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And Dignity for All: Unlocking Greatness with Values-Based Leadership

Jim Despain and Jane Converse   With a Foreword by Ken Blanchard

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Format: Paperback, 224pp.
ISBN: 9780131005327
Publisher: Financial Times Prentice Hall
Pub. Date: February 2003

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

Caterpillar, Inc.'s Track-Type Tractors Division was in deep trouble. It was losing lots of money, and working there was extremely undesirable. But Jim Despain and his colleagues rebuilt the division based on values of respect, empowerment, civility, and openness.

This is the story of how one street-smart boy without a college education became a seasoned leader. Truly a modern-day Horatio Alger story. His honesty and ability to rise from the ashes of his mistakes are inspirational. His respect for the common worker and personal search for dignity and self-worth lead him to a new kind of leadership. And his transformation of a struggling organization provides a powerful blueprint for transforming your own. Jim Despain and his colleagues unleashed a torrent of innovation that transformed a seriously unprofitable division into one of the company's most important profit centers.

It wasn't easy; it wasn't all sweetness and light. Ask the many managers he reassigned in a single day.

But for the 3,000 men and women of today's Track-Type Tractors Division of Caterpillar Inc., it was the dawn of a new era, in which good people find joy and nobility in their work, new freedom to be creative-and astonishing power to succeed.
  • Shared values: your #1 differentiator
    The simple reality: nothing inspires commitment like honesty and integrity
  • Leadership based on trust, not power
    Transform the managers, and the organization will follow
  • Walking the walk
    If you don't mean it, don't even bother
  • The right behavior gets the right results
    Focus on people, and the nucan start using today
    Bringing values-based management home-and making it stick

How a Tractor Company Changed Its Tracks

An extraordinary story of corporate and personal transformation.
  • Leading with integrity: why the right way to lead is also the most effective
  • Values-based management: one of the toughest things you'll ever do
  • Walking the walk: going beyond mere "vision statements"
  • What values-based leadership looks like: 100 behaviors that work

And Dignity for All is about becoming a leader with integrity: one who leads by example and builds an organization around a vision and values that others are proud to share.

As Ken Blanchard observes in his enthusiastic foreword, this is two books in one. It's the story of Jim Despain's remarkable personal journey from floorsweeper at Caterpillar to corporate vice president, and from self-serving, "command-and-control" boss to inspirational leader. And it's also a complete blueprint for translating simple ideas like respect, empowerment, civility, and open dialogue into a corporate culture that works.

Sounds like mush? It isn't. Despain used these techniques to transform a struggling manufacturing division into a thriving enterprise with exemplary labor-management relations and stellar numbers. With his guidance, you can make equally profound and lasting changes in your own organization.


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About the Authors

Jim Despain rose from hourly worker at Caterpillar to Vice President and General Manager of Track-Type Tractors Division in East Peoria, Illinois—one of the company's largest manufacturing facilities. As its leader, he transformed the division's bottom line, cutting its breakeven point in half, while at the same time dramatically improving its historically difficult labor relations. Despain is currently a trustee at Eureka College.

Jane Bodman Converse was the communications player on Jim's culture-change team, responsible for messages and media to support the transformation at Caterpillar. She is President of Converse Inc., Peoria, Illinois, and has more than 30 years experience in organizational consulting, communications, and marketing.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ken Blanchard
1Death of the Dog
2Pitchin' Pennies
3The Speck in My Eye
5Unjust Rewards
6A Second Betrayal
7The Piano that Played
8The Line on Fire
9Thieves in the Night
10The Sound of Silence
11Alone with My Fears
13Back to the Beginning
14Turning It Around
15A Painful Conclusion
16The Struggle Is On
17One Strong Voice
19The Legacy Lives

Customer Reviews
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James E. Despain was a Body Guarded, Union Busting Dictator June 19, 2003
Reviewer: Greg -The Big Kahuna from Peoria, Illinois, The home of Caterpillar, Inc.

