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Literature of Leadership - Humanocracy

HUMANOCRACY: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them. Gary Hamel, Michele Zanini. (2020, Kindle Edition)


Gary Hamel, one of the world's most influential experts on business strategy, along with longstanding colleague, Michele Zanini, have been researching for over a decade how bureaucracies can be dismantled and replaced with something better. In their co-authored book, Humanocracy, Hamel and Zanini convincingly make the case that, like all technologies, bureaucracy is a product of its time; and the time has come to radically reimagine the bureaucratic management model. In their view, the world is becoming more turbulent at a faster pace than most organizations can adapt. The culprit is bureaucracy—described as a “sclerotic management model” that is laden with “authoritarian power structures, suffocating rules, and toxic politicking” that undermine resilience, innovation and engagement. The solution is to advance new management models that are more human-centric—that is, to replace bureaucracy with humanocracy!


Humanocracy is part “manifesto”, and part practical “manual”. Accordingly, the book is organized into four parts, with the first half of the book (Parts I and II) centered on providing a compelling case for change, and the second half of the book (Parts III and IV) centered on offering practical strategies for action. More specifically:

  • Part I presents a business case against traditional bureaucracies, including a root cause analysis of how the archetypical features of bureaucracy undermine adaptability, innovation, and engagement. In addition, a simple tool is introduced, the “bureaucracy mass index” (or BMI), that may be used to assess the impact of “bureaucratic drag” on an organization.

  • Part II includes case studies for two vanguard companies that have upended traditional management beliefs in different ways in order to maximize human contributions.

  • Part III identifies and discusses in detail, seven core tenets of a human-centric organization that were gleaned from various progressive organizations.

  • Lastly, Part IV is a call to action for each individual to become an “humanocracy activist” at their own organization. Theoretically grounded strategies and evidence-based insights are offered for de-bureaucratizing oneself and for mobilizing an entire organization in building a more human-centric organization.


If you believe your organization is incumbered by bureaucracy, become a catalyst for positive change. Read this book and encourage your colleagues to take the BMI survey (included in the book and available online at https://www.humanocracy.com/hack) to assess the impact of “bureaucratic drag” at your organization.



Image source: Amazon

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