One finds that the book is virtually co-authored by admirers of her leadership and fans of her MAD Culture, with both copious endorsements from business CEO's and entrepreneurs, and chapters of anecdotal testimony from people who prospered under Lauren's leadership.
MAD Culture, one learns, is a culture of Making a Difference. While it is a culture that was formed in the workplace and the marketplace, the book demonstrates to the reader that it is also a culture that will transform personal lives and relationships.
The book outlines the unusual array of crises that precipitated the creation of the MAD Culture, the perseverance in the face of resistance that was required to successfully implement it, and the success and loyalty that resulted when it was achieved.
In the many anecdotes that illustrate Lauren's MAD Culture in action, the reader experiences diverse and interesting scenarios.
It would be difficult for one to come away from reading this book without gems of insight whatever one's field of endeavour. For instance, Lauren talks about how easy it is to formulate plans, but that it is in the decisive and timely execution of them that success lies.
She tells how she drew upon her prior career experiences to negotiate a very testing course. “I saw myself like a rally driver who had to steer through a hostile market environment and competition activities while overcoming internal conflicts. During a rally, the driver has to take charge of his vehicle and set his sights on completing the race. Rally cars do not race on a fixed and paved course....rallies take place in a natural environment on courses that may include any and every type of ground condition imaginable. Drivers have to look out for danger spots, hairpin curves and jumps that leave the car vulnerable to going off course. It is not only a race against time, but...also a race against the endurance of the machine and our physical body.”
With such colourful analogies, one sees Lauren run her race, changing the way the company had always done business.
“I had seen many innovative products that had been knocked off the shelves simply because they had not been firmly supported by a competent and robust system,” she says. “Many organisations have overlooked the fact that it would be much harder for competitors to eliminate or replicate your business system than your products.” This would be especially the case when one's system was locked or woven into an integrated chain of management where each supported the other's function, Lauren explains.
The reader sees Lauren set about creating co-operation and a team spirit between the various departments of a large company – the result of a merger between two companies - of which she was the new manager. They see her taking in tow managers and executives from departments that did not ordinarily visit clients – personnel from customer service, finance and marketing. This, one sees, not only creates a team spirit across the organisation, but means that when there is a problem involving the area of their expertise, they are there to discuss it with the customer, dealing with it immediately.
Lauren tells how she drew on strength gained in past experiences – severe crises in previous positions held, where “the buck stopped” with her – to deal with the mental bombardment she faced when she found herself the only one who could see the roses in her methods, as opposed to the thorns. To counter it, she committed herself to show no anxiety but remain calm in the face of it all, and to create an atmosphere to motivate and inspire the staff.
In the words of one of her staff, “She began by re-aligning our thoughts in line with the new vision. She constantly communicated with us. She kept us abreast of the latest developments and our progress....she kept reminding us that we were an important part of the business..that every staff member had an integral role in contributing towards the realisation of the company's goals. She made us feel involved in every aspect of the organisation's growth. She encouraged our active participation in all company projects. She would walk around and talk to us instead of e-mailing or communicating over the telephone....
“I recall one instance when we came into the office to find that it was decorated with inspiring posters and every table held a little flowerpot with personalised names and beautiful quotes! We had never experienced such an environment... Across the wall a big banner said “WE ARE A WINNING TEAM!” ….we found out that our managing director had personally gone to the office over the weekend with her family members and friends to decorate the workplace for us! We were overwhelmed by her efforts to encourage us to move forward.”
This staff member remembers a meeting in which Lauren told the staff, “We will make a difference in the marketplace. But first, we have to make changes in our lives and in our workplace before we can make a difference in others' lives. And we will help each other to achieve this.”
The staff member remembers how time and again Lauren would remind them, “Everyone must personify the core values (passionate, caring, sharing and courageous) because they are what we stand for and believe in as the Winning Team. It is no point saying that I care when I don't really care. Sooner or later, others will see through our hypocrisy. Always keep this in mind, people remember us by what we do and not by what we say. What you say will be long forgotten, but not what they see you do.”
What comes through to the reader time and again is Lauren's conviction that winning is not just about competence, but more importantly, about developing character. This conviction she ascribes “To my ABBA Father Who has made all the difference in my life with His unconditional love.”
In addition to chronicling the birth and success of MAD Culture, the reader finds Lauren setting out in this book to advise any who would like to implement MAD Culture in their business, family, or personal life.
MAD Culture is published by Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson USA, and can be purchased on www.amazon.com and www.koorong.com
Read Part II