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This chapter is from the book


  • Disruptive technologies, and disruptive practices, can cause good managers to fail.
  • Good managers fail when the rate of change disrupts their ability to cope using existing management practices.
  • High speed is easy. The high change caused by high speed is much harder to manage.
  • The ability to adapt to high-change environments can be a significant competitive advantage.
  • In extreme environments, change becomes the norm and stability becomes the exception. While many people sense that the world is changing faster, most management practices still reflect linear mental models.
  • At some level of change, Command-Control management based on predicted results falls apart. Beyond this breakpoint, self-organizing systems provide better solutions.
  • Good managers fail when they attempt to use silver-bullet solutions to complex problems.
  • There is no silver bullet, but there are Lone Rangers who have an arsenal of bullets for different situations.
  • Silver bullets give us the illusion of stability, thereby reducing anxiety associated with the unknown. We use silver bullets to attempt to hide from reality.
  • The optimization paradox shows that fads like TQM and BPR still rest on an underlying deterministic model. By trying to impose control on the uncontrollable, these programs are doomed to a downward spiral.
  • The solution to the optimization paradox is to embrace an adaptive approach—one that recognizes and works with uncertainty.
  • Good managers fail because their management practices were developed to solve complicated problems, but their problems are complex.
  • Good managers fail because they don’t understand the need for “requisite variety” in complex situations.
  • Requisite variety is the antithesis of silver bullets. It states that managers must have a large number of coping mechanisms to combat the variety of changes in the environment.
  • Good managers fail because they don’t understand the business ecosystem in which their projects must live.
  • Value discipline involves establishing a single business strategy for success: operational excellence, customer intimacy, or product leadership.
  • Tornado marketing is about understanding the Technology Adoption Life Cycle and how companies have to change strategies quickly.
  • Value discipline and tornado marketing help software developers understand extreme environments.
  • The aesthetics of complexity are more important to us than the false security of silver bullets.
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