The Passionate Organization: Igniting the Fire of the Employee Commitment

By James R. Lucas

Chapter One Defining Passion

The author identifies different types of passion including the zest for life, drive to accomplish, competitive fire, and a passion for truth.  He argues that the non-rational force of passion keeps rational thought from sliding into irrational or negative passion. 

Chapter Two the Limitations of Reason

Man is to be found in reason, God in the passions.  G. C. Lichtenberg

"The most important measurement in the organization is morale, the level of positive (or negative) passion.  How many organizations measure morale?"

"But there are two types of fools.  The most plentiful are the fools who hold their opinions regardless of the facts.... I used to think that if you showed people the facts they would change.  Maybe.  But it's not likely.  The other type of fool is those who persist because they see what others can’t see with their facts and analysis.” P.27        

"I never discovered anything with my rational mind," said Albert Einstein.

"In a recent survey of 1000 US executives, two traits came out by far on top for desirability in a job candidate.  ‘(1) a talent for problem-solving... do you have the imagination -- and the dedication -- it takes to worry this thing like a dog with a bone until it works?  and (2) conscientiousness... will you try to do a good job even when you're having a bad day?’"  p.29  citing Fortune, May 25, 19 18, page 202.

Chapter three: The Misleading Comfort of Strategic Planning

"Logic, like whiskey, loses its beneficial effect when taken in too large quantities."  Lord Dunsany p.31

Strategic planning is not a substitute for passion because we are unable to anticipate the future, and, in any event, our actions shape the future.

"Strategic planning, like reengineering and total quality management, can mean different things to different people."  P.  32.

Mr. Lucas suggests that asking some questions about an organization's purpose, capabilities, and fit with its environment is quite appropriate.  However, a strategic plan as "a formalized procedure to produce an articulated result, in the form of an integrated system of decisions" is trouble in the making.  The first priority is “not strategic planning at all, but rather strategic vision and strategic thinking...." P.  33.

"The problem with trying to combine strategy and planning is that they are two disparate process.  Strategy is primarily concerned with synthesis: pulling together dissimilar pieces into a new and meaningful whole.  Planning is primarily concerned with analysis: pulling apart connected pieces into understandable components."  p.  33.

Mr. Lucas echoes Mintzberg in noting that simply going through a step-by-step process will not lead to strategy.  That is, analysis does not produce synthesis.  In addition, I would note that a plan does not equal a strategy.  Many school systems have strategic plans that are simply a complication of action items, but lack any cohesive strategy.  I suspect this is caused by two things.  First, almost all of the persons developing those plans are educators who have spent virtually their entire professional lives inside the public school system.  As such, they have had little experience with the competitive, creative realities of commerce.  However, they have had far more experience than is common outside the world of public education with top-down, bureaucratic, compliance-driven organizational behavior.  As a result, they share many assumptions about the nature, purpose, and activities of public schools which are virtually never questioned.  I suspect this is why highly successful but "Maverick" educators who have managed to look at the nature of schools from a new vantage point have been rejected by the larger system the way the body rejects foreign invaders. 

"Planning is a good concept when it is applied to specific tasks and known end points.  With its orientation toward breaking down, bringing into focus, and organizing details, it is the typical methods used to create budgets or outline programs.”   P.34.

Mr. Lucas suggests that the organization needs everyone to think strategically.  This does not mesh with the strengths approach of Gallup .  However, we should want everyone who has the strength of strategic to be using it on the organization's challenges.

Strategic Thinking Questions

  1. What is your greatest passion for our organization?
  2. What would need to change to see that desire fulfilled?
  3. When you think of our organization, the first word that comes to mind is __________ .
  4. Describe our organization in 25 words for less.
  5. What do we do better than anyone else?  How passionate are you about this?  How do we maximize this competency?
  6. What are we doing that we need to outsource or stop doing?  How do we drop it?  Will this leave us vulnerable to our competitors?
  7. What is the most important thing we should/could be doing today to lead us into a successful future?
  8. What could we do to build trust and commitment in our people?  What obstacles are preventing this?
  9. What is the top way that our organization could better and more passionately serve its stakeholders?
  10. If a major magazine wrote an article on our organization in 10 years, how would the headline read?

