Tag Archives: #businessbooksynopses

Humanocracy by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini – Here are My Seven Lessons and Takeaways

HumanocracyBureaucracy: noun — a system of administration marked by officialism, red tape, and proliferation (Merriam-Webster)…
Our starting premise. Across the world, organizations are disabled by bureaucracy — they are inertial, incremental, and inhuman. — The premise of this book is that most of these choices can and must be revisited.
These companies were built, or in some cases rebuilt, with one goal in mind — to maximize human contribution. … The goal of humanocracy is to create an environment in which everyone is inspired to give their best.
One of our primary goals in this book is to lay out a blueprint for turning every job into a good job. Rather than deskilling work, we need to upskill employees.
As we’ve argued throughout this book, the shift to humanocracy requires radical change—in individuals, teams, and the core processes by which our organizations are run.
Bureaucracy was invented by human beings, and now it’s up to us to invent something better.
The question at the core of bureaucracy is, “How do we get human beings to better serve the organization?” The question at the heart of humanocracy is, “What sort of organization elicits and merits the best that human beings can give?”
The goal of humanocracy is to create an environment in which everyone is inspired to give their best.
While veteran leaders may… reflect a world that no longer exists.
From Humanocracy, Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini


At the September Frist Friday Book Synopsis, I presented my synopsis of the new book Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini.  (Harvard Business Review Press, 2020).  It is a good and important book; a true call to change things.

Here are some of the highlights from my synopsis presentation.

What is the point of this book?  Anything that takes away the true, full contribution of people is stifling and harmful.  Bureaucracy can do that, and thus it can be, and frequently is, deadly.  We need…HUMANOCRACY! 

I always ask, Why is this book worth our time?  Here are my three reasons for this book:

#1 – This book is a terrific overview of the organizational shifts over the last many decades. You will learn needed history.
#2 – This book is filled with examples of success and failure.  You will see their argument through the examples.
#3 – This book provides a survey of the literature, but is written for the lay practitioner (the non-academic). You will understand the progression (regression?) of organizational structure, and grasp why we are where we are now.

I always include numerous highlighted passages in my synopsis handouts.  Here are some of the best passages I highlighted from the book:

• Bureaucratic organizations are inertial, incremental, and dispiriting. In a bureaucracy, the power to initiate change is vested in a few senior leaders. When those at the top fall prey to denial, arrogance, and nostalgia, as they often do, the organization falters. That’s why deep change in a bureaucracy is usually belated and convulsive. Bureaucracies are also innovation-phobic.
• While entrepreneurial enclaves like Silicon Valley are important, we need to find ways to turn up the entrepreneurial flame in every organization.
• While there may be a finite number of routine jobs to be performed in the world, there’s no limit on the number of worthwhile problems that are begging to be solved. Viewed from this vantage point, the threat that automation poses for employment depends mostly on whether or not we continue to treat employees like robots.”
• We are defined by the causes we serve. …At some deep level, we know that life is too short to work on inconsequential problems.
• In this maelstrom, the most important question for any organization is this: Are we changing as fast as the world around us? For most organizations, the answer is no.
• There’s no secret about what drives engagement. From Douglas McGregor’s The Human Side of Enterprise to Dan Pink’s Drive, the formula hasn’t changed in sixty years: purpose, autonomy, collegiality, and the opportunity to grow. …It seems that every generation rediscovers the essential elements of human engagement and then does nothing.
• While veteran leaders may have the benefit of experience, they’re weighed down by legacy beliefs. Many of their assumptions about customers, technology, and the competitive environment were forged years or decades earlier, and reflect a world that no longer exists.
• The question is, how much bureaucracy could be eliminated without sacrificing organizational performance? The answer: more than you think.
• We have an obligation to pay it forward. A living wage, equal pay, respect for diversity, parental leave, flextime, health-care coverage—these are worth fighting for, but should we aim still higher? We think so.
• We need a new organizational paradigm—one in which human beings are no longer viewed as “resources” or “capital.” We must also reframe the problem — the goal is to maximize contribution, not compliance. And we need to embed new human-centric principles in every structure, system, process, and practice. If we’re serious about creating organizations that are fit for human beings and fit for the future, nothing less will do.
• Bureaucracies are run not by inventors but accountants, not by builders but administrators. In a large company, only a fraction of employees are active members of what Phelps evocatively calls the “imaginarium.”
• In a bureaucracy, megawatts of emotional energy get wasted on petty battles, data gets weaponized against adversaries, collegiality gets shredded by zero-sum promotion tournaments, and decisions get corrupted by artfully concealed self-interest. …To change all this, to replace bureaucracy with meritocracy, we must do four things: decontaminate judgments about merit, better align wisdom and authority, match compensation to contribution, and build natural, dynamic hierarchies.
• As Thomas Kuhn argued more than a half-century ago, we are prisoners of our paradigms. As Kuhn observed, “All significant breakthroughs are break-‘withs’ old ways of thinking.”
• We can do better than this, and we must. By embracing the principles and practices of humanocracy, we can build organizations that are as resilient, creative, and passion-filled as the people who work within them. …Most importantly, it will turn every job into a good job. …Freeing the human spirit — that’s the promise of humanocracy, and with grit and determination, you can claim that promise for yourself, for your team, and for your organization. 

