Hamel, Gary. (2000). Leading the Revolution. (EN-0183)
Harvard Business School Press. ISBN: 1-54851-189-5

Editorial reviews from amazon.com.

Editorial Reviews

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.

From The Industry Standard
In 1994, IBM was a basket case. It had lost $15 billion over three years and watched its market capitalization drop by 70 percent, eliminating $73 billion of shareholder wealth. That was when a maverick named David Grossman emerged from an IBM outpost in Ithaca, N.Y., with the radical idea that IBM should become an Internet-savvy information services company.

What followed was a remarkable guerrilla campaign to transform one of the world's largest companies. With the help of a sympathetic senior executive named John Patrick, as well as an underground network of far-flung Net-freaks throughout the IBM empire, Grossman overcame the odds and succeeded, helping to turn around IBM through his iconoclastic efforts.

Gary Hamel wants you to do the same thing. He doesn't care if you work for Cisco Systems in Silicon Valley or a Rust Belt widget maker in Youngstown, Ohio. If your work seems dumb, if your company seems brain-dead, if most of your waking hours aren't filled with the ardent pursuit of radical innovation, Hamel wants you to start fomenting revolutionary change to save your employer from the long, grim twilight of obsolescence. He wants you to think big thoughts, take chances and, most of all, care passionately about how it all turns out.

Hamel's new book, Leading the Revolution, purports to be a kind of Rules for Radicals, a once-fashionable work by the late Saul Alinsky. But instead of empowering society's downtrodden, Hamel wants to convince you that you already have the power to pursue "business concept innovation" of the kind that turns industries - and possibly even societies - upside down.

At this point sensitive readers may feel as if they've wandered into Charles Saxon's famous 1972 New Yorker cartoon about a party. "Steer clear of that one," one woman cautions another about a man across the room. "Every day is always the first day of the rest of his life."

Corporations, after all, do not typically welcome borderline insubordinate campaigns by low-level employees to radically alter the direction of their business. Media critic Ben Bagdikian might have been talking about the difficulty of drastic, bottom-up innovation at most large companies when he said: "Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach's St. Matthew Passion on a ukulele."

Aside from the inherent improbability of his argument, Hamel has a couple of other things going against him. For instance, he's annoyingly impressed with himself, as is evident from the book's self-dramatizing preface. And he's a management guru by profession (his last book was Competing for the Future), which to some readers will make him seem something of a charlatan by definition. Full disclosure: As a species, these guys drive me up a wall. If they really know so much, why haven't they started a few multibillion-dollar companies instead of preying on the insecurity of executives willing to drop a few bucks on the latest management fad? These guys are always full of noisy brio as they lay bare the gross stupidity of corporate America, yet somehow the same corporate idiots who are staples of every consultant's books and videotapes have managed to create the largest, richest, most innovative economy in the history of the world. What an amazing paradox!

All that said, I've got to confess that I liked this book, and you probably will, too. I liked it for the same reason I like churches and synagogues: Because it's not that often, in this indulgent and therapeutic culture of ours, that we are called upon to be better than ourselves, and with admirable fervor this is precisely what Hamel does. Indeed, the single best thing about Leading the Revolution is its radical argument that work should be engaging, meaningful and passionately performed, and that the way to accomplish this is not by taking pride in some minute increase in efficiency but by coming up with radical innovation - in other words, by being really, really creative.

Fortunately, Hamel goes beyond mere exhortation to offer a blueprint for how to revolutionize your company, even if it means cannibalizing an existing business.

First you need an idea, and some of his suggestions for developing these are obvious: Read new magazines, meet new people, visit new places. Yet it's equally obvious how few people follow them. The point is to find and exploit giant social discontinuities, such as the refusal of baby boomers to grow old (which has created markets for oversize tennis rackets, parabolic skis and other never-say-die products). Hamel emphasizes both direct experience and deep study: Go and see how other people live, but make sure you get beyond first impressions. And distinguish form from function: Banking, for instance, may be essential, but banks aren't.