Chapter Four: The Siren Song of the Learning Organization

The author argues that learning, while critical, is hard, and we only do it for the things we care about.  As for organizations:

"The true learning organization encourages people, individually and in groups, to gather information, explore ideas, evaluate past performance and future needs, challenge assumptions, give and receive feedback, and share what is learned.  It is an open system, with free and nurtured access and an unchartable number of linkages."

"And it has some mechanisms -- not policies, procedures, systems, or processes, but some facilitating mechanisms -- to ensure that the learning stays free and open, just a bit on the wild side, and far from traditional training."  P.  49.

To protect a passionate organization's ability to learn, one must resist the desire to plan, structure, categorize, and otherwise analyze and control learning.  "Only a passion-based, true learning/teaching organization is built solidly enough on the right foundation, because only people remain as a true competitive advantage.  Rational systems can be clever, they can be right, they can even be useful.  But they will never be enough."  P.  55.

Chapter Five: The Uncontrollable Nature Of Fire 

“Enthusiasm is the leading lightning, not to be measured by the horse-power of the understanding." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In things pertaining to enthusiasm, no man is sane who does not know how to be insane on proper occasions.” -- Henry Ward Beecher

Mr. Lucas suggests that controlling an organization through the chain of command and such tools as policy manuals, procedures manuals, job descriptions, performance evaluations, etc. is both too expensive and too ineffective to continue.  The passionate organization must be controlled through alignment with vision and values.

"Our organizations will be built or hampered by the degree of freedom we have made available to them.  We generally do this by removing rather than adding.  We don't need initiatives to enhance freedom as much as we need initiatives to remove obstacles to freedom.” P.61.

Chapter Six: Clues to the Presence of Passion

  • Willingness to confront reality
    • People with a healthy passion
      • Own mistakes and have grown from them
      • Have coping strategies for their weaknesses
      • Employ their strengths to best effect
      • Generate problem solutions and test them
      • Avoid victimhood and the search for scapegoats
      • Know when to follow schedules and budgets, and when to discard
      • Talk freely about their openness to honest assessments
    • “Few things are more powerful in terms of developing character and passion than having a brutal beating or two and rising above it.  ‘Anything that does not kill me makes me stronger,’ said Nietzsche.”  P.72
  • Ability to discern the truth about who we are and what we want and need
    • Who are you?
    • What do you need?
    • What do you want?
  • Capacity to transform information and knowledge into wisdom
    • Self-management
      • Can the person prioritize, plan, focus, let go, rest?
    • Relationships
      • What does the person say about relationships without being prompted?
    • Persistence
      • Know when to pursue, and when to give up?
  • Alignment between personal and organizational aspirations
    • Must have personal passion that aligns with organization passion.  No way to create it if it is not there.
    • Tools:
      • Really good testing
      • In-depth, well-prepared interviewing  by multiple people, followed by intense and passionate conversation among the interviewers
      • Simulations or job shadowing, performance trial
      • A “Who is this person” review instrument for prospect to give to former employers, co-workers, professors, friends, pastors, etc., returned directly to the organization
      • Short essay on how their passions line up with organization’s vision, values and core competencies
  • Desire to make a difference
    • “How will we be different in five years if we hire, develop, or promote you?”  Answer should focus on achieving or extending organization’s aspirations
  • Love for labor
    • What excites them?
      • Hobbies?  -- not helpful unless matches with organization’s work
    • Let them spend time with folks in the organization and see if they ask serious, deep or focused questions.  Are they “hooked”?
  • Indignation over conditions
    • What makes them angry?
      • If “nothing”, they have no passion.
      • If just “pet peeves”, then they are petty people. Move on.
      • Look for honorable indignation, righteous anger.
  • Evidence of battle scars
    • If you are passionate about anything, eventually you’ll have to fight for it.  If you fight, you’ll take hits.  Scars prove passion, and show the person has grown from it.  Scars, not open wounds.
    • Questions:
      • Would you tell me about your three greatest fights (past career for new hires, past year for current employees)?
      • Are you glad you had the fight, or do you wish you had let it go?
      • What would you do differently the next time?
      • What have you learned about when, where, and how to fight?
      • What were you tempted to learn that was not helpful?
      • What issues or situations led you to put on your battle gear?
      • What did you contribute to the problem, the wounds, or the loss?
  • An amateur's orientation
    • An amateur does it for the love of it; there’s no hard, cold professionalism, but maybe a little cockiness.  What I know is fun, what I don’t know is fun, and the learning is fun.  I hope I never know it all.
    • What do you know?  What do you not know?  How will you expand your grid?
    • Drink from diverse wells.  Look at your field from the perspective of other fields:  history, psychology, literature, math, science, etc.
  • Being young at heart
    • Age and experience can sometimes drain passion
    • Beware those who too quickly say
      • That won’t work.
      • We’ve already tried that.
      • We’ve always done it this way and it’s worked.
    • How do you intend to keep yourself young in mind and heart?


