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Boldly leading with a dual operating network – John Kotter addresses some likely practitioner concerns

Brian Leavy (AIB Professor of Strategic Management at Dublin City University Business School)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 11 November 2014




This interview aims to illuminate some of the implementation issues inherent in a new conceptual approach to managing change offered by John P. Kotter. His very promising and compelling idea is a dual operating system, comprised of a traditional management-driven hierarchy focused on delivering day-to-day performance and a strategic accelerator network focused on innovation and agility.


Kotter, a noted change management expert and Harvard professor emeritus, is questioned about his dual operating system concept by veteran strategist and author Brian Leavy.


Looking back, at some stage in almost every corporate history, network and hierarchy will be found to have co-existed symbiotically for some period of time before the traditional tendency for the hierarchy to dominate eventually took over. In effect, the network half of the dual operating system mimics “successful enterprises in their entrepreneurial phase,” where initiatives and sub-initiatives typically “coalesce and disband as needed.”

Practical implications

Kotter’s fieldwork has found that in even the most un-entrepreneurial organizations, there is 5 percent of the workforce that has the energy and desire, if organized correctly, to be an entrepreneurial force.


By asking Kotter some hard questions about implementation, the interview provides executives with a fuller view about how a dual operating system would address change management in their firm.



Leavy, B. (2014), "Boldly leading with a dual operating network – John Kotter addresses some likely practitioner concerns", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 42 No. 6, pp. 13-16.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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