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The FutureOf AmericanBusiness:Simon SinekHate your job? Convinced there’snothing better out there? Think again.Simon Sinek discovered one com-pany that’s changing the game.By Simon Sinek,Career AdviserThis week I saw evidence of an idealized future, a collective genius of NASA, an organization practi-future that can exist – and it was glorious. cally founded to prove to the world the heights to which America could reach, and the support of anIn September of 1962, President Kennedy gave inspired nation that made that vision come true.his famous “to the moon” speech. Standing at a Though there were many setbacks along the way,lectern at Rice University, he challenged our they persisted. Every successful mission servednation to put a man on the moon and return him as evidence that this idealized vision of the futurehome safely within the decade. was possible. Eight years on and 16 missions later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon and returned home safely. And it wasKennedy must have been mad. At the time he gave all done before the end of 1969.the speech, America had only sent two men intoorbit, and the longest a human being had spentin space was 4 hours, 56 minutes and 5 seconds I know another man with a– a record set by Scott Carpenter, who orbited bold vision. His name is Bobthe planet at about 165 miles up. The moon, in Chapman. He believes thatcontrast, is 240,000 miles away. We had no clue every man and every woman inwhat the effects to prolonged time in space were this country should go to work inon the human body. Much of the technology we the morning and return homeneeded to get there was not yet developed, and in the evening feeling fulﬁlledsome of the materials that would be used to build Robert H. Chapman by the day. There are compa-the spacecrafts and the rockets hadn’t been Chairman & CEO nies that are great places to Barry-Wehmillerinvented yet. work, for sure. But what Bob envisions is much bolder. Bob’s vision is not based on the charisma of a single leader, butA Bold Vision on the collective genius of all the people insideKennedy’s vision was bold, for sure. Idealistic, the company. “We’re building great people towithout a doubt. And the timing? Insane. It was the do extraordinary things,” as he puts it.
The Path To Fulﬁllment They didn’t use the word “management” in theI met Bob Chapman last year. He had seen my company. No one was in “management” andTEDx Talk and wanted to tell me about the no one was a “manager.” The term didn’t exist.company he was building. He offered to meet Instead, they have only leaders. And leaderswith me no matter where I was. And so, one sun- were at all levels and in all manners of job func-ny day in Los Angeles, Bob ﬂew out for lunch. tion across the company. “There is no ‘us andWhat was scheduled as a one-hour lunch turned them,’” one of leaders who works in the factoryinto a three-hour meeting that left us both abso- told me. “There is only ‘us.’”lutely inspired by what was possible. I too imag-ine this idealized world in which most people go At all the ofﬁces, on many of the walls, werehome at the end of the day feeling fulﬁlled. I talk written the words that Bob would remind meabout the patterns that exist that could make this of over and over throughout our time together:possible – but Bob claimed to be building it. He “We’re building great people to do extraordinarywas the CEO of a company with a funny name things.” And they aren’t just words; they live it.(Barry-Wehmiller) that no one had ever heard of. I If there is a problem to be solved, for example,wanted to see it to believe it. the company expects those with the problem to solve the problem.The future of American business’ is bright. Here’sone company that’s making it happen... My favorite example was a data management system to track all the orders and jobs the fac- tory needed to complete. Though “manage-In Pursuit Of A Common Vision ment” had bought a multimillion-dollar SAPLast week I got a glimpse of what the future of system to track it all, those who work in the fac-American business looks like, and it looks like tory thought they could do it better themselves.Barry-Wehmiller. There are plenty of start-ups And so they did: two wooden boards with rowsthat have a vision of a bright future but never really of plastic folders nailed on each. Their systemmake it. Of those companies that do make it, it is allows for an instant visual of what’s going onoften their own success that distracts them from in the factory at any time. Depending on howtheir original vision. Their size and scale start to many jobs are in each folder, they can tell whichadd layers of management and bureaucracy that jobs are piling up and which are done. Anyonehardly leave people inspired at the end of a day. who walks past the board can see where helpBarry-Wehmiller is a billion-plus dollar company is needed so they can go over to help. It iswith thousands of employees around the globe. an astounding system of effic i enc y. OneAnd yet, the inspiration lives on. More signiﬁcantly, developed not by high-priced consultants withit did it in a way I didn’t think possible – through a high-priced system to sell, but by those whoacquisition. It is a collection of 50 companies. do the job and are trusted and empowered toIt’s unheard of to take so many different cultures do their jobs. A novel idea.and have them all gel so well in pursuit of acommon vision. The Future Of BusinessWe crisscrossed the country for a few days, visit- Imagine a world in which we all go to work anding a few of the company’s ofﬁces and factories. come home feeling fulﬁlled. We come homeWe met employees with all job functions, from fac- feeling like we contributed to something biggertory workers to senior management. Bob stayed than ourselves. Imagine a world in which we feltaway for all of our meetings and factory tours to a collective pride for being a part of the companiesensure people would be more candid when they we work for and have a genuine love of the peopleanswered our questions. And the feeling was with whom we work. This is not the ramblings of aunanimous and overwhelming: employees loved crazy idealist. There is precedence for this world,their jobs and loved this company. and it’s called Barry-Wehmiller. AskMen.com / January 26, 2011