Fit for the future, fit for people

“For the first time since the Industrial Revolution you cannot build a company that’s fit for the future without building one that’s fit for human beings.”

This is the compelling message- communicated in a marvelously engaging way – by Gary Hamel in a short (16 minute) video essay.

Hamel’s argument is that management is a great human invention – but it was invented to solve a fundamentally different problem than the one companies are facing today. Management itself has to change and be reinvented.

The problem that management was invented to solve 100 years ago was: How do you turn human beings into semi-programmable robots?

The challenge for management today is quite different, namely to create a workplace that is an adaptable, innovative, inspiring place to work. It comes down to developing answers to three core questions:

  1. How do you build a company that can change as fast as change itself?
  2. How do you build a company where innovation is the work of everyone, all the time, every day?
  3. How do you build a company where everyone is willing to bring the gifts of their initiative, creativity and passion?

Hamel’s video essay paints a compelling case for taking an innovative stance towards your management practices. And he also makes the case that YOU can start the process – this kind of change is not just the job of the CEO or the HR department. (For a quick read of the content – minus the compelling presentation – check out this HBR blog post summarizing some of Hamel’s key points)

One of the things that strike me as I listened to Hamel is that the answer to each of his three questions has conversation at its heart. Without effective conversations, change, innovation and engagement do not happen. Conversation well done is the supremely effective human method to support adaptation, creativity and innovation, and to build engagement.

Bottom-line: Building organizations that are fit for the future and fit for people requires developing high levels of Conversation Intelligence™ inside the organization.

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