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Leading the Revolution: How to Thrive in Turbulent Times by Making Innovation a Way of Life Hardcover – October, 2002

3.6 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

So much for the old economy, new economy divide. According to Gary Hamel, the professor-turned-strategy-guru author of Leading the Revolution, complacent establishment giants and one-strategy start-ups are on the same side of the fence--the wrong side. Corporate complacency and single-strategy business plans leave no room for what Hamel describes as the key to thriving in today's world of business: a deeply embedded capability for continual, radical innovation.

Leading the Revolution is not a calm analysis of what will or won't work in a post-industrial world. Instead, it's an impassioned call for revolutionary activists to shake the foundations of their companies' beliefs and move from a linear age of getting better, smarter, and faster, to a nonlinear age of becoming different. While in the past incremental improvements in products and services were accepted as good enough, Hamel shows that true innovation is the demolition and re-creation of an entire business concept. He blows apart the popular myth that innovation lies solely in the hands of dot.com dynamos like AOL and Amazon by scrutinizing the examples of such "gray-haired revolutionaries" as Enron and Charles Schwab, companies that have managed to reinvent both themselves and their entire industries, time and again.

After an in-depth examination of what business-concept innovation involves (for starters, it's "based on avoidance, not attack"), Hamel goes on to motivate his readers to see their own revolutionary future, and train them in the art of being an activist. As he puts it in various headings, be a novelty addict, be a heretic, know what's not changing, surface the dogmas. And then get out there and transform your ideas into reality. Not simply a round-up call, Hamel's book provides would-be activists with an intelligent, comprehensive plan of action. He illustrates each imperative with examples of real-life corporate rebels, such as John Patrick and David Grossman at IBM, Ken Kutaragi at Sony, and Georges Dupont-Roc at Shell. His message is the same to "old" and "new" companies alike: "Industry revolutionaries are like a missile up the tail pipe. Boom! You're irrelevant!" So join the revolution and avoid the explosion.

Hamel writes in a clear and compelling voice, preaching with passion but supporting what he says with detailed, experiential evidence. Each chapter is packed with probing questions and inspirational examples that aim to dig through the apathetic corners of your mind and throw hand grenades into any creative synapses still slumbering. Even the alternative (read innovative) design of Leading the Revolution will jolt you into a new level of awareness and imagination. Indeed, the only problem you might have with this book is an increasing desire to put it down before the end, get out there into the wild world of the activist, and start living the revolution. --S. Ketchum --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Hamel's first edition of this volume, published in 2000, urged managers help lead a business revolution by embracing change-developing e-commerce, participating in joint ventures and engaging in selective cooperation. Centuries of incremental progress have given way to a time of revolution, Hamel argued, and companies must change or die. His revised version keeps the focus on far-reaching innovation-imagine the kind of future you want for your company, Hamel urges, and then go out and create it-but he makes sure to dismiss the "helium" of the dot-com bubble and focus on meaningful business change. He highlights Cemex, the third largest cement company in the world, as proof that "new attitudes and new values can change an old industry"; UPS, too, gets the nod as another "gray-haired revolutionary." (Unsurprisingly, Hamel's positive Enron profile from the earlier edition gets the axe.) Hamel's presentation is powerful and his core argument that corporate leaders must be more entrepreneurial remains convincing; the worst that can be said about this volume is that, by rehashing his earlier writings, Hamel may not be fully following his own advice.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; Rev Upd edition (October 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591391466
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591391463
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,383,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you've followed and loved any of Hamel's previous works, you'll find that "Leading the Revolution" is for you. It's well-written, lovely to look at, and he does two things very well: 1) Takes complicated business issues and packages them clearly and neatly with his own brand of consultant-speak. (e.g., Focusing on "bridge" components to tie all your challenges together.) 2) If you work for Just-Don't-Get-It BiggieCorp, he provides an innovation call-to-arms. You can quote Hamel to scare the bejeebers out of your boss.
But if you want to actually implement any of his ideas, look elsewhere. There is zero help in how to embrace his revolution.
My suggestion is to get two books: This one to whack others upside the head (its weight alone will do the trick) -- and "Simplicity" by Bill Jensen. Simplicity focuses on how to figure out what to do when there are too many revolutions, too much info and too many choices all clamoring for your attention. Combine the two books and you might actually change your world.
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Format: Hardcover
While this book is worth reading I have to say I was a little disappointed. For one thing, I had to keep looking at the book jacket to make sure the book was written by Gary Hamel and not Tom Peters. Gary has gone to the mountain top to preach a message that is probably worth repeating but certainly not new. Innovate or die. Revolt or fail. Rebel. Be an activist. Change before it's too late. Like most "mountain-top" books, this one makes a great case for change. It's compelling. It gets you convinced to lead a revolution. In this case toward what Hamel refers to as "business concept innovation" - "the capacity to reconceive existing business models in ways that create new value for customers, rude surprises for competitors and new wealth for investors". Business concept innovation means that wealth-creating champions have unique capabilities, unique assets, unique value propositions, and unique market positioning. Simple product or marketing innovation will not do in the "age of the revolution" according to Hamel. It's a neat concept but this is where the book begins to break down for me. While Hamel claims that radical invention and radical differentiation of the business model is the answer, many of the examples cited in the rest of the book seem to be discrepant with the claim. Hamel cites IBM's Internet undertaking and Sony's PlayStation success as examples. But how could they be considered as examples of creating new business models? Aren't they really just examples of IBM and Sony adapting to clearly established trends? Another example cites (department store) Target's inviting shopping environment but isnt that simply an example of good old-fashioned store merchandising (a.k.a. marketing)?Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Leading the Revolution is an important book of business scholarship. It proposes a higher standard for companies: Constantly establishing and superbly implementing improved business models for customer interfaces, core strategy, using strategic resources, and value networks. Further, it integrates the arguments of many leading thinkers about improvement methods into one set of procedures for making faster business progress. The book also makes an excellent case for this higher standard already being in operation in companies like Enron, GE Capital, Cisco Systems, Nokia and Charles Schwab.
To those who have already are familiar with the literature of developing new business models (such as Digital Capital), little in this book will be new. For those who are very focused on gradual improvement, the arguments here will be foreign and puzzling. Because of Gary Hamel's stature, many will read this book and begin to grasp the changed nature of the leadership and management challenges of the 21st century. Because of ways the argument is articulated and illustrated, many more will miss the point. That's too bad.
Basically, Hamel is arguing that the kinds of changes that most people think of as revolutionary need to become everyday occurrences. This observation is based on an accelerating rate of uncontrollable change and resulting opportunities for innovation; an economic environment where fewer companies prosper while more become mediocre or below average; more pressure for performance from investors; rapidly developing business skills in business process, product, market and model innovation; broad human potential to imagine more and make it happen; and potential for improved communication and application of innovation.
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By A Customer on November 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
While many of Hamel's writings delivered solid business roadmaps, in this book he appears to have "crossed over" into a world of subjectivity and exageration. This book has many "if you don't reinvent yourself everyday" urban myths. To read this you'd think that huge companies are becoming obsolete and going bankrupt daily. Published at the beginning of the year 2000, the book is almost obsolete by November. The idea of business concept innovation is the main theme of the book and the reader can tell that Hamel, now working in California, bought the whole dot.com story about making everyone else's business model obsolete. We now know this is nonsense and as a result the person whom the book calls "the greatest strategist in the world" looks rather silly as the ink still dries on his book. This book like many that have come before it, uses massive exageration to sell books. Follow the advice in this book and you too can end up like the companies featured in the book - beware.
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