A Company Discovers Its Soul: A Year in the Life of a Transforming Organization

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Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1996 - Business & Economics - 189 pages
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A Company Discovers Its Soul is the engaging story of a year in the life of a fictional, yet true-to-life company as it undergoes profound transformation. Grounded in the author's own experiences in organizations, it is a tale that probes deeply into the "soul issues" of organizational life and offers an inspiring and realistic portrayal of how new principles and concepts evolve in everyday business reality.

Randall Hawkes was trained in modern business schools and is CEO of a company founded by his grandfather-a traditional, hierarchical organization that is facing decreasing profits, low morale, and competitors that are taking market share. Recognizing that the managerial techniques he learned in school are now producing dis-ease in himself, his family, his staff, and the organization, Randall becomes convinced that some kind of radical change must be made. Exploring the gradual changes in Randall's own thinking and way of leading the company, A Company Discovers Its Soul illustrates how such a process of change might happen. It shows how-through a combination of humility, courage, rigorous self- and mutual appraisal, and practice-Randall and his staff gradually learn to see the Hawkes Company as a living community.

Most important to this change process is Randall's own change in perception and thinking regarding his role in the organization and his notions about control, ownership, information sharing-and the resulting freedom for his staff, and everyone in the organization, to be more powerful and creative. By the end of the first year of this journey, The Hawkes Company staff has become more strongly aligned around their purpose and vision, the management team has truly become a team, relationships with suppliers and customers have been strengthened, and even their work environments have been improved as employees have taken ownership for maintaining their working spaces, and the plant in general.

Author Alan Green examines the changes that take place in the lives of the company's top management as they struggle to achieve greater effectiveness previously prevented by their control-oriented, narrowly functional roles. Readers will learn along with Randall as he combines the roles of servant, steward, partner, and leader in an effort to create an organizational culture that fosters creativity, cooperation, and resiliency.
 

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Contents

Randall Assumes Command
1
A New Beginning
15
Peters Report Culture and Its Effects
25
Peters Report Continued Principles and Practices
37
The First OffSite
50
Voices from the Factory
57
Democracy of Dunces
62
The Second OffSite Purpose and Vision
71
One Step Forward
127
Quality Information and Communication
136
Breakfasts with Randall
145
A Crisis Tests Commitment
153
More Thoughts on Information
160
Death and a Resolve
169
Responding to a Competitive Threat
174
Another Kind of Casualty
179

Doing It
87
Taking the Vision to Stakeholders
110
Changes Begin to Happen
121
The Impact of Structures and Systems
184
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About the author (1996)

Alan Green is an independent consultant associated with the Kaizen Institute of America, a consulting firm specializing in the repatriation and integration of Japanese and American quality improvement principles, concepts, systems, and processes; and with The Commonweal Group, concerned with enhancing the learning of organizations, and preserving the viability of small cities and towns. He has been a university professor at the University of California, Riverside, and executive director of the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation, and has held managerial and leadership positions in retail, manufacturing, and service organizations, including director of management and organizational development at Atlas Crankshaft, a Cummins Engine Company subsidiary, and vice president for organizational leadership and human resources at Schneider National.

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