Posted by Colin Weatherby 1300 words
Gary Hamel starts his dissection of large organisations with a series of descriptors; inertial, incremental, and insipid. Reading his paper made me feel like returning to small business. I once heard the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Industry Group talking about a poll of his members. He asked them what they would like from government and they said that they wanted government to be positive, intelligent, and credible – the antidote to the inertial, incremental and insipid.
Hamel is describing what he calls the congenital disabilities of large organisations. By inertial, Hamel means that they are ‘frequently caught out by the future and seldom change in the absence of a crisis’.
“Deep change, when it happens, is belated and convulsive, and typically requires an overhaul of the leadership team.”
By incremental, Hamel means that despite their resource advantages, incumbents are seldom the authors of game-changing innovation.
“It’s not that veteran CEOs discount the value of innovation; rather, they’ve inherited organizational structures and processes that are inherently toxic to break-out thinking and relentless experimentation. Strangely, most CEOs seem resigned to this fact, since few, if any, have tackled the challenge of innovation with the sort of zeal and persistence they’ve devoted to the pursuit operational efficiency.”
By insipid, Hamel means they are emotionally sterile. He says that managers know how to command obedience and diligence, but initiative, imagination and passion can’t be commanded—they are gifts.
“Every day, employees choose whether to bring those gifts to work or not, and the evidence suggests they usually leave them at home. In Gallup’s latest 142-country survey on the State of the Global Workplace, only 13% of employees were truly engaged in their work. Imagine, if you will, a car engine so woefully inefficient that only 13% of the gas it consumes actually combusts. That’s the sort of waste we’re talking about. Large organisations squander more human capability than they use.”
Hamel is excoriating in his examination of the supposed ‘remedies’ advanced over the years Continue reading