In this second edition of his bestselling book, author Art Kleiner explores the nature of effective leadership in times of change and defines its importance to the corporation of the future. He describes a heretic as a visionary who creates change in large-scale companies, balancing the contrary truths they can’t deny against their loyalty to their organizations. The Age of Heretics reveals how managers can get stuck in counterproductive ways of doing things and shows why it takes a heretical point of view to get past the deadlock and move forward.
Kleiner's freewheeling portrait gallery focuses on corporate mavericks of the 1950s, '60s and '70s who pioneered self-managing work teams, responsiveness to customers, grassroots organizing and other ways to imbue corporations with a sense of the value of human relationships. Starting with British management scientist Eric Trist, whose experiments in industrial democracy in the 1940s laid the groundwork for U.S. managerial innovations of the 1980s, Kleiner afterward profiles General Foods manager Lyman Ketchum, who launched the work-team concept at a Topeka pet-food plant in the early 1970s; he then discusses how Royal Dutch/Shell in England switched from rigid numbers-based forecasting to "scenario planning," a method of predicting alternative patterns of global energy demand. Also spotlighted are MIT computer scientist Jay Forrester's design of the "Limits of Growth" model of the world's economic future; community/labor organizer Saul Alinsky's drive to change Kodak's hiring policies; and Stanford Research Institute engineer Willis Harman's parapsychology experiments and his campaign urging the federal government to adopt an ecological ethic. Kleiner, a freelance business reporter who has edited The Whole Earth Catalog, serves up a smorgasbord of status quo-changing ideas.