Hidden Value

How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People

Charles A. O'Reilly III, Jeffrey Pfeffer

Publisher: Harvard Business School, 2000, 286 pages

ISBN: 0-87584-898-2

Keywords: Leadership, Human Resources

Last modified: Feb. 25, 2017, 3:09 p.m.

Discover how the best companies win not by acquiring the right people — but by building the right organization.

The "war for talent" is one battle every company believes it should be waging. But while competitors are busy chasing after the same 'hot' individuals, smart companies are doing something infinitely more useful and far more difficult to copy — they're building organizations that make it possible for ordinary people at every desk and cubicle in their companies to perform as if they were stars.

Blowing up the prevailing wisdom that companies must chase and acquire top talent in order to remain successful, Hidden Value argues instead that the source of sustained competitive advantage already exists within every organization. O'Reilly and Pfeffer, leading experts on organizational behavior and human resources, argue that how a firm creates and uses talent is far more important than how the firm attracts talent. The authors provide vivid, detailed case studies of several organizations in widely disparate industries — including Southwest Airlines, Cisco Systems, The Men's Wearhouse, and NUMMI — to illustrate how long-term success comes from value-driven, interrelated systems that align good people management with corporate strategy.

In a refreshing break from management tomes that force-feed superficial frameworks and trite 'rules', the authors instead allow the company stories to take center stage. They guide readers in discovering for themselves how seven different firms maximize talent, why one firm hasn't fully released the hidden value in its work force, and, most importantly, how the winning companies have made it tough for competitors to imitate them. 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 individual stars. The authors also explore concerns or questions managers might have about how each company's experience parallels or conflicts with their own.

Providing a rare opportunity for managers to actively participate in an invaluable learning process, Hidden Value offers a customizable template for building high-performance, people-centered organizations.

  1. The "Right" People or the "Right" Organization?
  2. Southwest Airlines: If a Success Is So Simple, Why Is It So Hard to Imitate?
  3. Cisco Systems: Acquiring and retaining Talent in Hypercompetitive Markets
  4. The Men's Wearhouse: Growth in a Declining Market
  5. The SAS Institute: Succeeding with Old-Fashioned Values in a New Industry
  6. PSS World Medical: Opening the Books
  7. AES: Is This Global Company Out Of Control?
  8. New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc.: Transforming People and Systems
  9. Cypress Semiconductor: What's Missing?
  10. Unlocking the Hidden Value in All of Your People