On April 20, 2010, the gigantic drilling rig Deepwater Horizon blew up in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven crew members and causing a massive eruption of oil from BP’s Macondo well. For months, oil gushed into the Gulf, spreading death and destruction. Americans watched real-time video of the huge column of oil and gas spewing from the obviously failed “blowout preventer.” What was missing, though, was the larger story of this disaster.
Crisis—whether natural disaster, technological failure, economic collapse, or shocking acts of violence—can offer opportunities for collaboration, consensus building, and transformative social change. Communities often experience a surge of collective energy and purpose in the aftermath of crisis. Rather than rely on government and private-sector efforts to deal with crises through prevention and mitigation, we can harness post-crisis forces for recovery and change through innovative collaborative planning.
While we have been preoccupied with the latest i-gadget from Apple and with Google’s ongoing expansion, we may have missed something: the fundamental transformation of whole firms and industries into giant information-processing machines. Today, more than eighty percent of workers collect and analyze information (often in digital form) in the course of doing their jobs.
Collaborative approaches are increasingly common across a range of governance and policy areas. Single-issue, single-organization solutions often prove ineffective for complex, contentious, and diffuse problems. Collaborative efforts allow cross-jurisdictional governance and policy, involving groups that may operate on different decision-making levels. In Beyond Consensus, Richard Margerum examines the full range of collaborative enterprises in natural resource management, urban planning, and environmental policy.
The United States and other nations are facing large-scale risks at an accelerating rhythm. In 2005, three major hurricanes--Katrina, Rita, and Wilma--made landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast within a six-week period. The damage caused by these storms led to insurance reimbursements and federal disaster relief of more than $180 billion--a record sum. Today we are more vulnerable to catastrophic losses because of the increasing concentration of population and activities in high-risk coastal regions of the country.
In today’s globalized economy, firms often consider offshoring when confronted by rising costs and fierce competition. One mode of offshoring has continued to grow despite the current global economic turmoil: the captive center. Captive centers are offshore subsidiaries or branch offices that provide the parent company with services, usually in the form of back-office activities. In Offshoring Strategies, Ilan Oshri examines the evolution of the captive center.
How can you know when someone is bluffing? Paying attention? Genuinely interested? The answer, writes Alex Pentland in Honest Signals, is that subtle patterns in how we interact with other people reveal our attitudes toward them. These unconscious social signals are not just a back channel or a complement to our conscious language; they form a separate communication network. Biologically based “honest signaling,” evolved from ancient primate signaling mechanisms, offers an unmatched window into our intentions, goals, and values.
No company of the twentieth century achieved greater success and engendered more admiration, respect, envy, fear, and hatred than IBM. Building IBM tells the story of that company—how it was formed, how it grew, and how it shaped and dominated the information processing industry. Emerson Pugh presents substantial new material about the company in the period before 1945 as well as a new interpretation of the postwar era.
Software platforms are the invisible engines that have created, touched, or transformed nearly every major industry for the past quarter century. They power everything from mobile phones and automobile navigation systems to search engines and web portals. They have been the source of enormous value to consumers and helped some entrepreneurs build great fortunes. And they are likely to drive change that will dwarf the business and technology revolution we have seen to this point.