The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World

Today’s guest blogger is Brian Robertson, author of Holacracy and founder of HolacracyOne.

If you’re old enough to remember the days when most PCs ran MS-DOS, consider the leap in capabilities that came with a new operating system like Windows. Your computer’s operating system, invisible though it may be, radically shapes everything on top of it.  It determines how the overall system is structured, how different processes interact and cooperate, how power is distributed and allocated between applications, and so on.

Likewise, the social “operating system” underpinning an organization is easy to ignore, yet it’s the foundation on which we build our business processes and organizational cultures.  The traditional top-down, predict-and-control management hierarchy has been the standard organizational operating system for nearly a century.  Yet when we unconsciously accept the management hierarchy as our only choice for structuring and scaling companies, we lose the opportunity to innovate in this fundamental domain of company building.

Holacracy is a new “social technology” for governing and operating an organization, which replaces the traditional management hierarchy with peer-to-peer distributed processes for structuring an organization, defining roles and responsibilities, and coordinating across organizational functions.  Holacracy aims to improve organizational responsiveness by increasing the number and scope of decisions that can safely be made quickly and locally.  It gives staff more authority and autonomy to get work done and drive continual improvements to the organization’s policies and processes.  To avoid increased autonomy coming at the expense of coordination and scale, Holacracy also adds processes to align actions and update expectations and constraints dynamically, which everyone in the organization can take advantage of.  This results in a just-in-time, minimally sufficient organizational structure that stays nimble and lightweight, driven by on-the-ground experience from getting work done.

One way or another, whether it’s Holacracy or another approach, the management hierarchy is ripe for disruption. The environment around our companies has changed dramatically since its introduction, and our organizations face new challenges in today’s global fast-moving world. But those of us building companies today have other options, and regardless of what we choose, I think we’ll be better off by at least asking the question: what power structure is right for my company?

To learn more about Holacracy, join Soundview and Brian Robertson for our Soundview Live webinar: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World.


The Purpose of Mentoring Has Changed

Modern Mentoring

Unfortunately, according to Randy Emelo, most mentoring relationships today are obsolete. Traditional mentoring, he writes in his book Modern Mentoring, does not truly meet the needs of the modern organization.

The reason, as he explains, is that “the purpose of mentoring has moved away from getting a handful of people ready for leadership roles.” Instead, mentoring according to Emelo, is an organizational practice that should increase an organization’s intelligence, including emotional, leadership and technical intelligence; enhance the organization’s competitiveness; and “accelerate” employee development.

In other words, the traditional approach to mentoring, focusing on a few select individuals, should be replaced by an approach that is much broader and inclusive, he writes. Instead of mentors only consisting of top leaders, and mentees consisting of high-potential employees, mentors and mentees can be anyone in the organization, at any level.

The connections of modern mentoring are no longer one-to-one, Emelo writes, but many-to-many.

Building Blocks

In the opening chapter of his book, Emelo lays down the building blocks of modern mentoring:

Open and Egalitarian. The goal of mentoring is to enable “uninhibited and meaningful learning,” Emelo writes. For such learning to take place requires, he writes, “an open environment where people have equal access to one another.”

Diversity. The diversity in question involves different perspectives coming from different functional, geographical, hierarchical or generational backgrounds and experiences. These different perspectives are valuable in helping mentors develop innovative solutions for the people they are mentoring.

Broad and Flexible. One person does not have all the answers. Such a mindset, Emelo writes, “is outdated and inefficient.” The ideal mentoring relationships are those that involve multiple people who are simultaneously advisors and learners. The relationship is flexible, depending on the situation at hand. A person can be an advisor in one situation, and a learner in another. As Emelo writes, “modern mentoring breaks the cycle of the sage on the stage and pushes the idea of the guides on the side.”

Self-directed and Personal. In today’s world, people must take the responsibility to direct their own personal development. They have to choose what they want to learn and from whom they want to learn it. “By allowing participants to control the process,” Emelo explains, “they can tailor their learning so that they reap the benefits.”

