A Book Review
Book title: After Atlantis: Working, Managing, and Leading in Turbulent Times.
Author: Ned Hamson*, with Peter E Beerten, Kaat Exterbille, Frank Heckman, and Tom Lyons.
* Ned Hamson is Senior Editor, Journal for Quality and Participation.
Reviewer: M.J. Arul, Ph.D.
Successful management today does not consist in re-creating the conditions under which we thrived in the past -- a past even greater than the Atlantean one! To create success for oneself, one's organisation, community or nation, one needs to identify the primary forces that work in today's turbulent environment: the drivers of change in the private and public market place as well as within the workplaces. That, precisely, is what After Atlantis is about.
In a sense, After Atlantis has not invented anything new. It is not old wine in a new bottle, either. The book leads the reader from the known to the to-be-known: Acknowledging and re-establishing the well-known fact that no one off-the-shelf solution can meet the challenges of organisations today, the authors seem to have succeeded in extracting a synergistic approach from the various disparate approaches that most of us are already familiar with. The book, however, does not (and it does not want to) offer a fish, but provides the wherewithal to fish in troubled waters.
Starting with a clarification of the meaning of turbulence, After Atlantis proceeds to identify the basic drivers of change and turbulence and show how to set about managing them through the four phases of discontinuous innovation, continuous improvement, breakthrough improvement and another discontinuous innovation. These phases are dealt with in good detail.
The recommendations of After Atlantis (for working, managing and leading in turbulent times) are extracted from the authors' own research of field-tested practices, which are well recounted in the book. The extracted process has been christened as The Shared Learning Process, which subsumes the approaches of Search Conference, Participative Design and TQM.
Besides presenting a concise and practice-based process, the book also provides a tested architecture with which one can understand how to launch and sustain a quality management and continuous improvement process in an organisation. The logic of where, when and how to start is a specialty of this even otherwise special book.