May 17, 2004

News & Opinion: BOOK REVIEW: Hidden Value

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 6:52 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Title: Hidden Value
Author: Charles A. O'Reilly and Jeffrey Pfeffer
Reviewer: Cathy Alper of C Results
Weve all been there the job where you check you passions, your best thinking, and your creativity at the door. We transform ourselves from the vital powerful beings we know ourselves to be into numb automatons who smile, nod and try not to explode at the stupidity and banality of our work lives.
Numerous studies have show that once we enter this conflict avoiding zone, even the strongest of us will conform rather than risk the isolation. The need to stay connected to the group is embedded deep without our collective unconscious. Jerry Harvey (The Abilene Paradox, How Come Every Time I Get Stabbed in the Back My Fingerprints are on the Knife) has made a career of outlining the pain and waste of this conflict avoidance zone. His books clearly document the phenomenon, analytic depression, and the common business practices that exacerbate it.
Weve all been there. Jerry Harvey outlines the problem, Hidden Value reveals the solution.
Hidden Value looks at real companies which have created cultures and management practices that support excellence. It reads more like a collection of short stories than a business book because the company stories, not business rhetoric take center stage. You will learn about a company that knows how to bring newly acquired companies into its cultural in a respectful and successful way, companies that experience impressive growth in a declining market, and companies that maintain an employee turnover rate that is 1/3 of the industry average. While these results are impressive, its the patterns between and among these companies that is the real story. The company stories taken together highlight cultures and management practices that encourage great people to actually use their talents and that allow almost everyone to produce extraordinary results.
This book was written in 2000 and researched even before that. With the changing economic times, not all the companies highlighted in this book have fared well. Dont let this distract you from the lessons of the book. The changing fortunes of these companies only shows that although this can be done, it is difficult to achieve and even more difficult to maintain.