There are few books that capture the scope of the definition of leadership in its full arc, and even fewer that do so in the proper order. Recognizing the layers of leadership, built upon each other with care and confidence, is an exhilarating experience for me. It’s like coming home. Blueprint for Revolution by Srdja Popovic is one of those books, and it is resounding in its success.
Blueprint for Revolution is partially autobiography, partially intellectual framework, and partially a call to change. Mr. Popovic was instrumental in the Serbian movement against the dictator Slobodan Milosevic, and this is his instruction manual for other nonviolent activities. The book is structured in a logical flow from the creation of a revolutionary ideal based on a vision for a better future, through the turning into reality of a movement as a force for political change, and finally into the possibilities of individual people to improve their world.
First, Mr. Popovic calls out to every person and their potential to lead. He not only says that ripples in the pond spread from the smallest stone — “hobbits”, in his words (22) — but, in fact, must come from those who are most immersed in the reality of life (Chapter XI, “It Had to be You”). Everything else that he describes is a way to find the right behaviors to create that change, building leadership piece by piece. This is very much functional leadership.
Second, the approach to cultivating a vision is both deep and accurate. All five factors are addressed, but his focus on the change and worth is truly marvelous: “Instead, people talk about the little things…. That’s it. It’s never sweeping stuff. Too often, however, dissidents fail to realizing that it’s the mundane things that move people.” (73). These are powerful ways to see how we should talk about vision if we want to create excellence.