Virtual and Asynchronous. In traditional face-to-face, one-on-one mentoring, advisors and learners made arrangements to meet. Such arrangements are no longer necessary, given today’s technology, nor even logistically effective given the broad “many-to-many” reach of modern mentoring. Thus mentoring sessions, writes Emelo, are more likely to be virtual as well as asynchronous — that is, the teaching and learning do not have to occur in the same window of time. Mentors can share their knowledge and experience through virtual communication, which is then captured at the learner’s convenience.

Modern mentoring as described by Emelo is a significant change from traditional mentoring, and therefore often requires a significant and perhaps difficult culture change in an organization. Leaders used to the traditional methods will need to be “reeducated,” Emelo writes.

Another challenge is the vital role of trust. Today’s virtual capabilities allow long-distance mentoring but hinder trust-building. Emelo includes guidelines for trust building and many other facets of modern mentoring in this eloquent and compelling addition to the personal development literature.

Book Review: Bringing Strategy Back


by Jeffrey Sampler

When the world of business is so chaotic, leaders need strategy more than ever. However, the business environment is changing too quickly for conventional strategic planning processes. In Bringing Strategy Back, Sampler explains why strategy is more important than ever for your business. Strategy expert Jeffrey Sampler introduces four “strategic shock absorbers” that enable leaders to build resilient organizations that can withstand even the most unexpected global turbulence.

With four “strategic shock absorbers,” leaders all around the world at organizations of any size and type can build strong organizations that withstand chaos and instability. Based on the Sampler’s in-depth research into the world’s most unstable markets, these strategic shock absorbers work together in an ongoing process that can be applied to any organization: Accuracy, Agility, Momentum and Foresight. Of the four, agility helps leaders deliver with speed and flexibility in terms of strategic options. Leaders need to be able to act quickly using agility in unpredictable markets.

Businesses can’t afford to become stagnant in their strategic process in order to survive and thrive. Sampler says that giving up the old way of strategic planning can seem risky; however customizing the best approach for your business will make a positive difference. With this new framework, Bringing Strategy Back shows how to be prepared and proactive, rather than reactive, even when the future is uncertain.

New Summaries to Make the Most of a Moment

A single moment can be a turning point for you and your organization. What leaders often don’t realize is that every day is filled with dozens of these potential moments. Soundview has three new Soundview Executive Book Summaries that help you leverage your abilities and make the most of each moment.

Now available for download:

by Jane Hyun and Audrey S. Lee

by Jane Hyun and Audrey S. Lee

Flex by Jane Hyun and Audrey S. Lee. Executive coaches and global leadership strategists Jane Hyun and Audrey S. Lee present lessons on “flexing,” which is the art of switching leadership styles to more effectively lead people who are different from you. Flex offers a proactive strategy for managers to navigate and leverage diversity effectively. Lessons from the authors will help managers of multicultural workers to bridge the gap with more effective communication, feedback tools, building healthy teams and closing the gap with clients, customers and partners to create innovative solutions.


by Paul Gustavson and Stewart Liff

by Paul Gustavson and Stewart Liff

A Team of Leaders by Paul Gustavson and Stewart Liff. With emphasis on the design of a team, A Team of Leaders offers a new way to energize groups of employees and improve performance. Authors Paul Gustavson and Stewart Liff present the Five-Stage Team Development Model, which outlines a set of characteristics of traditional teams and the progression to creating teams of people who think and act like leaders. By improving the core design components – the systems, processes, knowledge, management and visual management – teams will take responsibility for delivering better results.


by Lisa Kay Solomon and Chris Ertel

by Lisa Kay Solomon and Chris Ertel

Moments of Impact by Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon. Innovation strategists Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon share what it takes to design creative, collaborative problem-solving sessions using strategic conversations. Strategic conversations combine the best ideas of people with different backgrounds, which ultimately delivers breakthrough insights. Moments of Impact provides a creative process by which leaders can make good strategic choices while engaging more people with different perspectives more effectively.

