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The Boundaryless Organization: Breaking the Chains of Organization Structure, Revised and Updated [Hardcover]

Ron Ashkenas , Dave Ulrich , Todd Jick , Steve Kerr
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 11, 2002 078795943X 978-0787959432 2
In 1995 The Boundaryless Organization showed companies how to sweep away the artificial obstacles-such as hierarchy, turf, and geography-that get in the way of outstanding business performance. Now, in this completely revised edition of their groundbreaking work, management experts Ron Ashkenas, Dave Ulrich, Todd Jick, and Steve Kerr offer an up-to-date version of their comprehensive guide to help any organization go "boundaryless"-and become a company with the ability to quickly, proactively, and creatively adjust to changes in the environment. With new examples, a new commentary on the developments of the last five years, and illuminating first-hand accounts from pioneering senior executives, the authors once again show why "boundaryless" is a prerequisite for any organization trying to succeed in the economy of the twenty-first century.

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Most solutions being recommended today for improving corporate performance prescribe reducing hierarchy by changing organizational structure, altering boundaries, and overcoming barriers within the organization. The authors go much further, calling for a "boundaryless organization," and they consider much more than the traditional and the obvious boundaries that exist within organizations. This book grew out of work done by the authors as consultants hired by General Electric's CEO Jack Welch, who first approached them with the concept of a "boundaryless organization." Applying what they learned in the effort to transform the way GE did business and from numerous other examples, they consider the vertical, horizontal, external, and geographic boundaries that exist for organizations. The authors provide tools to help measure the degree to which boundaries exist, demonstrate the consequences of boundaries, and identify steps to eliminate them. David Rouse --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Winner of the Executive Leadership Award

"If your organization is ready for transformation, The Boundaryless Organization will provide a simple but provocative framework either for getting started or for accelerating the pace."
— from the foreword by Lawrence A. Bossidy, chairman and CEO, Honeywell Corporation

"This is the best book on globalization and the seamless organization that I have read."
— David H. Komansky, chairman and CEO, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

"A very important contribution."
— from the foreword by C. K. Prahalad, coauthor of Competing for the Future

"Attacks the very core of traditional management structure, with all of its walls, boundaries, and limitations."
Quality Progress

"Outlines how companies can make the change from rigid structures to ones where ideas, resources, and information can flow freely."
— HR Strategies & Tactics

"A refreshing guide to innovative ways to do business . . . . Each part includes a questionnaire that readers can use to determine where they stand on a continuum between boundaried and boundaryless status."
Journal of Management Consulting

"Recommended reading."
— CIO


"Outlines how companies can make the change from rigid structures to ones where ideas, resources, and information can flow freely."
HR Strategies & Tactics

"A refreshing guide to innovative ways to do business . . . . Each part includes a questionnaire that readers can use to determine where they stand on a continuum between boundaried and boundaryless status."
Journal of Management Consulting

"Recommended reading."
CIO



Product Details

  • Hardcover: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 2 edition (January 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078795943X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787959432
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ron Ashkenas is a Senior Partner of Schaffer Consulting, a management consulting firm based in Stamford, Connecticut. The firm specializes in organizational transformation, leadership development, and post-merger integration.

Ron's clients have included many of the Fortune 500 companies, as well as prominent financial, governmental, and non-profit organizations such as Cisco Systems, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Pfizer, The World Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Zurich Financial Services, and ConAgra Foods. Ron was part of the original team that collaborated with then-CEO Jack Welch to develop GE's WorkOut approach for creating a faster, simpler, and more nimble organization. He also helped to develop GE Capital's approach to acquisition integration.

Ron is the author of "Simply Effective: How to Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done" (Harvard Business School Press, 2010), as well as the co-author of "Rapid Results!" (Jossey-Bass, 2005), "The GE Work-Out" (McGraw-Hill, 2002), "The Boundaryless Organization" (Jossey-Bass, 1995 and 2002), and "The Boundaryless Organization Field Guide" (Jossey-Bass, 1999). In addition to his books, Ron's publications include dozens of articles. Five were published by the Harvard Business Review, including 'Making the Deal Real: How GE Capital Integrates Acquisitions' and 'Why Good Projects Fail Anyway'. Ron also writes his own weekly blog for Harvard Business Review On-Line.

Ron received his BA from Wesleyan University, his EdM from Harvard University, and his PhD in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University, where he has also held several teaching assignments.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes and No January 21, 2000
Format:Paperback
The title is a misnomer: Although the authors do indeed suggest how to "break through the chains of organizational structure", they provide an enlightening explanation of four different types of boundaries (vertical, horizontal, external, and geographic) which give definition to any organization. They do not advocate the total elimination of these boundaries (which is impossible, anyway); rather, they suggest how to rearrange them so that an organization can thrive. For the authors, there is what they call "A New World Order":
"In living organisms, membranes exist to give the organization shape and definition. They have sufficient structural strength to prevent the organism from dissolving into an amorphous mess....Like a living organism, the boundaryless organization also evolves and grows, and the placement of boundaries may shift....Because the boundaryless organization is a living continuum, not a fixed state, the ongoing management challenge is to find the right balance of boundaryless behavior, to determine how permeable to make boundaries, and where to place them."
This brief excerpt from the first chapter correctly suggests the purpose of this remarkable book: To explain HOW to meet that challenge.
The material is presented within four parts plus a conclusion. The first explains how to achieve "free movement up and down" by crossing vertical boundaries; the second explains how to achieve "free movement side to side" by crossing horizontal boundaries; the third explains how to achieve "free movement along the value chain" by crossing external boundaries; and in the fourth part, they explain how to achieve "free global movement" by crossing geographic boundaries.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
"Like Marko Polo discovering a new world of trade, organizations today are exploring vast new markets throughout the globe. The process is nothing less than a revolution, breaking down once sacrosanct boundaries of space, time, and nationality...In today's world, there is no longer a dichotomy between domestic and foreign. Global boundaries between companies, markets, and people have become irrevocably blurred...For companies such as Unilever, ABB, and SmithKline Beecham, globalization has become a natural part of their business, an integral part of their culture. For most companies, however, the goal to become truly global in mindset, staff, and market seems a stretch. Although the oportunities are tempting, the effort, knowledge, and skill required are much greater than for running a domestic operation, and the risks-once you probe beneath the surface-are equally enormous"(pp.261-262).
In this context, the authors, in Chapter 8, first put forward the following ten reasons why organizations might want to become more global: competitive survival, cost spreading, trailblazing, rule of three, domino effect, evolutionary forces, technological revolution, search for innovation, ripple effect, and benchmarking against other companies. Then, they discuss seven challenges companies face in making the global leap: (1)Establishing a workable global structure, (2)Hiring global supermanagers, (3)Managing people for a global environment, (4)Learning to love cultural differences, (5)Avoiding parochialism and arrogance, (6)Designing unifying mechanisms and a global mindset, (7)Overcoming complexity.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumphant crusade against fiefdoms August 24, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a forward-looking discussion of the paradigm shift from traditional pyramidal organizations to organic, dynamic enterprises that feature permeable boundaries. The book is a triumphant crusade against fiefdoms and for freedom in inter- and intra-organizational life. It demonstrates how "boundaryless" organizations can increase the ability to respond quickly, creatively, flexibly, and in an integrated fashion to market demands. Case studies of change efforts bring the main points alive. Adding to the value of this work are self-diagnostic instruments, charts, and tables. This book is a rich source of insights about organization plus savvy guidelines for taking action. We highly recommend it.
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