Sources of my Views on Management and Work
“An inequality of property is the root and foundation of innumerable evils; it tends to derision, and to keep asunder the social feelings that should exist among the people of God…. It is a principle originated in hell; it is the root of all evils…. It is inequality in riches that is a great curse.”
— Orson Pratt
I grew up in a lower-middle-class layer of society in what is now referred to as the ethnically-diverse, poor, inner-city world of Salt Lake City, Utah. I’ve always had a strong work ethic, perhaps due to my mother being such a tough entrepreneur who was involved in many small business/sales jobs during her life.
The following jobs since childhood helped to mold my own perspective about the nature of work and corporate life. They are listed from earliest to latest: Lemonade stand operator (ages 6-7); lawn-mowing kid entrepreneur (ages 8-15); door-to-door magazine salesperson; Deseret News newspaper deliverer (ages 12-15); neighborhood babysitter (ages 14-17); health food salesman (ages 14-15); Skaggs grocery bagger (age 16); tractor driver/turkey feeder on Pleasant Grove farm (ages 14-15); teenage sugar beat thinner / fruit picker / farm worker throughout Utah; summer Salt Lake City parks groundskeeper (age 16); two summers on Boy Scouts of America staff at Camp Tracy Wigwam, Mill Creek Canyon; summer U.S. Forest Service laborer and firefighter in the Wyoming Mountains (age 18).
During my young adult years, (ages 19-22) I did the following: Salt Lake City taxi driver; Utah County construction worker; I worked for several road companies building the new I-15 freeway through Utah Valley; delivered handbills for several retail stores in several towns; flagman on Canyon Road during construction of Cougar Stadium; spent two and a half years as volunteer LDS missionary in southern Brazil (1961-1963); back to BYU as a freshman, I worked the 4am-7am custodial shift in the Smith Field House. After marrying, I moved to Salt Lake City to study philosophy at the University of Utah where I worked with an entrepreneur making doughnuts and forming/managing a youth sales team selling doughnuts on the streets of Salt Lake City. I was also a structural steel worker and iron union member at EIMCO Steel Co., Salt Lake City.
Moving back to Provo as a full time student and young father, I was one of the first Language Training Mission (LTM) instructors teaching Portuguese to missionaries going to Brazil. I also worked as a BYU OD consultant for student body government leaders, the Dean of Students office, as well as training LTM leaders to try and humanize the organizations culture. During the mid 1960s, I also worked as an LDS seminary teacher from my sophomore year through my Masters degree at BYU, teaching 3/5 time at seminaries in Springville, Lehi, Orem, and Provo. During that time, I also supplemented Church employment with full time work as a laborer at US Steel’s Geneva mill in Orem with the United Steel Workers of America.
In 1969, we moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to earn a PhD at the University of Michigan. While there, I set up the first early-morning seminary systems in Ohio and Michigan; established one of the first LDS Institutes of Religion in the Midwest; supervised the Church purchase of a sorority house and transformed it into LDS dorms and institute classrooms; converted and baptized a number of Michigan students that led to the creation of an LDS student congregation, that I was later called to preside over. I was also invited to teach a course on Mormonism as a Social Movement for the University of Michigan’s Department of Religion, the first college credit course on Mormon studies at a major university. I continued to build the seminary and institute program in the Midwest, in other stakes and towns. I was then hired to teach introductory psychology at the University of Michigan, which had the number one ranked program in the country. I also became a researcher at the prestigious Institute of Social Research and began private consulting with various corporations. One evening a week, I taught organizational behavior in the executive MBA program at Wayne State University in Detroit. Ultimately, I was hired as one of the first professional consultants in organizational change to work at the firm of Rensis Likert Associates, Rensis Likert being the father of this new field called organizational behavior.
Upon completing my PhD, we moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as a visiting professor at the university there. I also did a considerable amount of corporate consulting with industry throughout Brazil and became a consulting associate with Arthur D. Little, the premier consulting firm based in Boston. Next, Columbia University flew me to New York to interview me as an assistant professor, and from there, BYU flew me to Utah for an opening position. Both schools made offers and I accepted BYU because of the chance to impact young Latter-day Saints, as well as live in the high-quality community of Provo, a good place to raise my family. I’ve been based here ever since except for occasional forays to other institutions for visiting scholar positions such as the International Labor Office, Geneva, Switzerland; University of Michigan, as visiting professor; Hawaii; etc. With students over the years, I’ve also worked in several consulting firms we’ve established including Action Resources Inc.; Organizational Resources, LLC; and done considerable private consulting with major corporations, trade unions, government agencies, and nonprofit/nongovernmental organizations.
All in all, I’ve seen how corporations provide good, meaningful jobs. On the other hand, I’ve seen how organizations dehumanize people, diminish their potential, and suffocate the firms’ members. While I’ve had sufficient professional skills to successfully consult with boards, as well as top and middle executives in an effort to create more open, participative and democratic systems, I’ve also observed the truism that power corrupts and that Social Darwinism is all too pervasive in modern managerial life.
“The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it.”
