The Future of Management by Gary Hamel and Bill Breen

The Gary Hamel fan club is disappointed. I have been sucking up every word of Gary since I first heard him in 1991. Peter Day interviewed Gary about the book on BBC GlobalBiz some weeks ago. My expectations on the new book rose even more. But now I think that the podcast was better and I am still trying to figure out what happened.

A lot of critics have been castigating Hamel for being so positive to Enron in ”Leading the Revolution”. I thought that was a ggod book, although it at parts seemed to be written by his associates rather than by himself. The book introduced a new concept for business planning, which I still think is great. And who could foresee that behind the slitzy facade of Enron were such devious fraudsters?

This book has been written ”with Bill Breen”, which I guess that Bill did most of the writing. Bill is a former editor at Fast Company. At times the books reads more like an extended FC article than a book coauthored by Hamel. Some critics say that after the Enron ”fiasco” Hamel does not dare to be as prescriptive again. The book is full of questions for the manager to consider himself.

I do think that we need to see a change in management from old-fashioned command and control to something else. Partly because of the knowledge economy, but also new generations grow up in a more open and democratic society they will not accept autocratic management.

Hamel and Breen make a fairly good case for the need for change. They then roll out ”the usual suspects”, Google, Semco and Gore to prove that new forms of management do exist. As little has been written about Gore I lapped up all about them.

They give the reason for change, they give us the exemplary cases and all the questions for the manager to think about hid/her own company. It is a bit like paint by numbers. Here are the tubs of paint, these are some ready pictures, fill in the gaps yourself.

I doubt that we are likely to see radical management innovation in the large traditional industries. There are umpteen difficulties in the transition and at least as many excuses for not making any significant change. But the book did get me thinking about how the transition might be made and I will share my thoughts in this blog.

My rating:
3 stars