Hadas’ 2019 reading list

The Globotics Upheaval: Globalisation, Robotics and the Future of Work

Ricard Baldwin

This book is one of my favourites go to on the topic of the future of work. Richard Baldwin, one of the world’s leading globalisation experts, argues that the inhuman speed of this transformation threatens to overwhelm our capacity to adapt. The main question the book raises is what measures will people and governments take in response to such a tectonic economic and cultural shift? How do we avoid the prospect of undermining the very foundations of prosperity?

While when reading the book you can’t argue with the actual changes that are happening, in the “real world” in my view we are experiencing the same conversations we had a few years ago about climate changes. “It is a theoretical negative view”, “history does not support the predictions”, “yes, but here in New Zealand, we don’t need to worry as much…”. I do hope that action is taken before it is too late.

Get off the Grass: Kickstarting New Zealand’s Innovation Economy

Shaun Hendy

Recommended by a colleague, I agree, a must-read for anyone interested in New Zealand future. Shaun Hendy and Paul Callaghan explore how New Zealanders can learn to live off knowledge rather than nature. The key to increasing New Zealand’s prosperity, they argue, is innovation in high-tech niches. To catch up with the countries that lure young Kiwis away, New Zealand needs to start innovating like a city of four million people; it needs to start taking science seriously; it needs to start seeing its people as people of learning, not just of the land. So if you needed the numbers to prove that we are lagging, that we should move of primary industries and that there is a future if we start now, read this book. It goes together with The Globotics Upheaval and what will happen wif we don’t. Wake up New Zealand is the ultimate message here!

Finite and Infinite Games

James Cares

With the latest publicity of the concept promoted by Simon Sinek new book with the same title, I decided to go back to the source. A theoretical book, sometimes hard to follow but with a profound view of life, business and the game we play. It is clear that the main game most companies are playing is the finite game; the aim is to win to end the game. But what happens if we change our mindset and choose to participate in the infinite game where the rules may vary, the boundaries may change, even the participants may change with the aim for the game to never be allowed to come to an end? Highly recommend, it might transform the way you live your life forever.  If you want a more digestible version of the same, with more practical advice on how to play this infinite game read Simon’s book instead

The Dance of Change: The challenges to sustaining momentum in a learning organization

Peter Senge

This book is a classic in the space of system thinking and change. Following from his book, the fifth discipline, the author describes moving from a one-off shift in the ongoing learning organisation, the one that can cope with the unpredictable future. I have used this theory in my blog about agile spreading vs scaling.  The book helps in understanding how to anticipate the challenges that profound change will ultimately force the organisation to face. One of the most common excuses nowadays in business is “not enough time”. The author shows how within the lack of control over time available for innovation and learning initiatives, lies a valuable opportunity to reframe the way people organise their workplaces. Another classic management book you should read

Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth

John Doerr

OKRs are still a popular term with many companies, particularly where big consultancy is involved. Of course, measurements without the broad strategic vision, ethical behaviour and data can cause the end of a company, but if used well, everyone can agree that setting goals are must for business success. The author John Doerr invested nearly $12 million in a startup and introduced the founders to Objectives Key Results (OKRs). The startup grew from forty employees to more than 70,000 with a market cap exceeding $600 billion. The startup was Google. The book includes many other case studies and demonstrates how to collect timely, relevant data to track progress. Good essential reading for management.

Hit Refresh: A Memoir by Microsoft’s CEO

Satya Nadella

Microsoft’s CEO tells the inside story of the company’s continuing transformation, while tracing his own journey from a childhood in India to leading some of the most significant changes of the digital era. I loved reading this book. Following Microsoft latest years, I am inspired by how an authentic, emphatetic, human centred CEO can turn a massive company around to retake their place as the leading tech company with innovation and sustainable growth. A great read to refresh your thinking about the power of organisation culture and leadership.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

John Carreyrou

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup ‘unicorn’ promised to revolutionise the medical industry with a machine that would make blood tests significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: the technology didn’t work. This has been #1 read for me this year. A thriller of the real world, to be repeated with the crash of WeWork and the questions around other unicorn startups with no real value to substantiate their valuation. I wonder, how come highly experienced venture capitalists, senators, successful businesspeople all sitting on the board and investing many millions are missing on what every person can see. There is nothing there…

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story

Hyeonseo Lee

Slightly different book to my usual business list. This is a fascinating look into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom. Hyeonseo’s story is a story of courage and determination to go beyond what you were raised to believe is right. A great read over the summer holidays while a destination hopefully as different as possible to North Korea.

Is it time to uncover your core values?


What is motivating one person to jump into a burning building to save someone else’s life? What is motivating an organisation to ignore the disruptor until it is too late? Or, what is motivating a country to open its borders to global influence?

I was reflecting on these questions for a while, particularly in the context of growth and the challenges people face when trying to achieve personal breakthroughs or organisational culture transformation. I assume that if we can understand and explain these motivations, we can direct our effort to have more, as related to the above examples, selflessness and innovation and less arrogance and decline.

In this post, Inspired by Richard Barrett theory, I present the cultural tipping point via a focus on a set of Breakthrough Values. I use this term in the context of organisational culture transformation. However, I believe the approach is also valid for individuals who want to achieve a breakthrough in their career.

