Selfish Altruism: Managing & Executing Successful Change Initiatives

Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” In today’s fast-paced world, Darwin’s words have never been more true. For an organization to compete, it must quickly and efficiently adapt to whatever comes its way. How can an organization’s leaders plan and execute lasting change? In a new book from Moe Glenner, managers can find out how.

Below is a release announcing a new book on management and organizational change by Moe Glenner. Following the release is a short Q&A that Industrial Distribution got the chance to have with Moe about his new book, Selfish Altruism: Managing & Executing Successful Change Initiatives. 


Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” In today’s fast-paced and often volatile world of business, Darwin’s words have never been more true. For an organization to compete, it must quickly and efficiently adapt to whatever comes its way. Of course, that’s easier said than done. How can an organization’s leaders plan and execute lasting change?

Selfish Altruism: Managing & Executing Successful Change Initiatives, by change management consultant Moe Glenner, examines the often-ignored human element in business change initiatives and offers advice on using personal motivation to produce lasting results.

“If we define altruism as ‘for the greater good’ and selfish as ‘me first,’ then even a selfish act can be altruistic,” Glenner says. “Even though an employee could be facilitating a change for a higher salary (selfish), it will benefit the organization (altruistic). Intent is not as relevant as the end result.”

Glenner believes “selfish” employees can support the greater good, while employees that lack personal motivation often stall or even kill an organization’s change initiatives. While other books center exclusively on corporate strategy or personal change, Glenner’s book marries personal motivation to corporate vision.

Selfish Altruism readers will come away with an arsenal of change management strategy and tactics, including ways to:  

  • Execute change using a Personal Return on Investment (PROI)
  • Communicate effectively with executives, management, and the troops
  • Harness the potential of the selfish employee
  • Stop lollygaggers, resisters, and the “Silent Saboteur”

“Behind every organization there are real people with real emotions,” Glenner adds. “For better or worse, we know human emotions are not simply discarded when entering a corporate atmosphere. If left unchecked, they can wreak havoc on an organization’s change initiatives.”

Moe Glenner has held a variety of senior management positions in the logistics, transportation, and supply chain industries, over the course of a career that spans more than 20 years. Glenner currently serves as the president of PURELogistics, a leading consulting firm that specializes in supply chains, logistics, and change management, and regularly speaks at trade shows and industry conventions. A Chicago native, Glenner earned his MBA at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification from Villanova University.

In Selfish Altruism: Managing & Executing Successful Change Initiative, Glenner explores best practices in organizational change. Selfish Altruism ($13.95) is available at

ID: First of all, this is a fascinating topic for many reasons. The idea of focusing on the individual’s advancement for the good of the company is maybe not revolutionary, but certainly not a normal talking point. Can you briefly describe why you think this dynamic is important, and maybe give one example in which an employee’s Personal ROI helped a company achieve their goals? 

Glenner: When an employer/team leader requests their team to undertake anything, whether it is everyday tasks or things involved with a change initiative, they are, in essence, asking for an investment of their team’s time, effort and emotion.  And just as the company requires a return on their financial investments, the team requires a return as well.  These returns do not have to be financial as they can be other things, but either way a return is expected.  These returns are Personal Return on Investment (PROI).  Without discovering and then delivering on the PROI, true motivation and dedication are very difficult if not impossible to achieve.  This can and will prevent an organization from moving forward and can even lead to its decline.  Thus, this discovery and delivery of PROI is not just optional, rather it is a critical component to an organization’s success.

While there are many examples of how discovery and delivery of PROI has helped an organization move forward, perhaps the most succinct is of the previously unmotivated employee asked to temporarily do more work in a change initiative.  No one wants to do more work, so how was this employee motivated to do more?  This employee’s manager took the time to engage in frequent conversation with the employee.  The employee needed to be listened to and needed to feel that she was an important part of the team and the process.  While the manager did not need this employee’s approval to move forward, her opinion was solicited and duly considered (along with other members of the team).  She felt important and was willing to do more as a direct result.  In this case, the PROI was the true feeling of being important and not just another spoke-in-the-wheel. 

ID: For whom is this book written? C-Level executives? An entry-level sales employee? Anyone in between?

Glenner: This book is written for any employee at any level.  Technically, every employee is a manager of their process and tasked work.   And almost every employee is part of a team that is also tasked with certain responsibilities.  An employee can help their team leaders/managers through conversation that will not only discover the employee’s PROI but also the manager’s.  For the manager or executive, an introspective look at what are their self-motivators (PROI) will go a long way towards being able to discover and deliver on their employees PROI.

ID: How is it that an employee who seems not to seek any PROI above and beyond the norm can be counterproductive to a company’s approach?

Glenner: I think we first have to define ‘norm’.  If ‘norm’ is the employer provides a job and its particular compensations and the employee performs the specific tasks assigned at a certain quality level, then the organization will retain its status quo.  However, it will not be able to move forward with new initiatives.  In life, we are always moving, so if we are not moving forward, then we must be moving backwards.  Organizations are no different.  For an organization to move forward, they must continuously be able to design and implement new initiatives.  Every employee has PROI that if delivered on will lead to greater motivation and the ability to do even more than just what was in the job description.

ID: The preview of the book says that it “marries personal motivation to corporate vision.” What does this mean, and on a most basic level (without giving too much of the book away!), how can a company leverage this marriage to their advantage? How can an employee do the same?

Glenner: We seem to place a heavy emphasis on team and teamwork.  We hear it all the time with all of the team building exercises and the team oriented slogans/posters.  ‘Go Team and Rah-Rah-Team’ and there is no ‘I’ in team.  There may not be an ‘I’ in team, but there is a ‘me’ in team.  If we think closely about what comprises a team, it is a group of individuals.  Individuals have individual needs, wants and motivators.  In any organization, there are a myriad of teams whose aggregate product is the success of that organization.  For the organization to move forward, each team must be motivated and able to propel itself towards successful results.  However, it is impossible to have a motivated team if the team members themselves are not motivated.  This is PROI and the crux of successfully implementing the corporate or organizational vision.

A successfully forward moving organization requires team leaders who are willing to communicate and engage their team members on a constant and consistent basis.  While PROI is typically not a one-size-fits-all concept, many employees share some of the same motivators.  As team leaders are we really listening and then are we delivering on what we hear?  As employees are we communicating what is really important to us and are we willing to work even harder to achieve what we really want?  From either side, there is no entitlement.  Nothing is guaranteed, but those that are motivated and willing to work hard to achieve their personal goals will contribute greatly to an organization being able to achieve their corporate goals.  To get there, the organization must discover and then deliver on these PROI.  This is more than just ‘talking-the-talk’. It must be followed up with concrete PROI deliverables.