Customer Reviews for

The Age of Heretics: A History of the Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management, 2nd Edition (Warren Bennis Signature Series)

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    This book answers the question "Why"

    Students or first-level managers may not relate much to the book, but it sent shock waves through me. This book is about the people who changed how corporate leaders view and manage big corporations. The "heretics" discussed are the same people that authored some of my textbooks while I was getting an MBA; the same people who authored other business books that I've read since then; and the forefathers of modern finance, strategic planning, modern management consulting, and futurist thinking. It's placed my whole career as a manager and consultant in a proper historical perspective. For example, this book answered questions for me like, "Beyond just the supporting experiential evidence, why do concepts like 'participative management' and 'systems thinking' resonate so much with me?"

    During my MBA program, I learned the "what" of concepts and tools such as organizational development, operations research, team-building, and growth-share matrix. During my consulting and line management career, I learned the "how" of strategic management, activity-based costing and management, and process re-engineering. This book answers the question "why".

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Best book on the evolution of corporate culture

    I thoroughly enjoyed Art Kleiner¿s The Age of Heretics. It¿s the best book I¿ve read on the evolution of corporate culture. I highly recommend it to anyone with a serious interest in organizational development and leadership.<BR/><BR/>Here¿s why I enjoyed the book so much.<BR/><BR/>The Age of Heretics provides a detailed account and an excellent synthesis of the evolution of organizational cultures from ¿vernacular¿ (or community-minded) cultures to ¿numbers cultures,¿ and to the ¿sensing cultures¿ that are still emerging today. <BR/><BR/>The book recounts fascinating stories of corporate ¿heretics,¿ lively and visionary individuals who, beginning in the 1950s, recognized that corporate cultures were casting aside human values and idolizing management by the numbers, to the detriment of employees, corporate performance and society as a whole. The heretics Kleiner chronicles include names you probably know such as Kurt Lewin, Douglas McGregor, W. Edwards Deming, Warren Bennis and Tom Peters, as well as unsung heroes such as the academic Eric Trist, Charlie Krone of Procter & Gamble, Edie Seashore of the National Training Labs, and Lyman Ketchum and Ed Dulworth of General Foods. Each heretic¿s story is both interesting to read and valuable for its lessons about how to bring about change in organizations.<BR/><BR/>Another compelling benefit that comes from reading The Age of Heretics is that the book presents important insights and practices related to corporate culture that emerged since the 1950s. Some of my favorites were Kurt Lewin¿s freezing process for organizational learning, National Training Labs¿ T-Groups, Chris Argyris¿ Action Theory, Procter and Gamble¿s high performance technician systems, Royal Dutch/Shell¿s scenario planning, and GE¿s Work Out. <BR/><BR/>To move forward, it¿s important to understand how we¿ve gotten to where we are today. In the field of organizational development, no book does that better than The Age of Heretics.

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