I just finished reading an advance copy of the deeply touching and brilliantly insightful “Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family.”  Penned by Bob Chapman, CEO of the Barry-Wehmiller Companies and Raj Sisodia, of Conscious Capitalism fame, this book is proof that business can create workplaces that heal, uplift, and even transform workers’ lives in ways that grow healthier communities, reinvigorate sectors like manufacturing, and make a ton of money as the by-product.

Based in the real world

The Barry-Wehmiller Companies, with 8000 employees on four continents, has seen 16% compound annual increase in its appraised stock value since 1998—an astounding return. In that time, they have acquired more than 70 underperforming manufacturing companies and turned them around through focusing on the innate brilliance of the people, without cuts, layoffs or selling off lines.  They are very savvy investors, but the keystone to their success is that they believe in, liberate, and rely on the genius of their people, from the newest on the line to the most seasoned, and even most cynical, old hands.  The effect is blooming creativity, in redesigning manufacturing lines, rewriting standard processes, and re-engineering workplaces for giant leaps in productivity, in quality, and, especially, in satisfaction. I’ve met lots of their employees, and they truly do love coming to work on Mondays.  Turnover is vanishingly rare and company reputation in the communities where they reside is stellar, because their employees are so happy.

Conscious Organizational Evolution

“Truly Human Leadership” is Chapman and Sisodia’s clarion call, and it is so clear, so simple, and yet so transcendently value-based that we have to wonder why we haven’t been doing these things, with this passion, for centuries.  They aver that we’ve lost our way, seeing business purely in terms of profit, separating business from morals.  By contrast, they argue that “We must never sacrifice a higher value for a lower value, and the highest value of all is human flourishing.” We’re challenged to let that into our understanding of business: “the highest value is human flourishing”.

Bob is a prophet of a worldview that, to me, represents a transformative leap in our understanding of how to organize work.  His philosophy, and his story, is an exemplar of what is possible through conscious organizational evolution – making active choices about how to organize and lead others by enacting the highest values of human relationships.  I would argue that our success as a species, as a society, lies down this path.  “In the end, it is about truly caring for every precious human being whose life we touch.  It is about including everybody, not just the fortunate few or the exceptionally talented.  It is about living with an abundance mind-set: an abundance of patience, love, hope, and opportunity.”

This is a book that gives hope, and joy, just in the reading of it.  You can revel in the sheer brilliance of the people-centered business strategy, the stories of how it has transformed lives, and the possibilities for healing our businesses, our leadership, and our communities.  For me, this is the best business news in decades.   The book release, through all the major booksellers, is tomorrow, October 6th.  Join me in the celebration!