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From the Back Cover
“Reading Jim Heskett’s book is not some vague exercise in academic idealism. It is a well-written, practical, compelling manual of how to build an enterprise that will endure for 100 years or more. You cannot afford to ignore it.”
—John C. Bogle, Founder, The Vanguard Group, and author of Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life
“Jim Heskett has delivered yet another breakthrough in our understanding of how corporate cultures shape performance. If leaders take Heskett’s sound advice to heart, corporate performance will improve and trust in business can be restored.”
—Bill George, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School; former Chair and CEO of Medtronic; and author of Authentic Leadership
“For those who might regard culture as an abstract, soft, perhaps ‘hippie like’ concept, Jim Heskett brings home its manifest value to both the organization and the sensibilities of its people.”
—Herb Kelleher, Executive Chairman and CEO Emeritus, Southwest Airlines Co.
“The Culture Cycle inspires leaders to start with people and shape their organizations’ cultures to drive engagement, inclusion, trust, innovation, and results. Jim Heskett has developed a new and valuable way to think about culture. This is a must read.”
—Jane Ramsey, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Limited Brands, Inc.
“Forget the squishy fluff; this book is hardcore, rooted in the numbers that drive margin. It shows the calculations…reveals the numbers for the ‘report card’ that predicts the future success of your company, division, or department…numbers every leader should know…and few do.”
—Scott Cook, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Executive Committee, Intuit
“Jim Heskett’s is the essential handbook for today’s organizations that care about their people and are determined that theirs is an organization of the future.”
—Frances Hesselbein, President & CEO, Leader to Leader Institute (formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management)
In The Culture Cycle, renowned thought leader James Heskett demonstrates how an effective culture can account for up to half of the differential in performance between organizations in the same business. A follow-up to the classic Corporate Culture and Performance (coauthored with John Kotter), this book explains how culture evolves, can be shaped and sustained, and can promote both survival and innovation in tough times.
Drawing on decades of field research and dozens of case studies, Heskett introduces a powerful conceptual framework for managing culture and demonstrates it at work in a real-world setting. Heskett’s “culture cycle” identifies policies, practices, and behaviors that are crucial to moving cultures forward and demonstrates how to calculate the economic value of culture through the “Four Rs” of referrals, retention, returns to labor, and relationships with customers.
Heskett’s insights will be invaluable to leaders, professionals, and consultants in HR, productivity, training, and operations–and for anyone seeking to optimize organizational performance.
A crisis in organizational culture?
Inflated expectations, poor experiences, or both?
How cultures are born, grow, flourish, wither, and die
From founder to failure: understanding the lifecycle of culture
Measuring and tracking the effectiveness of organizational culture
Beyond “strong” cultures to “successful” cultures
Leading cultural change
What only leaders can do–and how they can do it most effectively
About the Author
James Heskett is Baker Foundation Professor, Emeritus at Harvard University’s Business School. A leader in advancing management practice, he remains active at Harvard Business School; serves as a board member at Limited Brands; and consults with companies worldwide. Heskett has won the Council of Logistics Management’s John Drury Sheahan Award; Sales and Marketing Executives International’s Marketing Educator of the Year Award; and the American Marketing Association’s Career Contributions to the Service Discipline Award. He is author and coauthor of several books, including Corporate Culture and Performance (with John P. Kotter); The Value Profit Chain (with W. Earl Sasser, Jr. and Leonard A Schlesinger); and The Ownership Quotient (with Sasser and Joe Wheeler).
Top Customer Reviews
Steps in The Culture Cycle
The book's main framework is a circular diagram following these steps:
1. Mission, Shared Assumptions, and Values -- Alignment with Strategies and Methods of Execution
2. Setting Expectations
3. Behaviors Consistent with Shared Assumptions and Values
4. Expectations (e.g. leadership, recognition, job opportunity, personal development)
5. Core Phenomena (Trust, Engagement, and Ownership)
6. Policies, Practices, and Behaviors (e.g. self-direction, accountability, transparency, collaboration)
7. Organization Learning (e.g. continuous improvement, adaptability, agility, and speed)
8. Results (Four Rs, innovation, growth, and profitability)
Steps 2 - 4 are labeled "Causes (less visible)" and steps 6 - 8 "Effects (More Visible)." Step 1 is at the top of the cycle and both the beginning and the end -- or beginning of the next turn of the cycle. Step 5 is at a halfway point and bridges causes to effects.Read more ›
Performance is tied to perception. The key to successful performance is culture + strategy + execution. Context is also mentioned as part of strategy.
