The New Ecology of Leadership: Business Mastery in a Chaotic World

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The New Ecology of Leadership: Business Mastery in a Chaotic World


David K. Hurst

A new approach to thinking about organizations and management that has profound implications for business leadership and strategy.

After twenty-five years as an operating manager, often in crisis and in turnaround conditions, and having spent another two decades consulting, teaching, and writing, David Hurst has learned a great deal about organizations, how they function, and why they fail. Here, as a reflective practitioner, he crafts an extraordinary integration of management thought and practice. He adopts a systems perspective, using analogies drawn from nature, to illustrate his ideas and their practical application.

The Seven Unique Features of The Book

  1. Takes a systems approach
  2. Shows how context matters
  3. Uses ecologics (both-and): contains neoclassical economics (either/or)
  4. Emphasizes sustainability, not maximization
  5. Integrates power and command with commitment and collaboration
  6. Accepts people as they are and human nature as it is – i.e. evolved to handle challenge and change.
  7. Assumes that we are rational, but in a profoundly ecological way

This book is both for general readers unfamiliar with sophisticated management concepts and for active practitioners seeking to advance their management and leadership skills. The author’s objective is to help readers make meaning from their own management experience and education and thus improve their practical judgment and wisdom–to ask better questions of reality and tell more compelling stories about it. His approach takes an expansive view of organizations by connecting their development to humankind’s evolutionary heritage and cultural history. It locates the origins of organizations in communities of trust and follows their development through the application of logic and their maturation in power. It also crucially tracks the decline of organizations as they age and shows how their strengths become weaknesses in changing circumstances. Hurst’s core argument is that the human mind is not rational in a logical sense but in an ecological way. In other words, it has evolved to extract cues to action from the specific situations in which it finds itself. Therefore contexts matter, and Hurst shows how passion, reason, and power deployed as tools and embedded in settings can be used to change and sustain organizations for good and ill. The result is an inspirational synthesis of management theory and practice that will resonate with every reader’s experience.

David Hurst is a speaker, consultant, writer, and management educator with extensive experience as a senior executive and an encyclopedic knowledge of management thought. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Regina’s Graduate School of Business, associated with the Center for Creative Leadership, and a contributing editor at Strategy+Business. He is also the author of Crisis & Renewal: Meeting the Challenge of Organizational Change.

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