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Is it possible to plan a revolution? To commit to continuously re-examining your business model and making whatever changes are necessary, including moving in a radical new direction that could sacrifice market share, to give your business the edge it needs in the marketplace? In Leading the Revolution, Gary Hamel argues you must try to do just that.
I suppose it's mandatory that a book with a title like Leading the Revolution be written in an evangelical tone, but my gut instinct is to distrust the evangelizer until I've had the chance to delve into their ideas and determine whether their enthusiasm is based on experience or hope. I'm glad to say Hamel's views rest on a solid foundation of fact.
The most significant early indication that Hamel's position was tenable was Chapter 3's section entitled "Unpacking the Business Model". Most business texts offer little discussion of the term "business model", often using it to refer to the market niche a business calls its own (such as being an Application Service Provider) . Hamel does his readers a great favor by moving up a level and presenting a business model derived from four major components: Core Strategy, Strategic Resources, Customer Interface, and Value Network. The remainder of Chapter 3 explores these aspects of the business model as well as the other elements that underpin or tie the four major components together. For a non-MBA like myself, Hamel's business model and his ability to tie his revolutionary success stories in Chapter 5 to specific elements of that model set Leading the Revolution apart from its competitors.
The next major touchstone in the book is Chapter 6, named "Go Ahead! Revolt!". This chapter takes the revolutionary rhetoric to its height, encouraging practitioners to establish a point of view, identify large-scale trends that entail significant world change, and to identify business concepts that would profitably exploit those trends. The author goes on to emphasize that business revolutionaries must have their arguments in place before going to their higher-ups and proposing radical change, another of the book's strong points. Hamel clearly understands the difference between taking a chance and taking a foolish chance – between jumping out of a plane with a parachute and jumping out of a plane with an umbrella. Indeed, the remainder of the book explores the need to maintain objectivity and to understand which risks are worth taking.
This last point bears repeating: Hamel's gray-haired revolutionaries, individuals who have the experience to recognize opportunities and the savvy to go after them effectively, must temper their revolutionary fervor with the knowledge that they need a new regime to replace the old one. As The Beatles said, "we'd all love to see the plan." Leading the Revolution shows you how to identify opportunities and foment constructive revolution.
--Curtis D. Frye, Editor and Chief Reviewer of Technology & Society Book Reviews