If Aristotle Ran General Motors: The New Soul of Business [NOOK Book]


What does classical philosophy have to offer modern business? Nothing less than the secrets to building great morale and productivity in any size organization.

This is the message that Tom Morris will deliver this year to thousands of executives of leading companies such as Merrill Lynch, Coca Cola, Bayer, and Northwestern Mutual Life.

In If Aristotle Ran General Motors, Morris, who taught philosophy at Notre Dame for fifteen years, shares ...

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If Aristotle Ran General Motors: The New Soul of Business

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What does classical philosophy have to offer modern business? Nothing less than the secrets to building great morale and productivity in any size organization.

This is the message that Tom Morris will deliver this year to thousands of executives of leading companies such as Merrill Lynch, Coca Cola, Bayer, and Northwestern Mutual Life.

In If Aristotle Ran General Motors, Morris, who taught philosophy at Notre Dame for fifteen years, shares the knowledge that he garnered from a lifetime of studying the writings and teachings of history's wisest thinkers and shows how to apply their ideas in today's business environment. Although he frequently draws on the wisdom of Aristotle, Morris also finds inspiration in the teachings of a wide array of thinkers from many different traditions and eras. Throughout these pages we're invited to pause and consider the words of Confucius, Seneca, Saint Augustine, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln, and many others.

By looking at the inside workings of various kinds of businesses-- from GE to Tom's of Maine-- Morris shows why any company that is serious about attaining true excellence must adhere to four timeless virtues first identified by Aristotle more than two thousand years ago: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity. Morris makes clear that the most successful companies encourage a corporate culture that ensures that all interactions among colleagues, employees, management, bosses, clients, customers, and suppliers are infused with dignity and humanity. Moreover, the book provides clearly stated strategies for how everyone who works can make these qualities the foundation for their everyday business (and personal) lives.

If Aristotle Ran General Motors presents the most compelling case of any book yet written for a new ethics in business and for a workplace where openness and integrity are the rule rather than the exception. It offers an optimistic vision for the future of leadership and a plan for reinvigorating the soul back into our professional lives.

To achieve excellence, truth, beauty, goodness and unity must be present.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
October 1997

Some argue that the spirit has disappeared from our drastically downsized corporate America. But now that the market has taken an upward turn, the biggest corporations — which less than a decade ago expended huge percentages of personnel — are experiencing a resurgence as well and are hiring at an exorbitant rate. Despite their ruddy cheeks, however, such companies continue to suffer from symptoms of greed. In his new book, If Aristotle Ran General Motors, Tom Morris shows corporate America how to focus on its most important aspect — its people — and create a culture that respects and nurtures them spiritually and emotionally.

If Aristotle ran General Motors, Morris hypothesizes, he would concentrate on happiness, satisfaction, meaning, and fulfillment rather than short-term cures like the reengineering of corporate structure. Morris presents a simple premise: A few basic yet powerful ideas drawn from the teachings of eminent philosophers of the past offer the key to building great morale, total job satisfaction, and productivity in any size business. "The newest problems we face can't be solved without the most ancient wisdom we have," Morris claims.

At the core of this provocative assertion are four fundamental aspects of human experience and their corresponding virtues. Morris explains how each of these principles, identified by Aristotle more than 2,000 years ago, is directly connected to interpersonal and business excellence. He explains why management techniques such as teamwork, reengineering, and intrapreneuring willneversucceed unless linked to such human attributes as love, appreciation, respect, trust, and sympathy.

