The Visionary's Handbook: Nine Paradoxes That Will Shape the Future of Your Business (英語) ハードカバー – 2000/2/1
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Building upon the Age of Possibility first espoused in their provocative and acclaimed The 500 Year Delta, Watts Wacker and Jim Taylor now welcome readers to the Age of Uncertainty, where, because life has never been easier, it has never been more difficult.
In this unprecedented new book, Wacker and Taylor present a vision of the present and future that goes beyond all the chaos and complexity of our times. With a clear and firm grasp of their material, they proceed to chart a method for readers to create a personal course for the future.
This navigational route is premised upon the authors' profound understanding of nine mind-boggling paradoxes that capture the imponderables of modern life, and define the business and social climates of the world as we move forward into the new millennium:
- The Paradox of the Visionary The closer your vision gets to a provable truth, the more you are simply describing the present. In the same way, the more certain you are of a future outcome, the more likely you will be wrong.
- The Paradox of Value The value of any product becomes inseparable from a buyer's perception of worth. Instead of intrinsic value, we have relative value only--the products that a business makes bear diminished relations to the physical content of the offering.
- The Paradox of Size The bigger you are, the smaller you need to be.
- The Paradox of Time To succeed in the short term, you need to think in the long term. Yet the greater your vision and the longer the time interval over which you predict results, the greater the risk that you will be unable to take the necessary steps in the short term to achieve the long-term goals. The tension between short- and long-term planning has never been more tormented.
- The Paradox of Competition Your biggest competitor is your own view of your future; competition comes from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
- The Paradox of Action You've got to go for what you can't expect to get; nothing will turn out exactly as it's supposed to. You must act intuitively and be equally ready to take resolute counter-intuitive action.
- The Paradox of Leadership To lead from the front, you have to stay inside the story. In an inherently inconsistent world, consistency is not the virtue it once was in our leaders.
- The Paradox of Leisure Play is hard work; play and work are blending and becoming indistinguishable.
- The Paradox of Reality Every person on planet Earth today has the potential to be connected to every other person, and every single one of us inhabits a world of our own and is a marketing segment of absolutely one. As our links become stronger, our individuation becomes starker.
A bold, incisive book, The Visionary's Handbook captures the interlocking web o paradoxes that abound in everyday business life, and provides an essential map to help make the future work for every individual and every company in the challenging and uncertain times ahead.
"The book is strangely compelling."
––Business Age, November 2000
"Reading this book will encourage the reader to step into the future. Readers are likely to change their view of their future because of this book. The Visionary′s Handbook is for life not just for Christmas."
––Professional Manager, March 2001 --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
I though the book will be great. The discussion on Brand is tremendous - the best I have ever read. This should be required reading for anyone entering business let alone those who seek to specialise in Brand Marketing like I did once, a long time ago. The theme of Paradox is also well handled throughout. Will be great? Greatness is a property acquired over time...I need to muse on the stuff for a little while longer...
To pick holes seems a little churlish, but these are the observations I have:
· The overall concentration on business and the use of money to value things was not where I thought the book would be. Whilst the authors did a brilliant job of dismantling the present business model for Harvard, maybe the value of a Harvard Education is priceless? What could be applied to the failing inner city schools who can't seem to get kids to read or write let alone count money?
· Were they able to charge anything out to Kodak? (After all they benefited considerably from the wisdom therein).
· Jon Krakauer's 'Into Thin Air' is a good book, Anatoly Boukreev's 'The Climb' (same subject, professional guide's point of view) is better. I've been long fascinated by the indomitable nature of the human spirit - other suggestions are 'Touching the Void' by Joe Simpson and 'South' by Sir Ernest Shackleton.
· I found the main thrust a little bit US centric - I know there were bits and pieces from the rest of the world - but they did feel like bits and pieces.
· I also found the future exercises and exams a little distracting.
I'd also be fascinated to know how to write a book in a threesome, and what is fascinating the authors now? (where does a futurist who's done Paradox go next?) For me I'm thinking on applying complexity thinking to business (I thought that Howard Sherman's book was a bit disappointing - Stu Kauffmann / Chris Langton are still the standard bearers); and, what after money? I still see the pursuit of wealth as the biggest human preoccupation - shame on us. Is this general, or national/ regional? Zen Bhuddists and Taoists seem to get it. All the .com millionaires and VCs jetting off to Tibet definitely don't get it.
Thanks for a great book
The so-called Age of Uncertainty that Wacker and Taylor describe picks up where their popular 1998 book, "The 500-Year Delta: What Happens After What Comes Next?", left off. In that book they argued that The Age of Reason was rapidly coming to a close after 500 years, and that the shift would force businesses to increasingly rely on chaos-based logic rather than traditional reasoning and economics.
In "The 500-Year Delta," Wacker and Taylor called the current business model an Age of Possibility, and established that an overabundance of possibilities was leading to a crises for decision-makers, an embarrassment of options that leaves chaos and confusion in its wake.
The nine paradoxes presented here are a guide to cutting through this clutter, providing clarity in a sea of chaos and a mechanism for managing decisions based on a well-defined vision of the future. Wacker and Taylor open with the Paradox of the Visionary, which states: "The more you are right, the more wrong you will be." The idea being that as we experience higher levels of success, we are faced with greater and more frequent "collisions with chaos." Ultimately, the authors conclude that we are no longer in control of outcomes, and the more successful we become, the more poignant that becomes.
They caution, "All we can do is attempt to influence our own future or the future of our own business, absorb the paradoxes that our personal and professional life presents us with, and be prepared for whatever tomorrow does arrive." In order to do that, they insist throughout the book, organizations and individuals must constantly ask themselves two fundamental questions: "What am I?" and "What will I be?"
While this may echo James Stockdale's--Ross Perot's 1992 Presidential running mate--befuddled debate question ("Who am I, and why am I here?"), Wacker and Taylor relentlessly pursue those questions throughout the book and meticulously apply them to each paradox. Every chapter features "future exercises," where they ask readers to define themselves, their company and products and how they visualize them in the future, according to the paradox in question.
Readers may find each chapter's command to soul-search and to put it in writing to be somewhat annoying. Who really relishes the idea of writing "the resume of the person you want to be in X number of years" or composing an exhaustive list of "all the qualities ascribed to you, and all the stories you have reason to believe are told about you by your colleagues?"
However, the paradoxes themselves are thought provoking and cleverly grounded with solid historical and anecdotal examples. The Paradox of Time, for example, illustrates the concept that at the speed of light, nothing happens: "To succeed in the short term, you need to think long term, yet the greater your vision and the longer the time interval over which you predict results, the greater the risk you will be unable to take the steps necessary in the short term to achieve long-term ends." While this almost sounds like theoretical doubletalk, they do provide concrete analogies, in this case ranging from Kodak's difficult transition into digital imaging to Apple's rollout of the new G-4 chip.
A couple of other paradoxical gems are to be found in the Paradox of Competition ("Your biggest competitor is your own view of the future") and the Paradox of Leadership ("To lead from the front, you have to stay inside the story").
In the end, Wacker and Taylor have some interesting ideas and an unusual historical approach, but don't expect their technique to be taught at Harvard's School of Business anytime soon. They themselves admit upfront, "We don't know if we are right about the future--how can we until it happens?"
(This review originally appeared on Notara.)