Business Gurus

Gary Hamel

Gary Hamel is author of The Future of Management, visiting professor at London Business School, co-founder of the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX), and has been described by The Wall Street Journal as ‘The World’s Most Influential Business Thinker’. He currently ranks 15th in the Harvard Business Review's list.

"You can’t have innovation unless you have a dream and unless you’re willing to try things that other people say are a little bit stupid."

Hamel's advice can be broken up into four phases:

Phase 1: Embrace New Challenges

Although this might seem like an obvious piece of advice, committing yourself completely and with passion to any new challenges that arise is guaranteed to increase your levels of productivity and creativity. Hamel explains that it is not just enough to work hard anymore. You have to be dedicated, take responsibility for your own learning, use your initiative and creativity and you have to be passionate about what you are doing in order to succeed.

"Submit yourself to a worthy problem.

"Hamel explains that one of the causes of stunted success is that we assume it is already as good as it gets. We don’t look for further routes for progression because we have too much faith in the old system. To be passionate about something is the only way that you will be able to see a chance for development and take it through to a successful result.

Phase 2: Deconstruct Management Orthodoxies

We need to challenge ourselves to create the change that we desire around us. By following a system that has worked for decades and by believing that the same system is going to work in the future, we miss out on opportunities.

"What is true in a timeless way and what is true for now?"

Question whether you can realistically change something, or if you are bound by it and have to work around it. Hamel suggests that we confront issues that are holding us back by asking if it is a law of physics or a result of our own choices. If society has made it that way then society can recreate it to allow for progression, but it might be up to you to get the ball rolling.

Phase 3: Search for New Principles and New Exemplars

Approach something that is standing in your way and tackle it logically. Every principle is here as a solution to something, so ask what that initial problem was and whether it still needs to be solved. If the original model no longer works then it is time for a new solution and a new principle."

Our principles typically correspond to a common problem.

"Hamel explains that innovation is directly linked to our need to solve problems, but that a new problem cannot be solved using an old principle, therefore creating a need for an entirely new approach.

Phase 4: Experiment, Learn and Adapt

You might have heard of this advice many times before in business school or self-help books, but Hamel explains it in a new light, suggesting that it is innovation and management that is at the crux of successful new developments. By following these first 3 phases the final phase is allowed to succeed. Repeated experiments in a controlled and managed environment are much more likely to succeed, but unless you are willing to learn from the mistakes highlighted in the experiment and adapt to accommodate them there is no progress.

"There are too many rules to allow spontaneous experimentation to happen. You need an organisation that empowers people in new ways."

Hamel demonstrates that individuals working for themselves now have more opportunities than those working for a large corporation because they have access to all the tools needed for creativity and yet they have more freedom to implement them than those constrained to company policy.

"Today it's resourcefulness, not resources, that drives competitive outcomes. Creativity doesn't always beat big, but that's the way to bet."

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