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The Future of Management Hardcover – September 10, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Though this authoritative examination of today's static corporate management systems reads like a business school treatise, it isn't the same-old thing. Hamel, a well-known business thinker and author (Leading the Revolution), advocates that dogma be rooted out and a new future be imagined and invented. To aid managers and leaders on this mission, Hamel offers case studies and measured analysis of management innovators like Google and W.L. Gore (makers of Gore-Tex), then lists lessons that can be drawn from them. He doesn't gloss over how difficult it will be to reinvent management, comparing the new and needed shift in thinking to Darwin's abandoning creationist traditions and physicists who had to look beyond Newton's clockwork laws to discover quantum mechanics. But the steps needed to make such a profound shift aren't clearly outlined here either. The book serves primarily as an invitation to shed age-old systems and processes and think differently. There's little humor and few punchy catchphrases—the book has less sparkle than Jeffrey Pfeffer's What Were They Thinking?—but its content will likely appeal to managers accustomed to b-school textbooks and tired of gimmicky business evangelism. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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The first section of the book poses a powerful question in terms of what comes next for management innovation. That is followed by an explanation of the importance of management innovation over operational, product and strategic innovation. The section challenges the reader to first imagine, and then invent the future of management. A noble task and one that the author tries to address but unfortunately does not deliver on to the degree that you would expect.
The second section of the book highlights a few case studies such as Whole Foods, WL Gore, and Google. The cases are well written and unabashedly positive highlighting few of the challenges and setbacks people might face in this journey. A few, even anonomyous failures would have been much more illustrative of the concepts Hamel is advocating.
The third and final section is perhaps the best part of the book as it starts to set up some ideas on what future managers and management might look like. Here the results unfortunately are what you might expect, to paraphrase - the future of management will look much like the internet. OK, but I have heard that before from others. Some of the most insightful parts of this section include: the notion of separating what from how, the idea of management DNA and motivation, and the key challenges he poses in terms of the challenges for the future of management. These challenges hearken back to Leading the Revolution and include:
Challenge 1 - Creating a democracy of ideas
Challenge 2 - Amplifying human imagination
Challenge 3 - Dynamically reallocating resources
Challenge 4 - Aggregating collective wisdom
Challenge 5 - Minimizing the drag of old mental models
Challenge 6 - Giving everyone a chance to opt in
The fourth section concentrates on IBM's Emerging Business Opportunities or EBO process and how the company was able to reignite its growth engine by managing new growth initiatives and taking R&D to the market. It's an interesting case study and a good way to wrap up the book.
The future of management is an ok book, more like a toned down east coast consumable version of leading the revolution. This is a book for thinkers rather than practioners. This is one of the reasons why it is not a 5 star rating from me. Hamel attempts to be somewhat Druckeresque, if that is a word, but does not pull off the deep systematic thinking that Peter Drucker did so well. Pushing this analogy, the style of The Future of Management is 80% Drucker and 20% Tom Peters. For me, Hamel's groundbreaking work is still Competing for the Future. If you are a fan of Leading the Revolution or a fan of Hamel you will buy this book and like it. If you are a reader studying the issues and challenges of management you will find that Hamel raises more questions than he answers and that many of the answers are ones that are already out there in the marketplace.
This has great information that can be applied in either traditional organizations or more progressive (in structure and methods of leadership) so should be read by anyone interested in impacting their organization.
The title says it all, "the future of management." You'll read examples of companies who are finding new (and arguably, better) ways to look after employees. Business models have changed so much in the last few decades, especially with Internet access to global markets, that you wonder how the traditional business management style has weathered the storm. I'm not suggesting that we flush the "old" system, by any means. But there are several observations of different styles that can (and should) be incorporated into the modern business manager's toolkit.