Think Rule #5.
Alan Webber, co-founder of Business Week, wrote that change is a math formula. Change happens when the cost of status quo is greater than the risk of change. C(SQ) > R(C).
Tony Schwartz has written a provocative book that takes a serious look at the one area in business that seems immune to change -- the human costs of doing business in the digital age, Schwartz, the co-author of The Power of Full Engagement provides a proven prescription for making positive changes in the way we work.
The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working makes a compelling case that we’re neglecting four core needs that energize performance. The book is an extension of the ideas Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy introduced in the Harvard Business Review in 2007. (Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.)
Their premise is deceptively simple: “The furious activity to accomplish more with less exacts a series of silent costs: less capacity for focused attention, less time for any given task, and less opportunity to think reflectively and long term.”
In other words, less energy. And perhaps more importantly, less sustainable energy.
The insights that Schwartz and his colleagues at The Energy Project bring to The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working are based on their experiences working with such organizations as Wachovia, The Cleveland Clinic, the LA Police Department, Sony and Ernst & Young and IBM.
Like Dan Pink’s book, Drive, this book challenges the notion of what truly works in today’s business environment. While Pink focuses on motivation, Schwartz challenges the idea of how to enhance the performance of employees -- and much of it is counter-intuitive to how we do business.
“A growing body of research suggests that we’re most productive when we move between periods of high focus and intermittent rest. Instead, we live in a gray zone, constantly juggling activities but rarely fully engaging in any of them -- or fully disengaging from any of them.”
Within the first 10 pages, Schwartz makes a persuasive case. “Most organizations enable our dysfunctional behaviors and even encourage them through policies, practices, reward systems and cultural messages that serve to drain our energy and run down our value over time.
An increasing number of organizations pay lip service to the notion that ‘are our greatest asset.’ But even among companies that make that claim, the cast majority off-load the care and feeding of employees to divisions known as “human resources,” which are rarely accorded an equal place at the executive table. As a consequence, the needs of employees are marginalized and treated perquisites provided through programs that focus on topics like ‘leadership development,’ ‘wellness,’ and ‘flexibility’ -- all largely code words for nonessential functions.”
Again, think rule #5.
How willing are executives today willing to change the status quo? Products are being made. Services are being rendered. But at what cost?
The four core areas that energize great performance are sustainability (physical needs) security (emotional) self-expression (mental) and significance (spiritual). Schwartz makes the case that we’re at our best, not when act like computers running at high speed for long hours, but when we pulse rhythmically between expending and regularly renewing energy across each of our four needs.
The value of the book is enhanced by downloadable tools to help you evaluate your current situation and how to begin addressing the four core areas to enhance the ability of your company to harness the energy of all your employees.
If you want to make positive change in your organization and want to move beyond the status quo, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working -- is a working blueprint for any company’s future. I highly recommend it.
You can find it at Amazon in hardcover and on Kindle.
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