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The Connected Company Hardcover – September 18, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review



Anatomy of a Social Network

Network researcher Ron Burt has identified two types of activities that create value in small-world networks: brokerage and closure.

Brokerage is about developing the weak ties: building bridges and relationships between clusters. Brokers are in a position to see the differences between groups, to cross-pollinate ideas, and to develop the differences into new ideas and opportunities.

Closure is about developing the strong ties: building alignment, trust, reputation and community within the clusters. Trust-builders are in a position to understand the deep connections that bond the people together and give them common identity and purpose.

These two kinds of activity, bridging and trust-building, demonstrate two very different ways that people and organizations can bring value to a network: Bridging leads to innovation and trust-building leads to group performance. The value that comes from these activities is known as social capital. Like every other form of capital, social capital represents stored value—in this case, relationship value—that can be translated into meaningful and tangible benefits. The power of an individual node in any network can be considered along three dimensions: Degree, closeness and betweenness.

Degree is the number of connections a node has to other nodes; for example the number of people in your family, or on your team at work, or the number of “friends” attached to your Facebook account. For an organization it could be the number of sales affiliates or business partners.

The value of a high degree is potential: the potential to connect and interact with a great number of other nodes in the network.

Closeness is a measure of how easily a node can connect with other nodes. For example you are probably very close to your team at work because it’s easy to connect to them: you can contact any person at any time. But you might be further away from other people in your company. Some you might be able to catch by walking down the hall or popping into their office, while to see others you might need an appointment, or you might need to be introduced by a mutual acquaintance. Anyone who has tried to make a connection on LinkedIn knows that the greater the distance, the harder it is to make a connection.

The value of closeness is ease of connection: The shorter the distance between you and other nodes, the fewer network “hops” you need to make, the easier it is for you to make connections when you need to.

Betweenness indicates the degree to which a node forms a bridge or critical link between other nodes. For example, many executives are protected from distractions by executive assistants or secretaries who act as gatekeepers, who control access to the executive’s time and attention.

The value of betweenness is the power you have to block or grant access to others. The more nodes that depend on you to make connections for them, the greater your potential value to them and thus the greater your power.

Thus, the most powerful person or organization in any network is one that has a high number of potential connections, all of which are relatively close and thus easily accessible, while at the same time enjoying a position within the network such that it can choose to block or grant access to other nodes.

Review

"I was blown away by The Connected Company. Simply stated, I suspect it will go down as one of the most important management books of the early 21st century. It is a remarkable treatise on the new optimal organizational framework for businesses of the Information Age." - The Park Paradigm

If you buy only one business management book this year, make it this one. It's that good, and definitely timely.
Whether your organization chart stretches across continents or consists of just you, your smart phone and your computer, you can learn important insights and paths for new action from this well-written book. - Books, Books and More
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144931905X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449319052
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In April I reviewed "Social Business by Design" by EVP Dion Hinchcliffe of The Dachis Group, noting that Dachis seems well positioned to guide its clients into the social business realm. Now we have "The Connected Company" by Dave Gray, SVP of the Dachis Group, offering another perspective on how companies must engage their employees, partners and customers if they are to survive in an environment of continuous change. Hinchcliffe's book was distinctive in dedicating much less focus on the technology aspects of adopting social business than other books like it. Gray's book is even more focused on the business, cultural and motivational necessities if companies are to succeed.

Often technology and the sheer coolness of tech companies (Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon) inspire business leaders to emulate them and all of us to wish we worked for companies like them. The focus in both of these books is on business strategy. The results of companies that have committed to getting connected (IBM, GE, Apple, Google, Vanguard Group, Amazon and others) indicate that working in more engaged ways is becoming mainstream. This seems great for the Dachis group because they can now function as business consultants beyond just technical or Web consulting.

I loved how Gray designed the flow and presentation of the book to practice what he's preaching. His Table of Contents is 15 Kindle pages long, offering links to chapters and subsections of chapters throughout. In addition to the ease of going right to what you're interested in reading, this enables the reader to jump around as they hopefully start planning out how they will apply these strategies in their own companies.
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Format: Hardcover
I'll start out by saying I'm not a natural business book reader; I come from a science background and while I have an interest in business I can't say that I've read in strategy books in the past. While I found a number of interesting ideas scattered through the book I found the overall presentation somewhat nebulous, unconvincing and ultimately unsatisfying. The basic theme of 18th century top down management processes just won't cut it in the fast paced 21st century is vitally important; though arguably painfully obvious. The trouble is you don't really need a whole book to tell you this; what you do need a book to tell you is how to put this into practice. What you get a couple of slim chapters at the end of the book with some vague pointers on how to build a more connected and responsive company and a vast quantity of anecdotes and comments from various business luminaries. And the jargon, oh my lord the jargon!

Realistically the book could have been half the size and lost no content and a slightly more formal approach with something akin to case studies rather than an anecdotal approach would have been enormously useful. There are some gems buried in the book and there are certainly many companies out there that would benefit enormously from taking these ideas on board but tidying up the wooly writing, tightening the architecture and losing the ersatz sketch diagrams would make it a much more satisfying read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dave Gray is a smart and thoughtful man. And in 2010 he published a very valuable book, called Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers.

This year, with the publication of The Connected Company, Dave Gray has written an important book. Like Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline, Gray has placed the idea of the organization as a learning and evolving organism at the center of an argument for how the effects of Internet culture and technology are changing the environment in which companies operate.

I admire Gray's clarity and the simple power of his well-considered arguments. This is also a very carefully designed book, very mindful of the user experience of its readers. Gray clearly understands and empathizes with the sort of people who need to read this book and what they need to do with the ideas they will find in it. And I hope it won't hurt sales to say that this is a book for the thinking business person.

Dave Gray doesn't have all the answers, of course, but he is struggling with the right questions, and they are the questions that business leaders must also now confront, make sense of, and orient themselves within. The Connected Company sometimes reminds me of the ethos of Tracy Kidder's The Soul of a New Machine. Not only does it capture the sense of urgency that faces organizations today, but also an optimism about the opportunities that lie ahead for the companies that manage to leave the vestiges of the machine age behind and embrace the struggle with complexity that only connected companies can.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having lived my life in and through the network, Dave's book The Connected Company hits a sweet spot for me. It's layout, structure and format make it so easy to read and use - a huge plus! First, being a lover of etymology, I love Dave's elaboration of Product as a Service Avatar on many levels. First, it's so so true and second, the basis of the word avatar. So, second first - Avatar comes from Sanskrit. Ava means descent, coming down and Tatari means crossing over. Analogies of diving to flesh, energy to matter are spot on. Second, first - product as a service avatar. Think of how we name and use products. Dave reminds us of iron, brush, bottle, ladle, drum - these are nouns and verbs! Think of products as job descriptions (hence, "jobs to be done" per Clayton Christensen) - blender, washer, heater, etc.

Companies must learn to become part of their customers' lives - part of their network. Most companies today see their role as bringing customers into their network - that's backwards. So this implies some structural changes. Most current companies are structured for efficiency over effectiveness, for repeatability over adaptability. However, in an increasingly complex and light-speed world, this won't work too well. If effectiveness matters, than purpose is front and center - otherwise how do you know you're being effective? So the focus has to be on being mission-driven, assessing your success frequently which means learning which means trying a lot - otherwise known as experimenting. The more we experiment, learn, apply and iterate, the higher probably of achieving the intended outcomes for our customers - our purpose!
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