Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Puritan Gift

By Pascal Dennis

Kenneth and William Hopper have done us a great service.

Their award-winning book, The Puritan Gift, offers a bracing diagnosis of what ails America.

The Hoppers argue that we've squandered the gift bequeathed on us by our Puritan forbears:

  1. Commitment to creating a better society, indeed, a "shining city on the hill",
  2. Putting the needs of the group ahead of individual needs,
  3. A willingness, and pleasure in, getting our hands dirty,
  4. Organizational genius, and
  5. A respect for, and comfort with, technology

Since the end of WWII, management practice has been hijacked by the Cult of the (So-Called) Expert.

Business schools have flooded our organizations with MBA's who "should have a skull & crossbones tattooed across their foreheads."

The cult's mental models, they tell us, include:

  1. "We can manage by the numbers, from a distance. We don't have to get our hands dirty."
  2. Credentialism -- the more degrees, preferably business degrees, the better
  3. "Every man, woman, thing for themselves!"
  4. "The common good -- what's that?"
  5. "Top-down control -- what can the front-line worker possibly teach us?"

Raw, passionate stuff!

The book has much to teach Lean thinkers. Their discussion of the meeting of East & West in post-war Japan is not to be missed.

Well done, Ken and Bill!

Best regards,



  1. Thanks, Pascal. We should have a conversation sometime about the theological implications of Lean. Howard Wilson

  2. Hi Howard,

    Great to hear from you & trust all's well. Be pleased to shoot the breeze. Theological implications of Lean are deep, I suspect. (Here, I humbly defer to you.)

    Lean is certainly informed, in my view, by the cardinal virtues (Temperance, Prudence, Justic, Courage) -- a core theme of latest book, The Remedy.

    I'd add Aristotle, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius & Seneca.

    I like those old boys. For them, philosophy was the "study of how to live a better life" -- not a bad definition of Lean perhaps?

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  4. Hi Pascal

    Addressing "True North", I´d like to add Nietzsche:

    “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

    People and companies that have "in mind" their objectives, may overcome every obstacle!



  5. Fine comment, Carlos -- thanks!

    Purpose is indeed the key. If it's clear and connected to your heart, you can bear almost any burden.