Thursday, November 27, 2014

Book Review "The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win" Authored by Dave Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich

Acclaim about the Book
"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

What are the Details of the Book?

If you want to build abundant organizations, read this book.  If you want to acquire tools and techniques to create meaning and value in your own workplace, read this book. If you want to understand the needs of your customers and employees, read this book. If you want to personalize the work to motivate your employees and grow your business in any economy, read this book. Dave Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich’s authored book The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win is divided into ten chapters.  

What is Inside?
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.
This book 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. It outlines seven principles that drive abundance
1.    Abundant organizations build on strengths (capabilities in an organization) that strengthen others.
2.    Abundant organizations have purposes that sustain both social and fiscal responsibility and align individual motivation.
3.    Abundant organizations take work relationships beyond high performing teams to high-relating teams.
4.    Abundant organizations create positive work environments that affirm and connect people throughout the organization.
5.    Abundance occurs when companies can engage not only employees’ skills (competence) and loyalty (commitment) but also their values (contribution).
6.    Abundant organizations use principles of growth, learning, and resilience to respond to change.
7.    Abundant organizations attend not only to outward demographic diversity but also to the diversity of what makes individuals feel happy, cared for, and excited about life.

As a leader, you create a more abundant organization when you help employees clarify their personal identity and enhance their signature strengths and then help them see how those strengths fit with the goals and values of the organization. The steps in this process are:
1.    Help employees define and grow their personal strengths.
2.    Define and build organizational capabilities required for success.
3.    Meld personal strengths and organizational capabilities.
4.    Determining customer and investor expectations.
5.    Connect both personal and organizational identities with the needs of customers and investors.

Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, has identified six domains of personal strengths and 24 individual character traits within those domains. The six domains are: 
1.    Wisdom and knowledge - cognitive strengths in acquiring and using knowledge. It outlines curiosity, love of learning, open-mindedness; creativity and perspective.
2.    Courage – emotional strengths of accomplishing goals in the face of opposition. It outlines bravery, perseverance, authenticity and zeal.
3.    Temperance – emotional strengths that protect against excesses. It outlines self-regulation; prudence; forgiveness and modesty.
4.    Humanity – interpersonal strengths that provide closeness and care for others. It lists out kindness and generosity; social intelligence; loving and accepting love.
5.    Justice – interpersonal strengths that support healthy communities. It consists of teamwork, fairness, and leadership.
6.    Transcendence – spiritual strengths that connect us to the universe and provide meaning. It outlines appreciation of beautify and excellence; gratitude; hope; humor and playfulness; and religiousness.

Marcus Buckingham and colleagues in his firm and the Gallup organization have developed an instrument that helps people assess work-related skills and characteristics. They find that such skills are difficult to train for but easier to hire for. They have identified 34 strengths a leader should consider when hiring an individual for a job – strengths that have little to do with specific work experience or job skill but a lot to do with the qualities it would take to work well in a specific culture or with a certain kind of customer.

The book outlines leadership actions to build an identity as follows: help employees become more aware of their signature strengths through assessment, conversation, observation, and assignment; define your organization’s required strengths (or capabilities) by doing a capability audit; make sure that employees’ strengths serve the organizational capabilities they are hired to build; define your key customers and investors and determine their expectations of you; and connect the identity of the individuals and organizations to the customers they serve, building on strengths that strengthen others.

The book outlines leadership actions to articulate a purpose as follows: help employees recognize what motivates them (insight, achievement, connection, empowerment); match the employees’ motivation with the organization task they are assigned to perform; create an organization aspiration that declares a socially responsible agenda and translates that agenda to individual action; and help employees satisfice in those tasks that are worth doing poorly and prioritize tasks that are important to do well.

The book outlines leadership actions to foster relationships and teams that work as follows: develop good friendships at work and encourage others to do so too; learn, teach, and model the skills of making and receiving bids; listening and self-disclosing; navigating proximity; resolving conflicts; and making amends; and apply these skills to relationships between people and among teams.

The book describes that a positive work environment is rooted in how people treat each other. In one fast-food company, local leaders had a three-step protocol for determining the friendliness of the franchise:
1.    Do our employees smile at customers? Greeting customers, smiling at them, and making eye contact shows a commitment to friendliness.
2.    Do customers smile back? When customers reciprocate and smile back, the friendliness is two-way and customers are probably enjoying that employee.
3.    Do customers smile at each other? When customers engage with each other without going through the employees, they are fully enjoying the restaurant.

