A New Way to View the Declaration of Independence
Historian, Dramatist, and Software expert Neil C. Olsen has brought the power of cross-disciplinary analysis to the famous “Instrument of Democracy”. His book, Pursuing Happiness: The Organizational Culture of the Continental Congress provides new insights to the Congress that gave America independence using the latest management theories and software tools. It proves that a domestic American religion and morality – as Washington and Adams suggested, and not European philosophy as conventional wisdom maintains – is the foundation of the document. It also provides important lessons for today’s business and government institutions.
Milford, CT, July 4, 2013 – With over 1,600 books with the Declaration of Independence in the title and with almost as many containing the words Organizational Culture, it seems time to combine these two very popular titles and investigate not just the people and politics of the Continental Congress, but its institutional culture. The most invariant component of any organization is its culture, its set of common values, norms, habits, assumptions, symbols, and customs. Most works on American Colonial history focus on a few “great men”, or a few select – and usually preconceived – ideas. The Congress changed the world and defeated history’s largest Empire with the world’s largest Army and Navy, yet it is almost universally condemned by historians as ineffective due to the lack of leadership and coercive federal powers. Challenging this dated assumption, Olsen analyzes the first 22 months of the Congress using modern methods of management never before employed in investigating a historical institution. The book explains why this supposedly confused and inefficient body managed to write the greatest and most famous political document of modern times, organize from nothing a government and armed forces to fight and win a war, and create not one but two successful revolutions and two governments.
It begins with a look at the largely undocumented history of ideas behind the phrase “the pursuit of Happiness”, the slogan of America. It answers the historical question of, ”How did the largely leaderless organization accomplish so much in so little time?” Books today advocate “extreme” management: never was an organization more extreme yet more successful than the Congress. An institution’s success comes from its values and norms, what the men of the eighteenth century called virtues, customs, and moral philosophy. Out of their morality and religion, and the habits of gentlemen, the men of the Congress created a dynamic organization that was responsive to change and unafraid of tackling large problems – and one that tolerated an incredible churn rate in membership. It ends with a suggestion on how you can apply their organizational culture innovations to your organization.
About the Author: Neil C. Olsen is a published author of articles on Software Management processes, as well as an editor and writer of books on American History. He is currently the Historian of Trinity Church on the Green, New Haven, Connecticut.
For more information about Pursuing Happiness: The Organizational Culture of the Continental Congress, please visit www.nonagrampubliscations.com.
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