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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's Important in Changing Times, June 28, 2014
This review is from: A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You (Hardcover)
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With change taking place at an unprecedented pace, leaders must start asking some crucial questions: How can I make my company and its culture sustainable? What do I need to embrace so that my company will thrive in these uncertain times?

Christoph Lueneburger, author of A Culture of Purpose, sets out to answer these questions - how to develop a culture of purpose where the organization and its people are driven by a core purpose that is sustainable.

According to Mr. Lueneburger, competencies can be cultivated over time, they can be taught. The job of the leader is to ensure that the organization selects the right people with the competencies necessary to shape the culture and sustainability of the organization.

The competencies necessary for leaders in a culture of purpose are: change leadership, influencing, results delivery, commercial drive and strategic orientation. These competencies are covered in Part 1 of the book.

Part 2 of the book covers the traits necessary for success in a culture of purpose. Traits can be not be taught but they can be measured and fostered.

Part 3 deals with building a culture of purpose. The building blocks are energy, resilience and openness. Part 4 is about taking action.

In explaining his theories, Mr. Lueneburger illustrates them with examples of how the concepts work in the real world. He accomplishes this by using plenty of examples of companies that were successful and also by showing companies on the opposite side of the coin.

At the end of each chapter is a valuable tool to help leaders implement the ideas into their own business. These exercises are called, "What to look for" and "How to look for it"

For those wishing to do further research, there are End Notes that provide additional resources/references.

This book is as much about adopting a new philosophy, a new way of doing business as it is about exactly how to go about it. "This book is about the building blocks and the sequence in which to assemble them."

If you are going to be successful in this rapidly changing business environment, you need to build a business that is sustainable - one with a well-defined purpose/vision that the employees can embrace. Mr. Lueneburger provides the framework for building a culture of purpose.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Executing sustainability programs is just good business, May 8, 2014
This review is from: A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You (Hardcover)
The main title is a more apt description of the primary premise of the book, incorporating sustainability into an organization. It starts with an individual or group within that organization firmly accepting the premise that Earth's resources are finite. What follows is then a detailed examination of the fundamental question, "What would be the cost if we had to pay for all of the consequences of what we do?" In other words, pay for all degradation of the environment or reduction in resources that takes place. This includes the actual cost of the actions and not those where the costs are spread out among others. For example, when the military costs of defending the sources are included, the actual cost of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is much higher than that at the pump.
Most of the book is a recitation of examples where people in large organizations had the courage and the drive to develop internal sustainability programs. Some of the companies featured in the book are those that you would not expect to have such programs. For example, Wal Mart has a program where they have removed the light bulbs from vending machines in their break rooms. While this may seem trivial, the overall yearly savings from this action is over $2 million.
The individuals driving the sustainability programs featured in this book are executives all the way up to the CEO and they often faced opposition from others in the organization as well as were criticized by outsiders that told them to stop the nonsense and concentrate on making profits. Of course the drivers responded by saying that has been their plan all along, the only difference is in the definition of the word "profit."
The subtitle is based on selling the programs of innovation, imagination and steering them in the direction of success. The word "choose" in the subtitle is a bit of a misnomer, while it is of course critical to hire the right people, most of the drivers featured in this book had to convince those present to follow a different path. Therefore, the emphasis is on changing the current people, modifying the culture, rather than selecting the right ones.
There is a vast rift in the modern business community and American society at large. There are those that firmly believe in man-made climate change and there are others that dismiss it as pure nonsense. Those that deny are playing a very dangerous game, for if the obvious changes in the weather continue that denial could lead to a strong public backlash that could doom their organizations. Furthermore, as is soundly proven in this book, executing sustainability programs is also very good business. Some companies are already being out-competed by others that are executing sustainability programs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant analysis of perhaps the single most important dimension of organizational alignment, April 30, 2014
This review is from: A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You (Hardcover)
According to Jim Collins in Good to Great, one of the greatest challenges in business is to "get the right people in the right seats." Of even greater importance, I presume to add, "and on the right bus." In competitive sports as in business, there must be an appropriate "fit" of person with position...and with associates. The key consideration is proper alignment of worker, tasks, and workplace environment. Most mergers fail or at least fall far short of original expectations. Why? One of the most common reasons is incompatible cultural values.

I agree with Christoph Lueneburger: "What is the most important challenge for a twenty-first century leader? Building a culture of purpose." In this book, he explains how to build one or strengthen one that already exists. "The attributes at the core of a culture of purpose are energy, resilience, and openness. Because cultures are made up of people -- and each shapes the other, from the core to the frontier -- the three sets of building blocks depend on and influence each other."

