Corporate Rebels and their bucket list show how to create inspiring workplaces – Interview with Pim de Morree


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Today’s interview is with Pim de Morree, Co-founder at Corporate Rebels, who are on a mission to make work more fun. Pim joins me today to talk about Corporate Rebels, their quest to make work more fun, their Bucket List and what they have learned so far.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – The more you invest in technology the more you have to invest in human beings – Interview with Arnaud de Lacoste – and is number 243 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Highlights from my conversation with Pim:

  • Corporate Rebels was started borne out of frustration (bureaucracy, lack of freedom etc) with their own corporate jobs.
  • They believe there is a better way of running organisations that benefits people and taps into their natural motivations.
  • Therefore, they set out to travel the globe to visit and learn from the world’s most inspiring organizations in a quest to make work more fun.
  • They made a Bucket List of companies and people they wanted to visit. It started out with 35 organisations and people, has grown to 85 in length and they have visited 60 of these organisations.
  • If some organisations are operating in radical and innovative ways (and it is working) then why are not more organisations operating like this?
  • Their findings have been distilled into a series of 8 ‘habits’.
  • However, their intention is not to come up with a ‘one-size fits all’ approach and they do not think that exists. Every solution will be different and dependent on their own specific context.
  • Therefore, the habits are a set of general conclusions from their research that demonstrates what makes these companies successful and different compared to more traditional organisations.
  • The habits are:
    • 1. From profit to purpose & values
    • 2. From hierarchical pyramids to a network of teams
    • 3. From directive leadership to supportive leadership
    • 4. From predict & plan to experiment & adapt
    • 5. From rules & control to freedom & trust
    • 6. From centralized authority to distributed authority
    • 7. From secrecy to radical transparency
    • 8. From job descriptions to talents & mastery
  • The key thing that underpins all of these habits is the respect and maturity of treatment that is given to workers by their managers and organisations.
  • Some organisations adopt a network of teams approach that works with a functional hierarchy. However, the thing they need to combat is the fact that many people don’t communicate across silos and that is the biggest challenge that they have to manage.
  • To achieve the sort of results that many of the organisations they visited have achieved and to make work more fun requires both a system and a mindset change.
  • However, making changes to the system (internal mechanisms and processes) can be a huge help in shifting mindsets.
  • Pim highlights the childish practices that surround the annual budgeting cycle in a recent blog post: Stop Wasting Your Time On Annual Budgeting.
  • Many organisations get stuck in what is called ‘managing for the 3%’, the 3% being the small number of people that will abuse or brake the rules. That has huge and detrimental effects on motivation, productivity and engagement.
  • Pim cites an example from his previous job where there was a dedicated department that was set up to check expense claims. A huge waste of time and resources and a statement on how much the organisation trusted their employees.
  • This is contrasted with Netflix’s approach where they have dispensed with all rules around expenses and travel and have one guiding principle ‘act in Netflix’s best interest’.
  • This benefits them in a number of ways: trust, respect, reduction in time doing useless work and elimination of all sorts or resources that would be used as a control mechanism.
  • Pim shares a couple of inspiring examples of organisations, what they have done and how they have benefited.
    • Belgian Federal Office of Social Affairs
      • Frank van Massenhove is the chairman of the Belgian Federal Office of Social Affairs.
      • They started their transformation in 2002 when Frank became head of the organization.
      • He radically changed the way the organisation works by focusing more on freedom and trust rather than rules and control.
      • Employees can now decide where they work, when they work, how they work and with who they work so they can spend as many or as few hours per week on their work as long as they get the right results.
      • On average, there are only ever 10% of employees in the office at any one time.
      • Employees also work on average 33 hours per week although they have a contract for 40 hours per week.
      • The organisation also has the lowest sick-leave in the country, they have reduced their office costs significantly, given the number of people that are in the office at any one time, and now 95% of all graduating public administration students want to work in this department as compared to only 18% back in 2002.
      • When they put out a job vacancy they now get 57 applicants compared to only 3 prior to the transformation.
      • Employee engagement, productivity, and ‘customer’ satisfaction have increased tremendously while costs and the number of burnouts have gone down significantly.
    • Buurtzorg, the fully self-managed home-care organisation in The Netherlands.
      • In 2007, Jos de Blok started Buurtzorg after coming out of a more traditional home-care organization. This was run in a very top down and traditional manner that stipulated everything down to who needed to be seen, why, what they were to be given and how many minutes each appointment should be etc.
      • Jos felt the views of nurses and patients weren’t being taken into account that that wasn’t delivering a patient centric way of doing things.
      • He also believed that nurses were more than capable of running their own neighbourhoods than distant managers were.
      • They started with a team of 4 nurses and now Buurtzorg employs over 14,000 nurses and care workers working in teams no bigger than 12. The circa 1000 teams are supported by no more than 50 administrators, 18 coaches, and 0 managers.
      • The nurses salaries are higher than in traditional, comparable organisations but their overhead costs are about one-third the level of more traditional, comparable organisations.
      • They started in The Netherlands but now they are running pilots of the same model all over the world.
  • Corporate Rebels recently received a Thinkers5o nomination in the ‘Breakthrough Idea Award’ category.
  • These Bucket List stories need to be told so they can show there is a different way of running organisations.
  • The first thing leaders should be considering doing is 1. Inspiring others with this idea that there is a better way of doing things, 2. Get people onboard with this idea and then 3. Start transforming your organisation with small changes.
  • Start by sharing a few inspiring stories with your team and then have a conversation around what you would add, keep or remove from your current workplace.
  • Listening and then designing small experiments (based on best practice they have gleaned from their research) they have found is the best way to best way to start and one that will result in large changes in the long run.
  • Wow service/experience for Pim comes from when employees are involved in running a business as he believes that if you do that the rest will follow.
  • Check out the Corporate Rebels blog here, which has all sorts of resources and inspiring stories.
  • Also, check out the new Corporate Rebels Survey tool that will help you quickly gain insights into how progressive your organisation is and where you need to focus in order to help you transform into a highly inspiring workplace.

About Pim

Pim de MorreeCorporate Rebels are on a mission to make work more fun. About two and a half years ago, Pim and his co-founder, Joost, quit their frustrating, corporate jobs and set out to travel the globe to visit the world’s most inspiring organizations. While checking off and continuously adding to their Bucket List of pioneers, they share everything they have learned through their blog, talks, and consultancy work around the world.

Their Bucket List of companies includes well-known examples such as Spotify, Google, and Patagonia to lesser-known organizations that organize work in radically different ways. By visiting these pioneers they learn about many alternative ways of working that fully unleash the potential of employees.

Pim describes himself as an eternal optimist, always in for a new and exciting challenge, passionate about exploring the world and would be happy for someone to wake him up for a good game of squash.

Pim holds an MSc Innovation Management from Eindhoven University of Technology.

Find out more about Corporate Rebels here, say Hi to them and Pim on Twitter @corp_rebels and @Pim_de_Morree and connect with Pim on LinkedIn here.

Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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