The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work
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The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  201 ratings  ·  37 reviews
What really sets the best managers above the rest? It’s their power to build a cadre of employees who have great inner work lives—consistently positive emotions; strong motivation; and favorable perceptions of the organization, their work, and their colleagues. The worst managers undermine inner work life, often unwittingly.

As Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer explain in Th...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Harvard Business Review Press
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Roy Klein
I've decided to stop reading this book halfway through.
The reason is that the book contains a small amount of simplistic advice, almost no practical methods for implementing this advice, and a large body of narrated stories of people who the writers researched. The narrative is interesting at first, but grows tedious and uninformative very quickly. I suppose the writer didn't want to throw to waste all the body of text she collected from her tests subject, but that doesn't make that body of tex...more
David Phillips
This is a great book for leading other people. It helps those leading others to see what really matters to others. It helps focus our efforts at inspiring and motivating others and to help those we lead make progress along the way to meaningful work and a healthy inner life. Based on a year of research with multiple companies, this book is worth the leaders time and reflection. The more meaningful the work, the more healthy our inner life and the more progress we make in our work, the more effec...more
Was prompted to read this book by review by Seth Godin. Primary concepts are pretty much a no brainers once they are explained. I recommend it because it brings light to the common sense we know, but need reminded that we do know. Plus the idea that creativity has many facets hopefully will empower a reader.

It continues to amaze me that current management dogma has largely missed the boat on these precepts. It is somewhat repetitive, but that seems to be a hallmark of current business related li...more
Not bad. It's research, so it takes a while before we get to any practical bits. Once we did get into the meat of it though, there were lots of insights into how managers can cultivate productive work in their teams. I wish I had read this five years ago.
An enjoyable reading addressing how positive and negative work environments arise and how they affect people's creative problem solving.

This book is based on a study conducted in a set of 7 companies in 3 different industries in which knowledge workers and professionals working on complex problems collected and reported daily diary entries about their inner work lives, i.e., their perceptions, emotions, and motivations during the work day. Although most questions asked for numerical ratings, the...more
Scott Taylor
Oct 19, 2012 Scott Taylor rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Managers and project team members.
Recommended to Scott by: Custom internet search
This book is a psychological look at the human side of management. Rather than measuring employees and productivity with simple numbers or behavioral psychology, the authors conducted a survey of employees at work to judge cognition, perception, and emotion. The employees were from numerous businesses, all with different management styles, goals, and operational environments. One theme was that employee[s invisible and inner perceptions, emotions, and motivations effect productivity. Utilizing d...more
"The Progress Principle" states simply that progress in meaningful work is the single greatest factor when it comes to creating high functioning teams and work environments. Progress in meaningful work serves as trigger for positive perceptions, emotions, and motivations. This creates a virtuous feedback loop, greatly increasing workplace performance.

The tenor of the book echoes that of "The Happiness Advantage" and "Drive", suggesting that by supporting progress, providing positive catalysts, a...more
John Pestka
Excellent and insightful. The authors make it incredibly clear that managers must realize and recognize that making progress in meaningful work is the top motivating factor for employees, leading to, as they call it, superior inner work life. I appreciate that it's another book backed by lengthy, significant research, this time following employees at various companies for months on end and asking them to do daily journal entries. Another book I highly recommend for anyone that supervises/manages...more
One of the main points of the book is a by-the-way in chapter 8 that isn't even mentioned in the chapter title. What doofs! So here's the deal: work nourishers, catalysts and a sense of progress matter. If you are manager, don't leave those things to chance. Instead, make a checklist and make sure those things happen for your people. There, now you don't have to read the book.
Dit boek geeft een zicht op vele jaren veldonderzoek naar wat motivatie drijft in bedrijven. Het is duidelijk dat vooruitgang en kleine overwinningen op de werkvloer zeer belangrijk zijn. Volgens de auteurs bestaan er "voeders" die ervoor zorgen dat progressie verder gestimuleerd worden en "vergiften" die progressie tegenhouden. Het is belangrijk om deze elementen zo te bespelen dat de groep in een positieve spiraal van progressie terechtkomt, want eenmaal zover wordt het een zelfversterkend eff...more
James Kenly
Another in a series of good reads in the "business meets social science" space. Operating very much in cooperation with Multipliers (Liz Wiseman) and DRiVE (Dan Pink) and aligned with The Future Of Management (Gary Hamel) and the work of Jim Collins. Amabile articulates two important observations: 1) That "inner work life" is a significant driver for both happiness and productivity, and 2) that the ability to perceive progress in meaningful work is the critical element of inner work life that im...more
Steve H
Using insights from diaries kept by study participants in various businesses the authors determine what helps and what hinders workflow and personal fulfillment. Aimed at people who supervise/manage others and with a bit of relevance to team members who might not manage others, the brief takeaway is that nothing succeeds or breeds success like success and our goal is to do whatever we can to make success possible for ourselves and others. Remove obstacles, foster creativity and affiliations, cre...more
Peter Kahn
In the same league as "Peopleware" this book builds theories from evidence and provides scientific backing for what seems self evident.

