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For many years, Margaret Wheatley has written eloquently about how to create resilient and adaptive organizations where people are seen as the blessing, not the problem. She has led the way in demonstrating how perspectives about chaos, networks, and relationships that come from the new sciences can be applied to human organizations. Such organizations become creative, self-organizing living systems, rather than the more common highly controlled mechanistic systems that only create robotic behaviors.

In short, Margaret Wheatley is one of the most innovative and influential organizational thinkers of our time who has tested her ideas and perceptions in many different settings and cultures. Finding Our Way is a collection of her practice-focused articles, where she applies themes she has addressed throughout her career to detail the organizational practices and behaviors that bring them to life. "The pieces presented here," she writes, "represent more than ten years of work, of how I took the ideas in my books and applied them in practice in many different situations. However, this is more than a collection of articles. I updated, revised or substantially added to the original content of each one. In this way, everything written here represents my most current views on these subjects."

Provocative, challenging, poetic, and often deeply moving, Finding Our Way sums up Wheatley's thinking on a diverse scope of topics, from leadership and management, to social change, to our personal role in these turbulent times; from provocative social commentary to specific organizational practices and more.

About the Author

Margaret (Meg) Wheatley writes, teaches and speaks about radically new practices and ideas for organizing in chaotic times. She has worked in virtually every type of organization and on all continents (except Antarctica), and has been a dedicated global citizen since her youth. She has been an organizational consultant and researcher since 1973, a professor of management in two graduate programs, and serves as president of The Berkana Institute, a global charitable leadership foundation. She received her doctorate from Harvard University and holds an M.A. in systems thinking from New York University. She is the author of three other books: the pathbreaking bestseller, Leadership and the New Science; and Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future; and A Simpler Way (coauthored with Myron Kellner-Rogers.)


 

An Invitation to the Reader

There is a simpler, finer way to organize human endeavor. I have declared this for many years and seen it to be true in many places. This simpler way is demonstrated to us in daily life, not the life we see on the news with its unending stories of human grief and horror, but what we feel when we experience a sense of life’s deep harmony, beauty, and power, of how we feel when we see people helping each other, when we feel creative, when we know we’re making a difference, when life feels purposeful.

Over many years of work all over the world, I've learned that if we organize in the same way that the rest of life does, we develop the skills we need: we become resilient, adaptive, aware, and creative. We enjoy working together. And life’s processes work everywhere, no matter the culture, group, or person, because these are basic dynamics shared by all living beings.

Western cultural views of how best to organize and lead (now the methods most used in the world) are contrary to what life teaches. Leaders use control and imposition rather than participative, self-organizing processes. They react to uncertainty and chaos by tightening already feeble controls, rather than engaging people's best capacities to learn and adapt. In doing so, they only create more chaos. Leaders incite primitive emotions of fear, scarcity, and self-interest to get people to do their work, rather than the more noble human traits of cooperation, caring, and generosity. This has led to this difficult time, when nothing seems to work as we want it to, when too many of us feel frustrated, disengaged, and anxious.

I invite you to join me in this work of creating more capable, harmonious, creative, and generous organizations and communities. There is a simpler way, and we each need to play our part in bringing it into robust practice.



Finding Our Way:
Leadership For an Uncertain Time

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.; 2005
Margaret J. Wheatley


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