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 …

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 …

Book Review: Measure what Matters by John Doerr

Appeared in 2018, the book “Measure what Matters” is undoubtedly a foundational work in understanding the practice of using OKR as a way to align performance and improve innovation in an organisation. The book is very well written and documented and serves as an excellent tool for any manager or practitioner that approaches OKR for the first time. What is interesting is also the case studies, heavily based on interviews with key stakeholders at the various companies. Altogether, they help understand the fact that OKR is a framework that adapts to the company culture, and that can support building innovation in the teams. The book is then complemented by several resources available on the WhatMatters.comwebsite. What is OKR? OKR is short for Objectives and Key Results. It is a collaborative goal-setting protocol for companies, teams and individuals. OKRs are not a silver bullet. They cannot substitute for sound judgement, strong leadership, or a creative workplace culture. But if those fundamentals are in place, OKRs can guide you to the mountaintop. John Doerr, Measure what Matters, page 7 Why …

Book Review: The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

The Infinite Game is the last book by Simon Sinek. As usual with his works, the book centre itself around a basic idea, that is then analysed through several cases and anecdotes. The foundation concept derives from the book of James P. Carse Finite and Infinite Games: a Vision of Life as Play and Possibility, published in 1986.  Finite games are played by known players. They have fixed rules. And there is an agreed-upon objective that, when reached, ends the game. In Finite Games, a player plays to win. Infinite games, in contrast, are represented by known and unknown players. There are no exact or agreed-upon rules. In an Infinite Game, players play to keep playing. The objective is to perpetuate the game. The problem is that we mostly see all games as finite, whereas some are purely infinite. And this is the case of organisations: most managers think of them as playing to win, by the rules of a finite game. But markets are much more similar to an infinite game. When we lead with a finite …