Rob's Booklist Jan 2003
Networks – the Real New Economy
This annotated bibliography will provide you with a list of source documents and books that represent the leading thinking in a new field – Organizations designed around a natural model or Networks. The linked web addresses will take you to a synopsis of the works in question.
The material is divided into two sections. A - Deep Context focuses on the scientific underpinnings for the Networked Economy. B- The Business Context shows you how these principles have been applied.
A. Deep Context – How the New Science underpins the Network Model
1. The Web of Life by Fritjof Capra (http://www.geocities.com/combusem/CAPRA2.HTM) This is the best overall introduction that I know of that provides the complete overview of the underpinning ideas of the new science that themselves will underpin our new approach to organization.
“During the past 25 years, a new language for understanding the complexity of living systems - that is, of organisms, social systems, and ecosystems - has been developed at the forefront of science. You may have heard about some of the key concepts of this new way of understanding complex systems - chaos, attractors, fractals, dissipative structures, self-organization, autopoietic networks.
What is now emerging at the forefront of science is a coherent scientific theory that offers, for the first time, a unified view of mind, matter, and life.
Since industrial society has been dominated by the Cartesian split between mind and matter and by the ensuing mechanistic paradigm for the past three hundred years, this new vision that finally overcomes the Cartesian split will have not only important scientific and philosophical consequences, but will also have tremendous practical implications. It will change the way we relate to each other and to our living natural environment, the way we deal with our health, the way we perceive our business organizations, our educational systems, and many other social and political institutions.
In particular, the new vision of life will help us build and nurture sustainable communities - the great challenge of our time - because it will help us understand how nature's communities of plants, animals, and microorganisms - the ecosystems - have organized themselves so as so maximize their ecological sustainability. We have much to learn from this wisdom of nature, and to do so we need to become ecologically literate. We need to understand the basic principles of ecology, the language of nature. The new framework I present in my book shows that these principles of ecology are also the basic principles of organization of all living systems. I believe therefore that The Web of Life provides a solid basis for ecological thought and practice”
2. The Global Brain –The Evolution of the Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century by Howard K Bloom
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/detail/-/books/0471295841/customer-reviews/ref=ase_howardbloomnet/104-0496759-3197502) The leading book available today on how to understand living or “complex adaptive systems”. Bloom describes the rules for learning organisms and shows how humans, with the added issue of culture, adapt as groups to shifts in the environment. Don’t be put off this is compelling reading.
“Very very few books actually need to be read word for word, beginning with the bibliography and ending with the footnotes. This is one of those books..
I like this book and recommend it to everyone concerned with day to day thinking and information operations. I like it because it off-sets the current fascination with the world-wide web and electronic connectivity, and provides a historical and biologically based foundation for thinking about what Kevin Kelly and Stuart Brand set forth in the 1970's through the 1990's: the rise of neo-biological civilization and the concepts of co-evolution.”
3. Out of Control : The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World by Kevin Kelly
( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/detail/-/books/0201483408/customer-reviews/ref=ase_thechurchofvirusA/104-0496759-3197502 ) This was the first book to explore from an organizational sense how the new science will be applied. It is not a book to read with a loved one. You will be constantly regaling them with nuggets of information and ideas that will take your breath away.
“It is in the realm of technology that Kelly, executive editor of Wired magazine, has something to add. In dozens of interviews with academics and corporate researchers, tinkerer- artists in industrial lofts and even beekeepers, Kelly has uncovered a growing subculture that is systematically exploiting the complex forces of the hive mind, evolution and other self-organizing systems”
4. Leadership and the New Science: Learning About Organization from an Orderly Universe by Margaret Wheatley.
(http://www.kaneandassociates.com/summary2.htm ) This was the breakthrough book that linked the New Science directly to the managerial world. A crossover book that is both a science book and a management tool. Written with passion and insight.
“Wheatley does a fine job of explaining the implications for organizations and management philosophy of the shift away from the mechanistic worldview that grew out of Newtonian physics. She does a good job of explaining how quantum physics and chaos theory together demolished all the assumptions of the mechanistic worldview. This mechanistic view fostered the idea that organizations are impersonal machines. It also gave credence to the nonsensical idea of the commodity theory of labor applied to the people hired to fill the "job-parts" of those machines. The mechanistic view excludes concepts such as esprit de corps or team spirit. It ignores the communal loyalty that goes with team spirit that helps foster cooperative self-motivated teamwork so vital in achieving top performance.
