September 2016Reading List

The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models

The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models

The world is changing in fundamental ways. As the authors of The Network Imperative describe, “There is a shift from tangible to intangible, physical to digital, and firm-based to network-based.” These transformations aren’t just affecting tech start-ups; businesses in every industry are faced with critical challenges both in terms of their business models and their leadership models, both of which must be reinvented.

To illustrate this urgent need for change, Barry Libert, Megan Beck, and Wharton professor Jerry Wind draw distinctions between leaders of traditional firms and their networked peers:

  • Traditional leaders ask what value their firm can provide. Network leaders ask what value their customers and other networks have to offer.
  • Traditional leaders think the goal is to sell more products to customers. Network leaders see the value in customer co-creation, advocacy, and sharing.
  • Traditional leaders think they’re operating at full capacity. Network leaders see the world differently and full of additional potential. 

The Network ImperativeThe Network Imperative (Harvard Business Review Series, 2016) is not just a call to action. While it compellingly makes the case for transformation, highlighting the fact that “old thinking” limits profitability and growth based on research on over 1500 companies, it is also a practical guide for moving toward the networked organization. It offers ten strategies for creating network value, and five steps for implementing network business models. In the last chapter, the authors specifically address the challenge to leaders and provide a blueprint for rethinking leadership in the networked age.

As Saul Berman, Vice President and Chief Strategist for IBM Global Business Services, says, “If you are part of the Fortune 1000 and want to be there ten years from now, you need to listen to what these authors have to say in this important book.”

Professor Yoram (Jerry) Wind is academic director of Wharton Executive Education’s Wharton Fellows: Master Classes and Networking for Senior Executives