All of the attendees at Gary Hamel’s conference on management innovation were assembled in one room (see Part 2). The entire group engaged in a dialogue during the day’s first few hours. It was quite amazing that 35 highly opinionated people could (for the most part) hold one conversation.
As the day progressed, two thoughts, almost diametrically opposed, kept running through my mind:
First: These incredibly bright people have a huge amount of creativity that will hopefully be of great benefit to business and the world. Second: None of us has a clue as to how best to deal with so many of the world’s challenges.
There was also a subtext that ran through the meeting. I raised a challenge that for the most part went unanswered. My question: “What is the purpose of management innovation? Shouldn’t it have an ethical or a moral imperative? Why innovate just for the sake of generating more profits?”
The discussion raised more questions than answers, but that was fine. The following notes should give you a sense of the dialogue.
- We are always more limited by our beliefs than by our abilities. Management was designed to drive the irregularity out of performance. It is generally ill-suited for innovation. At WL Gore, people can describe what they do but not exactly how they do it. Even the CEO says it’s not entirely clear to her. And that’s OK.
- The open secret of Whole Foods’ & Gore’s success comes out of their boundless and unfailing commitment to their value. Their ways of managing and working are at times messy and chaotic — and may appear to be inefficient — but at the end of the day, each holds fast to the principle that the company is the culture.
- Leaders must ensure that the minority voice gets heard!
- The leader of this new model must “lead from behind.”
- A leader’s single biggest challenge is to influence the company’s organizational design.
- We need to move from a mechanistic management model to a biological management model, where companies seamlessly adapt to the business world’s (rapidly accelerating) evolution
- True or false: If people have complete and timely information and feedback about the effect of their work, do they need less management?
- A quote from Mary Parker Follett, who wrote in 1924: “Leadership is not defined by the exercise of power, but by the capacity to increase the sense of power among those who are led.”
- From Hamel: “You can’t change systems systemically, you need to change a system through hundreds of experiments and surface new possibilities.”
- Strategic dialogue must start with a discussion about world-views. What do we believe?
- Seventh Generation’s recognition of the importance of understanding the essence of the consumer — who the consumer is and wants to become — was recognized as an essential management breakthrough idea.
- Why has it been so hard to actually implement innovative management ideas?
- From John Mackey: if your company is values-based, you can expect an optimal rate (such as at Whole Foods and IBM) of 15%-25% year over year profit growth.
- Process deserves as much celebration as outcomes.
- Today in business, we are least able to measure the things that are most important! We are applying 20th century metrics to a 21st century world.