Disruptive Managers

The New Leader of the Pack

In an age when conventional business models seem to be falling by the wayside, disruptive businesses like Google and Uber are setting the new corporate standards, based on flat hierarchies and a break-up of the status quo.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Formal hierarchies can thwart new thinking and lead to sclerosis, say management experts, while empowering workers often results in increased performance.

  • Facts


    • In classic pyramidal hierarchies, instructions are passed down from above and carried out below.
    • But a new breed of companies is dispensing with such bureaucracy and allowing staff to take more control.
    • For example, workers may organize production lines themselves or set their own salaries.
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Gary Hamel is part of capitalism’s intellectual establishment. In 1990, the U.S. management expert devised the concept of “core competencies” with a colleague, C. K. Prahalad.

The idea is now used by almost every successful company in the world, consciously or unconsciously. In the world of ever faster and fiercer competition, it isn’t enough just to beat the competition with a better product. Companies now need no less than a virtual knowledge-and-skills machine to continually pump out exciting, unique, must-have products.

Mr. Hamel, 62, could take it easy for the rest of his life living off his reputation as “Mr. Core Competence” — here a lecture, there an easy consulting job and, of course, his professorship at the London Business School.

But instead, the establishment icon has turned revolutionary. Mr. Hamel is on a new crusade. This time it isn’t about core corporate competencies, but core “incompetencies.”

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