- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (May 10 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780071739351
- ISBN-13: 978-0071739351
- ASIN: 0071739351
- Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.3 x 23.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 567 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #305,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win Hardcover – May 10 2010
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From the Back Cover
Before you ask,
"Why aren't my employees working harder?"
. . . ask yourself,
"Why are my employees working?"
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE WHY OF WORK
""Principled, timely, and engaging, The Why of Work teaches that building a culture of abundance and common purpose is essential to organizational success."" -- Stephen R. Covey, bestselling author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
""Will have a major impact on how individuals shape their attitude to work, how organizations create abundant cultures, and how leaders turn personal meaning into public good."" -- Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan
""The Why of Work shows a better, different way to build and lead organizations. It is an insightful guide to how leaders can infuse meaning into their organizations."" -- Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business and author of Power: Why Some People Have It--and Others Don't
""This book brings the question 'why' to the place in which we spend most of our adult lives, giving us insightful tools to help make a meaningful difference in people's lives."" -- Don Hall, Jr., president and CEO, Hallmark Cards, Inc.
""This is a must read for anyone who works, leads others at work, or works to build a supportive environment."" -- Beverly Kaye, founder/CEO, Career Systems International, and coauthor of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay
""Breaks new ground. . . . Going beyond competence and commitment to create abundance at work could be the next frontier for leaders."" -- Paul Humphries, EVP Human Resources, Flextronics
""The Why of Work opens the door to significant employee engagement. The alignment between company values and those of customers and communities can indeed give employees a sense of purpose while delivering great results to customers!"" -- Paula S. Larson, Chief HR Officer, Invensys
""Blackstone has proved that finding superior leaders produces superior results. Dave Ulrich has brought this thinking to a new level at Blackstone. Every private equity investor and senior manager must read this book."" -- James Quella, Senior Operating Partner, The Blackstone Group
According to studies, we all work for the same thing--and it's not just money. It's meaning. Through our work, we seek a sense of purpose, contribution, connection, value, and hope. Digging down to the meaning of work taps our resilience in hard times and our passion in good times. That's the simple but profound premise behind this groundbreaking book by renowned management expert Dave Ulrich and psychologist Wendy Ulrich. They've talked to thousands of people--from rank-and-file workers to clients and customers to top-level executives--and synthesized major disciplines to identify the "why" behind our most successful experiences.
Using the model of the "abundant organization," they provide you with the "how" to create meaning and value in your own workplace. Learn how to: Ask the seven questions that drive abundance Understand the needs of your customers and staff Personalize the work to motivate your employees Build and grow your business in any economy
By following the Ulrichs' step-by-step guidelines, you will set off a chain reaction of positive and enduring effects. Employees who find meaning in their work are more competent, committed, and eager to contribute--and their contribution will result in increased customer commitment, which delivers a winning performance on the bottom line.
"The Why of Work" includes targeted checklists, questionnaires, and other useful tools to help you turn aspirations into action. Using the proven principles of abundance, you can coordinate your needs with those of your employers, your employees, and your customers--and create a vision that resonates for years to come.
When you understand why we work, you know how to succeed.
Dave Ulrich, PH.D., is a professor of business at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and cofounder of The RBL Group. He has written 23 books that cover topics in HR, leadership, and organization; he serves on the Board of Directors for Herman Miller and the Board of Trustees of Southern Virginia University; and he is a Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources.
Wendy Ulrich, Ph.D., M.B.A., has been a practicing psychologist for over 20 years. She is the founder of Sixteen Stones Center for Growth, which offers seminar-retreats on creating abundance and meaning, and she has authored two books on personal change.
About the Author
Dave Ulrich is a Professor at the University of Michigan School of Business and a cofounder of The RBL Group. He has published twelve books and more than a hundred articles, and has consulted and done research with over half of the Fortune 200.
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1. What am I known for?
2. Where am I going?
3. Whom do I travel with?
4. How do I build a positive work environment?
5. What challenges interest me?
6. How do I respond to disposability and change?
7. What delights me?
They devote a separate chapter to each of these seven questions, focusing on real-world situations in which various people address the given issues each query raises. Perhaps your initial responses to the questions have begun to suggest what you would like to change. Perhaps they have evoked others. For example, which of the seven are the easiest for you to answer? Which are the most difficult? Is the answer to any one of them of greater importance to you than any others?
