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The Most Important Problem: Unlocking Human Potential

Feb 18 9am PST

A Maverick Hangout with Gary Hamel and Jonathan Becher

When it comes to building management and business models that are fit for the 21st century, one of the fundamental challenges is developing organizations that are capable of discovering, nurturing, aggregating, and appropriately rewarding contributions from employees, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders across boundaries.

Today, employees are enlivened by unprecedented levels of openness, autonomy, participation, and flexibility. At the same time, customers have become more active (and powerful) contributors, collaborators, critics and evangelists. In some cases, customers or “users” are the company. The most vibrant companies are re-imagining their boundaries to connect with a web of partners and stakeholders and facilitate new forms of social production.

In this context, leaders must recognize the value of individual contribution. Individual ingenuity, initiative, and passion are the fuel of the Innovation Economy. Yet, these deeply human qualities cannot easily be corralled, commanded or “ordered up” from on high. They must be properly invited, nurtured, and inspired.

This means that organizations must become increasingly inventive in devising new models of engagement that emphasize the power of the individual over command and control. And it means that the work of leadership must increasingly focus on energizing and enlarging the community rather than managing it from the top-down.

These are challenges that Jonathan Becher, the chief marketing officer of global software giant SAP, and Gary Hamel, co-founder of the MIX and author of The Future of Management, have put at the top of the agenda for years. In conjunction with the Unlimited Human Potential Challenge, Gary hosted a special edition of our Maverick Hangout series in conversation with Jonathan, in which they:

  • Make the case for inverting the pyramid and routing out bureaucracy
  • Unpack the big shifts disrupting the world of work
  • Explore the new principles and models defining the next era of organization, work, and leadership
  • Share stories about the most progressive approaches making a real difference when it comes to unleashing human potential
  • Unpack the very real challenges leaders and companies face—and offer up insight on how to get started from where you are

You can read Jonathan’s M-Prize winning story Culture Eats Strategy here and check out his blog here.

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