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.  

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.  You can download John's writings below.  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.







pdfThe Human Treatment of Human Beings: Writings of John Donnelly2.06 MB


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.












paulcarPaul Davis

Paul Davis served as President of the Scanlon Leadership Network from 1993-2008. Working with Scanlon Network members throughout North America—consulting, training, and developing Scanlon programs and services he created the Scanlon 101 and Scanlon Leadership Programs, the E.P.I.C. Culture Inventory™ and the Scanlon Roadmap learning map. He assisted in the development of the Network’s Listening Program, the Lean Sim Machine™, and Hoshin Quick Start™. He served as the chief consultant in the development of Scanlon Plans at ELGA and Watermark Credit Unions, United Building Centers, and Meier Inc.  

Also in his role as President of the Scanlon Network he wrote many articles, books, white-papers and chapters on Leadership, Gainsharing, Scanlon and Innovation. With Larry Spears he coedited the definitive anthology of Scanlon thought and practice Scanlon EPIC Leadership (2008). He also co-edited The Human Treatment of Human Beings: the writings of Scanlon Steward John Donnelly. His most recent work with Larry Spears is Fortuitous Encounters: Wisdom Stories for Learning and Growth  published in 2013 by Paulist Press. 

His article “Leadership from Theory to Action” appeared in Leading-Edge Magazine. “The ABC’s of Gainsharing” appeared in Physician Compensation and The Employee Ownership Law Review. His article “Sustaining your Strategy/Hoshin Planning” appeared in Association News. "Cooperaton or Conflict" in the Lansing Business Journal.  He coauthored with Dr. Dow Scott and Chuck Cockburn “Scanlon Principles and Processes: Building Excellence at Watermark Credit Union” which appeared in the World of Work Journal and Incentive Compensation.  He and Dr. Scott coauthored "Scanlon Gainsharing" a chapter in the fifth edition of the Compensation Handbook. He wrote a white-paper on Innovation which resulted in me being asked to speak at several conferences including the first innovation conference hosted by Queens College.

Many of these articles and books are available as free downloads from this site.

He became a frequent speaker on Leadership and Scanlon and was an invitational speaker for the European Foundation, the Academy of Management, the Conference Board, The Japanese External Trade Organization, the American Society for Training and Development, The Ecology of Work Conferences, The Greenleaf Center Conference and Dyad Development of South Africa.

The Scanlon Network presented Paul with the Scanlon Stewardship Award for his service.  He continues to serve as a Scanlon Advocate and Steward by hosting www.EPIC-Organizations.com.

Books/Articles/White-Papers/Podcasts by Paul Davis

Radio interview of Paul Davis by Dan Mulhern, leadership author (husband of Michigan Governor).  

Listen Now! Interview with Dan Mulhern
Listen Now! EPIC Interview, track 1
Listen Now! EPIC Interview, track 2
Listen Now! EPIC Interview, track 3


Articles to download

pdfLeadership from Theory to Action442.74 KB

pdfThe ABC's of Gainsharing209.83 KB

pdf Why Scanlon Matters2.02 MB

pdf Cooperation or Conflict1.23 MB

pdf Sustaining Strategy/Hoshin1.81 MB

pdf Innovation White-Paper955.47 KB



Publication Date, January 2013

“Fortuitous Encounters is a simply terrific book. It is straightforward, imminently accessible, and filled with true stories of life lessons learned and shared. Paul Davis and Larry Spears have done a masterful job of assembling a compendium that, in its own say, stands with the best of wisdom literature. I advise a reading a night, almost like a daily devotional, an exercise made easy by a short paragraph at the end of each story entitled ‘For Reflection’.”

James A. Autry, author

The Servant Leader and Choosing Gratitude

We have all experienced fortuitous encounters those moments in our lives where a person, place or thing caused our lives to change in a more positive direction. In Fortuitous Encounters: Wisdom Stories for Learning and Growth (Paulist Press; January 2013; paperback, $10.95; ISBN 978-0809148059), editors Paul Davis and Larry C. Spears and other contributing authors focus on the meaning of fortuitous encounters in our lives through inspiring examples. This wise book serves as a great companion to help you stay awake to the fortuitous people, places and things that ultimately shape your days and your life direction.

Our lives are full of what some have called serendipity. A favorite teacher inspires our choice of career, or a chance encounter develops into love, marriage, and a new family. At the time we are most in need of a friend, one appears. We discover a place and find meaning and peace. We read a book and an idea is planted in our brains that provides the wisdom we seek. For most of us, the fortuitous encounters of our lives are the parts that contain the most meaning.

The ability to experience and recognize fortuitous encounters is key to our learning and growth. The more fortuitous encounters that someone has, the better the odds that the person is successful and happy. While fortuitous encounters are by their very nature a product of chance beyond our ability to control, we strongly believe, as did Pasteur, that “chance favors only the prepared mind.” In this book, you will read first hand reports of fortuitous encounters of many kinds. These true stories can help you learn how to prepare yourself to experience your own fortuitous encounters for learning and growth.

The term "Fortuitous Encounter" was coined by the great Scanlon Leader DJ DePree.  This book was inspired by the wisdom and teachings of Mr.  DePree.



Scanlon EPIC Leadership is the definitive anthology of Scanlon thought and practice.  It is the only Scanlon book that contains the historical materials and current articles by Scanlon authors, consultants and thought leaders.

Publication Date: April 30, 2008

The Scanlon Principles of Equity, Participation, Identity and Competence encompass an innovative process of total organizational development. Evolved from the work of Joe Scanlon during the Depression - when he pioneered the concepts of teamwork and profit sharing - the Principles transform an organization's culture from an "us vs. them" philosophy to one of partnerships committed to delivering results for all stakeholders. Scanlon EPIC Leadership is an anthology of Scanlon thought and practice. It contains classic articles by Joe Scanlon, Douglas McGregor, Fred Lesieur and Dr. Carl Frost, as well as contemporary articles written by current Scanlon thought leaders. The contributions of Scanlon thought to lean initiatives, six-sigma, corporate culture, open book management, gainsharing, integrity, servant leadership and employee involvement and engagement are detailed here.

pdfScanlon EPIC Leadership: Where the Best Ideas Come Together9.54 MB



I also want to make the point that John Donnelly was doing servant leadership when servant leadership wasn’t cool. Predatory practices were the norm during most of John’s career. He chose to break with the norm and move tohigher ground. His courage and commitment are also part of his legacy. We will not solve the problems of global poverty, and environmental degradation unless and until we learn the art of servant leadership. Robert Doyle

John Donnelly was one of the pioneers in creating EPIC-Organizations.  For over 20 years the Donnelly Corporation was among the top 100 Best Place to work and was considered the most democratic organization in America.  John was studying for the priesthood when his father suffered a heart attack and he was asked to return to help run the family business.  Over the next decades John used the Donnelly Corporation as his laboratory for experimenting with various ways to make work more humane and organizations more effective.  Eventually the Donnelly Corporation was sold to the Magna Corporation and John's writings were headed to a landfill when a former secretary tipped us off and we were able to rescue them. 

In this book you will find some of the best writings and essays on the Scanlon Plan and Organizational Development from one of the sharpest business minds.

pdfThe Human Treatment of Human Beings2.06 MB