For two decades Polly LaBarre has used her writing and speaking to help make organizations more resilient, innovative and inspiring - and to embolden and equip leaders at every level to make a meaningful impact. Polly’s work is driven by three core questions: How can organizations change the way they change in order to become endlessly adaptable and gain an advantage over time? How do you embed innovation as a DNA level capability inside an organization? How do we unleash and organize human potential in ever more powerful ways? With her partners (including Gary Hamel) at the Management Lab (MLab), Polly works with leading organizations to make real progress on those ideas and accelerate the development and adoption of a post-bureaucratic, 21st century management model.
Polly began this exploration as a founding member at Fast Company magazine where she helped shape the remarkable success of a magazine that changed the way leaders at all levels think about working and winning. She also co-authored the bestselling book Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win which has been published in 16 languages.
The MIX (Management Innovation eXchange) is a pioneering open innovation platform launched by the MLab (and supported by institutions including McKinsey & Co, Red Hat, Gartner and the Harvard Business Review). Dedicated to making progress on the big challenge of reinventing management for the 21st century, the MIX is: a discovery engine for the most progressive management practices and ideas; an active community of in-the-trenches management innovators and change agents from around the world; and an experimental laboratory for developing and testing bold new ideas and equipping management practitioners with new principles, methods, and models. The MIX hosts the world’s leading idea contest in the field of management (the M-Prize) and an annual gathering of the vanguard of management innovators, the MIX Mashup, which Polly designs and hosts.
A popular keynote speaker, moderator/interviewer, Polly has addressed hundreds of audiences around the world – from large corporate and association gatherings to intimate top-management retreats.
A brilliant storyteller, Polly takes audiences on an inspiring journey – bringing to life the people, organizations and ideas on the fringe that are creating the future. She reveals the most practical and high-impact ways to innovate, adapt and succeed -- redefining how leadership, change, innovation, collaboration, employee engagement, organizational culture, accountability, disruptive strategy are done.
Polly’s writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Fast Company, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review online and the McKinsey Quarterly. Her widely syndicated blog, Fresh MIX, delivers agenda-setting ideas about 21st-century organizations. She has also been a frequent guest on radio and television programs far and wide.
Polly is currently at work on a book about the future of management and large-scale change with Gary Hamel. She is on the board of advisors of TakingITGlobal, the leading online community for connecting and empowering young people to make a difference in the world. She is a graduate of Yale University.
How to disrupt like an insurgent
When the world stands still, size, strength, and stability offer an advantage. But in a world of relentless change, it’s the most creative and disruptive organizations that win. 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 drive to disrupt the status quo and the capacity to change ahead of change? Polly unpacks a set of actionable strategies drawn from her research and work inside some of the world’s most successful and innovative organizations. Audiences learn a completely new mindset for changing the way they change.
The end of leadership as we know it
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 function of your capacity to get things done with other people. In this presentation, Polly shows what this actually looks like in practice at bold and successful organizations that have transformed their leadership mindset and reaped the rewards. She offers fresh and practical approaches using vivid storytelling. You’ll walk away understanding the most important things you need to do to “leader-proof” your organization.
Creating a culture of everyday, everywhere experimentation
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. Polly shows how the best companies today manage this. Her rich stories and practical perspectives and practices show how you can spread the mindset and methods of experimentation. Audiences leave knowing the five strategies for turning their organization into a lab for perpetual innovation.
Unleashing the most powerful force in business
For every leader unsettled by rampant disruption, unbounded competition, relentless commodification, there is a powerful antidote already inside the organization: the untapped audacity, imagination, energy, resourcefulness, curiosity, intuition, and artistry of its people. Those fundamental human qualities are the engine of the creative economy – the source of all value. And yet, too few organizations are designed to unleash, mobilize, and amplify that human edge. In this presentation, Polly takes audiences on a journey to the far front edge of organizational life and offers a look deep inside the “positive deviants” gaining advantage from their human edge. The lessons Polly draws from their success will inspire organizations looking to transform their cultures and position themselves for the future.
Make creativity a habit and become an innovator-for-life
If you want to create the future of your organization, your industry, or your profession – there’s no better place to start than supercharging your own creative capacity. The good news: we are all born with some kind of creative genius. The tough news: as we advance through our achievement-oriented, data-driven institutions – we tend to grow out of our creativity rather than into it. In this captivating presentation, Polly will introduce the core creative mindsets and habits that set the greatest artists, inventors, and creators apart. She’ll share a wealth of strategies and portable practices to help you see more, see differently, find answers in the most unexpected places, experiment fearlessly and tap into your powerful intuition. The goal: to help you turn creativity into a way of life.