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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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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 managementthe 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
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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. The broad sweep of strategy and radical change and big hairy goals is where much of modern management advice focuses, yet the finding from this book that it is relentless attention to the little things and the seemingly trivial moments in organizational life that real makes for greatness is not something that most leaders and their advisers get, yet it is the hallmark of our most creative companies like Pixar, Apple, Google, IDEO and the like. The implication of The Progress Principle, for example, that management training should focus on how to deal with the little interactions and smallest decisions -- and that is what makes for great leaders and organizations -- would, if taken seriously, mean completely revamping the way that management is taught throughout the world.
This book isn't a bag of breathless hype, it doesn't make grand and shocking claims, and it doesn't promise instant results. But it is fun and easy to read, it is as strongly grounded in evidence as any business book ever written, and it is relentlessly useful because it points to little things that managers, team members, and everyone else can do day after day to spark creativity and well-being. And it shows how those little things add-up to big victories in the end. I believe it is one of the most important business books ever written.
In the name of full disclosure, I am friends with the authors and did endorse the book. But I am friends with a lot of authors, but when they write bad books, I decline endorsement requests, and as I did very recently, let them know that I think their books aren't very good. Yes, I am biased, but I believe that this book deserves to be a #1 bestseller.
Using sanitized journal entries by individuals who noted the interactions with team members and management in a variety of companies, the authors present a very convincing case for paying attention to the inner emotional life of workers as a key metric for predicting success of the team and the company.
In analyzing over 12,000 journal entries, Amabile and Kramer describe the challenges that a manager faces in encouraging and pointing out small and incremental steps of progress in a team setting. The evidence shows that many mangers and leaders assume that highly qualified team members do not need this kind of "coddling," when in fact every human being needs to sense that what they are doing day by day is contributing something of value, and that their contribution is both noticed and appreciated.
One very practical aspect of this book is the discussion about using checklists to ensure that a manager is tracking both catalysts and inhibitors to productivity and satisfaction among their team members. The authors cite the work of a very successful surgeon who found tremendous improvement in his rate of success when he developed and employed checklists to use in surgery:
"If you are like most of the surgeons that Gawande tried to convince to use his checklist - or even like Gawande himself - you will think the checklist is beneath you. Surely you are far too expert to need such a simplistic crutch. But it's precisely because you are an expert and therefore have so many things to think about, that taking five minutes for the checklist can be so important. We know from our own experience, and from that of many leaders we have spoken to, just how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the pressures of work and to lose track of those little successes that will eventually lead to that next breakthrough. It's even easier to ignore those little setbacks that can derail." (Pages 172-3)
These insights align perfectly with similar points that are raised in the recently published "The Organized Mind" by Dr. Daniel J. Livitin. He proposed that in an age of information overload, the more we can successfully outsource data to external tools and instruments - like checklists - the more we can make use of cognitive energy for important decision-making and creative thinking. As a pilot, I was trained early in the game to use checklists to make sure that nothing was omitted in doing a pre-flight a inspection or a run through of all of the cockpit instruments prior to taxiing for takeoff.
In collecting and commenting on these anecdotes from a variety of companies, the authors have made a significant contribution to our understanding of the small daily steps that we can take in making ourselves and our colleagues more productive and more satisfied in our work as we make progress toward the completion of significant achievements.
This book will be a good addition to the personal and professional library of anyone who strives for excellence in their work.