Morris reveals how the enhancement of truth, the experience of beauty, the assurance of goodness, and the sense of unity felt by the people who work with you and around you can provide a wellspring for creating both an ethical corporate culture and inner personal satisfaction. Thought-provoking analysis and inspirational quotes combined with fascinating anecdotes from a variety of companies — from Tom's of Maine to General Electric — brings this powerful argument from the theoretical to the practical. Morris's optimistic vision for the future offers a realistic plan that will reinvigorate the corporate spirit and bring the soul back to our professional lives.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Morris's discussionwhich deals with how to run all businesses, not just the automotive giantsreads like a clever, late-night conversation among grad students. That isn't surprising, since Morris is a former philosophy professor and, like the best teachers, he makes his case in a simple, compelling way. His message? The "four dimensions of human experience" that Aristotle talked about 2200 years agotruth, beauty, goodness, unityshould form the underpinnings of today's corporation. For Morris, truth can include opening the books to employees. A more beautiful workplace increases productivity. Goodness means behaving ethically, and unity means meeting employees' spiritualdistinguished from religiousneeds on the job. Hard-nosed readers will note that Morris, who quotes scores of other philosophers to make his points, often in highlighted text, never cites a number, ratio or rate of return to buttress his arguments, and that corporate examples are cited only in passing. Still, he provides an innovative resource for executives who claim that they want to return to basics. 75,000 first printing; author tour. Sept.
From the Publisher
"If Aristotle Ran General Motors goes to the heart of what makes people and organizations successful. Tom Morris' message is a guide to achieving the highest level of excellence in your company and your career."—Daniel Tully, chairman, Merrill Lynch
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466860803
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/24/2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 557,716
  • File size: 383 KB

Meet the Author

Tom Morris was a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame for fifteen years. Since leaving Notre Dame in 1994, he has gone on to become one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in the country. Each year he is invited to give keynote addresses at major gatherings of executives at hundreds of the leading companies around the world. The author of True Success: A New Philosophy of Excellence, he is also chairman of the Morris Institute for Human Values in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he makes his home.

Tom Morris was a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame for fifteen years. Since leaving Notre Dame in 1994, he has gone on to become one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in the country. Each year he is invited to give keynote addresses at major gatherings of executives at hundreds of the leading companies around the world. The author of True Success: A New Philosophy of Excellence, he is also chairman of the Morris Institute for Human Values in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he makes his home.
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Table of Contents

Preface: Reinventing Corporate Spirit
Introduction: Business Excellence and the Human Quest 3
Pt. I Truth
1 The Intellectual Dimension at Work 25
2 Truth and Lies 39
3 The Truth About Excellence: A Powerful Idea 48
Pt. II Beauty
4 The Aesthetic Dimension at Work 69
5 Creativity and the Meaning of Life 85
6 The Beauty of Business 100
Pt. III Goodness
7 The Moral Dimension at Work 115
8 The Challenge of Ethical Action 128
9 Wisdom, Virtue, and Corporate Strength 150
Pt. IV Unity
10 The Spiritual Dimension at Work 173
11 Uniqueness and Union 183
12 Usefulness and Understanding 200
Epilogue: Creating Corporate Excellence
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Interviews & Essays

On Friday, October 3, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Tom Morris, author of If Aristotle Ran General Motors.

Moderator: Welcome to the barnesandnoble.com Live Events Auditorium! Tom Morris is joining us live to discuss his new book, If Aristotle Ran General Motors. Mr. Morris is participating from home this evening, by telephone. Welcome, Mr. Morris! We're glad you could join us. How are you this evening?

Tom Morris: I'm doing very well, thanks.

Erin Baker from Manchester, VT: How will your template for returning the human soul to business work in the world of telecommuting? What's your take on the nature of new media?

Tom Morris: Good. Well, some of the issues of workplace beauty need to be taken care of by the telecommuter herself Give yourself a beautiful place to work. Too many of us don't take seriously our need for a nice space when we work out of the home. Some of the other issues I discuss, like the issues of truth, goodness, and unity, are also very important for the telecommuter, who has to think about how her expressionless words come across to someone reading them on a monitor.

Joy B. from NYC: Hi, Tom. I have tell you that I like going to work and leaving all issues at home -- I like to work like a machine for eight hours and then escape to the real human world of friends and family. Is there something wrong with this?

