Guiding business leaders and managers through the process of leading change initiatives, The 4G Mobile Revolution explores how EE, one of the leading communications companies in the UK, successfully navigated a challenging and complex change program. These changes ultimately resulted in the company gaining significant market share, establishing a recognizable brand, and facilitating a lucrative takeover by BT in 2015. Olaf Swantee, the immediate past CEO of EE shares the lessons he’s learned, the tools and methods that he uses, and the work of other leaders that have inspired him.
This is an enjoyable book, full of good actual lived experiences from having done something complex and challenging. There are good examples of the choices they made, and reflections on which ones worked well, and which less so. Swantee does capture the value of this book, that it is an insiders description of what happened at the time, with a still fresh perspective on it. There are thoughts on aspects that could have been changed, and things they did change as they realised they weren’t working. It makes a good contrast to some more theory based books.
He recognises that not everyone needs to know everything about the telecoms industry, but tries to extract the wider lessons that can be learned from taking on big complex challenges. It is often the case that for initiatives like this there is no blue print of how to do it right, you just have to trust your judgement, while also being able to listen to the wisdom of others too. He manages to also spend time on the shop floor in London which he acknowledges is invaluable in keeping in touch with what your staff and customers actually think about what you are doing.
It’s a good read, short too, under 200 pages, and would be great if it inspired other CEOs to also describe how things really were at the time, rather than applying the golden hue of retrospective analysis of ‘what went right’, and how all their hunches paid off. Perhaps unsurprisingly after all of the hard work merging the two companies, within 12 months the resultant company EE had then been bought by BT, and soon enough Swantee had moved on to other pastures. The mantra of ‘the only constant is change’ perhaps proving to be true yet again.