Thursday, October 20, 2005

Another month, another book -The Living Company

Sitting on planes is boring, one of few advantages is that gives you a chance to read, and so it is that idea to read yet another book. This time the book is “The Living Company” by Arie de Geus - 1997, Nicholas Bealey Publishing.

This is a very good book, as one might expect from the title its thesis is that companies resemble living organisms. As a living thing the primary objective of the company is not to make profit but to survive. Profit therefore is not an end in itself but merely a means to an end, for without profit there firm cannot survive.

Arie de Geus is the author of a well-known Harvard business review article entitled "Planning As Learning" - if you have not read this it is well worth the $6.

As one might expect this book expands on this theme, the important point about planning is not produce a schedule that allow individuals to consider possible scenarios so that their thinking goes beyond a mere projection of the past.

Continuing on from this he argues that everyone affected by a decision should be involved in the making of the decision. On the face of this might appear to slow down decision-making process that is not the case. Because making a decision is only half the story, what is the key is made in the acting upon by involving more people in the decision-making process we ensure that action happens sooner.

It was only as I came towards the end of this book of the obvious occur to me. As regular readers of this blog will know I write Patterns, the originator of patterns, Christopher Alexander, calls on us to create patterns that live, in the same way Arie de Geus callers are those to create companies that live. To my mind there are obvious parallels here and further validate the use of patent theory when considering the business domain. Hopefully I'll explore these parallels further in future patterns that are.