Review: A Simpler Way (Paperback)

5 Star, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Leadership

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Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Simpler way to absorb ideas from Leadership and the New Science,

September 25, 2005
Margaret J Wheatley
Margaret Wheatley is addictive. After reading “Leadership and the New Science” I have bought the rest of her books, and also those that she recommends by contributing a foreword.

This book has a great deal of white space, lots of photos, is double-spaced, but by no means is it simplistic. To play on the title, it is a “simpler way” to absorb the large deep ideas that are documented in “Leadership and the New Science.” If her primary writing were a trilogy, this is the entry-level book, “Finding Our Way” is the intermediate volume, and “Leadership” is the graduate course. However, I recommend they be read in reverse order, because the simpler books are more clearly appreciated if one has the deeper background.

What I find most compelling about this book is the manner in which it captures core ideas from a wide variety of works that have been bubbling into human consciousness in the past 20 years. The bibliography is quite good although by no means all-inclusive (missing Kurzweil, E. O. Wilson, and Stephen Wolfham, as well as Tom Atlee and Bill Moyers, among others).

Among the core ideas in this book that are presented with elegance are the absurdity of thinking that life can have a boss–or that rigid ideas and identities will lead to anything other than rigid non-adjustable organizations. The author stresses the value of diversity, passion, connectedness, humanity and humanness, and tieing it all together, the role of information and of ethics as facilitators for “being.”

There is a very useful discussion of bacteria and the manner in which human attempts to impose machine and medical solutions are ultimately defeated by bacteria. Although Howard Bloom's “Global Brain” is not in the bibliography, everything the authors discuss here is consistent with his concerns about bacteria winning the inter-species war with humanity.

Taking this a step further, I would contrast this book, and the varied books on collective intelligence, wisdom of the crowd, ecological economics (Herman Daly) and so on, with a book I recently reviewed about the National Security Council, aptly titled “Running the World.” The stupidity and arrogance of that title reveals all that we need to know about why U.S. foreign policy is failing, and how desperately we need to take the ideas from this book and apply them to how we manage ourselves and our relationships with other nations, other tribes, other religions, other communities.

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