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The Leader's Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Denning
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A radical new management model for twenty-first century leaders

Organizations today face a crisis. The crisis is of long standing and its signs are widespread. Most proposals for improving management address one element of the crisis at the expense of the others. The principles described by award-winning author Stephen Denning simultaneously inspire high productivity, continuous innovation, deep job satisfaction and client delight. Denning puts forward a fundamentally different approach to management, with seven inter-locking principles of continuous innovation: focusing the entire organization on delighting clients; working in self-organizing teams; operating in client-driven iterations; delivering value to clients with each iteration; fostering radical transparency; nurturing continuous self-improvement and communicating interactively. In sum, the principles comprise a new mental model of management.

  • Author outlines the basic seven principles of continuous innovation
  • The book describes more than seventy supporting practices
  • Denning offers a rethinking of management from first principles

This book is written by the author of The Secret Language of Leadership—a Financial Times Selection in Best Books of 2007.

Editorial Reviews


Denning puts forward a fundamentally different approach to management (, November 2010).


“Denning has written an original and brilliant book which transforms ‘radical management’ into doable and, more important, indispensable management. Also an indispensable read!”
—Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California & author of the just published: Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership

“Denning goes to the root of the management issues confronting companies today. Focusing on seven core principles, he lays out a pragmatic roadmap for shifting the corporation from a focus on scalable efficiency to a focus on delighting the customer and each other, while achieving even higher levels of productivity. In the process, he creates a space where we all can more fully achieve our potential.”
— John Hagel, Co-Chairman, Deloitte Center for the Edge

The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management delivers. It delivers insight into why today’s broken institutions don’t work. It delivers the principles and practices that can reinvent them. It delivers powerful examples of organizations that are doing it —and some that aren’t — and it delivers the tools to help you start digging a new foundation.”
—Jim Kouzes, award-winning coauthor of the bestselling The Leadership Challenge and The Truth About Leadership; Dean’s Executive Professor of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University

“To reinvent America and the world, we desperately need radical, new leadership and management. Stephen shows the way.”
—Mark Victor Hansen, Co-creator of the series Chicken Soup for the Soul®

The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management is the paradigm shift we have been looking for to guide us as we evolve.  This is the first book that focuses on what is truly important to being successful.”
—Matt Hlavin, President, Thogus Products Company

The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management reframes the way we think about management in a practical, application-driven way. A must-read for anyone in a management position!”
—Ed Scanlan,CEO, Total Attorneys

“This book contributes with principles on radical management and continuous innovation to support an Agile mindset in your entire organization.”
—Michael Holm, CEO, Systematic Software

“I’ve spent the last 35 years of my professional life bushwhacking my way towards what I now know, thanks to Steve Denning, is the nirvana called Radical Management. It is a place where delighting customers is the religion and creativity, passion and learning are revered. Denning’s Radical Management is the antidote to the greatest disease in the workplace today, mental resignation due to lack of purpose.  Radical Management should be required reading for anyone entering the work force or looking to reignite their inner bushwhacker!”
—Sam Bayer, CEO, b2b2dot0

The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management accomplishes what no leadership book has been able to do in recent times. It delivers clear insights on the impediments keeping most institutions today from success. Beyond that though it provide tools and means of overcoming these barriers in novel and often counter-intuitive ways. A must read for leaders attempting to move to the next level of performance.”
—Rob Cross, Professor, University of Virginia

Product Details

  • File Size: 839 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0470548681
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0043M4ZPW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,163 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Startling clarity, common sense, and immediate relevance September 21, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
I received a copy of this book as a galley from the publisher, and I strongly recommend it in any form. I first met Steve Denning when he was recently retired from being the program director of knowledge management at the World Bank, and had created no-cost global networks for multinational information sharing decades before the term M4IS2 came into vogue (Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making). His first book, The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations (KMCI Press) remains an essential reference for any leader at any level.

This book grabbed me right away, and while it reminds me of Peter Drucker, Peter Senge, and Gifford Pinchot, with a strong leavening from all the books I have been reading in the Collective Intelligence, Evolutionary Activism, Human Scale, and Epoch B Leadership arenas, this is clearly his own unique work and I would venture to say that this is the first book that captures the essence of 21st Century leadership.

My only negative thought is that the book is not "green" in any way, shape, or form, but I have absolute faith that the best of the leaders who read this book will understand thats when the author talks about "Radical Transparency," this should be applied to the entire life cycle of any product or service, and all "true costs" represented.

Oddly enough, this book is a perfect complement to the book I just finished reviewing a couple of days ago,
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Management Innovation is Radical! October 17, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Steve Denning begins his book, The Leader's Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century with a quote from John Hagel, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison's 2009 Shift Index to lay the foundation of the problem we face:

"Remarkably, the return on assets for U.S. firms has steadily fallen to almost one quarter of 1965 levels...very few [workers] (20 percent) are passionate about their jobs...executive turnover is increasing. Customers are becoming less loyal to brands...the rate at which big companies lose their leadership positions is increasing."

Everyone is talking about innovation in products, services, processes, supply chain, etc. But few talk about innovating management itself, perhaps because it hits the closest to home and is the hardest and scariest form of innovation. We tend to think of start-ups or `younger' companies when we think of innovative forms of management (e.g., Google, Zappos, etc.), but W. L. Gore is not a `young' company, nor is Standard & Poor's. Innovating management evokes the root fears of innovation - fear of the unknown and of losing control, authority, power, respect, even one's job. How do you experiment and prototype this type of innovation without rocking the company to its core?

