Hidden Value

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Title: Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People
Published by: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition
Release Date: August 1, 1999
Pages: 272
ISBN13: 978-0875848983


The “war for talent” is one battle every company believes it should wage. But while competitors chase after the same “hot” individuals, smart companies do something infinitely more useful and much more difficult to copy—they build organizations that make it possible for ordinary people in every job to perform as if they were stars.

Blowing up the prevailing wisdom that companies have to chase top talent to be successful, Hidden Value argues that the source of sustained competitive advantage already exists within every organization. How companies create anduse talent is far more important than how firms attract talent. The book provides vivid, detailed case studies of several organizations in disparate industries—including Southwest Airlines, Cisco Systems, The Men’s Wearhouse, and SAS Institute—to illustrate how long-term success comes from value-driven, interrelated systems that align good people management with corporate strategy. Collectively, the stories reveal a common path to success that places values before strategy, emphasizes implementation over planning, and focuses on getting the best out of all employees, not just a few stars.


“The companies featured in Hidden Value provide outstanding case studies for leaders who want to learn how to inspire loyalty among customers and employees, leaders ho understand that loyalty remains the hallmark of great organizations.”
—Frederick F. Reichheld, Bain Fellow, Bain & Company, and Author of The Loyalty Effect

“In this insightful book, O’Reilly and Pfeffer present powerful examples of companies that live their values and value their people—and are extraordinarily successful. The authors demonstrate authoritatively both how and why this approach works. Hidden Value is for anyone who wants to create a great, enduring company.”
—Jerry I. Porras, Lane Professor of Organizational Behavior and Change, Stanford Business School, and Coauthor of Built to Last


Charles O’Reilly and I had both written books on managing people for competitive success. But we had come to the conclusion that managers often learn better from examining detailed case studies—just like they do in classes taught at leading business schools—rather than getting a set of prescriptions. Charles and I had written some cases like that on a set of interesting companies. Hidden Value represents a collection of our most compelling stories.

The book also had one other motivation: there was all of this discussion about hiring the “best” people, fighting the “war for talent,” lavishing training and rewards on the “high potentials.” But it was clear to us that the best, most effective organizations didn’t have superior people. Rather, they had management approaches that caused everyone to perform at an exceptional level, or to use the apt phrase of George Zimmer of the Men’s Wearhouse, implemented a set of management practices that helped people be better than they ever thought they could be. Hidden Value describes how to get extraordinary results not just from stars, but from everyone in your organization.