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Strategy As Revolution

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Summary of Strategy as a Revolution

By: Hamel Gary

Harvard Business Review, Jul/ Aug96, Vol.74, Issue 4

1. What are the main issues addressed in the article?

Hamel's central thesis is that strategy development must be seen as a revolutionary action within an organization and goes onto list 10 attributes of such an action. His premise is that revolution is what is required in an age when incremental change is not enough to secure a position in the market place. Radical views are what are needed in order to find and establish new marketplaces. He uses examples such as The Body Shop, Ikea, and Dell.

The attributes for strategy can be summarized as imagination, subversion and power to the people. Essentially these summarized the notion that strategy comes from across the business not the top...indeed the upper echelons are singularly ill placed to develop strategy when radical thinking is required as they are so invested in the status quo. The subversive element is to signify the need to question the norms, challenge the status quo. Hamel sees imagination as a key element to successful strategy development - one must be able to imagine different worlds, different futures and different pathways to really be able to radicalize thinking. Finally, Hamel argues that it is changing perspective that frequently is the catalyst for reconceptualization. It is the change that allows us to really question norms as the norms suddenly become clearer to identify when viewed from different perspective.

2. What are the strengths and weaknesses in the article?

This article convincingly argues that deep in every company there are strategy revolutionaries, and that every CEO needs to think more deeply about how to identify, organize and nurture these revolutionaries to become an integral part of their firms' strategic processes. However, it does not explain the need of identifying the skills. The three major identifiers are communication, facilitation, and corporate surveillance. The rebels need to position themselves in their organization so that they can understand how their work will fit in and explain it to all comers, doubters, and skeptics. They must see what argument is needed and develop their ability to press it. Facilitation means that they will be able to guide and manage groups as their plan is worked out and put into operation. Corporate surveillance means they understand the power structure of the company, the depth and limitations of management, and the management perception of problems such as what it worries about, what keeps it awake at night, and what it would change once the advantages of change are explained to



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