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The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style and Your Life Hardcover – April 2, 2004
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"[T]he argument offered here is uniquely grand." -- Financial Times, April 15th, 2004
"briskly written...insightful" -- USA Today, April 12, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
As an expert on communications costs and benefits, Professor Malone explores how the pros and cons of centralized hierarchies, loose hierarchies, democracies and free markets compare in producing better organizational results. The book abounds with examples, most of which were not new to me.
The book's overall theme is that with the costs of communications plummeting and the value of the information communication increasing it is inevitable that organizations will decentralize more than ever . . . by employing hybrid forms of loose hierarchies, democracies and free markets for the same organization.
The book ends up with a call to live your dreams that draws on decidedly nonmanagement sources of inspiration. The key idea is that organizations can live values that uplift everyone in them.
If you would like a solid introduction into the forces that are influencing shifts towards decentralization, The Future of Work is a good theoretical overview. Professor Malone also points you to online resources for finding out about best practices in some of these areas.
As a book for a practitioner, The Future of Work leaves a lot to be desired. Most will find it too abstract and theoretical to help them decide what changes to make in an organization. The book would have been vastly more valuable if it had focused on a few key areas of management performance (such as developing new business models, creating breakthrough new products, or bypassing competitor's established cost advantages) and described how best to apply the concepts in those contexts.Read more ›
Malone's central tenet is that the nature of organizations has been substantially influenced throughout history by the cost of communication. Thus, face-to-face communication characterized hunting and gathering bands, but the advent of writing--with its reduced cost of communication compared to face-to-face talking-- made larger, more powerful and more centralized societies possible. Kingdoms and empires were richer and more powerful than hunting and gathering bands, but at the cost of some of the freedom of most of their members. The advent of the printing press, by further reducing the costs of communication, made possible the reversal of the ancient trend toward greater centralization, facilitating the democratic revolution.
Business organizations show a similar developmental path. Up until the 1800s, most businesses were small and local. By the 1900s, the telephone, telegraph, typewriter, and carbon paper allowed centralization on a large scale, and business "kingdoms" emerged. Today, e-mail, instant messaging, and the internet make it economically feasible for huge numbers of workers to access the information they need to make, for themselves, more of the choices that matter to them.
This change, Malone asserts, is driving a revolution in our attitudes about organizational leadership.Read more ›
He spends the first half of the book explaining how such a system is possible and providing these examples. Malone touches on a great many modern examples of this in action, from websites like Elance, Ebay, and Amazon to the freeform open-source creation of the Linux operating system to more traditional companies that have a decentralized, employee-centered viewpoint.
The last half of the book focuses on how to go about implementing these sort of decentralized systems, like internal and external marketplaces where employees can bid on jobs and use reputation systems to track their success and efficiency. In addition, Malone touches on the need to incorporate human values into the very corporate structure, to motivate people to take part in them.
While the book provides a lot of great starting points, it's clearly an academic approach and only an introductory one at that. It's not a how-to manual. There are many aspects of this revolution that are unclear. For example, how will such a revolution affect health insurance, which many people get through their companies?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
First, this was a book taken from some library, and sent to me as a used book. I feel like a thief.Published 19 months ago by Monte Wood
This book is quite interesting and talks about how the way we work will change. It is thoughtful and useful for thinking about your career and how business is changing and will... Read morePublished on October 28, 2011 by Doc Town
This is the Return to Common Sense for our generation. Professor Malone clearly lays out the inevitability of the democratization of capital. Read morePublished on April 20, 2010 by Michael Rogers
The book's title is somewhat misleading, in that the discussion revolves predominantly around the impact and changes possbile by increased information flow and distributed decision... Read morePublished on December 2, 2008 by Edward J. Barton
I loved it get it and get Gary Hamel The future of management, these 2 books are the best I have read on this topic and by far explain the future of our world!Published on December 2, 2008 by Sean A. Fahey
Thomas Malone's book is a this book describing his thinking about the future of organizations. It's well researched, but a little short and contains a couple of interesting... Read morePublished on July 28, 2008 by Bas Vodde
The name behind the book has an excellent reputation in the field of organisational theory. Thomas W. Read morePublished on December 16, 2007 by Emil B
The bottom line in this book is on page 33, with a table showing how the cost of moving a page of text around the world and to an infinite number of people has gone from... Read morePublished on November 11, 2005 by Robert David STEELE Vivas
This has all the makings of a good insightful text; yet falls flat. The underlying themes are that we are moving from disconnected to structured to unstructured connected... Read morePublished on September 12, 2005 by Professor