The Problem with Employees
Over the past twenty years, Hamel has authored 15 articles for the Harvard Business Review. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, The Financial Times and many other leading publications around the world.
Hamel's books, Leading the Revolution and Competing for the Future, have appeared on every management bestseller list and have been translated into more than 20 languages. His latest book, The Future of Management, was published by the Harvard Business School Press in October 2007 and was selected by Amazon.com as the best business book of the year.
Since 1983, Hamel has been on the faculty of the London Business School where he is currently Visiting Professor of Strategic and International Management.
As a consultant and management educator, Hamel has worked for companies as diverse as General Electric, Time Warner, Nokia, Nestle, Shell, Best Buy, Procter & Gamble, 3M, IBM, and Microsoft. His pioneering concepts such as "strategic intent," "core competence," "industry revolution," and "management innovation" have changed the practice of management in companies around the world.
Hamel speaks frequently at the world's most prestigious management conferences, and is a regular contributor to CNBC, CNN, and other major media outlets. He has also advised government leaders on matters of innovation policy, entrepreneurship and industrial competitiveness.
At present, Hamel is leading an effort to build the world's first "Management Lab." The MLab is a pioneering attempt to create a setting in which progressive companies and world renowned management scholars work together to co-create "tomorrow's best practices" today. The goal: to radically accelerate the evolution of management knowledge and practice.
Question: What is the number one issue businesses should worry about today?
Gary Hamel: The big HR [human resource] consulting companies, they do surveys every few years of employee engagement, and they've been doing this for many decades and the results are kind of depressingly consistent. What they find is that, on average, around the world, less than 20 percent of employees are highly engaged in their work. Often in many countries, the number who are positively disengaged is even a bigger number. And then you have the ones in the middle who kind of show up, collect the paycheck, but really aren't very excited by what they're doing.
So you think about that, around the world, the vast majority of employees, 80 to 90 percent of employees, are there physically, but they're not there emotionally. They're not there with their full kind of creative spirit. And this is a price that we can no longer afford. When we were back in the traditional economy, where success was simply about diligence and focus and discipline and so on, it really didn't matter that people were being treated like, and were kind of behaving like, automatons. There was not much of a price to be paid for that.
But in the creative economy, where wealth creation is a product of new ideas and innovation, this is a hugely expensive waste of capability. Most of you, you'll remember [Abraham] Maslow's hierarchy of human needs with water, food and so on at the bottom; self-actualization at the top. Let me suggest there's another kind of hierarchy that might be useful, given our conversation here, and that's the hierarchy of human capabilities.
At the bottom you have obedience, people who show up every day, they do as you ask them to, they follow the rules, ethical and otherwise.
A level up from that you have people who are diligent, they work hard, they stay till the job is done.
On top of that, people who have world-class skills, well trained and great intellect. Now I would argue, those are all important human capabilities, but obedience and diligence and intellect, they are becoming global commodities. I can buy those capabilities for next to nothing from Bangalore to Guanshou or all around the world; and if that's all you're getting out of the people who work in your organization, you're really not going to be able to compete in the global economy. Not unless you want to join the race to the bottom.
So we have to go beyond obedience, diligence and intellect and ask, what else should we be getting? How about initiative? People who see new opportunity, see problems, they start moving before anybody asks them. They don't wait to be directed. They're out there moving before the boss even knows about it. Folks who bring their creativity to work, who are looking at other industries, learning from other venues and places, challenging the rules of the game in their industry. And finally, people who bring their passion to work, who look at their job as the way they make a difference in the world.
Now those higher order capabilities: initiative, creativity, passion; those are the things that create wealth in the creative economy and yet those are also the things that people are not, by and large, bringing to work today. Initiative, creativity, passion, these are gifts. People literally choose whether they bring them to work every day or not, but they can't be commanded. Not like obedience or diligence can be commanded.
So if, in fact, these are the capabilities that create wealth in our economy, if these are the capabilities that hold the secret to getting your company to outperform a very dismal economy, number one, and number two, if these capabilities cannot be commanded, but can only be volunteered, that really causes us to turn our old management model inside out. Tip it over, 180 degrees. Management is not today about getting employees to fulfill the organization's goals, serving the organization's kind of objectives. Today, management is about creating the work environment, a sense of purpose, a sense of excitement, the right climate, where people are willing to bring those gifts of creativity and passion and so on, they're willing to bring those to work every day.
That is the new challenge of management. And only if you meet that challenge, do you have a hope of outperforming the economy.
Recorded on August 15, 2009.
Bestselling business author Gary Hamel says that companies’ largest source of exploited value is the fact that staffers don’t unlock their full potential.
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
See the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Credit: NAOJ<p><em>Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.</em></p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.