Tom Morris: Even a human machine needs the lubricant of kindness and goodwill. If we face daily resistance and hostility, we can't be our best, even if we do efficient, machinelike work. I bet you are much more than a mere robotic worker! Sounds like you just like efficiency and a special emotional space within which you do your work. I'm concerned with helping people make that space as good as it can be.

Matt from the office at night: Do you consider your book a self-help book? What's your opinion of Stephen Covey?

Tom Morris: I consider it to be a personal-growth book, something beyond self-help but concerned with the self in relation to others. I believe Stephen Covey began opening up the issues of personal values and relationships to application in the workplace.

Gerald McPhee from downsized America: How would you rate the impact of feather-rufflers like Michael Moore?

Tom Morris: I think Michael has caused a lot of people to think more deeply of the human impact of the decisions that are supposed to be purely business decisions. In a sense, Gerald, I think Michael helps us see that no decision is ever just a purely business decision. I believe Michael is a little crabby but lots of fun.

Brian from Hoboken: In the late 1970s, how much did the Japanese affect the U.S. auto industry? Would the Big Three have gotten their act together without this competition?

Tom Morris: I think the Japanese played an important role both in scaring the U.S. auto industry out of some of their inertia and in helping us to see new truths about people working together. They weren't the saviors of world business, as often advertised, but they did help us to new insights.

Steven Hall from IL: What has been your own experience in business? What prompted you to write this book?

Tom Morris: I grew up in a business family, engaged in many kinds of business activities. I started college as a business major wanting to enter corporate life, but I was sidetracked into the Big Questions that bit into me and wouldn't let go. Now, by being asked to be the philosopher for every business imaginable, I've been getting a crash course in every industry in America. It seems to me that American business is full of intelligent people.

Lynton from the book business: So, having just been published, what's your take on the environment of the publishing business? What was your experience like?

Tom Morris: It's nice to be a noncelebrity author whose book has actually been getting some attention! I think the book business, like every other business, needs to understand human nature more deeply and make use of it. It's a very interesting and very crazy business. I'm treated very well by Henry Holt, my new publisher.

Ned S. from Leroy Street: Was NAFTA a necessary step towards economic stability in the U.S. for the '90s? I don't fully understand.

Tom Morris: The jury is still out on NAFTA. We're groping our way forward concerning how to handle many issues of global business. Moving toward boundaryless business dealings is going to be even more complex than taking on new technologies. We're going to hit plenty of speed bumps along the way, but there's really no turning back.

Sinbad from Vermont: I read an article recently that praised the business tactics and company policies of Tom's, up here in Maine. Does your book touch upon this company?

Tom Morris: Yes, it does. I met Tom Cheppell, founder of Tom's of Maine, about six years ago and heard firsthand all they were doing to make their business a genuinely humane enterprise. In the new book, I profile innovative decisions Tom has made, in a section on truth and in a section on beauty.

Brian Marker from Hoboken, NJ: Do you think it's possible for sympathy in the office to become a problem? Shouldn't there be a boundary between personal life and what you bring to the office?

Tom Morris: You can certainly be too soft-hearted, just like you can be too hard-hearted. In some circumstances, the best thing is tough love. But overly compartmentalizing our lives can be dangerous -- we may wear different hats at home and at work, but we wear them on the same head.

Alex Davies from Queens, NY: What was your reaction to the UPS labor strike? I personally feel that the management of that company handled it very poorly. Do you agree with me that the next challenge to big business will not be economic hardship, but rather worker unhappiness? Thank you.

Tom Morris: I do agree, Alex. I think if Aristotle ran UPS and if Plato ran the union, such a confrontation would not have developed in the first place. They would have made sure that everyone saw the big picture and that everyone shared in the positive consequences of good business strategy and good work. I think you're right that worker happiness and satisfaction will be the next big issue business will have to face.

Steve from Chicago: Silicon Valley often boasts a "new" way of doing business. What do you think of the technology revolution and their business practices?

Tom Morris: I think the computer guys and women have shown us how dedication, craziness, intellect, and fun can create an exciting, explosive mix. Not every company can work like a Silicon Valley start-up, but we can all learn a few lessons from these wild organizations about turning people loose to be the best they can be in all their eccentricity and about all the genius they sometimes cultivate.