Chapter 7:  The Role of the Soul

“The soul is who we really are at our core, the part of us that gives us our identity, our character, our strength.  It is what makes each one of us unique, amazing, even wondrous.”  P. 85.  

Mr. Lucas suggests that passions come from the soul; they are the expression and focus of spiritual values.  He uses examples such as a person who highly values community, or who desires to serve others, or who seeks to build relationships.  Again, there’s a relationship between some of what he is saying and the strengths themes of the Gallup organization.  What might some of these spiritual values be?  Mr. Lucas does not make a list, but here’s a first pass at one from me:

  • Justice
  • Peace
  • Harmony
  • Beauty
  • Growth
  • Nurture
  • Opportunity
  • Fairness
  • Freedom
  • Friendship
  • Intimacy
  • Community
  • Grace
  • Forgiveness
  • Joy

Organizations wishing to recognize and tap into the power of spiritual values should:

  • Recognize that people have spiritual values that drive their behavior.
  • Make it a priority to never, ever, ask people to make decisions or take actions that conflict with their most cherished values.
  • Pay attention both to what people think (the rational reaction) and to what they feel (the emotional/spiritual reaction).
  • Seek ways to connect individual values with organizational goals.
  • Make passion a major factor in decisions.
  • Give people a direct outlet for their spiritual impulses.

Organizations wishing to recognize and tap into the power of spiritual values should ALSO:

  • Use non-religious terminology
  • Protect from inescapable or power-based proselytizing
  • Keep work from interfering with religious times
  • Never critique religion or religious behavior

As an organization:

  • Reflect:  Do strategic visioning, rather than planning.
  • Focus on the meaning of what the organization does.  (NOT making a profit – or, I would add for schools, high test scores.)
  • Share common values – including recognition for embodiment and sanctions for violations.

Chapter 8:  Commitment to a Greater Goal

An organization’s goals have to be such that people can be passionate about them.  Can they be understood by a new recruit?  How many of our people would come in sick to help meet them?  What formal system (surveys, focus groups, etc.) measures the passion of people for the goals?  Are we marketing our goals internally?  Are we living them personally?  Do we engage our people in setting them?

Mr. Lucas suggests that the greater goal should be developed collaboratively within the organization, then marketed internally as well as externally.    He suggests the following requirements if a goal is to lead to heroic efforts:

  • People have to feel the goal matters.
  • True ownership.
  • Belief that the goal could not be achieved without them.
  • Sense of urgency.
  • Not just a “bigger” goal, but a “great” goal.