Recent and extensive research on what can be learned from exit interviews of highly-valued workers reveals that they do not feel that they and their efforts are appreciated, and, that they see little (if any) social value in what they are asked to do. Other research studies indicate that, on average, less than 30% of a U.S. company's workforce is actively and productively engaged; the other 80+% are either passively engaged ("mailing it in") or actively engaged in undermining the success of the company.

It is no coincidence that many of the companies that are annually ranked among those that are most highly-regarded and best to work for are also ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value in their industry. However different these companies may be in most respects, they all have a culture of purpose whose attributes are energy, resilience, and openness.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Leuneburger's coverage.

o Change Leadership (Pages 15-16)
o Mini-Case Study: How Frank O'Brien-Bernini Rejuvenated Owens Corning (16-26)
o Influencing Others by Embracing Their Problems (31-34)
o Discovering the Leader: Markers for the Competency of Influencing (43-45)
o Results Delivery (47-50)
o Discovering the Leader: Markers for the Competency if Results Delivery (61-63)
> Markers for the Competency of Commercial Drive (79-80)
o Strategic Orientation (82-85)
o Making Sustainability Hip (90-93)
o Discovering the Leader: Markers for the Competency of Strategic Orientation (93-95)
o Engagement on Leaders (101-104)
o Understanding the Person:
> Markers for the Trait of Engagement (115-117)
> Markers for the Trait of Determination (133-134)
> Markers for the Trait of Insight (148-149)
o The Primacy of Curiosity (156-158)
o Understanding the Person: Markers for the Trait of Curiosity (161-163)
o Understanding the Culture: Markers for the Trait of Energy (182-183)
> Markers for the Trait of Resilience (197-199)
> Markers for the Trait of Openness (212-213)

Note: The various references to "markers" indicate especially important, indeed defining characteristics of what is essential to effective leadership, to the personal growth and professional development of individuals, and to the ongoing health of organizations.

With regard to the sequence of building a culture of purpose, Christoph Lueneburger obzerves, "Three things are worth pointing out. First, this journey is not linear and monolithic throughout an organization...Second, the building blocks described [i.e. energy, resilience, and openness.] are cumulative...Third, the middle part of this transformation, the conscious transition from reactive to proactive, is the hardest hit." Given the opportunities for personal growth and professional development as well as for organizational transformation, opportunities that otherwise would probably not be available, efforts to "marry purpose to profit" will be well worth it for everyone involved.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great addition to the canon of long-term business thinking, April 14, 2014
This review is from: A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You (Hardcover)
"Sustainability" is a crucial concept for today's long-term business thinkers, but it is also a complex, often confounding notion to tackle in a concise fashion. "A Culture of Purpose" manages to capture its essence while also expanding our understanding of what it means to be a sustainable business - and just as important, to think in a sustainable fashion.

Christoph Lueneburger's approach in this book is excellent for the question at hand: organizing his thoughts and the resulting business insights, according to ways of thinking, rather than just operational excellence. Training our human brains to think of "our species' long-term survival" as Daniel Goldman mentions in his Foreword is an enormous challenge for business thinkers, but Lueneburger captures this thinking by viewing it as a set of detectable attributes: not just "influence" and "commercial drive", but also "energy", "resilience", and "openness".

To capture these attributes further, he builds not only by case study, but by interview and even biography: a thoughtful addition to the normal business school approach. What is it that makes a leader like Jochen Zeitz not only rebuild Puma, but rebuild it around sustainable principles that created opportunity for consistent return? What brought Peter Bakker from CEO of shipping and logistics company TNT to President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development? There is great insight in these interviews, and in unpacking the individual - and deeply human - thought process that then becomes a principle and system for creating growth.

My first encounter with Lueneburger's work was in an interview where he was asked to define sustainability, which he did so in the form of a question: "What would have to be true for me to keep running my businesses indefinitely?" Ever since, I have used this question as the founding inquiry for my own approaches to creating sustainable value in the business world. Expanding that inquiry to book length creates a great addition to the canon of long-term business thinking.

Oh, and not just thoughtful. It's a fantastic read as well!

Disclosure: I am an Aspen Institute Fellow in the same class as the author, Christoph Lueneburger, and my colleagues at Bloomberg LP feature in his book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The stuff that matters..., April 11, 2014
This review is from: A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You (Hardcover)
In this book, Christoph Lueneburger, a partner at global talent firm Egon Zehnder, distills his learnings as a result of numerous in-depth interviews with senior business leaders and his time running the sustainabilty practice at EZ. The key practice for cultures of purpose is the commercial pursuit of sustainability.

Christoph breaks down achieving this kind of a culture of purpose into three domains of work.

First, for the leader: the leadership competencies of change leadership, influencing, results delivery, commercial drive and strategic orientation matter most.

Second, for the organization’s people: individual traits of engagement, curiosity, determination, insight matter most.

