Saturday, November 3, 2012

Review: Evolutionaries

"Whether we like it or not, the new economy demands leaders that are agile, adaptable, innovative and visionary." That idea of how to adapt in today's quickly-changing business world is the impetus behind Evolutionaries: Transformational Leadership: The Missing Link in Your Organizational Chart, by business strategists Randy Harrington and Carmen E Voillequé.

The authors define evolutionaries as leaders that emerge from any part of a company and act as the catalyst for change. Evolutionaries are risk takers willing to proceed before every contingency is worked out perfectly. They will cross-pollinate ideas from across the company and look outside the company for inspiration on how to transform the business.

The book is organized around interviews with half a dozen or so individuals the authors identified as successful evolutionaries within their fields, including Chandra Brown, the President of United Streetcar; Captain Steve Ahlberg, leader of Navy SEALS teams; and Cindy Tortorici, CEO and Founder of the Link for Women. The format works because it puts faces on the ideas. However, the one weak spot in this short book is the lack of concrete examples of evolutionary ideas in practice. It is a short book and has room for a few war stories that could really make the concepts come alive.

One of the biggest strengths in the book, aside from bringing light and terminology to the evolutionary idea, is its honesty in describing the dark side of evolutionaries and their force in some organizations. Evolutionary practices may be invaluable in an organization that needs to innovate to exist. But in a business seeking to grow along established lines or implement a proven business plan, change for change's sake, or innovations that sap resources from successful programs may be more damaging than beneficial.

Evolutionaries is definitely a book that deserves space on any shelf of leadership and business innovation books. It is a quick read – hopefully a little more fleshed out with concrete examples in future editions – and worthwhile just to spark ideas and discussions about where your business is going and when and how to tap into the power of evolutionary thinking.


If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it. 


This counts as one of my books for the Non-Fiction, Non-Memoirs Challenge, hosted by Julie at My Book Retreat.  I only have one more book to go to complete the challenge.

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