Tag Archives: bureaucracy

Moving from Simple Obedience to Daring Initiative – – Humanocracy, A First Take

HumanocracyI am deep into my reading of the new book by Gary Hamel, co-authored by Michele Zanini:  Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them (just published this month).  I will present my synopsis of this book at the Sept. 4 First Friday Book Synopsis (on Zoom).

This is a very good, and important book.

The problem they are tackling is this:  organizations have a tendency – an almost inescapable tendency – to add layer after layer of bureaucracy, thus squeezing the initiative, the innovation, the very passion out of the vast majority of people within the organization.

I have long been a fan of Gary Hamel’s A Hierarchy of Human Capabilities at Work.” He wrote about this in his book What Matters Now.  And I wrote about this a few years ago in this post: Moving Folks from “Obedience’ to “Passion” – Gary Hamel’s Six Levels of Human Capabilities at Work.

Here is his hierarchy (start at the bottom, and move up):

Level 6:  Passion
Level 5:  Creativity
Level 4:  Initiative
Level 3:  Expertise
Level 2:  Diligence
Level 1:  Obedience

After Sept. 4, I will have presented synopses of all three of these books by Gary Hamel, and his co-authors

After Sept. 4, I will have presented synopses of all three of these books by Gary Hamel; two with co-authors.

He says that when people are just hired, if they are good employees, they start out with obedience, and then they move up one layer at a time.  The world changes when you get to level 4.  Now they are more and more self-directed, self-starting innovators.

This is what you want!

In this new book, he changes Level 6 from Passion to Daring.  I like that.   But the real point of this book is that the way organizaitons set up and grow into ever-larger bureaucracy, they squeeze the initiative, and crestiviy, and daring, right out of folks.

And, this is costly – costly to the bottom line, to society, and to the much better future that could be.

The authors point to a different way forward.  That way is found not in bureaucracy, but in Humanocracy.

This is a needed, and important message.

——————Hamel, Humanocracy

I hope you can join us on our Zoom meeting, Sept. 4, 7:30 am.  Here is the Zoom link:

Click here to read more about our gathering,.

Does Management Work? – It Looks Like it Does

the skilful or resourceful use of materials, time, etc.


More than a year ago, I wrote this post: Which is It? Overmanaged and Underled — OR, Undermanaged and Overled? How about Undermanaged and Underled? My conclusion then, and still now, is that yes, many companies and organizations are underled, but they are also undermanaged.

There are, of course, plenty of cases of micromanagers who squelch creativity and initiative.  But in general, people do better when there is the right kind of management.  And for every case of a company that is overmanaged, I suspect there are many more that are undermanaged.

I remember hearing a General interviewed in the early days of post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, complaining about the inability to get simple things done in Iraq.  He said (paraphrased): “Don’t ever let me complain about the bureaucracy back in the United States again.  I would give anything to have those bureaucrats here — they actually get things done!”

In today’s Slate.com, we find this:  In Defense of Middle Management:  A new study demonstrates just how important bureaucracy and paperwork really are by Ray Fisman. It summarizes the findings of a serious academic project, a new World Bank-Stanford study titled “Does Management Matter?” Here is a brief excerpt from the Fisman article:

It turns out management does matter: The consultants boosted productivity by around 10 percent by improving quality, managing inventory, and speeding up production.

The study’s authors enumerate 38 practices that define good management. These include routines to record and analyze quality defects, production and inventory tracking systems, and clear assignment of job roles and responsibilities.

These 38 practices are specific for the industry/factories studied in India that were part of the study, and include such additional items as:

The shop floor is marked clearly for where each machine should be
The shop floor is clear of waste and obstacles
Machine downtime is recorded

The complete list of 38 practices is in Table 2 of the full study, DOES MANAGEMENT MATTER? EVIDENCE FROM INDIA by Nicholas Bloom, Benn Eifert, Aprajit Mahajan, David McKenzie and John Roberts.

In the Slate article, two photos from a factory in India are worth a couple of thousand words:

Before: Flammable garbage in a Mumbai textile plant

After: Textiles at the plant have been organized and racked


The idea really is simple.  Plan the work.  Organize the work environment.  Organize the work.  Make sure everyone knows what to do when, what to do next.  “Manage.” Chances are, we could all use a little good management to help us work more effectively and efficiently.