Apr 21, 2012

Book review: Leading the Revolution by Gary Hamel

Leading the Revolution was a book I found from my friends bookshelf, when we were visiting them. He hadn't read the book and I hadn't heard anything about it beforehand, so I got the luxury to read it without many expectations towards it. Gary Hamel as a person was familiar to me, but this book wasn't.

Book is about innovation. How radical and continuous innovation is only way companies can stay on the top and profitable. Also it tells how people outside the top management can be the ones who drive the innovation in companies.

The book could be divided in two parts. The first one tells interesting ideas about innovation and how innovation works in companies nowadays. The second part tells with examples about innovation. This is quite normal division in books, but in this one, time of writing makes the division special case. Book was published in August 2000, almost at the highest peak of dot-com bubble. Business world and companies were living a special age.

1999-2000 were years that innovation was highly appreciated. Wildest ideas were appraised and stock values were growing at enormous speeds. This can be seen from the book. Book uses lot of examples from companies like Enron, Charles Schwab and Yahoo. Also Silicon Valley area overall is highly appraised in the book. Of course this questions credibility of the book and it's ideas. Lot of success stories from this book have turned out to be disappointments at the end.

I don't want to judge one of world leading business thinkers from selecting examples that didn't succeed at the end. I actually think, that these examples and failures proves the point of the book. Only the ones who can really keep on reinventing their business concepts can live at the top for longer time. No one saw at that time that Google, Facebook and Apple would be dominating the technology and innovation world as much as they do nowadays. The same way, no one saw what was going to happen to some of these companies used as example in this book.

Even though at this time it might look highly unlikely, it is actually probable that in 10 years, Google, Facebook and Apple have lost their spots at top. Same have happened to almost all big, mighty companies. They fly high, lose the sight and then they will crash hard.

It was refreshing to read innovation theories from 10 years back. Most of it is totally valid even today. This book unfortunately lost part of it's value with dot-com bubble and Enron scandal. This shouldn't change the fact, that book is full of good thinking of how companies should support innovation and reinvent their business models often enough. I liked the book and with these known shortcomings, it's still a good book to read.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

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