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Comment: 1972 sixth printing, softcover. general reader use and shelf wear, some underlining, tight binding.
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Men, Machines, and Modern Times Paperback – March 15, 1968

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Men, Machines, and Modern Times + The Evolution of Technology (Cambridge Studies in the History of Science) + How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
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Editorial Reviews

Review

It is the most brilliant, original, and absorbing book in American history I have read for some time.

(Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (March 15, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262630184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262630184
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Newt Gingrich THE on April 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is purely and simply one of the best books ever written on the process of innovation and the interaction of technology, culture, systems, and individual personalities. If you are interested in the process of transformation or the development of technological change then this book should be on your short list. It should be required reading at every senior military school and for anyone who is really interested in transforming the health system.
This slender volume is actually a series of lectures given between 1950 and 1966 at Cal Tech and was influenced by a 15 year process of dialogue in a regular monthly meeting on the subject of technology and society. It reflects the insights and wisdom of a lifetime of thought about people and technology.
For those who care about transforming military institutions the chapters on Lieutenant Sims' reform of naval gunnery in 1900 and on the building of the best steam warship in the world in 1868 are marvels of bureaucracy confronting technology.
Consider just a few insights from Morison:
"It is possible, if one sets aside the long-run social benefits, to look upon invention as a hostile act--a dislocation of existing schemes, a way of disturbing the comfortable bourgeois routines and calculations, a means of discharging the restlessness with arrangements and standards that arbitrarily limit." (p.9)
When Sims reports remarkable success with a new system of gunnery he has learned from an innovative British officer ((Percy Scott) there are three stages of response from Washington:
"At first there was no response. The reports were simply filed away and forgotten.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "haly2k1" on January 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Elting Morison was a historian .. at MIT. I thought that curious, until I read his book. In a serious of beautifully wirtten historical essays, he traces the development and introduction of revolutionaly new processes or techiniques which profoundly changed the way things were done. But most interesting, and instructive, are the insights he provides as to what must be done to effectively introduce significant changes. For anyone who is frustrated by the time it takes to get things done, and who is interesting in learning how to shorten the process, this is a MUST read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Richert on January 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
Mr. Elting E. Morison's book Men, Machines, and Modern Times is a collection of essays regarding transformation that he wrote and presented during the 1950's and 1960's. At first thought you might be inclined to dismiss any book that is over fifty years old that pertains to transformation process and innovation. Well, to begin with one of the most useful essays doesn't pertain to something that is fifty years old but rather to a problem that is over one hundred years old, titled Gun Fire at Sea: A Case Study of Innovation.

If you are interested in innovation I believe you do yourself a disservice by dismissing this book because of its age. The essays in Men, Machines, and Modern Times are eerily relevant to today and anyone interested in transforming their organization, whether it be a business, government, education system, military, or any other entity would be extremely well served by reading this book. I would also suggest coupling it with a book titled The Myths of Innovation by Mr. Scott Berkun.

Below is a small sampling of items I found intriguing in Men, Machines, and Modern Times...

* First, it is easier to make a regulation than to abolish it. (pg 53)
* Second, it is easier to conform to a regulation, even when it is inappropriate to do so, than it is to seek a sensible exception. (pg. 54)
* Regulations tend to multiply (pg. 58)
* In order to make the pattern work, one seeks to eliminate every uncertainty and variable that might disturb the scheme. So the tendency in every regulating body is to reach out and extend rules over the whole range of human activity. That is why questionnaires get longer and the set of regulation more detailed. That is also why red tape has its unpleasant connotations. (pg.
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