Management guru Gary Hamel is disruptive, eloquent, and he’s a prolific truth-teller.
Hamel knows that traditional management models are outdated and are a thing of the past—at least for companies affected by any of today’s competitive pressures and forces.
Here are 18 memorable, share-worthy quotes from the top business strategist and thinker.
1. “In a market where talent is largely a commodity and can be bought anywhere, the secret sauce is creating an environment in which you push that frontier out, in which you can steadily raise the returns on human capital.”
2. “Have you ever asked yourself, what are the deepest principles upon which my management beliefs are based? Probably not. Few executives, in my experience, have given much thought to the foundational principles that underlie their views on how to organize and manage. In that sense, they are as unaware of their managerial DNA as they are of their biological DNA.”
3. “The outlines of the 21st-century management model are already clear. Decision-making will be more peer-based; the tools of creativity will be widely distributed in organizations. Ideas will compete on equal footing. Strategies will be built from the bottom up. Power will be a function of competence rather than of position.”
4. To become inspired management innovators, today’s executives must learn how to think explicitly about the management orthodoxies that bound their thinking—the habits, dogmas, and conceits they’ve never taken the trouble to challenge…”
5. “How do you discover radically better ways of leading, organizing and managing? The short answer: you look far beyond the boundaries of today’s ‘best practice.’…To glimpse the future of management, you must search out the “positive deviants,” organizations and social systems that defy the norms of conventional practice.”
6. “When you go back to the principles upon which our modern companies are built—standardization, specialization, hierarchy, and so on—you realize that those are not bad principles but inadequate for the challenges that lie ahead.”
7. “There is a lot of discipline and work needed to migrate from one management model to another. I don’t think it is obvious to a lot of companies that it’s really possible to experiment with management.”
8. “It’s critical to have what I call the voice of the user very much front and center—the individuals, throughout an organization, whose work is heavily influenced by a company’s core management processes. These people know which processes choke off innovation, impede adaptability, and frustrate employees.”
9. “When it comes to reinventing management, you must have the courage to set seemingly aggressive objectives…But the actual work of reengineering our musty old management practices will be more evolutionary than revolutionary.”
10. “We’ve encouraged employees to speak up, but haven’t allowed them to set strategy. We’ve been advocates for innovation, but haven’t systematically dismantled the barriers that keep it marginalized.”
11. “Existing measurement systems have many flaws. They tend to overemphasize the achievement of some goals, like hitting short-term profit targets, while undervaluing other important objectives, like building new growth platforms. They often take no account of the subtle, yet critical factors that drive competitive success, like the value of customer-driven innovation.” – Gary Hamel
12. “If there was a single question that obsessed 20th century managers, from Frederick Taylor to Jack Welch, it was this: How do we get more out of our people? At one level, this question is innocuous—who can object to the goal of raising human productivity? Yet it’s also loaded with industrial age thinking: How do we (meaning “management”) get more (meaning units of production per hour) out of our people (meaning the individuals who are obliged to follow our orders)? Ironically, the management model encapsulated in this question virtually guarantees that a company will never get the best out of its people. Vassals and conscripts may work hard, but they don’t work willingly.”
13. “Over the coming decades, an accelerating pace of change will test the resilience of every society, organization and individual. Luckily, perturbations create opportunities as well as challenges. But the balance of promise and peril confronting any particular organization will depend on its capacity for adaptation. Hence the most important question for any company is this: Are we changing as fast as the world around us?”
14. “Turns out that in an age of wrenching change and hyper-competition, the most valuable human capabilities are precisely those that are least manage-able. Nerve. Artistry. Élan. Originality. Grit. Non-conformity. Valor. Derring-do. These are the qualities that create value in the 21st century. Self-discipline. Economy. Orderliness. Rationality. Prudence. Reliability. Moderation. Fastidiousness. These are the human qualities modern management was designed to foster and reward. No wonder most organizations are less resilient and inventive than the people who work for them.”
15. “Not surprisingly, most managers believe you can’t manage without managers. This is the mother of all management orthodoxies.”
16. “Highly talented people don’t need, and are unlikely to put up with, an overly hierarchical management model. Increasingly, the work of management won’t be done by managers. It will be pushed out to the periphery. It will be embedded in systems…Going forward, no company will be able to afford to waste a single iota of human imagination and intellectual power.”
17. “One can fairly describe the development of modern management as an unending quest to regularize the irregular, starting with errant and disorderly employees. Increasingly, though, we live in an irregular world, where irregular people take advantage of irregular events and use irregular means to produce irregular products that yield irregular profits.”
18. “Frederick Taylor often talked about the need for a mental revolution when he was trying to move organizations from the craft-based model to the factory model. Today we need a new mental revolution. Some companies will lead and some will follow, but we won’t be able to reinvent management for this new century without some trauma and some risk taking.”
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Kim Sykes is a marketer and content creator at Edoc Service Inc, a total virtual company