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Central Library Book Review: Ubuntu! By Stephen Lundin and Bob Nelson

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library: Staff Review by Jennifer Childs

An Inspiring Story About an African Tradition of Teamwork and Collaboration

This is a great, quick read for business managers looking for something positive and enlightening to read on the plane.

Meet John Peterson, a hardworking, productive employee at the Bulls Eye Company. That is until he becomes a manager. Now his department doesn’t pull their weight and their work is often late or incomplete. John’s work and home life begin to suffer. His wife leaves him. He works all hours including weekends to finish the work his staff hasn’t finished and now his job is at risk.

Through the help of Simon, one of his employees, John is introduced to Ubuntu, the African philosophy of unity, humanity and oneness. At its base, Ubuntu means, “I am because you are” or, “We are all in this together.” If one member of the department, team or society is struggling or suffering, then we are all suffering.

As John learns more about Ubuntu, he slowly begins to implement its values and ideals in his work and home life. Before Ubuntu, John blamed his staff for not being motivated, for being negative and for not working hard enough. With Ubuntu, it becomes clear that John’s attitudes and beliefs were the main problem affecting his department. By practicing and truly believing in the philosophy of Ubuntu, John begins to interact and connect with his employees. In turn they begin to feel a sense of respect, trust, value and unity in their department and the organization as a whole. This leads to greater employee satisfaction, motivation and productivity.

Ubuntu! is a very accessible read and sheds light on the inspiring African philosophy that is practiced by well known leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Doc Rivers.

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library | 1 Lafayette Square | Buffalo, NY 14203 | (716) 858-8900     

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