We live in times of unprecedented turbulence and uncertainty and we are losing faith in our ability to organise ourselves to deal with it.
We live in times of unprecedented turbulence and uncertainty and we are losing faith in our ability to organise ourselves to deal with it. The traditional ‘top down’ functional hierarchy doesn’t feel as secure as it once did, and new generations of workers demand something more than the kind of life and career it is capable of offering.
But when we look for an alternative we are faced with a miasma of competing claims for different organising principles. Do we need to be purpose led or profit driven? Fixed or flexible? More centralised or decentralised? Hierarchical or networked? Agile or structured?
This situation is perilous. It is also unnatural - in a very fundamental sense - because it demonstrates that we have failed to learn nature’s tricks about how to survive and grow, in any kind of environment, no matter how turbulent and unpredictable.
The remedy prescribed in this book is not a choice between ‘this’ or ‘that’, it is about balance. Or more specifically maintaining a set of balances that continuously shift to tame the complexity faced, and created by organisations. Balance begets calm and poise. Calm and poise begets clarity of thought, decisiveness and agility.
This book paints a picture of the balances organisations need to strike to survive and thrive. It describes how they work. It helps readers to describe and make sense of the mess and muddle of organisational life. And it helps to design healthy workplaces and diagnose and cure diseased ones.
It can do this because the book is not a manifesto of hope and wishful thinking. It brings together decades of esoteric knowledge about systems and how they work in a form that is both accessible and practical. To a curious reader it is the key to a world of ideas that have largely remained hidden. For a management practitioner it provides a new perspective on familiar problems and a platform for action. And it helps a leader to see what is and what could be.