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New lessons for leaders about continuous innovation

Stephen Denning (Steve Denning Consulting, Washington, DC, USA)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 19 January 2015




After firms have made a technological breakthrough they need to practice continuous innovation to delight their customers so they will be able to keep dominating those markets in an enduring fashion. This masterclass aims to address the question, “So what’s involved in this rapid innovation?”


To answer the question, the author looks first at a primer, What is DevOps? by Mike Loukides. It describes the continuing acceleration in innovation in software development. To illustrate best practice the author looks at the case of Software developer Etsy.


In leading firms, instead of management approval being required for all changes, now all improvements that have been fully tested are deployed immediately – Within the broad strategic framework, the staff is authorized to proceed with continuous improvement.

Practical implications

The reality is that most firms today, whether they know it or not, are already software companies and will steadily become more so. Their competence in dealing with software will be a key part of their competitive edge – or lack thereof.


For leaders in all markets the lesson is – networked organizations using agile management practices and continuous deployment with a culture of trust, delegation and collaboration are able to move and innovate much more rapidly than traditional managements that are saddled with legacy cultures of hierarchical bureaucracy.



Denning, S. (2015), "New lessons for leaders about continuous innovation", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 43 No. 1, pp. 11-15.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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