Happy engaged people do better work and a key driver of engagement is a series of small wins. A little progress every day results in better productivity and creativity.

This is why scrum and especially Kanban have the impact they do. It also explains the benefit of the pomodoro method and even continuous integration (feedback from the build/the-work rewards the...more
Ken Dyck
The amount of research and analysis that went into this book is truly impressive. And the conclusions are surprising: regular tangible progress towards a goal is measurably one of the most important factors in acheiving success. I enjoyed reading it, but -- perhaps because I am already regularly making progress at my job -- I didn't find that it inspired much of a change in my professional life. Still, I'd heartily recommend it to managers and those looking to improve their workplace.
Daley Times
On the surface the concepts in this book could no be more straightforward. Focus on progress (nourishers and catalysts) and minimise those things that hinder progress (toxins and inhibitors) The implications though are profound. Dealing with what Amabile calls 'Inner Work Life' and what many would think of as 'soft' issues can ultimately determine the success or failure of a business as much as (perhaps even more than) the 'hard' metrics.
I didn't finish this book, but the big idea in it (that I agree with) is the importance of feeling like you have made progress (no matter how small) and had impact in your job on a daily basis. It makes sense, and Teresa Amabile backs it up with research. So maybe you don't need to read the whole thing to appreciate the point, but the takeaway is a good principle for especially managers to keep in mind.
I found the book pretty hard to get into. Nothing they argue for seems controversial, yet they go into a lot of detail trying to buttress their points. The best part of the book is the daily checklist, but they save that until the very end of book by which point I had nearly thrown in the towel.
Really liked this book. It helped me understand why so many work places are f'd up. Also gave some very practical food for thought on what I can do to ensure that the team I work with loves their jobs and that they perform at the highest level. Note, it's not a how to book. But by using real life examples and research gives you enough to think about what you can do.
John Stepper
A surprisingly simple book that seems to overplay the research underpinning it. (The authors analyzed journal entries of a few hundred people and focused on a few teams. Not exactly amazing science.) Still, the main assertion, that a manager's main task is to enable progress every day, is useful.
Really enjoyed this book! Research was fascinating, and great insight into what contributes (and doesn't) to positive inner work life. Also reminded me of the power of journalling...which can take many forms, even something as simple as a tweet or a FB post.
Amy Shanahan
I would really give it 2 1/2 stars. The book offers and confirms what I have read in the past. I skipped past the "other" stories because I am personally tired of this style of writing and skipped to the practical pieces. I wish the stories were shorter.
Erin Paynter
Found this interesting enough at first, but eventually skimmed the major points from about half-way on to the end. For anyone who's read about creativity and motivation, a lot of the information here isn't necessarily revolutionary.
Data backs up common sense - if you treat people nice they are happier and if they are happier they perform better.
Nicely written, terrific research, a help to anyone searching for how to better motivate others.
Filiz Aktan
For the general idea how the companies either go up or down, the book is quite good. On the other hand, I felt like the information in the book is exaggerated. Generally, It is easy to read and clear.
Robert Chapman
Great book, I really enjoyed the simplicity of the book backed up by the study data. The way the authors define and describe "the inner work life" throughout the book makes so much sense. Read this book.
Rob Cantrall
Well-researched and thought out position on how to enable employees and coworkers to optimize achievement and happiness. Looks to be a fair bit that I can immediately with my team.
I found this book really hard to read and get interested in. I would say that true HR focused individuals would likely find this book more interesting.
Clayton Borah
Interesting and enjoyable. Anyone that manages other people should read this book. Even if you are a person being managed reading this book is a great idea.
Every manager and organizational leader should read this book. Great insights on how to build a culture where people are happy and productive.
Michelle Greenwood
OC Business Book Club Selection--concepts worth the read --Harvard Blog recapped. Lots of anecdotes make it miss in flow.
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“Our research inside companies revealed that the best way to motivate people, day in and day out, is by facilitating progress—even small wins. But the managers in our survey ranked “supporting progress” dead last as a work motivator.3” 0 likes
“In light of our results, managers who say—or secretly believe—that employees work better under pressure, uncertainty, unhappiness, or fear are just plain wrong. Negative inner work life has a negative effect on the four dimensions of performance: people are less creative, less productive, less deeply committed to their work, and less collegial to each other when their inner work lives darken.” 0 likes
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