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Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits
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Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  271 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Although it was first published more than thirty-five years ago, Up the Organization continues to top the lists of best business books by groups as diverse as the American Management Association, Strategy + Business (Booz Allen Hamilton), and The Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management. 1-800-CEO-READ ranks Townsend's bestseller first among eighty books that "e ...more
Hardcover, (J-B Warren Bennis Series), 174 pages
Published May 25th 2007 by Jossey-Bass (first published March 1st 1970)
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Michael Brown
Apr 22, 2012 Michael Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The only book about business that you'll ever need to read. Over 40 years old now, but it still cuts though all the BS of the modern corporate world.
Sigerson Holmes
Sep 17, 2013 Sigerson Holmes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Townsend was an effective leader. He made Avis into a profitable and effective organization, when it had previously been losing money and was inferior to #1 rival Hertz.

His take on the role and responsibilities of the CEO is sorely needed today. The current crop of CEO's is largely lacking in both his humility, savvy, and effectiveness, while being grossly overpaid.

Given a choice between Townsend and his management philosophy and style, and that of many of today's "celebrity CEOs", I'd go with T
Author Steve Lance has chosen to discuss Robert Townsend's Up The Organization , on FiveBooks ( on his list of five books that explain the future of Advertising, saying that:

“At the beginning of my career Up the Organization was hugely influential to me because it told me that you could be part of an organization and still be a maverick within the organization. What Robert Townsend preached was how to break the rules and still fit in.”.

The full interview is available here:
Редкая, маленькая, но очень богатая на высококачественные профессиональные советы для действующих руководителей компаний, которая поможет определить и вовремя исправить ошибки о которых вам ещё неизвестно, ну а тем кто метит, или уже на пути к карьере успешного менеджера книгу стоить прочитать дабы избежать несметное количество ошибок в будущих управленческих решениях.

Но книга не идеальная. Лично я нашёл немалое число спорных вопросов и несколько очень поверхностных рассмотренных тем. То есть ст
Sep 26, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
First came across this paperback shortly after it was published in 1970, so my edition is not the same as the one shown here.

What's interesting is how much of Townsend's advice still resonates after 40+ years. You'd think that a section like COMPUTERS AND THEIR PRIESTS would be out of the ark by now. I worked in IT for a long time, and find there's still a lot to like in Townsend's brief, brutal analysis.

This book had a huge impact on my working life. One of the best ever!
James Eckman
Jul 02, 2016 James Eckman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to James by: My dad
Shelves: non-fiction
The section on computers and their priests is still relevant today and I'm sorry that Townsend was unable to become the curator of the Harvard MBA school museum of horrors after a richly deserved closure.

Also time for a reread.
Nov 19, 2016 Mmustaquim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm not going to forget Robert Townsend's name anytime soon. It's likely that the greatest appeal for me when reading this book was the no holds barred straight-talking style. There aren't too many breakthrough ideas here. In fact most of the ideas are common sense. The decisive language and straightforward tone works to cement these otherwise common sense ideas and dismiss any dissenting inner voice to which we might be prone to fall prey.
Oct 28, 2016 Jackxblack rated it it was amazing
Extremely well written book with ideas still very relevant this days. If only CEOs would read it, instead of people lower in the hierarchy....
Omar Halabieh
Jun 09, 2012 Omar Halabieh rated it really liked it
As the cover jacket best summarizes it: "No pomposities. In short takes and plain words here is a way to humanize business, to have fun while making it all work better than it ever worked before - and better than it ever worked before - and better than anyone else is making it work...The result is the best, strongest, funniest, sagest, most outrageous and constructive book ever written about running things." Robert shares with us his thoughts on a wide variety of management and leadership topics ...more
Jul 16, 2007 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: othernonfiction
This book is an insightful and hilarious account of how to run a business. It's an old classic, published in 1970 by the then recently retired CEO of Avis Rent-a-car. He's nontraditional, iconoclastic, and thoughtful about organizational principles and business in general.

