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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars People and organization success, 4 Feb 2002
By 
Coert Visser "solutionfocusedchange.com" (Driebergen Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First (Hardcover)
The Human Equation (1998) is an exceptional book. In the first chapter Pfeffer shows that conventional wisdom about the sources of organization success are not correct. In particular he disproves the ideas:
- that it is essential to work in the right sector,
- that the size of the organization is crucial,
- that it is necessary to have an international precense,
- that downsizing is indispensible, and
- that it is necessary to have a technological lead.
Then the author clearly and impressively presents the enormous amount of evidence of the last decade showing the strong association between how organization treat people and how they score on financial and operational performance indicators. Pfeffer describes the following seven HR practices that demonstrable correlate with organization success. He names these practices High Performance Work Practices. They are:
1. Employment security
2. Selective hiring of new personnel
3. Self-managed teams and decentralization of decision making as the basic principles of organization design
4. Comparatively high compensation contingent on organizational performance
5. Extensive training
6. Reduces status distinctions and barriers, including dress, languag, office arrangements, and wage differences across levels
7. Extensive sharing of financial and performance information throughout the organization
This list contains some elements that may seem counterintuitive to some. For instance: how can it be that high wages contribute to financial performance? Don't they just keep the profits low? And how can you afford to be selective in this hard labour market? And how can companies afford to invest much in training of personnel? Aren't employees so mobile and disloyal that you run the risk of training them for your competitor? Speaking about this, how can you in this time of employability of employment security? And it is wise to have an open information policy? If you'd do that, wouldn't you weaken your position by feeding your competitor with valuable information?
If you read this book you will find crystal-clear answers to these questions. The conclusion is that the seven practices do indeed work.
Coert Visser
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, logical, humane--and well written too!, 3 Jun 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First (Hardcover)
Peffer, along with Alfie Kohn and a few others (like W. Edwards Deming, Peter Senge, and Douglas McGregor), is a paragon of sanity, clarity of thought and analysis, and uncommon common sense, in a world of business increasingly driven by bizarre fads, inappropriately mechanistic models, unreal economic assumptions, macho narcissists, callow market analysts, and assorted other narrow thinkers. In a book that is a logical extension of his previous work (Competitive Advantage Through People, which I also recommend), he not only compellingly and objectively demonstrates why putting people (the work force) at the center of company strategy is the key to long-term success (rather than the short-term, cost-cutting downsizing approach), but also he provides the guidance for operationalizing this approach. Unlike most business books, which often seem to consist of little more than unsupported personal opinion and empty platitudes, this is a work of scholarship, substance, and practicality. The writing is clear, the examples are enlightening and interesting. I highly recommend this book, and all of Pfeffer's other books as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explains the importance of putting people before profits, 1 Jan 2004
By 
Keith Appleyard "kapple999" (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First (Hardcover)
This book is very well researched, although perhaps over-long in some parts.
The underlying message is that "do you see people as labour costs to be reduced or eliminated, or do you see your people as the only thing that differentiates you from your competition?"
I did find it quite satisfyingly radical for a US author to actually recommend that US Managers need to look overseas, as in this quote :
"One might be well-served to spend more time outside of the United States ... What has come to be taken as 'good management practice' in the United States is very, very culturally specific to the United States. Managing in a different way may require developing a broader world view ..."
I can related to that, given that I work for a US Fortune 500 Company.
The Case Studies cover a broad range of Industries such as Automobile, Banking, Steel, Clothing, Semiconductors, Retailing, Oil Refining, Energy, Airlines; and Geographical coverage includes not only North America, but quite a number of Countries in Europe & Asia.
A Chapter dedicated to Unions but yet not to Union-bashing is a pleasant change.
All in all, an interesting book that I wish more CEO's & HR Officers would read to see the alternatives to boom-and-bust downsizing & outsourcing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best practical guide to employee engagement., 23 Oct 2000
This review is from: The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First (Hardcover)
Pfeffer dispels the widely held view by most western organisations that employees are an asset to be exploited rather than nurtured. He uses real life studies rather than just dry theory to show HOW organisations can really perform better in the long run.
If you care about your organisation's performance, you will unquestionably benefit by reading this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'must-read' for every executive!, 21 July 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First (Hardcover)
Using hard data and perceptiveness, Pfeffer cuts through today's conventional 'wisdoms' to reawaken us to the human core of organization. In this age of downsizing, outsourcing, and quarterly-bound thinking, the author convincingly argues for putting people at the heart of strategy. While on target for the 21st Century, this book is in the spirit and best tradition of such pioneers as Douglas McGregor, Abe Maslow, Frederick Herzberg, Chris Argyris, and many more. Indeed, in these times it is radical to argue for putting people first and assert that, to paraphrase Pfeffer, profits are achieved through people. A 'must-read' for every executive!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars quite good summary of people oriented management style, 6 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First (Hardcover)
Pfeffer presents a very readible summary of the relationships between "people-oriente" management practices and positive organizational outcomes. He reviews what he considers the various obstacles to managment in terms of implementing such practices (e.g. short term emphases, etc.). He argues that unions are valuable and can be profitably utilized by firms. He is somewhat shallow in his analysis of why managers are reluctant to fully embrace such enlightened practices--managers arn't as dumb as Pfeffer implies...All in all, a book that makes one sit up and think about your own organizatin.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Dr. Pfeffer, 11 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First (Hardcover)
This sequel should have been first. The prof's book: Competitive Advantage through People gave tactical initiatives to create a motivated and productive workforce. But like so many people in industry who want to implement the type of intiatives discussed in that book, I found myself needing substantive validation on why should our firm engage in these behaviors. THIS BOOK SAYS WHY!! We all know instinctively that many of the tactics outlined in Competive Advantage are the right things to do, yet we are all faced with needing tangible explanations for why we should engage in these behaviors. The Human Equation can help develop the business case for that explanation.
Thanks Dr. Pfeffer
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good overview, 2 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First (Hardcover)
I enjoyed the professor's book and its thesis. It clearly gives the history of the subject and why, in conclusion, it's important to emphasize people in your organization. I also recommend a current book that superbly and simply delves into "how" to achieve great results through your employees--it's a top seller at Amazon --- "The Leader's Guide: 15 Essential Skills."
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The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First
The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First by Jeffrey Pfeffer (Hardcover - 1 Jan 1998)
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