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Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty
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Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  291 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Since the first edition of Managing the Unexpected was published in 2001, the unexpected has become a growing part of our everyday lives. The unexpected is often dramatic, as with hurricanes or terrorist attacks. But the unexpected can also come in more subtle forms, such as a small organizational lapse that leads to a major blunder, or an unexamined assumption that costs ...more
Hardcover, 194 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Jossey-Bass (first published July 3rd 2001)
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  291 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My new favorite book.
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Fair. No new ground here.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fairly snappy business book that details the qualitites of high reliability organizations -- ones which, if the system or process is comprimised, severe harm can occur. The book does a good job in detailing those qualities through vignettes, and then describing how those qualities can be applied to your organization. Even if your organization isn't an HRO, there are benefits to applying these qualities to it -- even if it's just positive culture change.
Sep 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Interesting study of highly resilient companies

Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe give readers something new and useful in this book. Countless manuals explain how to plan for crises and make it sound like everything will go smoothly if you just plan correctly. Weick and Sutcliffe know better. Planning, they say, may even stand in the way of smooth processes or be the cause of failure. They base this discussion on their studies of “high reliability organizations” (HROs), like fire fighting
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I am suspicious of business books. An author once posited that business books are all about trying to create an illusion of certainty and predictability in a very unpredictable world. I found this book in line with a lot of traditional thinking on quality such as using bottom up detection, and deference to expertise rather than rank. The overall subject is the idea of a Highly Reliable Organization, I do appreciate such things so NOT going for simplified metrics like "uptime." I see a lot of dif ...more
TQM Doctor
Mar 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weick and Sutcliffe (2001) introduced the concept of high reliability organizations (HROs) as exemplars of the systems and mindsets useful to other organizations in managing the unexpected. The authors formulated a conceptual framework for companies that need to go beyond the standard crisis management concepts. One of the important notions of the book was the detrimental effect of expectations and planning on the creative ability of an organization to address unique and dynamic situations. Not ...more
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
To survive we prevent ourselves from thinking about the worst that can happen. This is precisely how preventable disasters happen, when warning signs are there and not acted upon or actively ignored. This book gives steps to add to your managerial practice and corporate culture to assist you in the difficult work about being mindful as to unexpected issues and does so well with real life examples and easily related principles - all backed up by strong research. I read this with colleagues at wor ...more
Todd Webb
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fascinating real-world stories from wildland firefighting teams, aircraft carrier commands, nuclear power plant staff, and more provide a colorful illustration of the culture and principles underlying High Reliability Organizations. Weick does a great job making the case that resilient organizations work differently. They know that strategy and planning create blind spots. The lessons Weick shares are directly applicable to software development teams that need to maintain highly available system ...more
Very thought provoking and a good reminder that successful organizations focus on how did the system fail rather than who failed. The question their success and their failures looking for learning points and weaknesses and that routine can mask bigger problems. I'm going to have to add this to my to-read again pile.
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: studies
I would recommend this book to every manager, as well as the french "Les décisions absurdes" by Christian Morel if you read french. This book offers a lot of key elements to understand reliability in organizations and how to manage teams.
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
The president of quality at IU health keeps giving me books to read and research to finish. I love her, but I'm strapped for time on some of these. This isn't a long book, but it takes some concentration.
Jul 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
My favorite book from coursework in organizational change management this year. I'd say that at its essence this outlines an approach to empowering employees to make sense of their work and act proactively on behalf of their organization. Sensible and too often absent.
Trish Bodine
Jan 05, 2013 rated it liked it
The book may have been well-written for people already in business. It was not written for someone with little to no background in organizational frameworks.
Mark McGranaghan
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
A solid introductory text on "High Reliability Organizations", what differentiates them, and how to bring these qualities to your own organization.

Recommended for engineering/operations managers.
Mar 18, 2015 added it
Railroaders who were mindless in Houston, blizzards in the Midwest, customs backups at the Mexican border, flash floods, derailments, Hurricane Danny, and inherited labor agreements.
Jul 21, 2015 rated it liked it
good tips but hard to read
Wilma Jones
Feb 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
One of the few textbooks I've kept from graduate school.
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: skimmed
This book, recommended by my boss, is about high reliability organizations. A bit dry, would have liked more stories or case scenarios.
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Aug 27, 2007
Kenneth Soto
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Richard Goerling
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