Revolutionary Strategy

During my research I have found that there are many different strategic models when it comes to promoting growth, sustainability, and competitive advantage in the business world today.
These models have been vetted and implemented in organizations around the world to much success. In our ever changing world progress is the driving force and innovation the new organizational religion. This has led to the demise of true bureaucracies and the rise of the infocracy (Clawson, 2012).  Ralph Waldo Emerson once exclaimed “There are two parties, the establishment and the movement.”

Gary Hamel (2000) in Leading the Revolution made the observation that there are two types of leaders: “Value squeezers who tried to milk additional profits out of an ‘old’ business model or value proposition and revolutionaries who created new value propositions and businesses” (Clawson, 2012, p. 64). Should and individual decide to pursue a revolutionary business strategy Hamel details a ten point list of general guidelines.

  1. Set unreasonable expectations. Collins & Porras’ BHAG’s; big – hairy – audacious – goals. These large goals inspire people to accomplish more than they ever thought they could.
  2. Use elastic business definitions. Don’t get locked into one view of the company, successful companies evolve and change according to environmental and market factors.
  3. Create energy by defining your activity as a cause, not a business. Collins & Porras “Purpose beyond profits”. People would rather work towards something important and powerful than to make others wealthy.
  4. Listen to revolutionary voices. Those voices could very well be the Steve Jobs or Bill Gates of the next generation.
  5. Create an open market for new ideas. “If the organization does not systematically and openly find and reward new ideas, it will die.”
  6. Create an open market for capital to fund those new ideas. Managers must have the freedom to invest in revolutionary ideas that they believe will serve the customer.
  7. Create open market for talent. “Organizations that encourage mobility and allow highly talented people to work on projects they are moved by are much more likely to attract and keep the highly talented.”
  8. Encourage low-risk experimentation. Experimentation is a necessary part of revolutionary companies and leadership should encourage experimentation in a low-risk manner.
  9. Grow by cellular division. Do not stifle a revolutionary idea or product. Allow it to grow and progress naturally.
  10. Let the revolutionaries participate in the wealth creation. “If a revolutionary comes up with a great idea, he or she naturally wants to enjoy the benefits of that idea.”

(Clawson, 2012, p. 64)

Although some of the points in Hamel’s list of recommended revolutionary practices are undoubtedly controversial I can understand his points. I think about companies that have exceeded all expectations during my generation, companies such as Amazon, Zappos, Toms, Facebook, and GoPro. All of these companies exhibit one if not all of the points in Hamels’s rules for designing a revolutionary organization. I firmly believe that this model will continue to be adapted and we will begin to see concepts derived out of these rules commonly implemented in progressive organizations. Not all organizations can benefit from “revolutionary” strategy in its entirety, but every organization can take small steps in the revolutionary direction to promote growth, sustainability, and competitive advantage.

  • JohnHollison


Clawson, J.G. (2012). Level three leadership (5th Ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall


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