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Hamel Time

By Des Dearlove

Watching Gary Hamel raging against bureaucracy at the inaugural Insight to Impact webinar, I was pleased to see that he’d lost none of his fury and passion for management. Stuart and I have known Gary for a long time now. As two youngish, relatively fresh-faced journalists, we started compiling the Thinkers50 ranking of the world’s leading management thinkers in 2001. Gary is the only thinker to feature in every single ranking, and we knew him even before that. 

I was scrolling through the Thinkers50 archive the other day and I came across an article Gary wrote in the Financial Times back in 1995. It’s an excerpt from the introduction he wrote to the Financial Times Handbook of Management, which Stuart and I were fortunate to edit.

What struck me about the article is how current it seems even today. If you replaced a couple of the company names with more contemporary business champions – maybe switch MTV to Netflix and Sega to Epic Games, creator of Fortnite; and update the pop icon from Madonna to Billie Eilish – it’s remarkably fresh. Gary is evergreen, still railing against the stultifying effect of bureaucracy and seeking to incite (or insight) a revolution.

As he noted back in 1995: “Those who live closest to the future – the young people – are expected to acquiesce to the accumulated wisdom of older and wiser heads. Companies seldom miss the future because the future is unknowable, they miss the future because experience blinds them to their new opportunities.”

It was true then and applies equally in our current troubles, yet:

“… Many are unwilling to invest the enormous energy required to delve deeply into the emerging trends in technology, lifestyle, regulation, demographics and globalisation that point to new opportunities. But, unless one has built a compelling view of the future, one will be caught in the orthodoxies of the past.”

Hamel himself remains as compellingly irreverent and relevant and as ever. Let’s hope the revolution is finally here, and insight leads to impact where you are.

Insight to Impact is powered by Thinkers50 and Outthinker. Every six weeks we begin an interactive adventure led by one of the world’s top business thinkers, then arm you with actionable tools and a cross-industry peer group, enabled by a state-of-the-art learning platform … to help you transform insight to impact.

The Adventure “Humanocracy: How to Hack Management” is available on demand, with content from Gary Hamel, Helen Bevan, Jos de Blok, Bill Fischer and Kevin Nolan.

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