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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
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." Then in the Conclusion, the authors discuss "Making It Happen: Leading Toward the Boundaryless Organization."
The authors also include a series of six questionnaires. By completing each in sequence, the reader is able to determine (a) where her or his organization is now located relative to "the boundaryless paradigm", and (b), what is needed to eliminate the "gap" between where it is now and where it should be. Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to read The Boundaryless Organization Field Guide. It contains a a hands-on set of diagnostic instruments as well as exercises and tools, and a disk with presentation slides in Powerpoint format.
I agree with the authors: The most restrictive organizational boundaries are in the minds of those within an organization. Organizational as well as personal wounds are usually self-inflicted.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2001
"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.
In Chapter 9, to overcome these challenges, they show action plans, and suggest ways of moving forward, from learner to launcher and from launcher to leader into the global arena as summarized as below:
I- From Global Learner to Global Launcher
1. Human Resources Practices
* Supply language/cultural sensitivity training.
* Standardize forms and procedures.
* Set up an overseas presence via joint venture, modest acquisition, or establishment of a headquarters.
* Engage in extensive cross-border relationship building.
2. Organizational Structures
* Arrange short-term visits and international assignments.
* Staff for more diversity in management and board of directors.
* Use e-mail and videoconferencing to maintain day-to-day contact.
3. Organizational Processes and Systems
* Establish worldwide shared values, language, and operating principles.
* Conduct fact-finding missions.
* Design ad hoc transnational teams.
* Hold global town meetings and best-practice exchanges of information.
II- From Global Launcher to Global Leader
1. Human Resources Practices
* Seek complete liquidity of human resources: recruit outside the domestic base; place foreign recruits within the domestic base; promote the best people to global assignments; rotate people internationally; use twinning.
* Aim for a global structure.
* Map global processes.
2. Organizational Structure
* Provide continuing global leadership trining and regular transnational training to reinforce the global mindset.
* Remove/minimize country managers and replace with global managers and focus on global customers.
* Routinize real-time global communications.
3. Organizational Processes and Systems
* Use global reward systems.
* Multiply ongoing transnational project teams.
* Work for global integration (for example, total global sourcing, global design, global engineering, and global purchasing).
Finally, they write that "Many tools are available to organizations, and we have described a good number of them here (as summarized above). But senior management must have the skill and foresight to use the right tools in the right way, at the right time, and in the right sequence...Each stage requires structures that enable the crossing of boundaries, systems and procedures that drive global behavior, and people who can learn to extend their thinking beyond their present outlook."
Highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 1998
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 1998
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 boundaries of all types, 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. I highly recommend it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 1997
Checklist can be used to help a manager transition an organization to overcome institutional barriers
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on September 18, 2014
Received in time and better than forecasted...you can't beat that!
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on January 17, 2015
An ok read, room for improvement.
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on December 15, 2014
PERFECT
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2011
The book I ordered came on time, and the price was very reasonable. No one should ever pay full price for a textbook when you have other options.
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