General Motors and Bluebonnets

Cheryl offers:  My favorite flowers are blooming now; they are Texas bluebonnets. I’ve always favored them above all other wild flowers. One reason is blue is a fairly uncommon color in flowers, they grow wherever they are planted which is frequently in poor soil, and they endure without a lot of care. When I saw them this past week, I thought of Tom Morris’ book, If Aristotle Ran General Motors. Now if the title didn’t ring a little ironic, Tom’s background might. He was a professor of philosophy for 15 years at Notre Dame who came to believe we cannot solve today’s problems without the wisdom of the ancients.  Tom’s book was written in 1997, long before GM’s current problems were apparent.  The book contains some great advice for corporations based on 4 key values of human excellence: Truth, Beauty, Goodness and Unity.  They are directly co-related to the 4 key dimensions of human experience: intellectual, aesthetic, moral and spiritual. My favorite quote from the book is “The beautiful is as useful as the useful. More so, perhaps.” from Victor Hugo.  Morris does a great job in the book admonishing leaders to make sure they think about the aesthetics of work and business because they are important to people. Where do you feel most relaxed, creative, refreshed and alive? Looking at a beautiful sunrise, sunset, lake or checking out the carpet in your cubicle? Beauty is important to all of us. If only more leaders had appreciated and read this book, maybe GM wouldn’t be in the pickle they are in. For me, bluebonnets are an annual reminder to appreciate the beauty of excellent work, innovative ideas, and the look when someone says “Ah-ha!”

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