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A New Blueprint for Organisations

12 Mar 2012

Is it time to put bureaucracy to bed? What has worked for businesses yesterday will most likely not work for businesses today or tomorrow. “Business is at crossroads and it’s time to focus on moments of truth, even if they’re uncomfortable truths” explained Gary Hamel.

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Launching his new book What Matters Now: How to win in a world of relentless change, ferocious competition, and unstoppable innovation at London Business School. Gary discussed, it is a time for businesses to adopt fundamental ideological changes to be able to sustain and compete within the marketplace. Gary Hamel, a visiting professor at the School and world-renowned business thought leader, discussed a shift in the thinking of the business world, management, innovation and the threat of capitalism.  Touching on the crisis in capitalism, Hamel, a firm believer in capitalism, recognizes that today there are firms and individuals who have tarnished the capitalist name.  There is a divide and a perception of executives versus consumers. And, with the emerging global consciousness of ethical standards, there is a lack of trust and negative perception which creates a threat to capitalism. 

How will organizations be able to maintain and adapt to a continuously changing environment? Hamel argues you cannot wait for change to start at the top and trickle down.   There appears to be a leadership gap, where innovation is stifled and opportunities are missed, due to traditional hierarchical design.  

“Do we need managers?” was a question Hamel asked the audience. Morning Star, a California based company, offered the opportunity explore an organization that functions without managers.  After ridding itself of a traditional hierarchical system, Morning Star centres itself on customer satisfaction and employee self-management.  Their structural success is based upon peer visibility, accountability and a peer due process.  If an employee decides to spend company money, their actions are made transparent to the entire organization, and they will be held accountable for their expenses, performance and outcome.

An employee-managed structure may not work for every organization but with many organizations approaching a crossroads where past business models have become irrelevant, it sheds light on the question of what matters now.  Organizations and individuals need to partake in a hard-hitting discussion on reinventing management and to rethink the assumptions we have regarding capitalism, institutions, management and life at work.