In the Preface, the Ulrichs explain what they hope their book will accomplish. They seem wholeheartedly committed to helping their reader to add substantial value in all areas of her or his own life (notably family, career, and community), and also to help their reader help others to do so. There are frequent references to meaning or the absence thereof. The Ulrichs share their thoughts and feelings about both the "why" and the "how" of meaning at work. "The why refers to the human search for meaning that finds its way into our offices and factories, a search that motivates, inspires, and defines us. The how gets us into the practicalities of how leaders facilitate that search personally and among their employees." Purpose gives both meaning and value to such initiatives. The Ulrichs characterize human beings as "meaning-making machines" who seek and often find inherent value in making sense of life.
Such meaning also has market value because "meaningful work solves real problems, contributes real benefits, and thus adds real value to customers and investors." In this context, the Ulrichs introduce their concept of the "abundant organization" and identify its dominant characteristics: "a work setting in which individuals coordinate their aspirations and actions to create meaning for themselves, value for stakeholders, and hope for humanity at large"; an organization that "has enough and to spare of the things that matter most": creativity, hope, resilience, determination, resourcefulness, and leadership; a profitable enterprise that concentrates on opportunities, potentialities, synergies, and fulfillment of a diversity of human needs and experiences; and especially when times are tough, a social as well as economic forces that can "bring order, integrity, and purpose out of chaos and disintegration."
An abundant organization gives meaning to everyone involved by offering a spiritual as well as physical environment within which to thrive as human beings; their contributions, in turn, create a decisive competitive advantage for the organization while increasing and enhancing its market as well as its social value.
In the final chapter and then in the Apppendix, the Ulrichs share their thoughts and feelings about the implications of the seven principles as well as actions of abundant organizations that they proposed in the first nine chapters. Once again they stress the importance of identifying and then resolving the root causes of both organizational and individual dysfunctionality and deterioration rather than merely respond to its symptoms. Once again, they reassert that the underlying cause of many (most?) problems in the workplace is a "deficit" of both meaning and purpose.
To become and then remain "abundant," an organization must help its people to leverage their strengths and serve their core values, meanwhile doing so with their career objectives in proper alignment with their organization's strategic objectives. That is the "Why" of their relationship. In this brilliant book, Dave and Wendy Ulrich also provide leaders with the "How," the information and counsel they need, to create an abundance of purpose and meaning both for themselves and for everyone else involved, at all levels and in all areas of the enterprise they share.
I guess it was Simon Sinek's fault.
A while back a guy by the name of Simon Sinek did a TED talk on leadership, and he expressed a brilliantly simple model, which he called the Golden Circle. His 'big idea' was that great companies are great because they (meaning, their leadership team) don't focus on WHAT they do, but rather WHY they do it. The Golden Circle was actually three concentric circles, with 'WHY' in the centre, and then 'HOW' in the middle ring, and 'WHAT' on the outer ring. The thinking goes, that companies typically go from the outside in: they get a product, they make it better than the competition (eg. How is it better, Qualitatively), and then they try to encourage people to buy it (by emphasizing the value, the fair price, or attaching some intrinsic need to it through clever marketing, etc). This is what average companies do. It's a decent tactic, but a boring message, and one that we've all heard millions of times, and are kind of numb to.
'Oh look, there's Britney Spears drinking a Pepsi'.. yea yea, whatever.
The idea is that if you're running a company, or a small outfit, if you first ask yourself why the company exists, why they're in business (and 'making money' is not an acceptable answer) then the rest of the company operations are easy. Companies, according to SImon, fail when they focus on products, and then don't even bother to answer the question, 'Why does your company exist? What's its purpose? Whats the mission?'
And Simon wraps it up so beautifully when he repeats: 'People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.'
When Steve Jobs talks about connecting the dots, he's basically saying the same thing'it's almost impossible to know the future, what the vehicle will look like, but if you know what drives you, your 'WHY', then you'll be okay, because the 'What' doesn't really matter. What difference does it make if Nike sells Golf gear, or Basketball gear, when the Why (Victory, Excellence) is the same? For Apple, its their attention to detail, in creating beautiful objects of art, so what difference does it make if it's a laptop or a portable music player?
