(New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996) 267 pages (with notes)

This book is written for those who want to discover and develop vision for the future by focusing on the “edge” identified as “fringe competitors, lost customers, and rogue employees.” With an introduction and endorsement by Joel Barker (“paradigm” buster and pioneer), this book is worth reading as a follow-up to Barker’s work. It is a kind of next step and logical progression for those interested in breaking paradigms.

The edge people are those who are able to see more than the mainstream cares to see. As such, they are in many ways a threat to the accustomed ways of doing things. But they are also, as the author suggests, “diamonds beneath your feet.” It is at the edge that new ideas, new products, new waves, and new possibilities are planted. There are some wonderful chapters on anticipating the future, creating teams that move ahead into the 21st century, and identifying edge ideas that will make a difference in the future.

Sprinkled throughout the book are helpful stories of companies who have listened to and responded to the edge people, and those who have not. These help make the book informative and practical. I found myself reacting to most of what is here from the perspective of The United Methodist Church – the very mainstream, hierarchal organization. Who are the people “on the edge” we need to be listening to: What can we learn from those outside the mainstream that will help us be more effective at reaching others for Christ? Where are the teams that will lead us in this direction?

I found this good, thought-provoking, stimulating reading, and would give it at least a three ( *** ), plus a ½ I think. While not as groundbreaking as Barker’s work, Burkan has taken us to the next level of discovering who and where the paradigm busters and pioneers are located.

Target audience: Persons interested in the future; Pastors and mid-level judicatory leaders; consultants