Book review – An Everyone Culture: Becoming A Deliberately Developmental Organization by Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey

A Radical New Model for Unleashing Your Company’s Potential

In most organizations nearly everyone is doing a second job no one is paying them for—namely, covering their weaknesses, trying to look their best, and managing other people’s impressions of them. There may be no greater waste of a company’s resources. The ultimate cost: neither the organization nor its people are able to realize their full potential.

What if a company did everything in its power to create a culture in which everyone—not just select “high potentials”—could overcome their own internal barriers to change and use errors and vulnerabilities as prime opportunities for personal and company growth?

Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey (and their collaborators) have found and studied such companies—Deliberately Developmental Organizations. A DDO is organized around the simple but radical conviction that organizations will best prosper when they are more deeply aligned with people’s strongest motive, which is to grow. This means going beyond consigning “people development” to high-potential programs, executive coaching, or once-a-year off-sites. It means fashioning an organizational culture in which support of people’s development is woven into the daily fabric of working life and the company’s regular operations, daily routines, and conversations.

An Everyone Culture dives deep into the worlds of three leading companies that embody this breakthrough approach. It reveals the design principles, concrete practices, and underlying science at the heart of DDOs—from their disciplined approach to giving feedback, to how they use meetings, to the distinctive way that managers and leaders define their roles. The authors then show readers how to build this developmental culture in their own organizations.

This book demonstrates a whole new way of being at work. It suggests that the culture you create is your strategy—and that the key to success is developing everyone.

Review

“Kegan and Laskow thoroughly analyze what they perceive to be the benefits of radical transparency through case studies on hedge fund giant Bridgewater, ecommerce company Next Jump, and real estate company Decurion.” — Business Insider (businessinsider.com), Summer Reading List

“Kegan and Lahey (Harvard Univ.) incorporate adult-developmental theory to enhance organizational profitability, improve honesty in communications, reduce political maneuvering, and increase solutions to intractable problems.” — Choice magazine

“Rather than seeking competitive advantage in a company’s products or strategy…Kegan, Lahey, and their colleagues believe an edge can be found in the ability of corporations to develop adults as humans.…they develop the argument by parachuting us into three existing DDOs, all of which serve as highly effective, day-in-the-life case studies.” — strategy+business magazine

“Some fascinating ideas about how to create an organizational culture that fits the 21st century.” — Inc.

“Their jottings and anecdotes draw you in, to join them in peering over the edge of what might just be a management revolution.” — Forbes

“A bold approach, one that requires a longer view of success and the patience to accept stumbles… any person and any company can learn from the thinking behind the DDO concept.” — Chicago Tribune

“The lessons from those companies combined with the theory of Kegan and Lahey provide an exciting portrait of what’s possible, and hopefully what’s coming, in the workplace.” — 800 CEO READ

“Kegan and Lahey provide a fundamental look into a different type of organization that is both challenging and rewarding…an approachable and easy read that’s perfect for anyone interested in learning about an alternative take on people development and organizational culture.” — TD magazine (Association for Talent Development)

ADVANCE PRAISE for An Everyone Culture:

An Everyone Culture is founded upon a simple yet powerful insight: that the best way to unleash an organization’s power is to realize the full potential of its individual employees. Kegan and Lahey highlight companies that focus on the continuous development of all employees and explain the steps needed to build this kind of ‘deliberately developmental’ culture. In a world that’s changing faster than ever, and where Millennials are demanding jobs with development opportunities, leaders cannot afford to miss this book.” — Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director, McKinsey & Company

An Everyone Culture is the most provocative recasting of human and organizational potential since the advent of the ‘learning organization.’ It will transform how you think about work and workplace culture in the twenty-first century.” — Gary Hamel, professor, London Business School

“Everyone talks about ‘growing our people,’ but what if this were the true strategic core of an enterprise? By connecting the emerging science of human development to the art of building a successful business, Kegan and Lahey have created the book that developmentally oriented managers have long been waiting for.” — Peter M. Senge, senior lecturer, MIT; founding chair, Society for Organizational Learning

“Unleashing people’s potential is the biggest leadership opportunity and challenge of the twenty-first century. Kegan and Lahey convincingly argue that winning companies need to have a holistic approach to development that spans individuals, teams, and the organization—working relentlessly to realize the potential of each and every employee. This book is a must-read for all leaders trying to find practical ways to unlock the potential of an entire organization.” — Rajeev Vasudeva, CEO, Egon Zehnder

“Our language and our experience suggest two distinct aspirations: how adults should develop, and what makes organizations successful over the years. This highly original book reveals deep connections between human development and organizational strength.” — Howard Gardner, professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

“This book should be as welcome as it is eye opening to organizational leaders. Kegan and Lahey demonstrate how workers’ search for personal development can be fused with an organization’s pursuit of better performance. This terrific book promises to usher in a new generation of workplaces of continuous personal and organizational growth.” — Geoffrey Canada, President, Harlem Children’s Zone

About the Author

Dr. Robert Kegan is the Meehan Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. The recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards, his thirty years of research and writing on adult development have contributed to the recognition that ongoing psychological development after adolescence is at once possible and necessary to meet the demands of modern life. His seminal books, The Evolving Self and In Over Our Heads, have been published in several languages throughout the world. Dr. Lisa Lahey leads the Personal Mastery component of a path-breaking new doctoral program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, designed to produce the public-sector equivalent of the “turnaround specialist.” A developmental psychologist and educator, and coauthor of Change Leadership, she led the research team that created the developmental diagnostic, now used around the world, for assessing adult meaning-systems.

An Everyone Culture

An Everyone Culture: Becoming A Deliberately Developmental Organization by Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey