Steve Pollack Book Review | Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan

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Brave New Work Book Review

Brave New Work’s author Aaron Dignan is the founder of “The Ready,” an organization design and transformation firm that has helped major companies like Johnson & Johnson, Charles Schwab, Kaplan, Microsoft, and many others change the way they work.

If you have ever studied organizational change, you know that overhauling a company's culture and bureaucracy is a monumental undertaking in which investing huge amounts of time and money and having an abundance of good intentions doesn’t budge things that much. Organizations are just too complicated to significantly shift internal protocols without first shifting the core beliefs, mindset and thought processes of its leaders and staff. Brave New Work gets to the real meat of that shift—and gets to it quickly and succinctly.

Right at the book’s beginning Dignan addresses how industry relies so heavily on the typical org chart as a bedrock for organizational functioning—yet that chart is an antiquated structure that’s been around for almost 200 years and hasn’t changed a bit since. That archaic org chart is symbolic of the way many organizations function—an abundance of hierarchy, titles and perceived control, with few pathways for the exploration of purpose, inspiration, cooperation, collaboration, ingenuity and all of the powerful ways human beings can and should be contributing to their organization’s success.

Throughout Brave New Work Dignan refers to the relationships, processes, and protocols in an organization as its “operating system,” and using this OS metaphor, he skillfully explores the inter-relatedness of purpose, process, and people. Dignan challenges leaders who wish to make deep and lasting change to first shift their own mindset—then be prepared to realign hearts, minds and egos and prioritize the autonomy, agility and impact made by the human beings.

“We need to ask every employee: “What’s stopping you from doing the best work of your life?” and give them the tools and the power to reimagine the way they work.” – Aaron Dignan

Grounded in theory and research, Dignan shares real-world examples that bring his ideas to life and translates complicated systems science into plain language and practice. Brave New Work serves as a practical guide for anyone starting a new company, as well as those who in established organizations who are ready to begin the difficult work of company-wide change.

Reading, digesting, and implementing the ideas in Brave New Work should be your first priority if you are committed to minimizing bureaucracy and fully maximizing the human potential in your organization.

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