Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty / Edition 2

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Since the first edition of Managing the Unexpected was publishedin 2001, the unexpected has become a growing part of our everydaylives. The unexpected is often dramatic, as with hurricanes orterrorist attacks. But the unexpected can also come in more subtleforms, such as a small organizational lapse that leads to a majorblunder, or an unexamined assumption that costs lives in a crisis.Why are some organizations better able than others to maintainfunction and structure in the face of unanticipated change?

Authors Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe answer thisquestion by pointing to high reliability organizations (HROs), suchas emergency rooms in hospitals, flight operations of aircraftcarriers, and firefighting units, as models to follow. Theseorganizations have developed ways of acting and styles of learningthat enable them to manage the unexpected better than otherorganizations. Thoroughly revised and updated, the second editionof the groundbreaking book Managing the Unexpected uses HROs as atemplate for any institution that wants to better organize for highreliability.

The authors reveal how HROs create a collective state ofmindfulness that produces an enhanced ability to discover andcorrect errors before they escalate into a crisis. A mindfulinfrastructure continually

  • Tracks small failures
  • Resists oversimplification
  • Is sensitive to operations
  • Maintains capabilities for resilience
  • Takes advantage of shifting locations of expertise

Through a discussion of the principle of mindfulness and thepractices that can be used to apply it, the authors show how toanticipate and respond to threats with flexibility rather thanrigidity. Their practical, solutions-oriented approach includesnumerous case studies demonstrating mindful practices and enablesreaders to assess and implement mindfulness in their ownorganizations.

Managing the Unexpected is a guide for learning the hard-wonlessons of high reliability organizations that are able to manageunexpected threats and bounce back in a stronger position to tacklefuture challenges.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“Here is the essential book for managers who want toanticipate and adapt to surprises. Weick and Sutcliffe present aset of challenging ideas in a way that is clear and compelling, andthen turn these critical insights into practical guidelines thathave broad application and relevance.”—Gary Klein,Applied Research Associates and author, Sources of Power

“Of course there is 'nothing new under the sun'—butKarl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe come as close as is humanlyimaginable in this latest version of Managing theUnexpected. No issue is more timely (alas), and there maybe no approach that is more original and thoughtful anduseful and data-rich than what you'll find between the coversof this book.”—Tom Peters, author, In Search ofExcellence 

“For those managing or studying organizations likenuclear power plants and aircraft carrier flight decks, Weick andSutcliffe's original edition was a godsend, providing a newlanguage and conceptual structure for understanding whysome of these organizations perform so much better thanothers—and helping those who manage in less extremeenvironments gain to boost their own performance. This latestedition includes valuable new examples and an expanded treatment ofthe critical concepts of anticipation andcontainment—and it is filled with useful adviceabout how to achieve high performance in anysetting.”
—Herman B. “Dutch” Leonard, George F. Baker,Jr., Professor of Public Management, John F. Kennedy School ofGovernment, Harvard University and Eliot I. Snider and FamilyProfessor of Business Administration, Harvard BusinessSchool

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787996499
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/31/2007
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 94,736
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.41 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

The Authors

Karl E. Weick is the Rensis Likert Distinguished UniversityProfessor of Organizational Behavior and Psychology at the RossSchool of Business at the University of Michigan. His book TheSocial Psychology of Organizing was designated by Jim Collins inInc. magazine as one of the nine best business books everwritten.

Kathleen M. Sutcliffe is associate dean and the Gilbert and RuthWhitaker Professor of Business Administration at the Ross School ofBusiness at the University of Michigan.

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Table of Contents


1. Managing the Unexpected: What Business Can Learn fromHigh-Reliability Organizations.

2. Expectations and Mindfulness.

3. The Three Principles of Anticipation.

4. Principles of Containment.

5. Assessing Your Capabilities for Resilient Performance.

6. Organizational Culture: Institutionalizing Mindfulness.

7. How to Manage Mindfully.


The Authors.


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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Getting reading for resilience

    Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe give readers something new and useful in this book. Countless manuals explain how to plan for crises and make it sound like everything will go smoothly if you just plan correctly. Weick and Sutcliffe know better. Planning, they say, may even stand in the way of smooth processes or be the cause of failure. They base this discussion on their studies of "high reliability organizations" (HROs), like fire fighting units and aircraft carrier crews, organizations where the unexpected is common, small events make a difference, failure is a strong possibility and lives are on the line. From those examples, they deduce principles for planning, preparation and action that will apply to any company facing change. The book is not perfect - the authors overuse quotations and rely on buzzwords that don't add much - but it addresses often-neglected aspects of management. getAbstract recommends it to anyone who is trying to make an organization more reliable and resilient amid change.

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