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The Power of We: Succeeding Through Partnerships

Author: Jonathan Tisch, Karl Weber
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Publication Date: Aug 2004

Reviewer:G.A. (Andy) Marken
In his nearly 25 years in the advertising/public relations field, Andy has been involved with a broad range of corporate and marketing activities. Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies. During his 12 years with these agencies, he developed and coordinated a wide variety of highly visible and successful promotional campaigns and activities for clients. A graduate of Iowa State University, Andy received his Bachelor's Degree with majors in Radio & Television and Journalism. Widely published in the industry and trade press, he is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

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We admit it; we enjoy and get more out of reading management books than we do books that discuss our profession.  To us it’s more important to understand what our bosses are thinking than our contemporaries. 

For obvious reasons we also find more gratification out of reading books that align with our thinking than those who challenge our thoughts on the way the world in general and business specifically should run.  For us The Power of We has the planets in perfect alignment. 

Tisch heads up Loews Hotels and while he is a multimillionaire many times over, he seems to be a firm believer in the importance of cooperation throughout the organization rather than dictation from the top. 

At times we believe that the book is a mixture of the actual way Tisch runs the multi-billion dollar company and the way he would like to operate if the world were perfect.  But even if it is a roadmap it is worth reading because the “we are all in this together” approach seems much more effective than Trump’s “the Donald wants this to happen” approach.

Tisch’s basic premise is that for a company to succeed management must develop partnerships with its various publics  local communities, customers, shareholders and employees.  In an entertaining fashion he discusses how company executives are required to periodically leave their offices and take on the frontline jobs  cleaning, cooking, serving and working the front desk. 

In our opinion that’s an important step in the right direction for a guy who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and really doesn’t have to “work” for a living, get his hands dirty and experience the challenges and opportunities of working with friendly and not-so-friendly customers. 

But the duo  Tisch and Weber  don’t just focus on how Loews hotels executives make certain their people have the freedom and resources they need to do their jobs.  The authors also provide very meaningful and useful examples of what other firms and executives do to ensure partnership management. 

As fast as business markets and the world as a whole move’s today, it’s real easy to get caught up in the belief that “for us to win, you have to lose.”  Tisch shares insights into how his business philosophy evolved and how the approach can be implemented in for-profit and non-profit organizations.  The book doesn’t take the Pollyanic view of business though because at certain times decisions have to be made that  in management’s opinion  are in the best interest of the company and its investors.  For example he discusses the fact that while the uniforms the hotel staffs wear are humiliating they probably won’t be changed because they provide a uniform image of the hotel to the consumer and they are inexpensive to clean. 

Obviously complete partnering isn’t a perfect science or practice.  But it can be a goal.

As Tisch and Weber point out in the book by practicing this partnership approach you can dramatically expand the availability of resources and talent to achieve your organization’s goals.  The key is to have employees, customers, suppliers, governmental groups and shareholders take ownership of the goals so that they are no longer your goals but their goals.

Even if you are fortunate enough to already work in an organization that encourages and practices the power of partnerships, you’ll find Tisch’s examples  other corporate executives and his own -- interesting, insightful and at times extremely humorous.

Since we are constantly bombarded with “news” about the negative side of business, it’s a pleasant surprise to reaffirm that good corporations and good executives do exist and in fact thrive in today’s instant gratification world.

Tisch’s management approach is one public relations people need to pursue both internally and externally if they are going to be effective.  Because of this, we feel The Power of We is a valuable book for people in our profession to read, digest and try to put some of the ideas into practice.