“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” —George Orwell
I took a required course in college on organizational behavior. I thought it afternoon, drive-time psychobabble and didn’t give it much thought. It was only after graduation and in a series of jobs in my 20s that I realized its efficacy. My squandered youth meant many (so-called) happy hours devoted mainly to coworker complaints about the company, its direction and, of course, other employees. No matter the company, the complaints were always the same. It didn’t take long to realize it was a cost of doing business in modern corporate America.
Charles Ellis dedicated his latest book, “What It Takes: Seven Secrets of Success from the World’s Greatest Professional Firms,” to the Herculean task of getting disparate personalities, skill sets and world views excited and moving in the same direction. Ellis, founder of Greenwich Associates and author of the widely-read “Winning the Loser’s Game” (now in its sixth edition), pretty much built a business model centered on the above quote from the always sunny and lighthearted George Orwell. Nothing in his latest tome is particularly groundbreaking, which is one reason for its heavy reliance on anecdotes. But a word of caution for those tempted to dismiss it: Not only is it highly entertaining and engaging, but valuable for asking why so many companies fail at what should be so obvious.