PMI - BOOK REVIEW - by Gregor Nicolas 

Who is the author?

Phil Simon is born in 1972. He is an American speaker, professor, and author who writes about management, technology, disruption, communication, and analytics. Mr. Simon is a frequent keynote speaker, recognized collaboration and technology authority.

bookHe is the award-winning author of a dozen books, and hosts the podcast Conversations About Collaboration.

Simon studied economics and political science at Carnegie Mellon University, he added to his studies labor relations at Cornell University and obtained his MILR in 1997.

Simon started his career as human-resource consultant in 1997 at Capital One for a year, and at Merck & Co. for two years. After two more years as an application consultant for Lawson Software, he started his own consulting firm.

He has written many books, including Reimagining Collaboration: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and the Post-COVID World of Work, Analytics: The Agile Way and Slack for Dummies.

He also contributed to the 2020 Agile book: The Insights You Need from Harvard Business Review (HBR Insights Series), along with Scrum co-creator Jeff Sutherland.

Simon believes that the platform represents a fundamentally new business model—the most important of the 21st century. Specifically, APIs and SDKs are enabling developers to build mobile apps and web services faster and on a much greater scale than ever. The most successful companies of the day—e.g.,, Apple Inc., Facebook, and Google—no longer focus on one line of business. Rather, they quickly and frequently add adjacent offerings, products, and services—i.e., planks.

Through increasingly powerful ecosystems, companies today are externalizing a great deal of their innovation. What's more, they are evolving at increasingly rapid speeds. Emerging platforms such as Twitter, Kickstarter,, WordPress, Udemy, and scores of others are redefining business in tectonic ways that we have only begun to understand.

In recent years, research by Marshall Van Alstyne, Scott Galloway (professor), and others has confirmed the power of platforms—and, specifically, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.

Ref: Wikipedia, Amazon, and


The book goes about the technological tools used during collaboration efforts between teams and people within a company. It is about better collaboration through technology.

It accentuates the frustration of the technology being used wrongly. Using emails has been a revolutionary habit, However, we are using tools like Zoom, Slack, and Teams like we are using emails. According to Phil, using them properly can be an asset to all companies ready to improve and evolved in this next collaborative revolution / transition.

Phil mentions that the transition has been there. Thanks to the Covid-19, it has been accelerated while the people using the tools have not yet transition yet. The organizations have not transition either. Furthermore, the top-level executives requesting the Implementation of the tools are not on board with the change.

According to many surveys, people wan to go back to the office les than 4 days a week on average. This reinforces the need for better habits using the collaboration tools Phil mentions in his book. There are many reasons for the shift. While commuting is one of them, deep work, personal time, sense of human completeness, and others are also mentioned.

Covid made all this possible because even the reluctant businesses and managers were forced to find a way to continue having a functioning team while respecting the regulations in place during Covid-19. Many companies finally use the Teams license they have paid for or which was forced down their throat.

The book is not for the people who have the be at work all the time. But it is for the collaborative effort and the work efficiency of the new work culture. This culture fosters people who are remote, people who do not want to come back to the office, and the rest.

This is the trending norm and some organizations find it leaner because they do not need the whole facilities or real estate management which was a budget item before.

Phil mentions the advantage of having the platforms offering the Software As A Service (SAAS) with the delight of membership per need. Companies can add and retract the amount needed to pay for the platform. Where often you can find a free limited platform, this model takes out the burden of sunk cost for a new implementation.

Phil says that if your CEO or CXO is using email, then that is really the default mechanism of communicating. And most people aren’t going to tell the person running the company, hey, you’re doing it wrong. So, I do want people with this book to have, like you said, an uncomfortable reaction saying, oh, yeah, we do that here. We can do a lot better. And he is hopeful that this book will force people to think about the way that they’re working and also legacy business processes. There are lots of examples in the book about how people created a business process 20 years ago. And even though the technology has drastically changed the way that they do something, whether it’s payroll or publishing content, remains the same.

Phil introduces the Spoke and the Hub. Hub is like Zoom, Teams, Slack. Where Hub is like a project management tool or signature tool that can be connected to the Hub.

“Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools, he is nothing; with tools he is all.” —Thomas Carlyle

Major Take Aways from the book.

  • Be open to new technologies
  • Team members have different needs and Covid19 made them stronger
  • Collaborate has to be inclusive and refreshed
  • Do not keep the same habit if it is and impediment
  • Use the tools wisely and learn the advantages
  • Keep the decision making at the human level
  • Reinforce connections of remote teams for successful outcome
  • Do not be blinded by the status quo
  • Take the time to think
  • Be a Maker and help reducing the distraction for deep meaningful work.
  • Walk the talk and feel your environment.
    • If leaders in the organizations are not willing to practice the theory, there is almost no need.
    • Change is a group effort with the involvement of everyone.
  • Do not waste people’s time
    • “In my consulting days, I often saw project managers call meetings essentially because they were bored.”

Here a light interview with Phil Simon on the book.


Phil Simon is not redefining collaboration in this book. He is presenting that the way it is using certain tools now ay not be appropriate. He has many examples about that. He presented his metric of organizational health: “The ability to rally around a common vision, execute effectively, and create a culture of innovation.”

Simon does show a good understanding of the human factor in productivity. He talks about managers versus makers, and how managers feel the need to communicate often with many people, while makers need to reduce distraction and focus on a task.

This book is about better collaboration through technology. Simon is correct, a collaboration tool with channels for team members has lots of advantages over email, gathering all the communications in one spam-free place and making search much easier.

However, this book is not an answer to your situation. It is the start for a discussion and introspection for companies willing to change.