The central argument in Loose is that the only way institutions can respond to new patterns of consumer behaviour, rapidly changing expectations and new technology is to loosen up. Agility, flexibility and the ability to improvise will become the defining characteristics of successful businesses, whilst those institutions that rely on tight thinking – the imposition of rules, fixed processes, hierarchical structures – will struggle.
‘Loose’ is a challenging word. For many business experts it appears to espouse chaos, rather than structure, solid organisation and the benefit of accumulated knowledge. It sounds unprofessional and dangerously informal; an excuse to avoid due process, careful analysis and rigorous thought. It may be fine for a freewheeling, technology start-up in Silicon Valley, but how can it make sense for major corporations, employing tens of thousands of people and responsible for satisfying the demands of millions of global customers or for governments trying to balance debt reduction with escalating social problems? By the time you reach the end of the book, my hope is that this question no longer applies. By describing how looser ways of thinking and operating are beginning to pervade even the largest and most complex institutions, from global corporations to government departments, my aim is to give business leaders the confidence and the ammunition to loosen up.
New patterns of consumer behaviour and changing expectations, new technology, combined with a bewilderingly complex social, cultural, economic, political and environmental landscape, make loose thinking and working more important than ever. Centralised, hierarchical systems made sense in a world in which information and knowledge were relatively scarce commodities and could be tightly controlled, but the decentralisation of knowledge, brought about by the inexorable rise of the internet, combined with a collapse of trust in traditional sources of authority and expertise legitimises the creation of flatter, decentralised operational models. Rapidly changing customer expectations are also forcing institutions to operate and respond in real time, turning longer term planning and cautious, careful deliberation into luxuries that few organizations can afford.
You can download a free copy of the first two chapters in the book by clicking on the following link: Loose Opening ChaptersPDF