When I spoke on Thought Leadership at the San Bruno Rotary Club on August 6 this “four way test” was printed on all of the placemats. It was the first time I had encountered it and I found it to be a useful insight for evaluating a course of action.
The Rotary Club Four Way Test
Of the things we think, say or do:
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
As I have reflected on the event I realized that this simple test, developed by Herbert J. Taylor in 1932 to turn around his failing company, was a great example of thought leadership. I had defined thought leadership as the ability to
Discern the important events and trends at work in the present, predict their likely effects, and offer perspective and actionable advice in time to have an impact.
This test offers a way to detect whether an organization or community is healthy. If people are not able to tell the truth, are not fair to other stakeholders, are not promoting goodwill and friendship, and are not seeking outcomes that are generally beneficial, then the organization or community will not thrive.
References for Four Way Test
- Four Way Test Organization About Us Page
How did The 4-Way Test Story begin?
It started in 1932. It’s author Herbert J. Taylor had just become president of Club Aluminum Products Company in Chicago, Illinois. The company employed 250 people, was bankrupt — over $400,000 in debt (equal to about $4.3 million today). The country was in the midst of what we know today as The Great Depression.
- Wikipedia: Four Way Test and Herbert J. Taylor
- Herbert J. Taylor Biography at American National Business Hall of Fame
- Rotary: Story Behind Four Way Test
8 thoughts on “Thought Leadership: Rotary Club Four Way Test”
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Thanks for addressing this topic. It’s amazing how leaders in the Depression became so good at the same challenges we face today.
There is a great article on the same topic on the Crucial Skills website. I highly recommend it.
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