Book Review: Leadership 2030

by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

It used to be enough for a business leader to attempt to research and anticipate trends in business. Two executives from Hay Group, Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell, make a strong argument for the importance of analyzing megatrends. In their book Leadership 2030, Vielmetter and Sell provide six megatrends that will have a profound impact on the way you lead your business in the future. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Understanding megatrends begins with gaining a grasp of the concept itself. While the authors define megatrend as, “a long-term, transformational process with global reach, broad scope and a fundamental and dramatic impact,” their collaboration with research partner Z_punkt used the filters of time, reach and impact to shape the six megatrends.

Leadership 2030 provides essential observations about each of the six megatrends. Whether the megatrend discussed is new to executives (such as Individualization and Value Pluralism) or a concentrated reexamination of an existing idea (the environmental crisis), the authors strike at the heart of the issue and explain both the reasons for the megatrend’s existence and how you, as a leader, will need to react.

After covering the six megatrends, Vielmetter and Sell describe a set of five key reinforcers (which they define as “consequences driven and strengthened by several megatrends at once) and four significant dilemmas. This solidifies the authors’ belief that the megatrends are not individual issues incubating on their own. Faced with the daunting task of leading in the face of the perfect storm described by Vielmetter and Sell, Leadership 2030 concludes with a portrait of the Altrocentric Leader, an individual who is able to unite and empower those around him or her to find innovative solutions to the challenges ahead. A good first step for tomorrow’s Altrocentric Leaders is to read (and re-read) Vielmetter and Sell’s book.

Book Review: Absolute Value

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

It used to be that if you were selling consumer goods your field of play was limited to the shelf space immediately to the right and left of your item. People could compare packaging, price and quantity to determine if your item was worth their money and attention. In Absolute Value: What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information, Stanford professor Itamar Simonson and best-selling author and executive Emanuel Rosen discuss what is causing the shift from relative to absolute value and how your company can make an impact. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Simonson and Rosen do an excellent job of compressing and presenting a mountain of research into concepts executives can absorb in a timely manner. The pair begin by presenting the new patterns in consumer decision making. One particular point of interest is the authors’ suggestion that there is a decline in the belief that marketers can cause buyers to act in “irrational” ways. As the pair write, “The relevance of these influence tactics has diminished in a world where people can easily assess quality. On average, better decisions are being made based on the information that’s available.”

Absolute Value then takes readers into a new framework for influence. Executives will want to spend a portion of time considering the ideas presented in a section on the Influence Mix. Simonson and Rosen write that three sources can impact a person’s decision to buy: prior experiences, preferences and beliefs, other people/information, and marketers. One of the most beneficial sections in the book pertains to matching your communication method to the customer’s influence mix. In a book filled with forward-looking insights, the authors’ advice will help guide marketing professionals into the next shift in commerce.

Plan for the Future with Three New Summaries

As part of your leadership development, you should routinely take a part of each day to focus on the future. To help you in your efforts, Soundview has three new summaries that help you plan for the future of your business and strengthen your resolve to achieve your goals.

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

Absolute Value by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen. Absolute Value answers the question of what influences customers in this new age and describes how a company should design its communication strategy, market research program, and segmentation strategy in order to adopt a new way of thinking about marketing in this new environment.




by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell

Leadership 2030 by Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell. Leadership 2030 presents six converging megatrends that will reshape businesses by the year 2030 including the forces of globalization 2.0, environmental crisis, individualization and value pluralism, the digital era, demographic change, and technological convergence. Authors Georg Vielmetter and Yvonne Sell use research and analyses to explain the transformative effects of the megatrends on leaders and their organizations and what leaders will have to know.


by Al Siebert

by Al Siebert

The Resiliency Advantage by Al Siebert. The Resiliency Advantage explains how and why some people are more resilient than others and how resiliency can be learned and strengthened. Dr. Siebert details a five-level program for becoming more resilient that is a valuable resource for learning how to meet the challenges of work and life head on.

Four Memorable Quotes from Soundview’s Author Insight Interviews

A great accompaniment to many Soundview Executive Book Summaries is the Soundview Author Insight interview. Each interview is worth a careful listen because authors often reveal new interpretations of their material. The interviews also provide them with the opportunity to share new information gained since the book’s publication.

