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Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach To Fun on the Job
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Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach To Fun on the Job

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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  382 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Imagine a company where people love coming to work and are highly productive on a daily basis. Imagine a company whose top executives, in a quest to create the most "fun" workplace ever, obliterate labor-management divisions and push decision-making responsibility down to the plant floor. Could such a company compete in today's bottom-line corporate world? Could it even tu ...more
Paperback, 314 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Pear Press (first published March 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  382 ratings  ·  50 reviews


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Bernd Schiffer
Phew, tricky review. On the one hand, I don't like the author's Christian belief being interwoven into the narrative. For example, AES organisational structure and leadership model is based on values that are based on Christianity. The author explains several times that these values are not driven by economic thinking, but by what he thinks is the right way (ie his belief). That doesn't work for me as an atheist and it also doesn't work for me because I see an organisation, in general, as an eco ...more
Philippe
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
"A special workplace has many ingredients. The feeling that you are part of a team, a sense of community, the knowledge that what you do has real purpose—all these things help make work fun. But by far the most important factor is whether people are able to use their individual talents and skills to do something useful, significant, and worthwhile."

This is the extraordinary story of a guy who left his government job to set up a successful energy company that for decades pioneered a innovative wo
...more
Bill Pence
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author, who was CEO of AES, an energy company, writes that his passion is to make work exciting, rewarding, stimulating, and enjoyable. He states that this is a book for people who want more from their jobs than a paycheck and a benefits package. He believes that the workplace should be fun and fulfilling. He writes that joy at work gives people the freedom to use their talents and skills for the benefit of society, without being crushed or controlled by autocratic supervisors or staff offic ...more
Sewy Bay
Takeaways:
- Focus beyond profits, cost and efficiency; instead, integrity, ethics and transparency should be bottom-line considerations.
- Employees first, customers second, shareholders third. The effects would trickle downstream.
- Each job should be meaningful, and employees should find individual and collective purpose.
- Applied Energy Services Corporation (AES) wanted their employees to experience joy at work, feel empowered and take charge; enable them to feel responsible for and proud of
...more
Kristen
An interesting read, if a little rah-rah and self-righteous. Excellent book for a manager. Knowing how successful his company was, and understanding how he built it and tinkered with the "traditional models", you become really impressed with his ability to stick to his guns and to think outside the box. ...more
Scott Hayden
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Bakke represents a integrated individual. He doesn't compartmentalize his beliefs, but lets them infiltrate his whole life. Though he does not overtly proclaim his faith in the main text, his faith is evident throughout. If you can't see that, read the appendix then go back and look for the quiet weave of worldview. ...more
Ruthanna
This was a good book, very motivational and I really subscribe to the idea that empowering employees makes them happier and more successful. But it was short on concrete ideas and about 100 pages too long.
Dan
Aug 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book with the theme of empowering the employee. Treat employees as partners, give them autonomoy, and provide them support, this will provide the employee with Joy at work.

This title pairs well with Baake's other book, the Decision Maker, and Ricardo Semler's The Seven-Day Weekend.
...more
Devin Partlow
I mean its an interesting philosophy but did it even work? Sounds like ultimately it different, then the author goes off on a tangent still trying to bring merit to the philosophy.

2.5 stars
Ray
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
My professors gave me this book as a graduation present in 2018. I've been lugging it around since then but never really got up the energy to read it (I had read the other book they gave me though).

Finally, before I move to Hawaii I decided I would read it and then decide if I wanted to keep it.

Well I would say the book isn't too bad. It's not your average business book but it's not too far off (at least not in 2020).

Overall, I really liked some of the ideas and implementations and the underlyi
...more
Kaan Akşit
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book introduces a new way on a biggest part of our lives: "Work", in which you will find an interesting inspirational point of view. It simply questions starting from virtues such as "honesty" and "culture", extend the definition to a point by highlighting every job is or should be in a constant state of change. The audience that this book targets is simply everyone and everybody... You may ask why giving 3 rather than 5 starts; It is quite simple, please please please remove the religious p ...more
Ron
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great (true) story of the struggle for a corporation to live its values and to humanize work.