Here are a few of the important points and principles from the book: 

  • The hierarchy of work work-related capabilities:
  • Level 6 – Daring
  • Level 5 – Creativity
  • Level 4 – Initiative
  • Level 3 — Expertise
  • Level 2 — Diligence
  • Level 1 – Obedience
  • Hallmarks of humanocracy
  • zero distance between employees and customers (Haier)
  • very little friction within the organization– people have permission: to spend money;’ to innovate; to try (and fail);
  • provide freedom for peer pressure in a good way – employees are held accountable by team members and colleagues (and customers), not bosses or supervisors (more a network than a hierarchy) 
  • Think, and act, like a Hacker – Become a “Hacktivist”
  • Could rebel hackers have the same dramatic impact on management they’ve had on software? Yep. …To be a hacker you have to get a basic thrill from solving problems, sharpening your skills, and exercising your intelligence. 

I added this, upon reflection: A thought for those of us who work by ourselves; or in very small companies –you’ve established your own little fiefdom of bureaucracy, whether you know it or not… (You may be your own bureaucratic nightmare!)

  • innovation comes from many, many ideas
  • these ideas have to do with problems to solve — there’s no limit on the number of worthwhile problems that are begging to be solved.
  • So…schedule your own humanocracy schedule into each week – with time (and ritual/designed activity) for problem identificaiton, and idea generation
  • And here are my Seven Lessons and Takeaways:

#1 – The future belongs to those with the best next ideas. You need a lot of ideas, from anyone and everyone, to find the best ideas. – (Since game-changing business ideas are rare, the probability of coming up with a breakthrough strategy depends on an organization’s capacity to generate a large number of strategic options).
#2 – In order to find the best ideas, everyone has to be free of bureaucracy that stifles their ideas.
#3 – In order for people to come up with such ideas, they have to be valued as human beings, and set free – set free to think, to ponder, to try (and fail), and to make some money in the process. – (The starting point is to acknowledge that everyone, whatever their role or title, deserves the opportunity to cultivate their creative gifts.)
#4 – You need to both exploit and explore; or explore and exploit; as you explore some more.
#5 – Start with yourself. – (The question is, how do you change the system when you don’t own it, when you’re not a senior vice president, or even a manager? The first step is to change what’s inside of you. To change your organization, you must first change yourself. This means actively committing ourselves to the ideals of human agency, dignity, and growth. To varying degrees, bureaucracy makes assholes of us all. Getting woke means more than bashing “the system”; it means doing soul repair in the areas where bureaucracy has eaten away at our humanity).
#6 – Basically; put the wisdom of crowds to work in the best way possible. – (“Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”).
#7 – And, reluctantly, a warning – starting from scratch might be better. But, beware – don’t kid yourself; that too will end up growing into (building into) a bureaucracy. Humanocracy will not come easily…

I think this book is absolutely worth your time.  It basically confirms what we know, but do not want to face:  there is an almost inevitable movement toward greater bureaucracy within organizations.  Bureaucracy will just happen; will most definitely develop.  Building a Humanocracy takes intentional work, and perpetual, diligent protection.  It will take a lot of work to keep a humanocracy at work.


You can watch a video of my synopsis by clicking here.

