Tuesday, June 07, 2005

General Session Notes: Gary Hamel

This will probably be a bit long and rambling, but I was asked to put them here instead of on my blog.


Gary Hamel, author of Leading the Revolution, visiting professor, London School…

“Facing Up To The Future: Helping Your Organization Thrive In A World Of Accelerating Change”

While information needs are the same (search, find, use), the hegemony in information sources is gone.

Compared University of Phoenix to conventional public university – the public universities were late in distance/part time/continuing adult education and consequently lost market share (=money). Many of the large companies like Coke failed to react quickly enough to new markets and have lost a lot of share.

The distance between winning and losing has never been so short.

Pace of change accelerates, so must the pace of “strategic renewal” (for companies and industries, both). Turnarounds are celebrated in management books, but if you think about it, can only happen after failures to act. Companies need to not get in the situation where a turnaround is necessary.

Automatic, spontaneous, reflexive… does this describe change in your company? (Huh?) He wants us to fight entropy (doesn’t that kind of mean that we’ll try to fight the laws of thermodynamics?) I think reflexive (aka reactionary?) change in a company is probably bad.

Companies need to have better intelligence, analysis, and quickly act. Instead, companies try to avoid or dismiss unpleasant news and ignore it. Then rationalize, then mitigate, and finally confront. Companies stay way too long in denial.

• Success is temporary
• Filter out the filterers (the yes men who keep the bosses from hearing bad news)
• Positive vision, look toward the future with expectation and hope

Returns on incrementalism going down when compared to returns on innovation. It’s not the data or cognitive ability, it’s the ability to be contrarian or think outside of the box. He wants the librarians to enable this in our organizations

Where does innovation come from ?
• Unexamined dogma
• Unexploited trends
• Unseen assets
• Unvoiced needs (reference interviews?)

Challenge the orthodoxy
• Surface the dogmas
• Find the absurdities
• Go to extremes (look for a 98% improvement instead of 5%)

Leveraging discontinuities
• Find the fringe
• Amplify weak signals
• Look for the big picture (pattern recognition, customers are better at finding what they need than companies are at making what customers need)

Unvoiced needs is understanding how the customer feels – empathy, borrowing from other industries

• Variety leads to resilience, lots of ideas to keep a few good ones
• Markets are resilient because money can be reallocated quickly to the next big thing
• Distributed power as in a democracy enables resilience
• Faith leads to individual resilience
• Cities are resilient because they offer the opportunity for serendipity

SLA members should raise value-add by being
• Court jesters (speaking truth to power)
• Mindset engineers
• Future-seeking radar
• Decision architects


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