For those not familiar with Gary Hamel’s work (there can’t be that many), there is a great short presentation over at HBR (here). This makes a good listen, touching on many of the ills inherent in early twenty-first century organisational behaviour.
Hamel is nothing if consistent in his criticism of traditional management practice, particularly its potential for negative impact in today’s knowledge based economy. I believe that he is right in his assertion that management by command and control inevitably leads to a “race to the bottom” at exactly the time when long-term prosperity is going to require a move in the opposite direction with the emphasis on innovation and agility.
I have no doubt that Hamel is right in his assertions. However with all structural changes, things are easier said than done. This is especially true for any initiative that looks to change organisational culture or values. Furthermore, the lack of credible change agents (I’m thinking about you HR!) make Hamel’s vision all the more difficult to achieve. Thinking about it, radical change is also unlikely to come from senior management in organisations, who in the majority of cases owe their success to these outdated methods that are by now hard wired into their brains.