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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2012
The basic premise of the book is that employees should be trusted with their time and held accountable for their performance. Most corporations actually approach work in exactly the other way, since it's easier to judge attendance than performance (while often confusing the two completely). It's basically the inside story of Best Buy's development and deployment of their Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) program, so it's not just a lot of conjecture based on experimental psychology (for that, see Daniel Pink's Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us).

The ideas in the book are important, but it suffers from an extreme case of "books must be 200 pages long". The main ideas and powerful anecdotes that accompany it are only about 75 pages of content, and the other 125 pages are relentless repetition and unnecessary expansion of simple concepts.

It's worth reading the first three chapters, then skim the rest. More importantly, apply the ideas in this book to your own life and change how you view work and time. The world would be a better place if more people approached work from the viewpoint advocated by the authors.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2012
I love the idea of a ROWE, however, throughout the book I felt like they were trying to sell me on the idea the whole time instead of outlining the details of how it should work. It felt more like a sales pitch than a blueprint. And I think it's geared more towards people who are skeptical of the idea. I was sold before I started reading the book, so who knows maybe it's my fault for expecting something else. Either way like I said I like the principles, it just got redundant at points.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2013
I love this book because it so clearly articulates for me what I've hated about past jobs, and then offers a cohesive strategy (ROWE) for fixing them.

As a professional with 3 kids, I've struggled with negative perceptions from coworkers when I have leave at 4pm to pick up my kids, or have to work from home because one of them has a fever. This is the first book I've read that proposes a truly viable solution that benefits not just working parents, but everyone who wants to have a good job and a good personal life.

The core ideas for here are
1. Rethinking our relationship with time, and
2. Holding people accountable for results

I had my doubts about some of the proposed strategies (e.g., ALL meetings are optional? Isn't that a bit extreme?) so I interviewed one of the authors (Cali Ressler) and she had great answers. You can find the interview here:

The bottom line: If you care about making your company a sane, healthy, and productive place to be, read this book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2014
Are you treated like children?

You go to work and give everything you have – and you are treated like children who, if left unattended, will steal candy. You go to work and watch someone who isn’t very good at their job get promoted because they got in earlier and stayed later than anyone else. You go to work and sit through overlong, overstaffed meetings to talk about the next overlong, overstaffed meeting. You see talented, competent, productive people get penalised for having kids, for not being good at office politics, for being a little different.

Ditch the mindset

If any of this resonates with you, then you are by definition an employee – and the organisation you work for holds outdated beliefs about work based on assumptions that do not apply in today’s 24/7 economy. This is the message in Why Work Sucks – and how to fix it, by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, who claim that there has to be a better way. This better way is only possible when we change our focus from hours to outcomes, when we ditch our traditional Monday through Friday, 9-5 mindset. The 40-hour work week, say the authors, is outdated and outmoded.


The authors developed a radical workplace experiment known as ROWE – Results-Only Work Environment, where you control when, where, and how long you work. As long as you meet your objectives, the way you spend your time is entirely up to you. Work is no longer a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. ROWE has no mandatory meetings or fixed schedules, you stop doing any activity that wastes time, no one criticizes you for “leaving early” or “coming in late,” and if you do your best work at midnight or on Sundays, that’s fine.

Guerrilla HR bomb throwers

In case you are tempted to regard ROWE as a utopian fantasy, be aware that it is already a reality at the Minneapolis headquarters of consumer electronics chain Best Buy. According to the authors, ROWE not only makes employees happier, but also delivers better results. Businessweek describes the authors as guerrilla HR bomb throwers. Intuitively, the idea of treating employees like grown-ups sounds great. After all, freelancers and salespeople already use ROWE principles in their work. No one can seriously doubt that an incredible amount of time and energy is wasted at work. What the book lacks is a systematic description of how ROWE works in practice. But the book is sure to add to the debate about the way we structure work and the workplace.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2010
The authors drive home an often overlooked but truly critical concept for the success of any business -- it's results that truly matter. The book highlights a common problem in today's business world -- that management and employees often fall into the trap of filling their days with a laundry list of unproductive activities, rather than focusing in on areas that will make themselves and their companies truly successful. I love how the authors combined their passion for business, examples of success, with many common sense ideas in an intriguing and informative way. Let's hope the Results-Only Work Environment catches on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2013
One good point made: a ROWE may look substantially the same as it did before; but a host of conversations and anxieties around time management are eliminated.
In my experience people who delivered stellar performance largely were exempt from external time management or detailed supervision.
Could it be that, those who have difficulty asking for liberty in their current environment have few compelling results to report?
Could it be that, those managers who have difficulty answering people who ask for liberty are themselves not stellar performers?
The discussions stirred by this book are stimulating and worth the effort.
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on January 3, 2012
"Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It" is one of the most important workplace books of the last five years. It deftly casts aside the conventions and biases of "face time" and "putting in your hours" in favor of focusing on results. This book, which is a quick and easy read, resonated with me on two levels. First, as an employment litigator who represented companies for 17 years, I saw firsthand the many problems created by disengaged employees shackled with outdated policies on attendance, time off, leaves, and performance reviews. The methods in "Why Work Sucks" sweep these problems away.

