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Dot Vertigo: Doing Business in a Permeable World Hardcover – August 17, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

"Vertigo--that dizzy, confused state of mind where your surroundings whirl about you--is disastrous for pilots who suffer disorientation and lose control of their aircraft," says Harvard Business School professor Richard Nolan, "and it is no less catastrophic for businesses and their investors who are now plunging headlong into an increasingly unpredictable economic landscape." In Dot Vertigo, Nolan proposes an antidote based on the way leading bricks-and-mortar firms and Web companies (including IBM, Merrill Lynch,, and are successfully using the technological advances causing this frenetic confusion among others to meet the challenges of the new "permeable" or less rigid corporate world. The core of the solution is something he dubs the I-Net, which is sort of a combined Internet-Intranet that thoroughly and seamlessly integrates all internal and external functions of a given company.

The first part of the book examines this vertigo or business disorientation and relates it to the need for permeability that Nolan marks as key to future success. The second completely outlines the I-Net infrastructure, including financial benchmarks and metrics necessary for building one that is fully attuned to a company's specific financial and operational realities. The third draws upon Nolan's extensive case studies of the above-mentioned firms and others to show how successful planning and implementation can be achieved. One of a growing wave of management books to reach beyond the technomarket meltdown for associated best practices that remain viable for spurring long-term strategic improvement, this will be welcomed by anyone who recognizes that technology is not the total solution but rather one critical piece of an evolving puzzle whose impacts (both good and bad) are here to stay. --Howard Rothman

From Publishers Weekly

To succeed in the years ahead, corporations will need "permeable" structures without boundaries between the corporation and all its stakeholders, argues Harvard Business School professor Nolan. Existing technology can be used to create strategy, not just to solve problems, he emphasizes. Information technology specialists are likely to find this book helpful in pitching their case to and as part of their plan to become senior management. Other managers are likely to be overwhelmed by the level of detail.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471415294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471415299
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,337,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cyrus F. Gibson on January 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Dot Vertigo" makes the case that industries, companies and the economy itself are forever and significantly changed by Internet technologies. There's thin ice here: the reader who wants to reject this technological revolution may, by superficial reading, see "Dot Vertigo" as an echo of hype from the glory days. Such a reading would be wrong.
What Dick Nolan accomplishes is superb use of established analytical concepts from academia and management practice to explain and extend the implications of the new technology. Thus, he documents illustrations of leadership (as in the turnaround of IBM), and of systemic interaction of resources, organization and technology (as in CISCO in its heyday). He builds on established ideas like stages of organizational learning to lay out scenarios for challenges that different kinds of companies (incumbents, start-ups, dot-com survivors, and bricks-and-clicks) are now facing. This is the stuff a great course on management should include these days, the stuff every executive should read and reflect in strategic thinking and execution.
The book is an excellent reflection of its author: a field-research academic with years of advisory experience and, significantly, a man as creative with ideas as he is with practical advice. Very few can match Nolan's combined understanding of information technology, organizational behavior, and the executive mind.
"Dot Vertigo" shows the balance and the insight that make it the antidote to some current overreaction to the phenomenon. Ignore the impact of the Internet at your peril!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Thornton May on November 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Dick Nolan takes as his theme the disorientation that Michael Lewis talks about in his book Next. If you are only going to read one business book this year, Dot Vertigo is that book. Dick Nolan has spent his life explaining things. He is an accomplished educator at the Harvard Business School. I was fortunate enough to work with him during the early days of his research on how computers impact and operate in organizations. `Suits' didn't know what to make of these machines. Dick was able to create the framework that made computers and computing understandable. In Dot Vertigo Dick applies his superlative analytical gifts to first understanding and then explaining what can be done about the apparent chaos surrounding us. Dot Vertigo - that dizzy, confused state of mind where your surroundings whirl about - is curable. The cure requires recognizing and then treating the seven symptoms of Dot Vertigo:
1. denying that the world has changed;
2. maintaining a complacent corporate culture;
3. responding with business as usual;
4. failing to cannibalize your product line before your competitors do;
5. letting egos get in the way;
6. always being in catch-up mode;
7. failing to adopt the new business model for the industry
Misunderstanding lies at the center of many of these symptoms. Dot Vertigo goes a long way toward clearing up that misunderstanding.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Bad news for corporate executives: Any IT investments you made before 1995 are now obsolete.
That's the message from Richard Nolan, who advises companies to forget about updating their legacy systems and begin anew from scratch. Why is such a dramatic gesture required? Because technology advances over the past decade have totally revamped the competitive landscape, making speed and flexibility the business imperatives of the 21st century. Sure, there are echoes of `90s Net hysteria here, but we from getAbstract strongly recommend this book as a warning that, just because the bubble has burst, decision makers cannot afford to neglect their IT systems.
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