Tuesday, April 20, 2004

On Value and Values

Ever so often a book comes along that transcends ordinary narrative to provide a profound insight into what's going on and how things work in our ever changing world.  James Gleick's Faster and Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point were such books along with a handful of others.  Now my good friend Douglas K. Smith gives us On Value and Values, Thinking Differently About We…in the Age of Me.  It's a must read for anyone who really wants to understand how our world has fundamentally changed in more than the obvious ways.  I don't use the word our lightly here because, as with any other change, we in the so-called developed societies are early adopters.  What's so powerful about this book beyond explaining how things really are, is that between the lines you'll find still another insight into why there is such a huge disconnect between cultures, one of the underlying causes of the terrorism that hangs over our heads.

Doug's underlying thesis is that our world has moved from one of place to one of purpose.  While in former times everything we did revolved around our village, town, city etc., we are now driven by markets, networks, organizations, friends and family.  Simply put, what pervades our lives are the multiple relationships forged within each of those groups developing small teams of thick we's with whom we get things done.  Our connection with these discrete points of shared interest are far stronger than with people who just happen to live down the street.  Our world is not a village any more.  Along with our new purpose-focused existence comes a shift from the values-driven life of place to value-driven life of purpose, often for its own sake.  This may provide us with short term returns, but Doug argues that it is a recipe for long-term failure.  Value without values is no value at all.  His purpose in this writing is to point the way toward achieving those values.

Doug Smith is a deep thinking consultant who has assisted more than forty high profile companies and institutions navigate through complicated management issues or position themselves for the future.  He has one of the best minds of anyone I've encountered in my professional life.  Doug has five previous books, but this one really sums up his global thinking with a conviction that is hard to miss.  It is that which is what makes the read so compelling.  There are lots of great books around this year, many of them important but timely.  Doug Smith's book is timeless, one that I plan to revisit often as I try to make better sense out of what's really happening to us in this new century.  Log on to www.amazon.com or www.bn.com both of which carry On Value and Values.  You won't regret it, if only to get away from the ugly stuff that is taking up such a large share-of-mind these days.  It's also a wonderful read.

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