Cover of Fast/Forward by Julian Birkinshaw and Jonas Ridderstråle
Make Your Company Fit for the Future
Julian Birkinshaw and Jonas Ridderstråle


240 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804799539
Ebook ISBN: 9781503602311

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Silver medal winner of the 2018 Axiom Business Book Awards in the Business Theory category.

The leading companies of the past twenty years have all harnessed the power of information to gain competitive advantage. But as access to big data becomes ubiquitous, it can no longer guarantee a leg up. Fast/Forward makes the case that we are entering a new era in which firms that understand the limits of 1s and 0s will take the lead.

Whereas the industrial age saw the rise of bureaucracy, and the information age has been described as a meritocracy, we are witnessing the rise of adhocracy. In uncertain, rapidly-changing times, adhocracic organizations scan the horizon for winning opportunities. Then, instead of questing after more analysis, they respond with agility by making smart, intuitive decisions. Combining decisive action with emotional conviction, future-facing firms seize the day.

Fast/Forward paints the big picture of a new approach to strategy and provides the necessary playbook to make your company fit for the future.

About the authors

Julian Birkinshaw is Professor and Chair of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School. An acclaimed expert on innovation, entrepreneurship, and renewal in large corporations, he is the author of twelve books. His research and commentary have been featured in The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Jonas Ridderstråle is a renowned business thinker and speaker. Jonas' diverse client list includes Fortune 500 companies, major government bodies, sports teams, and trade unions. A Visiting Professor at Ashridge Business School, he is the author of four books: Funky Business (2000), Karaoke Capitalism (2004), Funky Business Forever (2007), and Re-energizing the Corporation (2008).

"Fast/Forward makes a compelling case for spontaneity, speed, and a willingness to lead with intuition. More importantly, it speaks to the leadership qualities required to implement its suggestions—providing practical ways to cultivate to those qualities."

—Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford University, author of Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don't

"Julian Birkinshaw and Jonas Ridderstråle are on the right track: In an ever-faster, globalized world, companies not only need a compelling strategy, but also an adaptive and caring performance culture. To unleash their full ingenuity, we have to empower our colleagues to act like owners."

—Joe Kaeser, President and CEO, Siemens AG

"Big data is oversold as the most important facet of competitive advantage. Rather, breakthrough leaps of faith are necessary to achieve extraordinary results. Fast-Forward is full of practical advice about how to capitalize on this simple idea in order to forge your corporate future."

—Anita McGahan, Rotman School of Management, author of How Industries Evolve

"Though the 'Information Age' has brought unprecedented insight, it is accompanied by a data deluge that can feel paralyzing at times. Indeed, Fast/Forward suggests that the data tsunami is drowning decisive action and draining leadership attention. With practical advice on how leaders can become more alert, agile, curious, and emotionally connected, Julian and Jonas set out a new, must-read playbook."

—David Craig, President, Financial & Risk Business, Thomson Reuters

"Much as Descartes' Error challenged traditional ideas about the primacy of rationality over emotions, Birkinshaw and Ridderstråle's marvelously timed book shows that the way forward for organizations and their leaders is not more data but better intuition and more leaps of faith. Far from being a nuisance to be minimized, the authors demonstrate how emotions are essential for decisive action and competitive advantage in a world overwhelmed by information."

—Herminia Ibarra, INSEAD and Author of Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

"If you are looking for guidance on how to navigate today's disruptive business world, this book is for you. Julian Birkinshaw and Jonas Ridderstråle show how the most agile and decisive companies are built on a new operating model, adhocracy, that puts action front and center, rather than formal authority. With plenty of current examples, as well as historical anecdotes, the authors show how to apply this way of working to your own company "keeping you ahead of the curve."

—Kemal Malik, Board Member, Bayer AG

"Most large companies are prisoners of an industrial-era worldview that shapes everything they do. In Fast/Forward, Julian Birkinshaw and Jonas Ridderstråle show how the classic bureaucracy – with its emphasis on formal position and top-down decision making – is giving way to meritocracy and adhocracy as alternative ways of organising. These new models are the basis for a fundamentally more agile and decisive approach to business."

—Gary Hamel, London Business School and author of What Matters Now

"This book tackles the key challenge facing all big firms today: staying relevant in a world of accelerating change. A great read, packed with concrete business insights"

—Nitin Paranjpe, President, Home Care, Unilever

"While they believe we are still deep in the Information Age, they point out that data is so freely available that it offers less and less of a competitive advantage. What's needed are managers who can act quickly on gut instincts when information isn't enough....To thrive in whatever era follows the Information Age, firms will need to move quickly, most often by blending decisive action with emotional conviction."