Business management methods have recently come under fire because of the America's waning dominance in the business sector, as China and India have quickly risen and provided stiff competition. In his scintillating work, The Future of Management, Gary Hamel, London Business School management consultant and professor, opines about how technology has permanently altered the way that businesses and organizations operate. Hamel has been touted by many critics to be the most iconoclastic yet influential business philosophers in the world today, as he has worked with many leading businesses on the world stage with regards to management structure. He has penned seventeen articles for the Harvard Business review, and has published seminal books in the field that have been translated into over twenty five languages.
Hamel's The Future of Management was published during an epoch when American business when American companies have been confronted by a new wave of competition from countries such as India and China as well as from historical competition from Western Europe and Japan. Companies have hitherto been managed according to antiquated management paradigms and conventions devised and implemented centuries ago. Management, Hamel argues, must shift according to modern contingencies rather than remain tethered to outdated edict, as management innovation--over technology or a business' access to resources or capital--serves as the only way for a company to ascend to the top and become a business titan. and As the co-founder of the Management Innovation Lab, Hamel penned this work in order to provide an outline for business leaders within the context of modernity to confront this avalanche of competition through the so-called "technology of management." Hamel asks why companies in America cannot change business management practices in the same why that companies innovate by creating new business paradigms or products. He calls for the need for business managers to take a more modern approach to business management in order to ensure that American companies stay on top and defeat their global business competitors. However, Hamel argues that such a vision requires business managers to reorient their business' management paradigm away from the command-and-control style to one that is more imbricated within a networked paradigm of business organization. The onset of two respective world wars during the twentieth century in conjunction with the process of industrialization spawned a business management model hierarchy that both the military and business shared. As such, as the Digital Age has progressed, so Hamel inquires whether or not the internet and the consequences it has spawned has propelled a paradigm shift in how people think about and process both community and information.
Hamel criticizes three major companies that he believes function as portents of how the future of business in America will become: W.L. Gore & Associates, which is a privately-owned company that is credited with inventing Gore-Tex; Whole Foods Market; and Google. Whole Foods Market has hitherto organized itself into eight distinct categories within individual wholesale stores. These eight teams within the individual stores were charged with the mission of ameliorating the quality of food that Americans consumers. As such, the teams retains the right to fire and hire their respective members, and so they were given some latitude regarding what items to put on their shelves and how to effectively manage their stores overall. The performance numbers and compensation, however, is dependent on group rather than individual performance. As such, Whole Foods retains the autonomy to cater to the customers while also enhancing its profits . front-line employees retain the ability to effectively respond to shifting consumer tastes of tenuous shoppers is palpable and potent. Companies that have a more hierarchical structure usually results in management only addressing problems once the problems are ubiquitous and trenchant and thus way too pricey to fix.
Gore, which was founded in Delaware, business management teams are far smaller and focused on pursuing novel ideas because self management has given them such latitude. Gore products have been cited to be in a vast array of items including surgical meshes that have been implanted into medical patients as well as in space suits donned by astronauts working for NASA. Employees thus retain the freedom to pursue their own original ideas and are thereby granted permission to chafe against those who are in power above them. Unfortunately, Hamel argues, companies that are organized in this fashion directly undermine the sentiment that a manager within a business hierarchy is above the researcher.
Hamel's work climaxes in his discussion of Google and how Google creates small teams of intelligent individuals who want to pursue ideas that are unequivocally outside of the box from a business management perspective. Google indeed embraces the so-called 70-20-10 rule, which suggests that a business should allocate approximately seventy percent of its engineering resources to the fundamental business itself; twenty percent of its resources should be devoted to services for the purpose of expansion; and ten percent to so-called fringe or peripheral ideas. What is commendable in this section is the fact that Hamel does not fully support Google in its ability to wholly dominate the media headlines. Hamel asserts that while Google retains an innovative approach to business management, it has hitherto failed to expand outside of the search-driven advertising paradigm. Despite the litany of shortcomings that the Google business has, it is clear that there is a general consensus that employees of the lauded company should never be treated like they are ignorant children who must have their freedom constricted. Indeed, employees deal with the needs of the customers most directly, which grants them the power and agency with regards to the services and products that are necessary. Such a suggestions indicates that less business managers are necessary, and companies like Google need a more centralized process in order to fully govern a business organization. Interestingly, major companies such as IBM are experimenting with the ideas Hamel throws out in this cogent work, which has encouraged researchers and to render certain decisions about future projects without getting the orders from management self.
American companies retain capacity to balance both centralized, business management control and grassroots initiatives, along with a balance between yielding quarterly profits and pursuing well-liked and noble pursuits. As such, the results could both a management model and system that competitors would struggle to emulate around the globe. For example, Chinese companies and businesses would find it both difficult and almost impossible to appropriate American business paradigms that undermine their stringent brand of top-down business management predicated on both Confucian and Maoist principles. While Hamel's work is both insightful and innovative, it fails to galvanize a large audience that subscribes to the principles and postulations articulated therein. One explanation for this lack of attractiveness is the fact that Hamel argues for the utility of managers in businesses and organizations. While management to an extent and some centralized processes are still necessary in order to prevent businesses from spiraling into chaos, the best organizations and businesses, according to the author, are those that can innovate at the micro and macro levels rather than merely being run from above. Rather than assuming that business management is dead, Hamel cogently demonstrates that that is not true. Rather, the author underscores how business management represents the elixir that morphs technological innovation as well as business paradigms into business prosperity. Hamel should be lauded for his emphasis placed on how twenty-first century business management systems will become similar to the Internet: transparent, reliant on honesty and personal integrity, democratized, peer pressure for coordination and order, and financially self-interested. While such a notion seems far-fetched, Hamel nonetheless presents the information in a thoughtful and organized manner in order to argue that only the most adaptable management systems will ensure the survival of business within the context of modernity.
Hamel's work contributes to a burgeoning corpus of literature on modern business management systems by treating businesses as an organisms that must be able to adapt to modern contingencies in order to survive (Perkins, 2015). Survival can only happen if businesses are effectively organized and managed accordingly. Unfortunately, the majority of American businesses have not evolved fully, so business managers must find ways to reconfigure organizations in the same way that humans and human societies have exhibited their adaptability. Decentralized decision-making, diversity, natural selection, and experimentation rather than control from above are the defining characteristics that will allow businesses to thrive in the modern era. Hamel's other landmark book entitled What Happens Now expounds on the practice blueprint Hamel discusses in The Future of Management, as he articulates an ardent plea for businesses to reinvent management in order to create companies and organizations that are adapted to modern contingencies and thus are "fit for the future." Like his other articles and works, What Matters Now is not merely a manual for business managers to make small changes to management approaches. Rather, it forces managers to rethink fundamental assumptions about organizational life in business, capitalism, and the true meaning of work. Business leaders today must face a modern world where the unprecedented and the far-fetched have increasingly become the norm in the business world.
Hamel, G. (2007). The future of management. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
Perkins, D.L. (2015). Book review: The future of management, Gary Hamel. The Business Owner. Retrieved June 20, 2015 from http://www.thebusinessowner.com/business- guidance/management/2008/09/the-future-of-management-by-gary-hamel
Timmons, H. (2007). India, a stirring giant, is the new place to see and be seen. The New York Times. Accessed June 19, 2015 from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/13/business/worldbusiness/13visit.html