LaBarre is the co-author of the best-selling book Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win, which The Economist named a "Book of the Year" and called "a pivotal work in the tradition of In Search of Excellence and Good to Great." She was a founding member of Fast Company magazine, where she was senior editor for the better part of a decade. More recently, she has been a business and innovation correspondent for CNN where she produced regular segments on big ideas and best practices from the world of business and beyond.
A sought-after speaker, moderator, and interviewer, LaBarre has delivered hundreds of keynote addresses around the world and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Fast Company, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review online, and The Huffington Post. Her widely syndicated blog, The Fresh MIX, convenes important thinkers, progressive practitioners, and agenda-setting ideas about 21st-century organizations.
- The Human Edge: Designing Work to Create a Cultural Advantage
Today’s whirlwind of challenges—pandemic, social turbulence, economic uncertainty, looming climate catastrophe—has revealed just how inhospitable our organizations are to the human beings who work inside them. It’s not enough to ask which is the right hybrid work policy. It’s past time to ask: what kinds of organizations would we design if we genuinely believed in the inherent value, fundamental goodness, and unlimited potential of every person? Short answer: they’d be very different. In this talk, Polly LaBarre unpacks design rules for unleashing your organization’s full human and creative capacity and lays out a path for humanizing work, including:
– How to unleash, mobilize and amplify the often unruly, but essential human qualities—imagination, energy, resourcefulness, curiosity, intuition, empathy, artistry, eccentricity, passion, and more—without losing control
– How to cultivate a culture of agency, activism, and ownership where every person makes it their job to change things for the better
– How to equip and involve every person in the organization as a creator, strategist and entrepreneur
– How to build a community of peers that amplifies belonging, contribution, and voice
– How to maximize engagement by investing in wellbeing and widening the circle of care
- Roll With Change: Recipes for Reinvention & Resilience
Who hasn’t been rocked by change in the last few years? While we’ve all been forced to rethink, adjust, and adjust again, the gravitational pull of the status quo remains a stealthy enemy of innovation. What does it take to wake up an organization’s inner insurgent to change ahead of change? These times demand every organization dramatically amp up its agility, inventiveness, and adaptability. Drawing on her research and work inside some of the world’s most innovative and progressive organizations, Polly LaBarre lays out actionable strategies for building a perpetual innovation engine:
– What mindsets, practices and behaviors allow you to see the world differently and subvert the status quo
– Where to look for the future—and how to generate a whole new map of possibility
– How to embed innovation as a social process
– What it takes to create a robust architecture of collaboration for a distributed, ever-evolving cohort of innovation peers and partners
– How to build a resilient organizational microbiome by embedding the mindset and methods of experimentation into everything you do
- Designed to Flourish: Develop People, Defeat Disruption
Change is an inside-out job. It’s not about reacting to external events or chasing trends, so much as it’s about developing your respond-ability—your elasticity, maturity, plasticity, openness, emotional dexterity, regulatory power, and more. Organizations that deliberately develop that capacity in every individual shore up their own resilience. In other words, “adult development” doesn’t just promote individual growth, it’s a cornerstone of organizational flourishing. Polly LaBarre takes the audience on a quick tour of the organizations and leaders investing in human flourishing in powerful new ways—and offers up a short course in “adult development,” including:
– How to begin, again (and again)
– How to change your mind—cultivating consciousness, mediating mindsets, biases, blinders
– How to develop intuition—learning to tune into your inner knowing
– How to train like an artist, a monk, and an athlete
– How to design and run self-experiments to accelerate your growth loops
– Principles for adult capacity building
- Leading in the New Work Order
A monster wave of change has set off a vast reckoning with our taken-for-granted beliefs about every aspect of how and where work gets done. Every leader today must grapple with the inescapable imperative to create and embrace a comprehensive agenda for meaningful change on the design of work and the interconnected urgent challenges of our time—deep inequities, structural dehumanization, environmental calamity. Polly LaBarre takes leaders on a journey across this new landscape—inspiring them with fresh thinking on the work of leadership and equipping them with powerful new approaches for this new work order, including:
– How to transcend the seemingly intractable tradeoffs between performance imperatives and responsibility for people and planet
– How to cultivate an “audacity of imagination” and galvanize people around a shared sense of purpose
– How to “leader-proof” your organization
– How to design platforms for involving, equipping, and connecting people
– How to build organizational respond-ability by enlarging individual responsibility
– How to grow your own resilience in the face of daunting uncertainty
- Navigating Disruptive Change
As a leader, you and your organization confront the unexpected every single day. In an environment of constant disruption, the survival skill of our times is the ability to adapt on-the-fly. The foundation of that competency is a culture that is resilient, innovative, and constantly experimenting. In formulating a response to disruption, leaders must recognize - first and foremost - that all change goes against the rules. Polly LaBarre has devoted her career to uncovering the best examples of leaders and organizations that are succeeding by thinking differently about the forces driving change inside and outside their organizations.
- A Maverick Agenda for Inventing the Future - How to Disrupt like an Insurgent
Catching the future depends less on planning for what will come next and more on continuously experimenting with what could come next. In order to innovate and adapt in this creative, disruptive economy, every organization must develop the capacity (and the appetite) for experimentation and even failure. Despite the life or death stakes, this is not natural behavior for most organizations. The challenge: most organizations are programmed to safeguard the status quo. So, how do you unleash your organization’s inner insurgent? How do you build a company with the native drive to disrupt the status quo and the capacity to change ahead of change? Polly delivers a set of actionable strategies drawn from her research and work inside some of the world’s most successful, creative, and innovative companies. She helps people embrace a completely new mindset for changing the way they do organizational change.
- The Human Edge - Fully Engaged & Relentlessly Innovative
Turning Culture into a Competitive Advantage - For every leader unsettled by rampant disruption, there is a powerful antidote already inside the organization: the untapped audacity, imagination, energy and passion of its people. Those fundamental human qualities are the engine of the creative economy—the source of all value. But too few organizations are designed to unleash, mobilize, and amplify that human edge. In this talk, Polly lays out a path for cultivating a culture of contribution, collaboration and innovation—one where everyone is switched-on and connected to each other and to customers. She inspires audiences with a set of strategies for re-designing systems, processes, and practices to make their organization fundamentally more innovation-friendly – embedding the mindsets and methods of experimentation into everything they do. Leaders at every level take away an increased capacity to inspire and unleash both creativity and accountability.
- Liberation Leadership - A New Way of Leading Change
The era of the heroic, all-knowing, all-powerful leader is over. Leadership is no longer a function of your title or where you sit in the organization. It’s a consequence of your capacity to get things done with other people. But as disruptive forces have transformed the workplace, the practice of leadership has lagged behind; stranded in outmoded mindsets, processes, and organization structure. In this presentation, Polly shows audiences a path to transforming the organization by rethinking how leadership is done. She reveals what new leadership models look like in practice at bold and successful organizations that have reshaped their leadership mindset and reaped the rewards. Polly’s vivid storytelling highlights how top leaders pressed the reset button on their leadership style to lead change in completely new ways. Audiences walk away understanding the most important things that need to be done to “leader-proof” the organization.