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spike bullet September 2008 - The Joy of Work

Comparison between conventional approach and the Joy of Work approach
Dennis Bakke's top 10 
Resources (links, books, articles, the lighter side)

color bullet Conventional approach vs. the Joy of Work approach

Last month, our article talked about the processes involved in successful projects.  In addition to the process part of projects or any type of work in general, we must consider the people side of the equation.  This excerpt from the book Joy of Work gives some examples of a conventional business approach to work compared to the Joy of Work approach.

A Conventional Approach (*)

Joy at Work Approach (*)

The principal purpose of the company is "creating shareholder value, although other purposes or goals maybe mentioned.

The principal goal or purpose of the company is stewarding its resources to serve society in an economically strong manner.

More than 95% of important decisions are made by official leaders of the organization, officers and board members.

Some 99% of all important decisions are made by non leaders.

Decisions are made or "approved" by leaders at the highest practicable organizational level.

Decisions are made by non leaders at the lowest practicable organizational level.

Leaders see their role as managing people and resources.

Leaders see their role as serving other employees.

Leaders see themselves as initiators, creators of vision, developers of action plans, accountability officers and those who have an ability "to get things done."

Leaders are mentors, coaches, teachers, helpers and cheerleaders.

Adopt "participative management" techniques, in which bosses ask subordinates for advice but make final decisions themselves.

Allow subordinates to manage resources and make decisions.  

Oversee rigorous advice process and fire people who do not use it appropriately.

Job positions, slots and titles remain basically the same over time.  

Only the names with the boxes change.

No company-wide job descriptions.  

Every person is considered unique and must build a job around his or her unique skills and passions.

Management and labor are treated and paid differently. 

Problems between management and labor will often arise.

There is only one category of employee within the organization. 

There are no separate management people.

Under "control" philosophy, the job of supervisors is to make decisions, hold people accountable, assign responsibility and perform a host of other tasks, making it impossible to have more than a few people reporting to anyone leader.  

A large organization may require eight to 12 layers of management.

Minimum number of supervisory layers (no more than three to five between the CEO and an entry- level person) to minimize the number of bosses and hierarchy.  

Each person is responsible for managing himself or herself.

Low level of "volunteerism." 

Employees are characterized by a high degree of passivity.

High degree of "volunteerism" for special assignments and task forces.  

People at all levels of the organization are actively engaged in its operations.

Shared values are promoted as a technique to improve chances to achieve economic goals.

Shared values are goals to which the company aspires in and of themselves, not merely as a means to financial ends.

Different pay programs for leaders than for workers.

Everyone is paid according to the same criteria.

No special program for senior leaders or "management."

Pay set by bosses.

Ongoing experiments allowing individuals to set their own compensation, after getting advice from colleagues and supervisors.

Turnover of employees is higher.

People enjoy their work and do not want to leave.

Management information system designed to provide information primarily to managers (leaders).

Financial and other "sensitive" information shared only with leaders. 

Other information given to people on a "need to know" basis.

"Management information" is shared with everyone in the company, not just senior leaders.

Most decisions made by people other than leaders.

Sees primary role as representing the interests of shareholders.

Sees role as representing the interests of all stakeholders (employees, suppliers, shareholders, customers).

* Chart excerpted from Joy at Work by Dennis Bakke.  Read more starting on page 295, Appendix B.

Dennis Bakke's top 10

  1. When given the opportunity to use our ability to reason, make decisions and take responsibility for our actions, we experience joy at work.
  2. The purpose of business is not to maximize profits for shareholders but to steward our resources to serve the world in an economically sustainable way.
  3. Attempt to create the most fun workplace in the history of the world.
  4. Eliminate management, organization charts, job descriptions and hourly wages.
  5. Fairness means treating everybody differently.
  6. Principles and values must guide all decisions.
  7. Put other stakeholders (shareholders, customers, suppliers, etc) equal to or above yourself.
  8. Everyone must get advice before making a decision.  If you don’t seek advice, “you’re fired.”
  9. A “good” decision should make all the stakeholders unhappy because no individual or group got all they wanted.
  10. Lead with passion, humility and love.


An interesting exercise would be to compare how your workplace compares to the above.  Is it more conventional or more joyful?  Where do you do your best work?   If you are already in a place where you do your best work, is there anything you do to make it better?   If you are not a place that allows you to do your best work, what can you do to make it better?  

  Internet Resources

book graphic  Books   -  Disclosure: We get a small commission for purchases made via links to Amazon.

world wide web - articles  Articles

Related newsletter articles:
    December 2002 - Taking a Productivity Break 
    December 2004 - Make it Lighter
    December 2007 - Management styles (just for fun
    December 1999 - Fun at Work 
    September 2004 - Stress Busters:  Managing Stress in the Workplace

smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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