The New Corporate Facts of Life

Rethink Your Business to Transform Today's Challenges Into Tomorrow's Profits

The New Corporate Facts of Life

Author: Diana Rivenburgh
Pub Date: November 2013
Print Edition: $27.95
Print ISBN: 9780814433041
Page Count: 256
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814433058

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Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

An Unending Journey

Two roads diverged in a wood, and,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

—ROBERT FROST

WHEN I STARTED to write the Introduction to this book, I sat at my desk,

thinking about how I had come to this amazing point in my career. You

see, I have dreamed about writing a book ever since I was a child. I

thought for a long time about the right way to introduce myself and

explain why I spent several years of my life researching and writing the

book you hold in your hand. What should I tell you about myself and my

work? Why have I tackled such a weighty topic as the irresistible forces

fundamentally changing the business landscape? Why have I chosen a

career helping leaders shift their perspectives and organizations change

their cultures to a shared-value model? Why do I feel compelled to share

this journey?

It all started when I found myself at a legendary fork in the road. You

know the one. Down the left lane lies the comfortable route you had

planned to take all along. To the right stretches an unknown and slightly

scary road less traveled.

I arrived at my crossroads on a perfectly sunny, late summer morning

in 2001. I was sitting at my desk in my office in Stamford, Connecticut,

busily working at my job as a vice president for the technology research

and consulting firm Gartner. I loved that job. When Gartner had hired

me to launch its organization development function, I felt as if I had

finally reached the destination for which all my passion and education

had prepared me. Nothing excited me more than helping an organization

grow and thrive. Then my world suddenly tilted off its axis. A colleague

rushed into my office to tell me that two planes had crashed into the

Twin Towers at theWorld Trade Center in New York City. I stopped what

I was doing, got on the Internet, and stared at my monitor, transfixed by

the horror unfolding before my eyes.

I couldn’t get to my home on Long Island because the New York City

metro area had completely shut down. But that’s not what worried me at

that moment.What scared me to death was the fate of my brother-in-law,

Jimmy, a New York City firefighter. It took an eternity for me to get

through the jammed phone lines to reach my sister Carolyn. I cried with

relief when she told me Jimmy was safe. He wasn’t scheduled to work

that day. Tragically, however, every member of his squad working that day

perished along with hundreds of other rescue workers when the towers

collapsed.

That event stopped me in my tracks. In the days and weeks that followed,

I did what I always do when the world seems to rumble beneath

my feet. I took stock of my life. All my training, all my experience, and all

the work I did to bank a big paycheck now paled in comparison with the

shock waves created by the collapse of those two buildings. I had always

longed to start my own firm. And I wanted to make a difference, a big difference.

When I thought of the thousands who had died or suffered terrible

losses on September 11, I realized that something unexpected could

end your dreams at any moment. A month later, I left Gartner to launch

my own consulting firm, with the expressed mission to help business

leaders build better enterprises in this scary new post-9/11 world.

In the first few years on my new path, my colleagues and I provided

organization development services, helping clients create better strategies,

manage change more skillfully, build higher-performing cultures,

and develop stronger leaders. The work gave me great pleasure. I worked

with a lot of interesting clients and ethical leaders. I got involved in and

led challenging projects. I earned a good living. Yet some deep inner voice

kept telling me I could do more. It kept asking hard questions: “What

does your work mean? Will what you do make any real difference to the

quality of people’s lives? Can meaningful work and profitability go hand

in hand? What abiding passion will keep you hopping out of bed each

morning, eager to get to work?” It made my head hurt. So maybe, I

concluded, I should stop using my head and start following my heart.

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