Polly LaBarre


About Polly LaBarre - Co-author, Mavericks at Work; Co-founder, Management Lab; Founding Writer, Fast Company:

Polly LaBarre is a bestselling author, speaker, and thinker who has worked for over 20 years to make every kind of organization fundamentally more resilient, innovative and inspiring—and to embolden and equip leaders at every level to make a meaningful impact. She is an inspiring and provocative voice on the big ideas and important questions that will shape the future of organizations, work, and collective progress.

Polly’s work is driven by three core questions: 1) How do we unleash and organize human potential in ever more powerful ways? 2) How do we cultivate the audacity of imagination required to tackle our most intractable problems? 3) And, how do organizations and individuals change how they change to become endlessly adaptable?

To make genuine progress on those questions, Polly works with leading organizations, creates curriculum, develops methodology, and platforms for unleashing creativity, expanding collaboration, and accelerating change.

As co-founder of the Management Lab(with Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini), Polly helped to develop a methodology, platform and practical tools for building organizational capability and accelerating change. Polly and her colleagues have deployed that pioneering approach to collaborative innovation in a range of large-scale experiments in “hacking management” inside leading companies and across a global community of some 35,000 management innovators.

Polly is the co-author of the bestselling 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 member of the original team of Fast Company magazine, where she played a central role in the remarkable success of a magazine that recast the conventional wisdom on working, leading, and winning.

A sought-after speaker, moderator, and interviewer, Polly has delivered hundreds of keynote addresses around the world and developed and hosted numerous events. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Fast Company, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fortune.com, the McKinsey Quarterly, and The Huffington Post. In addition to frequent television appearances onCNBC, PBS’s Nightly Business Report, Good Morning America, and the Today Show, Polly has also 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 graduate of Yale University, Polly lives with her family in New Haven, CT.

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What Polly LaBarre Talks About:

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


The Human Edge: Designing Work to Create a Cultural Advantage

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

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 Recent Publications

Many thanks for the session you ran for us. As you could tell – it was energizing, fun and I really think it helped to move the ball forward for us. Not only did it surface some great ideas we can adopt immediately, but we learned how to hack problems & opportunities which I hope will become part of our DNA!

Global Human Resource Officer, COACH

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