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Our Books

To the Desert and Back: The Story of One of the Most Dramatic Business Transformations on Record

by Philip H. Mirvis, Karen Ayas & George Roth


To the Desert and Back covers the transformation of Unilever’s Dutch foods business from a period of protracted decline through a dramatic turnaround on to double-digit growth. What transformed this billion-dollar albatross— a business expert said couldn’t grow and should be sold—into the fastest-growing Unilever business in Europe? A creative and demanding new chairman, energized leadership from a cadre of 180 team leaders, and a series of memorable "community building" events in the forests of Belgium, mountains of Scotland, and deserts of Jordan.


To the Desert and Back shows the latest thinking and best practices in management science at work. In addition, it demonstrates how the performing arts—staging, theming, and scripting experiences—add a new and appealing dimension to leadership and change. Finally, it shows how the quest for community can bring people together in deep and meaningful ways.

Business Leadership: A Jossey-Bass Reader

edited by J. Gallos

Business Leadership is an integrated compendium of 40 chapters, developed to capture the best thinking by the best thinkers on leadership. It explores the essentials of leadership: what it is, how to do it, and what maximizes its success. The volume is intended as a resource for both experienced leaders and those aspiring to the role.

In their contributing chapter, "Enhancing the Psycho-Spiritual Development of Leaders: Lessons from Leadership Journeys in Asia," Mirvis and Ayas discuss four dimensions of leadership development and illustrate them with the experiences of two hundred top leaders of a multinational company who participated in leadership journeys designed to strengthen executives’ hearts, minds, and souls.

The four dimensions of psycho-spiritual leadership development are: (1) Cultivating self-awareness (2) Connecting to others (3) Forming a community (4) Discovering purpose.

Design for Learning for Innovation

by Karen Ayas


Do you manage innovation effectively? Are all your new product development projects successful? Does performance improve with every project?


Does your organization learn? Is this learning beneficial to all? Does it lead to more intelligent behavior?


All organizations can learn while innovating and improve their chances of success with every project undertaken.


If innovation and learning are intended as organizational goals, then organizational design should serve these goals. This book explores what an effective design for learning and innovation might look like.


Findings from collaborative university-industry research suggest that project design and management that stimulate and facilitate learning—at the individual, team, and organizational levels—can lead to continuous improvement in product development projects.

The Learning Organization and Organizational Learning

by Karen Ayas & J.W. Foppen


Learning organizations may be commonly understood as just another management fad, yet this is not our stance. Fads come and go, with as many successes as failures. The collections of essays in this book present neither success stories about learning organizations nor a recipe on how to make one.


Learning organizations can exist as a dream, or a collective vision. Whether this dream should or could be pursued is a highly subjective matter. The aspiration implied by the learning organization, however, needs to be exposed and communicated. It is also extremely important to reach an understanding of the learning processes that occur within organizations.


The book features a collection of essays from Peter Senge, Herman van den Broeck, Arie de Geus, Floris Maljers, Wil Foppen and Karen Ayas that address diverse issues in the complex field of organizational learning, providing insight into the art and practice of learning management.

Educating Managers Through Real-World Projects

edited by Charles Wankel & Robert DeFillippi


Innovative learning projects in contemporary management education and development are discussed in the frame of cutting-edge theory and salient practice.


Chapters are grounded in relevant theory, empirical research, and examples of best practices for a wide variety of real-world management education projects.


Contexts include both university and corporate-based management education and development. Topics span action learning, experiential learning, student consulting projects, service learning, reflective practice, internships as learning vehicles, and web-based learning through projects.


Extensive opportunities for more tightly and productively integrating the normal work of managers with their education are being recognized more than ever before.


Organizational Learning and the Learning Organization: Developments in Theory and Practice

edited by Mark Easterby-Smith, John G. Burgoyne & Luis Arajo


"The introductory chapter by Mark Easterby-Smith and Luis Araujo introduces the reader to the unresolved issues with which the field is still grappling today... All in all, this is an interesting and useful book for both researcher and manager alike. First, and perhaps most importantly, the book incorporates multiple perspectives on learning—the psychological, sociological and the philosophical... Second, the book is neither purely theory-driven nor purely empirically driven. Theoretical contributions are complemented by empirical studies which help to illustrate the application of the theoretical constructs. I suspect that this would be of immense value to the practicing manager. Finally, the book provides a critical commentary on the state of the field in a nice compact way which should enhance its value to scholars in this area... A book which is both useful and interesting."  – Organisational Studies

Sri Lanka: Journey to Greatness, Unilever Asia Foods

written and edited by Karen Ayas & Leslie Stephen


On December 26, 2004 the coastal areas of the Indian Ocean were hit hard by the terrible Boxing Day tsunami, called the greatest natural disaster in modern history. Tens of thousands of people were killed in a dozen countries throughout Southeast Asia. Along Sri Lanka’s 1,300 kilometer coastline, more than 40,000 died, and half a million were left homeless.


Two and a half months later, at six in the morning, I found myself in a darkened meeting room at the Galadari Hotel in Sri Lanka’s capital city of Colombo with 208 leaders of Unilever’s Asian Foods (UFA ) businesses, brought to this island country for a week with two missions. The first: to assist in the relief efforts in two small southern coastal communities. To that end, they would spend two days working on clean-up and rebuilding projects. The second: to continue the so-called "Journey to Greatness"—an ambitious leadership development and community-building program that aspires to bringing greatness into every aspect of an organization and its leaders.

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