I’m all for a revolution in management. Let’s reinvent organizations of all kinds to better serve humankind. It’s been a dismal few decades in which we’ve seen an epidemic of greed - and a mentality of ‘everything’s legal as long as you don’t get caught’ – bring economies to their knees and destroy trust in business, government, and other institutions. Human folly is always with us (just read history or great literature), but so too is the aspiration for human betterment. Business at its best creates individual and societal wealth, and I can’t wait for the corrosive ‘virtue of selfishness’ and ‘there’s no such thing as society’ ideas to be treated for what they are - hazardous waste to be handled with great care. Capitalism doesn’t need a PR job; it needs to engage in its own process of creative destruction and renewal.
As well as the broad issue of the economic system, we also need to revolutionize how we manage work. Some of my most miserable years were spent working in a U.S. corporation in which hierarchy, routine, aggressive internal competition, and control ruled. For a somewhat creative and initiative-taking person like myself who wanted to do the best job possible, it was a soul destroying - even degrading - experience.
I have a great respect for the work of Gary Hamel, and his latest book What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change (Jossey-Bass, 2012) addresses both of the critical issues I’ve mentioned above. It’s not only insightful, but also a good read. Hamel sees management as the technology of human accomplishment, but the old scientific-industrial paradigm that has defined this technology for at least a century is now more negative than positive in our growing creativity and innovation-based economy. The mechanical control view of management served us well when we were moving from an agrarian and craft-based economy to an industrial economy, but now gets in our way.
In 2008, Hamel was instrumental in bringing together 36 management experts in Half Moon Bay just south of San Francisco. Their mission was to “create a roster of make-or-break management ‘moonshots’ that would inspire business innovators everywhere.” Here are those ‘moonshots’:
Mending the Soul
1. Ensuring that management serves a higher purpose
2. Embedding the ethos of community and citizenship
3. Humanizing the language and practice of business
4. Increasing trust, reducing fear
5. Reinventing the means of control
6. Inspiring leaps of imagination
7. Expanding and exploiting diversity
8. Enabling communities of passion
9. Taking the work out of work
10. Sharing the work of setting direction
11. Harnessing the power of evolution
12. Destructuring and disaggregating organizations
13. Creating internal markets for ideas, talent, and resources
14. Depoliticizing decision making
15. Building natural, flexible hierarchies
16. Expanding the scope of autonomy
17. Refocusing the work of leadership on mobilizing and mentoring
18. Creating a democracy of information
19. Encouraging the dissenters
20. Developing holistic performance measures
21. Transcending traditional trade-offs
22. Stretching management time frames and perspectives
23. Strengthening the right hemisphere
24. Retooling management for an open world
25. Reconstructing the philosophical foundations of management
To learn more about these ‘moonshots’ – and remember, we did get to the moon – get a hold of Gary Hamel’s new book, and if you want to join in the conversation visit the open innovation project www.managementexchange.com also known as the MIX.