The Chris Voss Show Podcast – Unmanaged: Master the Magic of Creating Empowered and Happy Organizations by Jack Skeels

Unmanaged: Master the Magic of Creating Empowered and Happy Organizations by Jack Skeels

Former executive, two-time Inc 500 award-winning entrepreneur, and think-tank management scientist Jack Skeels, in his new book, Unmanaged: Master the Magic of Creating Empowered and Happy Organizations, lays out the blueprint for how to make agencies – and many other types of organizations run better, faster and happier.

Drawing on more than a decade of applied research with over 200 agencies and other high-performance organizations, Skeels presents a compelling case that managing less can be the key to managing better. In its six-part structure, the book takes leaders and managers through the origins of why we manage the way we do today, and how a new style of managing—within which one can see the echoes of Agile methods—boosts everything from project success rates to organizational productivity, profitability and happiness.

In its 300 pages, Unmanaged both provides not only the rationale, but also a large number of battle-tested methods for implementing better managing, proven both within his consultancy and in prior work. The book is laced with real-world vignettes that often make managers and leaders laugh (or cringe) in recognition of their own managerial faux pas. There are over ten practical new models of managing that the reader and their organization can make, ranging from better ways to kick-off and scope projects, boost team skills growth, align better with stakeholders and clients, and ensure worker and team productivity. Leaders will be drawn to several topics that explain the power of Unmanaged’s techniques to reduce the cost of meetings, enhance DEI initiatives, and implement better organization models and metrics.

While Unmanaged has its origins in digital and marketing agencies, Skeels, who spent much of his career in technology and management consulting, makes a compelling argument that the project-driven workthat they perform (complex, unique, innovative or complex projects) represents the future of human work as AI and other forms of automation displace simpler factory and service style workers. The future of knowledge work is project work.

The book is written from a manager-centric perspective, informing many managerial roles found in agencies and elsewhere, including a significant focus on the discipline of project management, its many challenges and failures. At its heart, the book preaches a gospel that hints of Buddhism, urging that managers and leaders can do better by being more aware and less reactive.

Show Notes
About The Guest(s):

Jack Skeels is a former executive, two-time Inc 500 award-winning entrepreneur, and think tank management scientist. He is the founder of Agency Agile, a consultancy that helps organizations improve their management practices. Jack has over a decade of experience working with more than 200 agencies and high-performance organizations.


In this episode of The Chris Voss Show, host Chris Voss interviews Jack Skeels about his new book, “Unmanaged: Master the Magic of Creating Empowered and Happy Organizations.” Jack shares his insights on why traditional management practices are often ineffective and how a new style of managing can lead to better productivity, profitability, and happiness in organizations. He emphasizes the importance of self-awareness, avoiding biases, and giving everyone a chance to grow and contribute.

Key Takeaways:

Traditional management practices often hinder productivity and can be counterproductive.

Managers should focus on supporting their team and creating a culture of empowerment.

Being aware of biases and implementing processes that avoid them is crucial for effective management.

Giving everyone a chance to contribute and grow is essential for building a successful team.

Cultivating a learning organization and setting a positive culture is key to long-term success.


“Managing less can be the key to managing better.” – Jack Skeels

“A great manager knows when to not try to be a manager.” – Jack Skeels

“Culture is not what you say it is. It’s how you behave when the shit hits the fan.” – Jack Skeels