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A Simpler Way Paperback – January 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Strikingly different from most business books--it opens and closes with a pair of very powerful black-and-white photo essays, for example--A Simpler Way lays out a fascinating and productive reexamination of the traditional tenets of organizational behavior. Internationally known consultants Margaret J. Wheatley (Leadership and the New Science) and Myron Kellner-Rogers focus on the basic themes of play, organization, self, emergence, and notions of coherence to explore how people really systemize their existence. The authors draw upon science, poetry, philosophy, and other unconventional corporate resources to suggest a completely original method of working together. "There is a simpler way to organize human endeavor," they write. "It requires a new way of being in the world. It requires being in the world without fear. Being in the world with play and creativity. Seeking after what's possible. Being willing to learn and to be surprised."

While A Simpler Way may appear too New Age for some readers, this beautifully produced book hits the mark by bringing together an array of unexpected ideas as the authors look anew at established theories of human behavior to propose a decidedly unique way of promoting organization and achieving success. --Howard Rothman

From Publishers Weekly

Addressing readers who perceive their lives as nearly unmanageable, the authors, business consultants and cofounders of the Berkana Institute, elegantly suggest a new way to view endeavor. Are we governed by static images of the world as a great machine, they ask, or do we see the world as an ever-changing, creative, living organism? The authors present material from myriad academic disciplines to shore up their fundamental propositions that the universe is a creative experience, that life self-organizes, that organizations are living systems. Even light bulbs "have exhibited a breathtaking tendency to self-organize when wired together with other bulbs," the authors observe. Organizing, they maintain, is a "deep impulse" and not one just found in living beings. Self-organizing calls us to partner with the world's creative forces, for life, Wheatley and Kellner-Rogers aver, has the capacity to invent itself. The advice here is more inspirational than particular or hands-on. It represents a vigorous, path-breaking application of findings from the cutting edge of science to inner questions about how to live a life, however, and so should find a ready readership among those who cotton to Chopra, Capra and the like. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 135 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1 edition (January 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576750507
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576750506
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Margaret Wheatley, Ed.D.

Margaret Wheatley writes, teaches and speaks about how we can organize and accomplish work in chaotic times, sustain our relationships, and willingly step forward to serve. Since 1973, Meg has worked with an unusually broad variety of organizations: Her clients and audiences range from the head of the U.S. Army to twelve-year-old Girl Scouts, from CEOs and government ministers to small town ministers, from large universities to rural aboriginal villages. All of these organizations and people wrestle with a common dilemma--how to maintain their integrity, focus and effectiveness as they cope with the relentless upheavals and rapid shifts of this troubling time. But there is another similarity: a common human desire to find ways to live together more harmoniously, more humanely, so that more people may benefit.

She has written several best-selling books. Her new book, published October 2012 is
So Far From Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World.
Her other books are:
* Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey Into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now, co-authored with Deborah Frieze.
* Perseverance
* Leadership and the New Science (18 languages and third edition)
* Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future (seven languages and second edition)
* Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time.
* A Simpler Way (co-author Myron Kellner-Rogers)

Meg earned her doctorate in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University, and a masters in Media Ecology from New York University. She also studied at University College London, U.K. She has been a global citizen since her youth, serving in the Peace Corps in Korea in the 1960s, and has taught, consulted or served in an advisory capacity on all continents (except Antarctica). She began her career as a public school teacher, and also has been a professor in two graduate management programs (Brigham Young University and Cambridge College Massachusetts).

She is co-founder and President emerita of The Berkana Institute, founded in 1991. Berkana has been a leader in experimenting with new organizational forms based on a coherent theory of living systems. We have worked in partnership with a rich diversity of people around the world who strengthen their communities by working with the wisdom and wealth already present in their people, traditions and environment

Meg has received several awards and honorary doctorates. In 2003, The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) honored her for her contribution "to workplace learning and development" and dubbed her "a living legend." In April 2005, she was elected to the Leonardo Da Vinci Society for the Study of Thinking for her contribution to the development of the field of systems thinking. In 2010, she was appointed by the White House and the Secretary of the Interior to serve on the National Advisory Board of the National Parks System; her primary responsibility is to support the growth of a 21st century culture of adaptation and innovation throughout the system.

