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Why We Work (TED Books) Hardcover – September 1, 2015
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"Barry Schwartz has long been one of the most astute — and compassionate — observers of American life. In Why We Work, he makes a compelling case for building organizations that run with the grain of human nature rather than against it. If you want to make work more meaningful, for yourself or for your team, you need to read this wise and powerful book.” (Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive)
"In a masterful book that delivers a deep understanding why we work, Schwartz makes a convincing case that getting the answer wrong bears profound costs for employees and managers in any organization. A highly recommended, thought-provoking read.” (Amy Wrsesniewski, Professor of Organizational Behavior, Yale University)
“A meaningful look at why we’ve lost meaning at work, and where we can find it.” (Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take)
“A delightful, accessible book that glides across centuries of business and industry to reveal the underpinning moral foundations of how and why we work. If you have a job, or hope to have one, read Why We Work” (Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google and author of Work Rules!)
“Invoking plenty of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and even a bit of Bruce Springsteen, Schwartz’s inspiring manifesto forces us to question the very nature of modern-day work… Via fascinating anecdote and plenty of data, the book forcefully claims that how we work isn’t working.” (HuffPost Books)
“A concise 90-page treatise on work that should be required reading for every boss and manager.” (Chicago Tribune)
“A terse and engaging book…[a] fine book.” (Forbes.com)
About the Author
Barry Schwartz is a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College and the author of Why We Work, The Paradox of Choice, and Practical Wisdom. His articles have been published in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Parade Magazine, USA TODAY, Advertising Age, Slate, Scientific American, The New Republic, Harvard Business Review, and The Guardian, and he has appeared on dozens of radio shows, including Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, Anderson Cooper 360, and CBS Sunday Morning.
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Chapter 4, The Technology of Ideas, is worth the full price for re-introducing so many essential ideas you MUST understand in order to truly understand the dynamics of work culture.
work culture and its myths. So what to expect from the author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less And How The Culture of Abundance Robs Us of Statisfaction and Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing?
Why We Work starts plain and familiar – yeah yeah all that motivation and incentive stuff. Duh?
But the treasure is not on that level. The treasure is on an even higher level of discussion – about behavioral change and its subtleties, about institutionalization and its hidden traps, about perceptions and self-fulfilling prophecy, about social structures shaped by ideologies in good or bad ways.
Through all that we get to know the real and often hidden danger of a work culture.
The real danger is in the misunderstanding of empathy:
"Empathy, and care and concern for the well-being of others, are routine parts of most people’s character. Yet they are in danger of being crowded out by exclusive concern for self-interest- a concern that is encouraged by the incentive-based structure of the workplace."
The real danger is in the ignorance of peronal power (I’m not Tony Robbins) and playing safe:
"Acts of commitment… occur routinely. They hold society together. But because of the self-fulfilling character of ideology, we should not be sanguine that they will persist. We should not be confident that the distortion that dominates current thinking about work and workers will reveal itself and be corrected as the sciences of human nature progress. Unless there is a collective effort to combat this ideology, we will all become the lazy, selfish pursuers of self-interest, not just in work but in our lives as a whole, that at least some social scientists have assumed we always were."
The real danger is in the subtle contradictions of humanity:
"Theories about human nature can actually produce changes in how people behave. What this means is that a theory that is false can become true simply by people believing it’s true. The result is that, instead of good data driving out bad data and theories, bad data change social practices until the data become good data, and the theories are validated."
That’s one of my favorite quotes from the book. It really should make us think about what everyone of us could do to facilitate a better work culture. And there’s simply no way that it’s none of your business – once you’re in, there’s no way out (unless you quit).