7 Principles for Being a Radical Manager


In 2010, Stephen Denning published a book that he titled “The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century,” but he might have been a wee bit too early with his theories. I think the conception of radical management, as he describes it, is more and more becoming applicable now, seven years later.

If you want to disrupt your industry, you need to be a radical manager. In this review of Stephen Denning’s book, I wanted to give you a little glimpse of what leadership can look like if you’re following the practices of radical management. Here are the seven aspects that I consider to be the core of this methodology. If this made you a little curious, you should consider buying the full book to get all the complete insight. I posted a link below at the end of the article for you.

Let happy clients do the marketing for you

Do an excellent job for your clients and overdeliver like crazy. Know their problems before they see them and give them the right solution just when they need it. If you keep your clients happy, they might become your marketing champion. Their trusted opinion will have a lot more impact on decision-makers than a cold call or email from your outreach experts.

As they go about their work, they will at times exchange with people who have the same or a similar position at other companies. As these folks then chat about their business and the industry they will eventually talk about problems that you already solved for your client. This is the moment when they can share their story about how well company x (this is you) helped you out with an innovative approach that came just in time. This is the moment when you gain new prospects. Interesting!

Self-organizing teams with a lot of diversity solve problems better

You need to mix and shake your team as good as you can. That’s great for ideation and creatively solving problems. You might be familiar with the approach from Design Thinking, but of course, this can be widely applied. Build a team, let it work stuff out. Support them, enable them, clear roadblocks, but don’t micro-manage them.

We all think differently based on our personality, our experiences, and our wisdom. If you mix age, gender, background, and seniority level within a team you have a high potential to get great ideas out of them, ready to solve problems and disrupt

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Leverage client-driven product iterations for more success

Your client should call out for new product iterations, but of course, this should be a dialogue between offering, checking for demand and listening to your clients. There’s no point in building iterations of products that nobody needs and won’t buy.

If you deliver client-driven product iterations, you often establish a better relationship between your team and your client. Don’t be the messenger in the middle, moderate a productive discussion or let them manage progress on their own. This depends a little bit on the setup and the seniority of both parties, but it can work out really well. Monitor this process and support them to make the best out of it.

Every step in a process should add value

If we are talking about processes, many people have a somewhat negative attitude towards too much bureaucracy in the workplace. This is because many organizations are not checking existing processes and procedures for value often enough. And if the right people aren’t questioning what they are doing like the inquisition, they end up doing the same wasteful activities for weeks, months and years before they notice, that the step isn’t even required anymore.

If you’re looking into methodologies on how to enable your teams to identify wasteful activities better, you should check out Six Sigma. That’s a great way of achieving good results by relying on the smarts and engagement of your own staff.


Focus on transparent leadership

If you’re transparent about what you do and plan to do you can gain a lot of trust with your team – maybe even apply that to your clients. If you then also add some background to the causality chain and what made you plan that way, you’ll gain more support than just breaking news without any insight into what options were available.

Trust in the social and emotional intelligence of your team. You might be surprised how well that develops. Beyond that, your team members might even get back to you with useful feedback that allows for a wiser decision. If that happens, thank them for their idea. Make them feel heard. Their thought-through action had a positive impact on the organization. I also think a little “thank you” goes a long way.

CSI for everything and everyone

Continual service improvement is something fancy that some write on their flag without ever thinking about it. You should try really hard to improve the day-to-day operations as well as the final product or service. May it be a big step or a small thing.

Can you save money? Will the team have a better day? Can we deliver faster/better/stronger/cheaper? Do it. Evaluate every idea and conception. Manage an “idea pool, ” and even if you end up with the knowledge that something was not able to get improved, that’s still a good result to capture.

Improve yourself just as much as you improve everything around you. Learn new things and give staff the feeling that reading a book (or an online article) is good and not to be frowned upon. Of course it should be related to the business and not just random stuff, but in general, the Internet is full of learning opportunities that just sit there and wait to be harvested.

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Embrace interactive communication and give appreciation

Managers need to make sure that everybody in the team is fairly compensated for their work. Yet, they must answer to all questions around inherent inequalities from personnel. Efficiently communicating matters like that is a two-way-road.

You need to make sure your employees are not feeling like they are nothing but paid helpers. Make sure they also feel that their support is appreciated and that they are appreciated. In many cases, people need this appreciation more than just getting paid. If team members know why they do what they do and ensoul their work, the product will have a much better quality.


There’s a lot you can do to be a good radical manager, but these seven disciplines are the pillar of Stephen Denning’s book. How do you feel about that? Is there a core discipline missing that you’d consider being critical in modern management? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this subject. Drop us a comment below!

Photo credit: Jef HarrisVictor van WerkhoovenAndrés Nieto Porras / Zenka

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isakhttps://techacute.com
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)
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