The book outlines the leadership actions to create a positive work environment as follows: pay attention to the work environment as patterns of how things are done; regularly monitor the work environment; ask newcomers to your work environment their impressions of what is positive and what is not; and make public statements about your commitment to shaping a positive work environment.

The book outlines the calendar test to do a time audit or “calendar test” to enable leaders to know if their intentions are consistent with the actions:
·         In the past 30, 60, or 90 days, what would you say were your top priorities?
·         What did you talk about in your public speeches?
What were your stated goals?
What percentage of your time did you spend on these issues?
·         Whom did you meet with, and what were the topics of conversation?
·         What were the agenda items in your meetings?
·         What else did you spend time on, and how important were those things?

Leaders may help employees ascertain their identity by asking them to complete a time log and analyze the results. When we coach leaders, we often ask them to take the calendar test – to reflect on the last 90 days and consider:
What categories of activities make up your workday?
What issues have you spent the most time on?
Whom have you spent the most time with?
Where did you spend your time (in your office, in meetings, with customers)?
What reports and information do you spend time looking at?
What business issues capture your quiet time (keep you awake at night, float up when you are going to and/or from work, or surface often in conversations)?

Leaders can bring direction and purpose to their organizations and employees by asking:
What are the insights we need to succeed as an organization?
What achievements and goals will keep us in business?
What types of relationships will help us get our work done?
What human problems are we trying to solve?
Which are the most pressing motivations of this organization, and where do they fail among the four quadrants of insight, achievement, connection and empowerment?

Dave has defined organizational learning agility as the ability to generate X generalize ideas with impact. At either a personal level (his friend Rand) or an organizational level, these two principles help people build a learning response to change:
·         Generate. Leaders who encourage learning seek new ways to do new things. In the face of change, they are open to experimenting, adapting, and improving.
·         Generalize. Leaders who learn transfer ideas from one area to another. They have the ability to see patterns that may apply elsewhere.

The authors share with example of straight conversation versus persuading conversation as follows: think of a parent trying to motivate a teen to clean his room, something that teenagers generally see no inherent value in and that feels to them like pretty hard work.
Dad: Your room is a mess. Better clean it up.
TEEN: I don’t have time. I have a paper due.
DAD: You’ll feel better if your room is clean.
TEEN: No. I won’t. I like it this way.
DAD: But how can you find anything in there?
TEEN: I know where everything is.
DAD: This is ridiculous-human beings just don’t live this way.
TEEN: This human being lives this way and thinks it is just fine.
DAD: Don’t your friends find this disgusting?
TEEN: No. My friends’ rooms all look like this.

If the leader (Dad) wants to impact the son’s behavior, he needs to figure out what matters to the son and show him what behavior will lead to that outcome.
Dad: Your room is a mess. Better clean it up.
TEEN: I don’t have time. I have a paper due.
DAD: That’s important. When is it due?
TEEN: Tomorrow. I’ve been working on it, but I still have a lot to do.
DAD: How can I help?
TEEN: Well, could you proofread it for me when I’m done?
DAD: Sure. I’ll proofread if you’ll work on your room. You’ll need a break from writing by that point anyway. Deal?
TEEN: Deal.

Work can be categorized along three dimensions: intellectual, physical, and relational. Intellectual work focuses on making knowledge productive. Knowledge workers analyze problems, discover alternatives, shape thinking and create innovative solutions. Words and ideas become the basic elements of work that can be shaped and molded to change how people think and act. Employees who like intellectual work enjoy debates about how to shape problems and discover interesting solutions. Intellectual work results in intangible outcomes that may not always be seen or measured easily. Physical work emphasizes tangible results that are visible and traceable. Physical work emphasizes concrete, touchable results. Physical work might include figuring out what materials to use in a design, making mock-ups, and seeing products through the manufacturing and sales process. Relational work emphasizes connecting with others and getting work done through others. Relational work includes helping others reflect or learn, organizing people to accomplish a task, or just bringing people together.

