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Joy At Work: A Revolutionary Approach To Fun On The Job Hardcover – March 7, 2005
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Based on seven years of reporting from over a dozen countries, writer Tom Wainwright takes you on an extraordinary journey into the business of being a drug lord. Learn more.
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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
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
While the book is truly the tale of a CEO's adventure, we at Stern's Management Review Online ([...]) find it to be a unique portrayal of the creation of a values-driven enterprise. Don't let the title fool you...this work goes far beyond "joy." Cutting through Bakke's excellent storytelling and quantum-leaping to the back of the book, we found that the author thoughtfully offers the reader a to-the-point profile of 49 items (Appendix A, The Joy at Work Approach) arranged under the following headings: treatment of employees; purpose, mission, goal; annual reports; leaders and managers; compensation; education, training and information; auditing; and board of directors. Here's where you'll hit the meat 'n potatoes of "JOY." Whether or not you buy into all these points is your call, but at least they are there for your perusal. Face it, when it comes to management books, page-flipping to the back often pays off, big time.
At the time I was working for a computer company as an engineer and had eleven layers in the chain of command just to get out ot the plant I was in, and who knos how many more to get to the president. This one of those computer companies that completely missed the PC revolution and is now still alive but pretty sickly.
What attracted me to this book was reading a page where Mr. Bakke said that the corporation he founded had a three layer chain of command. I then went on to read of his concept of management of a company. He believes in empowering the worker to a greater extent than anyone I've read before.
In this book he presents a workplace vision that he apparently carried out in the formation of a quite large company. I am left with the feeling, however, that the company became a reflection of Mr. Bakke rather than the principles that he describes in the book. As I look at the AES web site now, I see words like "Focus on Performance" and little mention of Mr. Bakke, apparently he is not even a director. Certainly the structure of the company as he founded it would make it a joy to work there. I wonder if it still is.
This book is very interesting to read. It's more attuned to the individual starting or running a company than to the person working eleven or fifteen layers down.
Revolutionary: Early in the book, Bakke backs up and offers a brief history of the Industrial Revolution and its impact on current corporate structures - hierarchy, hourly wages, corporate specialists (i.e. accounting, purchasing, contracting), policy manuals, centralized decision-making, etc. Then he explains how these forces have removed personal initiative, measured risk-taking and a sense of contribution from workers, thus removing "joy" from the workplace. He replaces it with genuine respect for all workers, allowance for mistakes, and giving everyone an opportunity to make key decisions that can impact the whole company. He argues AGAINST the fundamental belief that return on shareholder value is the primary goal of a corporation.
Refreshing: Bakke makes the case for values over profits - even if adherence to corporate values means missed opportunities or forgone profits. In the post Enron/Tyco/WorldCom era, there has been renewed emphasis on values. But Bakke provides lengthy examples of how to identify, proclaim, teach and maintain on-going conversations about a company's values. He does away with the concept of our work life being differentiated from the rest of our life - if most people's goal in life is to "make a positive contribution in the world," the workplace should provide an opportunity for such goals.Read more ›
On this I would completely agree. There is no question that engagement, meaningful work, job satisfaction and performance are correlated. I found his approach so radical that even though I consider myself very progressive in how business and organizational dynamics exist, and how they may be improved to engage people, I was left feeling a bit rigid in my thinking in comparison. Whenever a book poses ideas so radical they make me re-examine my own biases and operating principles, that is a very good thing.
However, it should also be noted that to be quite honest about it, it didn't work. The company did not exceed all expectations indefinitely, and Dennis himself was asked out. I think a closer look will show some inherent flaws in the execution of his philosophy.
First, Dennis assumes that all employees desire the accountability and responsibility for the bigger picture. His depicts an approach that is male-centric and focuses on a western culture of "winning a game" that may not fit for many employees; therefore requiring them to do that role may be counter productive.
Second, a culture that expects all employees to make difficult and strategic leadership decisions requires a huge effort on costly employee development and training.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For decades I have been interested in revolutionary approaches in the world(s) of work, industry, and business. Read morePublished 16 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 18 months ago by KorterBegorter
Very thought provoking, only a few chapters in. I'm looking forward to the rest.Published 18 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 23 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