Business Leadership

Managing For Happiness Book Review

July 13, 2016
James O'Brien


Managing For Happiness Book Review

Managing for Happiness Games, Tools and Practices to Motivate Any Team is Jurgen Appelo’s new book published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Jurgen is currently on a worldwide book tour and we are fortunate enough to have Jurgen headlining a Be Human Project Salon at the BigWidesky offices in Clayton, MO on July 18.

“The job of management is not to select the best ideas; it is to create a great system that allows for the best ideas to emerge.”

His book is a tour de force on all the current, relevant issues for work and motivation. I’m as impressed with the way Jurgen distributes information from the book to the reader through graphics, micro case studies and sharing real client feedback in a structure that provides many perspectives. Jurgen gets past the how you think it might work, to what really happens and how do people feel about it.

It’s the way I like to learn: visual, relevant bits and chunks together for quick digestion. The language can be very direct and gives you the full picture of strengths and weaknesses of the principles and exercises discussed. It’s deep and comprehensive but goes down fast and light.

Jurgen calls out quotes and insights from other thought leaders creating transparency on different topics. In framing education he quotes Patrick Haverstadt, The Fractal Organization,“The purpose of training is to reduce variety… to get a group of people tackling tasks in the same way… Learning increases the individual’s capacity to respond to different situations; it increases variety.” Training is the opposite of education- I never looked at it that way!

There is a thoughtfulness about process and a principle that if you focus on your processes, you are actually focusing on your people. It elevated my hope that human resource departments can deliver meaningful organizational development and that management can empower specific actions that produce positive results and feedback- indeed allowing the best ideas to emerge.

There are many principles presented that require much discussion and study, not the least of which is “You get the most of out of employees when you treat as entrepreneurs.” It still feels like we idolize entrepreneurship outside of organizations and in practice do more to demotivate it within established, particularly large organizations. Even battling the idea that if I am an employee or a freelancer, I agree to do my job or contract, but unless I have equity I’m not acting like a partner/ entrepreneur.

In reality I believe entrepreneurship is the last viable way to work in the softer, transitioning economy we all face. But we can’t not have vibrant, entrepreneur centered organizations without “Managing for Happiness.” Thank you Jurgen.