Thriving at the Edge of Chaos



Book Title:  Thriving at the Edge of Chaos; Managing Projects as Complex Adaptive Systems
Author:  Jonathan Sapir
Publisher:  Routledge Taylor & Francis Group
List Price: $150.00
Format:  Hardcover, 238 pages
Publication Date: December 2019
ISBN: 9780367405403
Reviewer: Shauna Skolnick
Review Date: May 2020




“Thriving at the Edge of Chaos” presents a compelling argument for embracing uncertainty rather than avoiding it. Sapir offers a framework for a total paradigm shift in methodology that would allow businesses to thrive in today’s modern, complex, rapidly changing world. This new mindset rejects the ineffective, rigid, yesteryear concepts of project management based around detailed planning and prediction, and replaces them with a more flexible Complex Adaptive System (CAS) methodology. Managing projects in a fluid system built to react favorably to change and chaos leads to skillfully riding the wave of unpredictability, and ultimately accelerating success and facilitating innovation.

This book boldly challenges the stagnant standard operating procedures and principles of project management and forces us to consider whether they are too archaic to be effective anymore. In short, we cannot do today’s job with yesterday’s tools. It’s time for an upgrade; it’s time to retool.

As our world evolves into a more advanced, complex, dare we say chaotic environment, the methodologies with which we work must also evolve so that we can successfully thrive at the edge of chaos. This new perspective, applying CAS thinking to the field of Project Management, would improve efficiency and productivity, generate new ideas, increase personal ownership and accountability, as well as shorten timelines, reduce costs and the need for micro-management and provide better products overall.

Offering poignant examples of successful companies that have embraced this shift and reaped great rewards because of it, Sapir makes a strong case in favor of adopting CAS – breaking the old mold may not be easy, but the alternative in such a competitive world is to become obsolete.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The book first defines the concept of Complexity Science, and describes how to best apply it to the world of Project Management. Sapir then lays out the most common current status quo problems, the unintended consequences, and daily struggles project managers often face. He then skillfully demonstrates how a CAS solution would benefit project management for each area of focus providing relevant examples for all phases; Planning/Design, Task Scheduling, Execution, Resource Allocation, Monitoring, and Optimization.

Throughout the book, Sapir compares the benefits of this new method against the dangers of the current status quo so the reader has relevant examples with which to form an opinion about the best direction true visionaries should go.


It may seem counter-intuitive, but the CAS model it is exactly the concept that thriving companies such as UBER, Lyft, VRBO, AirBnB have built flourishing businesses upon. In fact, these are visionary businesses that have completely disrupted their traditional respective industries. It is what sets them apart from the others, barely functioning under old methodologies.



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About the Reviewer


Shauna Skolnick

North Texas, USA



Shauna Skolnick is a Technology Staffing Industry leader with 20 years of experience managing high-volume critical business operations. She has focused her career on National Account Resource Planning, Talent Acquisition, Team Training, and Performance Management & Metrics. Her success is attributed to providing quality technical resources required to support Fortune 100 clients and Federal Government Secret/Top Secret Cleared engagements.

Shauna can be contacted at sskolnick@grandecom.net


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