Summary of Above the Line

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Above the Line book summary


7 Overall

8 Applicability

7 Innovation

7 Style


Culture drives everything, and it evolves naturally, but doesn’t have to be random. You can shape your organization’s culture deliberately with the process of “culturing,” and then tend to it carefully. Many leaders ignore culture’s power and instead post meaningless mission statements or issue platitudes about values. Michael Henderson, a corporate anthropologist, applies his considerable experience within organizations to the question of culture. He describes levels of cultures from “dead” and “dying” to “successful” and imbued with excellence. He shows readers how to identify these levels and how to help their organizational culture evolve. Henderson’s guide contains many nuggets of wisdom and excellent advice, though the read can be slow and some sweeping statements would benefit from additional sourcing. getAbstract recommends Henderson’s insight and guidance to leaders across all industries and to all sizes and kinds of companies, including nonprofits.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What “corporate culture” really means,
  • How aligning culture and values drives business success,
  • Which traits denote “below-the-line” and “above-the-line” cultures, and
  • How to create and maintain an above-the-line culture.

About the Author

Cultural anthropologist Michael Henderson studies corporate cultures just as social scientists study tribal cultures. Henderson has written several books about this specialty.



Don’t Take Culture for Granted
Culture forms naturally within groups of people without deliberate action on anyone’s part. Yet as a corporate leader, you don’t want to let culture just happen at random. Instead, you can use “culturing” to plan and execute a vision for the right culture...

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    Teer Gregg 3 years ago
    On my door in my office is a sign that states "ABOVE THE LINE"-we are branding above the line culture and have been doing so for many years. It does promote better leaders, a better environment and a better culture.
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    Morrison Shawn Marie 3 years ago
    Summary reminds me that I need to ensure I am hiring the right people for the mission of my organization and department..... I like how the author describes each culture and see elements of each in places I have worked.
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    Aaron Mensinger 3 years ago
    Sometimes we forget how important cutlure is to achieving our goals. In order for an organization to be successful, it needs to insure that its culture is aligned with its strategy. This summary gives good ideas on how to ensure that happens.
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    Dynamic Dylan 3 years ago
    Summary reminded me of the phrase "Culture eats strategy for Lunch" Like how author connects to above and below the line for corporate cultures.

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