July 1997 Gifford & Elizabeth Pinchot
Berrett Koehler 1997 (Pbk) 1993 (Hdc)
ISBN 1 881052 34 6 (Hdc)
Book Watch Review
Short Review: A reissue of one of
the best analyses of why bureaucratic forms of organization arose, why they are no
longer appropriate, what needs to replace them and how to make the change. Despite
a flood of later books repackaging similar material, the need remains.
This book was a pioneer in providing a thorough overview of the conditions
which produced the rise and subsequent fall of bureaucracy as a means of arranging
the production of society's needs and in introducing the concept that organisational
intelligence would be the key to success. It was one of the earlier books to provide
a thorough overview of what is involved in creating self-organising communities and,
while it reads as being somewhat 'black and white' in comparison with later books,
it remains an excellent, wide ranging and very accessible reference. It has been
the precursor to a host of books which have developed various aspects of its themes,
and the directions which it set have retained their relevance.
The book is framed round 'seven essentials of organisational intelligence', which
in turn are framed by three precepts of freedom of choice, responsibility for the
whole, and limited corporate government. The argument is part analysis and part advocacy
(or even evangelism) based on a free enterprise/ free market ideology.
Much of the book is taken up with the case for what would now be called 'deconstruction'
of the organisation - identifying elements which can operate as quasi enterprises
within the larger organisation and establishing the conditions in which they can
trade and form productive relationships across - and beyond - the organisation. This
process provides for an organisation that evolves as a result of its interaction
with the environment, rather than one the development of which is mandated from the
centre. (Fortunately, the horrific jargon terms that the authors coin to describe
these activities - intrapreneuring and intraprise - do not seem to have achieved
The authors make it clear that these arrangements will be healthy and productive
only in the presence of what they call community - shared values and shared responsibility
for the whole - and processes for building community through leadership. The second
half of the book ranges widely across these issues, taking in future search techniques,
learning networks and issues of equality and culminating in Appendices with a 'Manifesto'
and a 'Bill of Rights'.
Unfortunately, this message of community does not seem to have been heard as well
the message about introducing internal competition. It and the encouragement of learning
are both much more difficult to achieve than the relatively concrete opening of 'internal
markets'. One result has been that there have been too many cases of attempts to
take part of the prescription, but not the rest. Not surprisingly that does not work
- but can not be blamed on the authors.
The paperback is welcome as the book will remain worthy of a place on the manager's
bookshelf for some years to come.
Bill Godfrey & Associates Pty Ltd
8 Reibey Place, Curtin, ACT 2605, Australia
Tel: (61) 6 282 2256
Fax: (61) 6 282 2447
BookWatch site: http://webtrax.com.au/BB/BookWatch.bbd
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