That the resulting product might have been all left shoes and no right shoes would have seemed inconsequential, just as long as lots of glue had been used up. De Pree suggested that the old Soviets needed to take a broader view of input measurement.
In his own version of 'management by walking around,' De Pree seems to believe 'water cooler' discussions are a good way to measure some inputs, such as the inputs that concern employee interest.
De Pree considers 'inputs' in a very different light from the old Soviets, or even from the new Americans; rather than measuring board feet of lumber, he suggests that measuring what the organization expects from the employees is a better measure, and may include not only board feet of lumber sawed, but belief in a shared vision and so on.
Inputs are, to De Pree, the annual meeting at which visions are produced and shared. In addition, they are also questions and contrary opinions, the very things he believes are among the important ones setting non-profit organizations apart from for-profit ones. Perhaps the most useful point he makes regarding this, in a society obsessed with 'accountability,' is that there is a place for anonymity. While he notes that many executives will simply disregard any information about the organization that they receive anonymously, others will retain the information, possibly for later confirmation and action. Still others will use their powers of discernment and take anonymous information very seriously under advisement. De Pree makes the point that "we express our opinions anonymously every time we vote" (De Pree, 2003, p. 54), and those are certainly taken seriously.
Despite De Pree's insistence that leadership be by example rather than force, or perhaps because of it, he ends his discussion with an extensive treatise on morality and ethics, not a bad subject in the post-Enron era. He wrote this book before the Clinton-Lewinsky debacle, however, so it was apparent that at least in some organizations, notably the premier organization in the United States, its government, leaders were not yet completely cognizant concerning one of De Pree's most important points: "Nothing is more dispiriting than the discovery of the leader in a vital organization who has betrayed the moral purpose of the group to obtain a few paltry signs of personal power and wealth' (De Pree, 2003, p. 185).
He advocates practicing simplicity, not an uncommon thread in public life in some respects. He proposes people seek to live and work in liberty, rather than conducting themselves through license. He even suggests "modulating" our practice of liberty in favor of the common good; he might, indeed, be explaining the meaning of the Constitution to those Luddites of recent years who have misconstrued the phrase "pursuit of happiness" to mean unbridled, uncontrolled licentiousness at anyone's expense. Or, in other words, the reprehensible actions of the leaders at Enron, and even Martha Stewart's grasping for a paltry $50,000 rather than attending to the common good, in that case possibly defined as retaining her image as a smart and decent woman rather than an intelligent and greedy one. The fact that her cupidity has now been rewarded with an NBC contract is all the more reason De Pree's book needs to be read by every executive in America, and they need to be tested on its contents.
While De Pree's book will often be unintelligible to those who have not yet heard and understood that a more compassionate world is on the way (e.g., the IRA laying down its arms and denouncing its own violent past), it is a necessary volume. If there is any truth to the Hundredth Monkey Theory*, in time, the other 'monkeys' will figure out that washing the fruit (as the 100th monkey did, unbidden, when critical intellectual mass had been reached) is better than eating it with all the dirt still on it.
De Pree, Max. "Leading Without Power: Finding Hope in Serving Community." New York: John Wiley & Sons. 2003. 1992 pp.
In this theory, monkeys on an isolated island decide to wash their fruit before eating it. On a distant island, when the 10 oth monkey on the first island begins washing his fruit, monkeys on the other island also begin the…