On the Passing of Charlie Krone

Charlie Krone

In my bookcase are three unfinished manuscripts I lovingly refer to as the Tao of Krone.  That Charlie Krone – the father of Organization Effectiveness (and Development).  They represent over 8 years of notes while I was working with Charlie while he was mentoring the DuPont Nylon team (and subsequently DuPont Fibers).  I use many of these concepts to this day… the law of three, task cycle, singular integrated developmental organization (SIDBO), All in a Business Family, and the “Essence of Nylon” – a regenerative reframing of the nylon business.

If you really understood what Charlie was about you could not help but love him.  He genuinely cared about people and helping them reach their full potential.  This is not just talk as I know he could have written me off several times, as we would have highly agitated 1:1 discussions about what I often called his “inging” of the English language and “confusing people”.  He wouldn’t quite say it this way, but I was sloppy (my words) in my levels of thinking and had to relearn how to learn.  He would have suggested I was operating at level one unconscious thinking and needed to rise to a more conscious level of thinking.  Those of you who understand Krone will laugh as you read this.

Charlie was also known for his work at P&G and the development of participative management.  While it was highly successful, it was also threatening to the Ford-like industrial engineered work model and traditional management.  Often the participative management approach could create a “mystical aura” as folks who had been confined in their ability to contribute were liberated to work at their highest level and grow.

You rarely hear about organization development, participative management, and organization effectiveness and yet I often reflect that the millennials of today would readily embrace participative management.  However, being a regenerative vs. extractive company is still a struggle for some (VW for example).

His impact on DuPont was profound as we shifted from a company that truly embraced sustainable values and society as a stakeholder and put money behind our words, exiting deep wells, eliminating nitrous oxide emissions, and exiting businesses.  DuPont was a better place for his involvement and influence.

Yesterday, I decided to check on what Charlie had been up to… only to learn he died just before Christmas on December 17th.

Here is an excerpt about Charlie from his obituary…

As a young boy he helped the milkman with deliveries from his horse drawn carriage. His mother had a large garden, and he helped her with harvesting and canning the vegetables and fruit. He grew up loving to work and to help people, and these characteristics remained with him throughout his life. Charlie pioneered many of the founding concepts in the field of organization development, integrating several disciplines to formulate principles and processes for self- actualization, self-realization and systemic thinking. As a consultant he dedicated himself to making the world a better place through applying vision and creativity to developing organizations where people could simultaneously have a meaningful work life, contribute to the success of their business, and develop to their full professional and spiritual potential.

… He is survived by his wife, Bonnie Krone; his brother, Bill Krone; his 3 children, Pam, Keith and Brian; and his 3 grandchildren, Becky, Clayton and Jason. He wishes everyone a happy and fulfilling life. Please send any donations in his name to support the education of the orphaned children of Tibet at Joru Foundation (www.jorufoundation.org) or to support children’s equine therapy at Hope, Horses and Kids (http://hopehorseskids.org).”

Charlie – husband, father, friend, teacher, dreamer, business man, rancher, friend of the earth, we will miss You!

Charlie was my teacher, mentor, and in some ways a business father.  My life – and the path I was on – was dramatically changed by Charlie.  I will miss you.

Here is prior post on Charlie’s Four Premises about Growth from All in a Business Family.


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