Gary Hamel is a world-renowned influential business thinker, a consultant, the Director and co-founder of Management Lab, and a visiting Professor at the London Business School. His newest book, Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them, is a practical guide to dismantling business bureaucracy and replacing it with a much more human-centered and effective system. He and Marcel Schwantes discuss the book and how leaders can apply the principles of ‘humanocracy’.
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- Many organizations struggle to adapt to change: it’s usually new businesses who create new business models. Gary remarks that deep change is usually episodic and crisis driven, due in part to pre-existing old bureaucratic structures. Those responsible for seeing and anticipating the future and change are at the top, and by the time an issue is big enough to cross their notice it is often too late. [8:18]
- Bureaucracy was invented for a reason and it was one of the most important human inventions. It was beneficial in bringing people together to do work at scale and improve productivity. However, like all technologies, it was a product of its time, and isn’t suited for the advanced modern world. [12:48]
- Bureaucracy was intended to maximize control, while humanocracy is aimed at maximizing contribution. There is still control and boundaries in humanocracy, while amplifying people’s capacities to grow and learn. [18:10]
- “Leaders are people who know how to make a catalytic effort with others not on the basis of positional authority, but rather through the ability to cast the vision and bring people together,” Gary says. “A leader seeks power with, not power over. If you have to use your bureaucratic power to get things done then you are eroding your real leadership capital.” Gary believes we must redefine leadership as an ability instead of a position. [25:22]
- “An organization has little to fear from the future or its competitors when it’s brimming with self-managing micropreneurs,” Marcel quotes from Gary’s book. He asks him to elaborate. Management pundits have claimed that building a large organization that is entrepreneurial at its core is impossible. Gary gives an example of a company that successfully proves them wrong. [30:33]
- Marcel asks Gary about the risks of a culture of too much humanocracy. He lists rushing into dismantling bureaucracy too quickly. Though imperfect, Gary says, bureaucracy has many benefits. Modern organizations need paradoxical characteristics, such as extreme discipline and control but enormous freedom. Gary believes human beings are good at handling paradox. To him, the definition of a successful organization is “one that is constantly optimizing and redefining those trade offs in the best possible way.” [40:05]
- Marcel asks Gary why he thinks some leaders still lead through fear. In the industrial age, the goal was to turn humans into literal machines, Gary posits. German sociologist Max Weber said, “Bureaucracy succeeds to the extent it is dehumanized,” so in a bureaucracy there was no room for what makes us human, including love. Gary believes that the problems of the modern world require every ounce of human initiative and ingenuity to be solved. An assumption exists that love and accountability are mutually exclusive, he adds. “Real love understands that for people to succeed, there must be discipline.” [48:12]
- Gary Hamel on LinkedIn | Twitter
- Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them
- Frances Frei: Unleashing Empowerment Leadership (Ep #59)
- Jay Perry: Leading by Example (Ep #63)
- Kevin Hancock : Finding Your Authentic Voice (Episode #53)
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