Mike Applegate from Oak Park: What's your opinion on these huge consulting firms that recruit college kids and pay them big money but make them work long, tedious hours? I know some, and they're all burned out!

Tom Morris: It's too bad that we have companies in every industry who put young recruits through the equivalent of fraternity hazing, dumping too much work too fast on people who don't have the seasoned skills to handle it. Some of the big consulting companies can be great places for a smart young person to experience a steep learning curve, and that can be great when they are not pushed too much.

Tim from school: I see that you worked as a professor. Did you find that the academic environment was as ruthless as the corporate world? Could it, too, stand to improve?

Tom Morris: Yes! The fiercest battles are often fought over the smallest stakes. Unfortunately, the university world is not a bastion of enlightenment.

Marina from Naples, FL: Hi, Mr. Morris! Do you think the recent boom of the market and the revival of '80s indulgence will prevent a return to the basic human principles outlined in your book?

Tom Morris: I hope that it may have the opposite result. Some people tell me that with the economy doing so well and with the economy flowing, they feel like they have the opportunity to become a bit more reflective and to turn their attention to issues often neglected in times of economic difficulty, when all the pressure is on getting the profit up. I hope we all will begin to think more deeply of the human issues of work, so when the inevitable times of difficulty return, we will be in a firmer footing to weather those storms well. I think managers can do humane business while driving their BMWs.

Frank from New York: Your approach seems rather utopian, in that it assumes all participants in the workplace are open to the ideas of integrity and openness you endorse. There is a lot of tension and turf-war disputes. How does your book reconcile this?

Tom Morris: Good question, Frank. I try to avoid being utopian in any general sense. I do think each of us has more scope for ethical decision-making than we are aware of. In Part Three of the book, where I explore whet ethics really is, I go into this very question, as to whether the ethical person is stronger or more vulnerable because of his moral stance. We can be both good and shrewd. Emerson has a great essay about this, about Napoleon, but really about the self-defeating nature of unethically won success. Frank, I admit that there have been times when I have been a morally idealistic, naive idiot. And that's not a winning combination, but goodness does not imply naïveté; done right, it brings strength.

Anne McCullough from Manhattan: What's your advice for approaching an unapproachable boss to ask for a raise?

Tom Morris: OK. Is this like when the irresistible force meets the unmovable object? If the object is unmovable, the force better be irresistible.... The best way is to pretend you are a lawyer and build your case in advance. Put it in writing and make an appointment; be honest about your trepidation but be convincing in your claim that you're valuable to the business. Ultimately, you won't be happy in a place where you're not appreciated

Kerry Nealon from Washington: There's been a lot of talk recently about the workplace being an escape from the more difficult responsibilities at home. Do you see this being a threat to the family?

Tom Morris: In some ways, Kerry, the workplace is the new extended family, the new neighborhood. And I think you're right, that for some people, the pressures of the workplace are simpler than the issues of private life. But work becoming a better place shouldn't be a threat to the family, but at it's best could even help otherwise confused people get back in touch with some of their most basic values. You've put your finger on an interesting modern paradox.

Beverley from the lower Hudson region: You must have a tireless supply of great thinkers and philosophizers to consult. Who, besides Aristotle, provides the most business-savvy insights?

Tom Morris: Yes, Beverley, I have thousands of years' worth of these great thinkers to draw on. I've been particularly impressed with Seneca, Confucius, Lao-tzu, Baltasar Gracián y Morales, and Marcus Aurelius. Those would be great for a starter. And then, of course, there are those many books by Tom Morris! Happy philosophizing!

Moderator: Thanks for joining us tonight, Tom Morris! And thanks to all whoparticipated. Mr. Morris, any final remarks before we go?

Tom Morris: If anyone wants to follow through on these issues, you can contact me through tomvmorris@aol.com. I enjoyed being with you all.

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