And, you will be able to purchase an audio recording of my presentation, along with my synopsis handout, soon from this page on our web site:  newest additions.  Browse through synopses of many, many books at the “Buy Synopses” tab at the top of this page (search by title).

Here are my video presentations from our September events: The Color of Law & Humanocracy, and How to Be an Antiracist

My life has spun out of control. Call it what you will; productivity challenges is one thing to call it. But I have not handled the current pandemic and national unrest as well as I should have.  Thus, I have written few blog posts.  I get done what I must get done; but not enough of other stuff that I should get done.  My apology to all.


Sept. 4, 2020 FFBSI have uploaded the video recordings of my latest two events/presentations.  One, the September First Friday Book Synopsis, and the other was the September Urban Engagement Book Club. Keep scrolling, and you will find the videos.

Here are the links to download the synopsis handouts:


Download the synopsis handouts from the September First Friday Book Synopsis presentations of The Color of Law and Humanocracy by clicking here.

And download the synopsis handout for How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, from the September Urban Engagement Book Club, by clicking here.

{Note:  the Kendi book is also one of my two selections for the October First Friday Book Synopsis.  It will be substantially the same handout (though it will look a little different), but the presentation will be a shorter presentation of this synopsis}.

First Friday Book Synopsis, Sept, 2020 – Humanocracy and The Color of Law — (presenter, Randy Mayeux)

Urban Engagement Book Club, September, 2020 – How to Be an Antiracist — (presenter, Randy Mayeux)

Here is the September, 2020 list of best-selling business books from the New York Times – Atomic Habits by James Clear is again at the top spot

Atomic HabitsThis week, the front page of the Dallas Morning News had an article about the rising anxiety during this Global Pandemic.  No surprise here; people are having trouble.  It is a real thing. (Here’s the same article, from the Washington Post).

Thus, it is no wonder that the book Atomic Habits by James Clear is still at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list of Business Books, for September, 2020.  In other words, in a life that feels substantially out of control, we need to build very good habits to keep us productive, healthy, and mentally well.  We need better, more effective habits.  We need to rid ourselves of ineffective, “bad” habits.  This book can help you develop a game plan to do just that.

(You might want to read my post, Atomic Habits by James Clear – My Six Lessons and Takeaways).

I have presented my synopsis of this excellent book for folks at our First Friday Book Synopsis, and for multiple groups within companies and organizations.

Of the ten books on this month’s list, we have presented six of them at our First Friday Book Synopsis events, and I have selected a new book on this month’s list to present at our October event. Thus, after Oct. 2, we will have presented synopses of seven of the books on this month’s list of ten books.

I have presented synopses of: Atomic Habits, Dare to Lead, Extreme Ownership, and Outliers, and I will present my synopsis of Doesn’t Hurt to Ask at the October First Friday Book Synopsis.  My former colleague Karl Krayer has presented his synopses of Thinking, Fast and Slow, and Grit.

Click over to the New York Times site for links to their reviews of three of these books.

Here are the ten books on this month’s list of Best Selling business books from the New York Times:

#1 – Atomic Habits, by James Clear
#2 – Evil Geniuses by Kurt Anderson
#3 – Doesn’t Hurt to Ask by Trey Gowdy.
#4 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
#5 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#6 – Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
#7 – The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi
#8 – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
#9 – Grit by Angela Duckworth
#10 – The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova


You can purchase our synopses.  Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation. Click on the “buy synopses” tab at the top of this page to search by title.  You can always find our newest additions by clicking here.

Doesn’t Hurt to Ask (Trey Gowdy), and How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X.. Kendi – Coming for the October 2 First Friday Book Synopsis 


for Oct. 2 FFBSFirst Friday Book Synopsis, October 2, 2020, on Zoom
Time: 7:30 am
Two Books: Doesn’t Hurt to Ask by Trey Gowdy
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Link to join meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82882862662?pwd=a2RjdjcwdjlMeWQ1OFNBMGV0TXlhZz09 

Meeting ID: 828 8286 2662

Passcode: 991931

Please invite one and all to participate in this session. 


(Note:  Zoom now requires a Passcode.  It is included above).

October will be our fourth and final month in our brief four month diversion into books on issues of racial justice.

For over 22 years, we only presented business books at the First Friday Book Synopsis – two synopses each month; good, valuable, useful books.

