Cover Photograph ©1996 by Andy Levin, Courtesy of Swanstock Inc.; Recording (P)1996 by Audio Literature; Copyright ©1996 by Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers
"In an evocative, almost poetic style, [the authors] lead us with thought, grace, and great gentleness through a philosophy which observes life as always moving toward organization." (James A. Autry, Author and Former CEO, The Meredith Corporation)
This book is wonderful. People who read it looking for hard answers will not find them. But they will find power and beauty and wisdom. Why does poetry move us? How can a simple passage of a few words strung together stir us deeply? They work because they resonate with who we truly are. They don't worry about "reality" or "the way things are" because they are wise enough to know that what we see as reality is only one way of looking at this world. When we connect with who we truly are then we see this enormous power and we recognize what's possible if we relax into that power. This message may frustrate people looking for definite prescription, but I found it refreshing and worth the time. Look at it this way. Is what you're doing now working? If it is, then congratulations. If not, then you have to try something different. Here it is.
Marty Jacobs consults in the areas of strategic planning, board governance, leadership development, and community engagement.
In this book organizations are described as living systems that are self-organizing and seek order in a disorderly way. Rather than impose structures, self-organizing systems allow structure to emerge in what may appear to be a chaotic and random process but which ultimately yields stability. That stability can only be found in freedom, not in conformity or compliance. It is that freedom which feeds the relationships and dynamic processes that are the foundation to organizations the authors describe as clear but curious. This simpler way of being together in organizations is one that mimics much of what we see in nature.
Margaret Wheatley is one of my favorite authors, and this is classic Margaret Wheatley. It is chock full of quotable quotes and philosophic inspirations. My only complaint, and I know this isn't her style, is that I would have loved to hear some concrete examples of organizations that practice this simpler way.
The title's relationship to its content is amusing. The authors' description of a simpler way is done with a very intellectual approach. The woman author reminds me of Frazier Crane's girlfriend (Lilith) from Cheers. The way in which things are said is not simple. Why, in a book about simplicity, didn't they tone down their intellectualism and say things more simply!? Basically the message is that in life things find order and organization not through a formal, directed, well-planned process, but by parallelism, trial and error, and discovery of what works. There -- you have pretty much the whole message of the audiobook. It was of some value to me because I tend to be intellectual and it was revealing for me to see their intellectual approach to simplicity. It helped me see more clearly how I want NOT to be. If you're looking for some ironic humor of an audio book to make fun of then this is an audio book for you. If you really want to learn about simplicity then go to one of the other excellent titles that practice what they preach.
I usually can get at least something out of a book, even bad books, but I found this one absolutely useless. It was a waste of time and money. Lots of philosophical babble about nothing.
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