The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation
May 2014, Jossey-Bass
Companies, communities, and individuals fall for many reasons, but one of the most common—and easily avoidable—is the failure to reinvent. When people and organizations rest on prior successes rather than driving purposeful transformation, they discover too late that they have lost their market position altogether to competitors and external forces.
The most successful companies, brands, and individuals make reinvention a regular part of their business strategies. Transformation demands an ongoing process of discovery and imagination, and The Road to Reinvention lays out a systematic approach for continually challenging and reinventing yourself and your business. Venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur Josh Linkner identifies six elements in any business that are ripe for reinvention and shares examples, methods, and step-by-step techniques for creating deliberate, productive disruption.
Throughout The Road to Reinvention, Linkner also explores the history—the great rise, unprecedented fall, and now rebirth—of his beloved hometown, Detroit. First rising to greatness as the result of breathtaking innovation, Detroit had generations of booming growth before succumbing to apathy, atrophy, and finally bankruptcy. Now, the city is rising from the ashes and driving sustainable success through an intense focus on reinvention. Linkner brings an insider's view of this incredible story of grit, determination, and creativity, sharing his perspective on Detroit's successes and setbacks as a profound example of large-scale organizational and personal transformation.
Change is inevitable. You need to decide: Will you drive that change, or be driven away by it? Will you disrupt or be disrupted? By choosing to deliberately reimagine your own status quo, you can secure a strong future for both your company and your career.
1 Disrupt or Be Disrupted 7
2 Embrace the Reinvention Ethos 27
3 Cannibalize Your Own Product 49
4 Retool Your Operations 73
5 Create Vivid Experiences 92
6 Tell a Memorable Story 110
7 Overhaul Your Culture 131
8 Reimagine Your Customer 151
9 Transform Your Career 171
10 Forge Your Legacy 195
About the Author 237
Josh Linkner is the CEO of Detroit Venture Partners, playing a key role in the turnaround of Detroit, Michigan. He is the founder and former CEO of four successful tech companies including ePrize, the largest interactive promotion agency in the world. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Disciplined Dreaming (Jossey-Bass, 2011). He has been honored as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is a President Obama Champion of Change award recipient. Josh is a regular columnist for Forbes, Detroit Free Press, and Inc. Magazine, and he also plays a mean jazz guitar. He lives in Detroit, Michigan.
For more information, please visit www.joshlinkner.com.
“Continuous reinvention has become a critical strategy to
win in these challenging times. In The Road to
Reinvention, Josh Linkner lays out a powerful and cohesive path
to help you drive your own creative disruption.”
—Steve Case, cofounder, AOL
“Josh Linkner is a truly special entrepreneur, part of a
rare breed that understands that the most important lesson on how
to win in business, and in life, is to never give up. The Road
to Reinvention is filled with practical tidbits for
those fighting every day to become successful.”
—Eric Lefkofsky, CEO, Groupon
“In this compelling book, Josh Linkner reminds us that no
business can afford to pause in the headlong drive to meet new
challenges to the status quo, that to reinvent the workplace, we
have to reinvent ourselves continually as leaders. The Road to
Reinvention is a must-read.”
—Deborah Hopkins, chief innovation officer, Citibank
“Reinvention can be both exciting and challenging, but
successfully reinventing one’s self, a business, an industry,
or a community can also be truly rewarding. We are in the midst of
a positive reinvention in Detroit and throughout Michigan, and I
encourage you to head down Josh Linkner’s road to
—Rick Snyder, governor, State of Michigan
“The Road to Reinvention shows why great people and
companies go stale—and how to stay fresh. Josh Linkner
reveals what it takes to reboot your products, reshape your
services, reengineer your operations, rethink your brand, and
restart your career. This bold, uplifting book will reinvent the
way that leaders and entrepreneurs do business.”
—Adam Grant, professor, the Wharton School, and author, Give and Take
“Josh Linkner has laid out a comprehensive framework for
reinvention and operational innovation, which is a must-read for
all leaders. With numerous inspirational examples and straight talk
on what you can do to reinvent your company, The Road to
Reinvention should be mandatory reading for your entire
—Tom LaSorda, former CEO, Chrysler
“The Road to Reinvention is a must-read if you
want you and your team to reach the next level. Full of practical
advice and engaging, illuminating anecdotes, Linkner's message
is powerful, relevant, and inspiring.”
—Keith Ferrazzi, author, Never Eat Alone and Who's Got Your Back
“In The Road to Reinvention, Josh Linkner creates a
clear path for how to achieve transformative change—the key
to all future growth and success.”
