Review: What Happened to Goldman Sachs

Posted Monday, Oct. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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What Happened to Goldman Sachs: An Insider’s Story of Organizational Drift and Its Unintended Consequences

By Steven G. Mandis

Harvard Business Review Press, $28

Like a relentless tide lapping at a seashore, “organizational drift” can erode the core values that make any company successful. Steven G. Mandis, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker, explains how that happened to the Wall Street firm and offers prescriptions for combating the problem in this insightful volume.

Thirty-four years ago, he points out, John Whitehead elucidated the business principles that underscored Goldman’s successful culture. Those principles, Mandis writes, guided employees to strike a balance between “long-term greedy” and “short-term greedy” when dealing with clients. But over the years the company’s culture changed. Mandis looks at Goldman Sachs over three decades to pinpoint the internal organizational factors and the regulatory, technological and competitive pressures that contributed to the drift.

Since organizational drift affects most companies to some extent, Mandis stresses some essential ways of lessening its effects. They include shared values and teamwork, an environment of dissonance and debate, and a sense of higher purpose beyond making money.

— Cecil Johnson, special to the Star-Telegram

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