Books : reviews

Dee Hock.
Birth of the Chaordic Age.
Berrett-Koehler. 1999

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 1 August 2005

Dee Hock was the founder and CEO of VISA International, a multinational organisation bring together banks from all over the world to agree on a unified credit card system. His vision has completely altered the way millions of people handle financial transactions worldwide. But this was more than just another big organisation that he built -- it was founded around a series of principles to do with openness, honesty, and empowering people to do their jobs in a creative, self-organising manner. This is partly the story of how that came about, followed up by what he has been doing since, to further his vision of non-coercive organisations.

This is a truly remarkable tale. It makes you realise how supremely contingent history is. The coincidences and the cases of being in the right place at the right time are astounding. And Hock admits his failures as well as his astonishing successes -- he was discovering the principles at the same time as he was implementing them, and didn't always get it right. But, despite that, it's clear this is a man with insight, passion, humanity, who is also clearly a silver tongued devil. Uplifting.