Joy at Work by Dennis Bakke

Read Joy at Work by Dennis Bakke. The author of The Decision Maker.

While The Decision Maker was a fictional business story, this book was his own story. It was around his experience implementing the distributed decision maker principles and values at AES, his energy company. He also talked about the eventual collapse and its reasons.

It was a great read. I highlighted quite a few things. The main ones are:

  • We should also adhere to these values in our private lives… Business is business is not a valid excuse.
  • To each person what he deserves, to each one what is appropriate.
  • The question is not whether we have values, but which values really guide our behavior.
  • The greatest obstacle to worker satisfaction is management’s craving for status and power (I can personally attest to that).
  • Incorrect assumptions that mistakes could be avoided if high-ranking people make decisions.
  • Paternalism kills any chance of joy at work.
  • We are uniquely created with the ability to reason, make decisions, and be held responsible… when that happens, we feel something approaching pure joy.
  • Although good relationships and camaraderie may be important to a good workplace, they are not the most important factor.
  • Generous pay will have almost no effect on quality of work experience.
  • Debilitating stress stems from lack of control.
  • The key to a great workplace is feeling wanted and important.
  • Required leaders to give up their traditional right to make important decisions.
  • Decision maker = person whose area is most affected, or the one who initiated an idea, discovered a problem, or saw an opportunity.
  • Asking for advice is an act of humility, most important characteristic of a fun workplace.
  • Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.
  • Any piece of advice available to CEO is available to every person in the company.
  • Spend 80% time on primary roles, and 20% on participating in task forces, giving advice and learning new skills.
  • Leadership is not about managing people.
  • Leaders should exercise tight control only on issues that affect the shared values of an organization.
  • Goals should not be set according to whether they’re easy or hard to measure. They should be set because they’re right.

Enough typing for now. They also have a really nice Traditional company v/s Decision Maker company chart at the end, which is pretty amazing.

Recommended reading, but I think the Decision Maker is an easier read while driving similar learnings.