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Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  459 ratings  ·  46 reviews
The revolutionary book that teaches you how to use the cutting edge of human psychology to build high performing workplace cultures.

Too often, great cultures feel like magic. While most leaders believe culture is critical to success, few know how to build one, or sustain it over time.

What if you knew the science behind the magic—a science so predictive and powerful that yo
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Harper Business
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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Bjoern Rochel
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I really enjoyed the first third. The idea that adaptive performance is the defining trait of high performance teams resonates with me. I'm often coming back to the analogy of modern football squads that adapt to changing game situations and don't stick to fixed roles to describe my current teams setup. So reading that in a book made me pretty happy. I've also done the Tomo team survey with my team and the results indicate that we're in a pretty good state (team Tomo ended up at ~40).

The second
Drew Clancy
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. One of the very best I've read on building a great workplace culture. Much to think about and implement! ...more
Erik Brickarp
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Oh this book sparked so many great ideas and helpful thoughts.

I loved the first part enough to give it a 6 star rating so even though the second part, to me, was weaker it's still a slam dunk!

The best thing to me was the simplicity yet depth of the ToMo model. I love how I can look at things and go "yeah, that's why they're performing so well and they're not..." and feel like I have a tool to deal with it (save the performing group from stupid decisions and help the weaker group change).

Easily o
Toni Tassani
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very interesting reading tapping from different sources to study motivation at work: self-determination theory, complex-adaptive systems, transformational leadership, ...
The authors suggest their "product", ToMo, Total Motivation, and a recipe to achieve it in your organisation discussing things like job definition and careers model.
That latter part was the one disappointing to me. But a good read, in any case.
Cindy Leavitt
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my new favorite book on shaping culture. I have reread it three times in the past two months. I love the weaving of many classic business models into a theory of Total Motivation that is measurable.

In addition to great stories of high functioning teams, it offers data to correlate steps to take to amp up play, purpose and potential as motivators.

I am recommending this to anyone who is trying to create high functioning teams and organizations.

John Blackman
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I reserve the 5 star rating for books that change the way I think or expose me to a new way of doing things I didn't know before. This is one of those books. It is applied mostly to the world of business, but it can apply to anything you do and why you do it.

Primed to Perform tries to demystify culture and put it in a measurable structure so you can take action to steer your company culture for the highest performance possible. This is typically the realm of fuzzy 'feel good' consultants where y
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I have read enough business/leadership books to pretty quickly divide them into tiers. You have the ones so insightful and readable that everyone (regardless of profession) should read them; let’s call that the Heath brothers tier. Then you have the highly readable books that mostly highlight research and stories from other people’s research; let’s call that the greatest hits tier. Then you have the books that should have just stayed HBR articles because all you have to do is read the first 50 p ...more
Dana Ashfield
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Doshi and McGregor put data and science behind something we've long known intuitively to be true...we perform at our very best when love the work we do.

Additionally, I find their work to be very insightful in highlighting the deep, potentially unconscious, blame bias we have towards others. In life - whether that be in a social, religious or work setting - our tendency is to blame people rather than external factors. This book identifies the myriad of external factors that impact people's behav
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I honestly didn't know if I would enjoy this book, but I found it fascinating. So many things you might consider "intuitive" are often not correct at all! There are plenty of examples and case studies to back up their assertions and everything is laid out to provide any company with the tools they need to perform and motivate better. Very interesting book! ...more
Alex Ilisei
Mar 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
What can a book written by two McKinsey MBAs focused on "employee performance" and “total motivation” can bring other than a Tony Robbins wannabe infomercial? I was quite skeptical about this book but was well recommended so I gave it a go.

I was wrong to assume! I now like to imagine that these two folks are deep down two hippies that figured out how to increase the level of happiness in the world. Their approach is convincing the high-ranking MBAs, the high achievers of the corporate world tha
Alexandre Philippe
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
For a long time, I wondered why my subordinates were not as much enthusiastic than I was.
I already knew that intrinsic motivation was a powerful source of motivation.
In fact, I also knew the different components that are needed to improve motivation, thanks to books like "Drive" by Dan Pink and the "Self-Determination Theory", coined by Deci and Ryan in 1985.
However, I had difficulties to instill this mindset to my team, and also my colleagues.
This book showed me the way.
It gave me an effective
Lukasz Nalepa
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. It's been a long time since I've a read book related to my field of interest, that I knew that I would be reading again soon. This one is already added to my "read again" and "read-best" shelves. And it's not like it's something completely new, or presents some groundbreaking point of view, that was new to me. To contrary, this book neatly weaves together great ideas and theories related to motivation, presenting it all in very edible form. True, that some things got renamed to be packed in ...more
Andrea Carlevato
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Not as good as I expected, and overall I rate this book a bit below average in the (crowded) space of self-help titles on leadership and team culture. The first section about direct vs indirect motivators is actually solid and sets the ballpark effectively, yet I felt that the following chapters failed in following that up with depth and substance as they were set to provide insights and learned lessons on how to practically drive change from an indirect motivators-dominant organization to a dir ...more
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid book and ideas...

