Systems theory and social experiments combine to form a road map for social success.
Udemans, who holds a doctorate in engineering science from the University of Cape Town, became an entrepreneur for 10 years in order to experiment with theories he had derived from scientific and philosophical thought. His book is based on the premise that social issues can be solved with systems theory, which loosely holds that interactions between parts of a system are of ultimate importance. Udemans grew up under apartheid in South Africa and has retained much of the perspective he formed as a black child in a severely segregated world. Though he draws from many disciplines, his background is more scientific than philosophical, and his experience as an entrepreneur permeates the work, giving valuable advice to readers who may wish to take a similar path. Featured prominently are the basics of doing business well, such as adjusting to changing needs and implementing solid communication structures within a company. Readers are asked to entertain the notion that one way of functioning will be equally effective for an individual, a corporation and even a nation. He believes his system can improve people, businesses and nations with equal effectiveness: “The theoretical solution was designed to be applicable to a person, a single vendor or shop owner, a business, a large organization, a multinational, or a country, since these are all various forms of systems made up of social systems.” He supports this contention with references to systems theory, but whether this perspective is tenable at a social level remains questionable. The case Udemans makes is often watered down in his essays by frequent references to other disciplines and schools of thought, some of which are referenced only briefly to little discernable purpose. The work has considerable merit as a collection of personal essays and, in parts, as a guide for business owners interested in proven techniques to improve their companies. However, Udemans’ aspirations to achieve polymath status go largely unfulfilled, leaving readers to wonder precisely why Plato and quantum theory make appearances in what is ostensibly a book about entrepreneurship and social structures.
Kernels of actionable insight among scattered, wide-ranging references.