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25 Visionaries Who Shaped Today's Workplace

January 1, 1997
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Over the last 75 years, the workplace has changed more than anyone could have ever imagined. The clicking and clacking of mechanical adding machines and typewriters has been silenced by the whir of networked PCs. The faint rumblings of industrial psychology have been eclipsed by today's sophisticated human resources departments. All while the male-dominated world of management has been replaced by a workforce that reflects a growing ethnic, cultural, gender and global diversity.

Business has clearly changed- and many have contributed to this evolution. Yet, under the looking glass of history, a few men and women stand out as the pioneers, innovators and torchbearers who have led the march to progress. Workforce (formerly Personnel Journal), as part of its 75th anniversary celebration, has singled out

individuals who have redefined the thinking, actions and capabilities of society during the magazine's existence.

We've scoured indexes and databases, browsed the World Wide Web, pored over reference guides and encyclopedias, and spoken to leading experts and historians to compile this honor roll. Unfortunately, because we've limited the criteria to the past 75 years, some of the century's most prominent individuals are conspicuous by their absence -- psychologist Frederick Taylor, inventor Thomas Edison, author Upton Sinclair and labor leader Samuel Gompers, to name a few.

Obviously, we couldn't include everyone whose ideas, thoughts and actions have contributed to workplace change. Yet, no matter how you look at it, the following list gives us a window on past accomplishments of people who've had a significant impact on the world of work.

Here, then, in alphabetical order, is a list of business innovators. Each, in his or her own way, represents courage, intelligence and thinking outside the box in its ultimate form. We applaud their achievements and hope they provide inspiration to you in achieving your own goals.

Malcolm Baldrige
Quality Leader
Today, his name is synonymous with corporate "quality," and he has one of the nation's most prestigious awards named after him. Here's why: As Secretary of Commerce under Ronald Reagan, Baldrige championed managerial excellence. In the early '80s, at a time of ballooning government costs, he slashed 30 percent from the Department of Commerce budget, cut personnel costs by 25 percent -- all while boosting productivity. Before that, the former professional rodeo roper, transformed Scovill Inc. from a floundering, financially troubled brass mill to a highly diversified manufacturer of consumer, housing and industrial goods. Then, in the 1980s, he played a major role in opening up technology transfers to China, India and the former Soviet Union. His efforts paved the way for U.S. companies to step into a new global marketplace. Baldrige died in 1987 in a rodeo accident.

John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley
AT&T's Bell Laboratories has spawned numerous inventions, but none more significant than the transistor -- a device that replaced the glass vacuum tube and spawned a revolution in the miniaturization of electronics. Today, the transistor serves as the basic building block for all solid-state electronics. Semiconductors using tiny transistors are inside a wide array of devices: cellular telephones, photocopiers, fax machines, satellite communications systems, industrial control systems, automatic cameras, video and television equipment, personal computers and more. Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley, all physicists, invented the transistor in 1947 and received the 1956 Nobel Prize in physics for their invention. Their work spanned more than a decade and grew out of Shockley's painstaking theoretical research.

No, no we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Martin Luther King ( 1929- )

Russell J. Campanello
HR Visionary
Although writer Jeff Weinstein successfully lobbied New York's Village Voice to adopt domestic-partner benefits in 1982 -- making it the first small company in America to do so -- it wasn't until 1991 that Lotus Development Corp. became the first major U.S. corporation to provide such coverage. Campanello, then vice president of HR, spent two years convincing the firm's top brass that insurance and medical coverage for partners of gay and lesbian workers wouldn't boost costs, and that it would help the company remain highly competitive in the high-tech employment market. Today, scores of companies have enacted domestic-partner benefits, including Disney, NYNEX and IBM. Campanello, who left Lotus in 1996 to work at Nets Inc., has also proven himself an innovator and a leader in HR. He has consulted and spoken extensively about technology and reengineering, and was awarded Upside magazine's Human Resources Executive of the Year for 1993.

César Chávez
Labor Leader
A migrant farm worker in his youth (he attended 65 elementary schools and never graduated from high school), Ch‡vez became a community and labor organizer of agricultural workers in the 1950s. In 1962, he started the National Farm Workers Association, with the intent to serve Chicano and Filipino farm workers who had been forced to endure substandard living conditions and wages. In 1966, the union was chartered by the AFL-CIO as the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), and Ch‡vez remained its president until his death in 1993 at the age of 66. Later, he became known for organizing national grape boycotts that helped the union gain improved wages and working conditions for its members.

