Oct 13, 2022

Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them

Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them

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Humanocracy audiobook

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Review #1

Humanocracy audiobook free

At the close of his 2007 book, The Future of Management, Gary Hamel said this:

“For the first time since the dawning of the industrial age, the only way to build a company that’s fit for the future is to build one that’s fit for human beings as well.”

That was the challenge in 2007. It’s still the challenge. The only change is that Professor Hamel now has identified the reason that we must do more than reform management. We must get rid of bureaucracy, as well.

If You’re in Business, You Should Read This Book

There are two reasons you should read Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as The People Inside Them. First, it will give you ways to observe your organization and come up with new ideas to try. You should also read this book because other people will be talking about it and writing about it. You will get more from your reading or discussions if you read this book.

There’s a lot of value here, but there are dangers as well. So, read the book, but keep your eyes and your mind open.

There are four reasons to be wary of what you read about in Humanocracy.

Don’t Swallow All the Hype About “Bottom Up”

There’s a lot of talk in the book about change from the bottom up. That sounds great until you realize that the examples don’t support the bottom-up statements.

Several of the companies that are held up as humanocracy paragons were founded that way. Two examples are W.L. Gore and Morningstar Tomatoes. They didn’t have to change anything, only evolve.

The rest started as bureaucratic hierarchies. Then a particularly effective and insightful CEO drove change. For examples, there’s Haier, NUCOR, and Handelsbank.

The idea that powerful change can bubble up from the bottom of a bureaucratic organization is a compelling vision. But the examples in Humanocracy don’t support it. The only example I recall is Helen Bevan and the National Health Service of Britain. In the other cases, the founder or CEO was the driving force behind the change.

Professor Hamel Says You Need Courage to Create the Change to Humanocracy

There are several times in the book where Professor Hamel talks about the need for courage. That sounds noble. And, of course, it’s easy to urge someone else to be courageous.

But beware. You don’t need courage unless what youre doing is dangerous.

Pay attention to everything the author says about the power of an entrenched bureaucracy to defend itself. Then, decide if you want to put your skin in the game. It will be courageous, but is it worth it for you? Only you can decide.

Rose Colored Spectacles

This book is unreservedly optimistic. Theres no discussion of things that might go wrong, either with the revolution or the humanocracy model. What happens when someone in a humanocracy does something that loses a lot of money or endangers the company?

My Biggest Worry

Humanocracy is riddled with the idea that we can create workplaces where hierarchy will not matter. That seems to me like asking human nature to change.

To be fair, the authors have several points where they say theyre not opposed to all hierarchy, only fixed, bureaucratic hierarchy. They also suggest that multiple, dynamic hierarchies should replace fixed hierarchies. Thats good, but not sufficient. I dont think readers who walk away from the book will remember the distinctions and hierarchy is a powerful thing.

Hierarchy is something human beings crave naturally. Its hardwired into us. Jordan Peterson puts it this way in 12 Rules for Life.

The part of our brain that keeps track of our position in the dominance hierarchy is therefore exceptionally ancient and fundamental. It is a master control system, modulating our perceptions, values, emotions, thoughts and actions.

All our basic organizational models have some form of hierarchy. Watch the way people in a group filing into a meeting room take seats around the table. They leave the spot at the head free for the most important person at the meeting.

Need for hierarchy is human nature. Need for bureaucracy is not. The trick for most reformers will be to use the natural awareness of hierarchy to dismantle bureaucracy.

In A Nutshell

Humanocracy is superbly researched and well-written. Read it for good ideas and thought starters. But there are some dangerous assumptions in Humanocracy.

It’s not clear that much change of the organizational structure can bubble up from the bottom of a bureaucratic organization. Professor Hamel calls for lots of radical change and urges you to be courageous. That’s because it’s dangerous, but the dangers arent discussed. Finally, the book implies we can change the natural human need for hierarchy.


