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7 April 2007

Elephants & Fleas in a flat world

There is a section here in “About Me” to write about favorite books. That is when I realised I would blog on them rather than note a few titles.So my blog posts on books are just that and not paid reviews!

The World is flat by Thomas Friedman reminds me of a book by Charles Handy that I had read earlier. Both books deal with the changing world but while Friedman describes the “ How” of the changes taking place, Handy spoke of the “What”. What would the changes look like and be in the future.

The Elephant and the Flea, Reflections of a Reluctant Capitalist by Charles Handy has three sections, the Foundations; Capitalism, past, present and future ; and Part 3 which is The Independent Life. He covers the intriguing topic of change in context of work and within the context of old and new economy and how it affects personal life. The trends as they have affected and continue to affect all that we do in our private lives, work, professions and business. The metaphor or analogy of the elephant is to large behemoth, slow moving and bureaucratic organisations that provide a lifetime of security and not much freedom or room for creativity.

The fleas refer to a world in which we are much more independent and flea like, flitting from job to job, latching into "elephants" when we need to, but mostly flying solo with no safe havens. The book is peppered with learned quotes that are used in context and covers a variety of topics such as education, challenges to old and new business organisations including public services, references to "disappearing middles". In this book of global economics there is even a reference to Kerala in our very own India! The part three and last section provides insights from his personal life.

If you haven't read Charles Handy, you have missed his wonderful tone that the jacket blurb describes as " At once learned, genial, witty and wise". Truly so.

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