William Edwards Deming
Quality Guru

His is no household name, but in management circles Deming is known as "the father of the quality movement." Ironically, his ideas were initially scoffed at in America during the post-World War II era-when corporations were hell-bent on increasing production at all costs. But the Japanese embraced his theories and used his approach to rebuild their industries into world powers. Deming proposed that an emphasis on total quality rather than on production quotas, targets and goals, could be plugged into a divergent array of disciplines, ranging from customer service to manufacturing. The end result? Greater productivity and bigger profits. Deming, who held a doctorate in mathematical physics from Yale University, only began to enjoy celebrity status in America after he appeared in a 1980 NBC documentary, "If Japan Can Do It, Why Can't We?" He died in 1993 at age 93.

Peter F. Drucker
Business-management Master
The Austrian-born economist, journalist and author has distinguished himself as a heavyweight in the world of economic analysis and business management. After obtaining a law degree from the University of Frankfurt in 1931, Drucker worked as an international banking economist in London, and then moved to the United States in 1937. Two years later, he began teaching, consulting and writing. Over the last half-century, Drucker has published 29 books and hundreds of articles, and has served as a columnist for The Wall Street Journal since 1975. Several of his books have heavily influenced the corporate mindset, including "Concept of the Corporation" (1946), "The Practice of Management" (1954), "Managing in Turbulent Times" (1980), "The Changing World of the Executive" (1982) and "The Frontiers of Management" (1986). At 88, he still teaches at the Claremont Graduate School in Southern California.

Betty Friedan
Women's Rights Activist
Betty Friedan burst onto the scene in 1963 with the publication of her book "The Feminine Mystique." It attacked the notion that women can only find true fulfillment raising children and tending to a home, and it served as a powerful rallying point for the feminist movement. Three years later, Friedan founded the National Organization for Women, and in 1970 she played a prominent role in establishing the National Women's Political Caucus. In "The Second Stage" (1981), Friedan explored the progress of feminism, and continued to fuel the debate on women's roles. Nobody has played a more instrumental role in reshaping American attitudes toward women's lives and rights -- both inside and outside the workplace. After decades of social activism, strategic thinking and powerful writing, the 75-year-old author's legacy lives on.

If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Ronald Reagan ( 1911- )

William H. Gates
Technology Business Leader

Although 40-year-old Gates has never distinguished himself as a visionary, nobody has done more to put the personal computer on the desktop and the laptop. Microsoft began licensing its DOS operating system to IBM in 1981, and Gates, along with co-founder Paul Allen, quickly seized the opportunity and built the Redmond, Washington, company into an unmatched software powerhouse. In 1990, the firm introduced Windows® 3.0, which ushered in a new era of functionality and compatibility on the PC platform. Then, in 1995, Microsoft launched Windows® 95, the biggest selling program of all time with more than 40 million copies in circulation. Today, it's difficult to find an office that doesn't run a Microsoft product. The firm now sells more than 300 products in more than 100 countries. And Gates has become the wealthiest man in America.

Michael Hammer
Business-reengineering Theorist

No business concept has garnered as much attention during the '90s as reengineering. As new technologies and global competition redefine the workplace, companies desperately are trying to adjust from an Industrial Age mentality to an Information Age mindset. Hammer, 48, is the originator of the concept. It's a term he coined in the revolutionary 1993 book, "Reengineering the Corporation," which he co-authored with fellow consultant James Champy. The idea, simply, is to toss out existing processes and create new ones from the ground up. By stripping away layers of inefficiency and bureaucracy, a company can reap huge gains in productivity. Although many firms have failed to benefit from attempts at reengineering, the idea is valid and has -- when successfully implemented -- fueled huge gains. Hammer, a former computer science professor at MIT, continues to write, lecture and consult.

Steven Jobs and Steven Wozniak
Computer Wizards
In 1976, Jobs, 21, and Wozniak, 26, formed Apple Computer Co. in a San Francisco Bay Area garage, and a year later they introduced the Apple II computer. It was the first open system machine designed to encourage others to write programs and build add-on hardware for it, and it helped launch the personal computer revolution. By the early '80s, Apple, with Jobs as chairman, had become the fastest growing corporation in U.S. history. The Macintosh computer, introduced in 1984, offered the first graphic user interface -- complete with sound, graphics and games-and featured a level of user-friendliness unmatched by any other hardware company or operating system. Equally significant: The firm pioneered such concepts as alternative work schedules, employee volunteer programs and onsite child care. Its casual dress policies and ideas about the virtual office rippled through U.S. workplaces. In 1985, Jobs and Wozniak left the firm to pursue other endeavors.

