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Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization Hardcover – March 25, 2013

19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"a canon of radically different management" - Forbes

"several elaborate, interlinked models for connected leadership, you will certainly get lots of ideas" - The Globe and Mail

"takes a deep look at the gestalt of leadership both in one's self and in how one collaborates with others. There is plenty to learn and practice, as well as the inspiration to guide." - Forbes

From the Inside Flap

Leaders of any description and department are struggling. Society is awash with social technologies; employees want to be included in the conversations and decisions; and management is stuck sorting out how teams should operate using dated leadership models in a new and technologically- sophisticated social world order. Human Resources needs to catch up with technology; Finance continues to operate in a silo; and IT is tripping over both legacy systems and newer, social technologies, while experiencing difficulty adjusting to a more collaborative behavioral model. Most importantly, employees are becoming significantly more disengaged.

Does any of this sound familiar?

There is no easy way to undo what years, and even decades, of outdated management practice have done to leaders. Command and control is rampant, evil and unnecessary. The process of change has to start with the leadership in any organization, and Flat Army is designed to prevent your organization's ship from sinking. Dan Pontefract knows and understands what happens to organizations when employees are unhappy and uncommitted. More importantly, he knows what it takes to create a leadership culture that drives engagement, empowerment and encouragement amongst continued execution. In all of the corporate leadership roles he has had, he held a steadfast belief that a collaborative, connected and participative leadership framework is the only way in which to operate.

Pontefract is currently the Head of Learning and Collaboration at TELUS—an international telecommunications organization of 40,000 employees—where he and the TELUS team instituted concepts such as the TELUS Leadership Philosophy; a formal, informal and social learning model known as Learning 2.0; and a plethora of open, social and collaborative technologies that, in part, helped TELUS augment its approach to leadership and engagement.

Today, employee engagement at TELUS sits at 80 percent, the highest in Canada for large-sized organizations and in the top one percent globally. TELUS and Dan have received multiple awards from ASTD, CLO and Skillsoft in recognition of the growth of a new culture of leadership, collaboration and learning.

Prepare to be entertained, shocked and engaged. Challenge yourself. Challenge the status quo. Flat Army pushes the boundaries of organization change. It can change yours.

See all Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118529790
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118529799
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #714,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan is the author of "FLAT ARMY: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization" (May, 2013) and "THE PURPOSE EFFECT" (May, 2016). He is Chief Envisioner of TELUS Transformation Office; a future-of-work consulting group that helps organizations enhance corporate culture, leadership, learning, work styles & collaboration practices.

Previously, as Head of Learning & Collaboration at TELUS, Dan was responsible for the overarching learning, collaboration & leadership development strategy for the company. Dan championed the introduction of the TELUS Leadership Philosophy (TLP), an open and collaborative-based leadership framework for all 44,000+ TELUS team members. In parallel to these actions he drove a philosophical and cultural shift in the way TELUS views and experiences learning called "Learning 2.0"; the shift to a social, informal and formal learning and collaboration model bringing TELUS to the forefront of connected learning and leading. He further championed the use and deployment of collaborative technologies to complement both the learning and leadership frameworks. Between 2008 and 2014, employee engagement at TELUS soared from 53% to 85%.

Dan is a passionate leader in the leadership & social collaboration technology spaces and is uniquely skilled to ensure an organization can move from traditional cultures to healthier ways of working.

His career is interwoven with both corporate and academic experience, coupled with an MBA, B.Ed and multiple industry certifications and accreditations. Dan is also a renowned speaker and has been invited to deliver over 150 external keynotes and presentations since 2009, including a TEDx Talk. In 2012 he appeared on the front cover of T+D Magazine and Chief Learning Officer Magazine. His book, FLAT ARMY has been reviewed in both Forbes and The Globe and Mail and sat on the best sellers list in leadership.

In 2010, Dan was acknowledged by CLO as a 'Vanguard Award' winner and is a 2-time winner by the Corporate University Best in Class Awards of the 'Leader of the Year' in both 2010 and 2011. In 2012, SkillSoft awarded Dan the 'Learning Leader of the Year' for his work at TELUS and CLO Magazine bestowed the 'Learning in Practice Innovation Award' as well. He is also the recipient of the 2012 Brandon-Hall 'Gold Award in Strategy & Governance'. In 2014, his team became a 9-time winner of the prestigious 'ATD BEST' award. In 2013 and 2014, TELUS also placed in the top ten of the Learning! 100 Awards.

