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Speed Review: Evolve!

Speed Review: Evolve!

Speed Review: Evolve!

Succeeding in the Digital Culture of Tomorrow

by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Treat strategy as improvisational theater, nurture networks of partners and reconstruct organizations as online and offline communities are some of the ways that companies can acquire a competitive “e-culture,” according to legendary Harvard Business School professor Kanter.

Review

Kanter: How E-Savvy Companies Succeed
Back from the frontiers of management, bestselling author Rosabeth Moss Kanter has created a firm stepping stone across the rapidly moving waters of business technology. Her new book, Evolve! is a call to arms for businesspeople, to help them speed their movement into digital commerce.

A New Way of Living and Working
According to Kanter, a new e-culture - a new way of living and working that will transform every aspect of today's organizations - is evolving from the new technology of today. Her goal is to provide a working plan for business leaders to adopt the principles of e-culture into their work. To do this, she writes, businesspeople must:

  • Treat strategy as improvisational theater
  • Nurture networks of partners
  • Reconstruct organizations as online and offline communities
  • Attract and retain top talent

Kanter's evolutionary exposé is made up of three parts:
Searching, Searching: The Challenge of Change. To start off her journey into the offline challenges of online business, Kanter looks at how the Internet affects all of us, as well as the elements of business that it does not change. Then she asks, "Will the young lead the way?" and explains why cosmetic change does not work. Concerning an older company that creates a Web site without the necessary structural changes, she writes, "Superficial add-ons, with no change in how the company operates, do not produce Internet success."

Kanter also explains that "rampant individualism destroys the potential to derive economic value from the technology" of the Internet Age. The challenges faced by businesses moving into e-commerce are to empower and connect people without isolating them, allow user communities to form and grow without letting them attack and deny, and help businesses and communities without destroying them.

In the Green: The Essence of E-Effectiveness. Success in the Internet age means generating "the capacity to create a series of hits," Kanter writes. E-savvy companies must stay on their toes, ready to improvise and adapt to change at a moment's notice. Once an organizational theme has been devised with strong players, "innovation through improvisation is at the heart of e-culture." With colorful success stories from Sun Microsystems, Reuters, Greenhouse and Amazon.com, Kanter explains how rolling with the punches, networking and diplomacy can mean global success and big revenues, even without a written agenda. Success also requires collaboration, community thinking, and attracting and retaining motivated people.

Morphing: Leading Fundamental Change at Internet Speed.Digging into the leader's toolkit, Kanter "introduces tools for systemic change to ensure that the system is in gear to create and sustain the business culture of tomorrow."

Kanter calls older companies that want to tap into the exploding world of e-commerce "wannadots." She explains that, to reach their goals of joining the Internet marketplace and succeeding, wannadots have to embrace constant change with a positive attitude, encourage collaboration, make fast decisions, and learn to do anything that is not prohibited.

This takes "leadership for change" that supports radical thinking and continuous change, and accepts innovation. "Changemasters" must know how to tune in to the environment, stimulate breakthrough ideas, communicate inspiring visions, build coalitions, nurture the working team, persist, persevere, and celebrate accomplishment.

A Compelling, Enjoyable Read
Kanter's writing skills make this book about forward-thinking business solutions read like an infectious novel. Every point she offers comes with a compelling tale from real life that exemplifies its importance and its applications. Executives and Internet users alike can benefit from her sensible expertise and the insight she delivers in an enjoyable style.