The new (postmodern) worldview is organic rather than mechanistic, is holistic rather than parts centered, is participatory rather than impersonal and manages much more via networks than through top down hierarchies. As Capra points out in his book, The Web of Life, all living systems are mainly coordinated by networks, not hierarchies. All this fits well with the new postmodern management philosophy that stress empowerment of employees on the local level, self managed teams, and organic systems. And as Wheatley points out the reality of such new thinking lies in the relationships that arise from them”
5. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/detail/-/books/0316316962/customer-reviews/newsfortraders/104-0496759-3197502 ) This is an important book to read if you are interested in how to make large scale, timely changes in a short time with limited resources. Gladwell writes with enormous zest. If we are to change the mindset of a nation and of how to deliver service, then this book will become our primer.
“There are few books that introduce a new idea that can be applied to multiple disciplines. This book contains more than an idea: it introduces a new way of understanding what often seems like major changes that appear to come from little or often unknown effort. Why do teenagers increase their rate of smoking in spite of the huge expense to convince them otherwise? Why did crime suddenly fall so drastically so fast in
Understanding these changes allows a minimal effort to effect huge results. It is difficult to see this in advance using our normal viewpoints. In fact the impact of these changes seems difficult to comprehend even in retrospect but it does open your mind for some creative analysis. For instance at Yale what was needed to get better student participation in a tetanus shot program was not more and more information on the medical need for the shots, but a better map showing locations and times available. What may be needed to reduce the long term addiction from teen smoking is not more ads on the dangers of smoking, but cigarettes with lower nicotine, below the tipping point of 5 milligrams of nicotine a day. A nurse named Georgia Sadler, trying to increase the awareness of diabetes and breast cancer in the black community found that the best avenue was not the churches or community centers but..... beauty salons.
Within this new tool is hope. Big problems seem less overwhelming. Big Changes become possible”
B. Business Context – How Networks evolved and why they are so different from the Traditional Organization
1. The Story of Visa International The Chaordic Organization by Dee Hock
http://www.fastcompany.com/online/05/deehock.html This Article by Mitch Waldrup will provide you with a brief but complete understanding of how Dee Hock embedded the ideas of nature into an organizationn that we are very familiar with, Visa. It describes not only Hock’s thinking, but the genesis of the new organization and the now established principles for organizations made up of competitors. If you want more, Mr. Hock has recently published a book called the “Birth of the Chaordic Age.
“Birth of the Chaordic Age is a compelling manifesto for the future, embedded within the intriguing story of a personal odyssey. An engaging narrator, Dee Hock is the man who first conceived of a global system for the electronic exchange of value, becoming the founder and CEO of VISA International. He looks critically at today's environment of command-and-control institutions and sees organizations that are falling apart, failing to achieve their own purposes let alone addressing the diversity and complexity of society as a whole. The solution, Hock claims, lies in transforming our notion of organization; in embracing the belief that the chaos of competition and the order of cooperation can and do coexist, succeed, even thrive; and in welcoming in the chaordic age.
The underlying tenets of Hock's ideas are well illustrated by the incredible story of the birth of VISA International, an organization formed on chaordic principles that now links in excess of 20,000 financial institutions, 14 million merchants, and 600 million consumers in 220 countries. Hock deplores an age where ingenuity and effort are wasted on circumventing the rules and regulations of insular, hierarchical bureaucracies. In a bold-type subtext interspersed throughout the book, he examines how this situation is stunting our potential as individuals and communities and contemplates what can be changed. This rumination is propelled onward by "Old Monkey Mind" (Hock's own thoughts). Though the technique allows the reader to engage in stimulating mental discovery along with the author, its New Age spiritual tone is sometimes a bit saccharine. His insights, however, are clear and provocative. In the Chaordic Age, he contends, "success will depend less on rote and more on reason; less on the authority of the few and more on the judgment of many; less on compulsion and more on motivation; less on external control of people and more on internal discipline."
