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If Aristotle Ran General Motors

by Tom Morris

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2083107,227 (4.06)4
What does classical philosophy have to offer modern business? Nothing less than the secrets to building great morale and productivity in any size organization.This is the message that Tom Morris will deliver this year to thousands of executives of leading companies such as Merrill Lynch, Coca Cola, Bayer, and Northwestern Mutual Life.In If Aristotle Ran General Motors, Morris, who taught philosophy at Notre Dame for fifteen years, shares the knowledge that he garnered from a lifetime of studying the writings and teachings of history's wisest thinkers and shows how to apply their ideas in today's business environment. Although he frequently draws on the wisdom of Aristotle, Morris also finds inspiration in the teachings of a wide array of thinkers from many different traditions and eras. Throughout these pages we're invited to pause and consider the wordsof Confucius, Seneca, Saint Augustine, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln, and many others.By looking at the inside workings of various kinds of businesses - from GE to Tom's of Maine - Morris shows why any company that is serious about attaining true excellence must adhere to four timeless virtues first identified by Aristotle more than two thousand years ago: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity. Morris makes clear that the most successful companies encourage a corporate culture that ensures that all interactions among colleagues, employees, bosses, clients, customers, and suppliers are infused with dignity and humanity. Moreover, the book provides clearly stated strategies for how everyone who works can make these qualities the foundation for their everyday business (and personal) lives. If Aristotle Ran General Motors presents the most compelling case of any book yet written for a new ethics in business and for a workplace where openness and integrity are the rule rather than the exception. It offers an optimistic vision for the future and a plan for reinvigorating the soul back into our professional lives.… (more)
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Morris attempts to bridge an interesting divide. While the recent events in major companies across the country highlight more than ever the need for a renewed interest in the study of ethical behavior, the bridge presented here, while unique, accomplishes the goal in a convincing fashion.

The wisdom of the ancients (and some not so ancients) applied to modern business problems is a novel approach. Business, and just about any other form of modern management, typically has a myopic focus. The only focus is earning a profit. When financial security is the primary focus, every moral and ethical obligation soon becomes flawed to achieve that end.

To circumvent this attraction to flawed logic, another focus must be determined. If an entity, be it an individual or a transnational corporation, shifts its focus from earning a profit, to reaching for the ancient principles found in philosophy – truth, beauty, goodness, and unity – the actions preformed by that entity will still lead to a profit (at least in most cases) but will do so without violating moral obligations.

This book, in fact, illustrates the need for a liberal arts education. It is not enough for students to learn how to balance a ledger, or to create a marketing campaign. These students must be taught to approach each problem they encounter not through the myopic lens of simple profit and self-promotion, but through the multi-faceted, interdisciplinary lens of a liberal arts education. Looking at an issue from a collection of different angles will illuminate the one best course of action. ( )
  danielrsimpson | Mar 18, 2011 |
This is a cute sweet little book. While I think it veers off into the abstract more than is helpful- more concrete examples would have been better illuminating, still a worth a gander to make sure one is on the right track. The material strikes a nice balance between Eastern values and Western thinking.

The external world will never move us toward nirvana. It might, on the contrary, drive us crazy. And we can't live happily with our nerves all ajangle. We need some calm. We need inner peace. We need some measure of personal tranquility or we'll never be able to deal well with all that the future may throw at us.

Unappreciated people feel little or no sense of loyalty or camaraderie toward those who are ignoring them, and very little responsibility.
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  Clueless | Apr 29, 2008 |
It's interesting but not as much of a "how-to" as I had hoped. Morris explores four elements in the context of good business as itemized by Aristotle and others: Intellectual (truth), aesthetic (beauty), moral (goodness), and spiritual (unity). ( )
  jpsnow | Apr 7, 2008 |
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What does classical philosophy have to offer modern business? Nothing less than the secrets to building great morale and productivity in any size organization.This is the message that Tom Morris will deliver this year to thousands of executives of leading companies such as Merrill Lynch, Coca Cola, Bayer, and Northwestern Mutual Life.In If Aristotle Ran General Motors, Morris, who taught philosophy at Notre Dame for fifteen years, shares the knowledge that he garnered from a lifetime of studying the writings and teachings of history's wisest thinkers and shows how to apply their ideas in today's business environment. Although he frequently draws on the wisdom of Aristotle, Morris also finds inspiration in the teachings of a wide array of thinkers from many different traditions and eras. Throughout these pages we're invited to pause and consider the wordsof Confucius, Seneca, Saint Augustine, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln, and many others.By looking at the inside workings of various kinds of businesses - from GE to Tom's of Maine - Morris shows why any company that is serious about attaining true excellence must adhere to four timeless virtues first identified by Aristotle more than two thousand years ago: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity. Morris makes clear that the most successful companies encourage a corporate culture that ensures that all interactions among colleagues, employees, bosses, clients, customers, and suppliers are infused with dignity and humanity. Moreover, the book provides clearly stated strategies for how everyone who works can make these qualities the foundation for their everyday business (and personal) lives. If Aristotle Ran General Motors presents the most compelling case of any book yet written for a new ethics in business and for a workplace where openness and integrity are the rule rather than the exception. It offers an optimistic vision for the future and a plan for reinvigorating the soul back into our professional lives.

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