Management’s Dirty Little Secret

Posted by Gary Hamel on December 16, 2009

How would you feel about a physician who killed more patients than he helped? What about a police detective who committed more murders than he solved? Or a teacher whose students were more likely to get dumber than smarter as the school year progressed? And what if you discovered that these perverse outcomes were more the rule than the exception—that they were characteristic of most doctors, policemen and professors? You’d be more than perplexed. You’d be incensed, outraged. You’d demand that something must be done!

Given this, why are we complacent when confronted with data that suggest most managers are more likely to douse the flames of employee enthusiasm than fan them, and are more likely to frustrate extraordinary accomplishment than to foster it?

Inspired Design is Essential—and All Too Rare

Posted by Gary Hamel on November 30, 2009

In a landmark 1964 case, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the obscenity conviction of an Ohio theater owner who had screened the French film “Les Amants.” In his concurring opinion, Justice Potter Stevens concluded that while he was unable to provide a precise definition of hard-core pornography, he knew it when he saw it.

So it is with great design—we know it when we see it. Trouble is, we see way too little of it. A case in point.

Why Don’t IT Departments Give Employees More Freedom?

Posted by Gary Hamel on November 16, 2009

Do you feel hamstrung by your company’s IT policies? Are the IT tools you have at home more up-to-date than ones you’re forced to use at work? Do you wish you had more control over your IT environment at work? If so, you’re not alone.

In his recent piece for the Wall Street Journal, Nick Wingfield dared to question the totalitarian policies of the average corporate IT department–and boy-oh-boy does he make some good points.

Outrunning Change—the CliffsNotes Version, Part II

Posted by Gary Hamel on November 13, 2009

In my last posting, I summarized the first half of my next, never-to-be-published, book. Herewith, the second half, again in digest form.

Chapter 4: Strategic flexibility.

Nimble and quick beats big and beefy.

Outrunning Change—the CliffsNotes Version

Posted by Gary Hamel on October 21, 2009

I don’t know if I’ll write another book. Truth is, I’m too busy right now—and even if I found the time to churn one out, you’d probably be too busy to read it. After all, how many business books have you managed to read this year, cover to cover? According to my friends at Harvard Business School publishing, about 22 million business books were sold in 2008. If we assume the market for such books comprises 20% of the US population, or 62 million people, that means that each potential customer bought roughly 1/3 of a book last year. There are roughly 2,000 business books published each year, so the probability that you would buy my new book is roughly .35/2000 or .0175%, and the chance you’ll actually read it a fraction of that. So why bother?

Tony Nelson

Tony Nelson has 25 years senior experience in the public sector, and has worked on the management innovation agenda as part of a leadership programme for college Principals. Tony is now developing leadership with college Deans from Iraq.

He is Director of BrQthru - a consultancy focused on creating extraordinary value through people. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Arts and Chartered Management Institute and holds a MBA with a specialism in Leadership Studies

Adam Kingl

Adam Kingl is the Director of the Emerging Leaders Programme at London Business School. His areas of expertise include leadership, experiential learning, organisational culture, innovation, and high performing teams.

Prior to joining London Business School, Adam consulted to companies such as BP, De Beers, Disney, Pixar, Tesco and Zurich. He also worked in the media and entertainment industries in the USA and UK.

Steve Mostyn

Steve Mostyn is an independent consultant who works with Business Schools to develop more agile and blended ways to build executive leadership capability with corporate clients, and to help corporations build lasting executive leadership development initiatives with measurable impact.

Previously Steve was Head of Executive Development for the RBS Business School where he led the development of innovative leadership development programmes for executives within the RBS group. Prior to that, he led Executive Development for Motorola University.

What Really Kills Great Companies: Inertia

Posted by Gary Hamel on September 29, 2009

In most organizations, change comes in only two flavors: trivial and traumatic. Review the history of the average organization and you’ll discover long periods of incremental fiddling punctuated by occasional bouts of frantic, crisis-driven change. The dynamic is not unlike that of arteriosclerosis: after years of relative inactivity, the slow accretion of arterial plaque is suddenly revealed by the business equivalent of a myocardial infarction. The only option at that juncture is a quadruple bypass: excise the leadership team, slash head count, dump “non-core” assets and overhaul the balance sheet.

Organized Religion’s ‘Management Problem’

Posted by Gary Hamel on August 21, 2009

“What’s wrong with organized religion?” That’s the question I addressed at a recent conference organized by Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois. For nearly 30 years, Willow Creek has been one of America’s most progressive churches, and since 1999 it’s been running an annual a seminar for church leaders from around the world. The “Leadership Summit” features innovative pastors as well as non-church speakers. This year’s roster included Carly Fiorina, Bono, Tony Blair, Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, and a slightly nerdish business school professor.