Library JournalIn a nutshell, "complexity science" refers to how things interact with each other in the natural world. Lewin and Regine, respected academics and authors, attempt to build on this model, pointing out its applications in the business world. The world is often chaotic, though properly challenged people can often surmount and even thrive amidst the chaos. But what does this have to do with business? The authors argue convincingly that the old mechanistic, command-and-control workplace model has outlived its purpose. Industry is "in the throes of revolutionary changes," and companies must see themselves as "complex adaptive systems" more akin to "environmental ecosystems." Employees are not cogs but people, and authentic employer-enployee relationships must be cultivated. Does this sound like the latest flavor-of-the-month management trend? Perhaps. But the authors are onto something here. Surveying a number of companies in both the United States and England, they show how large and small businesses that have embraced the principles of "complexity science" have turned themselves around, often dramatically, with improved profits and, more significantly, a more humane workplace for management and employees alike. Recommended for larger business collections.--Richard S. Drezen, Washington Post News Research Ctr., Washington, DC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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The Soul at Work based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
I have read over two dozens books on complexity science and its applications to organizations of all types. Clearly, The Soul At Work is the best of those books. If you already know something about complexity science and its business applications and want to learn more or simply want to get started on the subject, this is the book you should read. Here's why. First, the authors are very fine writers. They also seem to have had outstanding editing. The book is by far the best written of any that I have read on this subject, and is among the best written of any business books I have read as well. This quality particularly shows up in clarifying ideas that can be hard to grasp (complexity science), explaining very interesting examples, and connecting the ideas to the examples in very useful ways. Second, most of the examples are fresh, so you will learn something new by reading these cases. Most business books choose the same examples over and over (do IBM and Coca-Cola seem familiar?), and it gets a little tiring for the reader. The one example in The Soul at Work that I was familiar with was Verifone, and the authors developed lots of new material there that substantially added to my understanding. Third, the cases have a lot of variety in them (as to type of organization, size of organization, the people profiled, the cultural background of the organization, and so forth) which provides a multidimensional perspective that is very helpful. Fourth, the authors successfully contrast their ideas with the humanistic approach to management and the engineering approach, which is a useful backdrop for understanding what they have to say. Anyone who does prefer the humanistic approach will like this book, and will get many new ideas for employing that direction. Fifth, and most importantly, the central theme of the book rings very true to me based on my over 30 years of consulting experience with organizations of all kinds. Trust-based relationships are an essential element of how organizations become more effective. Improve the trust, and any organization works better. The main reason is that trust helps overcome the stalls of poor communication, procrastination, bureaucracy, tradition, disbelief, and avoiding unattractiveness. Although others have made this point, The Soul at Work makes the point better. If you think about the new electronically-connected world, you can see that its main limitation is establishing trust before we ca