Chapter 9:  The Need to Make a Difference

We each would like to be remembered as having made a difference, to our family, our friends, our company, our community and even beyond.  Mr. Lucas suggests the following seven steps for an organizational legacy:

  • Visualize the Impact
    • 10, 15, or 25 years out
    • on how “stakeholders”
  • Expand the List of Advisors
    • Historians – perspective and prior similar situations
    • Sociologists and anthropologists – unanticipated consequences on culture
    • Doctors and psychologists – proper level of stress
    • Writer – tell the organizational “story”, then see if we want to change it
  • Allocate Enough Resources
  • Nurture the Ideas – give them time
  • Select Believers
    • Many who believe in the ideas
    • At least a few who believe in you
  • Position Properly
    • Organization that supports
    • Visibility
    • Chance for success
  • Prepare for Opportunity

Opportunity for all to leave a legacy:

  • Capitalize on Inner Needs
    • Establish a Hall of Fame
    • Focus on significance of work – effect on the far-off future
  • Memorialize Great efforts
    • Suggests a donation to a hospital in honor of great effort, and a plaque with names of those who contributed to it
  • Give Opportunities to Teach
  • Develop and Honor Mentors
  • Structure for Intrapreneurship
  • Give Voice
    • Announce they will be addressing some group five years hence on the topic “passionate projects of the past five years”
  • Give Vote
    • Many decisions are educated guesses – inform, and follow
  • Treat All As Valuable
    • If why they’re here is tied to their work, nothing can stop nor top them.


Chapter 10:  Balanced People with Multiple Passions

“We need multidimensional people who can tie their passions together.  We need people who read widely and outside of their field.  We need people who care about interesting and even odd issues.  We need people who see the world as a whole, not just bits and pieces.”  Pp. 119-120.

Mr. Lucas warns of zealots, those with only one issue or idea, as opposed to “polymaniacs” – those with energy and passion for many things.  The passion is absolutely necessary.  “Getting anything done in life, against the massive opposing forces and the insidious power of inertia, is extremely difficult.”  P. 122.  But balance and judgment are also necessary, as compromise, and sometimes even a re-direction, will be necessary.  Also, the passions within an organization need to balance each other.  And the people in the organization must have balance in their lives. Work cannot be all.


Chapter 11:  Pick and Prepare Passionate People

Match people to jobs by interest as much as or more than aptitude.  Hire for passion:

  • Passion for life – not complainers or whiners.
  • Passion for the vision.
  • Passion for the values.
  • Passion for the work.
  • Passion for variety.
  • Passion for others.
  • Passion for leaving a mark.

Listen for tone.  Watch body language.  Let them talk to a number of passionate people in the organization.  The author mentions the “Community Learning Program” at McCluer North High School in St. Louis as a way to develop a “farm team.” 

Focus on inspiration as well as information in professional development.  Be a teaching organization.  Evaluate for passion, and evaluate practices and policies for passion squelching potential.

Chapter 12:  Encase Passion in Vision and Mutual Trust

“Peter Senge and others have argued that the key to success is the learning organization.  Still others, like Rosabeth Moss Kanter and Noel Tichy, have argued that the key is the teaching organization.  Jerry Hirshberg has argued that it is the creative organization.  All are correct in their belief that these are indeed critical items.  But they are all by-products of the passionate organization.  Without passion ingrained throughout the organization, the learning will turn into information gathering, the teaching into dry training, and the creativity into thin air.” 

P. 145.

For centralization by vision  to happen, the vision must be “a home-grown, agreed-upon, clear, compelling, ingrained picture of the kind of organization we are and want to become.”  P. 146.

Home-grown:  grown from the bottom and nurtured from the top

Agreed-upon:  must come from within, not from outside consultant and top management – every voice must be heard

Clear:            should get an “of course” or “I see” response.

Compelling:    Interesting, inspiring, shake people up a bit, get them moving.

Ingrained:      massive, lavish communication, thorough learning and teaching, consulted in every decision, every day.

Vision is encased by core values and their supporting behaviors and mechanisms. 

Behaviors are clearly stated descriptions of what the core value looks like and doesn’t look like in everyday behavior. 

Mechanisms are simple but consistently applied tools that ensure that the core value and supporting behaviors are practiced widely on a daily basis – without them, values and behaviors will fade away or be reinterpreted to fit people’s prejudices and preferences.


Core value:         Listening.

Behaviors:          Leader polls group before expression position.                  

Questioning done respectfully with intent to learn.

                        Ideas presented with deference (not compromise) to other ideas.

Mechanisms:      Statement of listening value at top of standard meeting agenda form.

Regular “team health check” that includes questions about implementation of this value.

Inclusion in 360-degree evaluation process.

