Book Reviews of Quantum Organizations



Reviewer: Gerry Stern, Culver City, CA (July 27, 2001)

The author puts organizational transformation into the context of a shift from the Cartesian-Newtonian to Quantum-Relativistic Paradigm. He places, and links together, the study of organization and change initiatives into the context of cutting-edge transformations in physics, evolutionary biology, and the study of the brain/mind that are changing our view of reality.

The quantum organization is profiled by seven attributes including: inclusion of consciousness in self-designing systems; cross-boundary processes; and, internal commitment of active participants. Kilmann presents a five-stage process for closing the gap between the old and the new (i.e., quantum) organization. The author delves into the primary change initiatives for achieving self-transformation consisting of quantum infrastructures, formal systems, and process management. Eight tracks are used to address these three components. These tracks concern: culture, skills, teams, strategy-structure, reward system, learning process, gradual process (continuous improvement on a unit level), and radical process (cross-boundary redesign on the macro level).

Self-awareness and growth are critical in the overall scheme. This emphasis on the individual makes this a highly unique work. Stern's Management Review Online (HR consultant) finds this book to be fascinating, eclectic, and HIGHLY innovative in its approach to deep organizational change. The liberal use of full-color, lively diagrams greatly helps convey the meaning of key concepts. The author has tried to bring together just about everything having to do with organizational transformation into one grand design; we believe he has been successful. For those searching for a different perspective on organization, out to "push the envelop," this is a book well worth your time. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Greg T. Smith, Los Angeles, CA (January 20, 2002) 

Dr. Ralph Kilmann's magnum opus, Quantum Organizations, should seriously be considered as a watershed moment in the history of organizational change management literature.

Dr. Kilmann, a best selling author, professor, and consultant to Fortune 500 companies and the Office of the U.S. President, lucidly and systematically busts through the traditional barriers separating business, science, and western philosophical thought to create a new paradigm likely to change the scope of how we view our careers and lives in general for decades to come.

On my book shelf, I have purposely placed Quantum Organizations next to Drucker's The Practice of Management, Peters' In Search of Excellence, and Grove's Only the Paranoid Survive. More importantly, it is also not too far away from De Tocqueville's Democracy in America, Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind. Quantum Organizations is that important to our culture and how we organize and adapt our businesses and lives for optimal performance and personal growth.

It is my guess that folks who won't take this book seriously are also those who are susceptible to fads, buzzwords, and quick fixes. It is also these exact same folks who seem to end up more vulnerable than most to strategic inflection points, layoffs, takeovers, and liquidation.

An added note, although this is an organizational change management treatise, career-minded individuals struggling with their jobs and lives after the events of 9/11/01 will find added depth and meaning after reading this work. Additionally, B-School graduates can utilize this work to fill some the void left as a result of academic specialization. Dr. Kilmann is particularly adept at connecting the silos of the liberal arts and sciences with "Business 101."

Reviewer: James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Oregon, WI (February 2005) 

The recurring theme today is transformation. Corporate transformation. Personal transformation. As I see this book, it's an insightful guide to understanding and leading change. It's a full book, with helpful color illustrations—the kind of manuscript that will consume a considerable amount of time to move through. It's a deep intellectual work, not a pop management publication.

Kilmann begins by focusing the reader on current conditions, then a comparison and comprehension of "two dueling paradigms" of where we are and where we're going. The new paradigm is explored using the language and concepts from quantum physics that will stimulate and challenge the minds of organizational development readers.

Most of the book is devoted to an exploration of eight tracks, organized by sections titled Quantum Infrastructures, Formal Systems, and Process Management. The sixth chapter, on Critical Success Factors, intertwines the corporate and the personal with an emphasis on consciousness and meaningfulness. Readers will journey through tracks on culture, skills, teams, strategy-structure, rewards, gradual process, radical process, and the learning process.