Compass Creating Exceptional Organizations: A Leader's Guide Reviewed By Norm Goldman of
Norm Goldman

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By Norm Goldman
Published on February 15, 2014

Author: William F. Brandt, Jr.

Publisher: Winter Vale Press

ISBN: 978-0-9883205-0-5

Author: William F. Brandt, Jr.

Publisher: Winter Vale Press

ISBN: 978-0-9883205-0-5

If you search the business section of your local bookstores or library, you will find dozens of books concerning how to enhance the effectiveness of business organizations. The challenge is to find the one tome that will really make a difference and help us achieve our objectives in creating an exceptional entity. Quite simply you want to take lessons from a mentor who has “been there, done that,” but you also want someone that can effectively communicate his or her ideas and proffer advice that is inspiring and pragmatic. Trust me, here is where William F. Brandt, Jr. comes in.

Brandt is the author of Compass Creating Exceptional Organizations: A Leader's Guide. He is the co-founder and former CEO of American Woodmark Corporation, which was formed in 1980 to acquire Boise Cascade Corporation's kitchen cabinet business. The company is now the third largest cabinet manufacturer in the USA, supplying The Home Depot, Lowe's and major builders.

As pointed out in the introduction to his book, the traditional view of economic reality supports the belief that the pursuit of “self-interest” is beneficial not only to individuals but also society, which Brandt acknowledges. Nonetheless, as Brandt states, there are limitations and thus he believes in a more powerful paradigm wherein there can exist a simultaneous pursuit of both “self-interest” and “concern for others.” The key to adopting this new paradigm is the creation of exceptional organizations which would be “viable” in that they are able to achieve their purposes and act in accordance with society's highest values. In addition, they are “sustainable” as they would remain viable over time and “valued” in a way that they benefit all of their stakeholders to a superior degree. With his rational approach, Brandt provides principles and techniques that will provide leaders and members of enterprises as well as teams and departments within a larger entity with the necessary tools to enhance their organization's effectiveness.

Brandt shares his wisdom by beginning with a case study of American Woodmark where he illustrates how this company became exceptional.

It is here where the reader learns of the many variables that affect the journey to a new structure.

From here he presents a series of essays that are meant to challenge the reader's thinking and pique curiosity. These essays are divided into four categories: the vision, the leader, processes and tools and the journey. Readers will read about such topics as the servant as a leader, nice guys finish last, the survival of the fittest, everyone as a leader, guidance from Gandhi and several other relevant subjects. These essays are followed by lessons providing the necessary tools and processes that when implemented will provide an effective framework for the creation of exceptional organizations and are divided into the same four categories as the essays. The next section of the book is an interview with John P. Howe, III, M.D., and the CEO of Project HOPE, an international humanitarian aide organization. Finally, the book provides a step-by-step guide for determining if an organization should embark on a broad-based initiative to become exceptional and how best to accomplish this feat. As a neat little bonus, Brandt also provides an extensive bibliography attesting to the multiple of readings he has done to put together this excellent book.

When we stop to think about it, Compass Creating Exceptional Organizations: A Leader's Guide is a very timely book, particularly when we consider our most recent financial debacle wherein a few greedy financial institutions were more concerned in satisfying their own self-interests even if it meant to the detriment of their stakeholders and they thought very little that it might have the potential of disrupting the world financial markets with horrible consequences.

Containing reams of useful advice, thoughtfully written and well edited and covering topics at just the right level of detail and perspective, it is an indispensable handbook for organizations seeking to become exceptional. And above all, the author's conversational style is written from the viewpoint of a passionate observer as he draws on his many years of business experience and vast research which fills the pages with compelling and wide advice.

Follow Here To Purchase Compass: Creating Exceptional Organizations: A Leader's Guide