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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Human Side of High-Tech: Lessons from the Technology Frontier » User review

The Early Stages of an Experiment

  • Jan 17, 2000
There are several reasons why I rate this book so highly. Here are three: Goman provides an in-depth analysis of HOW various high-tech companies are creating a decisive competitive advantage for themselves by attracting and keeping superior talent; she explains HOW virtually all other organizations (including companies) can do so also; finally, she explains why companies such as Lotus, Cisco Systems, Autodesk, i2 Technologies, and PeopleSoft are "still in the process of evolving." Their individual efforts merely comprise a "beginning." She concludes that "...each company, with each experiment it undertakes, adds another building block lesson learned to the collective evolutionary process." It is commendable for Goman to provide so much valuable information and commentary. It is also commendable that she includes a caution that, in the immortal words of Paul Williams, "We've only just begun."

Various "lessons" to be learned from "the technology frontier" are carefully organized and then developed. In Chapter 1, for example, Goman lists what she calls "The Eight Commandments of High-Tech Culture": 1. Egalitarianism, 2. Freedom, 3. Informality, 4. Trust, 5. Responsibility, 6. Teamwork, 7. High Performance, and 8. Fun. The challenge is to optimize all eight in the most appropriate balance. She concludes the chapter with the first of several lists of Lessons" which will inform efforts to meet that challenge.

For me, one of the most valuable chapters is Chapter 6: "Thriving on Change, Complexity, and Chaos." In it, Goman analyzes how and why several companies have succeeded amidst the "extreme volatility" of continuous restructuring by accepting "constant adaptation to new situations as a fundamental of survival and prosperity." At the end of this chapter, Goman provides another series of "Lessons" which are eminently sensible.

Goman agrees with Debra Engel (former head of HR at 3Com) that it took four hundred years for business organizations to operate successfully in the Industrial Age. "We are only beginning to understand how to operate in the "Information Age." In essence, that is the challenge which Goman's brilliant book addresses with eloquence as well as insight. I agree with her that "organizations don't change. People do -- or they don't." If all this seems relevant to you, I urge you to buy this book, read it carefully, and then review (at least every month or two) the various lists of "Lessons." If you are determined to be a change agent in your own organization and it refuses to support your efforts, I presume to suggest that you find another which will.

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About the reviewer
Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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"If you want to create an enthusiastic, committed, high-performance workforce today, think democratic. Think equal. Think 'everyone's as important as I am. 'Think ping-pong tables,company picnics, and bagels for everybody. And don't keep secrets!"

-from The Human Side of High-Tech

Imagine being at a company where the workforce actually views work and fun as synonymous. A company that resembles a playground for gifted children and creates an atmosphere to generate free-flowing ideas. One that provides instant backrubs for overstressed workers and gourmet food for lunch in the office cafeteria. Welcome to the billion-dollar high-tech industry! Silicon Valley forever changed the way the high-tech industry is structured. These companies challenged conventional wisdom to find new and innovative ways to attract and retain talented employees. From the fitness center, on-site car wash, and cleaning services of Cisco Systems to an entire company vacation in Tahoe with PeopleSoft, the focus is placed on making the worker feel like a valuable member of a team. To uncover how the technology sector maximizes human potential, Carol Kinsey Goman combines extensive field research and interviews with her fifteen years of experience as a corporate consultant on change-management and leadership. Gathering information from today's leading high-tech CEOs, corporate communicators, human resource professionals, managers, and employees, this book offers a valuable look at the people practices that are...
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ISBN-10: 0471344222
ISBN-13: 978-0471344223
Author: Carol Kinsey Goman
Publisher: Wiley

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