The Network Imperative Shines a Light on Business Model Innovation


Understanding how to thrive in a disruptive nature is the "secret sauce" most business leaders are looking for, but finding actionable advice is extremely difficult. Backed by extensive research, "The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models" offers an actional recipe for businesses to create their "secret sauce" for thriving in the unpredictable age to come.

The Network Imperative Shines a Light on Business Model Innovation

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Most business owners accept that they need an online presence to survive in the digital age. Most business owners also accept the call to provide better service in this digital age. Most business owners, however, have not figured out how to powerfully connect technology at their disposal with a powerfully adaptive customer-focused business.

That’s where The Network Imperative: How to Survive and Grow in the Age of Digital Business Models promises to fill in the gap.

The book promises to help business owners transition into a powerful digital-based business designed for a rapidly changing digital age.

What is The Network Imperative About?

“Since 2000, 52 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have been acquired, merged, gone bankrupt, or fallen off the list.”
– – The Network Imperative

We are in a new age of business. We live in an age where the fastest growing and most profitable companies don’t focus on making physical things. They focus on making connections. We live in an age of Facebook, Google, Apple and Uber.

Despite all of the rhetoric about “preparing to be innovative and disruptive”, the authors of The Network Imperative found that most business owners still try to do business the old way (silos, incremental improvements, internally focused). This old way of doing business creates the paradox where businesses that are good at what they do end up stuck in their own success. Blockbuster, Kodak and Nokia didn’t fall because of what they did wrong. They failed because they focused exclusively on what they did right, assuming that the world would always follow their lead.

Getting out of this paradox by slowly and consistently transforming how you do business is the core message of The Network Imperative. The message, however, is much deeper than “Just start a Facebook page”. Instead, it is a reassessment of the assumptions behind your entire business model (how you measure assets, who makes decisions. what leaders are chosen, etc.) to slowly make that transition. For those businesses which have already made the commitment to “go digital”, the book helps readers determine the gaps between their current performance and their potential. (For those in the “already digital” the “Enterprise” case study might prove especially helpful.)

Co-authors Barry Libert, Megan Beck and Yoram (Jerry) Wind all know about the necessity of a new business model  for the digital age.

Libert is an investor, executive level consultant, digital board member and speaker. He is the CEO of Open Matters, a data science company.

Beck is the Chief Insights Officer at Open Matters and a consultant for the Wharton SEI center, an industry think tank.

Wind is the founding director of the Wharton SEI Center, a marketing professor, multi-book author and founding editor of Wharton School Publishing. His book Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints was recently reviewed on Small Business Trends.

What Was Best About The Network Imperative?

The Network Imperative deserves a lot of credit for shining a light on the “business model” aspects of innovation. Conversation on innovation tends to focus on the external aspects (like the new app or money raised) with minimal attention to the internal business model. That focus stems from the authors’ in-depth business research which gives them a unique perspective. The perspective leads to a startling, but powerful statement: It isn’t the age of the business that determines their ability to innovate (although it is a factor), it’s the people inside that business.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

The Network Imperative isn’t designed for really small businesses, although the principles can be applied to a small business. It works best for businesses that have dedicated departments and resources to plan for innovation while keeping the current business running. The focus in The Network Imperative isn’t on capitalizing on a short-term success (the “scale your startup in 7 days using this app” approach) which could be conducted by a very small business. The focus is on building a sustainable system to withstand and thrive.

Why Read The Network Imperative?

It’s time to move beyond the typical “Just do whatever the current best-performing business is doing” advice. As The Network Imperative proves, this advice is riddled with problems. Many of the top-performing businesses of the past are no longer in business (or have merged) and many of the current top-performing businesses will not survive into the near future. A better approach for confronting the uncertain future of business is to develop a thriving system based on principles. Despite the kind of change business owners face, the principles of a thriving business won’t. The Network Imperative shows how to adapt the timeless principles of the past for the uncertain nature of the future.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.