Third, for the organization’s culture, cultural attributes of energy, resilience, openness matter most.

These attributes are elaborated with stories from business leaders.

Christoph appropriately links culture to behaviors, including the practice of language. He also asserts that instead of focusing on reducing bad unintended consequences, we should talk about maximizing the positive impact we can have.

He then provides a 3 phase plan for implementation:
Organizations start in what could be called unconsciously reactive, and progress to the …
Early phase, where organizations realize that they been reactive with respect to sustainability. They then progress to the ...

Middle phase, where the realization of phase 1 is translated into action. The organization shifts from being consciously reactive to deliberately proactive. And then finally progress to the ...

Advanced phase, the behaviors of sustainability have become so ingrained in the organization’s culture that the organization becomes unconsciously proactive.

Full disclosure: I have a 2-page mention in the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful for leaders of organizational change, May 25, 2014
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This review is from: A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You (Hardcover)
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Lueneburger equates a culture of purpose with one that is focused on environmental sustainability. But sustainability seems to be a secondary focus of this book. The significant contribution Lueneburger makes to the leadership literature is outlining how to create an organizational culture driven by a central purpose. One can apply the author’s research-based model to creating a corporate culture centered on any strongly-held purpose. The author identifies competencies, traits, and cultural attributes as the three sets of building blocks for creating a culture of purpose. He describes five competencies, four traits, and three cultural attributes necessary to creating and leading purpose-focused organizations. This book will be useful to the individual wanting to develop personal leadership abilities. However, Lueneburger’s primary goal is to help organizational leaders identify the people who will help create a culture of purpose. The unique, and perhaps most valuable, aspect of the book is the chart of questions at the end of each chapter. Lueneburger explains how to identify each of the necessary competencies, traits, and attributes. He provides questions to use in hiring interviews to uncover the needed abilities for leading organizational change. The individual reader may also use these questions as a form of self-assessment and as a self-development guide. Lueneburger has written a useful book for anyone interested in leading organizational change and creating cultures of meaning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating playbook told through the stories of pioneering leaders for the 21st Century, April 7, 2014
This review is from: A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You (Hardcover)
Great leaders—and leading organizations— value people—their employees and their clients—above all else. At a time when the growing threat and impact of social and environmental problems is forcing all companies and governments to rethink the meaning of sustainability and its role in the organization, Christoph adeptly conveys a powerful narrative about the visionary change-makers who are leading this transformation. This is a book about people— individuals and teams— who are defining what leadership means in the 21st Century.
Thankfully for most of us— leadership is not pre-ordained— the competencies, traits and cultural attributes can be identified and nurtured to create a high performance organization. "A Culture of Purpose" provides a captivating playbook based on the case studies with fascinating, real world insights from the leaders who are driving breakthrough change in their organizations today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential read for executive leaders., April 16, 2014
This review is from: A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You (Hardcover)
The zeitgeist of twenty-first century professional work is moving decidedly in the direction of meaning over money, in the direction of culture over the lone individual. We see it everywhere: in the commencement day speeches and advice of our most successful leaders, in the attitudes and job choices of new graduates, and in the exit interviews of our best -- and former -- top performers. Christoph Lueneburger has done a marvelous job of capturing this development and explaining it in the context of sustainability, showing us the ways in which progressive companies can cultivate and deploy the best talent methods to create resilient, enduring cultures. The result is a company that is more productive, with more engaged and capable performers, and which is more likely to perpetuate itself into a better future. Well done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A guide on how to build a culture of purpose, June 16, 2014
This review is from: A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You (Hardcover)
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In this book, the author shares how to choose the right people to make your organization great. He focuses in on sustainability and shows how different companies changed to become sustainable companies through the efforts of finding the right people. He provides different case studies in each chapter, which is useful for illustrating the qualities of the right people. One thing I'd have liked to have seen is comparison with other companies. Also at the end of the book, the author shares three phases for building a culture of purpose. It would have been useful if he'd integrated those phases into the rest of the book more overtly. With that said the book does provide some useful suggestions that can help you attract quality people for your business, as well as learn how to build a culture of purpose.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whether Fortune 50 or mom and pop store, you will be more profitable after reading this book., April 21, 2014
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This review is from: A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You (Hardcover)
The concept of sustainability, in the not too distant past, might make a CEO cringe with the thoughts of expensive campaigns to appease the "green" trend. Christoph Lueneburger repositions sustainability as the concept with which all else should revolve in order to be profitable. Christoph clearly demonstrates how to create a "culture" of sustainability wherein sustainability is as much of your business ethos as the product you produce.

Should you wish to do business beyond 2014, A Culture of Purpose is essential.

Benjamin Head

CEO/Founder
Shatter Buggy, Inc.
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A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You
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