The book explains that experiments are bounded in time and space and audited rigorously to determine how well they work. Experiments may occur in a number of areas: product design and features (e.g. Microsoft Office), service (e.g FedEx), channel of distribution (e.g. online purchases), operations (e.g. Wal-Mart’s supply chain), cost management (e.g. lean manufacturing at Herman Miler), customer experiences (e.g. Starbucks) management processes (e.g. virtual teams at Nokia), business model (e.g, direct distribution at Dell), or industry redefinition (e.g. iPod at Apple).

Google employees work aggressively on building a culture of experimentation or innovation. They have identified 10 attitudes for innovation that capture their commitment to experimentation:
1.    Ideas can come from anybody.
2.    Share everything you can (new ideas and projects are put on the Internet).
3.    Dare to recruit somebody more powerful and insightful than you.
4.    Have a green light to your dreams: commit one day a week to contribute to the company the way you like (50 percent of new initiatives are developed during this day).
5.    Look for quick wins.
6.    Provide less “I like it” and more analytics.
7.    Do not kill an idea; transform it.
8.    Innovation required constraints like budgets and timelines.
9.    Care about the end customer first, not the money.
10. Identify your “twin” in the company .. an innovation sparring partner.

The book outlines leadership actions to facilitate growth, learning, and resilience
·         Have a positive attitude about change; trust that you can learn from it and be resilient when facing it.
·         Learn how to generalize new ideas through; self-reflection, experimenting, boundary spanning, continuous improvement
·         Learn how to generalize, or share, new ideas by: moving talent across boundaries; sharing information across boundaries; building incentives to encourage shared behavior.
·         Become resilient in the face of change by making the unspeakable speakable; turning what you know into what you do; and changing events into patterns.

The book outlines leadership actions to ensure personalized contributions to work as follows:
Learn what outcomes matter to employees; How does this job related to their identity, values, and purpose?
Help employees articulate the line of sight between what they do and the outcomes they value. 
Help employees discover the intrinsic value of their work and what they enjoy in the work itself.
Shape work conditions and match employees to conditions that appeal to them (where, when, with whom, and how they work).

The book shares a classic example of this second mind-set is Thomas Watson, Jr, who headed IBM in the 1960s. A manager reporting to Watson ran a business unit that lost $10 million. Watson called him into headquarters. The guy walked into Watson’s office weak-kneed. Watson said, “Do you know why I called you here?” He responded, “I assume you called me here to fire me.” Watson said, “Fire you? Hell, I just spent 410 million educating you. I just want to be sure you learned the right lessons.”

The book highlights inspiring story of Teeda Butt Marn who and her family eventually escaped Cambodia and started a new life in the United States. If a small moment of delight can bring hope to someone in certain circumstances, affirming that life is a precious gift even under the handoff unspeakable oppression, surely such moments can bring meaning to those us with much less to overcome, much more to live for.
The book outlines leadership actions to foster delight as follows: see and test the connection between employee delight and customer loyalty; find ways to delight yourself at work and encourage your employees to find delight through creativity, pleasure, humor/playfulness and civility; and in either personal therapy or leadership coaching, we generally start with a “presenting problem.”

A positive work environment is one in which the employees are committed, productive, and likely to stay with the company; customers pick up on employee attitudes and are more likely to do business with the company; investors have confidence in the company’s future, giving it a higher market value; and the company’s reputation in the community is enhanced.

The book lists out 10 attitudes that underlie an abundant work environment and what leaders can do to foster them.
1.    Attitude toward success: arrogance versus humility.
2.    Attitude toward value and values: implicit versus explicit.
3.    Attitude toward service: self-interest versus selflessness.
4.    Attitude toward ideas: criticized versus invited.
5.    Attitude toward connections: impersonal versus personal.
6.    Attitude toward involvement: hands-off versus hands-on.
7.    Attitude toward accountability: enfeebling others versus empowering others.
8.    Attitude toward communication: reduced versus increased.
9.    Attitude toward conflict: run and hide versus run into.
10. Attitude toward physical space: haphazard versus chosen.

