Summary of Birth of the Chaordic Age

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Birth of the Chaordic Age book summary


5 Overall

4 Applicability

8 Innovation

4 Style


Dee Hock interweaves his experiences growing up and founding VISA with his thoughts about how to address the decline of community and of modern institutions. He perceives a general breakdown in the social order, fueled by an overemphasis on monetary values and greed, and perpetuated by institutions committed to old methods derived from ideas about machines and structure rooted in the Industrial Revolution. Now, businesses need a more dynamic, flexible organizational structure based on a clear sense of "purpose". This purpose should be rooted in contributing to the community. It must be based on ethical principles and values. This process involves developing "chaordic organizations," those which balance chaos and order. Hock uses examples from his life and from the development of VISA to show how this process works. This is an excellent, thoughtful book. Hock’s fascinating story about founding VISA provides a good context for his meditations about the modern need to develop more chaordic, flexible organizations. At times though, his writing can become somewhat ponderous and wordy, particularly when he tries to express fairly complex or abstract ideas.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What a “chaordic” organization is
  • How to create one
  • Why purpose – not profit – must drive the development of socially conscious businesses;
  • Why chaordic organizations demand fresh leadership.

About the Author

Dee Hock is the founder and CEO Emeritus of VISA. In 1968, he developed the concept of a global system for the exchange of value and set up a new organization for that purpose. It became VISA. He is currently the CEO of The Chaordic Alliance, a nonprofit he founded committed to forming practical, innovative organizations that combine competition and cooperation to deal with critical societal issues.



The Nature and Development of Chaordic Organizations
The Industrial Age has been characterized by the rise of hierarchical, command-and-control organizations that dominate all areas of society from our political and social life to our commercial institutions. However, these 400-year-old...

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