Gary Hamel on management for the 21st Century

In the aftermath of the credit crunch people are thinking about the way banks work, the way financial markets operate, and the values and purposes of the companies that use those markets.

And some of the big management thinkers are beginning to put forward ideas that challenge many of the assumptions that have dominated the way business has worked for the past several decades.

In this progamme Peter Day hears from management guru Gary Hamel and gets his thoughts on the future of capitalism.

I only just got around to listening to this podcast, an interview with Gary Hamel. The title is perhaps a bit misleading, although Hamel did make me pause for thought in light of the #occupywallstreet movement. Is this what he meant by consumers mobilising?

However, this podcast actually contains a broader discussion about the difference between business in the 20th Century and the needs of the 21st Century. This isn’t just about “Capitalism”, but actually about why and how organisations are organised and managed. The active role of the citizen-consumer is also important and themes such sustainable profitability.

Critically he highlights the challenges this creates for large, legacy organisations built on 20th Century management principles. The practice of management is firmly in the sights of Hamel and he doesn’t think academic management theorists will have the answers we need.

He mentions the example of The Morning Star Company, where:

“Our company is operated by colleagues without titles or a hierarchy of unilateral authority. Authority relative to other colleagues’ activities is lateral, with our Mission as the guiding principle of action. Although we have grown significantly, we would like to maintain a culture of individual responsibility and self-management. A colleague’s influence and success at Lucero Farms is relative to such colleague’s integrity, competency, effort, persistence and straight-forward persuasiveness.”

This, he suggests, is a model of management for the 21st Century.

Thinking about this example, if you step back for a moment to reflect on the technology changes and human events going on around us right now, then they suddenly stop being isolated phenomenon and instead you realise they are all taking place on the same backdrop.