Little, Brown and Company
January 3, 2007
Ever since Einstein’s theory of Brownian motion, scientists have understood that a little disorder can actually make systems more effective. But most people still shun disorder – or suffer guilt over the mess they can’t avoid. No longer!
With a spectacular array of true stories and case studies of the hidden benefits of mass, A Perfect Mass overturns the accepted wisdom that tight schedules, organization, neatness, and consistency are the keys to success. Drawing on examples from business, parenting, cooking, the war on terrorism, retail, and even the meteoric career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, co-authors Abrahamson and Freedman demonstrate that moderately messy systems use resources more efficiently, yield better solutions, and are harder to break than neat ones.
Applying this idea on scales both large (government, society) and small (desktops, dredges), A Perfect Mass uncovers all the ways messiness can trump neatness, and will help you assess the right amount of disorder for any system. Whether it’s your company’s management plan or your hallway closet that bedevils you, this book will show you why to say yes to mess.
Erik Abrahamson is a professor of management at Columbia Business School, Columbia University, and is the author of Change Without Pain: How Managers Can Overcome Initiative Overload, Organizational Chaos, and Employee Burnout. His groundbreaking work Challenging Conventional Management Wisdom has been published in the Harvard Business Review, and he speaks frequently to executive audiences around the world.
David H. Freedman is a contributing editor and the technology columnist at Inc. magazine, and has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, the Atlantic Monthly, Science, the Harvard Business Review, and Wired, among other publications. He is the author of Corps Business: The 30 Management Principles of the U.S. Marines and Brainmakers: How Scientists Are Moving beyond Computers to Create a Rival to the Human Brain.