“It takes time to design and build real-world mechanisms that are both simple to use and effective.  It will take time to get feedback on them, hone them, discard some, and add others.”  P. 153

Mutual Trust

“I can’t become passionate about something that I can’t embrace.  And I can’t embrace something that I don’t understand.  And I can’t embrace it with a group of people that I don’t trust.”  Roy Coleman, Harley-Davidson Director of Manufacturing Processes.  P. 153.

Surveys confirm “trust gap” is usually the biggest interpersonal barrier to an exciting future.

Show Respect:  Begin from position that people are responsible adults who want to achieve great goals and make a difference.

A certain amount of trust must be granted.

Sure Walk of Pure Talk:  No hedging on the talk, and deep fidelity in the walk, even when it hurts.

A certain amount of trust has to be earned.

Loathe Hidden Agendas, Share Information Widely:  People know when something is being held back.  If you can’t disclose now, say so.

A certain amount of trust comes from being an insider.

Partner:  Put away the hierarchy.  Honest assessments of ideas, plans, and even people, regardless of the assessor’s position.

A certain amount of trust comes from being an equal.

Persist:  Questions and doubts will arise.  Gossip and rumor can destroy.  Give the benefit of the doubt, ask clarifying questions, opt out of the gossip chain.

A certain amount of trust needs to be fought for.

Organizational management:  Mr. Lucas suggests moving away from standardized, codified systems, structures, charts, sign-offs, policies, procedures and job descriptions. Instead, let shared vision, mutual trust, clearly expressed core values and behaviors with supporting mechanisms keep the organization moving forward in a meaningful, responsible way.

My comment:  most policies and procedures result from things that happened (stories).  We codify the policy in procedure as what was “learned”, and forget the story.  Often, however, when the story is remembered and compared to what the policy or procedure has become, it is clear the latter really didn’t catch the “meaning” of the story in today’s situation.  Remember the stories; forget the policies and procedures.  A collection of well-known, oft-used, powerful and maybe beloved stories of real people living out (or abandoning) core values is far better than a fat book of policies and procedures.  

I see two pictures, each with two tables and each holding a book.  In one picture, the book on the left is a huge tome, open, with a group gathered around it, heads together, studying it.  The title is “Our Stories”.  The book on the right is a small, thin 3-ring notebook sitting open in the middle of the table with one person turning from the group around the stories to reach for it.  It’s title is “Our Policies.”  In the second picture, the size and character of the books is just reversed.  A large group is around the policy tome on the right, and their postures and positioning and movement suggests conflict.  One lone individual is sitting at the other table, feet propped up on it, with the small notebook of stories in his lap, and paying no attention to the group at the other table.


Chapter 13:  Building Passion for Stakeholders

“Airlines, trucking companies, telephone companies, and others have all had their day of having captive customers, because people needed what they were offering and found themselves dealing with a government-created monopoly.  It would be contrary to human nature for monopolistic organizations to seek to perform for their customers at the highest possible level.  Passion is virtually absent, because it has no reason to exist.  In fact, few organizational forms are as deadly in killing off passion as a monopoly.  The strongest passion they create is a passion on the part of their customers to demand deregulation (read:  getting rid of your damnable monopoly).  If I were managing a monopoly, I would do everything I could to eliminate this unfair and deadening condition, because nothing is more stultifying than ‘we don’t have to, so we won’t.’  It’s a long, slow death.”

p. 162.

Comment:  Public school systems are often portrayed as government monopolies.  Clearly they are not.  Private schools are free to function and parents are free to choose them.  Public schools are government-funded efforts at selling work to kids.  They have two very competitive marketplaces:  the market of youth activities (competing with TV, malls, hanging out, etc.) and the market of government funding (competing with roads, services, and industry-attraction incentives).

How do we get our people to be passionate about current and potential customers?

  • Tell stories.
  • Distribute customer literature – brochures, annual reports, internal       newsletters, etc.
  • Expose everyone to customers.
  • Survey customers and distribute results to everyone.
  • Role play.
  • Consider everyone to be performance consultants.
  • Make everyone futurists.
  • Define clearly who the customer is – especially challenging for not-for-profit organizations.
  • Treat employees like customer.
  • Fire the stinkers – those customers who kill passion.

