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Navigating the badlands

by Mary O’Hara-Devereaux

Jossey-Bass © 2004, 332 pages, $27.95 (ISBN 0-7879-7138-3).

Thriving in the Decade of Radical Transformation

The global business environment is currently experiencing a number of dramatic changes that will forever shape the future of organizations. According to internationally renowned business forecaster Mary O’Hara-Devereaux, the turbulent stock market, worker migration and major changes in strategic planning require organizations to shift their focus to navigate through the rugged business landscape of the next decade. In Navigating the Badlands, the author uses dramatic stories of successes and failures from companies in a variety of industries to create organizational models for moving forward in rough business terrain.

From Industrial Age to Information Age

O’Hara-Devereaux uses the metaphor of traveling through the badlands of the American West to describe the next 10 years of struggle and transition that organizations face today. To help companies bridge the space between the end of the Industrial Age and the “full promise of the Information Age,” the author provides them with tools and warnings that can prepare them for the road ahead. Her goal, she writes, is to soften the ride to creating a “vibrant, equitable, and fully integrated global society underpinned by robust economic growth worldwide.” She explains that today’s leaders and organizations are mismatched with the needs we will face in the new global reality.

O’Hara-Devereaux draws her observations and prescriptions for success from her extensive research, which has taken her from the villages of Africa to the businesses and governments of Asia and Latin America to the technology centers of California’s Silicon Valley. With a team of researchers that included economists, technology experts, sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and historians, she examined the turbulent times of the past to make better sense of the foreboding future terrain.

Navigating the Badlands is organized around four themes that are both interlinked and distinct: globalization, new leadership crucible, organizational metamorphosis, and social choices. Regarding social choices, O’Hara-Devereaux explains that stepping up to the international plate and “making the right choices to create a global commons is essential.”

Eight Principles of Transformation

Although she covers all these themes with many suggestions, she primarily focuses on the journey of organizational leaders across the badlands and the transformation that organizations will need to undergo to achieve success. O’Hara-Devereaux writes that a successful journey requires principles of transformation to guide the way, as well as “a new leadership paradigm to anchor them.” Her set of principles is made up of the following:

• Scan, Scout, Steer. Strategically improving all leaders’ readiness to identify opportunities and risks, and providing necessary resources, enables them to act quickly on emerging opportunities.

• Act With Integrity. Integrity includes honesty, coherence, connectedness, wholeness and vitality.

• Seek Collisions. Surprise encounters with outsiders create the optimal diversity firms need.

• Learn Rapidly. Trial and error efforts constitute a critical pathway for accelerating learning.

• Engage Cultures. Authenticity, courage, resilience, adaptability, persistence and a sense of humor will help.

• Innovate Radically. Seek out heretics and mavericks.

• Make Decisions Fast. Leaders must nurture an action-oriented stance throughout their whole company.

• Execute With Discipline. Survival requires organizations to create cultures that can execute masterfully with focus, self-possession, poise and confidence. ~

Why We Like ThIS Book

O’Hara-Devereaux presents compelling stories of pioneers who have been able to lead the hero’s journey and share their leadership lessons with others across generations, cultures, times and places. Her unique perspective turns principles and organizational tools into strategies that can resolve the pains of transformation and help organizations thrive in the future. ~

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