Fire in the Corporate Belly
Renewing the Company - Body, Soul & Bottom Line
by Tom FitzGerald

reviewed by Rick Sidorowicz

So many companies lose their way, in spite of the wealth of information and insights available on best practices, branding, reinventing, innovation, leadership development, leading change, customer relationship management, partnering, performance improvement and organizational excellence. So many words, and yet so many enterprises that drift, lose focus, muddle along in mediocrity, rationalize, point fingers, externalize, decline and ultimately fail. What a waste of intelligence and the talent of so many well-intentioned people.

There are only two kinds of organizations: those that are growing
and those that are dying.

Tom FitzGerald offers a very unique intervention that can quickly and quite dramatically change the trajectory of an enterprise. Fire in the Corporate Belly is about turnarounds, not in the typical Chapter 11 or CCAA work out, but about preemptive turnaround when an enterprise is in the stage of early decline. It is about Corporate Renewal and revitalization - and one of Tom's chapter headings - Corporate Viagra is a fitting descriptor of his approach. It is about affecting change and restoring potency, rediscovering the spirit of the enterprise and significantly improving the bottom line.

If you have read Tom FitzGerald's articles in The CEO Refresher you will recall that he works from an underlying premise that human organizations are living entities. Every enterprise has a unique persona, and spirit. In a sense it's an organization's culture, history and heritage, but then it is much more. It's more like the persona of a brand - who you are and the more intangible and emotional dynamics that govern behaviour. The processes described in Fire in the Corporate Belly address these intangible and emotional aspects of the human enterprise in a very powerful way to re-ignite the spirit and create self directed surges in performance.

The roles of the CEO and the senior management team are vital within the process. Tom presents a very visual notion that the spirit of the enterprise is always with the senior team. It attends the meetings and is always present. This idea is an empowering insight and it rings true to me in my experiences in turnaround challenges. More often than not, the "problem" of an enterprise in decline is a "problem" with the senior management team. Perhaps the "problem" is due to the disconnects between those individuals entrusted as the stewards or the custodians of the enterprise with each other, and more importantly, the lack of awareness of, or lack of appreciation of, or lack of caring for - the living spirit of the organization. How many senior management teams have you experienced being disconnected from "what this business is all about" - leaving employees, suppliers and customers wondering how "they don't get it!"

Perhaps it's the idea of "stewardship" that often goes missing. Perhaps the fundamental role of the senior team is to discover, clarify, align with, embrace and unleash the underlying spirit of the enterprise. After reading a few chapters of Fire in the Corporate Belly I'm certain you will see that the Preemptive Turnaround process provides a most profound "look in the mirror" for the senior management team, and that becomes the catalyst for significant change and improvement.

We have met the enemy and he is us!
Walt Kelly

The role of the CEO is critical. Throughout the book the stories relate to the resolve of the leader "who has the courage to look deep into (the) company's soul, have his (or her) people look there too, and by his (or her) presence, and by action, gives courage." Courageous indeed, to lead your team through a most profound reality check, with no tall grass to hide in, nothing to rationalize, defend or externalize, and nowhere to hide from the truth. Scary stuff for many, but very powerful for those who take on the adventure.

Fire in the Corporate Belly is an insightful outline of the Preemptive turnaround process. It describes the almost magical adventure of re-igniting the spirit of an enterprise to unleash creativity and talent, and achieve unprecedented levels of performance. This is one the best books of the year! For additional information, to read the featured chapter of the week, or to buy the book, visit: .

Rick Sidorowicz is the Publisher and Editor of The CEO Refresher and
the Minister of Culture of High Performance Retail.

Many more articles in Leading Change in The CEO Refresher Archives


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