The Age of Heretics: A History of the Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management, 2nd Edition (Warren Bennis Signature Series) / Edition 2by Art Kleiner
Pub. Date: 07/28/2008
In this second edition of his bestselling book, author Art Kleiner explores the nature of effective leadership in times of change and defines its importance to the corporation of the future. He describes a heretic as a visionary who creates change in large-scale companies, balancing the contrary truths they can’t deny against their loyalty to their… See more details below
In this second edition of his bestselling book, author Art Kleiner explores the nature of effective leadership in times of change and defines its importance to the corporation of the future. He describes a heretic as a visionary who creates change in large-scale companies, balancing the contrary truths they can’t deny against their loyalty to their organizations. The Age of Heretics reveals how managers can get stuck in counterproductive ways of doing things and shows why it takes a heretical point of view to get past the deadlock and move forward.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Warren Bennis.
Preface by Steven Wheeler and Walter McFarland.
To the Reader.
1. Monastics: Corporate Culture and Its Discontents, 1945 to Today.
2. Pelagians: National Training Laboratories, 1947–1962.
3. Reformists: Workplace Redesign at Procter & Gamble and the Gaines Dog Food Plant in Topeka, 1961–1973.
4. Protesters: Saul Alinsky, FIGHTON, Campaign GM, and the Shareholder Activism Movement, 1964–1971.
5. Mystics: Royal Dutch/Shell’s Scenario Planners, 1967–1973.
6. Lovers of Faith and Reason: Heretical Engineers at Stanford Research Institute and MIT, 1955–1971.
7. Parzival’s Dilemma: Edie Seashore, Chris Argyris, and Warren Bennis, 1959–1979.
8. Millenarians: Erewhon, the SRI Futures Group, Herman Kahn, Royal Dutch/Shell, and Amory Lovins, 1968–1979.
9. The Rapids: Hayes and Abernathy, Tom Peters, W. Edwards Deming, the Creators of GE Work-Out, and Other Synthesizers of Management Change, 1974–1982.
About the Author.
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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".
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.
Here¿s why I enjoyed the book so much.
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.
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.
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.
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.