17 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I have read and reviewed most (if not all) of Warren Bennis' books and most of his articles. This book is different from anything he has written previously because Bennis allows his reader to accompany him on a journey back in time. Written with the considerable assistance of Patricia Ward Biederman (who was also centrally involved with earlier works such as Organizing Genius, Transparency, and The Essential Bennis), this volume combines a wealth of historical information with Bennis' comments on those he believes to have had the greatest influence on both his personal and professional development as well as his reminiscences on those experiences, events, successes and especially failures, defining moments, and cultural forces that serve as a frame-of-reference for the evolution of his personal and professional relationships.
Bennis was born on March 5, 1925, and grew up in Westwood, NJ. However, he does not follow a chronological sequence when developing his narrative. In the first chapter, "The Crucible of War," he focuses on his World War Two experiences in the U.S. Army at age 19, "the rawest second lieutenant in the U.S. Army." Following the conclusion of the war, he realized that he didn't want his old life back and probably could not have had it even if he wanted it. "I wanted to invent a new one." The next chapter focuses on his years as a student at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The contrasts between the indescribable horrors of the battlefield and the pastoral innocence and serenity of a liberal college campus are especially striking. Although deeply grateful for the experiences both worlds provided (especially what he learned from mentors such as Captain Bessinger and Douglas McGregor) but ever restless, Bennis and his newlywed wife (the former Lucille Rose) relocated to the Boston area where he continued his formal education at MIT.
To this point and indeed until the conclusion of the book, the reader tags along as a companion to whom Bennis confides without hesitation but with selection of what (then or now) most interests him as well as what perplexes, irritates, and even angers him. At times, at least to this reader, he seems 85, at other times the age he was in a given situation or stage of his journey. The nature of the memoir is that it consists of what the memory recalls, to be sure, but also what it selects to share. Bennis remembers more than he shares, for obvious reasons, but the accumulative effect is one of candor. He maintains an informal, almost conversational tone with his reader without seeming disingenuous or self-serving.
He discusses his year abroad studying at the London School of Economics, his renewed association with MIT and the intellectual community in Cambridge, his involvement with the National Training Laboratories and its T-groups, the Institute for Management and IMEDE in Lausanne, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Southern California; also time on the faculties of Harvard and Boston University, the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM-C), INSEAD and IMD. He also discusses his service as chairman of the Advisory Board of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School, as a visiting professor of leadership at the University of Exeter (UK) and as a senior fellow at UCLA's School of Public Policy and Social Research.
If there were a Mt. Rushmore monument for the business world, Bennis would probably be among the honorees (surely joined by Peter Drucker and hopefully by one of my intellectual heroines, Mary Parker Follett). Although Bennis shares a number of personal details, such as those concerning his various marriages, I have no interest in them as a reviewer of this book but mention those disclosures merely to suggest that -as is also true of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln - Warren Bennis is an imperfect human being.
As the title of this review suggests, I very much admire his insatiable curiosity that continues to explore and his sense of wonder that continues to encounter delight. With book in hand, and as an eager companion, I hope to share at least some of the new adventures that await this pilgrim who is "still surprised."
To those who share my high regard for this book, I also recommend other memoirs such as Peter Drucker's Adventures of a Bystander, Andrew Grove's Swimming Across, Alfred Sloan's My Years with General Motors, and John Whitehead's A Life in Leadership.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
B. J. Hateley
- Publié sur Amazon.com
"Who the heck is Warren Bennis?" I muttered to no one in particular. The year was 1980 and I was headed back to my office at USC after having lunch with Marilyn Ferguson, author of The Aquarian Conspiracy. Several times during the course of our lunch meeting, Marilyn had quoted Warren Bennis. "Warren Bennis says this..." or "According to Warren Bennis...," she said repeatedly.
She wasn't the only one. People all across campus were quoting Warren Bennis. I'd been at the University of Southern California since 1974 - first as an undergrad, then as a grad student, and finally on staff as a program administrator - and thought I knew pretty much everyone. But suddenly, people were buzzing about this guy Warren Bennis.
When I got back to my office I called the campus operator and asked for Warren Bennis's office. She gave me the number for future reference and put me through to his office at the business school. He answered his own phone.
"Hi there," I said. "My name is BJ Gallagher and I work for the College of Continuing Education. You don't know me but I'd like to buy you lunch at the faculty center one day next week."
"Sure," Bennis chuckled. "Any particular agenda for the lunch meeting?"
"Well, yes," I replied. "Everywhere I go lately, people are quoting you. So clearly you're famous but I don't know why. I thought I'd invite you to lunch and find out."
He laughed heartily, and then gave me a date that worked for him.
We met at the faculty center on the appointed day and were ushered to our table. We ordered our food and once that was out of the way, I got down to business.
"Thanks for agreeing to meet with me," I began. "So now tell me why you're famous. I know that you were the president of the University of Cincinnati, but that's not enough to have people quoting you all the time. So... why are you famous?"
A bemused smile animated his handsome face and his Paul Newman blue eyes twinkled mischievously as he paused for a moment before answering. Then he leaned in, and with a conspiratorial tone, replied, "Oh, I think you know."
Now it was my turn to laugh. The quest to find out what made this guy so special wasn't going to be as easy as I had thought, but I could tell it was going to be a fun lunch - and interesting. There was something about his presence, his energy, his charisma, that made people take notice when he walked into a room. I knew right then and there that Warren Bennis was more than just another pretty face.
Fast-forward thirty years...
By now, everybody who is anybody - in business, in government, in the military, and in the non-profit world - knows who Warren Bennis is... and why he's famous. But if by chance you don't know (because you're a junior manager working on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean with no books or Internet or cell phone access, or you've been in a coma the past thirty years), Bennis's new book, "Still Surprised," is a great place to catch up on your leadership development.
The book is a series of stories - inspiring, engaging, touching, uplifting, enlightening, and illustrative of how a leader learns. As the chapters unfold, we see how Bennis grows, stretches, struggles, overcomes, and walks his personal path through life, love, and leadership.
Like all great teachers, Bennis knows that stories are powerful teaching tools. People forget facts and figures, but they remember good stories. It is no accident that the Bible is written in parables, that we read bedtime stories and fairy tales to our kids to teach them values, and that culture, history, and traditions are passed down through the ages in the form of stories, fables, tales and parables. Bennis understands this; he is a master storyteller/teacher.
In reading "Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership" it's also clear that Bennis knows "that which is the most personal is also the most universal." The reader can identify with Bennis because he shares himself so authentically. He knows that there is strength in vulnerability - he allows us to witness his ambitions, mistakes, hopes, desires, adventures, frustrations, successes and surprises.
If you haven't had the good fortune to meet Warren Bennis in person, his new book will make you feel as if you've known him his whole life. You'll learn from him and you'll like him, too. You'll admire and respect him. And... you'll see why he's famous.