In the face of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we need a new radical humanism, says Tim Leberecht. For the self-described “business romantic,” this means designing organizations and workplaces that celebrate authenticity instead of efficiency and questions instead of answers. Leberecht proposes four (admittedly subjective) principles for building beautiful organizations.



  • Do you think that machines will take the place of humans in the future?
  • What jobs do you think are endangered?





  • efficient – achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense: more efficient processing of information.
  • permeate – spread throughout (something); pervade: the aroma of soup permeated the air
  • merely – just, only
  • underestimate – estimate (something) to be smaller or less important than it really is
  • exhume – dig out (something buried, especially a corpse) from the ground
  • deliberate (verb) – engage in long and careful consideration
  • whatsoever – at all


Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at times indicated in brackets.

  • What is predicted to happen in the next 20 years? What kind of jobs will humans be required for? What jobs will machines be supposed to do? (1:02)
  • What is the definition of beauty by Stendhal? What is Tim’s definition of beauty? (1:21)
  • What is Tim’s first principle? What examples does he use to illustrate it? (3:19)
  • How can intimacy be created within organisations? (3:30)
  • What is the meaning of ugliness? In what way can it be valuable for an organisation? (8:23)
  • Do you agree with Tim’s conclusion? Why? Why not?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the words in CAPITAL LETTERS used in appropriate forms.

I once worked at a company that was the result of a merger of a large IT ________ SOURCE firm and a small design firm. We were merging 9,000 software engineers with 1,000 ________ CREATION types. And to ________ UNITY these immensely different cultures, we were going to launch a third, new brand. And the new brand color was going to be orange. And as we were going through the budget for the rollouts, we decided last minute to cut the purchase of 10,000 orange balloons, which we had meant to ________ DISTRIBUTION to all staff worldwide.They just seemed ________ NECESSITY and cute in the end. I didn’t know back then that our decision marked the beginning of the end — that these two organizations would never become one. And sure enough, the merger ________ EVENTUAL failed. Now, was it because there weren’t any orange balloons? No, of course not. But the kill-the-orange-balloons ________ MENTAL permeated everything else. You might not always realize it, but when you cut the unnecessary, you cut everything. Leading with beauty means rising above what is ________ MERE necessary. So do not kill your orange balloons.


Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

Studies show that ________ we feel about our workplace very much depends ________  the relationships with our coworkers. And what are relationships other ________ a string of microinteractions? There are hundreds of these every day in our organizations that have the potential to distinguish a good life ________ a beautiful one. The marriage researcher John Gottman says that the secret of a healthy relationship is not the great gesture or the lofty promise, it’s small moments of attachment. In ________ words, intimacy. In our networked organizations, we tout the strength of weak ties but we underestimate the strength of strong ones. We forget the words of the writer Richard Bach who once said, “Intimacy — not connectedness —intimacy is ________ opposite of loneliness.”


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