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The Puritan Gift: Reclaiming the American Dream Amidst Global Financial Chaos Paperback – March 17, 2009
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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""A very thought-provoking and readable book.""--Linda Hesselman, Management Studies Centre, University College, London
''Mr. Fuld [Lehman Brothers] displayed…an air of pained bewilderment at his congressional committee hearing last week. His expression of regret at the collapse of his bank should be included in every MBA syllabus. As Will and Kenneth Hopper point out in their essential book The Puritan Gift, the main tasks of the CEO were to determine strategy, appoint divisional heads and supervise their work…’’-- Stefan Stern, Financial Times
‘In The Puritan Gift, published last year, the septuagenarian Scottish brothers William and Kenneth Hopper, respectively a banker and an engineer-turned-industrial consultant, argued that for 200 years the puritan foundations of America kept its businesses intact, emphasising craft, financial responsibility and the sublimation of private interest to the group.’ - Andrew Billen, TIMES, 9th March 2009
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A key learning is the author's opinion on why publicly held organizations seem to be so short-term focused these days: senior leaders (and especially CEOs) view their customer not as the end-user of their product, but as the institutional investor that buys or sells their shares...and those two groups certainly do not have aligned requirements.
In my opinion, this book answers the question of "Why aren't more organizations using the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence a a management model?" The book describes "25 Principles Underlying Good Practice from the "Golden Age of Management" that align closely with the Core Values of Baldrige. While few of us would want to go back to the "Mad Men" days, the authors describe the focus by past leaders on product knowledge, end user customer focus, and a long-term view of the future that was more of the practice during America's "golden years" of prosperity. Was it perfect in those days? No, but this book gives a compelling story of the benefits of past practices.
But what is the Puritan Gift of the title? It is a set of characteristics that "reached back to the earliest days of...Massachusetts and still colors the outlook for most citizens of the United States:
1. a conviction that the purpose of life, however vaguely conceived, was to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, [don't be mistaken into believing that this is a religious book by this "gift"]
2. an aptitude for the exercise of mechanical skills,
3. a moral outlook that subordinated the interests of individuals to the group,
4. and an ability to assemble, galvanize, and marshal financial, material and human resources to a single purpose and on a massive, or a lesser, scale."
I highly recommend that you read this book - it will challenge your thinking, and probably give you new insight into effective management and leadership. And it will also challenge you a bit if you're a consultant (guilty!) and/or MBA (guilty!)."
A tale of how old world traditions developed a culture of performance based management and advancement in the manufacturing work place.
Numerous examples illustrate how the loss of this system and the invention of the MBA (an interchangeable manager that may be placed anywhere to manage anything) ushered in an era of economic stagnation. While this same system when exported to another nation created similar success.
An interesting read that is wonderful mix of US history and management history.