A Pleasant Surprise . . . Corporate Culture from 1965


This morning I was feeling a little guilty since I hadn’t posted a new blog in several days.  My excuse being the pressures of work and meetings, but excuses don’t even buy sympathy any more, so I sat down at my desk, determined to crank out a new blog posting.

Suddenly in the corner of my computer screen an email notification popped up. Being a creature of instant gratification and little discipline I clicked it open.  It made me smile and more than that, the note made my day.

The email was from Dr. Maneck S. Wadia, an 82-year-old professor of business and management guru who previously taught at Stanford Business School. In addition to teaching and designing leadership courses for military academies, he has a dazzling number of business books and management research articles on his CV, as well as being a successful entrepreneur and supporter of classical music. I felt honoured that such a distinguished academic would take the time to drop me an email.

It seems that while visiting his daughter in Boston (also an academic professor, at Northeastern University) he found my recent book, LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture in her library.

In 1965 Dr. Wadia wrote an academic paper on the subject of corporate culture, long61xqZ36RKyL._SL500_ before the topic of culture was recognised as important to business performance and passed along a link to his article. In fact the word “culture” didn’t really hit the business world until 1982 and the publication of In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman. And he published one of the landmark books on management and behaviour published in 1968.  It’s hard to find such things now days on the internet, but I found a photo of his book, Management and the Behavioral Sciences, on the web.

I find it fascinating the for the past 50 plus years the concept of corporate culture has been researched and studied, yet even today in many MBA classes corporate culture is only given a passing mention and at many of the more analytical and financially oriented business schools is still viewed with suspicion and treated as an almost “charlatan” field of study.

Tell that to Zappos.com which grew from zero to $ 1 Billion in revenue in 9 years by focusing fervently on building a corporate culture of exceptional customer service. Tell that to the global banking industry which has amassed close to $100 billion in fines from fraudulent behaviours and what has been described as a “broken banking culture”.

Dr. Wadia was definitely ahead of his time!

John R. Childress

Author of LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture, and FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution, available from Amazon in paperback and eBook formats.

See the review of LEVERAGE in The Economist (January 9, 2014.

John also writes thriller novels:  novels.johnrchildress.com




About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
This entry was posted in consulting, corporate culture, Human Psychology, John R Childress, leadership, Organization Behavior, Psychology, strategy execution and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Pleasant Surprise . . . Corporate Culture from 1965

  1. Frank Tempesta says:

    Very interesting. I was just at NU earlier this week to attend an Industrial Advisory Board meeting and stopped by to see Sara.


  2. Rob Lewis says:

    Very interesting post regarding the mention of corporate culture long before it was popularized in the 80’s! It is always a wonderful thing when our pre-conceived notions about an area of interest are challenged. This concept goes beautifully with your heading of “Rethinking”. In addition, this particular post has lead me to place your books in the front of the line on my reading list. Thank you for the insight.


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