— Thomas Macaulay, British Historian
My short term management consulting with various organizations, as well as executive training and/or corporate research includes the following clients:
The University of Michigan and its hospital complex; AFL-CIO and UAW Labor unions; Public Technology, Inc., Washington, D.C.; Salt Lake County Department of Social Services; and firms like Lever Brothers, New York; Alcoa Aluminum, Lafayette, Indiana; General Motors–Assembly Division, Atlanta, GA; Olin Corporation, Covington, Indiana; Schering Chemical Co., Rio de Janeiro; Honeywell Inc., Minneapolis, MN; Natter Manufacturing Co., Temple City, CA; VSI Hardware Industries, Los Angeles, CA; American Mold Engineering, Charlevoix, MI; Tubing Sealcap Co., Azusa, CA; Fairchild Industries, Washington, D.C.; Cincinnati-Millicron, Detroit, MI; and the Oil Division of Rohm and Haas Corporation and the OCAW Union, Houston, TX.
I was also the first director of the Utah Small Business Development Center, Brigham Young University Office–Responsible for establishing and directing the development and delivery of training and consulting services to small companies and to individuals interested in starting businesses within the region. These services were provided to strengthen and stimulate economic development through small business. The Center was funded by the Small Business Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Utah State Government and Brigham Young University. Staff included an assistant director, a secretary, and a part-time graduate assistant staff consultant. A number of graduate students and some undergraduates also assisted the center by consulting on a variety of projects, gaining valuable professional experience.
“The passionate are the only advocates who always persuade. The simplest man with passion will be more persuasive than the most eloquent without.”
— René Descartes, philosopher in the 1600s
The Proclamation on the Economy
The experience of mankind has shown that the people of communities and nations among whom wealth is the most equally distributed, enjoy the largest degree of liberty, are the least exposed to tyranny and oppression and suffer the least from luxurious habits which beget vice. Under such a system, carefully maintained there could be no great aggregations of either real or personal property in the hands of a few; especially so while the laws, forbidding the taking of usury or interest for money or property loaned, continued in force.
One of the great evils with which our own nation is menaced at the present time is the wonderful growth of wealth in the hands of a comparatively few individuals. The very liberties for which our fathers contended so steadfastly and courageously, and which they bequeathed to us as a priceless legacy, are endangered by the monstrous power which this accumulation of wealth gives to a few individuals and a few powerful corporations. By its seductive influence results are accomplished which, were it more equally distributed, would be impossible under our form of government. It threatens to give shape to the legislation, both State and National, of the entire country. If this evil should not be checked, and measures not taken to prevent the continued enormous growth of riches among the class already rich, and the painful increase of destitution and want among the poor, the nation is likely to be overtaken by disaster; for, according to history, such a tendency among nations once-powerful was the sure precursor of ruin.
Years ago it was perceived that we Latter-day Saints were open to the same dangers as those which beset the rest of the world. A condition of affairs existed among us which was favorable to the growth of riches in the hands of a few at the expense of many. A wealthy class was being rapidly formed in our midst whose interests in the course of time, were likely to be diverse from those of the rest of the community. The growth of such a class was dangerous to our union; and, of all people, we stand most in need of union and to have our interests identical. Then it was that the Saints were counseled to enter into co-operation. In the absence of the necessary faith to enter upon a more perfect order revealed by the Lord unto the Church, this was felt to be the best means of drawing us together and making us one.
A union of interests was sought to be attained. At the time co-operation was entered upon the Latter-day Saints were acting in utter disregard of the principles of self-preservation. They were encouraging the growth of evils in their own midst which they condemned as the worst features of the systems from which they had been gathered. Large profits were being consecrated in comparatively few hands, instead of being generally distributed among the people. As a consequence, the community was being rapidly divided into classes, and the hateful and unhappy distinctions which the possession and lack of wealth give rise to, were becoming painfully apparent. When the proposition to organize Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institution was broached, it was hoped that the community at large would become stockholders; for if a few individuals only were to own its stock, the advantages to the community would be limited. The people, therefore, were urged to take shares, and large numbers responded to the appeal. As we have shown, the business proved to be as successful as its most sanguine friends anticipated. But the distribution of profits among the community was not the only benefit conferred by the organization of co-operation among us.
Co-operation has submitted in silence to a great many attacks. Its friends have been content to let it endure the ordeal. But it is now time to speak. The Latter-day Saints should understand that it is our duty to sustain co-operation and to do all in our power to make it a success. The local co-operative stores should have the cordial support of the Latter-day Saints. Does not all our history impress upon us the great truth that in union is strength? Without it, what power would the Latter-day Saints have? But it is not our doctrines alone that we should be united, but in practice and especially in our business affairs.
Daniel H. Wells
Franklin D. Richards
Brigham Young, Jr.
|George A. Smith
Charles C. Rich
George Q. Cannon
“Corporations have been enthroned…. An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people…until wealth is aggregate in a few hands…and the Republic is destroyed.”
— Abraham Lincoln, 1865
General Management Links
“There is no happiness without action.”
— Benjamin Disraeli