Lyndon Baines Johnson
U.S. President
After losing the 1960 Presidential nomination to John F. Kennedy, Johnson became vice president. And when Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Johnson suddenly found himself in the spotlight. He was sworn in as the nation's 36th chief executive officer and ultimately played a profound role in redefining the workplace. In '63, he signed The Equal Pay Act, which prohibited wage differentials based on gender for workers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. A year later, after gaining re-election, Johnson skillfully prodded Congress into enacting the sweeping Civil Rights Act, which barred discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. And in 1965, he signed Executive Order 11246, which required companies to take "affirmative action," even if they had never discriminated in the past. The act was later extended to include women.

William Russell Kelly
Staffing Industry Pioneer
In 1946, after completing a stint as an Army auditor, Kelly came up with a novel idea: Why not help businesses manage excess work by providing temporary employees? The nation was in the midst of a postwar boom and many businesses simply couldn't hire personnel fast enough. So, Kelly plunked down $10,000 in personal savings and opened a single office in Detroit. It was dubbed Russell Kelly Office Service. And it was phenomenally successful, eventually leading to the famed "Kelly Girl" in the 1950s. Today, the staffing services industry has grown into a $75 billion dollar behemoth that employs more than 2 million Americans. As companies look for greater flexibility and seek greater efficiency, temporary workers -- engineers, computer programmers, secretaries, accountants, HR specialists, you name it-have become an essential part of the workscape. Kelly, now in his 90s, has seen Kelly Services grow into a $3 billion company with more than 700,000 employees in 14 countries.

A woman is handicapped by her sex, and handicaps society, either by slavishly copying the pattern of man's advance in the professions, or by refusing to compete with man at all.

Betty Frieden ( 1921 - )

Martin Luther King Jr.
Civil-rights Activist
Perhaps no other American so completely devoted his life to the ideal of racial equality as King. Born in Atlanta in 1929, then earning a doctorate in philosophy from Boston University, King burst onto the American scene in 1955. After Rosa Parks defied an ordinance requiring segregated seating on city buses, the Baptist minister helped organize a successful yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. That event was the foundation for a career devoted to winning full citizenship rights for the poor, disadvantaged and racially oppressed. During the '60s, King organized a series of historic marches-with emphasis on nonviolent civil disobedience. His crowning moment came at the march on Washington, D.C. in August 1963. There, he delivered the famous "I Have a Dream" speech-an event that served as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Act. In 1964 he received the Kennedy Peace Prize, the Nobel Peace Prize and was named Time magazine's Man of the Year. King continued to sway public opinion and refashion values until his assassination in April 1968.

Edward E. Lawler III
Business-management Guru
The professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California School of Business has become a powerful voice in the corporate boardroom and HR department. He has authored more than 200 articles and 25 books, focusing on compensation, productivity, organizational development, total quality management (TQM) and more. Recent books include "Creating High Performance Organizations" (1995), and "From the Ground Up: Six Principles for Creating the New Logic Corporation" (1996). The Berkeley-educated Lawler also has consulted for many Fortune 500 companies, and has led the way toward the new employee-employer relationship. He's now director of USC's prestigious Center for Effective Organizations.

Tim Berners-Lee
Ultimate Web Master
Others have become rich and famous selling hardware and software for the Internet, but Swiss-born Berners-Lee, now at MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science, is the man who invented the Web. In 1989, he proposed a global hypertext project, based on research he had conducted a decade earlier. The idea was to store information on various computers and use random associations to track it down. Berners-Lee, now 41, reasoned that such a system would allow people to work together by combining all their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents. He wrote the software, and in 1991, his World Wide Web program hit the Internet. Although the Web has become much more complex recently, the Internet and intranet explosions couldn't have happened without it. His is the most profound advance in communication since the printing press over five centuries ago.

Thurgood Marshall
Civil-rights Law Leader

Born in Baltimore in 1908, Marshall grew up as a staunch advocate of social change. After receiving a law degree from Howard Law School in Washington D.C. in 1933, he became chief counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He immediately mapped out a strategy of using the federal courts to battle injustice -- something that the political system continually shied away from. Marshall became a leading civil rights attorney, arguing 32 cases before the Supreme Court and winning 29 of them. His most notable case was Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which led to the end of de jure segregation in public schools. But other cases focused on civil rights, discrimination and other workplace issues. President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1961, and six years later, President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court. Marshall was the first African-American member of the Supreme Court (1967-1991) and played a major role in defining civil rights and affirmative action.

