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Gary Hamel, Management 2.0

March 9, 2012

Gary Hamel Linkage GILD Sometimes blunt is the best way to deliver a message. As someone who has been writing and speaking about the same management issues for three decades, Gary Hamel is not about to sugar coat his thoughts. “We all know our organizations are pretty much crap when it comes to change,” he says. “They were never built to change. They were built for stability, to eke out a little more efficiency and a little more productivity year by year by year.”

That honesty is the reason why we like him so much and why we enjoy partnering with Gary in our work—for example, last year, Gary was a faculty member at our Global Institute for Leadership Development.

In an interview with Financial Times reporter Andrew Hill, Gary is so insistent that we are on the cusp of the business transformations he has long predicted, that he is “willing to bet anybody a case of champagne” that “we are going to see a greater revolution in how companies are run and managed over the next decade than we’ve seen over the last 100 years.”

Throughout his career, Gary has pushed many ideas, including the dismantling of hierarchies, the value of diverse teams, and the need for senior executives to listen to younger employees. His trademark idea of “core competencies” – developed with the late C.K. Prahalad – certainly helped change the shape of companies in the 1990s. Yet most companies today still operate with single leaders at the top pushing information and responsibilities downward—in similar ways to how things were done by the companies Gary worked with decades ago.

Even knowing that, Gary believes that change is now inevitable. And for a number of good reasons, including:

  1. “Companies are up against a set of unprecedented challenges that are going to demand unprecedented solutions.”
  2. Knowledge has become a commodity, freeing companies to be more creative and flexible.
  3. A new digital generation believes every idea should “compete on an equal footing” and “they believe that what really should matter is your contribution, not your credentials.”
  4. Social media is subverting traditional management. Gary says managers first used the Internet to “inform” their teams (“Here’s the policy, here’s the price”). Now they are using it to “involve” staff, connecting all parts of the organization and sharing best practices.

According to Gary, the next step will be to “invert” the hierarchy. “Now we have the new tools, we have ways of aggregating human wisdom that we just didn’t have [before]. And so what happened in Egypt, what happened in Tunisia – versions of this are happening in every company.”

For more of Gary Hamel’s thoughts on the future of management, read the full Financial Times interview.

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