by David L. Cooperrrider, Weatherhead School of Management,
Case Western Reserve University
Article prepared for the Organizational Dynamics 2012
The emergence of strengths-based management may be the management innovation of our time. Nearly every organization has been introduced to its precepts—for example, the insight that a person or organization will excel only by amplifying strengths, never by simply fixing weaknesses. But in spite of impressive returns, organizations and managers have almost all stopped short of the breakthroughs that are possible.
Why are ‘firms of endearment”—rising industry leading stars that have created huge emotional bonds with the world such as Toyota, Whole Foods, GE, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters—generating investor returns at a rate of some 1,026 percent over a ten year period compared to 122 percent for the S&P 500; more that a 8-to-1 ratio!
It’s because going green is a magic. It’s a productivity engine. What happens, in a nutshell, is a leap in human energy. What happens is an eruption of human imagination. What is generated is a culture of innovation, hope, and a powerful sense of purpose, meaning, and value.
The untold story about the companies embracing sustainability is really an HR story. It is all about the kind of super-charged employee engagement—heart, mind, and motivation—that every C.E.O wants.
How, for example, did Fairmount Minerals do it? Imagine it: you are a loader-operator in the sand pits of this dirty, hard-core mining and manufacturing company, and yet you are on fire with pride, and the company has realized a sizzling 40% annual earnings growth for the past two years, ever since it decided to harness the sustainability advantage to “do good and do well.”
David Cooperrider, PhD, internationally renowned for his work which helped catalyze today’s strengths revolution in management, has been named the next Peter F. Drucker Distinguished Fellow for his contribution to the field of management.