The best books on how to define, think about, and improve organizations

Dave Ulrich Author Of Reinventing the Organization: How Companies Can Deliver Radically Greater Value in Fast-Changing Markets
By Dave Ulrich

Who am I?

Dave Ulrich is the Rensis Likert Professor at the Ross School of Business and a partner at the RBL Group, a consulting firm focused on helping organizations and leaders deliver value. He has published over 200 articles and book chapters and over 30 books. The organizations where we live, work, play, and worship affect every part of our lives. Organizations turn individual competencies into collective capabilities, isolated events into sustained patterns, and personal values into collective values. In short, organizations matter in our lives. By adapting their answer to “what is an organization,” leaders, employees, customers, and investors will be better able to improve their organization's experiences.


I co-authored...

Reinventing the Organization: How Companies Can Deliver Radically Greater Value in Fast-Changing Markets

By Dave Ulrich, Arthur Yeung,

Book cover of Reinventing the Organization: How Companies Can Deliver Radically Greater Value in Fast-Changing Markets

What is my book about?

In today’s changing world, your company needs to manage information, be agile, focus on customers, and discover innovation.  The new organization form (Market Oriented Ecosystem … MOE) draws on numerous models: agile, networked, holacracy, and remarkable cases including Tencent, Alibaba, Google, Facebook to distill 6 principles for creating an organization that delivers employee, strategy, customer, and financial results.  This work is a roadmap for the new organization journey.

The books I picked & why

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Designing Organizations: Strategy, Structure, and Process at the Business Unit and Enterprise Levels

By Jay R. Galbraith,

Book cover of Designing Organizations: Strategy, Structure, and Process at the Business Unit and Enterprise Levels

Why this book?

Jay Galbraith was the godfather of organization design. His work on how to design organizations has been the foundation of future work. He provides a system model with five parts (his star model) to diagnose and improve the organization. He also highlights the importance and role of information that flows from good organization design which was ahead of its time.


Competing for the Future

By Gary Hamel, CK Prahalad,

Book cover of Competing for the Future

Why this book?

This is another classic in that it redefines the organization less as morphology and structure and more as a set of capabilities. Capabilities represent what an organization is known for and good at doing. Creating the right organization is less about roles and rules, but more about identifying and creating the right capabilities.


Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them

By Gary Hamel, Michele Zanini,

Book cover of Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them

Why this book?

This book does a very nice job highlighting the costs of traditional bureaucracy and shows that bureaucracy costs the economy trillions of dollars. The authors then review how to create an organization where people feel empowered to accomplish all that they can. By fulling engaging the hearts, minds, and actions of people, organizations are more successful over time.


The Agility Factor: Building Adaptable Organizations for Superior Performance

By Christopher G. Worley, Edward E. Lawler, Thomas D. Williams

Book cover of The Agility Factor: Building Adaptable Organizations for Superior Performance

Why this book?

Ed Lawler has a lifetime of melding academic theory and organization practice. In this research based book, he and his colleagues not only recognize that agility matters, but they do research to validate processes that create organization agility. Agility is one of the emerging capabilities for a successful organization in today’s changing world. Anything El Lawler works is well thought out, researched, and usable.


Competing by Design: The Power of Organizational Architecture

By Michael Tushman, David Nadler, Mark B. Nadler

Book cover of Competing by Design: The Power of Organizational Architecture

Why this book?

In doing organization diagnosis, it is important to have a framework for thinking about and designing organizations. Like an architect, organization and management practitioners can become architects who build blueprints for creating the right organization. The Nadler/Tushman model is one of the most insightful and comprehensive frameworks for organization diagnosis and improvement.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in organizational effectiveness, organizational change, and management?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about organizational effectiveness, organizational change, and management.

Organizational Effectiveness Explore 12 books about organizational effectiveness
Organizational Change Explore 22 books about organizational change
Management Explore 71 books about management

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Scaling Up, The Ten Faces of Innovation, and The Lean Startup if you like this list.