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« Memo to HBR: The real lessons of Robert McNamara | Main | Come & discuss the five big shifts in the reinvention of management: Dec 15 in DC »

November 21, 2010


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Hi Steve

I suggest it starts with the individual. If the message is understood, then I think we will start where we choose to start, and where we can make most impact. We can get to the other aspects as we make progress.
I think authentic action - doing what we decide that leverages our passion and addresses the needs of others we wish to address; , rather than that which others dictate - is at the heart of radical management. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Lao Tzu I think.

Steve Denning


That's a very elegant way of framing the issue. Love it! It captures the thought that this is a phase change: from doing what others dictate to doing what leverages the passion of yourself and others. And yes, it's a journey, as I say in chapter 11 of my book.

Is the journey a thousand miles? I tend to think of it as an infinite journey--a journey that is under way the moment you decide to make that phase change and that never ends, because one never finally arrives. One is always learning and innovating, always becoming something fresh. Thanks for the idea sparker!


Steve Denning

On an earlier post, Bryan Murphy had an interesting and related insight: "Are these [five shifts] interdependent in the same way an organism is not an organism unless it functions as a complete whole?"

andy radka

I agree with the idea that alignment of the 5 shifts is vital for success. I would argue however on reflection that there is perhaps another shift?! The neuro science research taking place is shifting understanding and providing many clues to how best to change behaviour for example - see Managing with the Brain in Mind by David Rock. This research seems to reinforce and complement the Reinvention message.

Steve Denning


Thanks for the reference to David Rock's book. As I stress in my new book, this is about a different way of thinking, speaking and acting in the workplace--a kind of phase change for the brain and how we think about work.

So for practical purposes, we have to talk about five shifts, and seven principles, and seventy practices, if we are to understand what's involved. But in the end, it really comes down to one transition: thinking differently.


Dave Duggal

Thanks for the plug! :)

Don't get me wrong, I do agree with your notion that the five shifts provide an operational lens to comprehend and act on the big conceptual shift to emergence.

On the implementation side, the saying 'you can't cross a chasm with small steps' comes to mind.

Reinventing management requires a leap of faith. They (management and staff) need to be believers - they need to see the current problem and seek responsiveness as an enterprise value for sustainable competitiveness.

As you noted in the prior post, partial implementation, without embracing systemic change, will fail.

Steve Denning


Great points. Thanks for reminding me about "you can't cross a chasm with small steps" That's it exactly!


John Segalla

Great reading, and like the breaking down of the steps to frame the whole re-focus of thinking management has to undergo. I am comparing the 5 steps as Steve has written to the 5 S of lean management. There is to my way of thinking a practical staged way to implement lean into a company, but as we all know, its really a management top down focus which is the most difficult to enbed and change the style and behaviour of management. In all the lean implementations I have been involved in, it the management that is the hardest to convert, the staff are way ahead of the game, and this intrigues me. Steve your steps plus details will surly be exactly what is needed to practically and deliberatly re focus the management team. I look forward to more comments on the dual implementation startegy of 5 S and Steve's 5 steps in tandum.

John Parboosingh

This approach to management oractices has been developing over a few years. This is a nice and eloquent description. One knowledge-intensive "industry" that it has not impacted, as yet, is health care and more precisely relationships between doctor and patient and between care givers working together. I have tried to "translate" your sentences for this audience. Coming from an outsider such as yourself, Stephen, and an article directly applying to health care would be much appreciated.

Steve Denning


Thanks for the comment. I have already translated the radical management approach to the education sector (

To do the same for health is high on my to-do list. Will get to it shortly. Stay tuned!


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