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Spark: How Old-Fashioned Values Drive a Twenty-First-Century Corporation: Lessons from Lincoln Electric's Unique Guaranteed Employment Program Hardcover – February 23, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Veteran journalist Koller goes inside Lincoln Electric, a Cleveland arc-welding equipment manufacturer dating back to 1895, a company that promises that no permanent employee who meets the firm's performance standards will ever be laid off due to lack of work. This promise is so sacrosanct, it's included in the employee handbook and in the organization's annual report. The company has also paid out profit-sharing bonuses without fail since 1934, bonuses which almost always exceed 60% of an employee's basic earnings. Koller offers a fascinating glimpse into this remarkable yet, in many ways, ordinary organization, which survives, even thrives, in a sunset industry where overseas outsourcing is the norm. Readers follow the company through the days of Carnegie and Rockefeller, recessions in the 1950s, and the present crisis, and witness how it weathers challenges. Instructive and heartening, this book offers a proven model for companies that not only want healthy bottom lines but also satisfied, dedicated employees. (Feb.)
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"2010 Noteworthy Book in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics." - Princeton University
“Frank Koller has done a remarkable job of presenting both an economic and a moral argument for the value to society of the unusual policies followed with great success by Lincoln Electric for over a hundred years. The book is excellent in both the historical overview and the numerous interviews with current and past employees. There is much that modern management can learn about the benefits to employees, customers, shareholders, and communities by examining the role of the ‘old fashioned’ culture of Lincoln Electric.”
Thomas A. Kochan, George M. Bunker Professor of Management and Co-Director, MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research
“A timely book, well researched and well written. Business, labor, and government leaders would do well to read Spark as they search for more equitable and sustainable principles for rebuilding trust in management, and getting compensation once again growing in tandem with productivity and profits.”
“A fascinating glimpse into this remarkable yet, in many ways, ordinary organization, which survives, even thrives, in a sunset industry where overseas outsourcing is the norm.... Instructive and heartening, this book offers a proven model for companies that not only want healthy bottom lines but also satisfied, dedicated employees”
Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics, Harvard University “In a time of recession, massive layoffs, and Wall Street bailouts, Spark tells the remarkable story of the better side of American capitalism: Lincoln Electric, the billion dollar manufacturer that succeeds by treating its employees the right way. This book should be required reading for everyone who wants to make the economy work for us all, from the President and his economic advisors to business leaders and employees everywhere.”
Harvard Business Review
“A fascinating depiction of a rare human resource practice in a company with a long and hearty track record—food for thought for the rest of us.”
Wall Street Journal
"Striking … against the backdrop of the layoff mania that has claimed more than eight million American jobs since late 2007.”
Top customer reviews
Reading Frank Koller's book, "Spark" you do more than satisfy this curiosity. Mr. Koller focuses in on a key aspect of Lincoln that kind of flew below the radar for me till now - guaranteed employment.
As I write this it's the day before Labor Day, 2011. Unemployment is in the news every day. An article in today's paper about the long-term unemployed touched my heart and I thought to myself how desperate and alone so many must be who have had to wrestle with questions about their value in working society - unable to find a place in it for months and years.
Guaranteed employment is not what drives most business managers today, and it's absence from boardroom discussions may be partly why people have become so anti-business since the mortgage-backed securities scandals of 2008.
But Lincoln Electric has delivered on its promise of guaranteed employment even during 2008 and beyond. Dads and moms who work at Lincoln are paying their mortgages, coaching their kids' little league teams, serving on school boards, contributing to charity drives, watching their kids graduate high school, go to college, get married and build for the future because they are not fretting over some fear that tomorrow they'll get a pink slip and be on the street.
Read the book. It'll make you wonder why Lincoln is so rare a sample of industry success. It might even make you mad that virtually no modern managers even make an attempt at harnessing the power that Lincoln has discovered and cultivated for 116 years, in Cleveland, OH.
Lincoln Electric is familiar to blue collar workers already, but you may not know the story behind their success. They are one of the last steel-manufacturer-heavy industrial companies left in the USA, and this is the story of why. Through no-layoff policies and management that is directly involved, hands-on, and concerned about the company and their people.
Lincoln is not a small company. It's not a fluke. This is another approach to management that works. It has seen them through down turns for a long long time. They make great products that I use in my shop every day.
Limited discussions about new technologies are intertwined into the verbiage.
The guarantee of employment for those employees who have passed the 36 month probationary period is discussed to a great degree.
I recommend this book!