Weekend Reading: The Company We Keep
We had a great conversation yesterday afternoon with John Abrams, co-founder and president of South Mountain Company, an employee-owned design/build firm on Martha's Vineyard. John is also author of The Company We Keep: Reinventing Small Business for People, Community and Place, which has been on our bedside table - and talk of the office for most of the summer. In it, John describes South Mountain's transition to employee ownership, and the things the company has learned along the way. He's a builder, and a thoughtful one, so the ideas translate into the eight "cornerstones" on which South Mountain has been built:
- cultivating workplace democracy
- challenging the gospel of growth
- balancing multiple bottom lines
- commiting to the business of place
- celebrating the spirit of craft
- advancing "people conservation"
- practicing community entrepreneurism
- thinking like cathedral builders
Our conversation with John touched on each of these, as well the challenges of building "ownership" in nonprofit organizations. We also talked about the state of green building, and ways to remove obstacles to making building more energy-efficient and sustainable. After John left, we kept talking for hours about ways to take the lessons he's learned at South Mountain, and bring them into our own lives and work.
As someone who does not have any affinity for business books, I can't say enough about how this book reads like a story, like sitting around the woodstove in one of John's well-insulated houses and listening to him talk about what he's learning as he goes. It's approachable and inspiring for any of us who like to think about how to make our workplace - and the world around us - a better place.
At The Company We Keep
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Posted by Jess Brooks at September 22, 2006 8:18 AM