And why does why matter anyway? Well, to a big business, it matters a great deal. Employees who's driving by a goal, or a passion, are happier, and more energetic. They're more productive. And higher levels of productivity leads to higher wages, and ultimately to higher profitability. As Ulrich astutely points out, if you've seen those 'top companies to work for' lists, and invested in a portforlio of just those companies, would have yielded 6.8% per annum, versus just 1% for S/P 500, over a ten year period. The 'fun' companies are doing something right. They're making more money too.
So if the question is Why, then what's the answer? Maybe the answer is grab on to something you love doing, and then find a range of great companies that are remotely related to that field (seems pretty obvious). They can be a service company or a product company. They can be a volunteer organization or a research facility. For a moment, forget about what sector has the most 'growth' and think about what sector will have the most growth to you. Motivated in a small market is a million times better than unmotivated in a large one. This is where it gets non-obvious and counter-intuitive, but it really is the difference between the winners and losers.
So the 'Why of Work' is really about finding fun challenges not just at the office (for many, impossible, I'll admit), but maybe finding it in another company, in another sector, or in another country! There is of course, a leap of faith involved here, that if you switch careers, or move to France, you'll still be able to feed yourself, but'don't you think you deserve to take that leap of faith?
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The key highlight for me early in the book is when it is written that "When we find meaning in our work, we find meaning in Life". It was then that I realized that this was not just another book that will help me find better balance in my work but in my life. We do spend more time at work than anywhere else and to think that the two can be managed separately is crazy! This book brings the two together in a meaningful and thoughtful way.
Wrapped around 7 key questions makes the book an easy read and perfect road map to happier work and a more meaniful relationships in and out of work. My favorite question is "What Delights Me?". What a wonderful way to identify what we really value and what makes us happy.
I recommend it for reading by business leaders, future business leaders and anyone looking for a more meaningful and abundant life!
Well done Dave & Wendy and thank you.
However, many hard-nosed executives who most need to hear this message will be put off by the authors' idealistic and faith-based advice. It comes across as a too-good-to-be-true "heaven on earth", especially during these tough economic times. The authors' impassioned call for "abundance" in the workplace emphasizes the positive side of human nature, but discounts the negative side. Life contains too much psychological and emotional pain inflicted both intentionally and unintentionally to ignore. There's a grain of truth in the well-known saying about the people who play a significant role in our life: "you can't live with them, but you can't live without them". In terms of the workplace, the Dilbert cartoon series by Scott Adams makes this painfully, albeit humorously, clear.
As a professional consultant to leaders and their teams over the past 20+ years, I've often encountered a range of subtle and not-so-subtle negative human behaviors that undermine attempts to achieve abundance and often lead to the opposite. In those situations, I help leaders identify and act on realistic goals that move them and their organization toward abundance, knowing that its full achievement is not possible and that there will be a lot of back-sliding along the way. So the capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation are essential for over-coming the inevitable anger, frustration, ambivalence, and disappointment that all too often surface in the workplace. These capacities, when combined with the psychology of abundance, provide a balanced roadmap for an engaging workplace. That may be the most important take-away from Dave and Wendy Ulrich's inspiring call-to-action.
In summary, this is an excellent book and much needed in today's business landscape. It skillfully addresses the imperative of creating meanungful work in abundance-culture organizations offering practical tools for business leaders and Human Resources Managers. It is one of the first books I am aware of that makes this Corporate Social Responsibilty - Human Resources connection explicit. This is a welcome development and I have no doubt will create some ripples in HR circles. Dave and Wendy Ulrich cleverly move the agenda from employee engagement with primarily business focus around communication, remuneration and job content to a broader platform which encompasses the essence of the business beyond making money, and the aspirations of employees beyond earning a salary. One of the most basic components of CSR in business is providing a route to serve the aspirations and expectations of employees as stakeholders, so that they in turn may be the organization's CSR ambassadors when interfacing with other stakeholders. A bedrock of embedded CSR culture is essential to this. I am hopeful that The Why of Work will instill a sense of meaning in HR Managers and encourage them to adapt HR Practices accordingly. This really is a MUST-READ for HR professionals who need to WAKE UP to the wider and more strategic aspects of their roles.