The goal is "not to speculate on what might happen, but to imagine what you can make happen," and along these lines Hamel offers a section called "How to Build an Insurrection." First you need a point of view, the equivalent of an ideology, but it must be "credible, coherent, compelling and commercial." Then write a manifesto, create a coalition, pick your shots, co-opt and neutralize opposition, find a "translator" to bridge the gap between revolutionaries and establishment, start building small victories, and stay underground long enough to build critical mass - but then be sure to infiltrate (rather than overthrow) the highest levels of the organization to win the resources you'll need to realize your vision. (If you're in senior management, don't feel left out; Hamel suggests ways to make your company revolution-ready.)

Leading the Revolution offers a wealth of stories along the way about people and companies who managed to create the kinds of revolution the author is calling for. And although he gives too little credit to the people in white lab coats, he's basically right that a lot of wealth has been created by the Gap, General Electric, Starbucks, Wal-Mart and other companies whose earth-shaking innovations--people will pay $4 for a cup of coffee!--did not require an engineering degree. In one of his best examples, the brainstorm of a twentysomething Enron employee in England quickly led the company in a whole new direction. "Enron went live in November 1999 with one of the first online markets for all forms of energy," Hamel writes. "Just months after its launch, EnronOnline was doing a dollar volume far greater than Internet stars like Dell Computer, Cisco or Amazon."

Or consider Ken Kutaragi, an obscure Sony researcher who almost single-handedly got his company to come out with a videogame system in 1994. "Less than five years later," Hamel writes, "the PlayStation business had grown to comprise 12 percent of Sony's $57 billion in total revenues, and an incredible 40 percent of its $3 billion in operating profits."

Hamel's examples show that, when the planets are aligned right, it really is possible to bring about revolution inside a company. That doesn't mean it's possible for all of us, or even most of us. But I agree that in the absence of passion and creativity, work is mere drudgery, and Hamel makes a strong case that bringing fresh thinking to the job can produce wealth as well as satisfaction - no surprise to those directly involved in the Internet revolution.

Perhaps, though, the ultimate message of Hamel's book is that in business the phrase "after the revolution" no longer has meaning, ironic or otherwise, since the revolution he's talking about is one without end.


Contributing writer Daniel Akst is a columnist for the New York Times. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

New York Times
"Mr. Hamel passionately argues that...Companies will compete not in products and services but in the ability to devise ideas..." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

USA Today
"Hamel has built-in credibility to goad us into action..." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From AudioFile
To keep up with the competition, think of your business as being in an ecological relationship with its customers, suppliers, business partners, and competition, and then keep an eye on the dynamics of what happens in those relationships. The author uses clear, pithy language (there are many memorable sound bites) and well-spaced Socratic questions to spell out his ideas and push you into action. With the abstract thinking of an academician and the quick intuition of a start-up CEO, the author gives so many rich ideas and cool sentences that you'll want to rewind to enjoy them again. The importance of this material will make you wish for an unabridged audio or the print edition, just so you don't miss anything. T.W. AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From Booklist
For the past five years, Hamel has been the biggest name in management gurudom. He and his consulting firm Strategos are regularly profiled in the business press, and his articles frequently appear in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and Harvard Business Review. Competing for the Future, which Hamel cowrote with C. K. Prahalad in 1994, won numerous accolades and is still an influential, often-cited work. Strategy is Hamel's mantra. He argues that companies must continuously reevaluate, update, and redefine their core strategies. IKEA, Home Depot, Charles Schwab, and Cisco are some of the "insurgents" leading Hamel's revolution, tipping over such stolid icons as Kodak, K-mart, Compaq, and Westinghouse. Hamel even maintains Nike is on shaky ground. It is not enough, he warns, to start new businesses or develop new products. Victors in the revolution must invent new ways of doing business. Attempting to validate his own "revolutionary" credentials, Hamel has re-created--or at least repackaged--the business book, this one coming with jazzy illustrations and four-color graphics; and it will be heavily promoted. David Rouse

Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

"Gary Hamel's new book is packed with savvy insights." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

"Gary Hamel just might be the leading strategy expert in business today." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description
Gary Hamel, world-renowned business thinker and coauthor of Competing for the Future, the book that set the management agenda for the 1990s, now delivers an agenda for the twenty-first century with the national bestseller, Leading the Revolution. Fully revised with a new introduction, this book provides an action plan for any company or individual intent on becoming and staying an industry revolutionary. Hamel argues that the fundamental challenge companies face is reinventing themselves and their industries, not just in times of crisis-but continually.