But, since the death of George Floyd earlier this year, I made a decision to adjust the formula on a temporary basis.  For four months, I would present one business book, and one book dealing with issues of racial justice.

How to be an Antiracist copyHere is my “final” schedule of these four books:

July:  Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
August:  White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
September:  The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
August:  How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

Four books are not enough to give one a “complete” education.  But, four books provide enough to truly begin to think about the complex issues of race on our country.

There has been great interest in this series.  We had over 80 people stay for the “after synopsis” discussion of the book The Color of Law after our September session.  These books are truly helping us think about the issues our country faces.

And there is little doubt about this; issues of race are impacting businesses all across America.  These are timely books to study.

These Zoom gatherings are so very convenient.  You can choose to keep your video off (although, as I speak, I like seeing the faces of engaged learners).  You can join in at the last minute; no drive across town.

Of course, there are some disadvantages.  We miss the one-on-one, face-to-face conversations.  We miss the great Park City Club breakfast.  And, you have to print out your own copy of the two synopsis handouts. (I make these available, in an e-mail and on this blog, the day before our event.  We also throw them up on the chat).

For October 2, the book dealing with racial issues is How to be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. This book provides quite a call for all who want to know what to do in this moment in our country.  It is a call-to-action book.Doesn't Hurt to Ask

The book I have selected for the business book, Doesn’t Hurt to Ask, is the new book on communication and persuasion by former Congressperson Trey Gowdy.  It jumped onto the New York Times top ten list of business book best sellers immediately after its release.

Come join us.  There is so much to learn; always so much more to learn.


This meeting will be available to all for free. If you care to participate financially, you might send $12.00 to the First Friday Book Synopsis through Pay Pal. (Click here for a direct link to send money).

(Note: if you are a non-PayPal person, you can send money through Zelle by using my e-mail address, randymayeux@sbcglobal.net).


Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: October 2, 2020 First Friday Book Synopsis

Time: Oct 2, 2020 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 828 8286 2662

Passcode: 991931

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Meeting ID: 828 8286 2662
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Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kkb5Arm2G

Download the Synopses Handouts for Friday’s Remote First Friday Book Synopsis – September 4, 2020 – Humanocracy, and The Color of Law

Humanocracy handout, cover

Click on image to download synopses handouts

Over 190 people joined in on our “Remote” First Friday Book Synopsis August gathering. We had participants from all over the country. Please share this word far and wide — all are welcome!

Friday, September 4, 2020
7:30 AM


Friday, September 4, 2020 – Zoom
Two Book Synopses: Humanocracy by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini, and The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein.
Where: on ZOOM
When: This Friday, September 4, 7:30 am
The presentation will conclude shortly after 8:30 am
Speaker: Randy Mayeux
Click here to join in on Zoom:


We are all set for Friday’s Remote First Friday Book Synopsis, September 4, 2020.

#1 — Download, and print both synopses handouts by clicking here.

If you have ever attended our event, you know that I am handout intensive. You really will be able to follow along better with physical copies of the handouts in front of you. So, if you have a printer, please print the handouts.

#2 — Come on in for conversation whenever you can. I have enabled the “enable join before host” button. So, you can come in, and talk to folks. I will plan to join the meeting around 7:00, but will keep myself pretty much muted until I begin the program at 7:30. And, I will not “end the meeting” for a while after, if you want to continue conversations with others after we officially conclude.

#3 — Here is the info, with the link to join the gathering:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: September 4, 2020 First Friday Book Synopsis
Time: Sep 4, 2020 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 898 6759 3908
One tap mobile
+13462487799,,89867593908# US (Houston)
+12532158782,,89867593908# US (Tacoma)
Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 898 6759 3908

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kyFsyJ8tE


Reminder: The cost of this remote meeting is “free.”

But, if you would like to contribute to participate, Randy would welcome you to send $12.00 directly to him through PayPal. Click here for a direct link to “donate” thorugh PayPal.

(Note: you can also send money through Zelle, at Randy’s e-mail address).
(Randy’s e-mail address for PayPal , and Zelle, is ).

Please help spread the word far and wide; help make this a success.


You might want to read this post. It has a printable one-sheet reminder on how to make the most of your remote learning experience.

Remote Learning 101 – Read this before attending your learning session.

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,.