What is a Chaord? By Chaord, I mean any self–organizing, adaptive, nonlinear, complex system, whether physical, biological, or social, the behavior of which exhibits characteristics of both order and chaos or, loosely translated to business terminology, cooperation and competition.”
2. The Age of Access: The new culture of Hypercapitalism where all of life is a paid for experience by Jeremy Rifkin
“This is a book for those who feel a deep urge to achieve a better understanding of the epoch-making transformations affecting our planet at the start of the 21st century. On reading many of the pages of Rifkin's work I have found myself enlightened, as if my vision and perception of our present world had gained a new touch of insight. But it is quite typical that when you are submerged by an experience you are not in the best condition to judge it objectively, to inventory, classify and minutely describe its processes: you look rather being 'lived' by than actually living the thing yourself! Just this happens today when everybody is speaking about globalization, often following a sort of faddish inclination to appear up-to-date at least as far as words are concerned: but if you are really to develop an informed awareness of what you are talking about books like Rifkin's set a milestone in understanding.”
3. Blown to Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy by Philip Evans and Thomas Wurster.
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/087584877X/qid=1002745556/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_3_1/104-0496759-3197502 ) This is the best book so far that explains how the internet ends the paradox of richness and reach. In the traditional world if you wanted to reach a large market you had to end up with an information poor and impersonal offering. The challenge for the public service is that to offer richness and reach you have to “deconstruct” the traditional organization. With web you can have both intimacy, tons of information and a reach everyone at a price that you can afford. Fast paced and full of great examples.
“Well, the explosion of connectivity and the subsequent adoption of common standards have created an information medium that can better accommodate the interests of consumers (and of firms as well for that matter, since it connects them to a global potential market). The Internet allows the separation of the economics of information from the economics of things, and also significantly reduces the trade-off between the reach and richness of information (whether this trade-off is blown up altogether is debatable). The authors make a thorough study of both richness and reach as potential sources of competitive advantage for firms. And, since consumers (as human beings) still act with bounded rationality, a new business function emerges in order to help them manage through the newly created choice-reach+richness-cacophony: navigation. This too can be a source of competitive advantage, and it is characterized by how closely it represents the interests of consumers, or on the contrary, firms. Messrs. Evans and Wurster call this affiliation.
The Internet impacts both value chains within firms and supply chains within industries. It leads to deconstruction and disinter mediation, and exposes firms' weaknesses; by leaving them aggressively competing only on their core competencies, it might eventually lead to the establishment of (gulp!) monopolies - the winner-take-all economy. Once a firm reaches what the authors call critical mass, challenging firms in effect do not stand a chance of overtaking the leader. This is a very thought-provoking possibility, as the Internet was also supposed to empower consumers.”
4. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken & Amory and Hunter Lovins
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0316353000/qid=1002746108/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_7_1/104-0496759-3197502 ) The best book available that describes how the new economy will operate. It describes a decentralized world that is itself increasingly networked and a new bias for technology which will borrow ideas directly from nature. Full of enthralling ideas which are here today. A business context for those who have to plan for the future.
“I first encountered Paul Hawken's writing in 'Growing a Business'. The clear-sighted practicality of that book is evident in this work. Combining thorough research, excellent analysis and insights, Hawken and the Lovinses put forward a vision, and mark out the path to that vision. A host of examples illustrate their arguments brilliantly, and leave one restless, wanting to put their recommendations for a environmentally sustainable world into immediate effect. Moreover, the chapters and arguments are set out so as to appeal to people in many industries and professions - MBAs, engineers, architects, town planners, farmers, scientists
This book cuts through the usual gloss and fluff of other "earth friendly eco-supporting books" by providing solid compelling data ( backed up with extensive detailed references)on our current (mis)use of natural resources and the eventual conclusion that soon we will see that capitalism and proper use of our natural resources can be combined and achieve financial success. This book will be seen as the precursor for refreshing change and a new understanding of what we need to do in the future. Buy it ! Read it ! Live it ! “
5. The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140282025/qid=1002746569/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_18_1/104-0496759-3197502 ) A Frightening book that describes the implication of the exponential growth that we are experiencing in technology. Who would have thought that the internet which was only a hobby only 6 years ago would be the force that it is today? Kurzweil, the inventor of OCR, speech to text and many other devices, is the leading practical investigator and applier of the power of patterns and neural nets ( network intelligence) See his article on the web that extends these ideas digs deeply into the topic of accelerating returns. The point is that there will be no technological barrier to what we want to do. (http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?printable=1 )
“Kurzweil's forecasts for super-exponential growth in computing technology and his investigation of the results will seem outlandish to many readers. But Kurzweil's vision is backed by a history of successful predictions and businesses and a roster of substantial inventions (from a reading machine for the blind, to voice recognition technology, to the first digital music synthesizer). He also backs his forecasts with plenty of data. Agree or not, this highly stimulating book helps stretch your imagination to see the possible full extent of the IT revolution. If Kurzweil is anywhere near correct, we've only just begun the revolution”
6. Diffusion of Innovations by
(http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0029266718/qid=1002744068/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_3_1/104-0496759-3197502 ) This is the bible for understanding change and many of the theories so brilliantly described by Gladwell are supported by the research and the science in this book – Hard slogging though.
