Review of Brave New Work

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  • Applicable
  • Well Structured
  • Engaging


The 1999 blockbuster success of the McKinsey study The War for Talent spawned a new genre of books imploring organizations to abandon 20th-century management practices. Businessman and best-selling author Aaron Dignan speaks from the experience of a CEO who has seen the light. Dignan contributes fresh, engaging examples, anecdotes, analogies and facts, including the origins of bad management practices that began as clever enemy sabotage in World War II. The transformations he recommends will intrigue and inform those interested in modern workforce engagement and performance.

About the Author

Aaron Dignan is founder of The Ready, a consulting firm that advises on business reorganization. He also wrote Game Frame: Using Games as a Strategy for Success.


Firms sabotage themselves unintentionally with outdated, ineffective management practices.

Dignan tells the saga of how William Donovan, head of US intelligence during World War II, led the covert distribution behind enemy lines of a book about conducting sabotage. One chapter described how partisans could disrupt enemy business operations by requiring three or more people to sign off on any decision or by adhering strictly to regulations and rules. Such tactics now are standard operating procedure in many large, bureaucratic firms.

Despite enormous changes in the world of business, Dignan, a businessman, consultant and best-selling author, asserts that the way organizations manage people has not kept pace. People get stuck doing things the way they and their predecessors have always done them. He explains, “We cannot do the best work of our lives under the auspices of an operating system that presumes our stupidity, our laziness and our untrustworthiness.” There’s a better way. Treat your employees like adults. Don’t manage them; trust them. Create teams and staff members who don’t need you. 

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