Tag Archives: Gary Hamel

The Five Things that Matter Now (Gary Hamel, What Matters Now)

Tomorrow, we begin our 15th year of the First Friday Book Synopsis!

Tomorrow at the April First Friday Book Synopsis, I will present my synopsis of What Matters Now:  How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation by Gary Hamel,  This is the second book I have presented by Hamel, and the fourth Hamel book that has been featured at our event.

Here’s our Gary Hamel “history”:  In September, 1998, Karl Krayer presented his synopsis of Alliance Advantage: The Art of Creating Value Through Partnering by Yves Doz and Gary Hamel, and in December, 2000, Karl presented his synopsis of Leading the Revolution by Gary Hamel.  In January, 2008, I presented my synopsis of The Future of Management by Gary Hamel and Bill Breen.  And now, tomorrow, I will present my synopsis of What Matters Now.

The Wall Street Journal ranks Hamel #1 as “the most influential business thinker.”  I think his insights are valuable.  This book provides Hamel’s answer to this question:  “What Matters Now?” It is an important question, and the title of the book itself is a reminder that what matters in one year or in one era is different from what matters “now.”  The “what matters now” changes with each new “now.”

Here are the five things that he says matter now, (from the book, with a portion of his elaboration):

As trust has waned, the regulatory burden on business has grown. Reversing these trends will require nothing less than a moral renaissance in business.

successful products and strategies are quickly copied. Without relentless innovation, success is fleeting. …there’s not one company in a hundred that has made innovation everyone’s job, every day. In most organizations, innovation still happens “despite the system” rather than because of it. …innovation is the only sustainable strategy for creating long-term value.

Problem is, deep change is almost always crisis-driven; it’s tardy, traumatic and expensive. In most organizations, there are too many things that perpetuate the past and too few that encourage proactive change. The “party of the past” is usually more powerful than the “party of the future.” In a world where industry leaders can become laggards overnight, the only way to sustain success is to reinvent it.

the average workplace is a buzz killer. Petty rules, pedestrian goals, and pyramidal structures drain the emotional vitality out of work. Maybe that didn’t matter in the knowledge economy, but it matters enormously in the creative economy. The problem is not a lack of competence, but a lack of ardor.

Whatever the rhetoric to the contrary, control is the principal preoccupation of most managers and management
What creates value today is the unexpectedly brilliant product, the wonderfully weird media campaign, and the entirely novel customer experience.

Each new Gary Hamel book provides insight, learning, and a clear call for action.  And in our synopses, we do our best to give you enough of the book to help you learn important information, identify and address challenges in your own business arena, and provide some steps you can take, now, toward necessary action.

If you live in the DFW area, come join us tomorrow for the April First Friday Book Synopsis.  (7:00 am).  Click here to reserve your spot.  We have wonderful networking, great food, and the content of two key books, with comprehensive handouts, delivered in a fast paced delivery.  You can eat, learn, engage in  valuable conversations, and leave by 8:05.

(My colleague, Karl Krayer, will be presenting his synopsis of the book Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman.  An important book!)


15minadYou can purchase my synopsis of What Matters Now,  Hamel’s earlier book The Future of Management, and synopses of many other books we have presented, with audio + multi-page comprehensive handouts, at our companion site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

Read Bob Morris’ excellent review of What Matters Now by clicking here.  Yes, you will read again about the “five things that matter.”  These provide the heart of the book.

Your Organization Is Values Driven – The Question Is, “What Are The Values?” (insight from Gary Hamel)

By definition, every organization is “values driven.” The only question is, what values are in the driver’s seat?
Gary Hamel, What Matters Now


Gary Hamel, in his newest book What Matters Now:  How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation (the subtitle wears me out, thinking about all that I need to work on) calls the leaders of organizations to pay close attention to five areas.  (Five may almost be too many, but that is another discussion).  His five:

values; innovation; adaptability; passion; and ideology.

