I'm Bob Stone. I teach business
ethics to MBA students and to undergrads at the University of Redlands.
I also consult and conduct workshops on ethics, ethical leadership, and leading
change, and I serve on the governing council and faculty of the Ukleja Center
for Ethical Leadership at California State University,
Long Beach. I
had a 30-year career as a civil servant, where I was credited with starting a
quality revolution at the Pentagon, and then later at the White House led the
campaign to reinvent the U.S.
My partner, Mick Ukleja,
and I believe our institutions—government,
business, sports, the law—are suffering from a lack of thinking about ethical
requirements. The people are good, but their best nature is being hijacked by
an atmosphere of greed that surrounds everybody. Mick and I believe that can
That’s why we wrote our new
book, The Ethics Challenge: Strengthening
Your Integrity in a Greedy World. This breezy, story-filled guide
to becoming a more ethical person explains why ethical behavior is a winning
strategy, then lays out six things everyone can do to keep strong and to follow
their good intentions.
My earlier book told the
stories of what I learned in my years of trying, sometimes successfully,
sometimes not, to change the huge organizations that are the Defense Department
and the entire U. S. Government. It’s called Confessions of a Civil Servant:
Lessons in Changing America's Government and Military.
Tom Peters wrote a cool foreword, in which he calls it "the best text ever
on making it in government, and maybe the best text ever on large-scale
organization change. Anywhere." It’s also been praised by leaders in
government, politics, the military, and business, and has been used as a textbook
at Harvard’s Kennedy School, SUNY-Albany, Washington State University, and at
the Universities of Texas , Southern California, and Montana.
I believe in helping
government organizations reinvent themselves by making systemic changes, but
where my passion really lies is in leadership behavior. I believe that
organizational leaders can make HUGE changes through their behavior—how they
spend their time, how they trust and empower people, how they focus on their
vision, how they "walk the walk." And I love to help leaders
transform their organizations through systemic changes, sure, but mainly
through their personal behavior.
I started out as an engineer in the aerospace industry after getting bachelor’s
and master’s degrees from MIT. I was so good at designing and diagnosing heat
exchangers that I was hired by the Pentagon to analyze tanks and helicopters. I
was good at that too, so they started to put me in charge of people.
My re-education started. I learned how super-smart managers at headquarters
were—usually inadvertently—handcuffing top leaders in the field and at the
front lines, and how innovation and change were powerfully inhibited by central
control. I saw how the systems of management at the center were even keeping
front-line workers from getting the tools they needed to do their work.
I soon became a radical decentralizer and
passionate advocate of excellence. I fought a guerilla battle to get authority
in the hands of front line workers and, especially, base commanders. I was
inspired and taught by the greatest military leader of the last 40 years, Air
Force General Bill Creech.
David Osborne and Ted Gaebler discovered what I was doing and wrote a lot about
it in Reinventing Government. That
led to Al Gore hiring me to lead his reinvention task force, where I spent the
last six years of my federal career, crusading to spread trust, empowerment,
and of course customer service throughout the federal government. And then in
1999 the pull of our grandchildren drew me and my wife, Roxane to California.
When we're not watching our grandchildren grow, which is my favorite thing, and
when I'm not energizing public organizations, which is my life work, I love
watching ballet and the Washington Redskins, and poking around Turkey and
other interesting places around the world with Roxane.