Polly LaBarre

Polly LaBarre

Co-Author, Mavericks at Work | Founding Member, Fast Company Magazine

For nearly 20 years, Polly LaBarre has worked to embolden and equip leaders to ramp up originality, invention, and game-changing disruption. Co-author of Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win and founding team member of Fast Company magazine, Polly is an energetic speaker who leaves her audiences with actionable lessons from organizations and leaders who are transforming their cultures and industries. She inspires people to engage and reimagine the challenges they face, become fearless experimenters, and rethink the work of leadership.

As a founding member 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.

Currently, she is the co-founder of Management Lab (MLab), the think-and-do tank where she consults with top global brands. Along with her partners at 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 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. Polly’s writing has also 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 she has served as business and innovation correspondent for CNN.


The Human Edge: Fully Engaged & Relentlessly Innovative

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

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.

Moderator, Interviewer, Emcee and Sense-Maker

Polly LaBarre has designed and hosted events, led panels, interviewed celebrated thinkers & doers on stage and on television, and earned accolades for her ability to connect the dots and draw out valuable insights during her interactions.  Whether hosting, interviewing one-on-one or moderating a panel discussion, Polly will help create a lively and informative forum for the issues you want to explore.