“Dr. Rogers is a brilliant sage whose lifelong quest for understanding how and why people adopt or deny innovation began, he tells me, on his family's farm in Iowa as a boy. At a young age he observed that some farmers were quick to adopt the latest innovations while many others were slower or even resistant to change. He also noticed that adoption didn't always equal success, nor did the refusal to change. So whether your gig is plowshares or computers or languages or healthcare or just about anything, you will find this book fascinating and illuminating. The book takes an "innovation" tour around the globe and through history with poignant examples of how new ways are diffused into societies. INC. magazine recently named this book as one of the 25 most important books written for understanding commerce”
7. The Cluetrain Manifesto by many folks
(http://cluetrain.com )) This important site has spawned a book by the same name. Its thesis is that in the new economy, the market is now a “conversation” and that we had better get the new language right. Out with bureau speak and in with real speak. Don’t understand me? Read the article.
“Markets are conversations. Trade routes pave the storylines. Across the millennia in between, the human voice is the music we have always listened for, and still best understand.
So what went wrong? From the perspective of corporations, many of which by the twentieth century had become bigger and far more powerful than ancient city-states, nothing went wrong. But things did change.
Commerce is a natural part of human life, but it has become increasingly unnatural over the intervening centuries, incrementally divorcing itself from the people on whom it most depends, whether workers or customers. While this change is in many ways understandable — huge factories took the place of village shops; the marketplace moved from the center of the town and came to depend on far-flung mercantile trade — the result has been to interpose a vast chasm between buyers and sellers.
By our own lifetimes, mass production and mass media had totally transformed this relationship, which came to be characterized by alienation and mystery. Exactly what relationship did producers and markets have to each other anymore? In attempting to answer this blind-man's-bluff question, market research became a billion-dollar industry.
Once an intrinsic part of the local community, commerce has evolved to become the primary force shaping the community of nations on a global scale. But because of its increasing divorce from the day-to-day concerns of real people, commerce has come to ignore the natural conversation that defines communities as human.
The slow pace of this historic change has made it seem unsurprising to many that people are now valued primarily for their capacity to consume, as targets for product pitches, as demographic abstractions. Few living in the so-called civilized world today can envision commerce as ever having been anything different. But much of the change happened in the century just passed.”
8. Surfing the Edge of Chaos by Pascale and others
http://www.surfingchaos.com/chaos/index.shtml Is the main page for this book.
Quite the best book I have read so far on the rules of the natural economy plus a host of excellent examples of how others have succeeded or failed to put these rules into practice. My favorite quote – “To repeat , living systems is not a metaphor. It is the way it is.”
The web site gives you an entire set of tools to use to support the book and a set of summaries that will enable the most time pressed to get the guts of the book ion minutes. BUT please invest in the book itself: it’s worth it! One of the key examples is the US Army – not a frivolous organization. For more on how the US Army has become the exemplar of how to make the shift to a “Natural Model” see the next book on the list.
The Amazon link to this book is:
“Surfing the Edge of Chaos does a marvellous job of taking many of the ideas being developed in complexity theory and applying them to the business world. In contrast say to Garrett Ralls who tried to do much the same thing, this book succeeds. I found myself continually thinking about not only the examples they provide, but also on my own work experiences and other companies that I have analyzed.