The second way the book resonated with me has to do with the arcane way that law firms are run. Nearly all law firms bill by the hour, with the focus on the anticlient concept of "selling time." But clients don't buy time; they buy knowledge. In 2006, I removed timesheets from my law firm, and we never billed another hour again. This changed the way we worked as a team, and both the lawyers and the clients benefited enormously. It shifted the focus from the soul-crushing quest to bill more hours to a heightened awareness of the unique gifts each individual lawyer brought to solving the client's problem. This parallels the teachings of "Why Work Sucks," focusing on results instead of hours.

When the book came out, I immediately got rid of concepts like tracking sick time and worrying about face time. If you needed to be somewhere else, then go be there. As long as the work got done and done well, who cared?

This book is a must-read. In fact, some of my November 2011 book Firing at Will: A Manager's Guide was inspired by "Why Work Sucks," especially Chapter 16, "Throw Out Your Personnel Handbook." If you haven't read "Why Work Sucks" yet, snap it up right away.
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on December 8, 2014
If a ROWE is in your future, being employer or employee (and I hope it is), this is the Manifesto. Before I read this book, I read, "DRIVE" by Dan Pink, as a precursor. Pink's book discloses, with clinically tested facts, what motivates people. There is some seriously eye-opening facts revealed by the juxtaposition of what business uses to motivate employees, and what science has proven people really want.
"Work Sucks" takes that theory and places it squarely into the lives of every day workers in America. I can't imagine how serendipitous it was for these two young ladies to grasp this concept and persuade a company traded on the big board to adopt this theory, at least in the HR department.
I'm a results oriented kind of guy. I'm never concerned as much about "how we get there" in my company as I focus on, "Getting there". Knowing what the objective is; focusing on results.
When I read "Work Sucks...", I thought, this is what I've been trying to do for years. What I didn't get was, "manage the results, not the people". Once I got that, all the rest made sense.
I've owned and run a company for 32-years. In 2015 my employees will be thrilled to know that we will become an ROWE enterprise.
Notice to Cali and Jody, I'll see you next spring for certification.
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on March 28, 2015
As someone who absolutely does believe ultimate results are what matter---BUT is currently fully observing precisely what happens when a team isn't held accountable, left to their own devices, etc (hint: we won't even come close to our goals, excellent opportunities are ignored and no one wants to really do anything uphill or difficult, so mediocrity is rewarded and flimsy excuses are accepted at face value, with lots of finger pointing because results AREN'T achieved), I really take all this with a huge grain of salt.

Plus, Best Buy hasn't been doing all that well for awhile....and I'm mystified as to how they're able to adequately staff their stores (if ever something seemingly does NOT fit a retail business model, it's this) during less desirable hours? Because if you're a "results only" atmosphere, no one will work super early or late Monday shifts, everyone will want to work weekends only. I have to wonder if this only applied to their corporate offices, which is a completely different thing.

Likewise, I believe for awhile they banned email as a method for communicating with customers or one another. And found that didn't work, either. What's interesting is, while work does, absolutely, suck----so do management theory books (even "revolutionary" ones)
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on March 7, 2015
I felt the book was a description of the Best Buy success story. In that sense i felt the need to have a broader perspective to the subject beyond BestBuy.
The book can be summarize in the first three chapter; the rest can be quickly read and skim to get the idea.
I was expecting the book to take a broader approach on implementing ROWE such as the factors that influence ROWE success, the assumptions that organization need to make to be successful (ex people review process, technology, leadership education, etc) .
At the end i can say it sound cool but the book did not help turning the concept into a concrete action path that transition the traditional culture to a ROWE culture..I hope the authors create a second part that will explain the how to transition a traditional culture to a ROWE Culture.
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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink (Paperback - April 5, 2011)

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