Thoughts on”The Future Arrived Yesterday”

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Just finished reading The Future Arrived Yesterday:  The Rise of the Protean Corporation and What it Means to You by Michael Malone.  Had a great time talking about it tonight with the book club I’m in and while it’s fresh in my head I’ll pass on some thoughts.

Malone provides some history as well as some current cultural analysis of what changes and trends are taking place in the world.  He forecasts what these changes will do to businesses and companies and presents a model of how the companies of the future can both stay grounded and stable, but also stay adaptive and fluid enough to meet the demands of the changing culture and speed of those changes.

I loved the history provided in the first couple chapters and I also loved the brief Greek myth explanation (as shared elsewhere I like Greek mythology).  I found some of his insights helpful as he attempts to roll out the model, but some of it was hit or miss with me.  It raised very helpful questions at points and then raised theoretical challenges that don’t seem too relevant to my own context.  If you’re reading this and are a business guru – you’ll understand more than I did and I’m ok with that.

One of his points of emphasis was about how to retain talent and draw talent in a very competitive and fluid world.  I found that to be very interesting in this book as well as his treatment of how to navigate the tensions between entrepreneurial spirit and corporate ethos and tradition and continuity.  Wanted to share a few brief quotes that jumped out to me from my reading:

On allowing internal and external dissent and debate he writes:

“Crushing the press, much like stifling dissent, is a guaranteed way to create bigger explosions down the line.  Turn off your radar and you will eventually hit the side of a mountain.” pg. 207

One of my friends Israel emailed the author a week ago and Malone responded with some additional nuggets.  On the importance of creativity he writes:

“Creativity is going to be the single most competitive factor in the global marketplace of the future, and companies that don’t cultivate it and recruit it, or worse, punish it, are going to fail.”

On the issue of honoring and retaining the non-entrepreneurial vanguard types  he writes:

“The key to retaining what is best about our enduring institutions and traditions lies in identifying the key individuals at the heart of them and holding onto them during this time of great transformation.  One of the best features of the Protean model is that it finds a home for these individuals – indeed, a place of honor and authority – where otherwise they would be marginalized, even driven out to an uncertain fate in most other schemes.” (266)

If you like thinking of the future of business and if you’re an entrepreneur or really into technology and social media you’d probably like this book.  It should force you to think through some things you should be thinking through even if there aren’t many solutions provided or practical help.

It’s important to think through the future and if it arrived yesterday then we should really get on it 🙂

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