Contents and excerpts Reviews Related articles Other books by this author About the author Contact the author Order the book
Rethinking the Corporation was published by Amacom (the American Management Association) in 1993 (hardback, ISBN 0-8144-5022-9 ) and 1995 (paperback, ISBN 0-8144-7890-5).
The book has been translated into Japanese and Portuguese.
What is the book about?
Rethinking the Corporation is about design: how to apply the approaches of a skillful architect to the organization of human activity. It was written at a time when many of the world's major corporations were plunging full speed ahead in massive efforts to restructure and reengineer their organizations - without having a very clear idea of where they wanted to end up.
"Change or die" remains the rallying cry of companies around the globe. But despite these brave words, actual, sustainable change often remains an elusive ideal as companies flounder around in a foaming sea of buzzwords, theories and approaches. Leaders wonder: Should we downsize...or rightsize...bring in 6-sigma...empower the workforce...maybe reengineer...or find our core competence?
For many businesses these crisis-driven cures have not delivered on their promises. "Some have been worse than the ills they tried to cope with," points out author and organization planner Robert Tomasko. "Thriving in the 21st century requires more than these tired, single-shot attempts. It necessitates abandoning the 19th century mechanistic logic that still drives many organizations. It requires a from-the-ground-up rethinking of the corporation - its size, its structure and its infrastructure.
Using lessons and parallels from architecture, Rethinking the Corporation provides a blueprint for such a reexamination. It does not specify any one-size-fits-all solution for every type of business, but shows how to go beyond the superficial and make the kinds of fundamental changes in corporate structure that are essential if today's popular improvement programs are to have a lasting impact.
Rethinking the Corporation lays out this new way of looking at a company in three major steps: Resizing, Reshaping, and Rethinking. It deals with issues such as:
- How big a company should be. How bloatless growth can occur. How unnecessary work can be identified and outplaced.
- Why hierarchy shouldn't disappear. How it can be tamed and become a positive force for change and adaptability.
- How high-performing knowledge workers can advance in pay and power - without needing to become managers and clogging the organization hierarchy.
- How a company can benefit by giving each employee a portfolio of assignments, instead of a narrowly confining job.
- How innovative organization improvements can be tested and perfected without putting the entire company at risk.
"One of the best business books of the year."
" 'Reengineering' is a popular buzzword right now, and is even incorporated into the title of a best-selling book. But when I went looking for the real nitty-gritty on this topic, I found better answers in another 're-' book, Rethinking the Corporation."
Michael Pellecchia, National Syndicated Columnist writing in BookPage
"Tomasko's book is about rebuilding, not cutting... It's refreshing in the midst of the severe corporate pruning taking place in America to find a formula for survival and success not predicated on downsizing or rightsizing or any of the other euphemisms for the wholesale dismissal of workers."
"A thought-provoking examination of the future of organizations as we currently know them and a glimpse of how they may look as we go forward."
Ideas and Trends in Personnel
" A lot of management gurus invoke the language of 'empowerment,' 'teamwork.' and 're-engineering.' Robert Tomasko is one of the few who actually know what these words mean. This valuable book provides a blueprint for any corporate 'architect' who seeks to build a strong and flexible organization."
Raymond Smith, CEO, Bell Atlantic
"Organization structural dynamics is one of the high arts of management and Bob Tomasko is today's high priest of the art. There's something for everyone here, and anyone in business, government, education, or the military needs to read Rethinking the Corporation."
William Stiritz, CEO, Ralston Purina
"Rethinking the Corporation goes hand in hand with the nation's new imperative for change. Hard-hitting and practical, it answers both the 'what' and 'how' of change. What better time than now for this book?"
Charles Vorwaller, CEO Pikes Peak Mental Health Center
"In Downsizing Tomasko told us why organizations need to change. In Rethinking the Corporation, he tells us how."
Stephen Perry, Vice President-Education, Food Marketing Institute
Prologue Lower Walls
Minimize the internal and external boundaries that stand in the way of work getting done.
Chapter 1 Create a New Breed of Corporation
Use the logic of the architect to build speed, flexibility and focus into the organization structure.
PART ONE: RESIZE
Chapter 2 Start With the Work
Why most downsizings and restructurings fail.
Chapter 3 Look From the Top Down
Companies are portfolios of skills and capabilities. Resources should be concentrated on those providing the greatest competitive advantage.
Chapter 4 Look From the Bottom Up
Add simplicity, speed and balance to key business processes.
PART TWO: RESHAPE
Chapter 5 Repeal the Industrial Revolution
Avoid the toxic side effects of work fragmentation.
Chapter 6 Make Work Whole Again
Reinforce jobs, build strong teams, and make middle managers load-bearing.
Chapter 7 Structure Horizontally
Let form follow function: turn the organization on its side for fast and easy movement.
Chapter 8 Organize Around Customers and Processes
Organize around cross-cutting processes, not functional fiefdoms.
PART THREE: RETHINK
Chapter 9 Make Each Level Count
Hierarchy will not completely disappear, but it can be tamed. Assign a specific time horizon to each level on the organization chart.
Chapter 10 Fuse Knowledge to Power
Establish a path for professional career advancement. Make it possible to have influence without being a manager.
Chapter 11 Provide Two Paths to the Top
Ensure that the professional hierarchy extends as far as the managerial one. Redefine the role of the middle manager.
Chapter 12 Question All the Answers
Replace jobs with assignments and monopolies with free markets; never let managers stay in one job too long; and be sure to test the new organization before implementing.
Epilogue Build Domes, Not Pyramids
Choose a shape for the corporate superstructure that is both strong and economical.