The one-sentence summary

The future of business is letting go – trust your people, be open, collaborate with other companies, act fast, and don’t be too precious about your brand.


  • This book contends that the future of business is letting go. In a wide-ranging review of politics and businesses, it explains why ‘tight doesn’t work’, mainly because of the rise of social media as a place for unfettered conversations.
  • Complexity is the new reality, so he proposes freedom within a framework.
  • Cultural agoraphobia is our fear of chaos and love of order, but it doesn’t really work.
  • Companies with autocratic management can do extraordinarily bad things such as at Lehman, where the collapse was described as ‘a colossal failure of common sense.’
  • Successful loose organisations:

1.     Trust their people – which creates a strong internal culture.

2.    Operate openly and transparently.

3.    Live life in beta, being operationally agile in real time.

4.    Regard collaboration with other companies as critical.

5.     Are not control freaks about brand management and development.


  • It only takes people 18 months in a company to work out the best way to manipulate targets, so what you count is not necessarily what counts.
  • Companies overly obsessed with what people say about them online, may be suffering from ‘listening gone mad’ – a blend of corporate paranoia and sympathy.
  • The Sun Chronicle in Massachusetts has started charging people to place comments on their website to provide a quality filter.
  • Abductive logic – the logic of what could be – is a great skill of designers, and a crucial component of loose thinking.
  • MBA stands for Master of Business Administration, and these people have much to answer for with their jargon and systems, which are perfectly suited to tight organisations.
  • No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy – businesses need more pragmatic and flexible business plans. Things move so fast that there’s no point in having a three- or five-year plan.


  • After a perfectly pleasant read, the author refuses to suggest any particular action or remedies lest he be accused of being over simplistic or disingenuous. This leaves the reader hanging – even the final chapter Making loose work doesn’t really conclude anything particular that can be applied.