The Climb to Excellence


192 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-897113-25-0
DDC 658.4




Reviewed by Louise Karch

Louise Karch is a career consultant with Carswell Partners in London, Ontario.


It’s going to be a long climb to excellence if CEOs rely on William
Caswell’s meandering book. This corporate coach has a goal of
revolutionizing the workplace by instilling an atmosphere of trust and
cooperation. A little respect for his readers would have been a better
way to walk his talk. There is no logical structure to the book, the
writing lacks maturity, and the content lacks credibility. What business
writer can afford to misspell Procter & Gamble?

Caswell’s seemingly free-form musings briefly draw upon three “ hot
“ management books (The Pursuit of Prime, First Break All the Rules,
and Built to Last) to define business myths. Although he provides a few
practical insights and examples, more concrete evidence drawn from his
work with clients would have strengthened his arguments. In the chapter
on personality types, the author does a nice job of synthesizing various
theories, but the impact is diminished by his self-evident conclusion
that “[p]eople are different and have to be treated differently.”

While Caswell tries to explain how to create trust and respect through
“safe environments,” the actual steps are vague, no barriers to
implementation are discussed, no case studies are given, and no concrete
outcomes are measured. There is no harassment, racism, or any other
barrier to safety in his analysis. CEOs run incredibly complex
organizations; theories such as humankind’s impetus toward procreation
are irrelevant, outmoded, and inappropriate. The action steps Caswell
presents at the end of The Climb to Excellence are not insightful enough
to truly bring about a “respect revolution.” Finally, the simplistic
metaphor of building a beaver dam that concludes the book does nothing
to solidify Caswell’s position as sage business author.


Caswell, William E., “The Climb to Excellence,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,