Bookcase: What Matters Now

• By Gary Hamel
• Jossey-Bass
• RRP $37.99

How to overcome the limitations of today’s management practices without losing the benefits they confer – that is, if not the question, certainly the goal. It would not, suggests insightful management thinker and writer Gary Hamel, make sense to find cure for our organisational insularity and inertia, if “the side effects were imprudence and inefficiency”.
What Matters Now is, at least in management literary genre terms, descriptively and delightfully composed case for seriously re-thinking how managers manage. Why should they? Because, says this very thoughtful author and management professor, managers are “too easily satisfied” with their below acceptable organisational performance.
Hamel, the author of The Future of Management, which he wrote back in 2007, thinks few managers are entirely content with the way their enterprises work, but they are not “outraged” by this reality when, he says, they should be.
Managers should be incensed by the “poisonous politicking, the squandered creativity, the debilitating cynicism, the ignoble values, the ethical shortcuts, the executive egomania and the strategic myopia” that more often than not infects their organisations.
Hamel bemoans the fact managers are insufficiently incensed to commit to creating something better, for themselves and for their organisations. He concedes that even he was “seldom as indignant, or as hopeful”, as he should have been in his 35 years as manager and business professor observing organisational life.
So what, based on his observations and personal experiences, does matter now? What are the fundamental challenges that will determine whether an organisation will “thrive or dive” in the years ahead?
According to Hamel there are five issues contemporary managers should consider paramount. They are values, innovation, adaptability, passion and ideology, each one of which is wisely dealt with in its own section of five chapters. It helps that not only is his reasoning astute and soundly based but his prose is delightful and his story therefore compelling.
The issues he identifies are “big and thorny” and to tackle them managers must venture beyond the “familiar precincts of management-as-usual”. The reader does not, however, have to equip herself for hard slog through 25 chapters in 288 pages. They are mostly short and, as Hamel says, “you can dip in and out as you like, depending on your interests. It’s not seven-course banquet; it’s tapas bar.”
For my money this book is joy to read with scrumptious phrases like “Shakespearean catalogue of moral turpitude” and “a roster of make-or-break management moonshots” and host of others.
Reading What Matters Now should, at the moment, matter most to most managers.

Visited 10 times, 1 visit(s) today
Close Search Window