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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,283 ratings  ·  103 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
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Harvard Business Review Press
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Roy Klein
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
BuenoBomb aka Andre Bueno
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Good book though I felt it was a bit redundant and long winded.


Inner work life has to do with how an employee feels about working somewhere and which direction you are shifting their feelings toward their goal. Do you make them feel good about being apart of the organization?
Three components of inner work life: emotions, perceptions, and motivation.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
Happiness boosts creative problem solving that can longer and build up over time

Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was ok
This book is an amazing example of the dictum do not say in two-hundred pages what you can say in twenty. Alas publishers do not pay very much for twenty pages. Then, what it would say in those twenty pages is so obvious you probably don't need to read those either. The book offers up the following great nugget of wisdom towards the concluding chapters: one boss telling a team member that "he has his head up his ass" inhibited the team; meanwhile another boss fighting for their product not to ge ...more
Yevgeniy Brikman
Feb 09, 2017 rated it liked it
This book would've been far better as a blog post. It makes several important arguments in the preface and then repeats them over and over again for a few hundred pages, adding only a handful of valuable nuggets throughout the rest of the book. So, to save you some time, here's a summary that captures 95% of the book's content:

* Making progress in work—small incremental steps forward on a daily basis—is one of the most important drivers of happiness, productivity, and motivation. Consider video
David Phillips
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: agile, productivity
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
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"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
John Pestka
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Bernd Schiffer
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Good research, over time boring and repetitive narrative.
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This book has some great insights into the myriad of small moments that have a big impact on our “inner work life”. I did find it laboured the same points repeatedly and elaborated on them with an unnecessary amount of neuroscience.
I started this year with a non-fiction audiobook. It wasn't as bad as thought it would be. Though nothing surprising, it did have some useful insights that we don't always keep at the top of our heads. It got repetitive a little, but it's a refresher on some of the good practices already recommended or followed today in most tech companies. ...more
Chris Weatherburn
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Researchers from Harvard assessed the themes from employees at different levels of management from several different business organisations.  They assessed 11,637 diary entries from 26 teams and 238 participants.  Somehow they manage to get them to respond (I can't comprehend how they managed to actually get people to complete these diaries), with also regular questionnaires. Data analysed with quantitative and qualitative techniques to establish ways to gain progress in business.  People respon ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
This was an assigned book for my graduate program, but I think it would be helpful for anyone who is a leader or manager of an organization. The only reason I gave it three instead of four stars is because the essence could have taken two chapters, and not an entire book - there were far too many examples and redundant sections. The authors studied seven main companies and used a system of having employees submit daily journal entries that they coded and analyzed to see trends in how managers an ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library, nonfiction
(Kathy Sierra suggested this book, and references it in Badass)[return][return]overall - OMG I love this book and I won't shut up about it. It completely confirms my belief that a manager job is to support and enable your people. (and none of the in text statistics talk made me cringe, but I'm not reading the appendix just in case)[return][return]Two bits that made me go running for post-its:[return]"How do you know when you have made progress?" is a sidebar about not just getting feedback from ...more
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it
The whole book can basically be outlined by these ideas.

Journaling everyday with discipline is the most important contributor to progress and reflection. It also contributes to self realization and happiness

Focusing on progress everyday no matter how small is the biggest contributor to growth.

Create positive feedback loops instead of negative because...negative happenings have a stronger effect on psyche than positive ones

Helping people helps you

Work that is meaningful is difficult and that's ok
Taryn Vian
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book details the factors that lead to a great inner work life, including the progress principle (how we are much more likely to feel good about work if we make progress versus experiencing setbacks), catalyst factor (what managers and leaders can do to support the work of others), and nourishment factors (triggers such as respect and emotional support) vs. inhibitors and toxins (need little explanation). Gives ideas for how to manage for meaningful progress in your own life, and in the live ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Confirms what seems to be intuitive that our perceptions about our work, what we do, how we do it can not only be influenced positively and negatively but will ultimately impact our ability to perform. And that making progress no matter how small is the key drive, good stuff along with some takeaways that can be used to help create the environment for progress and a fulfilling inner work life.
Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
My biggest takeaways from this book are The Daily Progress Checklist which I hope to use when I return to work in a few days and that as a manager, I need to make sure that one of my main focuses needs to be making sure members of my team have what they need to make progress at meaningful work on a daily basis.
Nathan Holm
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A book full of insightful and practical ideas for anyone looking to work with teams to accomplish meaningful work.

I found some very easy to incorporate tools, techniques and approaches to incorporate into my role as a leader.
Warren Lebovics
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bryan Sebesta
Nov 14, 2019 rated it liked it
A really good book. The basic thesis examines the inner work life, and how small wins help us psychologically in ways that boost productivity dramatically. It's a very actionable book, and one that helped me examine why I was feeling burnout in the job I had at the moment of reading it. ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, sociology
The book was pretty good, but nothing groundbreaking or revelational. What was said could have been said in a third of the space and has been said by other others in similar does of study. Worth reading, though, especially if you haven't read much in relation to this topic. ...more
Chester Grant
Jan 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
It was a good book overall. Did a little too much with the examples instead of distilling the information learnt. Parts of it was dry, and it wasn't an easy read.

Kevin Sea
Mar 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Helpful research on how to optimize inner work life. But narrator sounded like sky was always falling. last chapter on optimizing my work life was disappointing-just told me to keep a journal. unlikely.
Iris Ooyen
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well-founded. Has a lot of valuable insights and practical information any manager needs to get the most out of his/her team with the most fun and ease!
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