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The Future Arrived Yesterday: The Rise of the Protean Corporation and What It Means for You Hardcover – May 19, 2009

4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Malone (coauthor of The Virtual Corporation) surveys the growing virtualization of the workplace and the dismantling of traditional organizational structures to argue that we need ways of thinking about organizations that reflect the changing reality of the people who are part of them. The solution, he asserts, is the protean corporation, distinguished by its ability to constantly restructure itself to changing circumstances and new opportunities. Praising such corporations as Google, Wikipedia and the U.S. Army, Malone contends that these early-stage shape-shifters behave like perpetual entrepreneurial startups, continuously changing their form, direction and identity. He also examines the historical, technological and entrepreneurial evolution of the corporation and envisions the structure, behavior and impact of numerous protean organizations on the American economy and culture. Insightful and visionary, this book will appeal to forward-thinking executives who aim to develop their companies in the tumultuous and ever-changing global marketplace. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Malone, a journalist specializing in technology and business, presents his ideas on how companies will adapt to an emerging world that brings together the wireless Web, intelligent cell phones, billions of new consumers from developing countries, and a dedicated entrepreneurial culture. To be “protean,” corporations (not-for-profits and government agencies) will consistently function as new business start-ups, 80 percent staffed with entrepreneurs operating far from corporate headquarters—independent, empowered to use their own judgment, taking risks in developing new markets, and less attached to their employer. The 20 percent minority will be people who seek stability, are risk-averse, and will be vital to maintaining the corporate culture and preserving the institutional memory; they will be key to long-term survival. Google and Wikipedia are early-stage protean organizations, as is the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although all may not agree with Malone, entrepreneurs will revel in the historic opportunities he sees for them; and if his ideas contribute to corporate discussions and planning, his objectives will be met. Excellent book. --Mary Whaley

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1 edition (May 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307406903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307406903
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,668,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amul Mago on May 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The author is very articulate in scripting the character of a 2.0 organization; which he calls a "protean organization" as part of a "protean society" where time will seem to accelerate (a dynamic world), distances further shrunk (globally connected), a sense of isolation will increase (importance of individuality). At the same time; the excitement will be more.

In such a society, the writer describes a protean organization to be essentially lean (with core group of people at the center - to manage and rive the company history, philosophy & mission). This lean group would take care of infrastructure, & strategic planning.

The core group will be surround by a dynamic workforce (salaried/ contractual employees with benefits & flexible working arrangements)to allow the company to respond nimbly to change.

Furthermore; the author takes our mind into the 2.0 era where a protean being would exist. Probably the highest capable form of human existence which would essentially be a combination of individuals strongly rooted within themselves; complete understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, skills, goals and aspirations looking for assignments NOT title/s as a way of growth in their careers.

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Format: Hardcover
"In his new book entitled "The Future Arrived Yesterday", Michael S. Malone defines a new phenomenon in the corporate world which he calls the Protean Corporation. The Protean Corporation is a new form of organization that is structured to handle the stresses and strains we see emerging in our marketplace today. Stresses ranging from the retiring baby boomers being replaced by Gen Xer's, Gen Y's and millennials to the rising Asian workforce, continuous Internet connectivity, the pace of technological change, dramatic increases in new consumers the emerging nations and the rise in entrepreneurialism. These stresses and strains are unleashing an unprecedented rate of change into the marketplace, a rate of change that has never before been experienced and one that the organizations of today cannot possible handle successfully.

According to Malone the Protean Corporation "must find a way to continuously and rapidly change almost everyone of their attributes - products, services, finances, physical plant, markets, customers, and both tactical and strategic goals - yet at the same time retain a core of values, customs, legends, and philosophy that will be little affected by the continuous and explosive changes taking place just beyond its edges."

How does the Protean Corporation do this? By structuring itself into three distinct groups;

1. Core - the core staff are permanent staff responsible to retain the core values, customs, legends, and philosophies so that they will be little affected by the continuous and explosive changes. It is up to them to uphold the corporation's culture.

2. Inner Ring - permanent employees responsible for the operations of the business.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read more fiction than business books, so I look for the business texts I do read to tell a story. This is why I am such a fan of Michael Lewis, Jim Collins and Malcolm Gladwell.

Many business books seem like an essay extended far enough to comprise a 250 page book, so I usually get bored after about 50 pages. Not so with Malone's book.

The book starts off ok, but for anyone working in new media, the idea of a protean organization doesn't seem too cutting-edge. We live it.

But when Malone goes into his history of corporate structure/culture (going all the way back to the oldest company still in existence -- Beretta), the book really takes off. Malone's recounting of corporate organizational practices, and how these evolved as cultural, historical and technological changes influenced them, is utterly fascinating.

I'd say this book is a required read for anyone trying to make sense of our ever-changing working world -- with less hierarchical org charts, companies booming and busting at alarming rates, globalization making the second and third worlds more relevant to business than ever before, contractors working side-by-side with full time employees (spread across the globe), flextime, wisdom of crowds decision making, smart devices allowing us to stay in sync with our peers 24/7/365, community-driven business innovation, etc.

Another win for this book is Malone's prescient ability to anticipate readers' questions and address those. Every time I thought, "Yeah, but what about...", Malone had an answer for that very question a page or two later. Just brilliant.

Malone isn't afraid to criticize the shortcomings in the protean model either, and this even-handed approach to his analysis underscores that this is a journalist who wrote this, not a cheerleader for the protean model. Nothing he says is truly earth-shattering, but its implications for the future of how companies work could be.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. Maybe its organization could have been a little more refined so there were fewer chapters. But I think the topic and the content are so important regarding business today. The business world changes so quickly these days. In fact, it really has not been stable since about the time I entered the workforce back in the late 1980s. And it keeps changing quicker and quicker with every year.

This book is about companies doing business in industries that are being turned upside down. Such companies are dinasours that are either going broke or just limping along waiting to go under. This book talks about the need for every company in the future to be a protean one - able to be flexible and shift its shape to conform to the demand for its services and products. The book is well written and is split into 5 sections and 14 chapters as follows:

§1. The new world [1&2]
§2. Reinventing themselves: How corporations evolve [3-5]
§3. Building the protean corporation [6-10]
§4. Running the protean corporation [11-13]
§5. The protean society [14]

0. Intro: Catching the future, again
1. A new business model for a new world
2. The shape-shifter: The paradox of permanence & change
3. The rise of the corporation
4. Packard's way: The technology era
5. The center cannot hold: The virtual era & its fading relevance
6. The cloud, the core, & the boss
7. Denizens of the core
8. Rethinking the CEO
9. Where the real action is: The cloud
10. Bringing in talent: Competence aggregator
11. Who matters: Fateholders
12. Rings of engagement
13. Redefining success: What a protean corporation actually does
14. The world's first entrepreneurial society
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