Posts Tagged ‘Gary Hamel’

More Bureaucratic Than A Bureau

April 27, 2012 1 comment

Tsukasa Makino is one of the Harvard Business Review/McKinsey “Beyond Bureaucracy Challenge” winners. In “From bureaucratic, divided, passive, and exhausted to productive, creative, autonomous, and happy company”, Tsukasa tells the transformational story of Tokio Marine Nichido Systems (TMNS) from a classic, robotic, unhealthy borg into a vibrant community.

In 2005, Hideki Iwai, a system engineer, proposed a corporate culture assessment by an outside consulting firm. Management “approved” of the idea and here was the bottom line:


Taking the bull by the horns, Hideki formed the “Work Style Reform committee” to change the culture. Despite being a “committee” the communist-sounding group worked! It spawned, and followed through on, a slew of blockbuster initiatives:

The challenge presented by bullet number 4 seems daunting. How did they vanquish it? They just said “NO!”

I love finding heartwarming stories like this. They’re hard to find, but thanks to web sites like Gary Hamels’ MIX, it’s getting easier.

The Daily Question

April 25, 2012 Leave a comment

In his latest book, Gary Hamel proposes that executives and managers ask an important question every day:

It would be a refreshing change from these daily questions:

  • How can I get Wall St. off my back?
  • How can I get the board to give me a bigger bonus?
  • How can I stop my VPs from bickering with each other and kissing my ass?
  • Can I blame my poor performance on the economy, fickle customers, and a natural disaster in China?
  • How can I squeeze more productivity out of my DICs and trade nothing in return?
  • What new management position can I create to extinguish this latest fire?
  • How can I ensure that my legacy will be revered?

Hameltonian Gems

Hameltonian == Hamiltonian, get it? I know, I know – that’s the worst free-association joke you’ve ever heard.

When it comes to eloquently cracking good jokes while talking about serious matters, Gary Hamel is right up there with fellow heretical management genius Russell Ackoff. Check out these gems from Mr. Hamel’s latest book, “What Matters Now“:

  • Unfortunately, the groundwater of business is now heavily contaminated with the runoff from morally blinkered egomania.
  • It was a perfect storm of human delinquency. Deceit, hubris, myopia, greed, and denial were all luridly displayed.
  • “ninja” loans (no income, no job, no assets).
  • Among the powerful, blame deflection is a core competence.
  • As ethical truants, big business seems to rank alongside Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.
  • If life had adhered to Six Sigma rules, we’d still be slime.
  • …they seem to have come from another solar system—one where CFOs are servants rather than gods.
  • …you’d have an easier time getting a date with a supermodel or George Clooney than turning your company into an innovation hottie.
  • Unlike Apple, most companies are long on accountants and short on artists. They are run by executives who know everything about cost and next to nothing about value.


October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m not sure you should worry much about the effect your behavior has on the organization overall, because there’s lots of data that suggests the organization doesn’t care much about you. – Jeffrey Pfeffer

That quote by Stanford University’s Jeffrey Pfeffer can be found in The Purpose of Power. From one systems point of view, a corpricracy as a whole is an inflexible and conscienceless borgbot with a single purpose – to make as much money it can, in any way it can. If the borgbot needs to chop off its nose or sell its mother into slavery or bankrupt millions of people outside its walls to fulfill its mission, it will.

The fascinating thing about borgbot behavior is that it ingeniously guilts its members into compliance (“aren’t you a team player?“, “if you don’t do it, you’re selfish and you’ll hurt the company“, “how dare you question management decisions“, “you’re a disloyal ingrate for speaking out“, yada-yada-yada) and rationalizes any unethical behavior away without blinking an eye.

Like most of us, Pfeffer wishes large-scale organizations were paragons of meritocracy where competence and influence are always perfectly correlated, but he knows that’s not the case – Gary Hamel

Notice the usage of the term “large-scale organizations” in Mr. Hamel’s quote. It implies that there’s hope – in small scale organizations. It makes self-righteous BD00 wonder why borgbots are obsessed with growth. Oh, I almost forgot; to make as much money as they can in any way they can.

