Item description for The Company We Keep: Reinventing Small Business for People, Community, and Place by John Abrams & William Greider...
Socially responsible investments have grown exceptionally in the same year that "moral values" determined a presidential election. So why has business been so slow to catch on? In a new book, The Company We Keep, small business owner and entrepreneur John Abrams makes a case for a return to workplace values, and shows how we can ultimately profit by them.
The Company we Keep is more than the success story of a revolutionary company. It sets down a framework for a model of employee ownership and community involvement that has piqued the interest of entrepreneurs around the country. In the words of Abrams, "This is a book about a different way of doing business in today's world--a way based on workplace democracy, shared ownership, staying small, building community, commitment to a place, and long term thinking."
John Abrams founded the South Mountain Company, a design and building firm, on Martha's Vineyard more than thirty years ago. Through a commitment to place and community entrepreneurship, he has seen the company grow and prosper, while at the same time experimenting with a revolutionary employee ownership model that has challenged the traditional business rhetoric of unchecked growth.
There is a revolution going on in corporate America, and social entrepreneurship is leading the way. Rejecting the myth that short-term profits are the only indicator of business health and wealth, John Abrams shows how building a company to serve the needs of people (employees and owners), community, and the environment can be a successful business plan as well. Part entrepreneurial business plan, part guide to democratizing the workplace, and part prescription for strong local economies, The Company We Keep marks the debut of an important new voice in the literature of American business.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.25" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.25" Weight: 1.35 lbs.
Release Date May 30, 2005
Publisher Chelsea Green
ISBN 1931498733 ISBN13 9781931498739
Availability 0 units.
More About John Abrams & William Greider
John Abrams is co-founder and president of South Mountain Company, a design/build and renewable energy company on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. In 1987, South Mountain Company was restructured to become employee-owned, and so began the adventure that led Abrams to write his first book, The Company We Keep: Reinventing Small Business for People, Community, and Place. With added experience and research, Abrams has revised the book, renamed Companies We Keep: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place, so that it can better serve as a primer for employee-ownership. In 2005 Business Ethics magazine awarded South Mountain its National Award for Workplace Democracy.
John Abrams currently resides in West Tisbury, in the state of Massachusetts.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Company We Keep: Reinventing Small Business for People, Community, and Place?
Moving Forward Jan 20, 2007
A document of great vision and execution in a positive direction. A fine example of collaborative and cooperative thinking thich enhances the resulting effort. Everyone wants to work in a nurturing environment.
Totally engrossing and not just for business-types Aug 24, 2006
In an era in which corporations are measured on quarterly, single bottom-line returns, John Abrams presents a compelling case that a multiple bottom-line, values oriented, long term focus can be a successful business strategy in The Company We Keep.
In this well-written and compelling book, Abrams artfully examines the long-accepted American business concept of growth;and determines that growth for growth's sake is a short-term strategy leading to failure. He weaves over twenty years of experience in construction, design and sustainable building practices into a philosophical look at the meaning of work and success; the result provides the reader with fabric from which to examine his/her own company, work life, natural environment and style of doing business. Perhaps most importantly, the book is written in a warm, reflective style which makes it hard to put down and leaves the reader yearning for more insights and information from this writer, who provides substantial research and details to support his work and ideas. Just as a good movie creates long-lasting recollections of scenes, The Company We Keep brings daily reminders of wonderful stories and the confidence that strong personal and company values can indeed be the means to a successful and growing business.
A Must-Read for every MBA program and anyone interested in succeeding in business with integrity! Jul 20, 2006
Can a company built and grown on Abrams's hippie values of kindness, love, respect, honesty, and freedom of the individual actually be successful in this era rife with competition?
A friend recommended this book, as am a business owner, MBA, Gen X/ Y, who embraces these values to the extent that I'll never compromise, and have built a small, successful business with similar emphasis on treating people involved extraordinarily well. Profit, like in Abrams's story, was simply a bi-product. And the joy of knowing I'm doing good for so many interested parties is priceless.
