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Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World (Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition) Paperback – January 8, 2001
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“One of the top ten business books of all time.”
—Xerox Business Services Magazine
“Meg Wheatley gave the world a new way of thinking about organizations with her revolutionary application of the natural sciences to business management. . . . Her ideas have found welcome homes in the military, not-for-profit organizations, public schools, health care and churches as well as In corporations. . . .”
—American Society For Training And Development
“A book like leadership and the new science only comes along once in a decade. Margaret Wheatley pushes our thinking about people and organizations to a new dimension. You will never think about organizational life in the same way again.”
—Ken Blanchard, Coauthor Of The One Minute Manager
“If there’s a single book that sets the stage for the future of organizations, this is it . . . Wheatley makes complex ideas simple, and then shows how those simple ideas can be used as powerful tools.”
—Stephen E. Ewing, President And Ceo, Michigan Consolidated Gas Company
“Leadership and the new science surpasses all books to date in management science. It is truly in a class by itself, introducing a standard of excellence in thought and perception against which all other management books and thought will surely be measured.”
—Gerene Schmidt, Founder And Ceo, Science, Business, And Education, Inc.
“If you want to think about change and organizations in an entirely new way . . . Read this book now.”
—John R. Berry, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Herman Miller, Inc.
“Hold onto the top of your head when you read this book. . . . Using exciting breakthroughs in biology, chemistry, and especially quantum physics, Wheatley paints a brand-new picture of business management. This new relationship between business and science is nothing less than an entirely new set of lenses through which to view our organizations.”
“An extraordinary book. The new physics is opening frontiers of knowledge that are among the most significant of this century. Applying these discoveries to management and leadership is extraordinarily eye-opening.”
—Marjorie Kelly, Founder And Publisher, Business Ethics Magazine And Author Of The Divine Right Of Capital
“Years ahead of its time, this daring book will convince you that leaders must substitute their Newtonian mental model for a biological model in organizations of every size. . . . Your employees are already getting hip to this stuff. You’d be wise to catch up.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“. . . A thought-provoking work for practitioners and students who are serious about wanting to understand the forces impacting organizations and them- selves, and who desire to move forward to achieve goals and objectives.”
“A breakthrough. Wheatley has taken leadership to the cutting edge.”
—Marilyn Ferguson, Author Of The Aquarian Conspiracy And Editor Of Brain/Mind
And Common Sense
“A work of immense importance in management and science. . . . [Wheatley] writes about scientific theory with clarity and precision—yet her observations are unfailingly poetic and human.”
—The Salt Lake Tribune
“Wheatley’s message is brilliant and it encourages a provocative paradigm shift. Her explanations of quantum theory reduce what could be a mind- boggling complexity into an unpretentious beauty that even a science-challenged person can understand.”
—Andrea Markowitz, Adjunct Professor, University Of Baltimore
“Leadership and the new science is a wonderful book, at once clear and profound, practical yet poetic. It is a lot like the new sciences it describes.”
“This beautifully written and compelling book is a gift to many of us who wrestle without the relationship between scientific thinking and organizational life.”
—Judy Sorum Brown, Educator, Writer, And Senior Fellow, Aspen Institute
“A warning to anyone who picks this book up . . . Be prepared to throw out almost everything you think you know about organizations, management, and leadership while reading this book. . . . It is quite literally one of the most interesting books I have ever read.”
—Journal For Quality And Participation
“A pioneering voyage of discovery into the essential elegance and simplicity of organizations. This is a book that must be read by any thinking manager, consultant, or professor who wishes to shake loose the shackles of limiting, old- world views and be free to explore the bountiful possibilities of what is in front of us.”
—Jim Kouzes, Coauthor Of The Leadership Challenge And Credibility
“One of the ten books of the decade that are must-reads for information systems professionals.”
“Meg Wheatley has a way of helping us to discover that which was there but remained unseen and that which we knew but did not recognize. A great teacher, she makes discovery a joyous and sought-after experience.”
—Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut And Author Of The Way Of The Explorer
“Any individual involved with organizational leadership needs to read this book.”
—Carlson Learning Company Journal
“If you are committed to humane, democratic, and highly productive corporations and communities, you have to pay attention to leadership and the new science. Wheatley’s integration of the new science and its implications for leading organizations are, I believe, at the cutting edge of a whole new theory and practice of organizations badly needing to be born.”
—Marvin Weisbord, author of productive workplaces and discovering common ground, and coauthor of future search
“Wheatley’s new and deep insights are must reading for any management consultant who is serious about making a difference in the world.”
—Journal Of Management Consulting
“Beautifully written and produced. A wonderful road map into the new science. . . . It should be on all of our bookshelves, and we should have extra copies available to send to our clients and friends.”
