Book Reviews

A feast of creative thought from Bill Smith's Odyssey working with famous corporations, brilliantly integrated into a dazzling conceptual framework of organization and management. Scholars, students, and policy-makers hungry for understanding today's transformation of institutions will find this book a deeply satisfying source of insight and inspiration.

- William E. Halal, Professor of Management, George Washington University
Author, Technology's Promise: Expert Knowledge on the Transformation of Business & Society

 

Reading The Creative Power is a Formula-One spiral through the dynamic links between being "purpose-full" and "power-full" at any level of one's focus: leading ourselves, our organizations, or our world. Bill Smith's own story guides the reader agilely on both his far-reaching, multi-dimensional intellectual quest and his astoundingly practical discoveries. You are challenged to recognize the invisible, ubiquitous potential that lies untapped in one's purpose. You may be transformed in your appreciation of its quantum nature. And you will have at hand new approaches for activating and channeling that power in yourself and others.

- Janet L. Greco, Ph.D.
Co-President, Transition One Associates

 

You know the feeling you get when you find the key word that allows you to complete the rest of the crossword puzzle? Can you imagine the feeling you get when you find the missing key to the file cabinet that holds all the valuable information and notes you have been accumulating throughout your professional and organizational life?

Smith not only supplies the missing key to the cabinet, he has organized and arranged all the notes and information. Smith's book is the rosetta stone of organizational theory and models. All the concepts and principles you have read about and used over the years are not just explained in this book; they are connected.

Smith tells his own story and adventures in understanding performance and living in organizations and then connects this to the evolving and developing theory of power. Smith presents the dimensions of power -- control, influence and appreciation -- and then examines these intertwined strands of power in organizations from the rational-legal of Weber and Taylor to the systemic, holistic, and purposeful of Follett, Trist, Thompson, Ackoff, and Bohm.

- Alan M. Barstow, Ph.D.Director, Academics and Outreach
Organizational Dynamics, University of Pennsylvania

 

The book's strength, like the Einsteinian examples it cites, is in its simplicity of expression of profound relationships among seemingly unrelated phenomena, e.g.the example of Chart 7-6 or the reminder that "In every purpose we pursue, take into account the effects on ourselves, others, and the whole".

I believe this book provides two values: It offers new and fundamental insights into the relationship of power, purpose, and behavior as well as integrating philosophy of science, organization phenomenology and organization transformation.

This last reference is oriented to developing a universal theory of individual change and attempts, on an individual change basis, the same kind of theoretical integration that Smith pursues on an organizational level. More importantly, it offers an empirically based view of creating the conditions for self-sustaining change that I believe is transferable to organizations.

In summary, I believe this book will make a serious contribution to both the practice field and to serious students of organization and system theory.

- John Eldred Co-President Transition One.

 

Bill Smith has been refining his understanding of the AIC model through working papers and action-learning engagements for decades, building from his 1983 dissertation on the topic. In this book he retrospectively visits these efforts and collects them for a wider audience, rendering his thinking and interventions over these years more coherent and systematic. This reflective practice will be of interest to those who struggle to make sense of what works and what does not in professional engagements within complex environments.

- Dr. Rafael Ramirez, ProfessorSenior Research Fellow Fellow in Strategy.

 

Dr. Smith takes a unique approach to the art of organization. He develops a new brilliant thesis that in order to organize you need power and power comes from purpose. This is a great formulation for people working in the field of international development. I really adore the example of "Thailand does it all", where Dr. Smith shares his experience how the villagers were taught to think about how to determine their purpose and it motivated them to act on their implicit knowledge about how to get from point A to point B. I think that Dr. Smith accomplished the task of putting theory and practice of management together with his life. He opens a new domain of power - appreciation, which was not previously seen as a form of power.

By joining the power of appreciation with the previously known powers of control and influence he provides a more complete and natural way to understand our power in ourselves, our organizations' and our world.

The Creative Power' crosses many boundaries of known classifications of subjects, as it contributes to international development, management, psychology and philosophy at once. The book opened so many discoveries, helping me to understand myself and the world around me.

I think that Creative Power by William Smith should be considered for Nobel Prize award.

- Khrystyna Kushnir, Fulbright Scholar from Ukraine at American University.

 

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