Humanocracy How to Create a Blueprint for Evolutionary Change – Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini Book Summary

Humanocracy How to Create a Blueprint for Evolutionary Change – Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini | Free Book Summary

Humanocracy How to Create a Blueprint for Evolutionary Change – Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini

Humanocracy is a book by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini that explores how organizations can create a blueprint for evolutionary change. The book emphasizes the importance of creating organizations that are bold, entrepreneurial, and as nimble as change itself. 

It looks at current trends, examines how organizations can create value for all stakeholders, and provides a framework that organizations can use to become more agile and adaptive. 

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The authors provide suggestions on how to break down bureaucratic structures and create collaborative and innovative cultures.

It also provides case studies and advice on how to create an environment of experimentation and learning. In short, Humanocracy offers a powerful framework for creating organizations that are adaptive and able to thrive in the face of change.Free book, podcast summaries

The Case for Humanocracy

Imagine working in an organization that truly valued your contribution, gave you the leeway to problem solve independently, and avoided power-based politics. In this scenario, work would not feel like work at all. In reality, however, most organizations aren’t anything like this.

Instead, they are bogged down in bureaucracy that has the very opposite effect on innovation, growth, turnover, and employee well being.

Organizations can and must break free from the confines of officialdom by choosing a different path.

Humans are uniquely designed to forge a new way forward, seek progress, and solve tough problems. It’s our nature. We tend to believe that it is in the nature of organizations to be “brittle and backward looking,” and thus, we feel it’s hopeless to try to overcome the stagnation.

Motivation for Leaving Bureaucracy Behind

Humans can sometimes find it difficult to break out of their comfort zone. This is one of the challenges organizations have to overcome in order to break free of bureaucracy.

A key factor to motivating team members to take the ride is decentralization. With decentralization, employees enjoy far more autonomy. They are encouraged to identify a problem, create a solution, and implement it on their own.

This fosters a deeply entrepreneurial spirit that permeates all aspects of the workplace. It flips the pyramid on its head so that leadership supports new ideas that are mobilized by team members at every level rather than shutting them down.

In one word, this model offers a highly motivating core value: faith. That faith is translated to team members in a number of tangible ways.

Compensation for Creativity

Employees are rewarded in the form of compensation and bonuses that are tied to innovation and paid to the team in full, not to individuals. This framework “encourages collaborative problem solving.” There is never the “not my problem” attitude because it becomes the entire team’s problem.

Everyone dives in to help solve it. If revenue begins slipping, there is a push from below to stoke the fires of growth. Teams and divisions pressure leaders, actively look for new opportunities, and court new customers directly.

They are more than willing to hire new teammates and experiment with different methods and product offerings. They are given the authority to exercise their creativity and this is monumentally motivating.

Cultivating Competence

  • Nimble organizations take active steps to improve upon the team’s skill level and encourage individuals to seek out professional development opportunities.
  • A culture that is attuned to “building deep knowledge” onboards new hires that intend to make a career out of their time, not simply collect a paycheck.
  • New hires are scrutinized in terms of their “resourcefulness and capacity to self manage” rather than their education or skill set.
  • Education and skills can be learned on the job later while those characteristics are seemingly inherent.
  • Team members should expect to float around many different departments, learning the ins and outs across a variety of specializations.

This keeps employees engaged, committed, and excited while simultaneously building a workforce that is better prepared to face any challenge that comes the organization’s way.


Teams or, worse still, individuals who work in a vacuum are a formula for stagnation. Organizations must ensure there exists a “dense network of lateral connections” that help “stitch together far-flung divisions with little or no top-down direction.”

Opportunities to work together must explicitly be arranged, such as annual learning visits to other branches or departments. But more importantly, leadership must promote collaboration on both a formal and informal basis.

This can be accomplished directly through policy, such as a “share everything” policy on transparency. It also helps to design “healthy competition” between teams in reaching particular goals that makes collaboration natural, easy, and fun.

Create a Trusting Environment

When employees fully trust in their organization, they become firmly committed to it as well. The aforementioned pillars of compensation, competence, and collaboration go a long way in instilling trust among team members within an organization but there are others.

Doing whatever it takes to avoid layoffs, even when times are really tough, works wonders on the commitment front. Offering special incentive programs, like profit-sharing schemes, only to those not in senior leadership positions has a similar impact.

Upward feedback from employees to leaders is another surefire strategy for instilling trust and commitment from within.


Team members must be given the chance to have authority and responsibility that has real consequences. Fostering authority without permission is exceedingly empowering. When allowed to determine not only what the targets are but how the team is going to reach them, teams succeed.

That success breeds an unshakeable confidence that positively impacts the organization in countless ways. Of course, some decisions will result in failures, big and small. Part and parcel to this pillar is an acceptance that failures happen and they are tolerable.

Failure is a demonstration that someone has “pushed the limits of their abilities” and that is something to strive for, not shrink back against.

The 7 Principles of Humanocracy

The 7 Principles of Humanocracy provide a blueprint for building a post-bureaucratic organization.

  • Ownership involves giving team members accountability, empowerment, and authenticity, leading to the cultivation of entrepreneurship.
  • Markets leverage the wisdom of the crowd to yield better outcomes.
  • Meritocracy ensures that individuals are free to contribute and succeed regardless of their social rank or personal connections.
  • Community builds a sense of support, inspiration, and connectivity between all team members.
  • Openness recruits a diverse talent pool and encourages disagreement.
  • Experimentation sets goals for the number of experiments to run per year and expects failure.
  • Paradox forces creative thinking to make smart trade-offs.

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