—The Chaos Network Newsletter
“Wheatley’s book should be on every manager’s, hrd specialist’s, and OD practioner’s bookshelf, and the concepts therein incorporated into our own understanding of organizations. . . . Even if you reject some of her notions, the book will make you think about what you do, why you do it, and the assumptions, filters, and biases you carry around with you.”
—OD Practitioner Journal
“When I was a corporate CEO, I was astonished by leadership and the new science. It affirmed for me that everything in organizational life—indeed I could say in life itself—is about relationships. It was so wise, so insightful, and so abundantly graceful. . . . I frequently call on Meg’s work. She became both teacher and prophet in my mind. And yes, she became and still is, one of my heroes. . . . Her open, wise, and generous spirit is an example for all of us.”
—James Autry, Bestselling Author And Former CEO, Meredith Corporation
“This is one of those seminal books that, once read, can continue to live on in the psyche, reshaping one’s world-view permanently. To borrow an image from one of the new sciences contemplated in the book, it may well be like the butterfly in Tokyo whose flapping wings generate a tornado in Texas; it may fan subtle winds of change that eventually amass enough energy to transform corporate organizations into systems barely recognizable to us today.”
—The Advocate Newsletter
“I read leadership and the new science with fascination and awe. . . . It is one of the most provocative and exciting books i have read in years.”
—H. Thomas Johnson, Retzlaff professor of quality management, Portland State University
“This is one of the most wonderful books I have ever read. It is a work of art. Wheatley’s writing style and communication of ideas have such underlying elegance that they demonstrate what she is writing about—again and again in myriad ways.”
Ñ Barbara shipka, author of leadership in a challenging world
“I would never have guessed that any book could have held me in such fascination as has leadership and the new science. . . . It will enrich the lives of everyone who reads it.”
—Rosemarie Liebmann, Adjunct Professor, Seton Hall University
“Having just finished leadership and the new science, I am compelled to write to tell you what a great impact it has had on my thinking . . . Once I got started reading it, I could not put it down. I also started highlighting the ‘re- ally good’ stuff, and your entire book is now green neon. The metaphors you have used are so powerful and created such vivid images in my head that they are now indelibly imprinted there.”
—Michael F. Werneke, Manager, Human Resource Development, Cytec Industries
“Leadership and the new science is the best book on organizational leadership that i have read in ten years. It reminds me of the life magazine issue devoted to Picasso. That excited me like few other things. I could not put it down. It captured my imagination and led me to a new plane for living and working. . . . That is what happened with Wheatley’s book. It has the same kind of vision and uniqueness. It predicts the future and explains the present like only artists can. This book has helped me impart to others a totally unique kind of trust and courage that works, but seems to go completely contrary to the grain. Simply, it is exquisite.”
—Lee M. Hogan, President, Lee Hogan & Associates, And Member Of The Board Of Directors Of Associated Consultants International
“Wheatley’s interpretation of the ‘new science’—quantum physics, biology, and chaos theory—into the organizing concepts of work and productivity is pure genius.”
—The New Leaders
“The work you do in the world is a wonder, Meg—so upstream to the way things appear on the surface, but so in harmony with deep-down dynamics of reality. It is a source of great joy to me to think that I have had a small part in the great work you do.”
—Parker Palmer, Educator And Author
“Meg Wheatley’s pioneering insights into the self-organizing nature of our world have been remarkably well supported by recent advances in the new sciences. But what really makes leadership and the new science so enduring is that it offers us a solid place to stand amidst the chaos and complexity. We need this book more than ever.”
—Allan Cohen, Former Senior Vice President, Zefer, Former Coo, Waite & Company
“I admire the clarity, beauty, and passion with which you travel your chosen path. Without question, you are having considerable impact both here and abroad.”
—Robert Tannenbaum, A Founder Of The Field Of Od
“I believe that if this book was translated into Russian, it would make an invaluable contribution to our modern culture. It has made a huge impression on me not only for its simple, natural words, but the sense of novelty, and singularity of approach. This book for me was certainly a revelation, one of those books that make it worthwhile to study English.”
—Mikhail Kutyrev, Russia, Former Fishing Fleet Captain
“I’ve spent the last few days devouring leadership and the new science, eulogizing about it to my wife, commenting to the friend who lent me the book. ‘I’m not sure if it is true, but I really want it to be.’ the truth of the matter is that much of what you have written I instinctively know to be true but I have never had quite the words to express it.”
—Steve Clifford, Leadership Development Consultant, England
“I was inspired and provoked by your writings to adapt your concepts to the situation of incarcerated individuals. . . . My work is with alcoholics and chemically abusing or addicted individuals. I believe your concepts are a perfect vehicle to reach people who are stuck in denial . . . And your concepts help provide information in a non-threatening and easily understood manner.”
