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Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning Paperback – March 30, 2004
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Good Business starts with the premise that this is an age in which business and work have replaced religion and politics as central forces in contemporary life. The book reveals how business leaders, managers, and even employees can find their "flow" and contribute not only to their own happiness, but also to a just and evolving society. It identifies the factors crucial to the operation of a good business: trust, the commitment to fostering the personal growth of employees, and the dedication to creating a product that helps mankind. Good Business is sure to become a must-read text for anyone who values the positive contributions of individuals in the changing world of business.
About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 30, 2004)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 014200409X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0142004098
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Grade level : 12 and up
- Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #969,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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He was absolutely right, of course. Unfortunately, while he was far from naïve, as he clearly saw the dangerous curves in the road ahead, his beliefs carry a strong whiff of anachronistic idealism given the way things have turned out. In many ways we could not have strayed further from the path he laid out for us.
What makes the current state of affairs so particularly sad is that it isn’t as if people didn’t hear the message. They did. His words have been repeated time and time again from the corporate lectern and in the annual report to shareholders ever since. The problem is that the message was never taken to heart. The heart, in fact, was long ago ripped out of our biggest and most profitable companies by greed and a false sense of what economic development really means.
He devotes ample ink, for example, to the growing inequity – in 2004, remember – in corporate compensation. And he quotes a long list of CEOs who sang along with the choir about it all blowing up in our faces if something wasn’t done about it. No one, however, despite the continued chorus of self-righteous incrimination, has actually done anything about it. Executive compensation appears to know no upper limit.
Ultimately, Mr. Csikszentmihalyi, as all of us historically have, puts his faith for our success in the hands of the individual. Motivated by the personal opportunity built into free market capitalism but guided by the altruistic precepts of American idealism, the Superman Self was to lead the charge of American business and political hegemony in the world.
It didn’t work out that way not because all of the good people that the author profiles here picked up and left. It didn’t work out because the world changed. Spurred on by rapid advances in technology the world has gotten both smaller and more integrated. Every aspect of our social, economic, and commercial lives is now so inter-twined that it is impossible to sort out one system from another. Leadership is now a function of fame and fame has little to do with anything other than fame itself. It is a reinforcing closed loop system that is destroying any sense of the American doctrine of fairness on which the American Century was built.
The book ends with a couple of moving conclusions: “These moments of deep flow are the manifestation of what I have described as “soul,” that is, of a person’s being transformed through his or her efforts into someone more complex than he had been before.” And, “If more and more leaders of business would follow their lead [the men and women profiled] …business would truly fulfill its potential to help make life happier for all.”
Flow is “a deep sense of enjoyment.” To be fully engaged in a state of flow, one must be skilled and challenged.
“Adults who are more often in flow are not only happier, but they spend significantly more time at work actually working instead of gossiping, reading the papers, or surfing the Web… If flow is absent, work turns into drudgery, and the worker loses his or her creative initiative.”
“Money, security and comfort may be necessary to make us happy, but they are definitely not sufficient. A person must also feel that his or her talents are fully employed, that he is able to develop his potentialities, and that his everyday life is not stressful or boring, but holds deeply enjoyable experiences.”
Prof. Csikszentmihalyi and his colleagues determined eight conditions of flow experience:
1. Clear Goals
2. Immediate Feedback
3. Balance Between Opportunity and Capacity
4. Deep Concentration
5. Present Moment
7. Sense of Altered Time
8. Loss of Ego
“When a task produces flow, it is worth doing for its own sake… Another way to term such activities is intrinsically rewarding.”
The author writes about “the importance of what in creativity research is called ‘incubation’—the subliminal parallel-processing activity that takes place in the mind when we are not consciously trying to solve a problem.” On a related note, he observed from his interviews that “the most frequently mentioned personal trait the managers wished they could change was ‘impatience.’”
He makes another interesting point about the speed of the brain’s processing power and why multitasking doesn’t work. “The brain can process on the order of 110 bits of information each second. To understand what another person is saying to us, for example, requires about forty bits, which explains why we cannot understand more than two people talking at the same time.”
From a management perspective, flow is important because an “organization whose employees are happy is more productive, has a higher morale, and has a lower turnover… An ideal organization is one in which each worker’s potentialities find room for expression.”
“To summarize briefly the essential conditions for flow to occur, they are: clear goals that can be adapted to meet changing conditions; immediate feedback to one’s actions; and a matching of the challenges of the job with the worker’s skills.” Additional “ways of improving the business environment involve setting policies that allow people to move and act with freedom, to have control over their tasks, and to have input in decisions affecting their work.”
Top reviews from other countries
Although some facts about Indian history and philosophy is little mixed up, overall an excellent read