Dr. Bill Ruud, President, Shippensburg University
Peters, Thomas J., and Robert H. Waterman. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies. New York: Harper & Row, 1982
I read this book when it first came out and I was struck by the values that are outlined as great examples to follow. This is a great book and, although it has been criticized because of the quality of some of the companies and data, its principles outlined can be used to make any organization excellent.
Peters and Waterman found eight common themes which Fsethey argued were responsible for the success of the chosen corporations:
I believe these values are ones that we can use at Shippensburg University or at any university to make us a better educational environment.
Dr. Barbara Lyman, Provost, Shippensburg University
Agee, James, and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men; Three Tenant Families. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960
When I first read Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and Walker Evans in a graduate course on literature and poverty, I was riveted. I had grown up on a small cotton farm of a few dozen acres in South Louisiana. Picking cotton was something that my brother, five sisters, parents, and grandparents all did on my grandmother's land during the years that I was growing up. James Agee and Walker Evans' book described a way of life that I knew well. For me, until Agee and Evans' book, no one had ever effectively written about the experience of working in the cotton fields. I had encountered a few depictions which never captured, for example, the drudgery and monotony and worry that accompanied this kind of work that represented not only backbreaking effort but also an often futile attempt to make a decent living. The price of cotton was often counterproductively low on a crop sometimes devastated by insects such as the boll weevil before the cotton could ever be picked. Agee and Evans' work captured these things amazingly well.
Dr. Rick E. Ruth, Vice President for Information Technologies and Services
Collins, James C. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap--and Others Don't. New York, NY: Harper Business, 2001
In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins describes the attributes exhibited by organizations that go beyond being merely good organizations to become truly great organizations. These attributes make up what might be referred to as the basic character of the organization. They are: disciplined people; disciplined thought; and disciplined action. So many lessons from childhood stories come to mind when I think of these attributes. Stories like: The Tortoise and the Hare; The Three Little Pigs; and The Ant and the Grasshopper, stories whose morals involve the concept of prevailing by being disciplined, thoughtful, and following through.
Collins goes on to list 5 additional characteristics of organizations that have moved from good to great. They are led by individuals of personal humility and professional will. The focus is on getting the right people in the right job. They look at the data and confront the (sometimes) brutal facts. The core business is defined; the goal is to be the best at it; and everyone needs to be passionate about it. And, they think differently about the role of technology. These attributes along with the disciplined character, people, thoughts, and actions--of the organization mitigate the need for hierarchy, bureaucracy; and excessive controls. Thus, the stage is set for great performance.
When I think of these attributes, I think of Shippensburg University.