Book Review  

Book Review: Brave New Work

Book Review: Brave New Work

 Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan

The business world has been waiting for this book, even if it did not know it.

Inspirational, thought-provoking and immensely readable, Brave New Work gives new solutions to problems you did not think were solvable.

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For example, I imagine you recognise these from your work: too many meetings and emails; loads of updates; siloed departments who rarely speak with each other; poor, slow decision-making; and seemingly hundreds of pointless processes, all of which leads to people being stifled, not optimised.

Mr Dignan uses a good analogy to explain this – traffic lights and roundabouts.

Traffic light systems need complicated, expensive equipment to clearly explain what we are all supposed to do.

The system assumes we are not trusted, and if there is a problem, there is a complex set of instructions for us all to adhere to.


Using the system does not require thinking; just compliance. 

Or instead of traffic lights, we can use roundabouts. Simple, cheap. They assume we are trusted, and if something kicks off, we use our common sense to manage it.

And which system is better? Safer? Has the higher throughput? Is cheaper? Works better when there is a power outage? 

Roundabouts, every time. So, even though we see lots more traffic lights than roundabouts, it is the cheaper, easier system that promotes initiative and social co-ordination that wins.

This book provides intriguing “roundabout solutions” to the work challenges we all face each day.

And, like many of the best solutions, most sound obvious when you hear them.

I found the book easy to read – in fact, hard to put down. 

I love the real world examples, but most importantly I loved how easily companies could use its techniques in their own business.

Yes, it will take bravery for some, but that is the point.

Too many of us do not question things enough. There is too much: ‘I know these quarterly business reviews are tedious and pointless. But we’ve always done them. So we’ll keep doing them, forever.’

But, as the book says, if they are tedious and pointless, stop them. Nothing bad will happen.

I read it in a couple of sittings.  And it is one of those books I know I will read again, next time with a highlighter pen. It is definitely worth reading. 

Andy Bounds is a communication consultant and co-author ofTop Dog – Impress and Influence Everyone You Meet

Published by Portfolio Penguin