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Up the Organization Mass Market Paperback – December 12, 1981

4.6 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, December 12, 1981
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews


"Townsend shouldn't just be read, he should be memorized."
Tom Peters

"The sagest (and even most outrageous) book ever written about how business should be run."
—Harper’s Magazine

"Bob Townsend's words still ring true, truer than they seemed almost 40 years ago."
Warren Bennis

"Robert Townsend's book continues to light up the business world with straightforward and practical management advice that is as pertinent today as when originally published. A must-read for all managers!"
Ray Davis, president and CEO, Umpqua Holdings Corporation

"Townsend proves that the best business wisdom is timeless. In an era filled with business buzzwords and ethical misdirections, Townsend's bluntness makes for refreshing and hilarious reading for the next crop of CEOs."
Ben Casnocha, chairman, Comcate, Inc., author, My Start-Up Life

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

Up the Organization

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.

In today's climate of seemingly endless incidents of corporate corruption, government fraud, and personal scandals, Up the Organization is more relevant than ever. Many of Townsend's observations are as witty as they are wise. "There's nothing fundamentally wrong with our country except that the leaders of all our major organizations operate under the wrong assumptions." "One of the most important tasks of a manager is to eliminate his people's excuses for failure." "If you have to have a policy manual, publish the Ten Commandments."

In addition to the book's advice that is striking in its candor, spontaneity, and integrity, this new edition includes essays from such leaders as James O'Toole, Bob Davids, and Robert Gottlieb, as well as a never-before-published transcript of Townsend's Conference Board speech: "Townsend's Third Degree in Leadership."

Read Up the Organization and discover why Robert Townsend served as role model for a generation of corporate activists.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett (December 12, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449233685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449233689
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,400,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a reprint edition of the classic business text by Robert Townsend. While it is largely like the original 1970 edition, it also includes material from the 1971 paperback version. Townsend made his biggest mark as CEO of Avis Rent-a-Car and the famous "We Try Harder" slogan. He became an early business media star and his sharp observations and criticisms of fat-cat management resonated with the times.

This is not a sustained treatise on management. It's wide-ranging alphabetically-listed paragraphs and short articles on management topics delighted its readers because they could flip around and find just the sharp pointed thoughts they were looking for. In this edition the extra paragraphs that were included in Further "Up the Organization" are also provided as are Townsend's acknowledgements and an appendix that has an address he delivered to the Conference Board that was printed as an article in the late 1970s. It is called "Townsend's Third Degree in Leadership" and summarizes his views on what it takes to be a leader. The second appendix is a biographical article called "No Reserved Parking".

Obviously, I can't cover all the points he makes in the book, but the kind of radical thinking you will find (and it remains radical) are the notions that leaders have to care for the followers first. He also states that people making more than $40k (or thereabouts in today's dollars) should set their own office hours and vacations. CEO compensation should be a much smaller multiple of average company salary than it is and most of the perks of executive management should be eliminated.

Townsend was a foe of corporate bureaucracy and says that the purchasing, personnel, and marketing departments should all be eliminated and says why.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm mystified that this title is out of print, but it seems to be a pattern with Townsend's works; I noticed that a much more recent title of his (1995) is also out of print.
Whatever the reason, if you've been lucky enough to hear about this book -- and on the off-chance you're checking out what will likely be the lone review of it, way down here at Amazon sales rank 200,000-and-then-some -- DO NOT be lulled into the obvious conclusion, namely, if the book were any good it'd still be readily available.
Though written in an era long gone (late 60s/early 70s) the info here is timeless -- and NO, it's not a bunch of idealistic boomer-inspired BS ("boomer" as in "former hippie," which is what most boomers were when this book came out). While the boomers were still smokin' ganga and sitting in, Townsend had already reversed the fortunes of Avis Rent a Car, in a revolutionary manner that completely eclipsed anything the boomers might have been dreaming about.
Any manager who has not read the chapter "People" is just not qualified to manage them, it's that simple. It, like nearly every other chapter in this book, is the last word in how to begin thinking about business -- and the lessons will work for anybody.
Find this book. Check your local used bookstore, do a search, whatever it takes. But find it, learn from it, and start building the vibrant, meaningful, profitable business you had envisioned when you got started.
Thanks Mr. Townsend -- wherever you are.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book will take your breath away. It speaks in a clear, concise and direct way that makes you think differently. It is as timely as a book can be and it is shameful that it is out of print. This a delightful and profound book that contains good humor and amazing insight. Buy a used copy now and join the revolution Mr. Townsend tried to start...before it's too late. Unfortunately, it's brilliant practical advise will be difficult to apply very directly in today's corporate world. But that is only because the rising tide of corporate bureaucracy and self defeating attitudes that Robert Townsend was raging against has since grown into a title wave of self interest and corporate greed. It is time for us all to take a stand and understanding Mr. Townsend's dynamic principles will help us stand tall. This is a revolutionary handbook for those of us with a healthy discontent with things as they are...and I'm pretty sure that would be most, if not all of us. Read it, use it to change the way you think, make a commitment to fight back, and then apply it to the task at hand in whatever way you can.
Fabio - Is that anger or shame I hear in your review? You were on a roll but when you turned corporate dishonesty and abuse into a cheap segway into your own partisan politics your were guilty of the very thing you were condemning. Not a single honest CEO? Come on, it's certainly convenient to have someone to blame but Presidents and CEO's are not the guilty parties. This only happened to the corporate world because we let it. We won't make a difference by pointing a judgemental finger at who we would we like to blame. We are accountable, and we all let this happen, the only way to stop it is to make a commitment to do what we can to fight back. We are not powerless, the future is in our hands.
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