Taking The Sword To Bureaucracy
Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini have unsheathed their Excalibur for slaying bureaucracy. Their new book, Humanocracy[i], is about creating…
Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini have unsheathed their Excalibur for slaying bureaucracy. Their new book, Humanocracy[i], is about creating workplaces as creative and vibrant as the people who work inside them.
First, the authors take the literary sword to bureaucracy, meticulously laying out the rationale for its demise. They highlight contrasting stories of stellar anti-bureaucratic success (the ATLAS particle detector project, one of the core initiatives of the Large Hadron Collider) and stultifying bureaucratic inertia (Microsoft remaining Windows-centric in the years following Y2K while Google perfected search). In Microsoft’s case, bureaucracy was the villain that clung to fading markets and avoided new ones until it was too late.
The authors share their unassailable observation that zombie-like, Tayloristic reductionism of work into repetitive tasks when most work requires creativity is a crushing waste of human talent. Slaying the dragons of bureaucracy and liberating up to $10 trillion of increased economic output around the world is a compelling goal. The moral imperative of liberating human beings from their figurative bureaucratic dungeons makes that goal even more compelling.
Second, Hamel and Zanini share a pair of stories highlighting companies that are already winning the fight against bureaucracy, Nucor (American) and Haier (Chinese). Haier’s visionary strategist, CEO and Chairman Zhang Ruimin, turns out to be a student of nineteenth-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who argued that human beings should never be treated as a means to an end, but as the end themselves. If that’s true, then they deserve to be rescued from soul-crushing bureaucracy. Wise words for a twenty-first century humanocratic world.
Third, the authors set their Round Table with honored place settings for the foundational principles of human-centric organizations, starting with the supremacy of principles over practices and including the respective powers of ownership, markets, meritocracy, community, experimentation, openness, and paradox.
The final section of the book is simply titled “The Path to Humanocracy: How Do We Get There?” Apropos for the image of a sword, the authors propose hacking management with the same gusto that hackers have impacted the world of software.
Bureaucracy beware. Excalibur is unsheathed.
Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.