Surfing the Edge of Chaos: The Laws of Nature and the New Laws of Business
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Surfing the Edge of Chaos is a brilliant, powerful, and practical book about the parallels between business and nature—two fields that feature nonstop battles between the forces of tradition and the forces of transformation. It offers a bold new way of thinking about and responding to the personal and strategic challenges everyone in business faces these days.
is just showing up, our large and lumbering corporations thrived because they showed up; their lack of agility was not a significant drawback, given their advantages of scale and the cornucopia of economic opportunity spread before them. Then some unlikely startups, borne on the wings of new business models, proceeded to spoil the party. The newcomers—companies like Amazon.com, Southwest Airlines, Home Depot, and Nokia—ran rings around traditional companies mired in their comfortable
the alcoholic to openly admit to a problem with alcohol. Subsequent steps require each member to work methodically through a therapeutic program of self-acceptance and spiritual surrender. Alcoholics Anonymous also devised an elegantly simple structure and operating principles. The philosophy holds, among other things, that participants are a brotherhood and must share the burden of maintaining their AA chapter. AA intentionally operates from hand-to-mouth with no fund raising, grants, or
nor encouraged cross-pollination of methods and ideas. Its sequential product development process deflected the inroads of Cordis’s more agile parallel processing and innovations. Above all, J&J steadfastly rejected overtures to coevolve an improved stent and build on the distributed intelligence of surgeons, hospitals, and the Cordis team of engineers and researchers. By so doing, it was left stranded on a suboptimal fitness peak while both a New Route (a radically improved stent) and a New
trait, the book may have been better named In Search of Equilibrium. Within five years after the book’s publication, half of the forty-three companies were in trouble. At present, all but five have fallen from grace.8 One of this text’s authors, Richard Pascale, collaborated in developing the Seven-S Framework—a management tool highlighted in the Peters and Waterman book. The Seven-S Framework identified the key levers that make organizations tick. The levers can be characterized as hard
The seven disciplines are: Infuse an intricate understanding of what drives business success. Insist on uncompromising straight talk. Manage from the future. Reward inventive accountability. Harness adversity by learning from prior mistakes. Foster relentless discomfort. Cultivate reciprocity between the individual and the organization. At first blush, the list is oxymoronic. How can disequilibrium, the edge of chaos, and all those wonder-inspiring properties of life coexist in