Summary of Finding Our Way

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Finding Our Way book summary

Editorial Rating

7

Qualities

  • Eye Opening

Recommendation

Margaret J. Wheatley’s essays argue that awareness of diversity, unified communities and relationships offers a better approach to leadership than the control orientation of “Western culture.” She doesn’t present her book as a set of academic studies. Instead, this look at culture, leadership, organizational change and working relationships is based more on her analysis. That approach may generate some banal insights and shaky history lessons, but it also leads to some strong, helpful observations about leadership and change. Wheatley offers interesting insights into, for example, the failure of school systems to function as systems, because they don’t evolve organically out of their communities and aren’t responsive to those they serve. getAbstract appreciates her insights about how organizations could work better by paying more attention to the humanity of their members.

About the Author

Margaret (Meg) Wheatley writes, teaches and speaks on organizational practices and ideas. A consultant, researcher and management professor, she heads the Berkana Institute, a global charitable leadership foundation. She also wrote Leadership and the New Science, Turning to One Another and A Simpler Way.

Summary

A New Story

Western culture’s usual approach to leadership and organizational life is domineering, mechanistic, obsessed with command and control, and generally out of step with life’s rhythms. It features hierarchies of bosses who aim to impose their views on employees. This approach values uniformity, and it is precisely why organizations often fail. Human life is diverse, creative, spontaneous and self-organizing, but companies often are not. The old-fashioned, dehumanizing, Western approach to managing organizations is based on several mistaken assumptions:

  • Greed, fear and self-interest are people’s primary motivators.
  • Individualism matters, not interdependence.
  • Bureaucratic hierarchies are effective.
  • Efficiency is paramount.
  • Growth is good, more growth is better and almost any kind of growth will do.
  • The poor are fundamentally different from the prosperous.
  • Human creativity is rare; only a few people have it or can exercise it.

These false notions are responsible for many ongoing organizational problems. They are part of the old-fashioned story of command and control. Now, people need a new story...


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