Sunday, March 29, 2009

Up the Organization by Robert Townsend

Up The Organization by Robert Townsend (2007 Commemorative Edition).

This is a classic business book by Robert Townsend who was an executive for American Express and turned around the Avis rental car business. He was also a successful consultant and speaker. This book was a New York Times Bestseller when it first came out in 1971.

This book is very much a book focused on how to make organizations flatter, more responsive and more equitable. The author believes in eliminating most executive perks, removing nepotism, and paying 15% of profits into a profit sharing arrangement.

The writing is clear and straightforward. The book is arranged with alphabetical A to Z headings with one to two pages under each heading. Some of the headings I liked were: Big Wheels In Little Companies, P.R. Department, Abolition of, and Stock Options and Democracy.

The author speaks against bureaucracy arguing against complex organizational charts, job descriptions, complex legal agreements, and secretaries. At the same time he makes statements against oversize companies, ineffective boards of directors, and big government.

The writing can be blunt at times. There is a little bit of swearing. He seems to say that it is a managers job to give people who work with them the tools to get the job done in a a very hands on way. This includes creating a comfortable, discrimination free work environment where people want to get the job done.

This is a book worth reading. In this edition, there is an introduction by Warren Bennis, and three other short introductory essays to the book.

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