Good Companies — Ideas, meaning and (true) transformational purpose

Michal Vallo
8 min readMay 7, 2024


I just finished reading the book Good Companies by Piotr Trojanowski. I want to share some views, and ideas and perhaps and most of all argue with some author’s opinions.

The book discusses the purpose of Agile organizational changes. It also touches on the need for socioeconomic changes necessary for a broader shift from shareholders (Orange) capitalism toward customer-first (Green, Tail) capitalism. Do not expect the list of organizations, as the title suggests, with radically changed modus operandi and miraculous results. Instead, expect a broad range of ideas and food for your brain.

According to the author, the Market economy in today’s outdated version of capitalism, as of today, recognizes private and public goods only. Organizations then serve the interests of shareholders, ignoring the needs of the people who work in them, their communities, and the environment around them. Any attempt to deliver agile organizational change is doomed to fail because even the best and strongest leaders can’t overrule the wrongly imposed success criteria.

The author, on the other hand, suggests considering introducing a Civil economy instead, which expands the market economy by common good and relational good. It replaces the bipolar model based on state and market with the tripolar model of state, market, and community and derives success criteria from this viewpoint. Successful organizations under these new criteria will naturally generate true value for all of their stakeholders. Without compromising.

The book is divided into 5 parts. In the first part author discusses the current state of society, the ongoing crisis, and the reasonings that got us here — Civilizational debt. The second part is about aspiration for the future, how it could be, and what is being done on a global and interstate level. And what are the possible approaches? To define a Good Organization. In the third part, the author describes the transformation — what steps, behaviors, and mindset changes are required to deliver change. The fourth part tries to ideate examples of what end states could be — mental models, paradigms, and ways to operate various aspects of the organization. In the final part, the author dreams of the aspirational future.

Why the book caught my heart?

When I started my agile journey, I had in my mind a bigger change to deliver. And the agile movement was capable of delivering such a change. I agree with the author, “Who if not the Agile movement is best positioned to show by example how to embrace the new emerging awareness and evolve? Leadership by example is expected from those who preach agility and courage to challenge the status quo.” In the cases of agile transformations, “management has learned how to achieve their goals without having to change their management style”. Here I add, that also without structural change in their organization. Managing in such a way is possible, however only short term.

The author further confesses, that “In my case, this obvious omission and lack of interest led to a level of alienation from the mainstream Agile community,” so he has started to build his community instead. Here I have to confess the same. After spending years promoting Agile and the need for business transition, organizing events and conferences in this area, I have achieved a lot of animosity and alienation. I have seen experts and trainers, including “big names”, defecting anytime Agile values clash with their paychecks. Ranks of Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, and Transformation leaders were populated by children and career starters. The rise of SAFe confirmed to me, that the corrupting power of money warps every character.

What is the book’s main message?

The author shows us an alternative way, how to think about broader change through his EWE framework (p141). The transformation of the organization must go hand in hand with the transformation of the society, the foundations rules, and principles. The big industry remains frozen in the late orange era, as described by Frederic Laloux in his Reinventing Organizations book. There are ideas and models in the book, that might be used or tailored to achieve those big and ambitious goals. Failing to do so will have a negative impact the society as a whole.

Where I am aligned with the author

I am one hundred percent convinced the need for change in an organization is necessary. Let me give you two examples, of where such change could happen.

• Imagine the bank. Today, the bank is purely focused on its shareholders, so nearly all bank products are designed to generate revenue for the bank. The value for the customer is not relevant — e.g. saving accounts, which offer interest rates below inflation, or investment products, which despite not generating any positive revenue, are still the subject of hefty bank fees. The bank can, however, create customer customer-centric products. For example, in the current housing crisis, it can create a product and service that unlocks the frozen housing market across the entire value stream so it makes housing accessible for young people and families. All the necessary knowledge bank has. And the only missing is the will.

• Given that Elon Musk is serious about his vision to colonize Mars, and later the universe, there will be needed a huge amount of “colonizers”. I estimate that 1 million highly qualified people in the first wave are needed to create a sustainable and self-sufficient community on Mars (or the Moon), capable of independent growth without support from the Earth. My experience shows, that if that 1 million people would leave Europe only, it would create an extreme brain drain. It can’t be replenished easily soon. So we need an additional 1 million people. However, our current economic models lead to depopulation among advanced nations. The education of the young generation is being devastated (woke, activism of all kinds) and we have reached the point, where we no longer evolve as a society. Simply we lack qualified people around.

I support the paradigm shift: “from humans and the ecosystem serving the economy to the economy serving the humankind. From companies maximizing profit to companies as a vehicle of humankind pursuits” (p124). There are examples of such companies, and I hope there will be more.

