From Publishers Weekly
The old saw "the customer comes first" is a flat-out lie, argues Kleiner, a contributing editor at strategy+business magazine and the author of several business books, in this fresh look at the structure and politics of business. He contends that "a depressing number of business corporations have evolved into organizations with one primary purpose: To extract wealth from all constitutions (not just the shareholders, but the employees, customers, and neighbors as well) and give it essentially to the children and grandchildren of some of its senior executives." Such corporate selfishness works because the key decisions in are being made by the "Core Group"-executives or employees whose needs and desires determine company behavior. Others within an organization immediately sense who is in the Core Group and adjust their behavior accordingly; "Day after day, in all the small decisions we made, all the employees contributed to keeping these individuals more or less at the center of the Core Group." Using examples of individuals and companies, Kleiner shows how employees can better understand the mechanisms of the Core Group to advance their careers; sometimes, he says, if they lack the respect of Core Group members, they might even conclude that leaving their current position is more advantageous. The book also provides executives with strategies for managing unions, shareholders and others in a time when recent scandals have tarnished the image of big corporations. Not just another bit of conventional business wisdom, this volume should prove most beneficial to experienced managers who are accustomed to holding workshops and seminars on change.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“Art Kleiner has uncovered a central truth about the way organizations work. His concept of the Core Group clarifies one key reason why rational people often act in seemingly irrational ways within the confines of an institution. Like any deep insight, it
makes explicable what had previously been mysterious.”
—Jim Collins, author of Good to Great
and coauthor of Built to Last
“Fresh, pragmatic, wise and eminently accessible . . . Who Really Matters
cuts through our needlessly complex views of organizations and brilliantly reveals what’s at the core of both their promise and dysfunction. Kleiner’s astute and grounded analysis makes it possible for all of us who work within or around organizations to be more skillful and successful while maintaining our personal values and purposes.
—James Flaherty, founder of New Ventures West and author of Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others
“Seminal idea, brilliantly presented, and wonderfully useful.”
—Warren G. Bennis, author of Geeks and Geezers
“Provides a much needed new perspective on leadership, power, and authority in showing clearly how Core Groups unconsciously guide and control organizations. This is a must read for all managers and would-be leaders.”
—Edgar H. Schein, Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management
“This original and carefully-argued text suggests how to penetrate the apparent and
understand the real driver of corporate conduct. Most important are the practical suggestions for how to effect change. This addition to the conventional wisdom should be part of everyone’s library—buy it!”
—Robert A. G. Monks, shareholder activist and author of Corporate Governance
and The New Global Investors