The Soul of an Organization: Understanding the Values That Drive Successful Corporate Cultures
By Richard S. Gallagher
Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2003, $19.95
The Soul of an Organization is an aptly titled book. It’s not about black and white business practices or cerebral strategic planning, but rather how corporate values and passions?the components of a company’s “soul”?are the key drivers of success. Its chapters?”The Strategists,” “The Motivators,” “The Team Builders,” “The Nimble,” “The Customer Champions,” “The Passionate” and “The Visionaries”?focus on what Gallagher sees as the core traits of businesses that have successfully embraced their corporate values and integrated those values into the way they deal with customers and employees.
An introductory chapter explores the meaning of values, debunks some of the myths about values and corporate culture, and provides a quiz to help the reader assess his own company’s everyday practices. The author drives home his points through an extensive series of brief case studies and selects a single company as the cornerstone profile of each chapter. He also mixes in several “antiprofiles,” providing anecdotes from companies that clearly miss the point. The extent to which Gallagher uses these profiles to tell his story gives a concrete, real-world feel to what might otherwise come off as pop psychology.
The New Book Shelf
“With trusted leadership, politics moves to the backseat, freeing people to make decisions…. Lack of trust spawns meetings behind closed doors, private e-mails and whispered conversations in the parking lot. That isn’t a free environment; that’s tapping on your cellblock walls.”
From The Trusted Leader: Bringing Out the Best in Your People and Your Company, by Robert Galford and Anne Seibold Drapeau (The Free Press, January 2003)
The End of Work?
Our Modern Times: The New Nature of Capitalism in the Information Age
By Daniel Cohen
The MIT Press, 2003, $24.95
When Adam messed up in the Garden of Eden, his punishment was work. Ever since, people have been seeking time off for good behavior. The Industrial Revolution, it was thought, would eliminate labor by substituting machine power for muscle. But because the assembly line eliminated the need for skill, the factory doors opened to children, adding a new color of misery to life. Plus, the wealth that factories created went into the pockets of the factory owners, creating a new kind of urban poverty. Labor had become commodified.
The latest attempt to end, or at least mitigate, the life of toil is the Information Revolution. If the assembly line fragmented work, the computer returned responsibility for the final product to the worker by making it possible (and cost-efficient) to multitask. But far from lightening the load, the computer has made each worker’s daily portion harder by adding responsibility to her job description. And while the value of human capital has risen concomitantly, that has tightened the circle of people who can benefit from these higher wages, sinking the poor, be they in Brooklyn or Bangladesh, ever deeper into the slough of despond.
So where do we go from here, asks Daniel Cohen, professor of economics at the UniversitŽ de Paris, in Our Modern Times. Cohen’s answer, retrieved after a difficult slog through the book’s brief yet densely packed 124 pages, is not cheery. Increased prosperity, writes Cohen, just makes the struggle to achieve it and keep it increasingly intense. Only when human capital is valued over financial capital will man be able to get a glimpse of his Edenic past.
We won’t hold our breath.
CIO Best-Seller List
5 Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
By Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
Crown Publishing Group, 2002
4 Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t
By Jim Collins
HarperCollins Publishers, 2001
3 Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround
By Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
HarperCollins Publishers, 2002
2 Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with
Change in Your Work and in Your Life
By Spencer Johnson
The Putnam Publishing Group, 1998
By Rudolph W. Giuliani
Miramax Books, 2002
SOURCE: Data from the week of Dec. 9, 2002, compiled by Borders Group, Ann Arbor, Mich.