"Of all the people Tom and I quoted in In Search of Excellence Karl Weick was hands down the most influential. As a researcher and thought leader on matters organizational and strategic, Karl gets an eleven on my scale of one to ten. Now Weick and Sutcliffe have written on a subject they have been researching for a very long time: excellence in responding to crisis in organizational settings that are inherently complex and dangerous. The differences they find between these organizations and the ones that, well, kill people have much to teach us all, even those of us operating in less dangerous settings. I loved this book, even the footnotes." (Bob Waterman, coauthor, In Search of Excellence)
"The cost of unpleasant surprises in business is escalating. Missed earnings or late and unsafe products or services, for example, can result in disastrous consequences for a company and its management . . . . Weick and Sutcliffe offer five sound organizational principles for building a company that delivers what it promises. This is an exceptionally well written and practical book that can ensure your company's future." (Michael Beer, Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School)
"For anyone who wants a better understanding of how organizations and leaders can cope with and master ambiguity, uncertainty, and change, this is the first and best book to go to." (Warren Bennis, University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, and coauthor, Geeks and Geezers)
"Breaks important new ground in organization theory and provides extremely relevant insights for leaders who want to create high performance cultures that are also truly adaptable and resilient. Written in a captivating style, filled with evocative examples and pragmatic guidelines, this book should be mandatory reading for both theorist and practitioner alike." (John Seely Brown, former director Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and coauthor, The Social Life of Information, HBSP 2000)
"A must read for managers and others in organizations with low tolerance for error. Weick and Sutcliffe's book is filled with recipes for success." (Karlene H. Roberts, professor, Walter A. Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley)
"...it's worth reading..." (Professional Manager, January 2002)
From the Inside Flap
One of the great challenges any business or organization can face is how to deal with the unexpected. While traditional managerial practices such as planning are designed to manage unexpected threats, they often make things worse. How do you organize for high performance in a setting where the potential for error and disaster is overwhelming? In this book, the ninth in the University of Michigan Business School Management Series, Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe look to high reliability organizations (HROs)? aircraft carriers, nuclear power plants, fire-fighting crews, and others-for the answer. HROs have developed ways of acting that provide a template for all organizations that want to be more reliable in managing the unexpected. Managing the Unexpected shows executives and upper level managers how to manage under trying conditions. The authors reveal how HROs create a collective state of mindfulness that produces an enhanced ability to discover and correct errors before they escalate into a crisis. Through a discussion of this principle and the practices that can be used to apply it, the authors show how to anticipate and respond to threats with flexibility rather than rigidity. Their practical, solutions-oriented approach includes numerous case studies demonstrating "mindful" practices and enables readers to assess and implement mindfulness in their own organizations. THE AUTHORS Karl E. Weick is the Rensis Likert Collegiate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Psychology and professor of psychology at the University of Michigan Business School. His book, The Social Psychology of Organizing (1979), was designated by James Collins in Inc. magazine as one of the nine best business books ever written. Kathleen M. Sutcliffe is assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at the University of Michigan Business School. She has published numerous articles on cognitive and experiential diversity in top management teams and on organizational performance.