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Dennis Bakke was co-founder and eventually CEO of AES, a large energy company which grew to over $8 billion in annual revenue and over 40,000 employees. Bakke's Joy at Work is in part, a CEO memoir, as it chronicles AES's growth, complete with anecdotes about boardroom confrontations, employee relations, and new openings of production facilities. Joy at Work goes beyond the standard business tale, though: Bakke believes in moral values as ends in themselves, as opposed to means towards the end of greater financial return, and he's not afraid to say it.
A number of authors in recent years have made the case that companies which embody humanistic values, and which nurture uplifting cultures, come to house happier, more productive employees. "Values" should be embraced, the argument goes, because they lead to better business results. Bakke shuns such thinking. He wants "values" for values' sake--because he believes they are an integral part of the human experience, and one that daily work should incorporate. He argues that financial return is only one good alongside others. As Bakke writes at one point in Joy at Work: "Why should enriching shareholders be more important than producing quality products and selling them to customers at fair prices?"
Readers who start off sympathetic to Bakke's worldview will likely enjoy Bakke's book. "Joy at Work" is situated perfectly within values-led business literature, alongside books like Howard Schultzs Pour Your Heart Into It, the Body Shop's Anita Roddick (Take It Personally) and Ben & Jerry's Double Dip, by the ice-cream guys. Joy at Work provokes questions and warrants a read, if, for no reason other than its impressive string of blurbs from friends of the author: Everyone from President Bill Clinton to Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren vouches for Bakke and his gospel. --Peter Han
Bakke cofounded international energy giant AES in 1981 and was its president and CEO from 1994 to 2002. This memoir-cum-inspirational business book has an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel; in relaxed, roundabout prose, Bakke tells of his first work experience (chasing cows to the barn for milking at age five), his schooling, his friendships and partnerships, and how it all coalesced into a philosophy of work that puts employee satisfaction ahead of profit as a company's goal—a frightening thing for most managers. Bakke believes worker autonomy and self-determination to be the straightest path to success. Most of the book takes AES as a case study; his matter-of-fact descriptions of the Houston power plant's experience with "honeycombing"—or transition to egalitarian, collective self-supervision, including spending—or of humility as a managerial necessity, are genuinely inspiring, though job elimination is involved in the transitions he proposes. Bakke argues that his values and techniques did, in fact, lead to profit (until, he says, the energy industry scandals of the past few years), but that profit is not the point of work. While most managers would not dream of experimenting with Bakke's ideas, they will find it difficult to deny their potential. 22-city author tour.(Mar. 8)
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For decades I have been interested in revolutionary approaches in the world(s) of work, industry, and business. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Boer, Jan H.
Very interesting and helpful in terms of the subject that is being discussed in class. Clear and concise examples.Published 14 months ago by KorterBegorter
Very thought provoking, only a few chapters in. I'm looking forward to the rest.Published 14 months ago by Chardon2011
thanks great shape cover looks good and the pages were in tact overall satisfied very much thanks again and take care!Published 19 months ago by Ian Grine
Great paradigm for business people seeking a model that implements moral values. It is a great value for those who seek to run a business on high principles and ethics.Published on June 5, 2013 by Paul Michael Stich
Although the book was a bit centered on a particular life experience, it did a good job in relating how the business model can be applied to any company.Published on April 29, 2013 by Gary Bell
This book provided a detailed case study on the importance of culture in the workplace. Dennis, as CEO, shares from his heart his passion on core values for everyone in the... Read morePublished on January 20, 2013 by David Barry
I have worked for Mr. Bakke's company Imagine Schools and I can attest that this book is a complete fabrication. Read morePublished on June 7, 2012 by BrianM
The first thing a prospective reader needs to know is that this is not a book for the average employee who is seeking to improve his/her experience at the workplace. Read morePublished on March 29, 2011 by D. S. Bornus