Review #2

Humanocracy audiobook streamming online

I love the Bureaucracy Mass Index and the term Bureausclerosis. Hamel and Zanini have a way with words. The book is a call to action, calling for radical change of organizations and management. A call to abandon the outdated bureaucratic model and adopt a human-centric, customer focused and agile model that is fit for 21 century organizations. The best part of the book is the cases from Haier, Nucor, Svenska Handelsbanken and other companies. The first and second part of the book makes the case for Humanocracy and describes two meaty cases from Haier and Nucor.

The third part is centered around a set of principles for organizations that want to become human-centric. The fourth part is about creating the human-centric organization, with a nice case study from Michelin. But the last part I found a bit disappointing in that it gives a couple of sunshine stories about how to go about organizing hackathons and workshops to spread Humanocracy in the organization. It feels like the type of cases a management consultant would put on his resum, claiming to have fixed the problem with a few clever hacks, while in reality things started changing back to the normal state of affairs as soon as the consultant stepped out of the door.

All in all it is an aspirational and inspirational read for people that want to upgrade their organizations to a human-centric paradigm. And when it comes to toolboxes there are a plethora of those for free online, like liberating structures and tools hero.


Review #3

Audiobook Humanocracy by Gary Hamel Michele Zanini

Humanocracy is part manifesto, part call to arms and very serious about the need to reform the organization in favor of people rather than control. Gary Hamel and Michael Zanini have created a spirited, fast paced discussion of the imperative to change corporations and how they work. The book builds on Gary and Michael’s work with the Management Innovation Exchange and demonstrates their master of management thinking and innovation.

This is recommended reading for everyone from the frontline person to the senior exec. Humanocracy is particularly relevant now as organizations seek to be more resiliant, agile, adaptive, innovative, customer centric etc. Leaders are looking for ways to create this change in their organizations and will seek to install systems to make this happen.

Read this book before putting those programs into place, otherwise you will just replace one form of bureaucratic control with another. You cannot achieve and sustain the benefits of resilience, agility etc without creating a more human organization.

A Humanocracy is defined as the design of an organization to maximize human contribution. It is based on seven core tenets to bring this about: ownership, markets, meritocracy, community, openness, experimentation and paradox. The book does a great job detailing these tenets and how they have transformed different companies.

Now before you think that this is just another book about creating ‘a great place to work’, think again. Humanocracy is a full scale analysis and takedown of the limitations of power and position based bureaucracy. This book does so much more than traditional great place books and that makes it a must read for every executive. Those things include:

– a spirited discussion of the corrosive impacts of the current state of bureaucracy present in most of our organizations. This makes the book fast paced and interested to read. When was the last time you read an organization design book and could not put it down?
– a fact based discussion of research done by others that demonstrate both those impacts and the business case for change. The data and insight of multiple studies proves that this is real and potentially transformative.
– detailed and descriptive case studies of companies that have already made the move to a Humanocracy, in some cases more than 20 years ago. This is real, not a fad or a way for HR to get money and its sustainable over time.

Overall, this SHOULD BE one of the most influential books of the decade. A suggestion is to read this book, share it with your peers, consider what it would mean to your organization and then invite HR into the discussion. Its everyone’s responsibility to make their organizations more human and this book gives you the encouragement to do so.

Its time for a human revolution and this explains its goals.


Review #4

Audio Humanocracy narrated by Graham Halstead

A great read with insightful new case studies that helps you scale a daring and resilient future!


Review #5

Free audio Humanocracy – in the audio player below

Congratulations on your new book Humanocracy! We need a manifesto such as this and thank you for providing both theories/models as well as real-world examples and a realistic how to guide.
Your case is strong, and your message is clear and comprehensive it is current to what leaders need now as a guide. Your book takes a leadership role among other great models and research whose goal has been to illuminate what creates agile companies where people are inspired to contribute their genius. For anyone who has appreciated learning about and/or applying best practices from the likes of servant leadership, EOS, Situational Leadership (Blanchard), Dr. Adizes (Adizes Institute), or the 4Ds of Execution (C. McChesney, S. Covey, and J. Huling) you will reveal in this comprehensive exploration into a case for and case studies on models that are working, plus some strong implementation guidelines.
If you lead an organization, a team, or aspire to do so one day, pick up this book and dive in.


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