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A Brief introduction to Scanlon Leaders and their Ideas

 The Founders and MIT Connection

JoeJoe Scanlon

 Joe Scanlon was a man of many talents.  He was a steelworker and union president.  He was a prize fighter.  He was an accountant.  Douglas McGregor brought Joe to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he pioneered many modern leadership practices, including open book management, employee involvement, and gainsharing.  Joe’s clients became the model for McGregor’s “Theory Y” leadership.  A true “Servant Leader” Joe never copyrighted his work, so that anyone could benefit from his ideas.  It is a tribute to Joe’s genius that many of his ideas are now widespread throughout the world.  Joe had an abiding conviction that together people could achieve the impossible.


What we are actually trying to say is simply this: That the average worker knows his own job better than anyone else, and that there are a great many things that he could do if he has a complete understanding of the necessary. Given this opportunity of expressing his intelligence and ingenuity, he becomes a more useful and more valuable citizen in any given community or in any industrial operation.

To learn more about Joe Scanlon click here




FredLesieurFred Lesieur



Fred was a machinist and Union President at the Lapointe Machine Tool Company when he met Joe Scanlon.  Fred partnered with Joe until Joe’s death. Fred became one of the most prolific Scanlon Consultants.  Lesieur Scanlon Plans are still in place in organizations such as the Dana Corporation and National Manufacturing.  Fred worked closely with MIT organizing the annual Scanlon Conference and editing The Scanlon Plan: a frontier in labor-management cooperation which remains one of the best books on Scanlon Plans.


The Scanlon Plan is difficult to explain because it is not a simple formula.  Actually what we are really talking about is a set of principles or ideals...







McgregorDouglas McGregor



Dr. Douglas McGregor was a Psychologist and a great scholar of organizations.  He developed Theory X and Theory Y to describe the underlying assumptions Managers make about people.  His books including The Human Side of Enterprise remain classics in the field of organizational development.  Douglas McGregor was responsible for bringing both Joe Scanlon and Carl Frost to MIT.


Participative and Consultative Management....I need only mention the Scanlon Plan as the outstanding embodiment of these ideas in practice.







CarlCarl Frost

Dr. Carl Frost was a colleague of Joe Scanlon and McGregor at MIT.  After World War II  Dr. Frost  came to Michigan State University (MSU).  As the nation’s first land grant University MSU has a long history of serving farmers. Dr. Frost’s charge was to serve Michigan’s growing industries.  One of Dr. Frost’s first clients was a small West Michigan furniture maker called Herman Miller.  Soon Dr. Frost was working with a variety of industries including Donnelly, Motorola, Sligh, Firestone, and Beth Israel Hospital.  Dr. Frost continued Joe’s work and developed the Frost/Scanlon Principles of Identity, Participation, Equity, and Competence.  He also developed a “roadmap” for personal, professional, and organizational change.  Dr. Frost’s Principles & Processes and the “roadmap” are described in his book Changing Forever: The Well-Kept Secret of America’s Leading Companies, published by MSU Press.  Dr. Frost was the 1998 recipient of the Scanlon Stewardship Award.


Throughout the four Processes, there is a singleness of purpose for every employee.  The purpose is to enable all employees to become literate about their companies’ realities, to become responsible in owning problems and solutions, to become accountable for actions and to become committed to personal, professional, and organizational competence.



 To learn more about Dr. Carl Frost and the EPIC Principles please click here.




The Herman Miller Connection


D.J. DePree founded Herman Miller (named after his father-in-law).  D.J. was one of the first businessmen in the Midwest to develop a Scanlon Plan with D. Carl Frost.  D.J. believed it was not honest to copy traditional designs, instead Herman Miller became a leader in modern design.  D.J. believed every encounter with another human being should be a “fortuitous encounter“ and should enrich all of the participants.  He experienced a transformation from a traditional manager to a great leader upon the death of Herman Rummelt the Herman Miller millwright.  D.J. DePree is an inductee of the National Business Hall of Fame.  He received the 1999 Scanlon Stewardship award posthumously.


A company is rightly judged by its products and services---but it must also face scrutiny and judgement as to its humanity.





HughHugh DePree

Hugh DePree is the oldest son of D.J. DePree.  During his tenure as CEO at Herman Miller Hugh worked with Carl Frost to further refine and apply the Scanlon Principles and Processes.  Hugh DePree wrote Business as Unusual which describes Herman Miller Leadership and design philosophy.  The book is out of print but if you can find a copy it is well worth the effort.  Hugh was honored with the Scanlon Stewardship Award in 1999.  


We were warmed as a family is warmed by good news, when we embraced the Scanlon Plan as the way to manage the company.










maxMax DePree

Max DePree is the youngest son of D.J. DePree and an inductee of the Business Hall of Fame.  As CEO of Herman Miller he continued to develop Scanlon Leadership thought and practice.  An extremely gifted writer, he authored a manuscript on his Leadership ideas called Leadership is an Art.  At first he was unable to find a publisher for his unusual little book.  Carl Frost was able to convince Michigan State University Press to publish it.  It became a best seller and today is one of eight books Inc. Magazine advises every business person to own.  Max is now a recognized expert-writer in the field of Leadership.  His Leadership Jazz is widely read and he recently published a book on nonprofit leadership, Leading Without Power: Finding Hope in Serving Community.  Max was honored with the Scanlon Stewardship Award in 1999.