—Bill Emerson, CEO, Quicken Loans
“Through clear principles and examples, Josh Linkner makes
it easier for anyone to reinvent their brand, company, or even
career. The Road to Reinvention creates a template to
understand the critical leadership challenge of the decade: disrupt
or be disrupted.”
—David Butler, VP, innovation and entrepreneurship, the Coca-Cola Company
“Don’t let your competition read this book before
you do. The Road to Reinvention offers powerful
insights and navigable paths forward for both personal and business
reinvention. Josh Linkner is a singularly thoughtful
entrepreneur who understands how to illuminate a vision of the
—Don Katz, CEO and founder, Audible
“Protecting your existing model is no longer an
option. The Road to Reinvention provides the tools
you need in order to be the disruptor instead of becoming
disrupted. A must-read.”
– Steve Blank, professor, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, and author, The Startup Owner’s Manual
“As someone who has had to reinvent many times to stay on
top, I highly recommend Josh Linkner's book. The Road to
Reinvention will help you come out ahead, even when facing
the roughest circumstances.”
—Les Gold, star, Hardcore Pawn, and author, For What It’s Worth
“With stories of people and companies that have succeeded
(and failed) to reinvent, Josh Linkner shows you how to harness
disruptive creativity so you end up on the side of success. I wish
I had this book years ago!”
—David Meerman Scott, author, The New Rules of Marketing and PR
“With the pace of innovation and resulting changes in
consumer behavior, no company can afford to sit still. Growing a
successful company requires creative assessment and disruption. In
The Road to Reinvention, Josh Linkner illustrates how to
lead your employees not only to accept but embrace the need for
—Carol Kruse, global CMO, Tough Mudder, and former CMO, ESPN
“The Road to Reinvention is a powerful wake-up call
for any organization, whether already thriving or looking
for inspiration. It's also a toolkit for
entrepreneurs seeking to build the next big
—Andrew Yang, founder and CEO, Venture for America, and author, Smart People Should Build Things
“The Road to Reinvention is a valuable guide
for renewing your organization in this age of disruption. Josh
Linker, having created a wide array of successful businesses,
shares his proven methods for leading innovation. The Road
to Reinvention is a must-read for anyone who needs
transformational tools to remake their organization.”
—Jeff DeGraff, professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and author, Innovation You
“Josh Linkner is one of the most creative thinkers
on the planet. The Road to Reinvention contains his
prescriptions for changing your product mix, your approach to the
marketplace, and even your customers. Read this book if you want
your company to thrive in today's crazy competitive
—Nick Morgan, president, PublicWords, and author, Power Cues and Trust Me
“Already in a creative field, I found the tools and
exercises in The Road to Reinvention encouraged me to think
about things differently, from songwriting to expanding my business
and brand. Thank you for a great follow-up to Disciplined
—Earl Klugh, GRAMMY® Award–winning guitarist, songwriter, and producer
“Innovative approaches are the drivers of all human progress. In The Road to Reinvention, Josh Linkner shows you exactly how to reinvent your business and career with stunning precision.” —Brad Feld, cofounder, Tech Stars and Foundry Group, and author, Do More Faster and Venture Deals
“The Road to Reinvention reflects true insight from
a successful entrepreneur who has spent a career in the trenches of
creative disruption. Josh Linkner has taken the concept of
reinvention and broken it down into actionable, specific insights
that can be put into practice on a daily basis.”
—Al Callier, VP, strategic innovation, Universal Studios
“The Road to Reinvention gives readers a clear path
for renewal and resilience that is compelling, insightful, and
practical. Josh Linkner presents a blueprint for leaders to follow
so they are able not just to stay in the game but to stay ahead of
—Brian Owens, head, global brand strategy, eBay Inc.
“Josh Linkner is among a rare breed of entrepreneurs.
Driven and successful, yet reflective, cognizant that personal
growth and professional success are intricately linked. In
The Road to Reinvention he provides the most compelling case
I've encountered for approaching today's increasingly complex
business environment in a disruptive manner, all while inspiring us
to truly begin living the life we've imagined for
—Dave Zilko, president and vice chairman, Garden Fresh Gourmet
“The Road to Reinvention is a thought-provoking
work that offers a clear process for ongoing creative disruption.
Josh Linkner has lived the process of leading a hyper-growth
organization. The Road to Reinvention provides insight and
inspiration through engaging stories, powerful examples, and
easy-to-follow processes. Highly recommended.”
—Scott Dorsey, CEO and cofounder, Exact Target
“Josh Linkner is an expert on reinvention, and this book
is a must-read. The Road to Reinvention is a
fascinating new roadmap to help you envision the future and control
your own destiny.”