She returns from her frequent global travels to her home in the mountains of Utah and the true peace of wilderness. She has raised a large family now dispersed throughout the U.S. and is a very happy mother and grandmother.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 68 people found the following review helpful By frostansuz@aol.com on July 19, 1999
Format: Audio Cassette
It's late on a Sunday night and I've just finished reading "A Simpler Way" for the second time. It's one of those books that repays multiple readings as you delve deeper into what the authors are saying. It may be the best book I've ever read about creativity and organizational change, and I've read a bunch of 'em. It may change your life, if you let it. It's not "too New Age" at all - it's firmly grounded in the latest thinking in biology and other sciences. Basically, it says we are too controlled by inaccurate images of the world - specifically, the Darwinist belief in the "struggle" to survive and the machine metaphor. These two ways of looking at the world have predominated for decades now, and have percolated down into our lives, so that we think that such things as struggle, fierce competition, control, planning, rigidity, coercion, and so on, are the ways life is, and are the ways to organize our lives. WRONG, say the authors. The world actually is very different from what the Darwinists and the machine-as-metaphor people have said. According to the latest and best studies of evolution, biology, physics, nature, etc., the world is a lot more interested in cooperation, connections, synergy, alliances, freedom, etc., than we thought, and we can, if we're brave enough, allow THESE images of the world to pervade our lives and our companies.
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Margaret Wheatley is addictive. After reading "Leadership and the New Science" I have bought the rest of her books, and also those that she recommends by contributing a foreword.

This book has a great deal of white space, lots of photos, is double-spaced, but by no means is it simplistic. To play on the title, it is a "simpler way" to absorb the large deep ideas that are documented in "Leadership and the New Science." If her primary writing were a trilogy, this is the entry-level book, "Finding Our Way" is the intermediate volume, and "Leadership" is the graduate course. However, I recommend they be read in reverse order, because the simpler books are more clearly appreciated if one has the deeper background.

What I find most compelling about this book is the manner in which it captures core ideas from a wide variety of works that have been bubbling into human consciousness in the past 20 years. The bibliography is quite good although by no means all-inclusive (missing Kurzweil, E. O. Wilson, and Stephen Wolfham, as well as Tom Atlee and Bill Moyers, among others).

Among the core ideas in this book that are presented with elegance are the absurdity of thinking that life can have a boss--or that rigid ideas and identities will lead to anything other than rigid non-adjustable organizations. The author stresses the value of diversity, passion, connectedness, humanity and humanness, and tieing it all together, the role of information and of ethics as facilitators for "being."

There is a very useful discussion of bacteria and the manner in which human attempts to impose machine and medical solutions are ultimately defeated by bacteria.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This beautiful work appeals to the part of you that is creative and artistic, the part that is always searching for new ways to look at the world. The book begins with a poem. The themes that follow - play, organization, self, emergence - each spin from the poem. The authors, Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers, weave in their bold, thought-provoking views on how life seeks to organize and diversify itself out of chaos. They explore scientific concepts by Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan and other scientists, interspersing quotes from mystics and philosophers. This is an excellent book, the kind you might keep on your desk to share or on your night stand for inspiration. The loose, circular writing elegantly expresses both philosophical and scientific ideas about organization. It is soulful without being too wishy-washy. ... .
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 1996
Format: Hardcover
A Simpler Way is a beautiful object as well as being a lovely book. It's engaging cover photo, the texture of the paper, the size of the pages, the open and clean use of white space. And Wheatley has taken a major step forward in her philosophy and her life since Leadership and the New Science. This book is more exploratory, more tentative, and at the same time even more convincing than her earlier effort.

More than being an uplifting book, more than being an effective business book, more than all of this, it is a book which raises tantalizing new questions, awakens a creative opportunity, and whets an appetite for learning more.

It is a book which helped me reawaken a curiosity and a thirst for further exploration that I haven't indulged in too long a time. From A Simpler Way, I have read several books about the New Sciences. I began with Dancing Wu Li Masters, and was thoroughly charmed. Then the Tao of Physics, which built a little more around the ideas from Wu Li Masters. And then Turbulent Mirror. And then Synchronicity and the Inner Path of Leadership. And then Bohm. And more and more more. From biology to botany to chaos to quantum physics to buisness organization to leadership. The philosophy of science. The vast amounts of knowledge in these books has allowed me to open up whole new perspectives on my life... my personal life, my spiritual life, my home life, my work life.

But it started, for me, with A Simpler Way. And I am the richer for it.
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