Sync - Steven Strogatz

SynchThis is a fantastic book packed with insights and wonderful ideas. Its subject is the power of synchronisation, or as the book’s subtitle puts it, ‘the emergence of spontaneous order’.

Our approaches to managing pretty much anything, including organisations is based on increasingly complex structures of processes and control, yet this focus on plans, objectives and goals appears to be absent elsewhere in the universe.

The book provides a history of the growing realisation that self-organisation is a powerful and inspiring force that can be found throughout almost all natural processes, from those of sub-atomic particles, through to those that span the universe.

Entwined beautifully with the history and progress of this area of science, Steven interleaves his personal experiences in the field which not only illuminate the bigger picture but also injects the sense of adventure and joy of discovery involved in the pursuit of new ideas. In doing so it provides insights into how mathematics, simulation and imagination can be entwined to explore new ideas. The result gives a real sense of fun to be had.

Skilfully Steve paints the picture of fascinating ideas whose core is fundamentally mathematical, without recourse to equations. Indeed the imagery he uses to create clear understanding is very impressive.

The book covers a lot of ground from the behaviour of massed fireflies, electronic circuits, the functioning of our hearts. All these sources of synchronicity are explained beautifully and lead to numerous insights that will be of great value for anyone seeking an alternative to the current focus on increasing use of control as the basis for managing our people, organisations and society.

The epilogue to the book points to a new dawn for science with an end to reductionist thinking.

Highly recommended.

Steve Unwin
September 2011