The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality
The last is to say thank you.
In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor.











To Hear Max DePree's Podcasts click below.  It will take a few minutes to download each track.

Listen Now! Leadership is an Art Track 1

Listen Now! Leadership is an Art Track 2

Listen Now! Leadership is an Art Track 3


Listen Now! Leadership Jazz Track 1

Listen Now! Leadership Jazz Track 2


 DickRuckDick Ruc

Dick Ruch was CEO of Herman Miller and served on the Herman Miller Board of Directors for many years  He  was known as “Mr. Scanlon”.  Dick has been a frequent Scanlon speaker.  He was awarded the first Scanlon Stewardship Award in 1996 for his years of service to the Scanlon Plan Associates and for his dedication in promoting Scanlon practices in American Business.  In 2002 he wrote Leaders & Folloers: Lessons from 45 Years at Herman Miller, Inc.

I believe: Management should be based on caring or love for people...
I believe: Each of us must take a stewardship responsibility for the gifts we have been given...
I believe: In hard work and commitment to a cause...
I believe: In servant leadership.













Bill-GreenwoodBill Greenwood





Dr. Bill Greenwood was  a student and former partner of Dr. Carl Frost.  He also served as Human Resource Director for Herman Miller.  Bill was one of the most active Scanlon Consultants.  His clients included organizations like Wescast, Sears, and Trans-Matic.  Bill worked with Dr. Frost to develop the Scanlon Roadmap and has also been an active supporter of the Scanlon Plan Associates.  Dr. Greenwood is was given the Scanlon Stewardship Award for his years of service to the Scanlon movement.


Is there a compelling need to change?
Is there a significant opportunity for improvement?
Are we willing able and ready?









To hear Bill Greenwood explain the Scanlon Roadmap process click below


Listen Now! Bill Greenwood Track 1


Listen Now! Bill Greenwood Track 2


Listen Now! Bill Greenwood Track 3


Terry-VandewaterTerry Vandewater


Terry worked for over 26 years in organizational communications at Herman Miller.      Terry is now an independent consultant and author of Principle Based Participative Management. Terry’s book made several major contributions to Scanlon Leadership practice and theory.  He advocated precision in the use of Scanlon related terms, and he offered definitions for the terms most commonly used.  He introduced the concept of the “gap” that often occurs between  participative management promises and actual practices and offered suggestions on how to manage the gap.


Organizations must deliberately work to keep their management principles and mechanisms aligned to protect their most important asset-integrity...






To Download Terry's Principle Based Participative Management Book click here


The Donnelly Connection



John-DonnellyJohn Donnelly

John Donnelly was a brilliant multifaceted man.  He studied Engineering at Notre Dame and then decided to join the priesthood.  He left the seminary to lead the family business when his father unexpectedly died.  The Donnelly Corporation was the second West Michigan company to develop a Scanlon Process with Dr. Carl Frost.  His “Participative Management at Work: An interview with John F. Donnelly ” remains one of the most requested Harvard Business Review reprints.  John helped Donnelly become one of the first team-based organizations.  His interest in employee involvement led him to work with Francis Likert and Donnelly helped to provide a model for System 4-Participative Management.“  John's writings and essays were collected and printed in The Human Treatment of Human Beings.  John was awarded the Scanlon Stewardship Award posthumouslly.

Does all this sound too good to be true?
Does it presume that mankind is better than it really is?
Does it demand a change of heart by many people?
Are we being presumptuous?
Yes to all four of these questions.






DwaneDwane Baumgardner


Dwane Baumgardner was the CEO of Donnelly.  Technically trained, with a Ph.D. in optics Dwane nevertheless was recognized in Leading People as one of 36 best leaders of people in business.  Dwane received the Scanlon Stewardship Award in 1997 for his long standing contribution to the Scanlon Associates.  Dwane team with Russ Schafede to write The Leadership Roadmap that combines the Scanlon EPIC Principles with Lean.



I see the Scanlon Principles as allowing us to unleash the tremendous energy within the company through participation... to direct the beam toward the desired target through Principles of identity, to constantly keep the powerful beam in tune through equity, and to continually strengthen the beam through competence.








To downloan Dwane Baumgardner's Podcast click below


 Listen Now! Dwane Baumgardner Track 1


Listen Now! Dwane Baumgardner Track 2


Listen Now! Dwane Baumgardner Track 3




Bob-DoyleBob DoyleBob Doyle served as Personnel Director for many years at Donnelly where he helped pioneer Donnelly’s team based structure.  He also helped to create their Equity structure.  He was instrumental in the founding of the Scanlon Plan Associates.  He authored two books, Gainsharing and Productivity and Gain Management.

A business that satisfies all partners will be able to attract a greater contribution from all partners.  A management team that creates a culture where all of the partners are actively looking for ways to serve one another may well discover the most powerful motivational force ever seen in business.
























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Scanlon-the man and the Plan

scanlonplateLearn about Joseph N. Scanlon, the father of employee involvement, gainsharing, and labor-management cooperation.


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