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Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning Paperback – March 30, 2004


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Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning + Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience + Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014200409X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142004098
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's definition of leadership, the personal is political. The best-selling author of Flow interviewed several dozen exemplary CEOs whose wisdom provides the radical job description of the book’s premise: "Leaders must make it possible for employees to work with joy, to their heart’s content, while responding to the needs of society." Csikszentmihalyi leverages his definition of "flow"—-the capacity for full engagement in an activity—-to create a blueprint for a workplace in which bringing out the best in workers comes before products and profit. When leaders select and reward employees who find satisfaction at work, they can create an upwardly moral organization.

In this view, leadership is a privilege that requires checking ego in the coatroom and peering into the mirror to ask tough questions. For example, "How do I determine if something is right or wrong?" Or, "What is my business doing to benefit human well being?" He offers some inspiring stories from leaders who engage employees to go with the flow, including Body Shop CEO Anita Roddick, Patagonia crown prince Yvon Chouinard, and media mogul Ted Turner. Some of Csikszentmihalyi’s advice will sound familiar. Yet he creates a compellingly fresh vision of good business in both a material and spiritual sense. Ultimately, the success of this book lies in its powerful, non-flaky ability to define corporate soul in terms of a company becoming a stakeholder in an entity larger than itself.--Barbara Mackoff --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Asking business leaders to turn a profit in this climate is tough enough, but psychologist Csikszentmihalyi challenges them to do something even tougher: make people happy. The author first explored flow, the enjoyment felt when an individual is focused on a complex task, in 1991's bestselling Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, and he has often returned to the subject (The Evolving Self; Creativity; etc.). Now he wants to show business leaders how to foster flow and use their psychic energy to enhance the happiness of their employees, customers and even themselves. The advice book offers predictable but sound guidance to business leaders: know oneself, set clear goals for employees and consider the consequences of business decisions. Insightful quotes from figures like Aristotle, Dante Alighieri and John Locke provide some historical grounding, but mostly the author focuses on how modern businesses motivate employees and contribute to the common good. By conducting extensive interviews, the author collects the secrets of successful business leaders, including the Body Shop CEO Anita Roddick; McDonald's chairman and CEO Jack Greenberg; and AOL Time Warner's Ted Turner. Roddick, for example, says that looking at company's lavatories and cafeteria can reveal a lot about a firm's corporate culture and the happiness of its employees. If a firm fails to create a clean, healthy environment for its workers, it probably isn't doing much good. Csikszentmihalyi shows how moral responsibility, respect for the environment and clean bathrooms can make a business good and the whole world better.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a professor at Claremont Graduate University and former chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. His previous books include The Evolving Self and the national bestseller Flow.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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I recommend it to my coworkers.
Suzanne M. Barker
Where "Flow" is highly philosophical and little bit difficult to comprehend, the "Good Business" is much easier to go through and understand.
Gaurav Bansal
=CONCLUSION = The book contains a great framework, is well written and contains good examples.
Coert Visser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Coert Visser on April 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the Hungarian-born writer of the bestseller Flow. This professor of Psychology and Education at the University of Chicago has been studying this concept of Flow for many years and has written several interesting books, among which Flow (1990) and Finding Flow (1997). Now he has written a new book: Good Business. It turns out to be just the book I hoped he would write: a book about Flow and work.

=WORK CAN CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR WELL-BEING!=
Although many people view work primarily negatively, it can actually contribute importantly to your well-being, more so than gaining more and more possessions. And because work is so important, it is vital that managers and employees create conditions in which good work can happen. But what is good work? It is enjoying doing your best while at the same time contributing to something beyond yourself. Csikszentmihalyi explains how this can be achieved through two processes: 1) experiencing flow and 2) growth toward complexity. What precisely do these two things mean?

1. Experiencing Flow
In situations of flow, tasks demand the full involvement of the person. In these situations there is a perfect balance between the challenge of the task and the skills of the person. The so-called 'flow channel' represents optimal experience, where both challenges and skills lie above the average level. More challenge than skill leads to arousal, anxiety, or worry. More skill than challenge leads to control, relaxation, or boredom. Flow depends on eight conditions: 1) goals are clear, 2) feedback is immediate, 3) a balance between opportunity and capacity, 4) concentration deepens, 5) the present is what matters, 6) control is no problem, 7) the sense of time is altered, 8) the loss of ego.

2.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Berman on May 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The premise of the book is that our jobs are a primary component in our life and that when we are happy in our work we are the most productive and of the most value to our business.
Mihaly reviews the concept of "flow" from his earlier studies which is a state where we fully utilize our skills and capabilities and how we are able to reach that state and what inhibits us from reaching it. We also learn about our own development stages and how we improve through the combination of
realizing our uniqueness and by valuing human relationships.
This book teaches us about good leadership qualities and how we (being led) can find satisfaction in our work.
Organizational leaders must clarify the goals of a business and ensure it is well communicated.
Three levers are available to managers to enable flow and create a great organization: make the environment attractive and comfortable; imbuing jobs with meaning and value; and by rewarding individuals who find satisfaction in their work.
Flow presents opportunity (such as finding more satisfaction) and challenge (as in the case of changing a job that sucks the life out of people).
Innovation is seen as repeatable through flow - but certain practices must be met such as: stay away from micro managing people; let people know the problems that need to be solved; and how to set and achieve performance goals (prioritizing tasks throughout a company has the effect of ensuring a company
won't meet its goals).
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bucky's parent on May 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A brilliant work taking the author's concept of FLOW and applying it specifically to work and business. The approach may have been taken previously ... though never so well or so clearly. There are practical, concrete matters addressed as well as the overall psychology of FLOW. It quickly becomes clear why some employees stagnate in their work, even though they may be highly skilled. There is much that business owners, managers and leaders can take away to enhance their own lives, the lives of their employees and of society on the whole. And the not-so-surprising outcome of these endeavors is greater success for individuals and for the business.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Plinske on June 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Artists, when describing the act of painting a masterpiece, will often claim that they felt "lost" in their work. Likewise, a basketball player may describe the experience of setting up the winning play as having an altered perception of time, as if twelve seconds actually extended for hours. When we are truly engaged and at the highest states of enjoyment, we experience the freedom of complete absorption in activity. Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, first coined the term "flow" in 1975 to describe this experience, and has written several books about the concept including the bestseller Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience in 1990. Through a series of interviews with successful business leaders who combine high achievement with strong moral commitment, Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning explores the connection between flow and work.

Csikszentmihalyi claims that our jobs have a significant influence on the quality of our lives. He explains that happiness is not something that happens to us, but rather is something we make happen. As such, work can be one of the most fulfilling aspects of life, provided that employees have an opportunity to do their best and to contribute to something greater than themselves.

He makes a profound distinction between the concepts of pleasure and enjoyment: pleasure is a conservative force that makes us want to satisfy existing needs and does not foster change, whereas enjoyment is not always pleasant, and can be sometimes stressful. Csikszentmihalyi describes enjoyment as the sensation of being fully alive, triumphing over the forces of entropy and decay.
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