Bending granite defies the laws of physics but not the limits of our imagination. Granite is rock — hard, solid, tough, resistant to change. Like granite, many of our most durable institutions today — government agencies, schools, businesses, healthcare facilities, community organizations — are designed not to bend easily but rather to do the same things over and over in predictable and orderly ways. They can become impervious to change, however, inflexible in the face of opportunities, better at creating floors, walls, and ceilings of policies, protocols, and standards than adapting to rapidly changing times and abandoning things that no longer work.
The stories in Bending Granite are by difference makers who were passionate about their organizations and persistently and patiently nudged them forward day by day, one improvement at a time. No big bang, no instant pudding, no quick fixes here. Only through tending to purpose, processes, and people were they able to shape but not break the organizations they loved. Theirs are stories of change and continuous improvement.
With humility, humor, and honesty, the contributors describe their first-hand experiences—learned from trial and error and from one another—in a broad range of organizations including manufacturing, education, health, banking, insurance, service industries, military, construction, families, and government.
Zooming out from one medium-sized city in Wisconsin and building on over fifty years of the international momentum for improving quality, Bending Granite takes you behind the curtain to reveal not only the “why” but the “how, who, when, and where” of leading change.
Praise for Bending Granite
Written with simple clarity, Bending Granite shows how leaders at every level can bring people together to change the world. This path is there for the taking. — Peter Block, author, The Empowered Manager; Stewardship; and The Abundant Community
Take it from people who changed the world — from Gandhi to Oprah: The best way to make a lesson memorable is to tell a riveting story that embodies it. Bending Granite does just that, with strategies and inspiration for people ready to transform their organizations around them. — Donna Shalala, Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Bending Granite illustrates through true stories how the power of real people working together can transform a community. — Michelle Mason, President and CEO, ASAE and the Center for Associational Leadership