Reinventing management: the practices that enable continuous innovation

Stephen Denning (Stephen Denning's latest book is The Leader's Guide to Radical Management (Jossey‐Bass, 2010) (

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Publication date: 10 May 2011



This paper aims to show how pioneering organizations can reinvent management practice by simultaneously implementing five fundamental shifts aimed at achieving continuous innovation and disciplined execution.


The paper looks at five transformations that are required, which are: the firm's goal becomes delighting and engaging customers (a shift from an inside‐out to outside‐in perspective); the role of managers changes (from controller to enabler); the mode of managerial coordination switches (from command‐and‐control to dynamic linking); the values practiced shifts (from a single focus on shareholder value to values relevant to all stakeholders); and the communications mode of management changes (from command to conversation).


This Masterclass offers leaders an overview of the practices needed to accomplish and institutionalize the five shifts.

Practical implications

Meshing a client focus with autonomous teams and disciplined execution requires a set of measures called “dynamic linking.” “Dynamic linking” means that: the work is done in short cycles; the management sets priorities in terms of the goals of work in the cycle, based on what is known about what might delight the client; decisions about how the work is to be carried out to achieve those goals are largely the responsibility of those doing the work; and progress is measured (to the extent possible) by direct client feedback at the end of each cycle.


None of the five shifts is new in itself. Success, however, requires putting all five shifts into operation together. This article provides a state‐of‐the‐art primer for leaders managing change.



Denning, S. (2011), "Reinventing management: the practices that enable continuous innovation", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 39 No. 3, pp. 16-24.

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