Gary Hamel’s new book, What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation, is marketed as “an impassioned plea” to “reinvent management as we know it” and “rethink the fundamental assumptions we have about capitalism, organizational life, and the meaning of work”.
In this important book, Hamel continues the argumentation known from his 2007 bestseller The Future of Management. There, Hamel discussed the various forms of innovation – operational innovation, product innovation, strategy innovation, and, of course, management innovation. The new book continues in the same direction. His argument is that innovators “pay close attention to emerging trends”, to “the nascent discontinuities that have the potential to reinvigorate old businesses or create new ones”.
He lists five questions that can help a team to zero in on potentially important discontinuities:
- As you think about culture, politics, technology, and so on, what are the things you’ve read, seen, or experienced in recent months that have been surprising, perplexing, or disconcerting?
- Which of these anomalies seem to have some momentum behind them? When you look across the world, or back over the last few months, do you see these trends expanding in scope or accelerating? Are they blooming if not yet booming?
- If you ‘‘run the movie forward,’’ how might these discontinuities play out? What are the chain reactions that might be set in motion?
- Which of these discontinuities aren’t yet topics of conversation within your industry? Which ones were missing from the agenda of the last industry confab you attended?
- How might we exploit these discontinuities in ways that would wrong-foot our competitors?
The challenge is that people need to view the world around them with fresh eyes:
I can’t state the point strongly enough: the first and most important step for any organization intent on building a capacity for continuous, gamechanging innovation is to teach its people how to view the world around them with fresh eyes.
The book is structured around five aspects of what Hamel thinks matters now: Values, Innovation, Adaptability, Passion, and Ideology. Hamel deals with these five “big, thorny issues” quite straightforwardly, based on stories and own experiences rather than scholastic literature reviews and academic rigor, because as he says: “The average business book is a Harvard Business Review article with extra examples,” so he gives us “the pared-down, no-added-fat version” of his “manual for future-proofing your company”.
If I were to highlight two more central quotes, these would have to be:
To put it bluntly, the conversation about “where to go next” should be dominated by individuals who have their emotional equity invested in the future rather than the past. It needs to be led by individuals who don’t feel the need to defend decisions that were taken ten or twenty years ago.
And from the conclusion, with reference to Vineet Nayar:
The world has become too complex for the CEO to play the role of “visionary-in-chief.” Instead, the CEO must become a “management architect” – someone who continually asks, “What are the principles and processes that can help us surface the best ideas and unleash the talents of everyone who works here?”
“Management architect” is a great concept, I think. Hamel doesn’t provide more details about what he sees in this role, unfortunately. Nor does Nayar, as far as I can see.
Both gentlemen – and readers of their books – really should look into enterprise architecture.
As an enterprise architect, most of my emotional equity is invested in the future, but I am also deeply concerned about the present, but not so much about the past. My mission: future-proofing enterprises. My vision: The coherent enterprise which thrives on discontinuities in a continuous way.
In a recent memo for the federal CIOs, the US Federal CIO, Steven VanRoekel, launched a set of important management documents, including the so-called Common Approach, which states:
The role of an enterprise architect is to help facilitate and support a common understanding of needs, help formulate recommendations to meet those needs, and facilitate the development of a plan of action that is grounded in an integrated view of not just technology planning, but the full spectrum of planning disciplines to include mission/business planning, capital planning, security planning, infrastructure planning, human capital planning, performance planning, and records planning. Source: FEAF-II
I wonder when EA will be discussed in Hamel’s new initiative, Management Innovation eXchange. Hopefully soon.