If “Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization” is restaurantrepeneur, acrobat and author Robin Zander’s first book, one can only hope for more books in the future. Robin is a story wrangler par excellence, with a cowboy poet’s ear for paradox, polarity and passion (how’s that for alliteration?). His excellent book is a perfect read for a flight between rodeo towns like San Francisco and Denver or some equivalent mileage.
After a fast tour of management history (Before Responsive) and a preview of the operating principles for responsive organizations (The Future of Work (Is Here)), Robin sets up several barrels in the corral to mark a logical sequence of responsive themes, including (but not limited to, as the attorneys say) purpose, leadership, experimentation and transparency. He wraps crisp, brightly-written stories around each of those barrels to highlight compelling arguments for change.
Robin’s ear for capturing stories is open, nuanced, and curious (I know this from personal experience). He covers an amazingly diverse range of organizations from military (Navy SEAL teams) to worker-owned cooperatives (Three Stone Hearth) to non-profits (DonorsChoose.org) to bold experimenters (Zappos) to startups (Abl) to traditional companies (GE) to cults (he includes examples of both responsive and non-responsive organizations). I think there’s even an agribusiness in there somewhere (isn’t ‘responsive agribusiness’ an oxymoron?). There are more stories, many more (check out the excellent description of CultureAmp, for example).
Let’s hope that the response to “Responsive: What It Takes to Create a Thriving Organization” keeps this story wrangler wrangling.