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The Future of Management Hardcover – September 10, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.


If companies now innovate by creating new products or new business models...why can t they do the same in how they manage organizations? --The New York Times, December 30, 2007

Like many great inventions, management practices have a shelf life...Gary Hamel explains how to jettison the weak ones and embrace the ones that work. --Fortune, September 19, 2007

There's much here that will resonate with forward-thinking managers. --BusinessWeek, October 8, 2007 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (September 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422102505
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422102503
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on October 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When you write a book about the future of management, there are bound to be high expectations. When that book is written by one of the more celebrated management thinkers, those expectations go even higher. With that said and recognizing that it is hard to argue with success and stature. I have to say that this book left me flat. Hammel's Future of Management is a continuation on his 2000 work Leading the Revolution (LTR) which combined high impact statements with high design that reflected the height of the internet era. In many ways, the Future of Management is a more somber continuation of the ideas in LTR.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
There is an old Arab proverb: "He who speaks about the future lies even when he tells the truth".
The author makes some good points, particularly when discussing the corrosive affect of calcified corporate cultures on employee morale. But he extends his examples of Google, WL Gore and Whole Foods too far. What works for them might not work for other companies. He never makes this distinction (nor tells the reader how to identify it) and he falls into the trap of missing the difference between cause and effect (see the excellent book "The Halo Effect" to learn more about this all too common tendency amongst business management authors).
He gives some good examples of how technology can break down barriers inside of a company, such as internet enabled 'predictive markets' and their ability to help with m&a strategy. But then he goes on to suggest that company sponsored blogs where employees can vent their feelings about their employer (anonymously) might make for a healthier, more innovative workplace. Perhaps I am missing something, but I don't think this would go over too well in most workplaces.
But the real reason I can give only one star is that he never mentions the impact of different cultures on management styles. This is a gross oversight. What works in the US might not work in China, Brazil or India. I was surprised that someone writing a book with the bold title "The Future of Management" could completely overlook such an important topic, especially when our economy is becoming much more global. I would strongly suggest caution if one were to implement some of his strategies.
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Format: Hardcover
As he clearly indicates in his earlier books, notably in Competing for the Future (with C.K. Prahalad) and then in Leading the Revolution, Gary Hamel's mission in life is to exorcise "the poltergeists who inhabit the musty machinery of management" so that decision-makers can free themselves from what James O'Toole aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." In his Preface to this volume, written with Bill Breen, Hamel asserts that "today's best practices aren't good enough" and later suggests that he wrote this book for "dreamers and doers" who want to invent "tomorrow's best practices today." In this brilliant book, he explains how to do that.

In the city where I live, we have a number of outdoor markets at which slices of fresh fruit are offered as samples of the produce available. In that same spirit, I frequently include brief excerpts from a book to help those who read my review to get a "taste." Here is a representative selection of Hamel's insights:

"To thrive in an increasingly disruptive world, companies must become as strategically adaptable as they are operationally efficient. To safeguard their margins, they must become gushers of rule-breaking innovation. And if they're going to out-invent and outthink as growing mob of upstarts, they must learn how to inspire their employees to give the very best of themselves every day. These are the challenges that must be addressed by 21st-century management innovators." (Page 11)

"Many factors contribute to strategic inertia, but three pose a particularly grave threat to timely renewal. The first is the tendency of management teams to deny or ignore the need for a strategy reboot.
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