Creating an engaged organization part 3 – Q&A with Gary Hamel

Q&A with Gary Hamel - Question mark image
Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

In the finale of our 3 part series, we recap the Q&A with Gary Hamel at the end of the webinar.

If you need to catch up, part 1 of our recap looked at the broad topic of “creating an engaged organization”. Part 2 focused on what Gary had to say about “how to hack management” and bring about real organizational change.

Let’s dig into the Q&A!

Q&A with Gary Hamel - evolution image that ends with a guy on a phone
Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik on Unsplash

Question 1 – Given all the change and the doubling of knowledge, how does a company deal with individuals who can’t quite adapt?

This is a big issue when it comes to organizational change. How can leaders help staff to adapt to change?

Gary gave a typically eloquent answer.

“You have to exercise people so they can exert their new level of authority. Organizations should train staff to think like senior management. You can, and should develop people.”

As Zhang Ruimin once said:

“Our goal is to let everyone become their own CEO.”

Zhang Ruimin, CEO, Haier

“The average large scale corporate change program takes two or three years of effort. But this can and should be done faster. Plus only 25% of typical corporate change programs actually succeed. With models in place like Rendanheyi and The Buurtzorg Model, success rates for more radical organizational change should increase.” 

“When you open this up, you engage the whole organization. You upskill everyone very fast. For example, here’s the new thinking, here’s how Haier works, here’s how Buurtzorg works. You create those new models.” 

“And it gives people the chance to then take those principles and apply them and think about them. You move much, much faster than an old top down model where you go through layers of training, one cohort at a time. Which takes years to change anything.”

Q&A with Gary Hamel - MAQE meeting

Question 2 – Bureaucracy has one thing going for it…you can see what’s going on with organization charts. How does it work with organizations like Haier?

Businesses, and many staff, love organization charts. Probably a bit too much in some cases! Gary gave an interesting answer to this question.

“Bureaucracy is probably the biggest human invention of all time! It’s helped humans achieve great things. Bureaucracy brings benefits like control, consistency and coordination.”

“How do you buy these three things without bureaucracy?” 

“You have to spend a lot of time building and nurturing horizontal communication.”

“You should try to have conversations around strategy with all staff. This can give you new things to think about.”

“Distributed strategic thinking is possibly the overall answer to this. It can give you practical answers which can lead to much bigger strategic ideas.”

Let it go image
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Question 3 – How do you get managers to let go?

This was one of the biggest questions in the session and Gary gave an in-depth answer.

“This is a huge challenge. And probably the most fundamental challenge.”

“And it leads to the first one or two questions you have to ask yourself if you’re a leader.”

“The first one is, do I really want to do this [organizational change]? Are you really willing to go into this for the long haul?”

“Fortunately you can see results quite quickly. But it’ll take years to fully integrate this kind of change.”

“What sustains you on this journey is a belief in the righteousness of this cause. Bureaucracy is a 19th century technology. What works for the few and not the many is always typically difficult to change.”

“CEOs have to ask themselves, am I willing to go all in? Is this right to do, ethically speaking? You have to answer that to be able to do this.”

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How MAQE can help

Organizational change can be tough, but MAQE is here to help. We’ve got plenty of experience offering organizational advice to companies of all sizes. If you need some help implementing change, get in touch via [email protected].