—Diana Arostegui, Washington
“Your book speaks to me and I speak to it. I am a practicing lawyer, now almost 75. . . . I always feel the interconnections of everything and the joy of uncertainty and unknowing and am always excited about ideas that I had never thought of and couldn’t have by myself.”
—Dorothy Stulberg, Tennessee
“When we can get people to perceive our organizations differently, they are better able to relate to one another in them. Here is where I find that the ‘secular’ insights of your book and the ‘spiritual’ notion of communion are powerful complements to one another. Your simplicity, your directness, and your imagination combine to provide insights that are accessible and compelling.”
—M.B. (Jerry) Handspicker, Professor Of Pastoral Theology (Emeritus), Andover Newton Theological School
“Leadership and the new science . . . Is one of those books that held me spellbound with every turn of the page. I felt a keen sense of disappointment when I realized I had come to the last page. You have a gift, Margaret Wheatley, and I am grateful beyond my ability to express that I have been a recipient of it.”
—Maura Jones, North Dakota
“. . . I am very encouraged that there is still reason to believe ardently in the great resilience of the human spirit to re-invent itself over and over again, whether we view it fractally or as the first signs of a dawning and long awaited millennium of harmony and happiness for everyone. Perhaps what you are de- scribing is the forerunner not only of new leadership skills and deeper understanding one of another, but also the advent of greater openness of mind and genuine honesty between us all at all levels of communication.”
—Reverend Mary Fourchalk, B.C., Canada
From the Publisher
IN HER PIONEERING BESTSELLER Leadership and the New Science, Margaret Wheatley showed how the "New Science"revolutionary discoveries in quantum physics, chaos theory, and biology that are overturning centuries-old images of the universeprovides powerful insights into the design, leadership, and management of organizations. Now, in a completely revised and expanded edition, Wheatley uses her past seven years experience putting these ideas to use in a wide array of organizations all over the world to shed new light on issues crucial to organizing work, people, and life, including:
o How do systems move from chaos to order?
o How is order different from control?
o How can we reconcile individual autonomy and organizational order?
o How can we create more participative, open, and adaptive organizations?
o What are the keys to organizational growth, learning, and communication?
This revised edition is written in even more accessible language and adds an entirely new chapter to this now classic book. In "ChangeThe Capacity of Life," Wheatley explains how the new physics offers an entirely new understanding of change, in which change happens at the level of identity rather than by isolating and changing one defective part of ourselves or our organizations.
In a new epilogue, Wheatley adds a personal chronicle of her experiences since the publication of the first edition. She tells about the shift in her own understanding that occurred as she came to realize that Leadership and the New Science not only presents an alternative view of organizational dynamics but challenges peoples most fundamental beliefs about the way the world works.
Like the first edition, the book includes a special section of color photographs of beautiful patterns and processesincluding fractals, strange attractors, and chemical clocksthat take readers on a mind-opening journey into the heart of the new science.
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Marshall Steele MD
Once business leaders read the book; they might be just as passionate as I am about its principles. If so, they would want their employees trained in the same philosophy of open communications that foster reaching beyond boundaries to share information and ideas, creating self-organizing structures, which promote happier (yes, the "H" word) more valued employees who would then be perfectly positioned to adapt to our chaotic, fast-paced ever-flowing work environment, creating greater profits for everyone.
Our country, businesses, environment and families are in chaos. Wheatley teaches us that there is an organized form, literally, within chaos that eventually emerges and that we should learn to embrace chaos, particularly in business.
Never before has the science of leadership been more at our fingertips. So why do we ignore it? As I read the last page I thought, wow, I want to work in a place like this. Then I thought, no I want to create one or teach the theories to create several, or many. And like the universe, my joyous thoughts just kept traveling at the speed of light into infinity.
The principles are not only applicable to business but also to everyday life. While this is her revised edition from the year 2000, and many of Wheatley's references are dated, this in no way diminishes the incredible power of her leadership and self-organizing theories. My theory is that business wasn't receptive back then because it was more prosperous. Utilized today these leadership and organizational principles could put American business back on track. Now if I could just wave my magic wand and have everyone in commerce read and implement it.
For those who may perceive the book as a slam against newtonian physics (as at least one reviewer simplistically decribed it) I do not believe she was invalidating newtonian physics nor mindlessly framing organization dynamics with simplistic generalizations from the "new sciences". She was quite explicit in her introduction that this book was intended as a reflective piece to see what insights might be gained from applying a new paradigm - legitimized by the insights and advances in physics over the last century - to organizational dynamics. To provide context, she demonstrates how our models for organizational theories have derived from newtonian physics and - just as we have learned that this paradigm is not sufficient to describe all of the natural world - perhaps our perspective into other spheres of human activity can be enhanced by applying the insights of the "new sciences" as well.
In short, this book offers a new way of thinking for any human endeavor and its insight are - I believe - essential for progressing into the next millenium.