Gary Hamel's new book What Matters Now is a different type of business, leadership and management book.
Where most offer single dimensional prescriptive recipes for success, Hamel has provided a thoughtful, deep and readily accessible look at the current state of business, management, capitalism and society.
What Matters Now treats the reader as an intelligent, concerned and reflective professional rather than a mindless consumer of business advice.
The result is a book that is as refreshing as it is provocative.
Highly recommended, not as a path to success, but as a guide for personal reflection on the state of business, leadership and what can be possible if only we decide to make it so.
Hamel covers a wide range of subjects in 25 tightly written chapters from morality of business leaders and their failure in the financial crisis to new views on innovation, management, participation and the impact of technology on the way we work.
The book is divided into four sections:
Section 1: Values Matter Now addressing the failure of values and its consequences coming out of the global financial crisis.
Section 2: Innovation Matters Now covering the need for greater innovation, focus on design and recognizing the personal challenges and rewards for innovation.
Chapter 2.4 on turning innovation duffers into pros offers the most realistic view on why innovation is hard that I have read in a long time.
Section 3: Adaptability Matters Now provides a view of the nature of change, the forces driving it and the rewards associated with creating more adaptable and engaging organizations.
Section 4: Passion Matters Now contains a sharp and well-constructed analysis of modern accepted forms of management and what is possible if we put a focus back on people and their passions.
Chapter 4.3 building communities of passion, which describes how St.
Andrew's church created mission-shaped-communities offers an example we can all see personally and think about how to apply professionally.
Section 5: Ideology Matters Now concentrates on the intellectual underpinnings and believes of modern management and challenges leaders to be different.
Hamel provides examples of how to work without hierarchies, where employees are treated as adults and people make their own decisions.
The result is creativity and success rather than the chaos others would predict.
Hamel illustrates his points with an energetic, engaging and surprisingly personal writing style that not only tells a story but also makes points that make you think.
For example, I had no idea that Hamel was a latecomer to the game of golf or how the feeling of a well made shot is similar to the feeling associated with creating a innovation.
Many of these stories have been featured on his Wall Street Journal Blog, but taken together each takes on new context and purpose.
They constitute a way of thinking about the future that is best contemplated at book length.
It takes one kind of person to `tell' you what you should do in a business book.
It takes another, one with deeper insight, concern and interest to tell the truth and trust that the reader can make their own decisions.
Hamel writes for that reader, one who will think about what they have read and seek to apply the principles rather than blindly follow a process.
Hamel treats the reader as an adult.
He writes to influence the way you think and in a way that is more lively, less academic and provocative than business books that are edited or reviewed by corporate committees.
The book gives you a sense of spending the day with Hamel and having a deep and engaging conversation of what it will take to create the type of world we all would be proud to live in and pass onto our children.
The books chapters are clear, concise and focused around a single idea that is well supported by examples and advice provided in terms of things to think about rather than tasks to perform.
The book is filled with rules of thumb; lists and case examples that help the reader distill the message into ideas and actions that they can readily apply in their own situations.
This keeps the book actionable and accessible and avoids being a theoretical manifesto.
The book covers topics that are not normally thought of in a business book like culture, ideology, and behavior and applies them to non-traditional situations.
For example, Hamel's examination and discussion of the management ethos of modern religions was eye opening and illustrative.
Readers looking for a prescriptive polemic statement of success will find this book frustrating.
There is no 12-step process, seven habits, or three things that you need to blindly follow.
You need to be prepared to think about the points made in this book.
People entrenched in the power structure will find this book annoying in the sense that it constantly chips away at the notion that the top knows all, controls all and that hierarchy is the natural order of things.
Hamel's chipping away at the fundamentals underneath current control obsessed management is significantly more revolutionary than it might appear.
Some may find Hamel's discussion of Values, Innovation, Adaptability, Passion and Ideology too high level, simplistic or cursory.
After all, each of these topics is at least a book in its own right, so how could anyone say something important about them.
Hamel resolves that dilemma by going to core and central issues in each of these areas and addressing them with pointed and powerful arguments and ideas that make you think.
Overall, highly recommended for people who are willing to consider different arguments, ideas and recommendations.
Reading What Matters Now generates contemplation and thought rather than mindless consumption of the latest answer to all questions.
The challenges we all face from the crisis of values to the creation of mechanistic organizations require deep thought to address successfully.
That is what makes reading What Matters Now well worth your time, attention and passion.