My original intention for this column was to get into some of the rationale behind what you are holding right now, a magazine that looks substantially different than the one you received from us last month and, if you see it the way that we do, significantly different than any other magazine you have encountered. Trust me: A whole lot of thought went into making these modifications, and we made them to provide you with a better product. I can assure you that a change of this scope didn't come cheaply and not without a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth among people in the Plymouth and Cincinnati offices. If there wasn't a good reason to reformat the book, economics and the inertial force of the status quo would have won.
Speaking of the status quo, I would like to make a recommendation: As soon as you are done looking through the magazine, hop online to www.autofieldguide.com, click on that area on the left side of the screen that reads "Books" and buy yourself a copy of Leading the Revolution by Gary Hamel (Harvard Business School Press; 333 pp.; $29.95). This is simply the best business book of 2000, and will undoubtedly be among the best of the decade.
Although this book is about "business," it is really about individuals. About you. About me. When I asked Hamel—who founded and runs a management consulting firm, Strategos, teaches at the London School of Business, and who is co-author of Competing for the Future, the book that defined the competitive concept of core competencies—who he wrote the book for, he answered, "For anyone in any organization who would like to make a bigger impact or who is unwilling to be Dilbert." In other words it is for anyone who cares enough to want to make a difference. He noted that there are many people in organizations who "have come to believe that Dilbert is ok. They bitch about how venal their boss is because there is nothing they can do about it." And he had one word for those kind of people: "Pathetic." (Note: This is not a rip on cartoonist Scott Adams's creation but on those people who tend to be deadweight.)
Hamel talks revolution. But, he suggested, "This is not about a palace coup or an uprising against the gray hairs, but a movement in an organization around a cause." He pointed out that people in companies that tend to get burned at the stake are those who have not thought through what they are trying to accomplish, what the business benefits are, and who haven't built a coalition of support. "I'm helping people understand how they can develop their own point of view about innovations and find an idea that is worth putting their ass on the line for and capture the imaginations of others in the organization and how to build around it and get heard." Hamel is a proponent for what he calls "radical innovation." "Discontinuous innovation." He believes that step-by-step continuous improvement programs may be necessary but insufficient. When asked about people in companies implementing things like the Toyota Production System, Hamel answered, "If your improvement program and strategies are derivative, you'll never have above-average wealth creation."
A final thought: "At the end of the day, it comes down to someone who has a passion for making a difference, for punching more than their weight."
By the way. We did some research (maybe you responded: thanks) and discovered that many AM&P readers want to learn more about information technology. So next month we are holding our first-ever conference of any type: E-business Essentials: Job 1. It will be held in Las Vegas, November 6-8 and is being sponsored by Sun Microsystems. Check our website for more details. This should be a great opportunity to learn more about Covisint, ANX, etc., and to hook up with your fellow AM&P readers.