External Change > Internal Change = Irrelevance

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Yesterday I was remembering a talk that Gary Hamel gave at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.  Knowing his flair for language and keen insights into organizational design, I was anticipating quite a stir.  And I was not disappointed.  It was a talk that generated a lot of interaction.

As many of you know, I am a big fan of Gary Hamel.  If you haven’t read The Future of Management, you’re clearly missing out on one of the best books on innovation and strategy I know of.

One line in particular from the talk and the blog post is at the heart of a critical issue for many of our organizations.  Wonder why so much of what you’re trying seems irrelevant?  Take a moment to ponder Hamel’s line:

“Organizations lose their relevance when the rate of internal change lags the pace of external change. And that’s the problem that besets many churches today (Gary Hamel, Organized Religion’s ‘Management Problem’).”

Can you see where denial may enter in?  I was in a meeting this week where I suggested that it was unreasonable to expect that adults would give you 3 hours of their time on Sunday mornings in a culture where few watch a one hour television program in 60 minutes.  “Most do what I do,” I said.  “They TIVO the show and watch it in 42 minutes.”  And yet…many of our organizations are designed to meet the needs of people 50 to 100 years ago.

“Organizations lose their relevance when the rate of internal change lags the pace of external change.”  How’s your organization doing?  Got any relevance issues?

What do you think?  Have a question? Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

P.S.  Want a sample of the kinds of things he talked about at Willow Creek?  Hamel talked about the experience of speaking at the Leadership Summit in his Wall Street Journal blog, Management 2.0.  You can read the article right here.

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