I’m not sure that I agree with the value of fun. Not that I’m against fun, I think it should be encouraged, but the term I would prefer is joy or fulfillment. Life is not always fun, but it can be always be fulfilling when seen in a larger context. I give parenting as an example. Not always fun, but deeply rewarding and fulfilling. A job should be the same. We look to make it as joyous as possible, and
...more
Areski
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: self-help, audible
- 4 stars for the message/idea
- 1,5 stars for the delivery


At first I wanted to give it 3 stars. Neutral book, good ideas but nothing too revolutionary I found. Especially because my boss read the book himself and incorporated the ideas in our business a while ago:
- have strong core values and always go by them (eg. in the book: have the work be fun, serve society, be financially stable or something along those lines)
- empower each person in the business to be part of the business and not "only"
...more
Nick George
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Dennis Bakke gives a great take on how to transform your old industrial-age business to a modern, decentralized, employee-driven one where people actually fun (yes, FUN!) at work. His account of how he created and transformed his business in the energy industry with his company AES is very informative. If you work in the software industry then you will probably draw a lot of parallels to how your business and teams are ran and how he was trying to do this back in the 1980s.

Ultimately, what you s
...more
Patrik Gustafsson
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a clear inspirational book. What should we give to our workplace, can we accept less than expected less than have a greater purpose for our work. I think the core tenant of having joy at work is something many companies are missing and Bakke clarifies that it is possible and necessary.

If you are an atheist like me you can skip the last chapter, and get a book with few references to faith, I do find it surprising that so many of these great ideas come from people's faith. And after readin
...more
Brittany J.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an incredible read. Great for anyone who struggles with the idea of how they can serve God while working in a secular world. Provides great insight into leading and practicing business while maintaining closely held values and morals. Bakke’s work is not only educational but also uplifting and encouraging. Highly recommend.
Nathan Gray
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book describes the journey toward creating a work environment where people are more energized the longer they work there. Rather than causing me frustration that I don't work in a place like that, I felt healed as I read it. ...more
Vlad
Apr 18, 2020 rated it liked it
The religious content hurts this book’s importance and relevance to secular corporate life. Still — the author crafted a very unique and powerful work culture and that part of the story is five stars.
Barry Davis
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Subtitled “a revolutionary approach to fun on the job”, Bakke tells of his eary life in Washington state, learning of the world of work, how the age-old boss-worker demarcation is still alive and well, despite the fact that it squanders most of the potential contribution of the worker. He is concerned that the focus on leaders has lost sight of the fact that everyone can and should contribute to the organization. Bakke had been a capitalist as a child, raising steers, spent some time in governme ...more
G Stephen
Aug 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredible story of leadership and how values shape an organization, business, school, church, mission or government. This book will help people who want to know how decentralized organizations like YWAM are successful and why young people are so attracted. Dennis is a Christian with a biblical based view of the world, a Harvard Business graduate that put this into practice with his work in government services, an energy company and now one of the largest chartered school systems in t ...more
Michael
Apr 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book for a perspective on the differences that exist for people who have joy in their work vs. people who feel opposite of joy in their work. It is geared more toward managers or those who may have more control over their work environment than those who work for the man. If you work for the man, it makes you wish you didn't.

The premise of the book is that people who are given authority/responsibility to make important decisions in their area of expertise and then in turn are held accountab
...more
Donitello
Apr 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
There are “fun at work” books, and there are “inspirational leadership” books. But I’ve never read a book like this. Maybe there isn’t one.

In 1982, author Dennis W. Bakke founded AES Corporation, a global energy company with revenues reaching $8.6 billion. Just your typical energy giant, but with one little difference: Their goal was to create the most fun workplace ever known!

This book is in the same category as BEN & JERRY'S: THE INSIDE SCOOP and NUTS: SOUTHWEST AIRLINES' CRAZY RECIPE FOR BU
...more
Jon Mertz
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Joy at Work" was on Joel Gascoigne's reading list. Joel leads a company called Buffer and is leading with clear principles, setting a great example for many leaders. As I was reading "Joy at Work," I could see why this book was on Joel's reading list.

