Is IBM the first epic casualty of the Creative Economy? IBM’s eleven consecutive quarterly losses and just announced massive restructuring may be indicating you can no longer make a 20th Century elephant dance, at least with an IBM style 20th Century mental map. Gerstner and his army of fellow McKinsey associates demonstrated this during IBM’s last epic turnaround failure that was conducted largely through financial engineering for the goal of maximizing shareholder value (the 20th Century management’s “Dumbest Idea in the World”).
For management theory and practice the turning of the calendar to the 21st Century was more than just a meaningless odometer roll-over and now clearly appears to be a revolution on a much more grand scale. We are turning from the end of the era of the Industrial Revolution to what I prefer to call the era of the “Innovation Revolution.” This past week Steve Denning, author of Radical Management, Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century presented his thinking during a webinar already viewed by thousands on the newly formed Learning Consortium for the Creative Economy which summarizes how we are in no less than a management Copernican Revolution with all the characteristics of a classic (Thomas Kuhn-like) paradigm shift (full disclosure–I am also helping organize the Learning Consortium). Denning reminds us that when civilization began to consider that the earth revolved around the sun rather than the other way around, the implications were not merely about astronomical theory. Mankind’s very place in the cosmos had to be reconsidered. The Roman Catholic church and Protestants alike (including initially Luther himself) denounced heliocentricity for hundreds of years despite clear empirical evidence. Presumptions such as the divine right of kings were challenged and the ripples extended out everywhere through culture and thought.
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