Robert C. Townsend (d. 1998) drew upon his early experiences as a banker at American Express Co. to redirect Avis Rent-a-Car as president and chairman. Under his leadership, Avis experienced a celebrated turnaround, fueled by the "We Try Harder" advertising campaign. Townsend also worked as an executive at 20th Century Fox and was director at several companies, including Dun and Bradstreet and Radica Games. Townsend was a celebrity in his own right, and a frequent lecturer and talk-show guest.
Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profitsby Robert C. Townsend, Warren Bennis
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Although it was first published more than thirty-five years ago, Up the Organization continues to top the lists of best business books by groups as diverse as the American Management Association, Strategy + Business (Booz Allen Hamilton), and The Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management. 1-800-CEO-READ ranks Townsend’s bestseller first among eighty books that “every manager must read.”
This commemorative edition offers a new generation the benefit of Robert Townsend’s timeless wisdom as well as reflections on his work and life by those who knew and worked with him. This groundbreaking book continues to remind us not to get mired in all those sacred organizational routines that stifle people and strangle both profits and profitability. He shows a way to humanize business and a way to have fun while making it all work better than it ever worked before.
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Keep it at your desk and read a short chapter every day, and then go out and do it. Couple this with HP's strategy of "managing by wandering around (MBWA)" and you'll quickly alienate yourself ina theory x company, but gather interested looks if you're fortunate enough to work ina theory y culture.
As a corporate director of human resources, I continually search for books that will assist me and my managers to become better stewards of the company's money and other resources.
I don't remember when I bought my copy of Robert Townsend's book but I remember my children were toddlers and they are all married with children of their own. About ten years ago, I updated my copy with the revised book - Further Up the Organization: How Groups of People Working Together for a Common Purpose Ought to Conduct Themselves for Fun and Profit. Robert Townsend died in 1998. How I wish he were still around so we could continue to receive his straightforward advice and guidance.
A couple of years ago, I decided to write a management book and decided that I enjoyed Robert Townsend's book so much that I would copy his style with a multitude of short chapters and brutal honesty. I accomplished my goal and can only hope that my book will reach the stratosphere that his did.
As a tip for those contemplating purchasing Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits (J-B Warren Bennis Series); you can actually have a lot of fun with noting when people violate the behaviors Mr. Townsend warned us about and leave a copy of the page out of Up the Organization on their desk. They'll never know what hit `em. (and some will actually improve their mode of operation)
I highly recommend this book to anyone in management. Like me, I believe you will refer to it often. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR