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Making the Impossible Possible: Leading Extraordinary Performance: The Rocky Flats Story [Kindle Edition]

Kim Cameron , Marc Lavine
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The most contaminated nuclear plant in the country, Rocky Flats was an environmental disaster and the site of rampant worker unrest. Although it was estimated that it would take 70 years and $36 billion to clean up and close the facility, something stunning happened. Now on its way to becoming a wildlife refuge, the project is running 60 years ahead of schedule and $30 billion under budget. In "Making the Impossible Possible," Kim Cameron explains how this remarkable performance was achieved -- and how it can be replicated. Using numerous first-hand accounts and public records, Cameron draws a number of leadership guidelines that can be applied to any business. This fascinating and thoroughly researched case study concludes by revealing the ten leadership principles responsible for the Rocky Flats turnaround -- and in doing so, provides a means for other organizations to harness the lessons of this astonishing success.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kim S. Cameron is Professor of management and organizations at Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business and Professor of Higher Education in the School of Education at the University of Michigan. Dr. Cameron's past research on organizational downsizing, effectiveness, quality culture, and the development of management leadership skills has been published in more than 80 articles and eight books.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3777 KB
  • Print Length: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (August 1, 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002WJI7WA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,171,098 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit Disappointed June 14, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a former Rocky Flats worker (prior to closure) I found this book a bit disjointed and it tended to be redundant. I was disappointed that it lacked the details describing the plans and execution for the decommissioning and demolition of the many key production buildings. I was looking forward to reading more detail about the acutal closure of building 771. The book continually praised the contractor and the loving relationships which developed between communiry groups, local, state, and federal agencies. I found myself skipping over much of this material. If you're looking more for the actual plans and work that went on closure, you won't find it in this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable case study - but read critically February 26, 2012
Opened in 1952 just outside of Denver, the 6000+ acre Rocky Flats site was one of the most notorious nuclear weapons production facilities in the US. Production of plutonium and enriched uranium "triggers" for nuclear weapons stopped in 1989 after an unprecedented FBI/EPA raid investigating claims of environmental breeches. This book mainly concentrates on the subsequent clean-up of the site and the rehabilitation of most as a wildlife refuge. That included, removing 21 tons of weapons-grade materials, decontaminating and demolishing 800 structures (3 mn sq ft) and safely shipping more than 600,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste, enough to fill a line of railcars 90 miles long.

A key selling feature of "Making the Impossible Possible" as a case study of success is a prior Dept of Energy (DOE) estimate that it would take 70 years and $36 billion to do that task (and some contemporary press report suggest costs could have been as high as a staggering $400 billion). In fact this was achieved in 10 years and (just!) $6 billion. In some senses this book is more about the strangling inefficiency of government bureaucracies and the benefits of moving to a more objectives/results orientated approach. In many ways the contractors `merely' beat a grossly overinflated estimate.

The authors introduce the concept of a `competing values framework' that they use to structure their analysis. Chapter 9 summarises 21 leadership principles. They are articulated both `conventionally' and in terms of `abundance' philosophy. The latter is a key theme throughout the book with a laudable emphasis on positive, proactive improvement focused leadership and long term development.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is an exceptional and, I think, an important book. The authors are trying to get at the things that enable the kind of exceptional performance that we all say we want and that some of us have been fortunate to experience at some point in our careers, if only briefly. We all know the kind of things that go into exceptional performance in sports whether for individual performance or as one of those "great" teams. While visualization was a revolutionary idea decades ago, nowadays we all know that athletes work with "pretty pictures". They focus on mental images of what they want to do rather than focusing on the mistakes they might make. It is the positive imagery that frees them to do the exceptional things they do and reach greater success than even similarly talented people who tie themselves in knots trying to avoid failure.

This book uses the fabulous performance and success of cleaning up the Rocky Flats plutonium processing facilities as a real life example of Positive Deviance - of performing from Abundance rather than trying to manage performance by monitoring mistakes and poor performance. With the end of the Cold War and changes in America's nuclear program, several facilities that had been deemed vital (despite the intense environmental issues surrounding the processing of radioactive materials and building them into weapons) were now closed and had to be cleaned up. The original projections for Rocky Flats planned for 70 years and $36 billion.

Instead, the team at Rocky Flats went through an internal process that took hold of Abundance and Positive Deviance. They dismantled the 800 buildings and cleaned the site in 10 years and for $6 billion. No other DOE facility cleanup has approached this performance.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How to manage a program January 6, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I worked at Rocky Flats as a program manager. This is the history of that project. It's also the processes used to successfully close the site, have no one die along the way and learn how to be a "real" program manager after 25 years of experience.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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this is a good book in that it provides a management model for consideration, explains it thoroughly, and then applies that model directly to a very interesting and challenging business situation. The idea that abundance - or driving for the ultimate activity - is doable is a new approach, and one that flies in the face of the "stretch goal" failure currently in management thinking. this books takes "beyond" and gives it texture - and real examples
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