Management Moonshots — Part III

Posted by Gary Hamel on March 11, 2009

In my last post I shared ten “moonshots for management.” These were the product of a robust discussion I hosted last year which brought together 35 of the world’s most distinguished business thinkers. Herewith, the rest of the “top 25,” which I wrote about in-depth in February’s Harvard Business Review.

11. Dramatically reduce the pull of the past.
Management processes often contain subtle biases that favor continuity over change. While continuity is important, these subtle baked-in preferences for the status quo must be exposed, examined, and, if necessary, excised.

12. Share the work of setting direction.
To engender commitment, the responsibility for goal-setting must be distributed through a process where share of voice is a function of insight, not power.

13. Develop holistic performance measures.
Existing performance metrics often take scant account of the subtle, yet critical, factors that drive competitive success in the creative economy. To overcome these limitations, companies will need to create more holistic measurement systems.

14. Stretch executive time-frames and perspectives.
Compensation and incentive systems often truncate executive time horizons and skew perspectives. There is a need, therefore, to invent new incentive systems that focus management attention on creating long-term stakeholder value.

15. Create a democracy of information.
To make timely decisions that reflect the best interests of the entire company, grassroots employees need to be the best-informed individuals within the organization. In a volatile environment, the costs of information-hording are untenable.

16. Empower the renegades and disarm the reactionaries.
Traditional management systems often give a disproportionate share of power to top-level executives who have a vested interest in preserving the status quo and are eager to defend it. Instead, more power needs to be vested in those who have their emotional equity invested in the future.

17. Expand the scope of employee autonomy.
To become more adaptable and innovative, companies will have to substantially enlarge the freedom of front-line employees to collaborate, experiment, and initiate change. Management systems that systematically sacrifice freedom for discipline will have to be re-engineered.

18. Create internal markets for ideas, talent, and resources.
In general, markets are better than hierarchies at allocating resources. Companies should exploit this fact by developing market-based mechanisms for the allocation of ideas, talent and capital.

19. Depoliticize decision making.
Top-level decisions are often contaminated by hubris, nostalgia and myopia. To avoid these pitfalls, decision processes must drawn on the collective wisdom of the entire organization and be entirely transparent.

20. Better optimize trade-offs.
Existing management systems often force employees into making simplistic, all-or-nothing trade-offs, by emphasizing certain performance outcomes at the expense of others. What’s needed instead are management systems that encourage employees at all levels to subtly balance key trade-offs.

21. Further unleash human imagination.
In democratizing the tools of innovation, the Internet has unleashed a tidal wave of human creativity. Managers must learn from this, and do much more to equip employees at all levels with the tools and skills they need to be inspired business innovators.

22. Enable communities of passion.
To maximize innovation and employee engagement, management systems must facilitate the formation of self-defining communities of passion. Individuals must be given the chance to form their own work groups and choose their own colleagues based on shared goals and mutual interests.

23. Retool management for an open world.
Value-creating networks often transcend the firm’s boundaries and can render traditional power-based management tools ineffective. New management tools are needed that can help business leaders to build and mobilize these extended networks.

24. Humanize the language and practice of business.
The typical business goals of market share, profitability and growth do little to stir human hearts. Tomorrow’s management systems must give more credence to timeless human ideals, such as love, beauty, and justice, that have the power to inspire extraordinary accomplishment.

25. Retrain managerial minds.
Too often the managerial brain has a left hemisphere that’s as big a watermelon, and a right hemisphere that’s the size of a walnut. In executive education and recruitment, the traditional focus on deductive and analytical skills must be complemented by a renewed emphasis on conceptual and systems-thinking skills.

Readers, do you know of any organizations (maybe yours) that have made headway on any of these moonshot challenges—and in so doing have developed some truly distinctive management practices?

(And if you’d like to participate in a Harvard Business Review survey on these moonshots, please click here.)


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