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The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work Hardcover – July 19, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“It's a very instructive read that I highly recommend… a groundbreaking book.” - Huffington Post

“In The Progress Principle, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer have provided an inspiring combination of solid scientific research and management insight. They have succeeded in bringing to life a new paradigm in management, fully supported and elegantly presented.” — Research-Technology Management

“This practical orientation for managers makes the book an important resource for organizations experiencing a decline in productivity and employee engagement.” — CHOICE Magazine

“Filled with honest, real-life examples, compelling insights, and practical advice, The Progress Principle equips aspiring and seasoned leaders alike with the guidance they need to maximize people’s performance.” - Innovation Watch

"The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer is a masterpiece of evidence-based management—the strongest argument I know that "the big things are the little things." A masterpiece every manager should have...I believe it is one of the most important business books ever written." – Bob Sutton

“The book...is one of the best business books I’ve read in many years.” – Daniel Pink

“But in singling out one book that offers the most important message for managers this year, I recommend The Progress Principle. The breakthrough in knowledge it provides makes it my choice as best business book of the year. This a pioneering work on employee engagement, with lots of memorable examples culled from those in-the-trenches diary entries.” – The Globe and Mail

“You will never return to the older and outmoded theories of employee motivation again.” – Blog Business World

“When Bob Sutton, a leading management professor at Stanford University, says a new book “just might be the most important business book I’ve ever read,” the rest of us should take notice. Sutton is right. The Progress Principle is...fantastic. I am a big fan of this book, and I have decided to make it one of the alternate end-of-semester book assignments for the master’s students in my introductory public management course this fall.” – Steve Kelman, Federal Computer Week

“This is the roadmap to how to create progress, even baby steps through small wins, and therefore create a culture that supports a meaningful and joyful “inner work life”, which is the secret to great leadership and harnessing the best of employee psychology.” – Innovative Influence (Suzi Pomerantz's Blog)

“Those who appreciate the work of people like Dan Pink (Drive), Chip Conley (Peak) should seriously consider adding The Progress Principle as the third member of a very compelling trio of books offering just about everything you need to know about tapping the deepest wells of human creative performance.” – Matthew E. May, Guru Forum (American Express)

“…the authors have done a good job in reminding us all that "it’s people, stupid" who lie at the heart of successful organisations.” – Nita Clarke, People Management Magazine (UK)

“This book is a must read for those wants to be good leaders (or those wishing they worked for one).” - LeaderLab

“It’s a clear guide that can help managers with a potentially challenging and frustrating task.”- 800CEOREAD

About the Author

Teresa Amabile is a professor of Business Administration and a Director of Research at Harvard Business School. The author of numerous articles and books, including Creativity in Context, she has long studied creativity, motivation, and performance in the workplace. Steven Kramer is a developmental psychologist and has co-authored a number of articles in leading management periodicals, including Harvard Business Review and the Academy of Management Journal.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142219857X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422198575
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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102 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Robert I. Sutton on August 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read an advance copy of The Progress Principle several months back, and I just went back and read the book again. I am even more impressed this time than the last. Four things struck me in particular:

1. While most management books are based on anecdotes, the biased recollections of some famous executives, or on research that is presented as rigorous (but are not... Good to Great is a perfect example), the Progress Principle is based on the most rigorous field study ever done of creative work. And it draws on other rigorous work as well. As a result, the overall advice about the importance of small wins may be known to many people, but once you start digging into the smaller bits of advice about how to keep work moving along, the evidence behind those is very strong. In my view, the Progress Principle is the best example of an evidence-based management book I have ever seen.

2. The authors didn't drown in their rigor and the details of their work. They worked absurdly hard to write a book that is quite engaging to read and chock full with one implication after another about what you can do right now to do more effective work and to motivate it in the people around you.

3. Finally, the main point of this book may seem obvious to some readers, but if you listen to most management gurus and fancy consulting firms, the approach that the authors suggest is actually radically different.
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Format: Hardcover
The researchers themselves never saw it coming. When Teresa Amabile of the Harvard Business School and her husband developmental psychologist Steven Kramer decided to collaborate on a study exploring worker creativity through the eyes of those in the trenches who actually perform the work they simply had no idea of the secrets they were about to unlock. Typically, studies are done exploring topics like employee productivity and creativity from the point of view of upper management. The methodology that Amabile and Kramer chose to employ for this project would prove to be a bit unconventional to say the least. The authors were primarily interested in determining exactly what it is that motivates top performers. They were able to recruit 238 people from 26 project teams in 7 companies in 3 different industries. The participants were professionals whose work required them to solve complex problems creatively. What made this study truly unique was that at the end of each workday the participants were e-mailed a diary form that included several questions about their work experiences on that particular day. Much to the authors' surprise an overwhelming majority of the participants responded on a daily basis. Furthermore, they recorded their experiences and impressions in a far more candid way than expected. Amabile and Kramer had unwittingly stumbled upon a previously unexplored world. The insights that they gained from this remarkable undertaking is the subject of their new book "The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work". Many business books can be rather dry and a chore to read. But much to my surprise this book was different. I simply could not put it down.Read more ›
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
When I was an academic engaged in research, I was familiar with Teresa Amabile's work. She was and is a respected researcher who studies creativity in organizational settings. So I was eager to read this book and intrigued by the notion of small wins.

The book shows the author and her team conducted impeccable research. They found that people who were fortunate to engage in work they found meaningful, and who were appreciated and valued for their work, also were productive and creative. They noted the importance of emotions during the day. They emphasized that organizations will, often unintentionally, kill creativity and create a workplace where people flee.

My biggest question about the book was, "Who should read it?" The authors observe that an organizational environment is created by a confluence of forces coming together. It's rarely the case that one person can change the culture, although the CEO can make a huge difference, as shown by the story of Xerox's Anne Mulcahy. Yet will company CEOs and divisional VPs actually read the book and, if they do, will they have the skills and resources to make changes? Does the book provide enough direction to make change?

In any company there are so many ways a company can create negativity; if nothing else, success can make a workplace stressful. I've met people who say the culture of Microsoft has become more like established business than a start-up. I once worked for a company where a new CEO wanted to create more employee involvement, yet many employees saw the new activities as intrusive; they wanted to do their work and go home and "bonding" was not important.
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