Summary of Managing the Unexpected

Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty

First Edition: 2001 more...

Buy the book

Managing the Unexpected book summary
You know how to plan for success – but are you ready to respond to change or crisis?


7 Overall

9 Applicability

7 Innovation

7 Style


Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe give readers something new and useful in this book. Countless manuals explain how to plan for crises and make it sound like everything will go smoothly if you just plan correctly. Weick and Sutcliffe know better. Planning, they say, may even stand in the way of smooth processes or be the cause of failure. They base this discussion on their studies of “high reliability organizations” (HROs), like fire fighting units and aircraft carrier crews, organizations where the unexpected is common, small events make a difference, failure is a strong possibility and lives are on the line. From those examples, they deduce principles for planning, preparation and action that will apply to any company facing change. The book is not perfect – the authors overuse quotations and rely on buzzwords that don’t add much – but it addresses often-neglected aspects of management. getAbstract recommends it to anyone who is trying to make an organization more reliable and resilient amid change.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why no organization can plan for everything
  • How “High Reliability Organizations” approach unexpected crises
  • How to make your organization more mindful and more resilient


Learning from High Reliability Organizations
Things you don’t expect to occur actually happen to you every day. Most surprises are minor, like a staff conflict, but some aren’t, like a blizzard. Some test your organization to the verge of destruction. You can’t plan for the unexpected, ...
Get the key points from this book in less than 10 minutes. Learn more about our products or log in

About the Authors

Karl E. Weick wrote The Social Psychology of Organizing. He teaches at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, where Kathleen M. Sutcliffe is the associate dean.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Contained in Knowledge Pack:

  • Knowledge Pack
    Managing Quality
    If you want to know how to control and improve quality in your business, start here.

Customers who read this summary also read

More by category