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By Bruce Abell

Discover Unexpected New Opportunities by Understanding Who You Are, How You Got Where You Are, and Where You Can Go

Order from Sunstone: (800) 243-5644


Business successes and failures can almost always be traced to the quality of their fundamental ideas and how they are used in the company. Ideas are always fresh when a business starts, but when they become stale, when they fail to reflect the changes in the world, then the business withers and eventually dies.

This is a practical book about business, ideas, and “complexity.” Complexity is a new science that shows how interactions among individuals, environments, chance events, and evolution produce the variety and unpredictable outcomes of the world. In a sense, it is the science of real-world, “messy” systems. Human organizations, and businesses, are the messiest systems. Traditionally, to manage them we’ve been able to make them less messy and more predictable. But today the world no longer cooperates. Now cultures, markets, and technologies change so fast that businesses must be more adaptive than they had to be in more predictable times.

Human organizations are different from all other adaptive systems because they have, at their cores, ideas, not DNA. They are driven by explicit goals and intentions, not just survival and reproduction, and the organization is the way they pursue the goals. Unique ideas give each human complex system a unique identity, and those ideas are the “glue” that holds it together.

The book includes a set of “diagnostics for emergent strategies” that enable any organization to assess and improve the quality and use of its ideas. These diagnostics, along with over 100 examples, show how to rethink business purposes, to identify sources of confusion or poor performance, to consider options that older mindsets have closed off, to make decisions, and, most importantly, to alter the perspective of your company for markedly better results.

BRUCE ABELL is a co-founder of the organizational strategy research and consulting firm, Santa Fe Associates International and its predecessor, Santa Fe Center for Emergent Strategies. He came to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1991 to help run the Santa Fe Institute, the world's foremost complexity research center. While there he developed the Business Network for Complex Systems Research as a way to speed the application of knowledge about complex systems to all kinds of enterprises. Prior to coming to Santa Fe he lived near Washington, DC, where he was a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute, focusing on technology and public policy; was a consultant to major companies on technology strategies; and was for four years (a Washington lifetime) an assistant director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. His earlier career included positions at the U.S. National Science Foundation, the California Institute of Technology, and several aerospace companies. Abell is a graduate of the California Institute of Technology and of the University of Pennsylvania.

Inside This Book

6 X 9
ISBN: 978-0-86534-374-0
264 pp.,$26.95

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ISBN: 978-0-86534-375-7
264 pp.,$22.95

ISBN: 978-1-61139-936-3
264 pp.,$9.99

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