Normally, “management” wouldn’t be listed as one of the top ten most exciting topics to discuss on a blog but it deserves a hearing here because Gary Hamel does something revolutionary with the subject. He dismantles everything we have been taught on the issue and begins building again from the ground up (a perspective that really comes alive in the text).
His book, “The Future of Management,” is not about best business practices or the best use of traditional management styles – booooring. It is about being innovative and adaptable, instead of traditional, to keep pace with new technology and meet the changing demands of market morphings.
Gary’s writing is aimed mostly at commercial organizations but the principles are universal. They can be applied to any group of organized individuals: schools, government or even church, and the truth is, they all need to rethink how they operate.
Today’s world will be obsolete in a couple of years, at most, and for businesses to successfully survive the change – or anyone else for that matter – they will need to develop processes that are highly tuned to grass roots developments, in real time, and have the agility to respond as required. If these ideas leave you incredulous watch the video.
Gary’s data proves top-heavy models are too slow and cumbersome to keep pace. Upper echelons are too far afield to sense shifts at ground level and make decisions before its too late. He doesn’t recommend introducing an innovative idea occasionally. He is suggesting changes that flatten organizations and renders them into a constant state of flux.
Constant innovation, according to Gary, is not only useful in today’s accelerated state of life, technology and the market place. He reaches back some fifty years to find an organization, W. L. Gore & Associates, (producers of Gore-Tex fabric, Elixir guitar strings and endless numbers of other market leading products) whose initial operational style would be described as “innovating all the time and fighting bureaucracy none of the time,” and it worked. He mentions two other companies who also bought into this concept from the start, “Whole Foods Market” and “Google.” Both are great successes.
He also sites several companies whose less “tradition defying” innovations brought them great success such as GE, DuPont, Proctor & Gamble, Toyota and Visa. He does so just to make the point that innovation on any level can enable a company to transcend its competitors. All of these companies are leaders in their fields.
But Gary isn’t aiming at “tradition-friendly” innovations. He is looking for full scale turn arounds and the most notable example in the book is IBM which lost billions of dollars in potential business before engaging the gut wrenching process of becoming non-traditional. to accomplish this they called upon everyone, in and out of the company, and in the process managed to regain their lost money in the end.
You get the idea from Gary’s book that the traditional model was never really the best approach at any time but is now being put out to pasture because it is completely incapable of surviving the meritocratic approach to idea generation and implementation.
Gary also challenges the terminology of traditional management:
- Chain of command,
- Organizational levels,
- And even the especially cherished, boss and subordinate.
These are terms designed to reinforce tradition and blind us to needed to change. This is not just another book attempting to be clever about management the way its always been done. It is trying to change everything and his ideas can be applied to every grouping of organized individuals including family, social clubs and even church.
Churches have a double blind in this regard. They preach isolation from the world on one hand and then mimic the world’s business models on the other, even to the point of making it sacrosanct, “don’t touch the Lord’s anointed,” i.e., the pastor and/or elders, by which they mean don’t ask any questions or offer constructive criticism.
My favorite illustration in the book involves Jeff Severts, VP at Best Buy in charge of market forecasting. He did an experiment to test the ability of the working force (commoners) to anticipate sales trends as compared to the pedestalized sophisticates at head office. The commoners who live and work with the goods buying foot traffic won the day.
The bottom line: everyone is important and what he or she has to say adds value.
What Gary preaches is not for the weak hearted, light headed, short sighted, ill informed or stubborn but it is for you and it is for now. You can get the book here.
Mr. Hamel is particularly qualified to say these things as his credits will attest:
He is “Visiting Professor of Strategic and International Management at the London Business School; cofounder of Strategos, an international consulting company; and director of the Management Innovation Lab. He is the author of Leading the Revolution and coauthor of Competing for the Future, two landmark books that have appeared on every management best seller list. He has also written numerous articles forHarvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and many other business publications.”
Read it and tell us what you THINK!AboutIt.