Since the a-mazing success of Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? in 1998, we’ve seen a flood of similar tomes — call them business parables — using fictional techniques to push advice about management, innovation, motivation, and other business topics.

One of the best of the recent crop is Values-Based Leadership: A Revolutionary Approach to Business Success and Personal Prosperity, self-published by former university professor Kenneth Majer ( The clunky title will anesthetize many readers, but it’s worth a quick read for anyone who worries about his company’s ethical footing or believes a corporate mission statement should be something more than a set of musty platitudes.

The story opens with a literal wake-up call for Robb Rinehart, CEO of a mythical Midwestern food distributor, who dreams he has been fired because of a “malaise” that’s destroying his company’s culture. Shaken, Rinehart soon finds that some of his troops don’t live by the official company values (Honesty, Integrity, People, etc.). No surprise there, since they had nothing to do with choosing them, and the boss has done little to make them real and vital for the company.

The rest of the book reads like a fictionalized training manual for a company determined to rebuild its ethical compass. In fact, leaders could almost follow Majer’s teachings step by step. Values-Based Leadership won’t hit Cheese-like numbers, but it delivers on its modest goals. Maybe the author should rename it Who Moved My Values?