So many lessons to be learned in this wonderful book! I couldn't put it down once I started reading. Abrams's completely open, honest approach is heart-warming and inspiring.
One can hold true to one's values, and still build a fabulously successful company, one in which the coworkers are also owners with a vested interest. And customers, too, are treated like partners. Emphasis on quality of work, versus growth simply for the sake of growth, is often illustrated.
This is one of those rare books one remembers long after reading. Each day since reading the book, I hear ordinary words like 'cooperation', which bring me back to the wonderful stories in this book and to the many studies well-noted in the book suggesting further evidence of people's natural urge to cooperate (and success in doing so).
A beautiful story and a must-read for anyone in business who wants to keep his/ her soul! Thank you for sharing your heartfelt, model example of developing a very successful business with values, Mr. Abrams!! The book is a classic. Will revisit it often, and already sent several copies to friends.
Blueprint for REAL Success Apr 19, 2006
This is an excellent business book!
I recommend it to any CEO wondering how to maintain a profitable and healthy organization beyond next quarter's bonus.
John Abrams shows us how real business success can be achieved for the corporation and the community in this documentary of South Mountain Company. It is well written and packed with the tested principals and concepts that have built this successful, community centered business on Martha's Vineyard.
Imagine that true workplace democracy combined with commitments to ethical business dealings and social responsibility can lead to a high quality, sustainable, and profitable business! Corporate America should sit up and take notice!
I vote that we make this book required reading as part of the rehabilitation process of all incarcerated former corporate executives.
Best business book I've ever read Apr 17, 2006
In an age of every type of self-help tale imaginable, this is the best business book I have read period; it makes perfect sense. The Openness the author is willing to share and the research behind it is tremendously thought provoking. I have purchased numerous copies to share with my friends.
Like any avid reader I picked this book in the summer and put it in the pile of about 200 "to read immediately." To be candid, I very likely would not have picked it up as soon as I did, but with my business in transition I felt I would give it a try.
The substantive issues summarized on p. 238 really cause the book to stand out; the author takes the building of South Mountain and allow its principles to transcend the story itself. At my bedside I keep a copy of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "The Gift from the Sea" and often read passages. In it she writes: "Island living has been a lens through which to examine my own life in the North. I must keep my lens when I go back. Little by little one's holiday vision tends to fade. I must remember to see with island eyes. The shells will remind me; they must be my island eyes."
Later she queries, "Can one solve world problems when one is unable to solve one's own? Where have we arrived in this process? Have we been successful, working at the periphery of the circle and not at the center?" Her question is similar to a familiar passage of Tolstoy's a deceased client of mine, a hero himself, often quoted: "Everybody wants to change the world, but they don't want to change themselves."
The leap of faith John Abrams took in changing the culture of South Mountain is a great example of starting from the center. He has worked hard and with creative aforethought in solving one's own corporate problems with a view to the outside world. This is not an idyllic story of a community business developed on the the Island of Martha's Vineyard. It is a practical guide, but how fortunate the author has been that view is with "island eyes."
Back to p. 238, you wonder: "I don't know yet, nor do I know whether I will ever know, to what degree we can build on the foundations we have created and to what degree we can improve our skills. Neither do I know to what extent our experience can help others go down the path toward economic democracy and community entrepreneurship. I don't know whether, in time, many more people will share ownership and control of the companies they work in."
I think John Abrams has the model right here to make great changes in our corporate world. One can only imagine if many small and large businesses utilized this modus operandi. One only needs to pick up the business page of any major newspaper to think the world(`s problems) would be better off.
I have been a part of the company for 21 years and took sole ownership a little over 4 years ago. Similarly to South Mountain, we are an established enterprise which, for a variety of reasons, are at crossroads in our growth and development. I would like to consider tailoring the South Mountain model to my company and go down the same path. Nonetheless, this read is for any business manager/owner with a company big or small as its applications ring true.