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When Giants Learn to Dance: The Definitive Guide to Corporate Success Paperback – 15 Jul 1990

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About the Author

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, editor of the HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW, holds an endowed chair as Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and is the author of MEN AND WOMEN OF THE CORPORATION and THE CHANGE MASTERS. She also is an advisor to many Fortune 500 companies.

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"In dreams begins responsibility," observed the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats, for he understood that no lasting achievement is possible without a vision, and no dream can become real without action and responsibility. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The Perils and Opportunities of Post-Entrepreneurialism 11 Dec. 2002
By Robert Morris - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Rosabeth Moss Kanter is among the most thoughtful and articulate of commentators on contemporary business. Having recently re-read this book, I was not surprised that it remains at least as relevant as it was when first published in 1990. Her fondness for metaphors is evident in this brief excerpt in which she suggests correlations between Lewis Carroll's Wonderland and the global marketplace which Kanter surveyed more than a decade ago. "The mallet Alice uses is a flamingo, which tends to lift its head and face another direction just as Alice tries to hit the ball. The ball, in turn, is a hedgehog, another creature with a mind of its own. The wickets are card soldiers, ordered around by the Queen of Hearts, who changes the structure of the game seemingly at whim by barking out an order to the wickets to reposition themselves around the court.... Substitute technology for the flamingo, employees or customers for the hedgehog and everyone from the government regulators to corporate raiders for the Queen of Hearts and the analogy fits the experience of a growing number of companies."
The "giants" which Kanter examines in this book include Kodak, IBM, AT&T and CBS. I find it interesting that Louis Gerstner chose for the title of his recently published memoirs Who Says That Elephants Can't Dance? As he explains, IBM's culture rather than its strategy proved to be his greatest challenge when struggling to save that once great company. This is precisely what Kanter has in mind when suggesting that "Whereas bureaucratic management is inherently preservation-seeking, entrepreneurial management is inherently opportunity-seeking." She goes on to explain that "The major concern of bureaucracy is to administer a known routine uniformly, guided by past experiences, whereas the major concern of an entrepreneurial organization is to exploit opportunity wherever it occurs and however it can be done, regardless of what the organization has done in the past. The post-entrepreneurial organization brings entrepreneurial principles to the established corporation."
Kanter explains how even the largest of corporate "giants" can use the "The 4 Fs" (i.e. being focused, fast, friendly, and flexible) to "dance": replacing their bureaucratic culture with a post-entrepreneurial organization. As is also true of every book she wrote before and has written since this one, this volume offers that rare combination of eloquence, practicality, passion, and most important of all, compelling and enduring relevance. Obviously it will be of great value to decision makers throughout larger organizations but I also highly recommend it to owners/CEOs of smaller companies as well as to those who have recently embarked on a business career and are in need of guidance as they develop their leadership and management skills.
Those organizations (regardless of size or nature) which reject or ignore "The 4 Fs" seem certain to encounter a fifth: Failure.
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Great Business Ideas 28 Jan. 2001
By Gina Hinds - Published on
Format: Paperback
Even thought this book was originally written in 1989, it has great ideas that can be utilitized today.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
Today's corporate balancing act requires a different style from, a style better suited to playing in the corporate Olympics. Our new heroic model should be the athlete who can manage the amazing feat of doing more with less, who can juggle the need to both conserve resources and pursue growth opportunities. They need to be Focused, Fast, Friendly and Flexible.
A lot of great ideas that can be utilitized today.
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