Everybody Matters - Bob Chapman

Everybody Matters - Bob Chapman

It’s easy to scoff when a company’s maxim includes ‘people first’. We justify our sarcasm when we too often witness actions contradicting these words.

It’s tough being a human; to be consistent with our values, demonstrating what we expect in others and to live out our words. We are all guilty. Parents, in particular, who espouse their love of their children, however, neglect to come home early and give them complete attention.

So, to believe that a company would literally put its people first in its vision/purpose statement – with no mention of a product to indicate what the company produces is indeed difficult to fathom.

Seriously, this story is too good to be true. However, when you open a book and find that Simon Sinek has penned the forward, you may change your mind. If you haven’t heard of Simon, then take my word - he is an optimist and his TED talk – How great leaders inspire action, is probably still one of the most viewed talks. (Please don’t go and view it … finish reading my review.)

Purpose: We’re in business so that all our team members can have meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Under Bob Miller’s stewardship, his company, Barry-Wehmiller identified, that to survive they had to acquire another manufacturing firm. It was through this initial acquisition that the difference in the company cultures was identified. They were perplexed, how did they have such a great culture and this new company was so different.

Everybody Matters was written by the current CEO, Bob Miller – sharing his organisation’s story of how they changed everything – leadership, processes and purpose. It’s because of these changes they survived the great 2008-2009 recession (no lay-offs across numerous companies); their success was defined by the sacrifices they made which were achieved due to their culture - cultivated over the past thirty years.

Paramount in their culture is the involvement of team members in decision making, growing their own leaders, creating their own leadership university and living by their Guiding Principles. It is these elements which made this company extremely profitable – rarely is budget spreadsheet management mentioned in their story – especially when Bob’s background is Accounting!

I’ve practised and read about many theories of leadership and their adoption of a ‘human-centred approach’ is played out in this book. Inspired by Wilfred Peterson’s The Art of Living, [quote included] the business attributes its success to living out its vision and using visioning sessions to determine future actions. These sessions always involve a cross-functional group of team members to ensure an integrated, inspirational and sustainable solution is identified.

Everybody Matters is divided into two parts – The Journey and The Playbook – the latter being the ‘how to’ of what Barry-Wehmiller has done while acquiring/adopting almost 80 companies and continuing to being in the business of manufacturing and engineering.

 Joseph Keane Photography

Joseph Keane Photography

There are many initiatives shared within these pages … here’s a snippet:

Commandments of leadership – the Truly Human Leadership ‘lighthouse’ to guide in vision making and decision making

Checklist for leadership – what is expected by everyone to action every day e.g. I facilitate meaningful group discussions.

Continuous improvement redesigned– designing their own version of Lean (7S) to keep all businesses operating with a focus on people, not process alone

Cultivating responsible freedom – reinventing empowerment to build genuine trust and trustworthy relationships to give people the right to use their own talents

Curriculum of leadership – including communication skills training and leadership fundamentals provided to all team members and leaders in their own university

Celebrating and recognising people – showing that everyone matters and appealing to people’s intrinsic motivations

The extraordinary power of caring for your people like family is the bi-line for Everybody Matters. Whilst I agree with this, I can imagine that it will challenge many people's’ beliefs based on their conflicting conditions and experiences in their life. If your home life isn’t the happiest - is this indicative of what’s going on in your workplace? If you could influence your workplace culture, would it influence your behaviour at home? Oh, it’s the discussion I would like to continue (with you)!


I’ve concluded my reading challenge; I spent the final weeks of June 2017 cramming in the remaining books. Sadly, I didn’t manage to squeeze in the book reviews so I’m now catching up with a couple of reviews which were remarkable reads. I’m also designing a presentation about my ‘52 Books’ and look forward to the opportunity to share this with you and your business.