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Polly  LaBarre

Polly LaBarre

Co-author, Mavericks at Work, Co-founder, Management Lab & Founding Writer, Fast Company

Biography

All change goes against the rules. Polly LaBarre arms leaders with a Maverick Manual to hack the status quo and ramp up originality, invention and game-changing disruption. The true work of leadership, she says, is inspiring, unleashing, and amplifying human creativity, passion, and resourcefulness - creating a cultural DNA where the response to change happens almost as fast as change itself. Co-author of Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win and founding team member of Fast Company magazine, Polly is co-founder of Management Lab, the think-and-do tank where she consults with top global brands. Polly is also a top speaker who leaves audiences with actionable lessons from organizations and leaders who are transforming their cultures and industries by breaking the rules and harnessing the human element. She inspires people to engage and reimagine the challenges they face, become fearless experimenters, and rethink the work of leadership. Read More >

Along with her partners at the Management Lab (MLab), Polly has developed a pioneering method and platform for changing how large organizations change. They run large-scale, real-world experiments in “hacking management” to build the deep organizational capabilities crucial for thriving in a creative, disruptive world: adaptability, innovation, and inspiration.

In addition to running global “management hackathons,” MLab has also built the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX), the world’s largest community of management innovators, created a clearinghouse of management hacks and innovation stories, and launched a series of events.

Polly has traveled the world to work with the courageous contrarians, management mavericks, and pioneering progressives who are inventing the future of organizations and business. While these are organizations of every stripe that hail from every realm of endeavor, they do share a common credo: that the most winning organizations are animated by an utterly distinctive and deeply-felt point of view – a set of ideas with the power to fundamentally reshape the sense of what’s possible; that work is personal, values rule, freedom is a bigger game than power, and nobody wins unless everybody wins.

Early in her career, as part of the founding team of Fast Company magazine, Polly played a central role in the remarkable success of a magazine that recast the conventional wisdom on power, competition, work, leadership, innovation, and change. The magazine introduced the world to a new universe of organizations and leaders whose management models were as distinctive as their business models were disruptive.

Polly is the co-author of the award-winning book Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win, which was a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and BusinessWeek bestseller. Published in over 20 territories, Mavericks was a “Business Book of the Year” for the Financial Times, the Miami Herald, and The Economist, which called the book "a pivotal work in the tradition of In Search of Excellence and Good to Great." CNN, CNBC, and GMA all created series around the book.

Polly’s writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Fast Company, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review online, Fortune.com, the McKinsey Quarterly, and she has served as business and innovation correspondent for CNN.

Polly is also a top speaker who leaves audiences with actionable lessons from organizations and leaders who are transforming their cultures and industries by breaking the rules and harnessing the human element. She inspires people to engage and reimagine the challenges they face, become fearless experimenters, and rethink the work of leadership. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Fit for the Future: Tapping into the Genius of Everyone

Making Innovation A Team Effort

Unleashing Creativity

Inspiring Performance At Work

End of Leadership: You're Not a Leader Because You Have a Title

Mavericks at Work: Accountability and Autonomy

Speech Topics

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.

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.

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.

Books & Media

Books

Mavericks at Work

Connect with Polly LaBarre