He was recruited into TELUS in Q4 of 2008, previously holding senior positions with SAP, Business Objects, Crystal Decisions and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).

Talk to him about Manchester United, cycling, his wife Denise or their three young children (Claire, Cole and Cate) and you won't be able to shut him up. He's an educator at heart.

You can reach Dan on Twitter (@dpontefract) or via his personal site at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In recent years, we have observed a tsunami of books, articles, and events that focus on employee engagement. Much of what hey provide and discuss is based on research by highly reputable firms. In Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Community (Jossey-Bass/Wiley Imprint, April 2013), Dan Pontefract cites an article in the Gallup Business Journal that characterizes an engaged employee as someone who will "work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward."

In my review of The Enemy of Engagement, I suggest that what sets this book apart from other recently published books on the problems of employee engagement and how to solve them is Mark Royal and Tom Agnew's focus on employees who were once actively and productively engaged and have either become passively engaged ("mailing it in") or actively disengaged and, in some instances, perhaps even hostile and toxic. During exit interviews of highly-valued employees before they depart to work elsewhere, they express frustration with working conditions (especially those who supervise them) that prevent them from personal growth and/or professional development.

Dan Pontefract shares my high regard for The Enemy of Engagement, quoting this passage:

"Though frameworks for understanding engagement vary, the concept is commonly understood to capture levels of commitment and discretionary effort exhibited by employees. Engaged employees can be expected to display high levels of attachment to an organization and a strong desire to remain a part of it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on June 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Here is a leadership book that doesn't preach from a soapbox or rant on endlessly with a 'is this guy getting paid by the word?' kind of feeling. It will help you think differently about the next meeting you walk into, and more importantly the company door you go through each day.

Are your employees disengaged? Are your departments working in silos? Is hierarchy a key part of decision making? Dan argues that the future is about creating connected and engaged organizations. The question is, how?

If you are a leader who is working to embrace this transformation, about half of this book is filled with practical, easy to consume ideas about how to adjust your way of thinking and behaviour - how to become a connected leader and foster real collaboration.

The other half is focused on the company you work in, and how to shape it into one that learns at the speed of need (the brilliant title of chapter 9). Dan spearheaded this concept at TELUS, a massive Telco in Canada, shaping how people collaborate and the technology that supports them by expanding the definition of learning into one that frankly better reflects the consumer market around us.

When you sit down to learn something at home, where do you go first? Probably Google.

Now think about that same problem at work... the search box is probably the *last* place you go. Time to pick up the book and get started. It is a long road ahead. The best part? This transformation represents the kind of competitive advantage now that the assembly line Dan refers to represented in the past.

Let's get cracking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Karin on June 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
"An unobstructed flow of corporate commonality."

Dan has deftly connected the wisdom of many other organizational behaviour and business research authors, added his own brand of organizational dynamics, and woven in his experience of employing these ideas in currently successful businesses. A rarity in leadership writing, offering the theory, research and practical application from the cyber desk of someone who can say, I researched it and also applied it.

Flat Army is an excellent reading choice for anyone who wants to 'see' the future of organizational hierarchy and recognizes that they will need to rethink their own career development path. Currently businesses are operating across three different economic eras: Industrial, Knowledge and Digital. The historical references, the recent data cited, and the link to 'in place' application all equal Organizational Connection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tom on July 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
While the title may initially evoke images of hierarchical militaristic leadership, the core message is the polar opposite. The book encourages leaders and aspiring leaders at all levels to move away from command and control and towards engagement and employee empowerment. It does this by defining a number of key principles such as collaboration, participation, learning and technology that are at the heart of the modern organization. Other leadership books usually stop there, but Flat Army provides a number of models and frameworks that provide practical tools that help put the principles into action. Some of the models hang together more successfully than others, but the best provide succinct roadmaps to the behaviour change needed to move toward the engagement and empowerment ideals clearly held by the author.

The author writes very personally using stories, metaphors and analogies drawn from personal and professional experience. This alone helps the book stand out from the sterile and academic approach to many leadership books and makes for an enjoyable read. Clearly leadership is a very personal issue for Dan Pontefract and not simply an abstract concept.

Many of the leadership behaviours described in the book such as participation, collaboration and empowerment have been around for a while in other guises, but the book recasts them in the language of the modern workplace for a new generation of leaders and that's a good thing. Technology is not a common topic in leadership books, but here technology (read social media) is seen as an indispensable tool for a leaders to be truly connected and participative. Participative technology is seen as central to the leadership role, not just another tool in the leaders communication toolkit.
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