Book Review: What Matters Now

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Hamel, Gary. What matters now : how to win in a world of relentless change, ferocious competition, and unstoppable innovation. Jossey-Bass, 2012.

The average business book is a Harvard Business Review article with extra examples, and the average HBR article is three PowerPoint slides with a lot more words.  This irreverent quote is by one of the most respected business thinkers of our time, Gary Hamel.  Hamel’s new book What Matters Now is a blueprint for creating successful organizations that reads like a series of brief HBR articles, illustrated with dozens of examples from companies and institutions. Hamel explains that in today’s business environment, where competition is brutal and change is relentless, there is a wide spectrum of challenges, but 5 critical issues are fundamental for companies to thrive:  Values; Innovation; Adaptability; Passion; and Ideology.

Hamel begins his book by discussing recent lapses in moral judgment in business and politics, and he calls for managers to regain the higher moral ground, to rededicate themselves to higher ideals.  He then discusses innovation, which he calls “the only sustainable strategy for creating long term value.” He offers advice on retooling traditional management processes to foster innovation.

Hamel explains that early management practice was designed to discipline and control the organization.  Yet today’s resilient organization is flexible, constantly rethinking its strategy, redefining its core business and reinventing itself.   It fuels passion in the customers who use the products and in the people who make them.  Hamel outlines a management system where there is less hierarchy and more freedom.  Since management itself is inefficient, he outlines a way to reduce the size of the traditional management layer by making management the responsibility of all employees.  This thought provoking and optimistic book is recommended to anyone willing to view organizations in a new way.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

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