Based on an extensive study of "gray-haired revolutionaries," including Charles Schwab, Cisco, Virgin, UPS, Semex, and GE Capital, Leading the Revolution shows how companies can continue to grow and thrive, even in ever-changing turbulent world markets.

Distinctive features and benefits to readers:

" Explains the underlying principles of radical innovation

" Explores where revolutionary new business concepts come from

" Identifies the key design criteria for building companies that are activist-friendly and revolution-ready

" Details the steps your company must take to make innovation an enduring capability

Packed with insight and practical advice, Leading the Revolution shows you how to

" Get off the treadmill of incrementalism

" Save your company from becoming a "one-vision wonder"

" Harness the imagination and passion of every employee

" Create vibrant internal markets for ideas, capital, and talent

Leading the Revolution is not a book for cozy corner-office types. It is for everyone who has the guts to act on the knowledge that our heritage is no longer our destiny. This groundbreaking book from the premier business thinker of our time is a call to arms for the dreamers and doers who will lead us into the age of revolution.

AUTHOR BIO: Gary Hamel is a Founder and Chairman of Strategos, and Visiting Professor of Strategic and International Management at the London Business School. He lives in Woodside, California.

Download Description
Hamel argues that to thrive in the age of revolution, companies must adopt a radical new innovation agenda. The fundamental challenge companies face is reinventing themselves and their industries not just in times of crisis--but continually. Beautifully illustrated with more than 100 full-color photos and drawings, Hamel's Leading the Revolution is an action plan--indeed, an incendiary device--for any company or individual intent on becoming and staying an industry revolutionary. Based on experiences of world-class companies including Enron, Charles Schwab, Cisco, Virgin, and GE Capital, Leading the Revolution explains the underlying principles of radical innovation, explores where revolutionary new business concepts come from, and identifies the key design criteria for building companies that are activist-friendly. It will show companies how to avoid becoming "one-vision wonders"; harness the imagination of every employee; develop new financial measures that focus on creating new wealth; and create vibrant internal markets for ideas, capital, and talent. Drawing on the examples of activists who profoundly changed their companies with their bare hearts, Hamel outlines the practical steps anyone can take to lead a successful revolution in their own firm. --This text refers to the Digital edition.

Book Info
Explains the underlying principles of radical innovations. Explores where revolutionary new business concepts come from. Identifies the key design criteria for building companies that activist-friendly and revolution-ready. Details the steps companies must take to make innovation an enduring capability. DLC: Creative ability in business. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"Gary Hamel captures the moment with a no-holds-barred assessment of the issues facing companies all around the world as they struggle to catch up with the new economy." --Sir Richard Branson, Chairman, Virgin Group

"Gary Hamel's 'revolutionary entrepreneurship' model represents a substantial advance in our understanding of what companies must do to become outstanding innovators. It should influence not only top management but also all employees who are, indeed, the CEOs of their business lives."

--Ken Lay, Chairman and CEO, Enron Corporation

"Revolutionaries in the new economy are those leaders and companies willing to change the strategies that once made them great. Gary Hamel's clear and powerful blueprint for radical innovation is eye-opening for any business."

--Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO, Dell

"Gary Hamel captures the new competitive business environment, one in which dreams and reality merge. Leading the Revolution will inspire innovation at all levels and provide insight into opportunities for rewarding revolutionary thinking in new and bigger ways."

--Arthur M. Blank, President & CEO, The Home Depot, Inc.

"As venture capitalists, we like to finance swarms of startups that kick the stuffing out of established companies. So please put this book down. Now slowly back away from the counter.... Because if you and your company put Hamel's revolutionary principles to work, it's going to be a lot harder for our start-ups to take your company by surprise."

--Steve T. Jurvetson, Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author
Gary Hamel is a Founder and Chairman of Strategos, and Visiting Professor of Strategic and International Management at the London Business School. He lives in Woodside, California. Contact Gary Hamel at hamel@leadingtherevolution. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.