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Book Review: 'The Connected Company' by Dave Gray

By Clark Quinn / July 2013

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Dave Gray's new book, The Connected Company is a measured treatise about how the world is changing, how companies need to adapt, and how they can. It's a thorough documentation of the premise that's driven a number of new ways to think about organizations: change is coming and adaptation (and adaptability) is needed.

The world is changing faster, as we all are aware. The consequences, of course, are that organizations have to be more nimble. Dave goes on to say the world is getting networked, and as a consequence companies can no longer work in the old "command and control" model. Instead, a new way of working is needed.

The key is a shift to a service mentality, focusing on customer experience. The organization has to be able to adapt quickly to meet new needs, and engage more tightly in conversations with customers, whether internal or external. There has to be empowered employees and free communication.

Such a responsive approach can't happen in a hierarchical manner. The alternative is a networked model. In The Connected Company emphasis is on smaller self-governing units of organization, which Dave calls "pods." He recommends smaller organizations maintain this natural structure as they grow, and larger organizations restructure along these lines.

The book does not only detail the desired properties, but also covers potential problems and paths to success. Dave is not just making the case, but showing the way. His message is companies can, and should, be moving in this direction if they want to thrive.

This is a business book, but there are core lessons for those supporting learning and performance in organizations. In Bingham and Conner's The New Social Learning, we were told how companies could and should start leveraging social media for more effectiveness. Dave's book really tells us why.

In a very real sense, organizations are going to have to become continually learning organizations, which will have a real impact on L&D, particularly how organizations use technology to facilitate communication and performance. The Connected Company is a roadmap to this new era of adaptation.

The book is liberally illustrated, both with examples and drawings. Dave points to several recitations of companies that have shifted to empowering their employees, and leaders who have upended the traditional organization. And, as you might expect from someone who created the corporate visual story-telling company XPlane, there are lots of sketches reflecting the concepts presented.

It's an easy and compelling read, pushing an important message. Highly recommended.

About the Author

Clark Quinn leads learning system design through Quinnovation, providing strategic solutions to Fortune 500, education, government, and not-for-profit organizations. He earned his Ph.D. in applied cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego, and has led the design of mobile, performance support, serious games, online learning, and adaptive learning systems. He's an internationally known speaker and author, with a book and numerous articles and chapters. He has held management positions at Knowledge Universe Interactive Studio, Open Net, and Access CMC, and academic positions at the University of New South Wales, the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center, and San Diego State University's Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education.

Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for third-party components of this work must be honored. For all other uses, contact the Owner/Author.

2013 Copyright held by the Owner/Author. 1535-394X/13/07



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