Elton Mayo
Industrial Psychology Founder

Born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1880, Mayo moved to the United States in 1923 to work as a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania. Three years later, he joined the Harvard Business School faculty -- having distinguished himself as a leader in the burgeoning field of industrial development. Mayo immersed himself in worker-management studies, and in 1927 he began the Hawthorne Studies-a landmark in industrial psychology. After studying monotonous working conditions at Western Electric's Hawthorne Plant outside Chicago, Mayo came to the then-astounding conclusion that worker efficiency wasn't affected by the size of a paycheck or acceptable working conditions. Good relations among workers and between employees and management were the key factors, he argued. Although the statistical validity of Mayo's work was later questioned, his efforts transformed human relations into a serious management tool. It also spawned the idea of studying employee attitudes and devoting resources to the field of industrial relations.

The world has narrowed to a neighborhood before it has broadened to brotherhood.

Lyndon B. Johnson ( 1908 - 1973)

George Meany
Labor Leader
Although the American labor movement is sprinkled with notable figures like Samuel Gompers, William Green and Lane Kirkland, it was Meany who stood at the helm of the movement at its peak in the 1950s and '60s. The New York City-born plumber rose through the ranks to become Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Labor in 1939, and then assumed the organization's presidency in 1952. Three years later, he was elected head of the new AFL -- CIO, which merged Meany's organization with the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Both the merger and his election brought greater clout to a union movement that was under close scrutiny of the Eisenhower administration and put to rest years of squabbles between the two labor groups. During Meany's 27-year tenure, workers secured higher wages, shorter hours and greater benefits-though in later years, many of the gains were lost to a worsening economy and Asian competition. He retired in 1979 and died in '80.

Robert Metcalfe
Computer Network Genius

High-speed computer networks have revolutionized the workplace. Document sharing, E-mail, employee self-service, workflow automation and more are the result of groups of people working together on PCs. Such connectivity has fueled enormous gains in productivity and profits, while transforming the modern corporation through a radical change in attitudes, values and cultures. Metcalfe, 50, put computer networking on the map. In 1973, he invented the Ethernet, a way to link computers into networks. Most of today's local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs) are based on the protocols Metcalfe engineered a quarter-century ago. It has become a global standard, with more than 50 million computers connected using the protocol. Metcalfe is now vice president of San Francisco-based IDG Publications, which publishes InfoWorld magazine.

Frances C. Perkins
Worker's Rights Visionary
On March 4, 1933, Frances Perkins was sworn in as the Secretary of Labor by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That made her the first woman to hold a cabinet-level position, and it was the highest office any woman had achieved in the history of the U.S. government. Labor leaders were furious with her selection -- not only because she was a woman invading the male-dominated inner circle of government, but also because she was determined to drive monumental changes in society. Perkins wanted to feed the hungry, give people work, end child labor, establish a minimum wage, limit work hours, create unemployment insurance and pensions for old people, and establish workers' compensation. At the time, the federal government had no such programs and her ideas were revolutionary.

Ronald Wilson Reagan
Economic Visionary
No modern president is as likely to elicit such a wide range of opinions as Reagan, the affable actor-turned-politician. After his election in 1980, Reagan embarked on a crusade to shrink the public sector, cut taxes -- particularly for businesses and higher-income Americans-and introduce a broad retreat from business and social regulation. This policy of supply-side economics, a.k.a. Reaganomics, substantially changed the face of the workplace and society. A de-emphasis on antitrust regulations contributed to an era of record mergers and acquisitions -- spawning huge conglomerates with vast empires. The ongoing push for deregulation, meanwhile, began a long march toward less government control over a wide array of industries. Reagan, the nation's 40th president, is also remembered for opposing strikes by public employees. In 1981, he decertified the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Association by firing many of its members after the union struck illegally.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Workplace-equality President

Many historians consider Roosevelt the greatest president of the 20th century. And there's plenty of evidence to support the claim. The nation's 32nd president, who held office from 1933 until his death in 1945, deftly guided the United States out of the Great Depression and through World War II -- all while bringing greater equity and fairness to society and the workplace. In 1935, he signed the Social Security Act into law amid furious opposition by many Republicans, who considered a government-managed pension plan a socialistic scheme. His New Deal profoundly changed the face of America and helped the unemployed find meaningful work. It encouraged the growth of industrial unionism and the end of child labor, and led to maximum hours and minimum wage legislation on a national basis. Part of the pact also included the Work Projects Administration (WPA) which generated hundreds of thousands of jobs for the unemployed. In 1935, Roosevelt also signed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which is still, today, the basis for protecting the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively.

Workforce, January 1997, Vol. 76, No. 1, pp. 50-59

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