- Hardcover: 287 pages
- Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 078794324X
- ISBN-13: 978-0787943240
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,611,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Biology of Business: Decoding the Natural Laws of Enterprise 1st Edition
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The Biology of Business is a blueprint for sparking self-organization, knowledge, and rapid change in any company. Edited by John Henry Clippinger III, the book is a collection of 10 essays about the complexity theory of managing. Authors include top business professors and leading consultants from McKinsey & Company and Ernst & Young. A major theme: Traditional top-down management methods no longer work in an age of fast technological change and world competition. Instead, people must be free to manage themselves and come up with new solutions. The book's goal is to show how some companies are keeping "their enterprises balanced between order and chaos--in that 'sweet spot' where creativity and resilience are at their maximum," writes Clippinger, CEO of Lexeme, an Internet software company. For instance, Philip Anderson, a business teacher at Dartmouth College, recounts how Capital One became a leading credit card issuer and a major growth company by encouraging innovation among all employees. In another piece, called "Adaptive Operations," William G. Macready and Christopher Meyer highlight complexity techniques at General Motors, John Deere and Co., and Mohawk Industries. The book is for business leaders seeking new tools for managing in today's volatile business environment. --Dan Ring
From the Inside Flap
As organizations become more and more interconnected, volatile, and complex, how can managers possibly anticipate, much less control, the myriad factors that determine their company's success? Simply stated, they cannot. In an age of hyper-change and hyper-competition, the traditional management strategies and techniques no longer work. A new approach is called for and its principles lie in the science of complex adaptive systems or CAS.CAS is nothing new. Its ability to provide powerful insights into how complex systems can evolve to become well-ordered, self-organizing entities has informed evolutionary biology and other disciplines for some time. Its truths have long been demonstrated in economics, computer science, and in the common marketplace. But not until The Biology of Business have the principles of CAS been translated into practical methods, tools, and examples that managers can use to make their organizations fit for the future.Here, John Clippinger and nine extraordinary contributors present the seven basics of CAS theory and show how to apply them to real-world business challenges including knowledge management, brand creation, market development, product innovation, and organizational change. They present case studies of how CAS is already being employed by McKinsey & Co., Capital One, and Optimark to improve organizational performance. And they explain how CAS can be used to keep an organization in that "sweet spot" between too much order and too much chaos so that it remains maximally responsive to market conditions and opportunities.In today's complex organizations, control cannot be imposed, but it can emerge if managers create the right conditions and incentives for it to do so. The Biology of Business teaches managers of such organizations how they can do exactly that-how they can transform their company into a self-organizing, self-renewing enterprise by creating order from the bottom up.
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Clippinger serves as editor of ten separate but related essays, and, as the author of two of them. One of the most interesting concepts (discussed by Clippinger in the book's first chapter) is the "The Sweet Spot Between Excessive Disorder and Excessive Order." With Darwin's theory of Natural Selection in mind, Clippinger suggests that "The challenge to all forms of complex organization, from the simplest proteins to the most complex societies, is to survive in the particular `fitness landscape' in which they find themselves. In the starkest terms, the challenge of survival is that of searching an enormous landscape, or space of options, in sufficient time to avoid extinction." In times such as these when change is the only constant, it follows that the "sweet spot" is mobile; how we define "excessive" disorder and disorder today, therefore, may well be inadequate (if not dead wrong) tomorrow.
In the final chapter, "Emergent Law and Order: Lessons in Regulation, Dispute Resolution, and Lawmaking for Electronic Commerce and Community", David R. Johnson has some especially informative comments on the subjects indicated by the chapter's title. If change is the only constant, if measurements of "excessive" order and "disorder" are themselves volatile, what hope is there for organizations which must compete in such an environment? Johnson observes: "The lawmaker and dispute resolver of today must be more gardener than sovereign, building a trellis, grafting new plants, fertilizing open ground. The wise ones, who know they can only water and weed, not manufacture or command, will be rewarded with the knowledge that their actions will lead to a richer social and economic harvest."
Don't be misled. This brief excerpt is not from the script for the film Being There in which the mentally-challenged character played by Peter Sellers unknowingly suggests correlations between agriculture and economics. Johnson's metaphors are apt and highly sophisticated, correctly suggesting all manner of complex and profound implications which can be derived from the aforementioned "underlying principles" which comprise "the seven basic elements" outlined by Holland. If your organization needs help with "decoding the natural laws of enterprise", I highly recommend the essays so carefully organized withn this book.
Catharine Arnston January 2000 Boston, MA