I really liked this book and the ideas presented. However, like most hooks in this vein, they are overly redundant, name dropping, and could be about 1/3 the length they are without losing anything

Still, I would recommend this to anyone in a corporate setting... Especially if culture is something your organization struggles with or is missing altogether.
Darren Chuah
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Primed to perform totally crushed my imaginary leadership capabilities I thought I had and many pieces comes together over the last 10 years in corporate life understanding why I’m unhappy in some but ecstatic in other. It changed my mindset in dealing with management of people within 300 pages with complex scientific findings broken down into terms that people like me can understand.
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really liked this..aside from the missing pointers in the right direction.

It was a lot of "this thing doesn't work! watch out for it!...but we're not sure what exactly does. different strokes for different folks kinda thing"

cobra farms
weight regain from gold
indirect/ direct motivation
Jacob O'Bryant
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked the mental model of motivation this book gives in the first few chapters. It's a slightly different angle than what's given in Dan Pink's Drive. The book does a good job of delivering the material breadth-first: if it starts to get boring, you can stop reading it without any fear of missing something later on. ...more
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a great 100 page book disguised as a mediocre 300 page book. I heard Lindsay give a talk on this book at the Slack Conference (the talk was great), and that basically covered the important points.
Matthew Ting
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
First part was amazing. I think this book single-handedly changed my view on how to optimize one's motivation. Good mix of research and legitimized anecdotes

Once it got through the framework, I became bored rapidly though. Didn't finish
Avishek Das
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A must read. Highly recommend to anyone looking to understand how to build a strong adaptive team and the culture to support them. That said, it’s not a very easy read - lots of concepts introduced at breakneck speed and writing style is tedious at times - but more good than bad hence 4/5.
Shelley Cooper-White
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
So many DUDES. Almost every single person they mention or quote is a man. Hundreds of them! Dudes managing teams. Dudes being managed by dudes. Dudes who own companies made up of dudes. Honestly did you even try to find any women?
Otherwise real good booko.
Nov 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Perhaps a great book if this topic/concept is completely new to you.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love the idea of TOMO, think theres a lot of good to learn from this book. It gets a little repetitive towards the end but overall a quick read work picking up.
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding business book. Walks the reader thru a very complex issue of improving employee performance but it has simplified the terminology. Highly recommend this book.
Jodi Wilson
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend this book for leaders who want to build team and corporate culture purposefully.
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Lots of great information.
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shaunak, manojb
Interesting book

Good insights by the authors. Gave something to think about and adopt. These ideas will be useful in any business.
Melissa Jill
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is the best I've read to date on managing and leading teams of people through creating a culture of high performance. I found it so intriguing and highly practical as well.

The premise is that WHY you work affects how WELL you work. Which is so obvious. But there are 6 main motivators for why we work -- 3 direct (good) and 3 indirect (not so good). And the authors detail a formula they have come up with to measure the total motivation (TOMO) of your team. I ran both of my teams through
Ko Matsuo
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book provides a useful framework to understand factors that influence work performance. Doshi and McGregor describe two types of performance: tactical and adaptive.

Tactical performance is measuring how closely an employee's actions match predetermined metrics or goals. For example, for a sales agent, the number of calls a day or minutes spent on calls would be tactical. Tactical performance is the life blood of an organization. On the positive side, it is used to measure productivity, effi
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is about corporate culture and getting the most out of your employees.
The key concept in the book is called "Total Motivation"

Workers who are more motivated perform better.
3 factors contribute to that:
1) Play - when you do something because you enjoy it
2) Purpose - when you do something because you enjoy the outcome
3) Potential - when you do something because you think it will take you somewhere important later on

3 factors that take away from Total Motivation:
1) Emotional Pressure
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Neel is the cofounder of Vega Factor and co-author of the NYT bestseller Primed to Perform, published in fall 2015 by HarperBusiness. Previously, Neel was a Partner at McKinsey & Company, founding member of an award-winning tech startup, and employee of several mega-institutions. He studied engineering at MIT, and received his MBA from Wharton. In his spare time, he’s an avid yet mediocre woodwork ...more

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