One wintry afternoon not long ago, we were sitting in Ron's office in Syracuse, New York, watching the snow pile up at an alarming rate on the asphalt outside. We weren't sure which was more depressing, the snow or the story being recounted to us. A product manager's deteriorating performance rating had brought him as close to corporate disaster as he could come without losing his job. As we tried to grapple with his problems and advise him on his missed opportunities and misconceptions, we realized that we were trying to preach a doctrine we had not articulated fully ourselves. We stumbled around mentally, searching for authors and authorities to commend to our troubled friend, and others like him, too. We realized we knew of none. That evening we decided to do something about it.
During the course of our sometimes direct, but often meandering progress we have talked to, bounced ideas off, persuaded and been persuaded by executives, entrepreneurs, consultants and academics. We truly regret we cannot thank all of them by name for their contribution to this work. We appreciate all the time they spent and interest they showed in the project.
We must identify a few prominent contributors, though. We would like to thank Arlyn Melcher who has never failed to stimulate, encourage and, yes, criticize. John Doult's insistent queries ("What went wrong at XYZ, Inc.?") have spurred some of our thinking on national and corporate competitiveness. Paper industry executives have provided us with a diversity of insights on how organizations can be revitalized: special thanks