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Start We recommend: What Matters Now
31 January 2013

We recommend: What Matters Now

Estimated reading time Time 3 to read

New book recommendation: today we are pleased to present Gary Hamel’s “What Matters Now”.

The most respected business innovation thinker writes about the fundamental issues that determine today whether a company will be successful or will die.  The response revolves around five fundamental issues: Values, Innovation, Adaptability, Passion, Ideology. The book summarizes years of research and case histories about what does it mean to innovate in management.

The book aggregates the keys for innovative management around 5  big concepts:

1) Values: Capitalism and corporations have lost respect. To recover it, we have to establish new principles, such as: in the long run, interests of shareholders and society at large will converge; the social legitimacy of a company cannot be taken for granted; citizen and consumers expect  companies not only to be socially responsible but also socially entrepreneurial; problems are too big now and corporations need to associate themselves to NGOs and governments to solve them.

2) Innovation:  Hamel divides innovative companies in 4 families: Rockets (very new business models) such as Gilt Group, Hulu, Spotify, which will be less innovative as they grow; Laureates (very good innovating, but only in their specific field) such as GE, Cisco, Microsoft, Samsung; Artistes (creative companies) such as Ideo, BMW Design Works, born to be innovative; Born Again Innovators (old companies which realized they had to change) such as P&G, IBM and Ford. Hamel proves that even very conservative companies can learn to innovate  and includes a deconstruction of Apple and what we learn from it.

3) Adaptability: an adaptable company can take advantage of more than its fair share of opportunity. It is more proactive. It is constantly exploring new horizons. To build resilience is fundamental. To future-proofing a company, Hamel suggests:  anticipation  (figure out the inevitable, learn from the fringe of the market, rehearse alternate futures); intellectual flexibility (challenge assumptions, invest in genetic diversity, encourage debate and dialectic thinking); strategic variety (build a portfolio of new strategic options, build a magnet for great ideas, minimize the cost of experimentation); strategic flexibility (disaggregate the organization, create real competition for resources, multiply the sources of funding for new initiatives); structural flexibility (avoid irreversible commitments, invest in flexibility); resilience-friendly values (embrace a grand challenge, embed new management principles, honor web-inspired values).

4) Passion: Hamel suggests a new hierarchy of human capabilities at work: minimum level obedience, then diligence, then expertise, then initiative, then creativity and at the top we have passion. But you cannot order people to be creative or passionate. You can only try to unleash these values in your people. As a boss, you need to inspire passion.

5) Ideology: The case of W.L. Gore & Associates , a company without hierarchy, proves consistent success can be achieved with no bosses at all. The case of Morning Star (a tomato process company based in Sacramento, proves how a company with no management, where no one is payed to say to someone else what to do and to then check if this has been done) can grow double digit for 20 years and be very profitable.

Watch the author himself summarizing the book in 5 minutes, in this video.

Dr. Gary P. Hamel is an American management expert. He is a founder of Strategos, an international management consulting firm based in Chicago. Hamel is the originator (with C. K. Prahalad) of the concept of core competencies. He is also the director of the Woodside Institute, a nonprofit research foundation based in Woodside, California. He is a visiting Professor of Strategic Management at London Business School. He was formerly a Visiting Professor of International Business at the University of Michigan and at Harvard Business School. In 2008, the Wall Street Journal has ranked Gary Hamel as one of the world’s most influential business thinkers, and Fortune magazine has called him “the world’s leading expert on business strategy” (Wikipedia).


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