Making the Impossible Possible 9781576753903

Leading Extraordinary Performance--The Rocky Flats Story

Making the Impossible Possible
  • By a coauthor of Developing Management Skills (over 150,000 copies sold)
  • Tells the inside story of one of the most astonishing organizational successes of modern times: the shutdown and cleanup of the controversial Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant
  • Identifies specific practices, approaches, and techniques any organization can adopt to achieve extraordinary performance
  • By a coauthor of Developing Management Skills (over 150,000 copies sold)
  • Tells the inside story of one of the most astonishing organizational successes of modern times: the shutdown and cleanup of the controversial Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant
  • Identifies specific practices, approaches, and techniques any organization can adopt to achieve extraordinary performance

The most contaminated nuclear plant in the country, Rocky Flats was an environmental disaster and the site of rampant worker unrest. Although estimates projected that cleaning up and closing the facility would take seventy years and $36 billion, something stunning happened. The project was completed sixty years ahead of schedule and $30 billion under budget and is now on its way to becoming a wildlife refuge. In Making the Impossible Possible, Kim Cameron and Marc Lavine explain how this remarkable feat was achieved--and how breakthrough levels of performance can be achieved by any organization.

After analyzing numerous firsthand accounts and public records, Cameron and Lavine realized that the leaders of the Rocky Flats cleanup took a distinctive "abundance approach" to the task. These leaders focused on identifying and building on sources of strength, resilience, and vitality rather than simply solving problems and overcoming difficulties. The result was extraordinary positive deviance: outcomes far exceeding normal expectations.

For the first time, Cameron and Lavine identify the specific leadership roles and key enablers--levers, techniques, and practices--involved in implementing this innovative approach. This fascinating and thoroughly researched case study concludes by revealing ten leadership principles ultimately responsible for the Rocky Flats turnaround, providing a complete guide for any organization wanting to better understand and apply the lessons of this incredible success.

  • By a coauthor of Developing Management Skills (over 150,000 copies sold)
  • Tells the inside story of one of the most astonishing organizational successes of modern times: the shutdown and cleanup of the controversial Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant
  • Identifies specific practices, approaches, and techniques any organization can adopt to achieve extraordinary performance

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Overview

  • By a coauthor of Developing Management Skills (over 150,000 copies sold)
  • Tells the inside story of one of the most astonishing organizational successes of modern times: the shutdown and cleanup of the controversial Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant
  • Identifies specific practices, approaches, and techniques any organization can adopt to achieve extraordinary performance
  • By a coauthor of Developing Management Skills (over 150,000 copies sold)
  • Tells the inside story of one of the most astonishing organizational successes of modern times: the shutdown and cleanup of the controversial Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant
  • Identifies specific practices, approaches, and techniques any organization can adopt to achieve extraordinary performance

The most contaminated nuclear plant in the country, Rocky Flats was an environmental disaster and the site of rampant worker unrest. Although estimates projected that cleaning up and closing the facility would take seventy years and $36 billion, something stunning happened. The project was completed sixty years ahead of schedule and $30 billion under budget and is now on its way to becoming a wildlife refuge. In Making the Impossible Possible, Kim Cameron and Marc Lavine explain how this remarkable feat was achieved--and how breakthrough levels of performance can be achieved by any organization.

After analyzing numerous firsthand accounts and public records, Cameron and Lavine realized that the leaders of the Rocky Flats cleanup took a distinctive "abundance approach" to the task. These leaders focused on identifying and building on sources of strength, resilience, and vitality rather than simply solving problems and overcoming difficulties. The result was extraordinary positive deviance: outcomes far exceeding normal expectations.

For the first time, Cameron and Lavine identify the specific leadership roles and key enablers--levers, techniques, and practices--involved in implementing this innovative approach. This fascinating and thoroughly researched case study concludes by revealing ten leadership principles ultimately responsible for the Rocky Flats turnaround, providing a complete guide for any organization wanting to better understand and apply the lessons of this incredible success.

  • By a coauthor of Developing Management Skills (over 150,000 copies sold)
  • Tells the inside story of one of the most astonishing organizational successes of modern times: the shutdown and cleanup of the controversial Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant
  • Identifies specific practices, approaches, and techniques any organization can adopt to achieve extraordinary performance

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Kim Cameron


Kim Cameron is the William Russell Kelly Professor of Management and Organizations in the Ross School of Business and Professor of Higher Education in the School of Education at the University of Michigan. He currently serves as associate dean in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and has served as dean of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, as associate dean in the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University, and as a department chair at the University of Michigan. He also currently serves as a Fellow in the Wheatley Institution at Brigham Young University. 

Cameron is one of the cofounders of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship at the University of Michigan— a research center focused on the investigation of positively deviant performance, virtuousness, strengths, and practices in organizations that lead to thriving and extraordinary outcomes. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Brigham Young University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University. His research on organizational virtuousness, effectiveness, quality culture, downsizing, and the development of leadership skills has been published in more than 120 academic articles and 14 scholarly books. 

Cameron is married to the former Melinda Cummings and has seven children.

Visit Author Page - Marc Lavine

Marc Lavine is a doctoral student and lecturer in the Department of Organization Studies at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. Lavine has consulted to multinational firms and nonprofit organizations on issues of social responsibility, organizational learning, and strategic growth.

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Acknowledgments

An Introduction to the Impossible

Chapter 1: Explaining the Impossible - Positive Deviance and the Abundance Approach

Chapter 2: Impending Disaster - A Brief History of Rocky Flats

Chapter 3: The Role of Leaders

Chapter 4: Competing Values and Paradoxical Leadership

Chapter 5: Key Enablers - Vision, Innovation, and Symbolic Leadership

Chapter 6: Key Enablers - Stability, Discipline, and Process Control

Chapter 7: Key Enablers - Relationships, Human Capital, and Collaborative Culture

Chapter 8: Key Enablers - Politics, Incentives, and Rigorous Performance Standards

Chapter 9: Leadership Principles for Spectacular Performance

Appendix 1: Caveats and Alternative Views of Rocky Flats' Success

Appendix 2: Research Methods

References

Photo Credits

Index

About the Authors

About the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship

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Endorsements

"A brilliant book that will help readers discover and capitalize on the values of positive psychology, astute leadership, and culture. It's a scintillating saga of how an organization can change using basic concepts from an outstanding research team."


--John W. Slocum, Jr., O. Paul Corley Professor of Management, Southern Methodist University and coauthor of The Smarter Organization


"The cleanup and closure of Rocky Flats is a story of success that exceeded the expectations of virtually every knowledgeable observer. You will learn the organizational practices and leadership lessons that explain how extraordinary performance was achieved in the face of great difficulty. I highly recommend the book."


--Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico and former U. S. Secretary of Energy

"Cameron and Lavine bring this leadership and organizational change epic alive with innumerable detailed illustrations in the words of the participants themselves, while simultaneously offering a comprehensive theory that can be applied to any organizational setting."


--Bill Torbert, author of Action Inquiry and Professor, Carroll School of Management, Boston College

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