The Communication Project Logo

The Communication Project, Inc.
2601 Wyoming Blvd NE #204, Albuquerque, NM 87112
(505) 332-9244 ▪ Fax: (505) 332-9038

TCPI News Vol. 3, No. 2

March 3, 2003

In this issue:

  1. Disarming the Warrior Class
  2. How Does Your Corporate Culture Stack Up?
  3. Announcing Marvin Gottlieb's Sixth Book

Past issues of  TCPI News.

1.     Disarming the Warrior Class

It is the nature of war that what is beneficial to you is detrimental to the enemy and what is of service to him hurts you. It is therefore a maxim never to do, or to omit doing anything as a consequence of his actions, but to consult invariably your own interest only.

Flavius Vegetius Renatus - De Re Militari
[ ]

In a recent article, "Beyond Selfishness," Henry Mintzberg, Robert Simons and Kunal Basu could have been referring to soldiers at war when describing today’s prevailing attitudes among corporate captains and foot soldiers alike. Noting that September 11th gave us a glimpse of an alternative world where self-interest gives way to serving others in a time of collective need, they state that "...all of us, women included, are obsessed with our own self-interest, intent on maximizing our personal gains. Homo-economicus, in other words is never satisfied: H.E. only wants more – demonstrably more, measurably more. To get it H.E. is continually calculating, or perhaps we should say scheming. Thus are flesh and blood human beings reduced to hard-wired decision making machines—universally, ‘globally.’" []

This self-centered machine, the authors go on to tell us, is a direct result of the triumph of shareholder value over other legitimate constituencies like employees, customers, suppliers, and the community at large. This climate creates what the authors call a "wedge of disengagement." Those who create the benefits (the workers) "…are disengaged from ownership of their efforts, and treated as dispensable, while those who own the enterprise treat that ownership as dispensable and so disengage themselves from its activities."

This is how we’ve become warriors. Whether you are the victim of "slash and burn" or those doing the slashing and burning, the military metaphor becomes obvious. However, we are not talking about a well disciplined, and principled fighting force functioning at a high level of teamwork and coordination, we are talking about a roving band of mercenaries who are in it for what they can get out of it.

The article is well worth reading in its entirety, however its deconstruction of "heroic management" is spot on. The authors call for "engaging management" that sees leadership as teamwork and taking the long-term perspective about building an organization slowly, carefully, and collectively. We need to refocus our attention on organizational culture and what that means in terms of its human value and cohesiveness. Until we do that, "lean and mean" will be just plain "mean," and the corporate landscape will more and more become a "Mad Max" backdrop for a Darwinian nightmare.

Table of Contents

2.  How Does Your Corporate Culture Stack Up?

Believe it or not, it was 1980 when Business Week published the first article to use the term "corporate culture." The article, "Corporate Culture: The Hard to Change Values That Spell Success or Failure," identified organizational culture as a primary influence on employees’ motivation and commitment, and encouraged executives to become more aware of the cultures of their organizations. By 1982, books like Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life by Terence Deal and Alan Kennedy were appearing on the scene [ ]. The corporate culture phenomenon was launched. Deal and Kennedy described four key attributes of organizational cultures that still define the key attributes of corporate culture:

This construct provides a basic platform for affecting positive changes for the organization. However all change begins with a diagnosis. In his article, "What Is Your Company Core Spirit?" Tom Dossenbach echoes this theme and provides a "quick check on company climate and culture." []

A Quick Check on Company Climate and Culture

Yes = 2 / Somewhat = 1 / No = 0

_____ Are your employees happy in their work and feel appreciated?
_____ Are your employees genuinely proud of the products they make?
_____ Does the top management core have the respect of others?
_____ Are all employees empowered to make changes for the good?
_____ Do core management members spend adequate time in the plant?
_____ Are customers happy with products and service?
_____ Does the company promote continuous improvement?
_____ Do employees try to build up peers rather than criticize them?
_____ Are employees intent on reducing all kinds of waste?
_____ Is there genuine trust between management and workers?
_____ TOTAL 0-14 = Problems; 15-18 = Weaknesses; 19+ = OK

Dossenbach asserts that the "core spirit" of any company is generated by the beliefs and behaviors of the top 8 to 12 managers. Any important changes are going to be stimulated by the behavior of these key people.

Here are a few more questions to ask if you are really interested in making changes that will allow your organization to thrive in these challenging times:

Based on Deal’s and Kennedy’s key cultural factors, add these three actions to your change management blueprint.

  1. Promote a new or revised set of values to the top managers, and provide them with a process to disseminate these changes to their subordinates.
  2. Select, celebrate and reward heroes who reflect the new values.
  3. Provide a variety of face-to-face and electronic opportunities for peers to interact informally and learn from each other.

Table of Contents

Learn More

Learn more about Gottlieb and Conkling's book, Managing the Workplace Survivors: Organizational Downsizing and the Commitment Gap.

Table of Contents

3.  Announcing Marvin Gottlieb's Sixth Book

Marvin’s sixth book, Managing Group Process (Praeger Publishers) will hit bookstands at the end of this month. It is aimed at front-line and senior managers challenged by ongoing reorganization and an increasingly reluctant workforce and examines what it takes to facilitate problem solving, decision making, and workforce retention and commitment. Managers can most effectively facilitate by adopting a hands-on strategy for processes rather than tasks. This book describes the skills and tools needed for leading and managing groups with consistency, commitment, and courage. It also includes facilitation tools for the manager and provides ethical guidelines in conjunction with a discussion of the manager’s role in the facilitation process.

For more information and ordering go to Praeger Publishers.

Questions for Dr. Gottlieb? E-mail him.

Got a question? Looking for answers?

Submit your question to TCPI News. We will publish it in a future newsletter for the readership to answer.

Comments?  Questions? 

We want your feedback.  Send e-mail to
(By your response you automatically provide permission for TCPI to publish your remarks in part or in total in future newsletters.)

Subscribe for free

TCPI News is a monthly publication from The Communication Project, Inc.  Sign up on our Publications page.

[Learning Room] [Table of Contents] [Contact Us]