The Age of Surge – Book review


A great business book about the current digital transformation (digital tsunami) which affects literally all companies. Part about the technology across digital domains was particularly interesting explaining waves of this change.

As this change is inevitable and currently in progress and I can recommend the book to all managers, specially those coming from IT sector.

Many examples led this book to be one of the true discoveries of this year.




What do Netflix, Spotify, and Google have in common?  They all learn, innovate, and continuously adapt better, faster, and cheaper than traditional companies.  Moreover, they use digital technology to innovate, disrupt, and grow in radical and dynamic ways.  They surge ahead of others.

In THE AGE OF SURGE:  A Human Centered Framework For Scaling Company Wide Agility And Navigating The Tsunami Of Digital, digital transformation pioneer Brad Murphy and organizational innovator Carol Mase show how companies can leapfrog the competition by transforming not only how they develop products and services but also the organization itself around the paradigm of digital.

This paradigm enables frictionless, continuous deployment of new digital products and customer experiences by placing powerful design and orchestration tools in the hands of small, autonomous teams.  New tools and cloud platforms allow teams to effortlessly experiment and recombine thousands of smaller services at scale without burdensome coordinating structures and bureaucratic project management.


“These teams make a giant difference because they think innovatively about how business models and business processes are integrated into technology and customer experience,” say Murphy and Mase.  “In other words, this paradigm isn’t only an IT or tech play; it is a business play.”


THE AGE OF SURGE is not about improving the conventions of corporate change and transformation or about the linear, mechanistic approach to agile or lean transformation.  Rather, it is built on a shift in how companies learn and see themselves. The authors want companies to view themselves as living systems, not machines.


Once companies embody this new vision, their living system composed of creative people allows previously untapped social forces to innovate.  Tapping these resources, however, means stepping outside the confines of an organizational chart, outside of the familiar habits of command-and-control leadership, and outside of bureaucratic management practices.


Murphy and Mase provide a human-centered framework for navigating the tsunami of digital.  Over the years, the authors have developed techniques to help large enterprises create new digital strategies.  These techniques are encapsulated in the Digital Wave Model, a tool that helps companies develop the relationship among technology, culture, and organizational design.


THE AGE OF SURGE provides critical foundational elements that corporations can use to facilitate digital transformation:


Social Memes  Like the genes they were named for, social memes are ideas, behaviors, speech, gestures, or rituals that convey meaning and can be culturally transmitted. It is this person-to-person transmission of the memes within a company’s story that cause it to spread and take on a life of its own. Putting the journey into a story makes the experience of transformation real for people.


Helix  An iterative framework that produces innovation, alignment, and transformation in situations that change fast and have deeply interconnected moving parts, Helix is leaderless; it provides a framework for self-managed, self-governed, and self-organizing teams.  Progress is measured as the reduction of uncertainty as the team works through their backlog of questions, assumptions, and hypotheses to generate customer value.


Strive   A next-generation objectives and key results system, Strive designed to align the enterprise, vertically and horizontally, and disrupt it, by being synergistic with transformational frameworks like Helix.  This align-disrupt process is critical to accelerating and successfully completing a company’s digital wave journey.  Strive goal setting becomes a clarifying process that starts when executives ask the question:  What three to five goals would both deliver our strategy and maximize the potential for creativity and innovation across the organization?


Built on the science surrounding the influence of social systems, neuroscience, and complexity, THE AGE OF SURGE provides a pragmatic framework for exploiting these social forces for rapid, profound, and continuous digital innovation and enterprise transformation.



About The Authors

Brad Murphy is a serial software entrepreneur who has pioneered digital enterprise innovations in product, service, and agile software development.  Since 2000, Murphy has helped more than 50 Global 2000 companies transform themselves, abandoning rigid, top-down operating models to become modern, adaptive digital innovators with radical improvements in customer engagement, top-line growth, innovation, and organizational agility.  Murphy is CEO of Gear Stream.

Dr. Carol Mase is an organizational designer, biologist, drug inventor, social anthropologist, and global product innovation executive.  For more than 30 years, she has pioneered the use of social ecology, cognitive science, and human networks to foster emergent behavior that fuels corporate growth, innovation, and systemic transformation.  Mase is an executive coach and organizational innovator at Gear Stream.

For more information, visit

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