Book Review: The Reinventors – How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change

by Holland-Mark | November 6, 2012

In a frame on the wall in our office at Holland-Mark is the following quote: “In a world where change is the only constant, adaptability is the ultimate skill.” It’s a belief that is widespread throughout our office. You hear it in the hallways everyday. We believe it’s as true in our business and industry as it is in yours, and that perhaps it’s an even more relevant truth today than ever in the past.

So a few months ago, at the start of a new engagement with a well-known book publisher client of ours, when the conversation around the table turned to a book titled The Reinventors – How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change, my ears perked up. The book was assigned reading by management, which we were told is a regular occurrence at the company. Though she didn’t say it ecstatically, she did say that the book contained a lot of good stories and that it was a worthwhile read.

Back in Boston, curious and inspired, I picked up a copy of The Reinventors and began reading on my 30-minute train ride to and from work. A few weeks later, I had finished it.

The book, which I give a solid 3-1/2 stars, was written by Jason Jennings, a successful business man turned consultant who speaks throughout the world about business and leadership. To write The Reinventors he and his team of researchers dug through ten years of newspaper, magazine and blog articles and uncovered thousands of stories about companies that had successfully reinvented themselves. Selecting the 100 best stories they found that exemplified the need for reinvention in business, including both hits and misses, Jennings and his team sought out interviews with key people involved, the gritty stories that provide context to the ten rules of reinvention Jennings explores in the book chapter by chapter.

Jennings writes about Starbucks, Apple, and Southwest. Businesses that, because of the right people in the organization seeking and embracing change and evolution, were able to avoid potential business plateaus, or worse yet, demise, and instead grow their companies despite, in some cases, seemingly insurmountable challenges within their organization or market.

Jennings also writes about companies that missed the boat. Included in the book are the stories of Kmart, Blockbuster, and EMI. The idea is that we can, and should, learn from others’ mistakes, companies that failed to reinvent themselves sometimes even when competition and technological advancements were staring them directly in the face and yelling, “Get with the program!”

It’s probably clear to you by now that the fundamental message of this book is that all companies must embrace continuous change – sometimes even radical change – to stay relevant and viable. So if you are a person with a hand in a company’s ability to succeed (aren’t we all, really?), I suggest you read, or at least give a focused scan of, The Reinventors — How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change. It probably won’t rock your world, but it may serve as an important – perhaps even timely – reminder of the many necessary practices we all know we need to be employing but at times just lose sight of.