BOOKCASE : The Future of Management

• Gary Hamel with Bill Breen

• Harvard Business School Press

• RRP $40.99

As management thinkers go, Gary Hamel is one of the most thoughtful, and The Future of Management illustrates this superbly.
His basic premise this time? We must re-think the laws of management because the equipment with which we implement them is “groaning under the strain of load it was never meant to carry”. In other words – “management is out of date”.
Then, point by compelling point, and with the assistance of co-revolutionary Bill Breen’s stories of management innovation, Hamel builds case to fire the imagination of managers who feel “hog-tied by bureaucracy”, worried the “system is stifling innovation” and troubled by other entirely explicable organisational frustrations.
Management, argues Hamel, has stopped evolving. What ultimately constrains organisational performance is not the operating or business models, but the management model. The principles, processes and practices of management must be reinvented for our post-modern economic age.
Management innovation is at the heart of his quest to equip 21st century management pioneers. Management innovation has, Hamel argues, the unique capacity to create long-term advantages for organisations and, after establishing his case for change, he proceeds to outline the steps he thinks managers should take to “first imagine” and “then invent” the future of management.
His programme for management innovation is based on creating what he calls community of purpose, on building an innovative democracy and shooting for an evolutionary advantage – like Google’s.
To put his argument for innovative management into contemporary context Hamel suggests: “One can fairly describe the development of modern management as an unending quest to regularise 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.”
“The web is the new technology of management,” according to Hamel and its power lies in “its capacity to facilitate coordination without the stultifying effects of hierarchy and bureaucracy”. The web has evolved “faster than anything human beings have ever created – largely because it is not hierarchy”, writes Hamel. And just as the first iterations of web capability are transformed into web 2.0, so the arrival of management 2.0 is simply matter of time and innovation.
Hamel is compelling storyteller and easily draws readers into his revolutionary web of brave new thinking. But don’t be fooled. This is well constructed, cleverly supported construct for thinking differently about management. It may not be, as he argues, “the only way to build company that’s fit for the future” but it is great place to start. must-read for managers focused on tomorrow.

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