They are all important, but, as Hamel says…

…some things matter more than others.

And he implies that the greatest of these five is values.  It all starts with the values of an organization.  In the values, we see just what organizations think of its customers, and its employees.  And when those values are off, everything is off.  (Think the recent “I Quit” letter by Greg Smith, when he told the world why he was leaving Goldman Sachs).

If you are a leader of an organization, what are the values that underlie your every decision?  Because, you do have values that do underlie your every decision.

If they are not the right values – the valuable values – it’s time for some major change.

And if you work for an organization with the wrong values driving the organization, it’s either time to have some rather crucial conversations – or, time to look for a new organization to work with and for.

Get the values wrong, and everything will go wrong.  Get the values right, and you have a fighting chance to make everything go right.

What are your Organizational Habits? – (Insight from Duhigg and Hamel)

I am presenting two new business books to different groups this week.  One, What Matters Now by Gary Hamel, at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  The other, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, to a private client (I will present it this summer at the First Friday Book Synopsis).  These books agree in a critical observation.  Here’s Duhigg’s description:

There are no organizations without institutional habits. There are only places where they are deliberately designed, and places where they are created without forethought, so they often grow from rivalries or fear.

Hamel spends many pages describing such organizational habits, as they now exist.  And, to summarize it from his perspective, the habit of most organizations is to protect the past more than to forge a new future.  Here’s just one quote of many:

Modern organizations weren’t designed to be adaptable; they were designed to be disciplined and efficient.

In other words, habits of efficiency rather than habits that lead to innovation.  In other words, when they got good, they wanted to stay good at what they got good at.  And, in doing so, they let the new, new thing slip right on past them, and thus, leave them behind.

So, here’s the question for us all:

What habits are we building to be successful today and tomorrow?

Because, this much is certain to me after reading Duhigg’s book – success comes through the habits we practice, both personally, and organizationally (and even societally).

8 Assumptions and 8 Questions about Innovation

Even the staid British publication The Economist recently claimed, “Innovation is now recognized as the single most important ingredient in any modern economy.” 
(Tom Kelley:  The Ten Faces of Innovation)


For the SMU Cox School of Business – Business Leadership Center, I recently presented my new session on innovation:  Adaptation, Exaptation, Innovation:  Processes and Environments That Invite Successful Innovation.

I quote from many books that discuss creativity and innovation, including books by Tom Kelley, Steven Johnson, Gary Hamel, Twyla Tharp, Bernd Schmitt, and Roger Martin, among others.  As I developed the material, I stole/borrowed/compiled/wrote eight assumptions about our current situation, and asked 8 questions…  Here are the assumptions and questions:

 • 8 Assumptions:

1)    What worked yesterday will not work as well tomorrow
2)    Someone is trying – now! — to leave you in the dust
3)    Everyone; every product; every process…can get better
4)    Creativity, as a habit, can be developed
5)    Innovation, as a practice, can be achieved
6)    It takes time, training, effort to be creative, and to be innovative
7)    It is far better (it works best) to be innovative “together”
8)    Innovation is a habit/a discipline/a routine – in other words, it needs constant attention and focus…  always

• 8 Questions for the Innovator:

1)    What are we doing now that could be done better tomorrow?  (hint – practically everything)
2)    What could we learn from a totally unexpected source/field/discipline?
• how could we take some “field trips” – how could we open our eyes a little wider?
3)    What could we learn from the best within our industry?
4)    What could we learn from the worst in our industry (what should we never do?)
5)    Where are our bottlenecks – how are we killing good ideas?
6)    Where are our records – that is, where are we recording all of our possible good ideas?  (Where are we losing our good ideas?)
7)    Where do people experience hassles, of any kind, in their interactions with us?  How can we get rid of these hassles?
8)    And – what could go wrong?  (Beware of the problem of unintended consequences. – Consider the parable of the “free refill”).

