Bending granite defies the laws of physics but not the limits of our imagination. Granite is rock — hard, solid, tough, resistant to change. Like granite, many of our most durable institutions today — government agencies, schools, businesses, healthcare facilities, community organizations — are designed not to bend easily but rather to do the same things over and over in predictable and orderly ways. They can become impervious to change, however, inflexible in the face of opportunities, better at creating floors, walls, and ceilings of policies, protocols, and standards than adapting to rapidly changing times and abandoning things that no longer work. The stories in Bending Granite are by difference makers who were passionate about their organizations and persistently and patiently nudged them forward day by day, one improvement at a time. No big bang, no instant pudding, no quick fixes here. Only through tending to purpose, processes, and people were they able to shape but not break the organizations they loved. Theirs are stories of change and continuous improvement. With humility, humor, and honesty, the contributors describe their first-hand experiences—learned from trial and error and from one another—in a broad range of organizations including manufacturing, education, health, banking, insurance, service industries, military, construction, families, and government. Zooming out from one medium-sized city in Wisconsin and building on over fifty years of the international momentum for improving quality, Bending Granite takes you behind the curtain to reveal not only the “why” but the “how, who, when, and where” of leading change.
originated the idea for this book. A lifelong community organizer, Tom guides people to take charge and address the inequities around them. He is a change agent by nature and a leader by nurture. He served as the City of Madison’s Director of Quality and Productivity and president of the American Society for Quality (ASQ).
Ben is director of Operations at Reynolds Transfer & storage proudly representing the 6th generation of his family to work in the company. A firm believer in the importance of learning as an organization, Ben has worked to improve Reynolds and other companies using his background in Industrial Engineering and Sustainability as well as a personal interest in behavior change. Currently, Ben is transitioning from the firefighting of the COVID pandemic back to focusing on the long term growth and improvement of the company.
led complex public sector organizations for forty-one years, including founding groundbreaking improvement initiatives for the City of Madison, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and State of North Carolina. Michael serves on numerous boards, where he helps bring order out of chaos.