Buyer beware; given that's its written in 1970 it is palpably and utterly sexist in language; some jobs are for "men" and others are for "girls" and I"m sure you can guess which are which. It's more the artifact of the times th
Igpond.comdes Stephens
Townsend became CEO of a small company, AVIS, in 1962. By 1965 it was highly profitable and internationally recognised. He resigned and wrote this book for those who want to wage non violent guerrilla warfare and start dismantling their organization leaving only the parts that are serving it.
The book is arranged alphabetically into187 chapters mostly I or 2 pages

Some of his gems
#call yourself up and see what indignities you have built into your defences
#conflict can be a sign of health
Aug 19, 2016 Michel added it
Recommends it for: Anyone in Business. Especially Managers and Students.
Excellent book. Was given this in 1974 and have just found it in my library and reread it. It is just as pertinent today as it was 42 years ago.

The page that really sticks out is Page 135 entitled "Policy Manuals".

This really brings into perspective all the BS now required by companies who want to see your Quality Manuals, Quality Policies and the rest of the irrelevant rubbish that makes zero difference to the final product.

This book is well worth a reread by the modern managers and students
Mar 17, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure this book really deserves a full four stars but it was an entertaining and quick read, and it definitely did impress me. It has held up remarkably well considering it was written over 40 years ago. There are a few areas like technology that are out-of-date but so much of it still felt relevant. I didn't always agree with Townsend's ideas, but he has a gift for speaking his mind in a way that is compelling and enjoyable and I liked his tendency to cut to the chase.
Dan McConkie
Jun 29, 2009 Dan McConkie rated it really liked it
Definitely worth reading. One to two pages on many different themes in business. Reads like an encyclopedia so it can be used for reference or read straight through. It has changed the way I think about several aspects of my business (an example being the pay structure of my employees -- moving more toward commission in an industry where that is anything but typical).
Jul 05, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing
The best business book ever written! These days its about 50% sagelike wisdom, 25% anachronisms, and 25% batty, but it's easy to tell which category each brief essay falls into. And 100% of it is a blast to read.
Mar 20, 2008 Barbara rated it liked it
While this book was written in the 60's, Townsend's off-beat advise still holds today. My favorite is this: When asked to pull together a report (too) quickly, mark it clearly "Prepared under pressure and not understood". Wouldn't that simplify the corporate world?
Mina Soare
Sep 27, 2015 Mina Soare rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mina by: Norman Lewis
Iconoclastic, counterintuitive, ridiculously funny but concise - I say "but" because repetition is the only way I've seen teaching work outside science
Devin Partlow
Mar 14, 2013 Devin Partlow rated it liked it
Interesting take on the status quo of big corporations. Definitely worth the read if you feel like you're working for/running a corporation with a culture like most others.
Nov 06, 2015 Alyssa rated it it was ok
Yawn. Seems to all be common sense to me, and there's no flow to the book. It's just a collection of alphabetical topics.
Mar 01, 2016 Charles rated it it was amazing
This book, which I read during my student days, was a major influence on what became my management style. Townsend debunks myths, turns sacred cows into stew and encourages lateral thinking.
Gary rated it really liked it
Sep 10, 2016
David Hack
David Hack rated it really liked it
Feb 08, 2009
James A. Stanton
James A. Stanton rated it really liked it
Apr 02, 2015
Peter E.
Peter E. rated it it was amazing
Aug 23, 2014
Karina rated it really liked it
Feb 14, 2012
Matt Green
Matt Green rated it it was amazing
Jan 25, 2010
Jim Magwood
Jim Magwood rated it it was amazing
Nov 24, 2009
Wendy Lestina
Wendy Lestina rated it it was amazing
Nov 24, 2016
May 04, 2013 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
This book has some terrible ideas.
Pablo Astorga
Pablo Astorga rated it liked it
Mar 03, 2013
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Goodreads Librari...: cover image 3 17 Jun 17, 2015 10:09PM  
Goodreads Librari...: multiple entries of the same book 5 129 Jun 16, 2015 11:42AM  
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Robert C. Townsend (d. 1998) drew upon his early experiences as a banker at American Express Co. to redirect Avis Rent-a-Car as president and chairman. Under his leadership, Avis experienced a celebrated turnaround, fueled by the "We Try Harder" advertising campaign. Townsend also worked as an executive at 20th Century Fox and was director at several companies, including Dun and Bradstreet and ...more
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