Management Practices and Processes – 2 Lists from Gary Hamel

In Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto, he reminds us that checklists are needed because: Every day there is more and more to manage and get right and learn.  And defeat under conditions of complexity occurs far more often despite great effort rather than from a lack of it.

Recently, someone asked me just what all is involved in management.  “There is much to get right,” but I remembered these lists from Gary Hamel’s book, The Future of Management.  Yes, this is a lot to work on, to get right, to master.  But here are the lists for every manager to work on:

• The practice of management entails (has entailed):
• Setting and programming objectives
• Motivating and aligning effort
• Coordinating and controlling activities
• Developing and aligning talent
• Accumulating and applying knowledge
• Amassing and allocating resources
• Building and nurturing relationships
• Balancing and meeting stakeholders demands

• Management processes include (have included):
• Strategic Planning
• Capital budgeting
• Project management
• Hiring and promotion
• Training and development
• Internal communications
• Knowledge management
• Periodic business reviews
• Employee assessment and compensations

Blockbuster, R.I.P. — Lessons for us All

You know, at one time there must’ve been dozens of companies makin’ buggy whips. And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company? You invested in a business and this business is dead. Let’s have the intelligence, let’s have the decency to sign the death certificate, collect the insurance, and invest in something with a future.
(Lawrence Garfield — “Larry the Liquidator” – played by Danny DeVito, in the movie, Other People’s Money)


Blockbuster: R.I.P.

news item:  Blockbuster finally files for Chapter 11

Born, 1985:  (The first Blockbuster store opened in Dallas, Texas on October 26, 1985 at the corner of Skillman and Northwest Highway. By the way, I used to rent videos at that specific store.  I had no idea that it was the first).
Died, September 23, 2010:  (though some smaller version might last a little longer).

The lessons are many.  Like:

#1  Customer loyalty is dead.  Really dead.
#2  Someone intends to go right past you  — you’d better beat them to the punch.
#3  If the product you are selling is no longer the product that works best, you have no future.
#4  If these three are true, then you will go under – it’s just a matter of when, not if.

These are the thoughts that I have as I reflect on Blockbuster going into bankruptcy.  Netflix, and redbox, and youtube, and iTunes, all simply passed them by.  And Blockbuster simply was not nimble enough, not quick enough, not able to react and change fast enough, and now they are on the verge of gone.

Lots of thoughts, from plenty of books, come to mind, like:

Verne Harnish, in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, reminds us that all business starts with the functions of Making or Buying something.  So, if people no longer want to buy what you offer, you’ve got real trouble…

In Get There Early:  Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present (Using Foresight to Provoke Strategy and Innovation) by Bob Johansen (Institute for the Future), we learn about the VUCA world of (VUCA originated at the U. S. Army War College – the graduate school for Generals-to-be):

• Volatility
• Uncertainty
• Complexity
• Ambiguity

It’s the volatility that helped doom Blockbuster.

In The New Experts:  Win Today’s Newly Empowered Customers At Their Decisive Moments by Robert (Bob) Bloom, Bob basically wrote Blockbuster’s obituary.  Consider these quotes from his book:

Today’s buyers – empowered by the Internet, assured by the enormous choice in every segment of commerce, and capitalizing on the acute vulnerability of sellers struggling in this new selling climate – have taken control of the entire purchase progression.
Buyers no longer care who they buy from.
Today, buyers are in control.
This reversal of supremacy has placed every business around the globe in a perilous situation.
This confluence of technology and choice started customer loyalty down the slippery slope – ultimately, customer loyalty died.

It is a scary world out there.  Somebody is out to beat you in tomorrow’s market.

I’ll end with a well-known quote from Gary Hamel (quoted by Tom Kelley in The Art of Innovation):

To those few companies sitting on the innovation fence, business writer Gary Hamel has a dire prediction:  “Out there in some garage is an entrepreneur who’s forging a bullet with your company’s name on it.  You’ve got one option now – to shoot first.  You’ve got to out-innovate the innovators.”