Gary Hamel

We must find a way to reap the blessings of bureaucracy — precision, consistency, and predictability — while at the same time killing it.

Gary Hamel

In most organizations the costs of bureaucracy are largely hidden. Our accounting systems don’t measure the costs of inertia, insularity, disempowerment, and all the other forms of bureaucratic drag. Nowhere do we capture the costs of a management model that perpetuates a caste system of thinkers (managers) and doers (everyone else), that regards human beings as mere “resources,” that values conformance above all else, … [ Read more ]

What We Learned About Bureaucracy from 7,000 HBR Readers

We recently asked members of the HBR community to gauge the extent of “bureaucratic sclerosis” within their organization using our Bureaucracy Mass Index (BMI) tool.  Since then, we’ve received over 7,000 responses from a diverse group of participants. Here are our initial takeaways.

Assessment: Do You Know How Bureaucratic Your Organization Is?

How pervasive is bureaucracy in your organization? How much time and energy does it suck up? To what extent does it undermine resilience and innovation? Which processes are more trouble than they’re worth? To find out, take the assessment below. At the end of it, you’ll see how your results compare to other readers’.

Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini

Today’s organizations were simply never designed to change proactively and deeply—they were built for discipline and efficiency, enforced through hierarchy and routinization. As a result, there’s a mismatch between the pace of change in the external environment and the fastest possible pace of change at most organizations. If it were otherwise, we wouldn’t see so many incumbents struggling to intercept the future.

Build a Change Platform, Not a Change Program

It’s not you, it’s your company. Management Innovation eXchange founders Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini believe that continuous improvement requires the creation of change platforms, rather than change programs ordained and implemented from the top.

Editor’s Note: I found this article to be a bit empty and unconvincing, but perhaps you will disagree.

Gary Hamel

There will always be advantages to size and scope, but the industrial company was built for optimization, not innovation.

Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad

The resource allocation task of top management has received too much attention when compared to the task of resource leverage.

Nine Ways to Identify Natural Leaders

The need to empower natural leaders isn’t an HR pipe dream, it’s a competitive imperative. But before you can empower them, you have to find them.

Gary Hamel

…most companies devote much more energy to optimizing what is there than to imagining what could be. We need to create constituencies for “What Could Be.”

Gary Hamel

…in the long term the most important question for a company is not what you are but what you are becoming.

Gary Hamel

Of course, innovations are exceptions because the system is built for something else; the system is built for perpetuation, control, and efficiency…To encourage innovation, to create a real constituency for What Could Be, companies need to unleash ideas, passion, and commitment across the company. We have to move from innovations as exceptions; move beyond innovation as a specific role or structure, beyond innovation as a … [ Read more ]

Gary Hamel

A new sense of direction doesn’t come from a few smart people, who have all been in the company for 20 years, getting together and thinking about it. You have to dramatically increase the strategic variety that’s there, create thousands of new ideas out of which you can look for new themes and directions. And then the role of top management is to be the … [ Read more ]

Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad

An organization’s capacity to improve existing skills and learn new ones is the most defensible competitive advantage of all.

Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad

There is an important distinction between barriers to entry and barriers to imitation.

Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad

Competitive innovation works on the premise that a successful competitor is likely to be wedded to a recipe for success. That’s why the most effective weapon new competitors possess is probably a clean sheet of paper. And why an incumbent’s greatest vulnerability is its belief in accepted practice.

Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad

In many companies, business unit managers are rewarded solely on the basis of their performance against return on investment targets. Unfortunately, that often leads to denominator management because executives soon discover that reductions in investment and head count—the denominator—“improve” the financial ratios by which they are measured more easily than growth in the numerator: revenues. It also fosters a hair-trigger sensitivity to industry downturns that … [ Read more ]

Gary Hamel

Most companies strive to maximize shareholder wealth—a goal that is inadequate in many respects. As an emotional catalyst, wealth maximization lacks the power to fully mobilize human energies. It’s an insufficient defense when people question the legitimacy of corporate power. And it’s not specific or compelling enough to spur renewal.

Gary Hamel

While hierarchy will always be a feature of human organization, there’s a pressing need to limit the fallout from top-down authority structures. Typical problems include overweighting experience at the expense of new thinking, giving followers little or no influence in choosing their leaders, perpetuating disparities in power that can’t be justified by differences in competence, creating incentives for managers to hoard authority when it should … [ Read more ]