2009 World Business Forum – Gary Hamel
Posted by Orrin Woodward on October 13, 2009
Chris Brady and I had the honor to be invited as a guest bloggers to the World Business Forum in NY City at the Radio City Music Hall. The list of speakers included top economist, politicians, leadership gurus, and thought leaders. One of my favorite talks at the conference was by Gary Hamel. Mr. Hamel is a thought leader in the field of management and organizational change. Gary stated that the most important innovation in the last 100 years was the science of management. That floored me! Even bigger than the automobile, the telephone, airplanes, radio, TV, and internet was management? But as I thought more about it, I realized that he was right. How you organize your company to respond to customer needs is more important than any specific technology.
Mr. Hamel challenged the audience to rethink their vision of management. Every person in your organization must be part of the innovation process if your company will compete for the future. Like Peter Senge states, “A company’s only competitive advantage is its ability to learn faster than the competition.” Is your company a learning organization where people learn, grow and innovate? Or is it a bureaucracy where change is resisted and market conditions are denied? Talk is cheap and unless your company is protected by immoral monopoly type conditions, the market will vote on your company.
The original management revolution was led by companies like GE, GM, Proctor and Gamble and Toyota. Principles like research labs, decentralization, brand management, and kaizen led the innovation curve. Today, everyone has these management principles. The next big innovation curve is upon us, but most companies are trying to do business the old way in the new economy. It won’t work! Mr. Hamel states that change is accelerating and competition is more intense than ever. The customers have near perfect data on prices and values in the marketplace. The race is on to generate new forms of competitive advantage. Everyone is attempting to learn how to build a community that believes in, supports and is passionate about your company.
I believe that the biggest competitive advantage you can supply your customer is a trusting relationship. If a company will do all of its business with the idea of doing for the customer exactly what you would want in that situation. It is a form of the Bible’s Golden Rule applied to business. Do to the customer what you would have your business do to you if you were the customer. The only way to do this in a big company is to get everyone engaged in innovation and ownership of your company. One person or a management team cannot serve all of your customers unless you plan on staying small. Unleash the passion for excellence in everyone associated with your firm to truly capture a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
In my view of Gary’s message, a company is formed to meet needs in the marketplace. The management revolution in the past 100 years helped organize large companies that met those needs. Today with the rate of change and competition, a new way of thinking about management must be developed. Management must transform into a Leadership Revolution. I believe the future will belong to the companies who stop resisting change. Asking for government regulations, initiating legal battles, and top down control of employees/partners is a recipe for failure today. Instead, companies should embrace change, embrace the freedom of customers, and embrace their responsibility to meet the customer’s needs. Our companies must be as adaptable as we are as human beings. Is your company ready for the new management/leadership revolution? We will all know the answer to that question in the next 5 years. Here is a video of Gary Hamel talking on the management revolution. God Bless, Orrin Woodward