How do we get our people to care for contributors or supporters?

  • Profile them.
  • Meet them.
  • Differentiate.
  • Think of them as customers.
  • Make employees researchers.
  • Treat employees like CEOs – trustees and stewards of other people’s resources.
  • Connect at the pocketbook – tie reward to contributor support.
  • Turn employees into shareholders.

 How can we be passionate about helpers:  vendors, contractors, consultants?

  • Choose terrific helpers.
  • Get everyone involved.
  • Make everyone a helper internally.

A Passion for the Larger Community

  • Talk about broad effects.  Tell stories.
  • Sell ourselves to them.
  • Survey them.
  • Consider the impact on them.

Evaluate passion and act on it.  If the answer to “What do you feel?” is negative, that’s deadly.  Act.


Chapter 14:  Stoke the Fire of Waning Passion

People cannot be motivated.  We can create a climate where those with a passion for the mission, or some task within it, can flourish, and invite them to live, but we cannot make them enthusiastic and committed and passionate.

“Few adults who have lived a long time without passion will probably ever revive.  The ones who do come back to life will do so as a result of a personal journey, a willingness to face reality, a refusal to stay dead.”  P. 173.

Recognizing that we cannot start a fire, we can stoke those that are waning with:


  • At least one day a week, completely away from work
  • Split vacations into quarterly re-groupings through long weekends (preferably away from home)
  • A real vacation every year
  • Rest during the day may be necessary, too.
  • A non-penalty, gently enforced sabbatical could help.


  • Change of pace – move, change duties, etc.


  • Offer a range of jobs, and watch for eyes to light up.
  • The author suggests that unions with a passion for protecting the jobs of the passionless are positioning themselves and their members – and the companies for which their members work – out of the flow of vibrancy and success enjoyed by the most passionate organizations.


  • Self-forming, self-managing work groups
  • Multiple centers
  • As much as possible, let each person feel the same pressure as the CEO

How to kill passion:  (Got to admit, some of this wording is mine – I got into this!)

  • Mismatch persons and tasks
  • Deprive them of voice, take ideas from passionate promoters without credit and give the implementation of those ideas to someone who could care less about their success
  •  Crush dissent; marginalize and attack those who disagree
  • Discourage spontaneity; plan and control every meeting and event.
  • Build bureaucracy:  make sure much energy is spent on either following or getting around complex procedures and diffuse authority
  • Fail to distinguish those who are upset at the organization’s failure to reach its potential from those whose vitriol is aimed at destruction.  Don’t listen to the former, and treat the latter with kid gloves so they have maximum opportunity to wreak havoc.
  • Promote caustic, sarcastic, egotistical, and power-loving personalities.
  • Treat folks poorly; move them at your convenience, and get rid of them when times get rough.  This has the double bonus of killing their passion and that of anyone who knows their story.  Even better, mistreating an unlikable, unproductive, and already passionless individual kills passions in those who have not yet achieved that state.
  • Waste, mis-direct, and muddy all communication opportunities.
  • Make work comfortable and undemanding.  Put them to sleep.


Chapter 15:  Deal with Negative and Missing Passion

The passions of power-lust, hostility, envy, jealousy, and destruction are every bit as real as those aimed at good will, caring, creation and beauty.  Don’t ignore them.  Don’t explain them away as “personality conflicts” (often tarring the innocent with the guilty) or “miscommunications” or “not his niche.”  Recognize, excise, or at the very least contain them.  And always know that, when bad things happen in the organization, a person or persons are behind it.

Pettiness, nitpicking, and gossip kill passion and prevent achievement.  Look for those who practice them and get them out of leadership and out of the organization if possible.

Mis-aligned values are negative.  The “lone ranger” in the collaborative organization or the “diva” in a “just folks” group are negative, no matter how talented.  In an organization that values stars, they might fit in perfectly.

