2nd Edition

The Intelligent Organisation Driving Systemic Change with Information

By John Beckford Copyright 2020
    290 Pages 86 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    290 Pages 86 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    The Intelligent Organisation proposes a radically different way of designing organisations to capitalise on the potential offered by contemporary information capability. Integrated, coherent information is taken as a competitive advantage enabling synthesis of behaviour and processes in an organisation designed backwards from its customers to achieve desired outcomes. An Intelligent Organisation uses information to drive learning and adaptation at the level of individuals, tasks, processes and the whole organisation, to deliver transformational changes in business performance.

    This fully updated second edition explores how to enable this change through systemic reinvention. Drawing on proven organisational applications exploiting data, information and management science, and grounded in tested theory, this book is not about incremental improvement but about fundamentally rethinking the whole. Building on the first edition, two chapters have been added to apply the ideas of the Intelligent Organisation to the individual as well as to the nation. Further discussion on the current issues around technology and ethics have been incorporated, as well as review questions and improved pedagogy. The text is supported by updated case studies throughout and a dedicated website, www.intelligentorganisation.com, with support materials for lecturers.

    Uniquely bridging the gap between information systems and organisational behaviour, The Intelligent Organisation will be of particular significance to master’s and undergraduate students of Information Systems, Knowledge Management and Organisational Theory.

    1. The Information Challenge. 2. The Value of Information 3. Generating Value 4. Generating Value: Cases 5. Enabling Value 6. Enabling Value: Cases 7. Managing Autonomy 8. Managing Autonomy: Cases 9. The Information Factory 10. The Information Factory: Cases 11. Managing Performance 12. Managing Performance: Cases 13. The Intelligent Nation 14. The Intelligent Organisation and Public Services 15. The Individual as Intelligent Organisation 16. Dissolving the Challenge


    John Beckford is a partner in Beckford Consulting and Visiting Professor both in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at University College London, UK, and in the Centre for Information Management, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, UK.

    "If your aspiration as CEO is to capture and exploit as much value as you can from what your organisation knows but you are unsure how to achieve it, read Dr. Beckford’s book. Based on practical experience but well-grounded in theory, applying these ideas will help you to achieve a more purposeful and valuable enterprise and to discover how being an intelligent organisation demands more than knowing what you know; it is about how to generate purposeful value by taking good decisions and the execution of agile leadership." — Brian Collins CB, FREng, Professor of Engineering Policy, Deputy Convenor of UKCRIC, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, UCL

    "This is a challenging book: it calls for leaders to face the need to make their organisations ‘intelligent’ – and in doing so engages with a crucial issue of our age: using data to create the information needed for decision-making while at the same time learning in such a way as to change the very organisation involved in creating the data.  John Beckford illustrates his theses about how this can be done with examples from a wider range of examples and accepts the challenge of trying to apply the methodology to the individual (himself) and to the nation." — David Nussbaum, Chief Executive Officer, The Elders Foundation, London

    "Professor Beckford’s revised and extended second edition of The Intelligent Organisation should be required reading for leaders at all levels in 21st-century businesses. He reiterates the central thesis of the need to think systemically about the way a business works in order to put information at the heart of providing value – both for customers and for the business. The text is accessible, with a balanced blend of theory and practical examples drawn from Beckford’s eclectic consultancy work, and occasionally lightened with apposite comment, opinion and a certain black humour. More importantly the practical models, insights and guidance provide a series of clear approaches to the very challenging issues facing all businesses in today’s rapidly changing environment." — Jim Johnson, Director, Arup Digital Leader for UK, India, Middle East & Africa

    "John Beckford's achievement here is three-fold. First he makes systemic thinking accessible, while holding the reader to really consider systems in all their necessary complexity. Second he layers the work, interweaving a practical work book of how we should do things with a philosophical exploration of why we should do them that way. I like particularly the way he emphasises the recursive nature of systems. Third he brings a sense of optimism and energy showing how by thinking systemically and openly we could do so much better." — Ronan Palmer, Associate Director, E3G 

    "Professor Beckford's 2nd edition of The Intelligent Organisation is substantially revised adding 2 additional chapters and case reports including updates and progress on the cases from the first addition. The book gives an academic basis for the way of examining an organisation at all levels with practical application of the theory with real life examples both in the public and private sector. I particularly liked the emphasis on defining the core purpose of an organisation together with the customer focus being prevalent throughout all the chapters. These values are often neglected in the chaos that often occurs in a busy ever changing organisation. Today's politicians would be well advised to read the chapter on 'The intelligent nation'! The chapter 'The Individual as Intelligent Organisation' is a welcome addition. This book is well written and very accessible to the reader. This is essential reading for those who are serious about improving the way organisations perform." — Peter McDougall, Honorary Clinical Professor, University of Melbourne and The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Senior Clinical Advisor, Consultative Council, Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity, Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria

    "In the second edition of Intelligent Organisation, Beckford further crystallises the three principles of process, behaviour and information, providing a comprehensive understanding of how all three concepts are intertwined to form an intelligent organisation. He has again written an insightful study into organisations and provides the tools and methods to diagnose your business, rethink, and then apply a systematic approach to addressing problems. Using vignettes and cases studies, a great addition, brings the theory alive. This book certainly leaves you reflecting that in order to survive in an ever-changing world, you need to have courage to transform your business.

    This is a must-read for any social entrepreneurs interested in embracing change and moving away from traditional ways of working!" — Kuljit Sandhu, CEO, Rise Mutual CIC

    "The 2nd edition of John's excellent book shows how, although we live in the 'information age,' we continue to run 'machine age' organisations. In the book he gives plenty of ideas and advice on how to create an 'intelligent organisation,' through the individuals in it being able to learn and adapt, using a series of continuous learning cycles, enabled by value adding use of information technology. Value, quite rightly, is a major theme - a big deal - throughout the book.

    The book is well illustrated with case studies and vignettes from John's extensive and wide-ranging experience and research. And it is also well referenced." — John Oakland, Emeritus Professor of Business Excellence and Quality, Leeds University Business School, Chairman, The Oakland Group

    "This second edition of John Beckford’s masterful book, The Intelligent Organisation, adds new depth to what was already an exceptional work. Of primary relevance to consultants, academics and students of operations and information management, it is also of potential interest and use to anyone either working in or managing in an organisation in the twenty first century (or indeed, and perhaps particularly so, for those managing their career in a self-employed capacity). Previous chapters have been reworked to make them more accessible to all, as well as to bring case studies fully up-to-date (and some important new cases have been added); in addition, there are new chapters on the Intelligent Nation and on the Intelligent Individual, and a new chapter section on the Intelligent Manager. These substantially broaden the relevance and remit of the book, enabling us to see not only how public administration and governance needs to change, but how we as individuals can take mastery of our own futures." — Louise Cooke, Professor of Information and Knowledge Management, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University

    "Provides great insight on how we can get far more value out of the information we have around us." — Jonathan Randall, Civil Aerospace Finance – Business Planning & Forecasting Data Governance Lead, Rolls-Royce plc