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The Handy Guide to the Gurus of Management
Charles Handy was, for many years, a professor at the London Business School. He is now an independent writer and broadcaster. He describes himself, these days, as a social philosopher.
Industrial site
Industrial site
Episode 8: Gary Hamel
  Listen to the radio programme in full
  Download the complete script (pdf)
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In their book, "Competing for the Future", which came out in 1995. Hamel and Prahalad start off by pointing out that you can improve your results in two ways: by cutting your costs, or by increasing your outputs.

But too many companies focus on the cost-cutting. So why don't people concentrate more on the output than the costs? Because their strategic vision is too narrow. It is defined by what the competition is doing.

It is, says Hamel, important to think about what is NOT there. That done, you need a strategy for doing something about it. A "Strategic Intent", forces one to think beyond the present and to contemplate new worlds.

Being different is really the theme of Gary's latest book, called "Leading the Revolution". Most importantly of all he talks about the "grey-haired revolutionaries" - the companies that reinvent themselves time and time again. Anyone can have one great new idea or vision, very few can keep on doing it.

This is how Hamel's 10 requirements go:

1. Have Unreasonable Expectations
2. Make your business definition elastic, don't get fixated on one vision 3. Have a cause, not a business
4. Listen to other voices: young people, newcomers, outsiders
5. Keep an open market for ideas, don't shut anyone up
6. Have an open market for capital, allow people to bid for funds to support experiments
7. Have an open market for talent, so that people are allowed to work in areas that excite them
8. Encourage low risk experimentation
9. The principle of cellular revolution: breaking the organization down into small groups so that a failed revolution won't damage the whole organization
10. Allow personal wealth accumulation.Successful ideas should make money for the people who came up with them

Nevertheless, as Hamel agrees, you need both revolution AND luck to succeed in an uncertain world.

In my next talk we will meet the only woman on our list - the guru of change management - Rosabeth Moss Kanter.

Read Gary Hamel's biography

Some useful business words:

something that a company produces


time and time again
lots of times

keep on doing it
continue doing something

get fixated on
concentrated too much on one thing ignoring other possibilities

to bid for funds
to attempt to obtain money to do something

breaking the organization down
separate into different smaller parts

who came up with them
who first had the idea

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