Here are four great thoughts to consider and share with your team:

“Most people think that success resides somewhere outside yourself. It’s something other people have. It’s something you need to go out and discover. But actually, success is always inside yourself and it’s the connection between your own interests, your own aptitudes, your own motivations and the opportunities that life presents.” G. Richard Shell, author of Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success

“What we find in both individual change and organizational change is that it often requires some sort of disruptive event, some sort of major external activity in order to force change. Change becomes reactive as opposed to the individual or the organization being proactive and embracing change. The first step in performing change better is leading it better.” – Susan Goldsworthy and Walter McFarland, co-authors of Choosing Change

“For the most part, when you examine alliances you realize that it is a common pain that drives people together.” – Rich McKeown, co-author (with Mike Leavitt) of Finding Allies, Building Alliances

“People are hardwired for negative or positive emotions and we all have a different set point inside our brains for anxiety, depression and happiness. You have to really understand your set point and then do as much as you can to keep yourself on the positive side of hope, optimism, compassion and generosity.” – Bob Rosen, author of Grounded

Book Review: The Learned Disciplines of Management

by Jim Burkett

by Jim Burkett

The ability to turn around a struggling business is a skill honed in the fires of a business inferno. Specialists in this process hope to be successful a handful of times throughout their careers. Jim Burkett, author and president of Corporate Turnaround Consulting, has turned around the staggering figure of 28 underperforming companies during a 35-year career. It requires a devotion to a set of principles Burkett describes to readers in The Learned Disciplines of Management: How to Make the Right Things Happen. This book is now available a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

While every manager develops a toolkit for problem solving during the course of his or her career, Burkett points out that many of these skills might simply be what you’ve received from a predecessor or boss. In The Learned Disciplines of Management, Burkett replaces the “inherited” tools with seven learned tools: planning, organizing, measuring performance, executing, following up, real-time reporting and problem solving.

Each section of the book provides executives with an explanation of the discipline and examples to reinforce the importance of its practice. One of the more intriguing chapters concerns the discipline of measuring performance. While experienced executives probably feel as if they’ve read everything imaginable about the subject, Burkett gets to the heart of the issue: why measuring performance is so often not practiced. His findings force executives to confront the truth that performance measurement, while not a dehumanizing practice, does remove an unspoken layer of safety for underperforming teams.

These kinds of truths are essential if a manager intends to push a turnaround to its successful completion. While The Learned Disciplines of Management is a must-read for anyone in a struggling organization, it would benefit experienced executives at successful firms, as well.

Book Review: Grounded

by Bob Rosen

by Bob Rosen

The status quo for leaders in many organizations today is a never-ending chase to guarantee short-term results on a playing field that can have seismic changes in the span of an afternoon. If you are the leader standing on that unsteady surface, it’s easy to see how what begins as frustration can become a perpetual state of anxiety and, eventually, burnout. CEO advisor, organizational psychologist and best-selling author Bob Rosen attempts to give leaders a firm grip, rather than a mere foothold, on their own health as well as the health of their companies. In Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World, Rosen provides leaders with the Healthy Leader model. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Rosen begins by having leaders confront the established belief that what you do defines who you are as a person. He asserts that to be grounded, you need the same thing as a tree: a firmly planted root system. Your roots define who you are which in turn drives what you do. He writes, “These roots give you the inner strength and mindset needed to handle all that is coming your way.”

Grounded then moves through the six personal dimensions that form the root system Rosen believes creates healthy leaders. The six health categories are physical, emotional, intellectual, social, vocational and spiritual. Executives’ eyes may be immediately drawn to the last health category on the list. Rosen’s discussion of spiritual health is where his book separates itself from others. He identifies it as “belief in a higher purpose that gives you a mission in life, feeling a global connectedness that transcends cultures and borders, and showing a generosity infused with kindness and gratitude.” This may seem inconsequential to leaders swept up by meeting next quarter’s numbers, but as Rosen told Soundview in an interview, the health measurement that most accurately predicts a leader’s performance is spiritual health.

Grounded offers a good template for a leader to solidify his or her mindset. After all, in an unpredictable world, an individual should at least be able to depend on him- or herself.