That's what Steve's book is about - how to start moving your company forward through radically innovating how and what you manage, based on 7 Principles. In his forthright and clear style, Steve provides a framework for radical management that is simple to understand and follow - but bear in mind, simple doesn't mean easy, and this isn't easy.
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35 of 45 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Runs Out of Gas October 27, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Radical Management" starts off well, and the first few chapters are an excellent read. Mr Denning documents the declining economic returns to American business, and outlines some of the root causes for this decline. In so doing, he draws heavily from Deloitte's "Shift" report, though he cherry-picks findings from the Deloitte study that support his narrative.

Unfortunately, Mr. Denning's prescription is sophomoric, and seems designed to appeal to those who have no actual responsibility to run a business. Delighting customers, the starting point in Mr. Denning's model, is certainly an important goal. But Mr. Denning seems to forget the reality that organizations have many stakeholders, and all but the most trivial decisions require balancing many interests. While customer delight is a necessary ingredient for success, it is not sufficient.

Mr. Denning's model seems particularly unworkable in light of the recent mortgage bubble. Countrywide Financial, for example, delighted its customers until it blew up.

The rest of the book rapidly declines into a rehash of team theory and exhortations to empower employees. This is old wine in new bottles, "Theory Y" dressed up as something new and different. The later chapters blend into a tedious hash, so that the one memorable idea from the book is "delight your customers".
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Stephen Denning asserts, "the problems of today's workplace are not the personal fault of the individual managers. They are largely the fault of the system they are implementing, which relentlessly constrains the capacity of people to contribute, limits the firm`s productivity, and practically guarantees that clients will be dissatisfied. The mental model of management that these companies are pursuing, with interlocking attitudes and practices, methodically prevents any individual management fix from permanently taking hold." Ironically and sadly, this is precisely the situation to which then chairman and CEO of 3M, William L. McKnight responded...86 years ago: "If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need."

As Denning already knows and understands full well, the institutional constraints that must be eliminated comprise a system (i.e. the status quo) that current senior managers worked hard to establish and are certain to defend. Most change initiatives fail or fall far short of their goals because of resistance that is essentially cultural in nature, the result of what James O'Toole so aptly characterizes (in Leading Change) as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." How to overcome such resistance?

Denning advocates what he characterizes as "radical management," based on seven principles. My own opinion is that none of these principles is "radical." On the contrary, as studies conducted by several dozen highly reputable firms and research teams have revealed beyond any doubt, all organizations that achieve and then sustain superior performance have strategies ("hammers") and tactics ("nails") based on these principles.

In ancient Greece, the literal meaning of the word "barbarian" was "non-Greek.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular introduction to modern management
Stephen Denning has written a well researched book on how horizontal management outperforms the traditional hierarchical structure on all accounts.
Published 2 months ago by Alexander Bugge
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Arrived as expected, no damages
Published 2 months ago by Timo Murberger
5.0 out of 5 stars Management
The was a Kindle on my iPad purchase. As always it was executed by Amazon flawlessly. Great book! I really enjoyed reading about radical management.
Published 7 months ago by DR Carr
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing radical about it
This book is actually about AGILE/SCRUM. There is also nothing radical about it. It is a good read and for old-school managers that have not heard about AGILE project management it... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Gediminas Mikelenas
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent paradigm
Dennig'sRadical Management paradigm is excellent and his coverage comprehensive. However at times he tends to be a bit wordy. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Scott Bagley
5.0 out of 5 stars A good companion to all the agile literature
If you are in the software or related businesses, you know about agile. The challenge is that, at scale, agile is more than a programming technique. Read more
Published 11 months ago by J. E. Caldwell
4.0 out of 5 stars Good adaptation of agile practices for business
I liked the author's approach on the issues, especially about the imperatives that lead to the need for behavioral change. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Agile for business
This is a great book for business people that have seen agile software teams in action and are too proud to ask how that works. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Brand Zietsman
3.0 out of 5 stars Great setup, simplistic finish
Great setup, awesome background. Life the business perspective. Love the radical managent model. The practices mentioned are really a clone of scrum/basic agile, and the advice on... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jeff Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best business books I have read in a decade
Denning's genius here is synthesizing management mindsets and methods into a few linked principles and practices and noticing how these need to all be sufficiently present for... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jay G
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More About the Author

Stephen Denning was born in Sydney, Australia. He studied law and psychology at Sydney University. After doing a post-graduate law degree at Oxford University, he joined the World Bank where he worked for several decades in various management capacities, including Program Director of Knowledge Management from 1996-2000.

He is the author of eight books, including The Leader's Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century, which is being published by Jossey-Bass in October 2010.

His book, The Secret Language of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire Action Through Narrative, was selected by the Financial Times as one of the best books of 2007.

The Leader's Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative, was named in 2005 by the Innovation Network as one of the twelve most important books on innovation in the past several years.

Squirrel Inc.: A Fable of Leadership Through Storytelling was published in 2004. He has also published Storytelling in Organizations (2004) and The Springboard (2000) as well as a novel and a volume of poetry.

Denning consults with organizations in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia on topics of leadership, management, innovation and business narrative.

In 2000, he was named as one of the world's most admired knowledge leaders (by Teleos) and in 2003, he was ranked as one of the world's top two hundred business gurus by Tom Davenport and Larry Prusak in their book, What's the Big Idea?

In 2009, he was a visiting fellow at All Souls College, Oxford University.
Denning's Web site ( has an extensive collection of materials on radical management, leadership, innovation, knowledge management and business narrative.


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