Memos from the Chairman

by Alan C. Greenberg

Really interesting book into the memos from Bear Sterns in the 1980s.

While I enjoyed reading them, I didn’t come away with a lot of takeaways. Perhaps the largest takeaway is the vigilence of negative behavior. Greenberg constantly, and by constantly, I mean in roughly 1/3 of the memos, talks about basic principles. Basic to the level of reusing envelops, saving paperclips and picking up telephones.

Later on in the book, this paragraph caught my eye:

“We have lost 90% of our competitors over the last 20 years. Most of those managements were precocious; they were using those catchy techniques years ago.

35% used TQM 25% used CI 20% used BPR 10% used OTAODI.

The remaining 10% did not use any sophisticated management tools, they were just extra special stupid. The committee suggested that we stick to common sense (CS) because catchy titles will never supplant “CS.” If you disagree, you are working at the wrong place.”


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