Troubador Zen and the Art of Organising Work: an Illustrated Guide

Released: 28/04/2021

ISBN: 9781800463356

Format: Paperback

Review this Book

Zen and the Art of Organising Work: an Illustrated Guide

The Hidden Anatomy of Effective Organisations… Using Systems Thinking to Unlock Nature’s Secrets


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.

Be the first to review this book

Steve Morlidge

Steve Morlidge has 30 years of practical experience in designing and running performance management systems in Unilever, including three years as the lead of a global change project. He is a former chairman of the European Beyond Budgeting Round Table and now works as a management thinker, writer and speaker, drawing on his years of experience at the leading edge of performance management thought and practice.

He is driven by an obsession with understanding how organizations work, and can be made to work better for the benefit of the organization and its shareholders but also for the people who work within it, whose experience of work is rarely fulfilling and purposeful. This manifests itself in an interest in both the philosophy and science of social organizations and the implications for day to day practice and practioners.

Steve Morlidge published Future Ready: How to Master Business Forecasting, John Wiley, in 2010, and ‘The Little Book of Beyond Budgeting’ published by Matador in early 2017. He is on the editorial board of Foresight, a forecasting practitioner’s journal published by the International Institute of Forecasting to which he regularly contributes. He is also a cofounder of CatchBull, a supplier of cutting edge forecasting performance management software.

Steve Morlidge is a visiting fellow at Cranfield University, Bedfordshire, UK and has a PhD from Hull Business School in Yorkshire, UK focusing on the application of systems concepts to the design of complex organizations. He completed his BA with honors, and he is a qualified management accountant (CIMA).

He is married to Sue and has three grown children and a small white dog and lives in the Surrey countryside, south of London.

  • Buy as a printed
  • £25.00
  • Please put the code ZEN in the box below to get a 30% discount on this title.
Also by Steve Morlidge / Related Books