In my opinion, You should "BUY THIS BOOK" because this is a "GREAT BOOK" of what "Should and Could be", and an Excellent "LIFE VALUES (Common Values) BASED Leadership Book". However, it DOES NOT portray True Facts of how Despain managed the East Peoria Plant, are "Nothing" like what Despain said in the book and my facts can be verified and backed up. Throughout this entire book, it talks about "Excellencia Performances and Situations", supposedly, managed by a Great People Person Leader (Despain), of which the East Peoria Plant was managed exactly the opposite. In East Peoria it was "Despain's Way" or "The Highway". I really believe Despain wanted the East Peoria Plant operated in a "Fair and have Dignity for All, Environment", yet Despain ruled as Iron Fisted Dictator with such a ferocious fist, that if you got in his way, his "AX" beheaded the best and the brilliant. It was truly "Despain's (his) Way or the Highway".
In Chapter 16, "The Struggle is On", Despain never mentions the "Breaking of the Union". Despain was --"Well Noted"-- for breaking the back of the Union in East Peoria by hiring Vance Security Guards during the strike and having 2 - 4 body guards most of the time (24-hours a day) during the 17 month 1994-1995 Union strike, and these 'Thugs' continued to body guard him after the strike was over?? He even had guards at his house!!! These guys looked like HULK HOGAN!! This was not even mentioned in the book!! These body guards, along with around 200 other thugs hired by Caterpillar, Inc., intimidated, threatened and used bodily force to FORCE the Union People to COOPERATE in the 1994-1995 strike. Why didn't he mention the Thugs in his book, he helped hire them?? If everything was the way the book portrayed, why did he need protection? Vice President Robert Dryden did not ever have any body guards, to my knowledge, and Mr. Dryden managed manufacturing bldg's & shops, adjacent to Mr. Despain's shops, in the same East Peoria Plant in Building KK.
I believe this book reflected Bob Gordon's feelings and it is Bob Gordon who was the 'Brilliant One' that Originated "The Common Values", Despain even admits this in "Gordo's Group Vision" on page 135-136. I should know, I worked for both of them. Gordon wanted to exemplify, bring out and identify the Brilliant, the Individual Thinkers, Entrepreneurs, Self Starters, and truly your Future Leaders and Superstars. But what actually took place, was opposite of this book. I believe Despain used this tactic, of the "Common Values", by this despotic dictator, to "Identify or Bring out the names of these free thinkers and individuals' so he could eliminate and dispose of, what he thought was, his foes, as he broke the Union and all the free spirit of which he was trying to promote!
The descriptions and representations, throughout this book, are figments of a man's imagination, and are truly "NOT" representative of what actually took place within the walls of the East Peoria Plant, but what kind of place Despain wanted, in my opinion.
On pages 136, 191 and many others it talks of "Risk Taking" and mistakes should not be punished but made learning experiences. If his feelings toward Risk Taking were like he said in his book, why would he terminate an employee after this employee saved him an annual $1,000,000.00 cost savings/reductions by re-writing his computer manufacturing complexes in the East Peoria Tractor facility. These Common Values and value-based leaderships, described in his material, are "Great" if they are in the proper hands, however, they were never implemented, as far as I could see.
I was in the middle of my Residency for my Ph.D. at the U of I, with five classes to go, when he fired me, with no warning, no meeting, no conversation, no nothing! Is this the "Common Values" and "Values Leadership" that Despain talks about in his book? Despain, says, 'There should never be any punishment for making a mistake'!! Isn't termination punishment?? Despain never one time talked with me or told me I was doing poorly, let alone enough to terminate me, because he gave me free rein to do what I thought best, just like the 1 million dollar cost savings.
Is this what Despain meant when he said we were given the freedom to do what we thought we needed to do, then terminate you without any communication, after 22 years of service to Caterpillar? These "Common Values" were ONLY COMMON to Despain!!
I felt Mr. Despain was A 'True Iron Fisted', "My Way or the Highway" Despotic Dictator. I give this book 1 Star for its intent to promote "Common Values", but it truly has many "Fictional Parts"!

Impressive person I work with in the Mexican Plant as an IE September 9, 2008
Jose Zacarias Limas from Oakville Ontario Canada

Jim Despain was my role model in those days while I was only in my early 20's (I was not aware of that either), after I was helping in the launch of the lift trucks, dozer blades and bucket assembly projects in Conek-Caterpillar Mexico; Mr. Despain was not a friendly person, but for sure a model, and I respectfully disagree with the comment above, based only on my personal experience and interaction with this man that is NOT my friend it all, so I do not earn any brownie point in saying what I say today, year later after the interaction with him; Despain has a humane side that I found when one of my ex-girlfriends (I only had two in my life) gave me troubles and used one of his "compadres" in HR Safety to set me up to get me fire from Caterpillar Mexico, I will not provide details of the situation as they are not really that important or relevant, but what is important is that I requested talking to Jim Despain, our General Director, to at least inform him about the unfair situation I was going to experience when the setup concluded and I realized this HR guys was a friend of my ex-girlfriend, and if HR would allow me to do so, to talk to our main leader, I would gladly sign my "let go" papers and leave the company so I requested, and so it happen; I still remember being across of the Excellencia Boss' desk, explaining that I have done nothing wrong for our company or managers, other than falling in love when I was 20 years old (at that moment with my first girlfriend) and he dismissed me a few minutes later, after I told him my only sin was to have felled in love of the wrong girl, and thank to that act of bravery, I kept my work I went then with the guy that set me up, grab him by the shirt neck and told him with a strong tune of voice o never ever do that again to anybody else or me or my boss Despain would take care of him Later on, life took me to lead a group of GM people as a manufacturing manager, in Saginaw Michigan, and now, I understand why I got to be a manager so soon there, I was repliing Jim Despain behavior, but not long ago after that, I decided that I will soon get divorced if I would continue with that, if I would turn my job as the most important value in my life, and I changed to be now an ordinary engineer working in Ford of Canada however, Jim Despain walk the walk then and now, he hold people accountable and HAD PASSION FOR THE JOB HE DO and he was demanding, but people only respond or react to INTIMIDATION OR SELF-CONVENIENCE, but I truly admire him a lot, and I never had the opportunity to tell him "thanks " a lot in his face Mr Jim Despain, if you ever see this note, thanks a lot for your life and example, I also had a rough childhood, and I have told this not too many people, but you are an inspiration and I still remember when you help provide $10K when hurricane Gilbert touched Monterrey City !!! And I still remember when you used to fire the entire departments when they did not performed, and compensate them also accordingly when they did !!! Great book. I am almost done with it, it's being with me for 2 days now and I will finish it today !!!

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