—Michael Abrashoff, US Navy Commander, and author, It’s Your Ship
WHAT’S WRONG WITH MOST PRESS RELEASES:
1) THEY AREN’T APPLICABLE: The publicist didn’t consider the journalist’s needs.
2) THEY ARE TOO DENSE: Important information is hard to find.
3) THEY ARE TOO LONG: Journalists rarely read past the first page.
4) THEY ARE TOO PITCHY: Publicists should make the point and stop trying to sell.
5) THEY ARE BORING: Journalists would rather read their Twitter feed for news. At least that is up-to-date, in color, and has some humor between headlines.
PRESS RELEASES NEED REINVENTION
Publicists should recognize the shortcomings of the traditional format and imagine the possibilities of doing it better. They should risk an honest assessment of previous products, as well as the current market, in the name of driving change. Most of all, they should attempt to understand the reader’s perspective and use that perspective to create worthwhile improvements.
So says Josh Linkner in Chapter 6 of his new book, THE ROAD TO REINVENTION: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation (Jossey-Bass; on sale June 9, 2014; hardcover; $27.99). This release follows his advice.
WHO: Josh Linkner, New York Times bestselling author of Disciplined Dreaming, is an entrepreneur (or, to use the term he prefers, streetfighter), high-growth CEO, venture capitalist, and urban reinventor who is passionate about making the world more creative and helping people seize their full potential. He is the CEO and Managing Partner of Detroit Venture Partners, helping to rebuild his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, by backing passionate entrepreneurs who can make an impact through their own innovative ideas.
WHAT: Linkner practices what he preaches in THE ROAD TO REINVENTION. He founded and served as CEO of four successful technology companies, never settling for yesterday’s accomplishments and reinventing himself at every fork in the road. Now he has put together a collection of guidelines and case studies that will help anyone, from entry-level associate to C-suite executive, practice the open-mindedness, courage, and imagination to reshape a department, a company, an industry, or the world. ß Not hyperbole.
THE ROAD TO REINVENTION begins by defining the reinvention ethos:
- Let go of the past
- Encourage courage
- Embrace failure
- Do the opposite
- Imagine the possibilities
- Put yourself out of business
- Reject limits
- Aim beyond
From here, Linkner goes on to name specific facets of any business that are ripe for disruption (e.g., operations, communication, culture, customer service) and details how reinvention can create success in each. He also offers stories—both transformative wins and heartbreaking flame-outs—of well-known brands, from UPS and Ford to Method and Whirlpool, as well as those of lesser-known brands (mortgage providers, startups, and hospital chains), that provide inspiration for readers attempting to adopt his lessons into their professional and personal lives.
And at the end of every chapter, Linkner weaves in the story of his hometown, Detroit, Michigan, for “no other place embodies the spirit of reinvention—both its powerful potential as an engine of growth and the dire consequences of neglecting it.” His honesty about Detroit’s problems, a result of apathy and protectionism over several decades, serves to authenticate his optimism in its future, and he brings an insider's view from the front lines and demonstrates the potential for reinvention on a community-wide scale. Additionally, as a managing partner of Detroit Venture Partners, Linkner is certainly putting his money where his mouth is.
HOW: Like any other muscle group, creativity and innovation require specific exercises that must be repeated consistently in order to increase strength and endurance. To that end, Josh Linkner provides readers with checklists and game plans every step of the way. He intends THE ROAD TO REINVENTION to be a tool that readers will come back to time and time again, whenever they seek “a catalyst for the types of changes necessary for taking on tomorrow’s challenges and claiming (as yet) unseen opportunities.”
WHY: Sustained growth is the result of a continuous reinvention process, and successful companies, brands, and individuals refuse to sit still. Unfortunately, most organizations languish until it's too late, shielding previous success rather than inventing new business models, afraid to cannibalize their own success, and then find themselves scrambling for a turnaround strategy when catastrophe strikes. If organizations make proactive reinvention a permanent part of their business plan, writes Linkner, they will ensure they stay ahead of the competition and forego the need for reactive turnaround efforts.
WHY NOW:Because we live in a binary world. “Program, or be programmed,” wrote Douglas Rushkoff. “Hunt, or be hunted,” said Frank Underwood. “Disrupt, or be disrupted. Drive change, or be driven by it,” writes Linkner.
In other words, practice divergent thinking, and practice it with tenacity. You’ll know you’re on the right track when detractors who would rather criticize than create try to hold you back from seizing your full potential.