Dennis Bakke is a trailblazing leader as well. Using the principle of what it takes to bring joy to work drove the growth of his business. Part of the conclusion he reached is that bringing joy means people want to make decisions and be held accoun
...more
Michael
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Same Sh#t, different day"

Hear people say that? Maybe said it yourself?

What a sad way to live!

Bakke explores the meaning and purpose for work through his own leadership of AES (ranked #151 on Fortune 500, ahead of Duke Energy). Though many find their jobs a drudgery, there are some that love their jobs and are empowered by their work. What makes the difference? And are their principles that can be applied to any company to make work a place of challenge and fulfillment vs. real life Dilbert?

Yes.
...more
Mario Sailer
An interesting book about what Dennis Bakke had in mind when founding and leading AES. Most of the time it is more of a personal story, but sometimes there are these jewels giving more insight on how AES worked at that time and what the concepts were, what worked and what didn't.

Dennis Bakke writes for example that he wanted that everyone in his organization has "Joy at work". Therefore responsibilities and decision making was shifted downwards to the experts with the appropriate knowledge. A l
...more
Tommy
PVG must have printed so many of these books that at one point Amazon had the title discounted to about 90% off, AND if you bought one you got one free. I've never seen them do that ever. I picture gigantic boxes of Joy At Work clogging the efficient process walkways at Amazon.com, causing workplace injuries as staff trip over piles of books stashed everywhere. Or maybe it's an anti-capitalist manifesto that was spreading through Amazon like the plague.

In any case, I bought a whole bunch for my
...more
Clare Cannon
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
By helping people at all professional levels find purpose, Bakke aspires to a world of work which values each person and the unique contribution they can make. Based on solid principles of leadership and values-based character development, he shows how treat people as people, encourage workers to form goals and set out to achieve them, and to deal with the crises which form part of every functioning workplace. As he says in the introduction, this is a book for workers, students, managers, leader ...more
Steve Watson
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story, truly affirms the importance of work and work-faith integration. Takes a helpful core insight - that joy at work comes being treated as a partner, not an employee, knowing that your work and contributions really matter, and having autonomy to make your own decisions, with advice but not necessarily permission from others. Detailed expression is really specific: encourage high ownership of all workers, treat them as partners, have 80% of people's jobs be on their specific jobs and 20 ...more
Jon
Nov 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's some interesting stuff in here, particularly the story of AES and Bakke's key message about not allowing 'joy' to be directly linked to financial bottom line. i.e. The goal of creating a joyful workplace should persist regardless of whether the company is in tough financial times.

A simple read, if perhaps a little too long, and I skipped the final section which becomes quite focused on the balance between 'serving' from a Christian perspective and how this relates to work. But the rest o
...more
John Williams
Aug 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book on management. Dude ran an energy business with 30,000 that had only 5 tiers in their management hierarchy. Has good insights regarding how to treat employees so they actually feel their gifts are fully utilized and they have a say in how the business is ran. I feel he was a little over the top in a few areas, but overall a valuable resource if you are ever going to be in authority over people in a workplace.
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DENNIS W. BAKKE was raised in the foothills of Mount Baker in rural Washington State. He graduated from the University of Puget Sound, Harvard Business School, and the National War College.

Bakke co-founded The AES Corporation in 1981 and served as its president and CEO from 1994 to 2002. He helped build AES into a Fortune 200 global power company with 27,000 people in 27 countries. He is now presi
...more

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43 likes · 3 comments
“A joy-filled workplace gives people the freedom to use their talents and skills for the benefit of society, without being crushed or controlled by autocratic supervisors.” 2 likes
“• In the dynamic world in which we live, every job is or should be in a constant state of change. Some jobs change faster than others. Each of us has to keep adjusting our work to keep up with the changes in technology, operations, and regulation.” 1 likes
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