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Merchants of Virtue: Herman Miller and the Making of a Sustainable Company
     

Merchants of Virtue: Herman Miller and the Making of a Sustainable Company

by B. Birchard
 

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Company Herman Miller and a band of people determined to make their company a good global citizen. They end up answering one of the critical questions of our time: Is sustainable business sustainable? Can employees in global companies make great products, take care of the environment, benefit society, and make good money good times and bad?

Overview

Company Herman Miller and a band of people determined to make their company a good global citizen. They end up answering one of the critical questions of our time: Is sustainable business sustainable? Can employees in global companies make great products, take care of the environment, benefit society, and make good money good times and bad?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Herman Miller has shown extraordinary leadership as a catalyst for industry. Its sustainability strategies for architecture, buildings, and furniture set a standard we feel honored to have helped shape and spread to others. This book tells the story of how Herman Miller charted an innovative path, and shows the temerity of its people to stay on that path." - William McDonough, designer and co-author of Cradle to Cradle

"Merchants of Virtue is a business story for our times. An AMERICAN story, of risk taking, vision, values, and pluck. Before all the management fashions of our era - TQM, design thinking, zero footprint, values statements - there was Herman Miller. Let Bill Birchard show you how this Midwest manufacturer led the way to sustainability, and wash away a grinding decade of cynicism and greed." - Judith Samuelson, Executive Director, Business and Society Program, The Aspen Institute

"Bill Birchard's excellent chronicle of the Herman Miller story brings to light some critical lessons for any company focused on embedding sustainability in it's core strategy: Never give in to compromise solutions; seek to shatter apparent trade-offs; draw from the wellspring of enduring corporate values; and challenge people in the company to take personal responsibility. Perhaps most importantly, Merchants of Virtue shows us that the pursuit of corporate sustainability is not easy. Like anything worth pursuing, only the creative and committed will succeed." - Stuart L. Hart, S. C. Johnson Chair in Sustainable Global Enterprise, Cornell University and Author of Capitalism at the Crossroads

"In Merchants of Virtue the author shows that innovation at Herman Miller extends well beyond new product development, training and developing people. It was no surprise to me that they implemented the EVA Management System right down to the shop floor even on Day One. This insightful story about their journey with business sustainability efforts puts them up there with the other cutting edge organizations." - Joel M. Stern, Chairman and CEO, Stern Stewart & Co. and, Stern Stewart Capital Partners

"While manufacturing may be a dying art in the United States, this book illustrates how one company can do well by its shareholders, employees, society, and the environment - and still turn heads with its products. Herman Miller's sustainable sojourn is a remarkable story, capably told." - Library Journal

Library Journal
Herman Miller is best known for its iconic office furniture, which graces the galleries of the world's modern art museums. But business journalist and former Enterprise magazine editor Birchard reveals a lesser-known side of the company: long before environmentalism was trendy in big business, founder D.J. De Pree committed Herman Miller to environmental stewardship. Though his contemporaries may have thought he was off his rocker, his environmental initiatives were no less visionary than his hiring of brilliant designers like Gilbert Rohde and Charles Eames. Herman Miller's story reads like a lexicon of nearly every business buzzword of the last half-century: participative management (starting in the 1950s), lean manufacturing (taught by a Toyota guru), sustainability, economic value added, financial literacy of employees, and a dozen other concepts pioneered by this company. Along the way, the firm garnered accolades as a leader in the corporate environmental and social responsibility movements. VERDICT While manufacturing may be a dying art in the United States, this book illustrates how one company can do well by its shareholders, employees, society, and the environment—and still turn heads with its products. Herman Miller's sustainable sojourn is a remarkable story, capably told.—Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin Libs., Whitewater

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781137571144
Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan US
Publication date:
01/01/2011
Edition description:
2011
Pages:
222
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.70(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Bill Birchard is a writer, author, and journalist. He has been writing books and articles for over 25 years. Since the mid-1980s, he has written about management, the environment, and self help. He was formerly editor of Enterprise, a magazine for executives. Since the 1990s, he has written for Fast Company, CFO, Chief Executive, Strategy + Business, and other magazines.

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