Corporate Rebels - Notes

8 Big Themes:


  1. From profit to purpose and values


  1. From hierarchical pyramids to networks of teams


  1. From directive leadership to supporting leadership


  1. From predict and plan to experiment and adapt


  1. From rules and control to freedom and trust


  1. From centralized authority to distributed authority


  1. From secrecy to radical transparency


  1. From job descriptions to talents and mastery.


Gallup research from worldwide survey is that only 15% of employees are engaged. Gallup estimates globally that $7 trillion is wasted annually in lost productivity due to disengagement.


Engaged workforces are more profitable, productive and provide far higher customer satisfaction. They have lower turnover few sick days and accidents.


Purpose is at the root of engagement. What difference do I make in the world? The best companies help create that sense of purpose.


Companies with a focus on a higher purpose perform up to 10 times better than the competition (R Sisodia, D. Wolfe and S Jagdish N. Firms of Endearment, FT Press 2007.


Examples of companies like this; Patagonia, Zingermans, Zappos, WL Gore, Next Jump, IDEO


The question what difference do I make in the world is extremely important – being aware of your contribution is very motivating


Spotify motto, hire for culture, train for skills. Of the 100 people it hires every month attention is 1st given to cultural fit. Culture very much about experimentation Founder Daniel Ek’s tongue in cheek motto – ‘we aim to make mistakes faster than anyone else.’


Traditional organizational structures worry 92 per cent of organization heads who see it as a priority but 86 per cent of the same survey group don’t know how to tackle the issue – Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016.


The structure we encounter most often in progressive organizations is a network of teams.  The role of head office evolves to one of support rather than control. Employees need autonomy and trust to perform well.


Avoid the HiPPo effect – Highest-Paid Persons Opinion. Rotterdam School of Management research study shows projects supervised by junior management have a high success rate as colleagues feel more comfortable (safer) expressing themselves. (low hierarchy gradient).


Team members are really the best placed people to evaluate their leaders.


Of the 100-plus organizations they visited most have one thing in common, a lack of directive leadership. ‘Leaders show an admirable combination of authenticity, modesty, rebelliousness and stubbornness.’ They have a clear vision and inspire people to action.’


Engineers at Spotify are formed into squads tribes and guilds. Basic unit = a steering team of 6-12 developers, squads work cooperatively on features with other squads forming tribes which are like min companies of 40-150 employees. To stimulate connections between groups we have chapters and guilds. Chapters are small groups of specialists who share expertise with guilds operating company wide. Each squad also has coached whose role is to help develop and improve work methods.



Large scale change programmes fail 70 per cent of the time. They are generally too top down and not borne out of bottom up experimentation. Spotify employees like a number of tech companies have a 10% hack time to invest in whatever projects interest them.


Progressive companies tend to be characterised by high degrees of trust and low level decision making. Centralised to decentralized decision making is the future.


Radical transparency is vital. Time after time these companies are characterised by their transparency. Employees have access to a lot of company information particularly on financials in several cases even on employee salaries.   To be as open as possible is a never ending challenge. Higher motivation is a typical outcome of increasing transparency.


A large survey in the Netherlands found that only 33 per cent of employees use the ir main talents in their day to day work. Only 35 per cent perform tasks that match their interests!! If strngths are a great driver to motivation this is a huge missed opportunity.  Job crafting as opposed to job roles helps people align their role to their interests and strengths.


A care home company in the Netherlands exemplifies this they have 7 roles; nurse, caretaker, rapporteur, developer, planner, team player and mentor. Each team member must fulfil the role of nurse the other roles are assigned according to interest and talent.


Pirate ships actually very democratic shared ownership and equality at their heart – captains were generally elected




Don’t force change – inspire it


Continuous experimentation


Create a movement