Failure to communicate can create negative passion in those who care about the organization and its mission if that failure causes them to perceive sound, necessary decisions as irrational or needless.  Likewise when actions toward individuals are perceived as unjust, unfair, or hypocritical.  Communicate openly and widely.

Absence of rights, due process and an appeals process can kill passion or create negative passion.     Folks subjected to an abusive or incompetent leader need protected recourse within the organization.

Internal competition.  Internally, cooperation is needed to promote fierce external competition.

Tolerating incompetence or dishonesty kills positive passion and breeds the negative passions of cynicism and despair.

Passionate proponents of opposing or incompatible ideas can create netativity if the conflict is not resolved.  Hopefully, this will be done in a way that gives the “loser” an out, either inside or outside the organization, but, regardless, the conflict must be resolved. 

Comment:  I saw this when Nashville implemented lesson study.  Groups, especially those outside the system, wanted to take the time that had been set aside for teacher-led instructional improvement and use it for “training” teachers.  They believed in what they were doing, and often had some supporters inside the system, but the concept was incompatible with lesson study.  Successful teacher-led instructional improvement demands protection of the time allocated for it from other-directed “training.”

Chapter 16:  Kill the Concept of “Management”

Things can be managed, but not people.  “Managing” people is a sure-fire way to squash passion.  Peter Drucker says 85% of “management” is putting obstacles in people’s way.  A focus on policy manuals, job descriptions, and performance evaluations highlight “management” efforts.  Even the root of the word, involving getting our hands on something, seems wrong when applied to people.

Every person leads, at least to some extent, and each of us must “manage” our own work.

To kill management:



Policy Manuals

Agreed-upon vision and values


Descriptions of appropriate behaviors

Job Descriptions


Performance Evaluations

Performance Agreements and self-selected projects






Chapter 17:  Know It’s Better to Stub Your Toe Than to Lose Your Leg

Mr. Lucas suggests that a fear of making mistakes prevents learning and can lead to disastrous errors.  He suggests organizations seek:

Creativity at the Core:  This requires

·        Freedom – must reach the level of play

·        Access to information, ideas, and discussion

·        Both/and thinking

·        Welcome complexity

·        Diversity – including diversity of opinions, personality types, age, experience, thinking styles, and passions

·        Seed casting – try a lot of seemingly fruitful options and see what works

·        Be mistake-friendly

Mavericks Matter: 

Mavericks refuse to be conformed to the group.  They dissent.  Constructive ones, whose non-conformance and dissent comes from honest commitment to the vision and values of the organization and a belief that the group is straying are worth their weight in gold, and the best possible organization is a team of such mavericks.

Safety for Risk Takers:

To accomplish the most, however, an organization must provide safety for those who might be willing to think honestly and take some risks, but who are not true, do-it-regardless mavericks.  Make it less risky to create something that departs from convention by being:

  • Reality-friendly
  • Truth-friendly
  • Dissension-friendly
  • Risk-friendly
  • Mistake-friendly
  • Noise-friendly
  • Input-friendly


Chapter 18:  Use Crises and Obstacles to Increase Passion

The crises of pressure offer opportunities to prove and demonstrate our commitment to values, to test and grow relationships, to find the weak points and missing areas in our vision, to lose illusions, and to find those beliefs we will fight for.  Crises and obstacles also admit to shaking up the status quo and establish forward motion.  But first, stop and think, brainstorm, get the best work of the organization focused on finding the creative, growing response.  And listen to the loyal opposition, they’ll alert to problems before anyone else.


Chapter 19:  Spiritual Leadership in Secular Places

“People won’t follow someone who isn’t chasing a dream that’s big and worthwhile.”  P. 218

Spiritual leaders are:

  • Focused on others; with their folks; related
  • Focused on organizational success, not personal ambition
  • Able to articulate people’s dreams
  • Willing to guide, but avoid taking control
  • Willing to champion causes or needs
  • Have integrity in word and action in all phases of life
  • Balanced in  confidence and humility.

 Spiritual leaders do not:

  • Whipsaw the organization, brutalizing people with cuts or “initiatives”
  • Do not allow “haves” and “have-nots”; no gaps
  • Never use fear, and do not tolerate its use by others.