High Standards, Hard Choices: A CEO's Journey of Courage, Risk, and Change

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9780471296133: High Standards, Hard Choices: A CEO's Journey of Courage, Risk, and Change
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Dana Mead was one of the leaders of the '90s revolution in corporate management that ignited the United States' resurgence as the world's largest and most productive economy.

In 1992, Mead spearheaded a transformation of one of the nation's most troubled conglomerates, Tenneco. He went on to become a policy shaper and voice of industry. But no reward comes without risk, and Mead never once shied away from his unconventional management style and visionary tactics. High Standards, Hard Choices takes a rare look at the convictions of a man on the front lines during a time when companies were reborn and heroes were made.

This absorbing memoir presents Mead's views on timely issues including:
* Importance of character and trust in managing crisis and change in large organizations
* Assessing risks and likely confrontations in establishing a capitalist enterprise in postsocialist economies
* Identifying and advancing public policy aspects of business strategy and tactics
* Managing relationships with influential govern-ment officials and the news media

High Standards, Hard Choices documents a series of dramatic events in the widely publicized struggle of his "copilot" at Tenneco, Mike Walsh, against an aggressive brain cancer. Behind the scenes, Mead was forced to juggle increasing pressures to keep Tenneco's recovery on course. Paramount was rebuilding one of the world's largest makers of farm machinery and construction equipment, Case Corporation, with new leaders to embrace the mandate to reduce costs, improve quality, and innovate with new products.

Mead captures the hopes, risks, and turmoil of Tenneco's frustrating bid to find a toehold for Western capitalism near the abundant beech forests of Romania. He then takes the reader inside two long-shot campaigns to change federal policy in Washington. In the first, billions of dollars, thousands of jobs, and the very viability of Newport News Shipbuilding were at stake. In the second, a blue-chip roster of business leaders and editorialists began a drumbeat in 1995 for the powerful chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Alan Greenspan, to ease up on interest rates and allow the U.S. economy to grow faster with low inflation. The U.S. economy finished the decade at great heights, spurred by continuing productivity improvements that large U.S. businesses, including Mead's Tenneco, achieved in the 1990s.

High Standards, Hard Choices delivers an unusually vivid account of major challenges confronting a chief executive at the helm of a swiftly changing corporation. Along the way, Mead became one of Corporate America's most respected ambassadors to Congress, the White House, and several international assemblies of business executives.

The essence of a tough-minded, humanitarian brand of leadership, Mead's High Standards, Hard Choices will be a source of inspiration for readers of all walks of management life.

"High Standards, Hard Choices delivers clearly drawn lessons from a proven private and public sector leader who has been engaged in the cutting-edge issues of the last thirty years."

-Paul O'Neil, Chairman, Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA)

"I share Dana Mead's vision of a future shaped by dynamic international commerce, with mutual prosperity for nations that engage in free and fair trade. This book is a how-to manual for businesses in a global system where success is determined by speed, innovation, competence, and boldness."

-Senator Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee's.

Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, Export, and Trade Promotion.

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From the Inside Flap:

High Standards, Hard Choices Dana Mead was one of the leaders of the '90s revolution in corporate management that ignited the United States' resurgence as the world's largest and most productive economy. In 1992, Mead spearheaded a transformation of one of the nation's most troubled conglomerates, Tenneco. He went on to become a policy shaper and voice of industry. But no reward comes without risk, and Mead never once shied away from his unconventional management style and visionary tactics. High Standards, Hard Choices takes a rare look at the convictions of a man on the front lines during a time when companies were reborn and heroes were made. This absorbing memoir presents Mead's views on timely issues including:
* Importance of character and trust in managing crisis and change in large organizations
* Assessing risks and likely confrontations in establishing a capitalist enterprise in postsocialist economies
* Identifying and advancing public policy aspects of business strategy and tactics
* Managing relationships with influential government officials and the news media
High Standards, Hard Choices documents a series of dramatic events in the widely publicized struggle of his "copilot" at Tenneco, Mike Walsh, against an aggressive brain cancer. Behind the scenes, Mead was forced to juggle increasing pressures to keep Tenneco's recovery on course. Paramount was rebuilding one of the world's largest makers of farm machinery and construction equipment, Case Corporation, with new leaders to embrace the mandate to reduce costs, improve quality, and innovate with new products. Mead captures the hopes, risks, and turmoil of Tenneco's frustrating bid to find a toehold for Western capitalism near the abundant beech forests of Romania. He then takes the reader inside two long-shot campaigns to change federal policy in Washington. In the first, billions of dollars, thousands of jobs, and the very viability of Newport News Shipbuilding were at stake. In the second, a blue-chip roster of business leaders and editorialists began a drumbeat in 1995 for the powerful chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Alan Greenspan, to ease up on interest rates and allow the U.S. economy to grow faster with low inflation. The U.S. economy finished the decade at great heights, spurred by continuing productivity improvements that large U.S. businesses, including Mead's Tenneco, achieved in the 1990s. High Standards, Hard Choices delivers an unusually vivid account of major challenges confronting a chief executive at the helm of a swiftly changing corporation. Along the way, Mead became one of Corporate America's most respected ambassadors to Congress, the White House, and several international assemblies of business executives. The essence of a tough-minded, humanitarian brand of leadership, Mead's High Standards, Hard Choices will be a source of inspiration for readers of all walks of management life.

About the Author:

DANA G. MEAD was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tenneco from 1994 until his retirement late in 1999. He has been profiled in Business Week, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Chicago Tribune. In his role as chairman of two politically influential associations of business executives, the Business Roundtable (1998-99) and the National Association of Manufacturers (1995-96), he also has been a guest on many news programs, including CNN's Moneyline and CNBC's Power Lunch. A retired Army colonel with a doctorate in political science and economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mead was appointed to a White House Fellowship in 1970.

THOMAS C. HAYES, a former award-winning New York Times economics correspondent who worked with Mead as an executive at Tenneco, is a consultant on leadership communications based in Wilton, Conn.

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