HR Takeaways
·         Although most countries use the Gross National Product index to measure national success, in 1972 King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan instituted a Gross National Happiness (GNH) index to assess his country’s progress. The king instituted social and economic policies to help Bhutan citizens find meaning and well-being in their lives.
·         Talent and skill are honed or abandoned. Creativity and problem-solving skill are developed or undermined. And future sustainability is either ensured or threatened.
·         Generation Y employees (born between 1981 and 1999) move into the workforce, their values (like self-esteem, self-interest, and leisure time) often clash with those of the baby-boom generation.
·         Gallup Management Journal’s semiannual Employee Engagement Index shows that only 29 percent of employees are actively engaged in their jobs, while 54 percent are not engaged and 17 percent are actively disengaged. Right Management (a consultant firm) found similar results with only 34 percent of employees fully engaged while 50 percent are completely disengaged.
·         Disengaged employees are less likely to meet corporate goals or to stay with the firm.
·         In the United States, about 45 percent of first marriages and over 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce. In Canada and parts of Europe the rates are even higher. The disposability of families has severe consequences for the financial stability, personal health, and emotional well-being of partners, children, and society as a whole.
·         Many of these self-help books, tapes, or workshops offer false hope with few sustained successes. When desperate people seek easy solutions without doing the hard work of fundamental learning and change, resilience is undermined and real growth and learning fade.
·         As leaders probe the whys of work, they empower employees to find personal meaning that creates value for customers, investors, and communities.
·         Many leaders see employees’ search for meaning as their own affair, while productivity and bottom-line results are the business of business.
·         Abundance is neither a random act nor an isolated event. Leaders who intentionally create abundance at work build organizations that turn customer and investor expectations into daily employee actions.
·         Creating abundant organizations despite headaches and hassles requires leaders to struggle with paradoxical goals and values. These individuals must balance their professional dreams, career enthusiasm, family relationships, and retirement plans against business realities, office politics, the demands of growth, and larger economic contexts. Let’s face it: leaders who attend only to personal needs (theirs or their employees’) may create caring organizations that end up bankrupt. On the other hand, leaders obsessed only with making money will likely be socially and emotionally bankrupt if they fail at other things that matter: reputation, relationships, sustainable purpose, engaged employees, and the simple but invaluable experience of having fun at work.
·         Martin Seligman and his associates have inserted the proposal that the domain of psychology extends beyond fixing pathology to probing health and happiness. Positive psychology asks what makes people happy in the long run.
·         To manage scarce resources and rebuild organization reputations, many leaders have begun to pay attention to a “triple bottom line” of people (values and reputation), profits (financial return), and planet (e.g. carbon footprint).
·         Leaders in abundant organizations take employee competence and commitment another step-to employee contribution.
·         By studying what helps POWs survive and thrive, how Navy Seals can be trained to stay calm under attack, and what abused children who become successful have in common, we get hints about how leaders encourage learning under conditions of stress and challenge.
·         Great leaders understand that the search for meaning that builds abundance is grounded in clarity about our truest individual and organizational values and how they align.
·         Formal 360-degree feedback assessments help employees learn how others perceive them on a set of leadership dimensions.
·         We learn by doing. When we perform familiar tasks, we demonstrate our skills and take pleasure in our expertise. When we act outside of our comfort zone, we may learn hidden strengths we did not know we had.
·         All talent management begins with hiring people who have the right strengths for the job, and these “right strengths” are customer defined.
·         Your leadership challenge is to align capabilities with strategies, evolve capabilities, and make sure management actions reinforce key capabilities.
·         Great companies are not built on the great strengths on their leaders or employees but on how those strengths build value for their customers. To turn personal and organizational strengths into value for others: be clear about what you want your organization to be known for by your best customers. Check it out with key customers. Make sure that organization practices inside match the intended brand or identity.
·         Clarity about where we want to go and why is crucial to a sense of meaning and abundance.
·         Any organization that does not provide real value to real people is unlikely to endure over time.
·         In fact, the anonymity of e-mails, tweets, web-based bulletin boards, and blogs often intensifies the challenge as it removes the personal touch so central to meaningful relationships.
·         What we see on those screens increasingly involves gamesmanship, overt hostility, partisanship, backstabbing, and cutthroat, competition, with few role models for healthy relating.
