Polly LaBarre

Co-founder of Management Lab, Founding Writer of Fast Company, Author

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All change goes against the rules. Polly LaBarre arms leaders with a Maverick Manual to hack the status quo and ramp up originality, invention and game-changing disruption. The true work of leadership, she says, is inspiring, unleashing, and amplifying human creativity, passion, and resourcefulness - creating a cultural DNA where the response to change happens almost as fast as change itself. Co-author of Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win and founding team member of Fast Company magazine, Polly is co-founder of Management Lab, the think-and-do tank where she consults with top global brands. Polly is also a top speaker who leaves audiences with actionable lessons from organizations and leaders who are transforming their cultures and industries by breaking the rules and harnessing the human element. She inspires people to engage and reimagine the challenges they face, become fearless experimenters, and rethink the work of leadership.

Along with her partners at the Management Lab (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 has traveled the world to work with the courageous contrarians, management mavericks, and pioneering progressives who are inventing the future of organizations and business. While these are organizations of every stripe that hail from every realm of endeavor, they do share a common credo: that the most winning organizations are animated by an utterly distinctive and deeply-felt point of view – a set of ideas with the power to fundamentally reshape the sense of what’s possible; that work is personal, values rule, freedom is a bigger game than power, and nobody wins unless everybody wins.

Early in her career, as part of the founding team 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. The magazine introduced the world to a new universe of organizations and leaders whose management models were as distinctive as their business models were disruptive.

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. Published in over 20 territories, Mavericks was a “Business Book of the Year” for the Financial Times, the Miami Herald, and The Economist, which called the book "a pivotal work in the tradition of In Search of Excellence and Good to Great." CNN, CNBC, and GMA all created series around the book.

Polly’s writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Fast Company, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review online, Fortune.com, the McKinsey Quarterly, and she has served as business and innovation correspondent for CNN.

Read less...



The Human Edge: Fully Engaged & Relentlessly Innovative: Turning Culture into a Competitive Advantage

A Maverick Agenda for Inventing the Future: How To Disrupt Like an Insurgent

Liberation Leadership: A New Way of Leading Change


Liberation Leadership: Questions to Help You Find the Future
The Human Edge: Design an Architecture of Contribution
A Maverick Agenda for Inventing the Future: WL Gore Upends Traditional Organization Structure
Polly LaBarre: Pixar's culture of innovation


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Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System (OMERS)

“Her keynote was exceptional. Powerful messages, spot on delivery – great way to end this conference experience on a high note.”


“Polly hit it out of the park. She was warm and well received. Attendees loved how she kept the concepts simple and digestible. We loved having her.”

Senior Director, HireVue

“She is truly gifted in making connections and keeping all engaged.”

Business Specialist, Baldrige Performance Excellence Program

“We could not have had a better presentation to close out our Wednesday session. Your insight on innovation in

the workplace as well as how we can better incorporate innovation into our core company DNA was a hit!”

President and Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace Industries Association

“I had high expectations, but you completely exceeded them! You were absolutely brilliant on all fronts: content,

delivery, timing, storytelling, and more. Everyone I talked to cited your talk as the highlight of our conference.”

CEO, Perkins+Will

“Polly was FABULOUS!!! Articulate, provoking, exciting, strategic, practical, humble…a good representation for

women!!! Everything I was hoping for. I would recommend her!”

Vice President, Farm Credit Services of America

“I would like to tell you that the Planetree audience loved your presentation! Great job! I heard comments that you

were the best keynote we have ever had by far! Thank you again for the presentation and also meeting with our

staff afterwards. It was sensational!”

Chief Creative Officer, Planetree

“Thanks so much, Polly was a HUGE hit. We couldn't have asked for a better suited speaker. So much so that a lot

of our attendees are asking for the video footage of the day so they can re-watch it.”

Director of Marketing, Vision Critical

“Thanks so much for coming to Santa Barbara for our NBC retreat. You were both energetic and inspiring – and,

trust me, I would have been thrilled to have one or the other! You gave us a lot to think about and you set the

perfect tone for a lot of the issues that are facing us right at this moment.”

Chairman, NBC Entertainment

“Thanks again for speaking at our Women's Leadership Forum. Your remarks made quite an impact with our

younger leaders, in particular. I spoke with several of them later and they were so energized by your talk, they are

off implementing change!”

Vice President, Narrowband Communications and Program Manager, Lockheed Martin