The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation by Josh Linkner, Jossey-Bass, 256 pages, $27.99, Hardcover, May 2014, ISBN 9780470923436
You don’t have a choice on whether or not your industry will be disrupted (hint: it will be.) But you do have a choice on whether or not you’re going to be one of the disrupters. It’s a lesson Josh Linkner knows well, because he has made it his business (or rather, businesses—he has “founded, built, and sold four technology companies for a combined value of over $250 million”) to be one of those disrupters.
His new book, The Road to Reinvention, teaches you how to be one, as well—whether you’re a potentially disruptive startup or an established industry player looking for ways to reinvent your company to stay not only relevant, but resilient. The reinvention, Linkner makes clear, doesn’t always come in the form of new products or technology. Sometimes it’s a small, but fundamental shift in a company’s culture or service. Indicative of the atypical examples you’ll find illustrating the lessons in the book, Linkner turns to an acclaimed restaurant in midtown Manhattan, Sushi Yasuda, to make the point:
Employees of Sushi Yasuda are paid full salaries with benefits, vacation days, sick leave, and health insurance. As of 2013, tips are strictly forbidden. […] The pay structure drives morale, reduces turnover, and improved overall customer service. Yasuda also enjoys another win too: customers appreciate the removal of the tipping process and also respect that the establishment cares for its staff.
Prices are now higher at the restaurant, but the cost to the customer is the same because they no longer have to tip the server. The servers have more stability and dignity in their job, and the cost to the restaurant is zero.
A native Detroiter, Linkner also weaves the story of that city into the fabric of the book, describing how a small fur trading town “went on to reshape the rest of the world by providing the manufacturing processes that helped…build American prosperity for decades to come.” While he tells the now familiar story of Detroit’s failure to reinvent itself as industries left or vanished altogether, he also illustrates what residents are doing now to reinvigorate his beloved hometown.
As you’re reading, Linkner’s focus on the human agency in all of these changes will remind you that this is fundamentally a story about people—as all organizations are—and that we all have a part to play.
Organizations are far more than brands, factory equipment, and balance sheets. The raw materials in this knowledge age are people, and these individuals can create either art or havoc.
With a little help from Linkner, we can create a bit of both, steering our companies into progress and innovation, disrupting—and bettering—business along the way.