·         Organization reveals that employees who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be highly engaged at work than those who do not. People with close friends at work are 27 percent more likely to see their strengths as aligned with the company’s goals.
·         People we don’t know as well are more likely to think of something we haven’t thought of, to bring fresh perspectives and unusual information to bear on our problem.
·         Doris Kearns Goodwin determined that President Abraham Lincoln’s political genius included his willingness to bring together a “team of rivals” to staff his cabinet – people who not only had not supported his presidency and his viewpoints but who were his major competitors.
·         Malcolm Gladwell’s “tipping points” are fueled by people, who always seem to know somebody who knows somebody who.. As these folks share information and bring people together, trends are born, deals are made, and ideas are cross-germinated.
·         How long does it take to get a feel for the atmosphere in a work setting you walk into? Think of walking into a doctor’s office, a store, a restaurant, a classroom, or a plant. Within minutes or at most hours you have a pretty good sense of what it feels like to work there.
·         Most of us have personally experienced both a negative and a positive work environment. A negative work environment comes with cynicism, frustration, and gossip. Employees spend more time backbiting, protecting turf, resisting, or blindly obeying than solving problems and helping the company add real value for customers.
·         A number of companies we have worked with have taken their value statements to their key customers and asked three questions: are these the values you would like us to have? What do we have to do to live these values? And if we live these values as you expect, will you buy more from us.
·         Work occurs in many places. Traditionally, employees are “at work” when they are in the office or on the job.
·         A consultant who doesn’t travel is like a doctor who doesn’t see patients. But the parameters of work are not always as fixed as they appear: not many doctors make house calls these days, but this used to be expected.
·         We see four dimensions of how work is done that may help leaders create more abundance for their employees: innovation, autonomy, opportunity, and visibility.
·         Good leaders both tap employees’ creative energies and help them settle in comfortably to more routine aspects of work.
·         The self-employed often work longer hours and have more demanding and stressful jobs than their employees, but they find more meaning in their work because they have control.
·         Beverly Kaye suggests leaders have a “stay” interview with employees where they ask, “What would it take to keep you both on the job and passionate about the job?”
·         Visibility, recognition, praise, and positive feedback allow leaders to communicate gratitude to employees for their work.
·         Time has often become people’s scarcest resource and most valued asset, and many companies today are pioneers in its use. How we spend our time communicates our values and priorities.
·         The four ways leaders generate new ideas are: self-reflection, experimentation, continuous improvement, and boundary spanning.
·         Continuous improvement programs are just what they sound like: efforts to institutionalize the focus on constant improvement. Leaders encourage continuous improvement through both formal programs and informal conversations.
·         An experimentation protocol involves idea generation; impact; incubate; invest; integrate and improve. To foster experimentation, follow the mantra “Think big, test small, fail fast, and learn always.”
·         Resilience is the ability and courage to bounce back and try again when faced with change. One of the greatest examples of resilience is U.S. president Abraham Lincoln. Born into poverty, Lincoln faced defeat throughout his life. He lost eight elections, failed at two businesses, and suffered a nervous breakdown. Lincoln not only learned from setbacks but demonstrated almost inconceivable resilience. His biographers have described the emotional strengths that contributed to his enormous resilience: empathy, humor, magnanimity, generosity of spirit, perspective, self-control, balance, and social conscience.
·         Personal resilience is the ability to bounce back from defeat, and it increases when leaders can do the following: maintain an optimistic attitude, live out of a strong moral code, face fears head-on, see patterns and put events in context, stop worrying and start living, manage risk, and move on.
·         John Kotter at the Harvard Business School is a world expert on change. He has written a number important volumes on the process of change, books that get quoted in academic articles and look impressive on bookshelves but don’t sell a lot of copies. Then Kotter decided to write a lighthearted parable about penguins who realize their iceberg is melting and something will have to be done. ‘Our Iceberg Is Melting’ has sold more than 500,000 copies.
·         Wherever people work together to accomplish a shared goal, meaning matters. While money will always matter, the new employee value proposition is also about meaning.
·         People distrust leaders who make personal gain more important than organizational and societal responsibility.
·         When leaders focus on meaning-making activities, employees more readily sense that their experience at work matters to someone and that their contribution is valued. Leaders at all levels can help make meaning happen. Research compellingly suggests that meaning making for employees can be money making for shareholders.

