Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family (October 2015)
Authors: Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia
Reviewed by: Bob Moore, CMC
This is one of the best new business books I have ever read. When I read the early praises about Everybody Matters, which I presented in my November 6, 2015 blog, I knew it was a must read. In addition to reading it from cover to cover with a highlighter in hand, I also took pages of notes which I will share with you here.
Bob Chapman, Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, a capital equipment and engineering consulting firm with more than 8,000 team members worldwide, begins his story with the Prologue: A Passion for People. Here you will find a compelling narrative about their approach to transformation, rejuvenation and renewed growth which has proven to work in dozens of companies in different industries and diverse cultures around the world. In the early 2000s, Chapman championed the transformation of Barry-Wehmiller’s culture into one focused on bringing out the best in its people through communication, trust, celebration, respect, continuous improvement and responsible freedom. This two-part book describes that transformation.
Part One, The Journey, is about the early days of the company founded in 1885 by Thomas Barry as a machine shop in St. Louis. When Alfred Wehmiller joined him in 1899, the company became Barry-Wehmiller. Bob’s narrative includes how he took over running the company from his dad, an auditor for Arthur Anderson who was hired as treasurer. Basically, B-W was a family run business with limited business savvy and financial acumen, which was very near bankruptcy. This combined with the economic crises that plagued the company, set the stage for Bob’s original autocratic, bottom-line approach to management. Bob said, “Our priorities were simple: somehow, someway, we had to figure out a way to survive.”
With an IPO, B-W pulled out of those years and began to thrive. From there growth by acquisition was the most significant strategy of “the journey.” They looked for companies that had experienced similar problems. Along the way, Bob came to realize the importance of “Growing the Human Side” which he covers in chapter 3. He discusses the power of new ways of leading and inspiring people, resulting in profound changes in attitude, performance and fulfillment. This led to the creation of the “Guiding Principles of Leadership” with the headline phrase, “We measure success by the way we touch the lives of people”. The book is filled with “sound-bites” that are worth repeating. For example, Bob states that so many people tell us, “You’ve got great people and great leaders in this company.” But it’s all due to understanding that everybody matters [the title of the book].
Everybody Matters has many powerful lessons that any workplace could learn from. You will discover many of them in Part Two: The Play Book. There you will find “The 10 Commandments of Truly Human Leadership” and the following four things that have worked well for B-W in reviving the numerous struggling organizations they have acquired over the years.
- Communicate a strong message of hope, patience, and caring.
- Take immediate tangible actions to “get the patient healthy.”
- Start to build teamwork and a sense of oneness.
- Catch people doing things right.
You will also find the 12-Point Leadership Checklist that describe the essential actions as a leader.
I will conclude my review with the ideas presented in Chapter 10: Cultivating Responsibility and Freedom. Responsible freedom encapsulates two ideas: freedom, the opportunity to exercise personal choice, to have ownership of the work you do and the decisions you make; and responsibility, ensuring that personal choice is exercised with care and concern for other people and the requirements of the organization. At Barry-Wehmiller, responsible freedom entails three specific behaviors: sharing our gifts and talents, having a bias for action, and being accountable for outcomes.
Epilogue: It’s All About the People
In this final chapter, you will find more compelling sound bites: “Every human being matters, and is unique. Every organization should be an instrument of service to humanity, a vehicle for human beings to experience and practice true caring. The more we can combine work and caring, the more fulfilled we will be and the further we will collectedly advance. Organizations can be built for resilience and inspired to care. This is a journey and not an end point.”
Click on the following link to view a short Ted Talk video of Bob Chapman sharing his leadership philosophy
About the Authors
BOB CHAPMAN is the chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, a global capital equipment and engineering consulting company. A combination of almost eighty acquired companies spread among ten operating divisions around the world, Barry-Wehmiller’s vision is to use the power of business to build a better world. Chapman blogs about leadership and culture at http://www.trulyhumanleadership.com.
RAJ SISODIA is the FW Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business and Whole Foods Market Research Scholar in Conscious Capitalism at Babson College. His most recent book is the Wall Street Journal bestseller Conscious Capitalism (with John P. Mackey, cofounder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market).