Thursday, June 10, 2004

Recent Readings

Have been reading two books over the last couple of days.

"The Soul at Work" by Roger Lewin and B. Regine.

Its about the application of "Complexity science" to the field of management and organizations. Roger Lewin is also the author of "Complexity: The science at the edge of chaos" which I have read before (worth a read too!). The S@W is a book which tries to reveal underlying currents of complexity at play in the functioning (and the success) of organizations, with emphasis (the main theme) being on the importance of the "human" factor (trust, cooperation, connections, feedback, and all that) at play at work. Fairly good (and very light) reading, though the book is huge, with mainly case studies which are very readable.

Complexity as such is an important subject, and I find it very interesting. In fact I had been wondering how it could be applied to management and orgs, and had been hunting for some information regarding the same, when I saw this book. I feel that this is only a superficial foray into this world, in the sense of not being scientifically rigorous, but more focused towards building credibility for the need to have such viewpoints for organizations in the future. I almost completely agree that "nonlinear" "coupled" "feedback loops" "chaos" are at play in organizations, and with the environment and the nature opf orgs undergoing a major shift, it will be come increasingly important to analyze reasons and methods based on techniques which can deal with uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity.

Another book Ive been reading is "Images of Strategy".

Written by a couple of profs from a British Business School, it tries to develop a new way of looking at strategy. Develops a good base of why strategy is something which is more complicated than just using the 2x2 matrices of Porter, or Mintzbergs approach, (or the top down/bottom up- emergent approaches to strategy) it is more akin to the fable of the blind men who try to understand the elephant by having their own perceptions about it from their own individual experiences, only, the elepehant in this case is not a static entity with a given unchanging shape, and is not physical, but an intangible entity, constantly shifting and modifying, and only an appraoch based on viewing it from different perspectives, wholistically, would be effective. There are comments on the philosophy of science, and the development of objective thought which paradoxically is applied blindly to strategy, when what may be required is actually a fallback on the suibjective approach (analogized with ancient map making activities) which may prove more effective.

Interesting, and fairly well written, researched, and argued book!

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