“Wholeness will be respected in the employee-employer relationship” (p157). I see it as a founding stone for the evolution of knowledge-intensive work environments, where people are no longer employees, but rather co-entrepreneurs.

Where I am at odds with the author

While the author is fully aware of the need for radical change, his needs for change seem to be rooted in today’s progressive movement of EU and woke. Sometimes, the author is overly optimistic about the nature of the people. Another time author deliberately ignores business realities and principles, which are foundational principles of business, like natural competition.

“The goal of the companies is to grow” (p10) — not really. Growth is important for an organization to create opportunities, or secure a relevant position on the market. Only then it can create opportunities for its people so e.g. they stay. At some point, growing organizations start creating branches. Those with low potential will eventually die, and their resources may be reallocated for the company or the market elsewhere. Growth is therefore the driving force of the innovation here.

• Is it indeed a good idea to put into the book some temporary and irrelevant events, like Ukraine? Building an argument on recent history is always tricky (p17).

• Some strong statements are problematic. Like those about the extent of human impact on global warming. The science remains ambiguous on data about CO2 emissions, scientists are polarized and there is no confirmation warming would stop if all emissions were eliminated. (p23, p35) And the author joins the ranks of alarmists here.

“The nature of unsolved issues is beyond the agility zone of influence” (p40). In my opinion, Agile is about mindset and solving problems, so it can deliver value. If there is a need for a new solution, agile will trigger the action for its delivery.

“ESG investing is becoming increasingly popular …” and “the ESG movement has grown from a corporate social responsibility initiative launched by UN into a global phenomenon…”. I strongly disagree with these statements. ESG is not something people and organizations want. It was imposed on organizations as a political agenda of the unelected EU and UN administrations. We can observe already the consequent economic collapse of the industries. It is a great example of approaching the necessary changes in the wrong way — imposing a devastating Green Deal agenda, or prescribing how many genders must be on the board of private organizations (p63). Imposing SDG initiatives on organizations goes against the principles of the business. Consequent alienation of the entrepreneurs is not a strategy. The motivation of those people comes from many different angles. And we have to nurture more true entrepreneurs (p64), not eliminate them or force them to leave.

“Companies will become our main vehicle towards a better future” (p96). Yes and no. Companies solving problems while taking care of their customers certainly yes, companies that are loaded by political agenda on their shoulders not. The purpose of the company is not politicking nor solving somebody else agenda.

• Calling for an organization like NATO in case of non-compliance — an “institution like UN on steroids with responsibilities, means and mandate for interventions corresponding to those of the current NATO” (p116) — sounds like a bad joke. Does that mean the non-compliance needs to be punished by “humanitarian” bombardment? I am sorry, but it was already enough of terrorizing the world through mass destruction by folks like NATO. The victims of Afghanistan, Serbia, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, and more should become a sufficient memento. It proved to be a huge mistake that we didn’t dissolve that organization in early 2000. We must fix this error now, including bringing its top administrators (read the war criminals) to the International Court of Justice. The author crosses all lines here.

“…our job is to transform existing companies, which generate profit by satisfying customer’s needs with great products into entities that serve humankind’s purpose” (p128). What an oxymoron. Instead, we need to give organizations freedom and help them activate human potential through better human-centric management techniques. We further need to set the ethical values in the society. It is unlikely the external pressure and agenda of the political activists, extremists, or alarmists will help anything (p130).

“Imagine Microsoft collaborating with Apple and Google. Imagine Mercedes collaborating with Ford, Volkswagen, and Tesla”. The collaboration is happening. But there is also a need to pursue different approaches to the same problem. And there are also aspirations and inner motivations of the founders. Therefore it does not make sense to prescribe any such activities and force them (p132).


I think the book should be considered an interesting opening to the discussion on changes that managers should consider when inviting their people to maximal creative potential. The shift from the knowledge economy toward the creative economy brings completely new challenges for organizations. The most essential is the new relationship between the organization and the people who work in it. So considering the ways, how to reverse the current state — the people slaving for the organizations, toward a desired new state of organizations that alongside delivering value to its customers also deliver value to the people working in them and communities associated with them.

I suggest you tolerate the author his worldview and activistic motives for now and focus your attention on the content. The proposed framework is worth considering and testing. The change of the organizational paradigm is more than necessary.

About the author: Michal Vallo is dedicated to building human learning organizations as a precondition for Agile adoption. He shares his experience with HR departments and managers who are in desperate need of radical innovation. He has experience from both sides, which led him to create better recruitment practices and the course Agile Recruiter. Michal helps managers understand agile techniques, benefit from their adoption, and consequently radically improve organizational performance. Feel free to contact him if you need help with your HR department or agilization of your organization.



Michal Vallo

Building human organizations ( Chair in Agilia Conference / Agile Management Congress - inspiring people w/ new ideas to grow their business.