Wilfred Brown: Most Important CEO You’ve Never Heard Of

E. Forrest Christian Change, Wilfred Brown Leave a Comment

I recently wrote an appreciation of Wilfred Brown, the Managing Director of Glacier Metal Company, accomplished management author, and government servant. I wrote this for the recent GO Society summit in Toronto, as a part of their new CEO Honor Roll. I had written the Wikipedia article on Lord Brown ages ago and have intended to do more but haven’t. …

Wilfred Brown, ca. 1970. From the Glacier Institute of Management's film series

Exploration in Management: Free training by Wilfred Brown on requisite organizations

E. Forrest Christian requisite organization, Wilfred Brown Leave a Comment

The most important CEO management thinker you’ve never heard of — Lord Wilfred Brown, Managing Director (CEO) of Glacier Metal Company in the UK — gives you the lowdown on how organizations can be structured to create trust, democracy and shareholder value in this amazing management film training series from the early 1970s. This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky theory from an …

ADLER typewriter Model n°7 (Frankfurt / Germany). Unknown model date (probably ~1930/40). By Dake

Workplace Democracy, Participation and Power

E. Forrest Christian Change, Reviews - Books, Wilfred Brown Leave a Comment

FromOrganizational Participation: Myth and Reality by Frank Heller, Eugen Pusicć, George Strauss, and Bernhard Wilpert. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. 294 pp.

These experts (Heller is from Tavistock) have a brief mention of Wilfred Brown’s participative management at Glacier Metal Company.

In some individual cases the transition from autocracy to a variety of organizational forms where influence is more widely distributed can be achieved by deliberate intra-organizational processes, as for instance in the formation of the Scott Bader Commonwealth (Hoe 1978) or the democratization of the Glacier Metal Company (Jaques 1951; Wilfred Brown 1960). In the case of Scott Bader, the founder of the business was a devout Christian who, after a prolonged strike of his workforce. came to the conclusion that he no longer wished to be the sole owner. In the Commonwealth he created, every employee became formally a part owner and two potentially participative decision-making councils were set up. The Managing Director of the Glacier Metal Comapny, Wilfred Brown, was a very unusual person. He combined intellectual and socio-political interests (he was for a time a Minister in the British Labour Government with a very sympathetic attitude to social science which led him to engage a psychoanalytically oriented consultant, Elliot [sic] Jaques from the Tavistock Institute in London, to help introduce a participative-humanistic organization (Jaques 1951).

These two well documented cases, while not unique, are examples of substantial structural and to a lesser extent behavioural changes consequent on a policy decision by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In both cases the CEO stayed on the scene for sufficiently long to consolidate the structural changes and in both cases these changes survived the death of the founder for a number of years. [145-6]

Full Employee Participation in Policy-Making Through Representative Council (workplace democracy)

E. Forrest Christian elliott jaques, Governance, Managing, Wilfred Brown Leave a Comment

Wilfred Brown, the Managing Director and Chairman of Glacier Metal Company during Elliott Jaques’s work there, continued to believe that all employees had interest in changes to POLICY. He delimited that against the rights of managers to do their jobs within policy. What was policy was defined within the works council. Elliott Jaques abandoned this later in favor of trusting managers to represent their subordinates, in direct contradiction to his supposed value of creating systems rather than trusting people to be “good” as managers. Here’s why Brown was right and Jaques was not.

Fox Glacier. (c) 2005 Robert Young (robertpaulyoung). Via Flicr (CC BY 2.0)

How Unionization Benefits the Firm (Wilfred Brown, retired CEO of Glacier Metal Company, speaks out)

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Wilfred Brown, Managing Director and Chairman of the Board at Glacier Metal Company (where Elliott Jaques came up with Stratified Systems Theory and levels of work) supported unions at his factories. Even managers can best defend themselves “if they have properly elected representatives.” From a conversation he had with Wolfgang Hirsch-Weber in the early 1980s.

Wilfred Brown on Democratic Society

E. Forrest Christian Theory, Wilfred Brown Leave a Comment

Wilfred Brown’s structures for a decent work organization led to the speculations that I’m making this week. However, reading him again over the last two days, I’m not sure that these points are actually in his work. They are perhaps my own interpretations being read in. Brown believed in Workplace Democracy. This wasn’t the simplistic ideas of others that you …

Lord Wilfred Brown’s Training Films Now Available Online

E. Forrest Christian Governance, Managing, Organizations, requisite organization, Reviews - Videos, Wilfred Brown Leave a Comment

The GO Society has quietly put up the Exploration in Management training films. These films, produced for the Glacier Institute of Management and narrated by Lord Wilfred Brown, the retired Managing Director of Glacier Metal Company and Prochancellor of Brunel University, show how the radical ideas Brown developed with Dr. Jaques work from a manager’s point of view. I’m glad …

Leadership Is Amoral: Review of Kellerman's "Bad Leadership"

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Organizations, Reviews - Books, Wilfred Brown Leave a Comment

I recently ran across Barbara Kellerman’s Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters (Leadership for the Common Good) (2004, Harvard Business School Press). Kellerman makes the argument that the current thinking on leadership is that it is always positive. Hitler is a bad leader because he did evil. People don’t talk about bad leadership and have …

Blagojevich: Why Wilfred Brown's Ideas Still Work

E. Forrest Christian Managing, Theory, Wilfred Brown 7 Comments

“The combination of arrogance and stupidity that would prompt him to continue in these types of behaviors is just stunning,” Dr. [Kent Redfield, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield,] said . “There’s no feedback loop or reality check.” [source] If you haven’t been following it, Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich (known widely as “Blago”) has …