Monday, January 28, 2008

The Future of Management

I read a great book called, The Future of Management by Gary Hamel.

I found the book to be very well written. I read a lot of business books and many of them are not that well written; however, I still like the books if they are well laid out and organized so often report favourably on them. Gary Hamel is a good writer in addition to having good thoughts.

Part One of the book is where Gary challenges us to think. I was contemplating writing an article before I read the book on, "The Power of Excess Resources", or "Is It Possible to be Too Efficient?"

Here is what Gary Hamel has to say:

Contrary to popular mythology, the thing that most impedes innovation in large companies is not a lack of risk taking. Big companies take big, and often imprudent, risks every day. The real brake on innovation is the drag of old mental models. Long-serving executives often have a big chunk of their emotional capital invested in the existing strategy.

In the pursuit of efficiency, companies have wrung a lot of slack out of their operations. That’s a good thing. No one can argue with the goal of cutting inventory levels, reducing working capital, and slashing overhead. The problem, though, is that if you wring all the slack out of a company, you’ll wring out all of the innovation as well. Innovation takes time – time to dream, time to reflect, time to learn, time to invent, and time to experiment. And it takes uninterrupted time - time when you can put your feet up and stare off into space.

In section one he also explains what a huge percentage of people are not fully engaged in their work at all levels of the company. As English novelist, Ian Forster said, "A person with passion is better than 40 people merely interested."

He also talked about too much management with too little freedom. The gist of that message is that often managers are over-managed.

Part Two moves into a series of stories about real businesses and real people including: Whole Foods, Goretex, and Google.

One thing that I don’t like about many authors is when they talk about company success stories, they tend to attribute success to some characteristic they point out when I think they may have pointed out the wrong characteristic so there might not be a link with success. I also note that every circumstance is different at any different time so it is very difficult to take one solution and apply it to another circumstance. Unfortunately, we all still need to think.

Part Three talks about our beliefs. Sometimes our past success can lead to future failure. It is all about change.

One thing I particularly like about this part is a chapter on Learning from the Fringe which basically points out that many of the better ideas and innovations might not come from the existing business or even the existing managers. They often come from the fringes of the organization or the fringe of the business they do.

In Part Four – The Building of the Future of Management, talks about management 2.0 and what will the new management look like and how to become effective.

This book was thoroughly enjoyable and I would highly recommend it to any leader.


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