The authors do an excellent job of contrasting their approach (adaptive leadership) with more traditional reorganization (operational leadership). But refreshingly, they also acknowledge that in some cases, the more traditional approach might be more appropriate. There are many interesting concepts being developed by complexity theorists and this book manages to capture many, if not most, of them.
They show repeatedly the need to increase the stress on an organization in order to break past patterns of behaviour. Their use of fitness landscapes (the idea that a successful company rests on a peak, and that in order to reach a new higher peak, often you must go down into the valley) is very powerful and at least partially explains why so many successful companies subsequently struggle, or fail, to adapt. Importantly though, the authors also spend a great deal of time talking about the unintended (or second and third order) effects of change. The point is not that you will be able to predict all of them (which is what chaos theory explicitly says you cannot do), but rather that you must be flexible enough to roll with those unanticipated consequences.
Does that mean that every idea in this book is new? Of course not, but to be successful, a new theory often must combine the old with the new. And this book does a masterful of applying the ideas of Chaos/Complexity theory to business, of providing a new framework to think about both old and new problems. You may not agree with everything that appears in this book, but you will certainly come away with much food for thought.”
“Wonderful case studies. Normally I tend to gloss over case studies, but those in this book are important, in part because assumed successes later deteriorated and returned to poor results of the past. This awareness alone makes the book worth reading; no organization can assume whatever it is doing right is sustainable. Gains can be reversed much faster than the time it took to get the initial gains.
In my view, this book reflects a whole new paradigm gaining momentum of how to best create organizations capable of adapting to the fast changing new economy. It make take a number of years before the wisdom becomes commonplace in practice, and then we move on to the next level of sophistication. One day we will likely be looking back and marvelling how, as we do today with Fredrick Taylor, we could have for generations tapped human talent by deploying the command-and-control techniques that still dominate the corporate landscape. I cannot imagine the concepts in these books being one day written as another fad that died.”
9. “Hope is not a Method” by General Gordon Sullivan & Michael Harper
This is the dramatic story of how the US Army revitalised itself from the ashes of the Vietnam war. I found it quite humbling to discover that an organization that I had always sneered at, had within its ranks, a nucleus of fine men who in spite of every possible roadblock, worked to create what is arguably the finest organization in the world today. All of us who know that we have work to do to renew our organizations can draw on this book
“In recent years, the
About the Author
… the author and his collaborator (a retired colonel who headed the army's strategic planning group) provide a comparatively conventional governance manual; as a practical matter, moreover, the text's down-to-earth advisories are broadly applicable to great or small organizations of virtually any kind. In their can-do canvas of guiding principles for capitalizing on convulsive change, they stress the importance of shared values, identifying objectives, challenging the status quo, empowering subordinates, and visionary leadership.
Covered as well are the putatively handsome returns obtainable from investing in people, benchmarking the future, reinforcing an outfit's collective commitment, encouraging constructive dissent, and keeping all hands abreast (if not ahead) of the learning curve. Sound counsel for aspiring and incumbent executives from old soldiers who appreciate the difference between leadership and management.
10. A Series of books that discuss culture and values and their link to creativity
Culture and Organizations – Software of the mind by Geer Hofstede McGraw Hill
This is the best model that I have found to explain the dynamics of differing world views as held by different racial and cultural groups
Hofstede defines culture as the "software of the mind" that guides us in our daily interactions. Here are some paragraphs from the introduction to his book:
Every person carries within him or herself patterns of thinking; feeling; and potential acting which were learned throughout their lifetime. Much of it has been acquired in early childhood, because at that time a person is most susceptible to learning and assimilating. As soon as certain patterns of thinking; feeling and acting have established themselves within a person’s mind; (s)he must unlearn these before being able to learn something different; and unlearning is more difficult than learning for the first time.
Using the analogy of the way in which computers are programmed; this book will call such patterns of thinking; feeling; and acting mental programs; or; as the sub-title goes: "software of the mind". This does not mean; of course; that people are programmed the way computers are. A person’s behavior is only partially predetermined by her or his mental programs: (s)he has a basic ability to deviate from them, and to react in was which are new, creative, destructive, unexpected.
11. Books on Leadership