Here is book 7 in the #EmptyShelf Challenge! I’ve been looking forward to reading this because it is about one of my favorite topics: chaos theory.
Title: Coping with Chaos: Seven Simple Tools
Author: Glenda H. Eoyang, Ph. D.
Publisher: Lagumo (2009)
What the book is about
Coping with Chaos explores all the major elements of chaos theory, providing clear and understandable explanations. Eoyang did an excellent job showing how these apply to organizations and provides very usable strategies and real-world examples in every chapter. The main topics include boundaries, feedback loops, fractals, attractors, self-organizing systems, and coupling.
Why I read this book
Chaos theory and complexity has been one of my favorite subjects of study since I was first introduced to it through T. Irene Sanders’ excellent book Strategic Thinking and the New Science (Free Press, 1998). I’ve found chaos and complexity to be much more helpful to understanding organizational systems than any hard science approach.
Eoyang did a wonderful job explaining how organizations (and sub-parts) have the potential to be self-organizing under the right conditions. Her discussion of this subject provides a very practical and simple tool to help leaders understand when this is likely to occur, when it is not, and how to encourage it.
Do I recommend this book?
I recommend Coping with Chaos for all leaders as well as managers with responsibility over personnel. It is a fast read (I did so in one evening) and it contains very practical strategies. The book is a bit dated, though. The copyright is 2009, but there is no reference to anything in the book beyond the mid-90s. Nevertheless, the principles are timeless and useful.
(Click here to learn more about the #EmptyShelf Challenge.)
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.