Inventing the Future of Management

How can we maximize human potential to make the world a better place? How can we make work more fulfilling–whether in a business, a school, or a government agency?

For the past two days, I’ve been attending a high-powered conference here in Half Moon Bay, California, hosted by Gary Hamel (Wall Street Journal’s “top business guru” and author of The Future of Management). Our goal: to use the latest management research to re-design organizations to release the full potential of their employees, and to generate maximum innovation, adaptability, and engagement. Our starting point is the observation that management today–whether businesses, government agencies, or educational systems–is deeply flawed (think of Dilbert’s cartoons and you’ll know what we’re trying to fix).

C. K. Prahalad, Peter Senge, Gary Hamel (standing), Eric AbrahamsonMost of the 40 or so in attendance were thought leaders, authors of best-selling business books and/or professors (The photo shows, from left to right, C. K. Prahalad of University of Michigan, Peter Senge from MIT, Gary Hamel (standing), and Eric Abrahamson of Columbia).

But the high point, for me, were the presentations by a few CEOs, representing innovative styles of management: Gore, Google, Whole Foods, and IDEO, all companies I describe at length in my book GROUP GENIUS.

Tim Brown, IDEO

Representing Gore was CEO Terri Kelly; Whole Foods, CEO John Mackey; and IDEO, CEO Tim Brown (in the photo). If you’ve read my book GROUP GENIUS you know that all of these companies represent a new sort of management technology, one that is designed to tap into the power of collaboration.

A high point of the event was when Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, answered questions from the audience about Google’s unique organizational culture (sitting at the right of Gary Hamel in the photo). I haven’t written as much about Google, simply because that company has been so widely reported in the media already; but, like Gore, IDEO, and Whole Foods, Google is a company that maximizes the collaborative potential of its employees.

Gary Hamel and Eric Schmidt

“Inventing the Future of Management” was designed to be a beginning, so we didn’t come up with concrete advice so much as challenges, obstacles, and important issues. But I was delighted to see that the consensus emerging from this group is directly aligned with my message in GROUP GENIUS: that innovation can’t be forced in a command-and-control organizational design. Innovation always emerges from the bottom up, in teams that form spontaneously and interact improvisationally. In the future, we need organizations that enhance the power of collaboration, managers that facilitate the unpredictable creative work of everyone.

Attendees: Eric Abrahamson, Chris Argyris, Julian Birkinshaw, Tim Brown, Lowell Bryan, Bhaskar Chakravorti, Yves Does, Alex Ehrlich, Gary Hamel, Linda Hill, Jeffrey Hollander, Steve Jurvetson, Kevin Kelly, Terri Kelly, Ed Lawler, Andrew McAfee, John Mackey, Tom Malone, Marissa Mayer, Lenny Mendonca, Henry Mintzberg, Vineet Nayar, Jeff Pfeffer, C.K. Prahalad, J. Leighton Read, Keith Sawyer, Peter Senge, Rajendra Sisodia, Tom Stewart, Jim Surowiecki, Hal Varian, Steve Weber, David Wolfe, Shoshana Zuboff.

6 thoughts on “Inventing the Future of Management

  1. I wonder what challenges, obstacles, and important issues you’ve identified. is there a summary of the conference available?

    personally, I think that the future of management is less management. the strength and influene of low and middle rnage management should be increased.

    also, while as a musician and composer I strive on creativity and innovation, as a management scholar (to be) I don’t like the trend of making innovation a general goal for organizations. it is not an end, just means for achieving certain goals. I would guess that a great number of organizations around the world. small and big, can do very well without much innovation, and certainly without it being a force that drives its design and management practices.

  2. Hi Keith-

    Iā€™ve enjoyed reading your blog, and just wanted to send you some news about a great entrepreneurial opportunity I thought youā€™d be interested in and perhaps share with your audience.

    I want to make you aware of Everyday Edisons, a nationally televised PBS reality show that documents the product development process (from start to finish) of approximately 12-14 inventions and the parallel stories of the inventors who created the original idea.

    Everyday Edisons is holding one last casting call to select new product concepts for Season Three. Instead of visiting another city, this casting call will be hosted online through At least one of the online submissions will be selected for the show. Participants can upload as many idea submissions as they like now through Monday, June 23.

    If selected, you will have your invention/new product concept commercialized by Everyday Edisons and enjoy a 20-year annuity on future product sales. The television show takes care of all expenses involved in bringing the product to market.

    Everyday Edisons is looking for inventions in all stages of the production and development process, from rough ideas to refined prototypes and manufactured products.

    In order to be considered, all you need to do is log onto Edison Nation ( and create a profile. Look for the Everyday Edisons logo to submit to the sixth, virtual casting call. Register to become a Gold Member and enjoy many benefits, including the opportunity to submit your invention for the virtual Everyday Edisons casting call. The Web site will walk you through the submission process step-by-step and you can follow the status of your submission with the “idea review timeline,” which will appear on your Edison Nation home page when you log in with your user name and password.

    If you haven’t had a chance to catch an episode of Everyday Edisons on your local PBS affiliate, you can check out a clip or two on by simply searching “Everyday Edisons.” There are several fun things to view, including a behind-the-scenes clip; interviews with our engineers and Season One inventors; a Season One series recap and product “commercials.”

    I just thought you and your readers would be interested in this opportunity. I hope you will encourage them to take advantage of it. Best of luck in all that you do!


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