The table of context is very detailed and a great tool for finding information fast. Each chapter begins with a question then moves to anecdotal evidence. Then there is some informal research and speculation. The chapters are capped with the final summary of what was just said. This summary can be a short cut for busy people looking for specific information.
The key to understanding and evaluating the model (chapter six) Haskett proposes is the "Four R's." (referrals, retention, returns to labor, relationships) They are considered to be the results of a strong culture. Yes, Heskett admits they (the entire book actually) are arbitrary (and anecdotal) and not based on scientific research.
After the model is introduced there are a series of interesting chapters on culture and how it interacts with innovation (chapter 8), adversity (chapter 9), globalization (chapter 10), mission (chapter 11), and forces that challenge organization culture (chapter 12).
That leaves with the final question. How does one lead... navigate the opportunities and proposals in this book? That is found in chapter 13.
If you are willing to accept the theoretical, anecdotal, and subjective nature of a speculative book then do not pass on this one. The observations may be anecdotal but they are keen. Kick the tires, give it a spin. Heskett may be prophetic or not... either way it is a deeply thought provoking read.
Heskett does a great job not only defining what culture is and discussing approaches to establish a positive culture - but also in quantifying the value of a positive culture.
Highly recommended for those who are blessed with an opportunity to influence the culture within their business (that is: everyone who is working in a business!)
An organization's culture consists of the assumptions, values, beliefs, behaviours, artefacts, measurements and actions that determine how things get done in the organization. It influences both the way in which an organization's strategy is created and the way in which it is implemented. Strong cultures have a significant influence on performance, but not necessarily positive; culture has a positive influence on performance over the long term only if it is an adaptive culture.
The book considers the cultures of numerous companies and analyses their positive and negative aspects. Walmart and Southwest Airlines have strong cultures which have positively influenced their economic performance. Goldman Sachs has had a strong culture but its core values were not held strongly enough to keep it out of trouble in recent years. Service Master, IBM, General Motors, ING Direct, and Illinois Toolworks are amongst the other companies discussed.
In addition to describing in detail the author's culture cycle framework, the book considers the relationship between culture and innovation, how culture may or may not assist in handling adversity, organizational culture in a multinational context, special culture considerations for non-profit organizations, and the relationship between leadership and culture. One of the appendices contains an interesting survey for measuring the health and strength of a culture.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book and very informative.
Book is written well with ability to keep the reader interested in the many topics.
Most successful companies have a great company culture. But is the 'company culture' created by the success or was it instrumental in generating the success? Read morePublished on December 14, 2012 by Sam Santhosh
James Heskett is Baker Foundation Professor, Emeritus at Harvard University's Business School.
When someone of his calibre weighs in on the "culture conversation," I... Read more
In the The Culture Cycle: How to Shape the Unseen Force that Transforms Performance, James Heskett tries to prove that an effective culture can account for up to half of the... Read morePublished on February 21, 2012 by Sidarta Tanu
This book is packed full of information on organizational culture and the building up of good organizational culture. Read morePublished on November 22, 2011 by Stephanie Manley
This book is for someone who wishes to get a serious gasp on culture and what that entails and means. Read morePublished on November 22, 2011 by Tory
Heskett gives a good overview of the importance and pitfalls of a corporation's culture. He points to some very interesting older and recent research. Read morePublished on November 8, 2011 by Jane Rosenthal
'The Culture Cycle' is an interesting and useful book. It will surely find an audience among both executives and academics.
James Heskett's goals are ambitious. Read more