The Need to Improve Management While Building Organizations Fit For Human Beings

Gary Hamel: Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment

I agree with Gary Hamel that we need to adopt new management strategies. I happen to believe most of new strategies we need to adopt have been known for decades, we just fail to implement many of them.

He argues it is hard to retain knowledge advantages (within companies). I agree. However execution advantages it seems to me are not that difficult to maintain. Few companies actually focus on the customer and continual improvement. Toyota can be incredibly open but still few others are not willing to actually put in the effort to execute fully.

The reverse accountability idea he discusses I don’t love as much as he does. I do believe it is good to value the entire workforce more and not base decisions on HiPPOs. Accountability is a loaded term, in my opinion. Even in he talk he focuses on the “fear” – if the supervisor doesn’t fix the issue to the reporters satisfaction in 24 hours it is escalated to the next level. The process could be better, without what seems like driving in fear, to me.

I agree that the best management strategy is to adopt the thinking he captures with “you cannot build a company that is fit for the future, without building one that is fit for human beings.” The part I don’t agree with is phrase he lead that quote with: “Because I think for the first time since the industrial revolution…” isn’t right. I think Dr. Deming taught that idea to Japan in the 1950’s and as we all know Toyota adopted as the core “Respect for People” principle. That concept was important in 1950. That management idea is needed. Adopting that principle would be new for many of our organizations. But it also is true that the idea has been known for decades.

I return to this theme frequently. We don’t need many new ideas. We just need to adopt the good ideas that have been proven for decades. The new ideas are mainly just a bit of flavoring to tweak the good ideas we have had available and just chosen to ignore.

Related: Respect People by Creating a Climate for Joy in WorkManagement Advice FailuresPositivity and Joy in Work

2 thoughts on “The Need to Improve Management While Building Organizations Fit For Human Beings

  1. John,

    Thanks for sharing the video. It is truly well produced and thought-provoking.

    I never reflected on it, but in the early phases of the industrial revolution, we endeavored to put the creative genie in the bottle, focusing on controlling and specializing labor. Now we’re trying to coax the genie out.

    Of course, I believe that our means and effort at coaxing are limited by our will, our own fear, and our leadership and coaching abilities. Folks in power positions often don’t want to lose too much of their power, nor do that want to make changes and risk what they have successfully gained practicing their old (and proven) behaviors.

    You are correct, Toyota and a scant few other companies have seemed to break the code. And that code, by and large, is available to anyone who has the courage and will to apply it. Some are oblivious to it, some choose to ignore it, others choose to only apply the parts that they deem appropriate (and they fail or at least limit their success), and a few embrace the whole thing and enjoy the success.

    It’s a not uncommon theme in life in general.

    Reply

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