Needs and Values explained

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is probably one of the most popular motivational theories in psychology. Maslow argued that humans are motivated by a hierarchy of needs, organised in five levels from the most basics to the highest. Humans tend to focus on the lower level needs before higher ones. The first four levels are described as Lack needs or External motivators. They drive motivation when they are unmet. While at the fifth level, needs are described as Growth needs or Intrinsic motivators. Where motivation increases the more the needs are fulfilled.


Values are intimately linked to our needs. Whatever we currently need, whatever we feel is important to us or what is unmet from our past is what we value. Richard Barrett argues that there are two types of values – positive values that promote growth and create internal cohesion and limiting values that are driven by fears and anxieties and can lead to stress and isolation. He also suggests that it is critical to maintaining a balanced spread of positive values to ensure both growth and grounding capabilities.

An updated model

Going back to the question “What is motivating an organisation to ignore the disruptor until it is too late?”. It might sound like a counter-intuitive question, as we usually think about motivation as a positive concept. However, the story of Kodak is a famous example. Kodak actually saw the future of digital cameras and that photos could be shared online. However, motivated to continue being the best and dominating the printing market they failed to see that photos shared online ARE the future market. What Kodak was missing might have been valuing courage to change direction and adapting to a totally new world. All humans and organisations are motivated to fulfil the Lack Needs. And while as humans we also have the desire to reach full potential, many of us get stuck, spending excessive effort in a space, where reputation and success are a common concern.

In a previous post, I discussed the fact that the dominating culture across the western world is a culture obsessed with success, defined as “I am great and you are not”. This culture lacks focus on core values that create growth. Latest trends in management consultancy advice are highlighting the need for organisations to adopt values like teamwork, creativity and purpose. However, the move from fulfilling lack needs to growth needs require a breakthrough step to overcome our implicit assumptions and fears.

I suggest that to have a breakthrough toward achieving full potential, organisations should reach a cultural tipping point by adopting and focusing on breakthrough values. Values like Courage, perseverance, accountability, continues learning, and adaptability that enables overcoming fears hence opening the opportunities for growth. These values combined with a balanced set of positive values addressing both Lack and Growth needs will allow organisations to achieve their potential while maintaining feet on the ground and offer stability at times of real crisis.

The below diagram describes the cultural tipping point as an updated version of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs



Nest steps for reaching a cultural tipping point

In order to get on the journey organisations can take the following steps:

  1. Understand the organisation’s actual core values and implicit assumptions using a validated framework or a model. Unfortunately, people are unaware of their culture until it is challenged, until they experience a new culture, or until it is made explicit through a framework or model.
  2. Acknowledge the implicit assumptions that are driving excessive focus on limiting values. Then, reframe to eliminate these from the organisation. Regardless what future culture leadership might want to create, reducing the negative effect of limiting values is critical.
  3. Prioritise focus on breakthrough values; define the set of behaviours that are demonstrated through these values;  and, take the first step in making decisions based on these values.
  4. Once an organisation is able to understand how values, implicit assumptions and culture are all linked together to enable performance and embedded its set breakthrough values, it can move to embrace a future set of values for continues growth.


@Hadas Wittenberg is a Future of Work enabler and founder of Adaptive-Futures. Hadas helps organisations and individuals’ growth through reimagining work.


Kim S Cameron, Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture, Third Edition: Based on the Competing Values Framework 3rd Edition

Richard Barrett, Values-driven organization, 2nd Edition

Saul Mclaud, Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

Why would you care about working for a purpose-inspired Organisation?

Researches are showing that purpose-inspired organisations tend to outperform their competitors. It also shows that most organisations’ leaders believe that purpose is important for the long-term success. So what is a purpose-inspired organisation and why would you care about working for one?

An organisation purpose is “an aspirational reason for being, which inspires and provides a call to action.” (EY Beacon Institute). A purpose is not about economic exchanges or returns to shareholders. It is about wanting to make a difference for others. It is the legacy to leave behind. Purpose explains how the people involved with an organisation are making a difference, gives them a sense of meaning, enables their passion and draws their support.  When you are part of a purpose-inspired organisation, you are more likely to believe in its future success. You are also able to connect on a deeper level and express your own values and purpose through work.

Customer loyalty

Organizations whose primary focus is on their own financial performance do not create the competitive differentiation or emotional engagement with their customers that is required for lasting success. 87% of consumers believe companies perform best over time if their purpose goes beyond profit. Simon Sinek explains why it is important to create an emotional engagement in his famous talk (watched over 5M times) start with why – how great leaders inspire action.

Engaged employees

Not all of us find purpose in the work we do, and hence we drag with us this nagging feeling that we were meant for something greater.

An article published by the NY Time (Why you hate work) found Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any driver for employees’ satisfaction. These employees reported 1.7 times higher overall job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.

Bottom line

Profit and purpose do not contradict, but rather complement each other. It is important to find a healthy balance for focus. However an overemphasis on profit points the organization inward, employee’s tend to focus on short-term gains, leaders often get distracted by novel trends, tend to give up when the going gets tough, silos build, and mediocrity eventually prevails.  It is easy to see why purpose inspired organisation that creates loyal and passionate customers and partners and engaged employees has better chances of creating long-lasting success.




@Hadas Wittenberg is a Future of Work Enabler