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Take a look at the books that have stood the test of time in leadership and coaching.  

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Book review: The Joy of work: Bruce Daisley (Penguin-Random House; 2020)

The Joy of Work

 

The author of this new and very readable book has a career history that includes senior roles at Google / You Tube and Twitter in EMEA. The premise of this book is simple: we can make work far more accessible and rewarding by adopting a number of simple and easily-implemented techniques.

Which is great and begs the question: if they are so easy, why are all organisations not adopting them, wholesale? After all, making work accessible and rewarding is the holy grail in organisational development and employee engagement circles. There may be many answers to this, but the obvious one is linked to 2 things – corporate culture and the absence of a willingness to try and stick with simple organisational approaches that focus more on individual and team productivity and less on traditional processes.

 The author has divided his thinking into three sections. The first looks at actions that mitigate what he describes as the awfulness of work. Here, he offers up 12 simple measures that focus on productivity and tedium-alleviation. They are concerned with personal organisation and the adoption of some basic principles of time-management and discipline. None of them is revolutionary but – taken together – it is easy to see why they might be difficult to embed, simply because they militate against the normal corporate practices of many enterprises. Several of these actions centre on personal effectiveness and measurable outcomes, whereas organisations still seem more focussed on input measures. There is also an emphasis on managing technology and being its master (as opposed to being enslaved by it): again, it is easy to read this and perhaps more difficult to envisage its implementation being successful in the context of many organisational cultures.

The second section of the book focusses on 8 team-management factors that would improve workplace enjoyment and enhance productivity. These measures are about developing greater closeness within the team and are probably more easily actionable for team leaders almost regardless of the prevailing corporate culture. I particularly liked the short section on making company inductions more dynamic, because inductions are something that many organisations seem to find difficult to deliver effectively

The third section looks at making teams more dynamic and offers 10 ideas for streamlining work and being more outcomes-focussed. Drawing on concepts like pre-mortems and hack weeks, teams can not only fulfil what is expected of them; they can also stretch their remit into areas that will benefit the organisation but may not be in their immediate scope.

Daisley’s book is well-written, packed full of simple and actionable ideas and well-supported with case studies, anecdotes and academic and empirical references. Each short chapter is concluded with a “What you can do next” summary, and the back of the book contains recommended talks and videos for further inputs.

I particularly like this book because it focusses on the importance of productivity, the reduction of unnecessary accepted processes and the power of teams. It is relevant to everyone in an office-based corporate environment, and its ideas are immediately deployable by anyone in their work environment. The challenge it implicitly raises for each of us is to confront established approaches and to commit to new ways of conducting ourselves at work. Be brave; be productive!

 

I’ve just finished a new and very readable book written by Bruce Daisley (an EMEA Google/You Tube and Twitter veteran). The premise of his book is simple: we can make work far more accessible and rewarding by adopting a number of simple and easily-implemented techniques.

Which is great and begs the question: if it is so easy, why are all organisations not adopting them, wholesale? After all, making work accessible, productive and rewarding is the holy grail in organisational development and employee engagement circles. There may be many answers to this, but the obvious ones are – corporate culture and the absence of a willingness to try and stick with simple organisational approaches that focus more on individual and team productivity and less on traditional processes.

Wow: that should be commonplace these days, surely? After all, with flexitime, a growth in part-time working, a more mature and nuanced approach to ‘managing’ people and home and virtual working, you’d think that the focus would be entirely on individual and team outcomes.

Sadly, not so.

Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Daisley had to say, it did leave me feeling that the corporate world really had not moved on from the old time-and-motion days … not my experience, although I have seen plenty of the old-ways approach of hours-committed rather than outputs delivered. Furthermore, the author laid some of the problems firmly at the feet of technology. Despite the rapid growth in technology-based work-process improvements which should have created the space for the work experience to be less stressful, more productive and more reflective, Daisley seems to disagree.

Do we really believe that the prevailing current working environment still feels more 20th Century than 21st?

The impression Daisley gives us is that the workplace is still a drudge for many people: the brave manager will take the bull by the horns and implement a series of simple, potentially counter-cultural actions for making the working life of their people more rewarding and less convoluted.

Indeed, the focus is on the importance of productivity, the reduction of unnecessary accepted processes and the power of teams. It is relevant to everyone in an office-based corporate environment, and its ideas are immediately deployable by anyone in their work environment. The challenge it implicitly raises for each of us is to confront established approaches and to commit to new ways of conducting ourselves at work.

Be brave; be productive!

Designing the Purposeful World: Clive Wilson, Rout...