Thoughts on the book by Nora Ganescu, The CEO’s Playbook: Turning the Employees You Have into the Dream Team You Always Wanted
I met Nora Ganescu three years ago, in a moment of doubt. I was doing well; the Company where I was the CEO, Carrefour Romania, was making strides. But I was not satisfied.
I felt the future would not look like the present at all and that our present was already too much like the past. I was tempted by new ways of working, taking inspirations from different readings like Peter Diamandis’ Bold, Salim Ismail’s Exponential Organizations, Ricardo Semler’s The Seven Day Weekend, Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations, or Isaac Getz’s Freedom, Inc.
I wanted to make a change, and I wanted it fast. As I was at the top of a 14,000 (now 17,000) person company, I fell in love with the idea of co-creating a new way of working from scratch — here, now, with everyone.
That is how I met Nora. She was working at the time to implement Appreciative Inquiry for large groups. She proposed appreciative interviews with the people, and then building a common vision together based on strengths and relationships. I refused. She came with a second proposal: Let us have fewer interviews and then enter a participatory conversation to discover together where we want to go. I refused this as well.
She proposed to start small. I wanted to go big: discover, dream, and massive action at once. I did not feel comfortable with the process, especially the interviews. Too different, too weird, not fast enough. Retrospectively, I would say I was not frustrated enough to listen. So we stopped the discussion there and went on our own ways.
The gift of frustration
The gift of that parting was that frustration became sufficient for me to listen and to question myself. I embarked on a personal journey within, to understand why my actions did not align with my vision for a humane, trust-based company.
That personal journey led to a sharing with a group of people I personally trusted within the company and who were kind enough to follow me. This in turn resulted in more work on myself and the newly formed group. Inside out, step by step, the company grew, changed, improved, bumped, and went along the path. Fast forward two years, a fabulous never-ending human journey has started; a new way of working is being invented, leading to great results.
Discovering the playbook
That is when I read Nora’s book. What I found there was strikingly similar to the process I used. Mixing personal journey and Art of Hosting, of which she is a master, Nora painted an elegant map of the essential, personalized path one has to take if one wants to change a company’s culture to include trust-based processes.
So, it is a playbook. But it is not a how-to book. Reading it, you will not learn how to become, for example, a Teal/Agile/Liberated company. You will not learn a procedure that will guide you step-by-step toward your final goal. You will get some insights, some questions, and some book references that will make you want to explore more. You will deep-dive into the Art of Hosting. You will read it again and find new meaning inside each time.
So, Nora and I met again, three years later, sharing our stories, our paths, and our own personal ways to arrive to a common goal: I with a willingness to transform, she with an intention to help. The journey is, for both of us, far from over. Hopefully, it never will be.
But we feel it is advanced enough to start giving back. Maybe some people are intrigued by the concept of trust in an organisation and are about to jump. Maybe some people, like me, found enough frustration to muster the courage to change themselves and their company in the process. Maybe these few words will increase the frustration pile, leading to a change when it comes, as it did for me.
To start giving back, we will be offering a workshop in Vienna, Austria in June 2018 From Hero to Host: How to bring engagement to your company with self-organisation. For CEOs, Shareholders and Board Members.
I recommend reading this playbook, several times, in different moments of the change process. I do promise you will find new meanings every time.
A note from Nora
Among all the reviews I got for my book, this one is special to me. The parting gift of my initial conversations with Jean Baptiste three years ago was also a healthy dose of frustration for not being able to help him. I sat down and wrote “everything that I wanted to tell Jean Baptiste… if he would only listen” and that became this book.
It makes me very happy that he and his company are on this beautiful journey.
I am offering the book for free until March 31 for all the readers of Enlivening Edge Magazine (and this blog) who are ready to listen and want to start your journey toward a more self-organised, trust-based company.
Click here to get the book until March 31, 2018
Jean Baptiste Dernoncourt is the CEO of Carrefour Romania, a large retail company of 17,000 people. His passions are learning, exploring, meditating and helping people grow. He embarked his company on a freedom and trust based journey 3 years ago.
Dr. Nora Ganescu is a co-founder of Campfire Co-op. Get in touch with Nora firstname.lastname@example.org