Over the past few weeks, Gary Hamel has written two posts on his Wall Street Journal blog about his next book (the posts are here and here). The catch? He’s decided that he isn’t going to write another book. So instead, he published the CliffsNotes version of what he’d write if he was going to write a book, and started what he refers to as an “open source project” about the ideas, inviting people to add their thoughts and comments.
I thought I’d share some of my favorite bits that fit in really well with a Dark Matter Matters world view.
On what it means to be an adaptable company:
An adaptable company is one that captures more than its fair share of new opportunities… An enterprise that is constantly exploring new horizons is likely to have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. When a once successful company runs aground and starts to list, its most talented employees usually don’t stick around to bail water, they jump ship. A dynamic company will have employees who are more engaged, more excited to show up to work every day, and thus more productive… Adaptability didn’t rate very highly as a design criteria when those early pioneers set out to invent Management 1.0 a hundred years ago. But it’s essential now…
On the problems with big organizations:
Big things aren’t nimble. That’s why there aren’t any 200-pound gymnasts or jumbo-sized fighter jets… In a company comprised of a few, large organizational units, there tends to be a lack of intellectual diversity—since people within the same unit tend to think alike. Within any single organizational unit, a dominant set of business assumptions is likely to emerge over time. One way of counteracting the homogenizing effects of this groupthink is to break big units into little ones. Big units also tend to have more management layers—which makes it more difficult to get new ideas through the approval gauntlet. In addition, elephantine organizations tend to erode personal accountability.
I just finished reading your new book Tribes. Normally when I read a book that relates to the Dark Matter Matters subjects (and Tribes talks about leadership and community and all kinds of good stuff), I write a review and post it here. I’m not going to do that this time. I think the reviews on Amazon pretty well cover it, so I’ll just point people there.
Seth, I have something a bit more personal I’d like to discuss with you. If I may be so bold.
I’ve read most of your books over the years, liars, and purple cows, and dips and whatnot, and I’ve got to tell you, I think you are one smart dude. I’ve learned a lot from you.
I thought the alternative MBA program you just finished was a stroke of genius. I was totally jealous– that would have been a great way to spend six months.
But, honestly, I always get this weird, hollow feeling after reading a book of yours. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I finished this one.
OK, let me just spit it out. I think your books can be kind of superficial and tend to preach to the choir a lot.
There. I said it. I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be a hater.
You even call out haters in this book. Said that you shouldn’t let people like that get you down. So please don’t get down, like I said, I really respect your work, it’s just I think you might be limiting your audience. You could be bigger.
So in the hope that I’m being a heretic (in the way you talk about in the book), rather than a hater, I’d humbly suggest some constructive ideas.
Seth, I’d like you to write a book that will do more than rally the tribe that thinks like you. I think you have a book in you that will educate those that don’t think like you. They need your help.