Priority List

September 28, 2010 Leave a comment

In his brilliant and elegant essay, “Capitalism is Dead. Long Live Capitalism“, Gary Hamel laments about the deterioration of  capitalism into those other bad, highly inequitable,  anti-American “isms”. He says:

So why do fewer than four out of ten consumers in the developed world believe that large corporations make a “somewhat” or “generally” positive contribution to society? Why is it that only 19% of Americans tell pollsters they have “quite a lot” or a “great deal” of confidence in big business?

In Gary’s opinion, the reason is……

… the unwillingness of executives to confront the changing expectations of their stakeholders. In recent years, consumers and citizens have become increasingly disgruntled with the implicit contract that governs the rights and obligations of society’s most powerful economic actors—large corporations. To many, the bargain seems one-sided—it’s worked well for CEOs and shareholders, but not so well for everyone else.

This lead-in dovetails into the idea of  a “CEO stakeholder priority list“. The UML class diagram below shows six types of corpo stakeholders. Of course, the six types were arbitrarily picked by me and there may be others on the same level of abstraction that you think are missing. Notice that the “earth” is a passive stakeholder that can’t directly and instantaneously exert pressure on the way corpricracies behave; unlike the other people-type stakeholders.

Now, check out some sample CEO stakeholder priority lists below. With 6 stakeholders  types, the number of unique lists is quite a lot: 6! = 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 = 720. I just semi-randomly concocted these three specific sample lists so that I can continue babbling on while hoping that you’re still reading my drivel.

My own unscholarly opinion is that the vast majority of CEOs, their appointed-yes-men VP teams, and their hand picked boards of directors either consciously or unconsciously operate according to the blue list (or any other instance that prioritizes the “executives” stakeholder first). My opinion aligns with Mr. Hamel’s assertion that too many corpo captains are making decisions that materially favor themselves (first) and their shareholders while disproportionately harming the other stakeholder types.

But wait, hasn’t this always been the case with capitalism? If so, why has it suddenly become fashionable for dweebs like me to vilify corpricracies that operate in accordance with the blue list?

In closing, I feel the need to repeat the best quote in Hamel’s blarticle:

There are CEOs who still cling to the belief that a company is first and foremost an economic entity rather than a social one. – Gary Hamel

To those CEOs who still think that the word “social” equates to communism, get over it and move into this century.

Cows And Babies

September 17, 2010 Leave a comment

From The End of Management –

“Corporations, whose leaders portray themselves as champions of the free market, were in fact created to circumvent that market.”

“In the relatively simple world of 1776, when Adam Smith wrote his classic “Wealth of Nations,” the enlightened self-interest of individuals contracting separately with each other was sufficient to ensure economic progress. But 100 years later, the industrial revolution made Mr. Smith’s vision seem quaint.”

“In recent years, however, most of the greatest management stories have been not triumphs of the corporation, but triumphs over the corporation.”

“The best corporate managers have become, in a sense, enemies of the corporation.”

“Corporations are bureaucracies and managers are bureaucrats. Their fundamental tendency is toward self-perpetuation. They were designed and tasked, not with reinforcing market forces, but with supplanting and even resisting the market.”

“The thing that limits us,” he (Gary Hamel) admits, “is that we are extraordinarily familiar with the old model, but the new model, we haven’t even seen yet.”

Alas, many smart people have been predicting the demise of mechanistic, coercive, command and control hierarchies for decades. But like Tom Peters said in a semi-recent tweet:

Looking on the bright side, since the herd will be practicing self-serving hierarchy till kingdom come, if you split with the cows and truly install a decentralized participative meritocracy that leverages all of the creative brains in your org instead of treating them like children, then you’ll kick ass. But, uh, how do you do that? Hah, the devil’s in the delicious details. I certainly don’t know how – I’m just a standard, run ‘o the mill RUU DIC.

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