Books and Quotes for Rethinking Work

Lately I've been in a lot of conversations talking about the need to change the way we work and think about work.  The five books listed above offer fresh perspectives that can be a catalyst for conversation and new ways of being and organizing in the workplace.  And the four quotes below are ones that have influenced my own thinking about work.  Enjoy. 

Book links:

12 Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter, Ph.D.

Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It by Cali Ressler and Jody ThompsonThe Seven-Day Weekend by Ricardo Semler
Drive by Daniel Pink
ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

And a new book just added to my reading stacks is Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration.  The future of work definitely involves more collaboration and designing the environment to support it will be critical.  So I'm excited to discover what the folks from Stanford Hasso Plattner Institute of Design have to say on the topic

Bonus: This insightful manifesto on the future of work is most definitely worth your attention and consideration.

“We all have a vast number of areas in which we have no talent or skill and little chance of becoming even mediocre. In these areas a person—and especially a knowledge worker—should not take on work, jobs, and assignments. One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it does to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”
—Peter Drucker,“Managing Oneself,” 
Harvard Business Review, March-April 1999

“Many people confuse achieving day-to-day business goals with performing truly satisfying work, so they continue setting and achieving new goals—until it dawns on them that they are bored. People are often shaken by this revelation; they feel as if they have just emerged from a spiritual blackout.... Some people gradually adjust to the letdowns, the frustrations, and even boredom of their work until they surrender to a routine that’s incompatible with who they are and what they truly want.”
—Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee, Daniel Goleman; “Reawakening Your Passion for Work,” Harvard Business Review, April 2002

“We like to think that we can leap directly from a desire for change to a single decision that will complete our reinvention—the conventional wisdom would say you shouldn’t fool yourself with small, superficial adjustments. But trying to tackle the big changes too quickly can be counterproductive. Just as starting the transition by looking for one’s true self can cause paralysis rather than progress, trying to make one big move once and for all can prevent real change.”
—Herminia Ibarra, “How to Stay Stuck in the Wrong Career,”  
Harvard Business Review, December 2002

“Tempered radicals bear no banners; they sound no trumpets. Their ends are sweeping, but their means are mundane. They are firm in their commitments, yet flexible in the ways they can fulfill them. Their actions may be small but can spread like a virus. They yearn for rapid change but trust in patience. They often work individually but pull people together. Instead of stridently pressing their agendas, they start conversations. Rather than battle powerful foes, they seek powerful friends. And in the face of setbacks, they keep going. ”
—Debra E. Myerson, “Radical Change-The Quiet Way,”  
Harvard Business Review, October 2001

What books, quotes, or other content sources have stimulated your rethinking of work and the workplace?  Please add them to the comments.


Elizabeth said...

These are wonderful reminders. If the session requires commitment and follow through, I often have participants sign a commitment on poster sheets. Another option is to have them write a letter to them self reflecting on their experience. I put them in SASE and mail them 3-6 months later.
It reconnects them if the work or convo is ongoing.

Elizabeth Marsh said...

We had the Stanford guys who wrote "Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration" at a recent IBF meeting to debate what digital collaboration can learn from design of physical collaboration spaces. Fascinating stuff! Here's another book for your reading list (if you're anything like me you'll already have a bunch of stuff queued, but still...): "The Digital Workplace: how technology is liberating work" (