What America Does Right / Edition 1

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True or false? "America is falling behind in world competition." The surprise answer is "false." Recent research on industrialized nations shows that American workers outproduce workers in Germany and France by 20 percent, workers in Britain by over 30 percent, and Japanese workers by over 60 percent. The reason has nothing to do with technology, worker attitude, or worker skill. In this incisive, anecdotal book Robert H. Waterman, Jr., looks at some of the best American firms and concludes that the key to strategic advantage is organization: they are organized to focus on the things that motivate their own people, and organized to anticipate customer needs. Waterman's crisp case studies give us an insider's view of why these firms are so good. For example, we'll see how Procter & Gamble gets a productivity advantage of 30-40 percent through a work force that's essentially self-managing. Procter & Gamble developed this system over thirty years ago and considered it so strategic that they wouldn't talk about it until now. We'll see how a set of strongly held, shared values - not strategy - built the AES Corporation from a start-up eleven years ago to a company whose market value today is close to $1.7 billion. Waterman also gives us an in-depth look at how companies such as Merck and Rubbermaid maintain a strategic edge through raw innovation. In 1993 Rubbermaid invented 365 new products, one for every day of the year. How did they manage it? Waterman's argument is firmly grounded in specific details and in firsthand observation. But his message about American competitiveness transcends any particular case history or industry. All of us can learn from the example of these firms that in one way or another strike out into new frontiers of excellence.

This incisive, anecdotal book turns conventional management theory on its head by showing that America is not losing ground--especially to Japan. Waterman contends that, in the next century, only those companies that put people first--and organize to meet their needs--will succeed.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Waterman, coauthor of In Search of Excellence , here illuminates ``why a handful of widely admired American firms do so well'' and why ``some giant companies . . . stumble badly.'' He argues that firms excel by building coherent, clearly defined cultures. A successful company creates ``shared values that give its people a sense of purpose,'' while eschewing bureaucratic organizational charts, job descriptions, written policies and other strictures that might restrain employee initiative. The author relies heavily on case studies of company strategies that he defines as great, including Federal Express's people-first philosophy, Merck's investment in intellectual capital and other guideposts from Levi Strauss, Proctor & Gamble, Rubbermaid and Motorola. Waterman's anecdotal lessons from the best methodologies is outstanding, like the rest of this book. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Waterman's purpose here is to examine and understand how and why certain American firms have fared so well over the years, organizationally and structurally. The companies he studied include Procter & Gamble, Motorola, Federal Express, Levi Strauss, Rubbermaid, and Merck. Waterman (coauthor, with Tom Peters, of In Search of Excellence , LJ 2/15/83) believes that these corporations share a commitment to organizing in ways that treat employees and customers fairly. He acknowledges the similarity between the theme of this book and his earlier ones, but he does succeed in providing a more detailed profile of each company than he did previously. The book is readable, and Waterman's decision to interview employees from all levels of an organization and to include comments from dissenters is a definite strength. Recommended for public libraries.-- Mark McCullough, Heterick Lib., Ohio Northern Univ., Ada
David Rouse
Just over 10 years ago, Waterman coauthored with Torn Peters the tremendously successful "In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies" 1982. In this similar work, he pursues a main theme of the earlier one: American companies will prevail in the global economy because the best of them know the importance of putting people both employees and customers first. Here, instead of using examples from a number of companies as he and Peters did earlier, he provides in-depth profiles of Proctor & Gamble, Federal Express, Motorola, Merck, Rubbermaid, Levi Strauss, Applied Energy Services, a public school in the Bronx, and a surgical clinic in Vail, Colorado. Waterman shows how each of them has been uniquely successful by organizing in order to recognize, understand, and meet the needs of its people. Although this idea is not new--for example, Charles Garfield says the same thing in "Second to None: How Our Smartest Companies Put People First" 1992--Waterman's association with Torn Peters, his detailed portraits, and his "feel good" title should create demand.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393035971
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.43 (w) x 9.49 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 9
1 Organizing for Success: Linking People, Strategy, Organization, and Customers 15
2 Everyone a Leader: Giving Up Control to Gain Control 29
3 A Learning Organization: The Team System at P&G, Lima, Ohio 47
4 Two Great Coaches: Management Lessons from the Bronx and Vail, Colorado 69
5 Systems That Set Us Free: People First at Federal Express 87
6 Values from the Start: Culture Is Strategy at the AES Corporation 111
7 Something to Believe in: At Levi Strauss & Company Managers Make Meanings as Well as Money 137
8 Sustainable Competitive Edge: A New Product Every Day at Rubbermaid 169
9 High-Tech Soap: Great Products Make for Great Marketing 192
10 Designer Molecules: Merck Invests and Invents...Big Time 205
11 "Our Quality Stinks": Muddling, Anticipating, and Committing at Motorola 228
12 Match the Potential Within 263
Epilogue 281
App. 1. Surprise - America's Economic Strength 293
App. 2. Don't Put Profit First 297
App. 3. Excerpt from Federal Express Manager's Guide 299
App. 4. Levi's Manifesto 301
Notes 303
Index 307
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