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Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  774 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Based on the award-winning article in Harvard Business Review, from global leadership expert John Kotter.

It’s a familiar scene in organizations today: a new competitive threat or a big opportunity emerges. You quickly create a strategic initiative in response and appoint your best people to make change happen. And it does—but not fast enough. Or effectively enough. Real va
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published November 10th 2012)
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Vernon Stinebaker
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
More fluff than stuff

Beginning with a slight rehashing of the 8 stage change process for which he is known, the author then describes a two operating system approach, with the left-hand system is the current hierarchy while the right side is described as a network structure. It’s not lost on me that the metaphor used to describe the network is the solar system, which is predictable; there’s not much dynamic here, and little guidance on how the right-hand (network) system forms or works. Also,
Frank Thun
Nov 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
Way to shallow.

Even the basic analogy comparing organizations to operating system is flawed! Try running two Operating Systems on on system in an integrated manner! Applications are able to run on an operating systems, but two operating systems running at the same time integrated in one system is simply not possible.

But ok, this metaphor might be flawed, but the contents might still be valid. But I thin they are not. They are just management bla bla. Look at the "Big ideas" he is describing. T
Bianca Smith
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World is the latest business book by John P Kotter. Like his previous books, it's short (200 pages), sweet and written to change the world. Due for release in April 2014.

I never did read Kotter's famous Our Iceberg Is Melting when it was popular. However, when I finished Accelerate I was curious and checked the GoodReads reviews to see if it's the same style. It is, and it is a distinct style.

Accelerate describes a model of running a tra
Shaun Stanley
Aug 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
Accelerate XLR8 is written by John P. Jotter.

Accelerate is a business book that urges organizations to create a dual operating system to allow for a more agile network.

There are some good principles here but the execution is greatly flawed. There is little to no information on how to actually launch and organize these dual operating systems. Everything presented is extremely generic with no actual case studies of organizations that have successfully applied the dual operating system. The one ch
Erhan Koseoglu
May 23, 2020 rated it liked it
It was a good book to gain an overall understanding about change management. However the argumentation of the book was quite limited and superficial. So in contrast to other Kotter books, this time it was below my expectations...
Frank Calberg
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
At the very start of the book, at about location 100, I read that virtually all organizations begin with a network-like structure, sort of like a solar system with a sun, planets, moons, and even satellites. Founders are at the centre. Other people are at various nodes working on different initiatives. All action is guided by a purpose that everyone believes in and works on living out. People move with agility. As the organization grows bigger, i.e. has more employees, departments are created, a ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With this book, John P. Kotter equips us with the eight-step method that is structured in a linear process, starting off establishing a sense of urgency for change and concluding by institutionalizing it into the organizational culture. All for the sake of winning the big opportunity and managing change in a meaningful way in a corporate environment.

It will help you reflect what the big opportunity might be at your work that will help achieve organizational goals. Furthermore, it will help you
Nook Little
May 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: productivity
This book was frankly a SORE to read. My biggest issue with books like this (and I have the utmost respect to the author here) is that in their purest sense, these books deliver NOTHING but rehashing of things people have endlessly talked about for many years but now they're delivered to you in a new packaging, new terms, new fashion.

Even the title of the book XLR8 is coded. The book content could have been complete in a single chapter and then perhaps another for application. Instead, it goes
Apr 17, 2021 rated it liked it
I feel cruel giving this book a 3-star rating (almost gave it a 2) because it is clearly an attempt to sum up a distinguished publishing history that describes strategy in a new way and talks about real ways that change can be accomplished in organizations that are past the start-up phase and/or are mid-sized or large with a lot of efficient processes. But: The book lacks concrete stories and is barely actionable. (There are stories but they are a bit blurred so as to not describe specific compa ...more
Doc Norton
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
I think Kotter has some good insights into how modern organizations can structure and behave to affect rapid change and innovation without sacrificing some practical level of efficiency in standardized processes. I would like to hear more on how to get started and overcome common hurdles to forming this structure. The book, for me, is too much theory and not enough application.
Cherie Heng
Aug 07, 2021 rated it liked it
This book which came from Kotter (HBS professor of leadership) in 2012 still holds relevance today - how change is stirred by a organic sense of urgency - that speaks both to the head and to the heart. With that, you should get volunteers instead of voluntold that are willing to drive this change. He championed for dual network with this change committee helping to drive these initiatives. This has since taken off with agile tribes and squads, but with longer longeveity as they group around prod ...more
Sandra Petersson
Apr 28, 2021 rated it it was ok
I thought this would be an eye opening book filled to the brim with insights and practical tools for implementing the “dual system” that is the book’s core idea. Unfortunately, I was disappointed only a couple of chapters in, and it didn’t manage to recover.

Throughout, it never managed to go from abstract concepts to practical implementation. Sadly, there are no new ideas introduced beyond chapter four, and the remaining chapters just serve to repeat points already made.

It’s quite clear that a
#30 of 2018.


This was an assigned reading for PILS (Pennsylvania Inspired Leadership Seminar).

This book is about creating a dual system within your organization to "accelerate" your company. Basically, the "left-side" which is traditional top-down hierarchy; and "Right-side" which is a cluster/network model that is based almost entirely of volunteers.

As far as the carry-over to education, I assume this was meant to be a discussion on getting rid of red-tape, but the 8 accelerators t
Steven Savage
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good book on helping businesses accelerate their work - without the starry-eyed ideas of "disruption." This book is enthusiastic about change and rapid paces, almost too much, but is also realistic in acknowledging that rushing ahead, incubating ideas, and changing things doesn't always work. You need bureaucracy and stability - and in fact these can be good things.

Instead it's about how to accelerate your work more realistically, with specific tips and guides. How do you build structures for
Raphael Donaire
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book has great insights on how to promote a company's change and the importance of creating a dual system (hierarchical and network).
If you live in an ecosystem that has department silos, high command-control culture, and inadequate communication, maybe the content could be useful and generate some insights.
In my opinion, the book is a rebirth of Kotter previous book Leading Change except for the fact that the author adds some keywords as agility, network and dual system.
One tip: don't skip
Florian Mücke
Jul 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
The book captures one of the fundamental problems of today's companies: They have displaced large parts of their informal and value-stream network through their ever-expanding hierarchies. However, organisational hierarchy brings stability and economies of scale is an end in itself.

The organisational structure thus displaces the value-creation organisation. The idea now is to bring the original informal network more to the front stage again through a second "operating system".

The concept of the
Omar Terrazas gomez
It's a good book, but it doesn't represent something new. We could take some advices in order to improve specifics elements in business but not as a strategic model to be followed. At the beginning It gives some advises about strategic approaches and the general model He uses to analyze growth in Big enterprises by incorporating practices used in start-ups, but the last chapters are somehow repetitive and redundant. ...more
In this ever connected world it is not enough to do things as you have always done. Businesses need to strategize and transform in an ever increasing cycle instead of once a year.

Why I started this book: It was short, on the Special Operations reading list and I found it in audio.

Why I finished it: It was short and audio. I will need to use the thought process of "this is a challenge" instead of "this is a wall."
Rafael Silva Manojlovic
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It was a revelation for me.

The company typical organization is a strong hierarchy with few communication between them at lower levels. This book reveals how a dual structure can deal with changes, creating an innovation network inside the hierarchy structure, formed with multi disciplinary teams, support by main board.

The author explains in incredible detail the mistakes that companies repeat every time they take on a critical change initiative.
Ryan Peacock
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Easy-to-read book that touched on many of the dynamics present in the world today. The discussions about businesses that were successful or failed when they implemented the dual process was enlightening, but would have been so much more powerful if they had been more specific and stated which business they were actually about.
Glen Young
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work-related
This book gives a very clear picture on how to maintain or regain that entrepreneurial drive in your now larger company. It describes how you need to have the driven people working in a parallel system inside of your organization, and not hamper them with the structure and organization that may slow them down. Sounds messy, but is spelled out well.
Jessica Nelson
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
I really liked the concepts and ideas around the dual-operating system presented in this book. However, I found myself skimming a lot because the info felt redundant. I think Kotter could have gotten the point across in half the pages, or even better, a white paper. Worth a read but be prepared to skim as needed
Vivek Priyadarshi
Good diagnosis but not that great prognosis

I liked the exhaustive list of problems identified with large organizations. Solutions have been proposed to address these challenges. But without the mention of examples that followed these suggestions to come out successful, the book is more like theoretical than practical.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Good perspective and practical helps re: organizational development, health....toward multiplicative growth. Case studies offer illustrations that bring the acceleration principles to life.
May 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: agile-books
It’s possible that I would have enjoyed this more had I not consumed it as an audiobook and the narrator not had a very annoying voice: think Mr Smith from The Matrix. Coming from an Agile tech industry few of the ideas seemed new to me. I’m glad to be able to move on to something else.
Helfren Filex
May 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
The world moves fast in the 21st century. As the leader, change is a must. To be a front-runner is mastering the art of changes.

This book helps reader to understand the role of leader to make faster and agile decisions to fulfill the demand in modern market.
Aliona C
Nov 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
I picked this book up because it was featured in Leading SAFe training I went through. The book turned out to be full of turd and baseless self-promotion. Poor reflection on the entire SAFe methodology to be honest.
Apr 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
For me kotter hit why this is a problem but I did not really see the light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps this was because my current company read this book and I just did not see/feel the change accelerated. There were some good moments for sure but as a whole I would pass
Harry Lee
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
It gets to a point where John says it may not seem exciting to the readers but that is irrelevant.
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I like his book because he showed us how to communicate with my colleagues and accompany them in terms of silo systems
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John P. Kotter, world-renowned expert on leadership, is the author of many books, including Leading Change, Our Iceberg is Melting, The Heart of Change, and his latest book, That's Not How We Do It Here!. He is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus at the Harvard Business School, and a graduate of MIT and Harvard. He is co-founder of Kotter International, a change management an ...more

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