There is a liability of success, and it causes many successful companies to fail. There is a rapid turnover of firms in the U.S. Fortune 500 (almost 50 percent every 10 years). Twenty years after In Search of Excellence was published, many of the 43 original firms had not lived up to the criteria that placed them in the “excellent” category. Researchers Ulrike Malmendier and Geoffrey Tate found that CEOs who received superstar status as evidenced by public CEO awards (from BusinessWeek, Financial World, Chief Executive, Forbes, IndustryWeek,, Time, Time/CNN, and the like) actually performed 15 to 20 percent worse than comparable CEOs for the three years after winning their award, suggesting that if such awards promote arrogance they do their recipients and their employees a real disservice.

The liability of success can be overcome as leaders avoid arrogance and complacency and remain learning focused and service oriented. Humble leaders take the blame for mistakes and share credit for success. They talk less about personal accomplishments and more about others’ achievements. They focus on giving rather than receiving service. They don’t boast about what has been but focus on the challenges yet ahead. Jim Collins in Good to Great notes the importance of leadership humility, labeling it a key factor in “Level 5 Leadership.” Humble leaders have also been called servant leaders, who don’t need to always get their way, who admit that others may be right, who express appreciation for insights, who seem to learn, and who help others do their job.

Senior leaders need not only advocate and institutionalize meaning but also audit it. In addition to financial, customer, and organization reviews, leaders might ask questions such as these:
·         How do you feel about the work you do?
·         How do customers feel as they receive the outcomes of your work?
·         How do you use your strengths and values at work, and how often?
·         How do you see your work contributing to things you care about?
·         What are you learning about yourself in this job?
·         How do you explain what you do at work to your closest friends and family?
·         How much energy and passion do you feel for your work?

Dave is frequently asked why he chose to invest in HR. His response is simple: HR practices form the infrastructure that makes sustained organizational success possible.
Moving into a more senior position for the sake of salary and status alone does not always lead to sustained motivation. Employees are more likely to sustain energy and passion for their career moves if their signature strengths match their new roles.

Money is a big motivator, often a primary motivator. But money often has as much value as a symbol of importance or prestige as it does in buying power itself. Nonfinancial rewards like work flexibility, growth opportunities, access to valued relationships, and positive work environments are frequently at least as important as money in shaping employee meaning.

The importance of meaning to the next generation came into sharp focus in the spring of 2009 when almost half of the MBAs graduating from Harvard Business School took a pledge to “do no harm,” “serve the greater good,” and “act with the utmost integrity.” While symbolic more than binding, this ambitious pledge sent a clear signal about the hopes and ambitions of a talented and capable elite group. They expect work to make a difference for good in the world, they expect to make a difference at work, and presumably they expect work to make a difference to them. We see this social responsibility pledge as a worldwide tsunami with more and more business-oriented students wanting to both make money and do good.

Employees can make more thoughtful meaning choices about their professional lives by considering the seven questions:  
·         What will I be known for?
·         Where am I going?
·         Whom do I travel with?
·         How do I build a positive work environment?
·         What challenges interest me?
·         How do I respond to disposability and change?
·         What delights me?

In up markets, when talent is scarce, meaning matters because employees are essentially volunteers who can choose where to allocate their time and energy. In down markets, some organizations experience a gratitude effect and get false positives on employee engagement scores from employees who gratefully compare themselves with less fortunate colleagues. But memories last longer than recessions. Employees who felt mistreated or taken advantage of during the down markets may look elsewhere when options open up. Companies that succeed at helping employees find meaning in downturns often create a cadre of resilient and motivated contributors who will be the problem solvers and innovators of future success.

The book concludes with a thought provoking message as follows: Meaning should be a real option for every worker who values it, and not just in non-for-profit organizations that have been its traditional province. Whether our future employees are graduating from the Harvard Business School or the local detention school, meaning matters. It matters not only for the profit of investors and the needs of customers but also for the hearts and souls of the millions of people who get up and go to work every day. Delivering on that hope is one of the most important opportunities facing business today.

What is the Recommendation?

This is a widely researched book with interesting findings. It contains anecdotes, inspiring examples and illustrations. It outlines striking stories that arouse the interest among the readers and sustains it throughout the book. The language is simple and straight hitting the bull’s eye. The ideas and insights are well-punched. The flow is natural and the content is inspiring, and an average reader can understand it. 

This book provides meaning to your work life. It helps you build and lead organizations effectively. It is one of the most inspiring books I have read on HR in my lifetime. It is useful for leaders at all levels. You can gift this book to others. Enjoy reading this book!

"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: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win by Dave Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich (McGraw-Hill; 1 edition June 6, 2010)

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Professor M.S.Rao, India
Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants India
Listed in Marquis Who's Who in the World in 2013
21 Success Sutras for Leaders: Top 10 Leadership Books of the Year (San Diego University) Amazon URL:

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