The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work by Teresa Amabile
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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 most important question, “Briefly describe one event from today that stands out in your mind.”, allowed respondents free rein.
Why inner work life matters?: no matter how brilliant a company’s or project’s strategy might be the strategy’s execution depends on great performance by people inside the organization. Unquestionably, performance improves greatly when workers have positive perceptions, emotions, and motivations about their work and their working environment. The Key Three positive types of events that are part of every workday and that influence inner work life are: (1) progress in meaningful work, (2) catalysts (events that directly help project work), and (3) nourishers (interpersonal events that uplift the people doing the work). Of all of these positive events that influence inner work life, the single most powerful is progress in meaningful work [The Progress Principle]. Hence, the best way to motivate people, day in and day out, is by facilitating progress-even small wins.
Conventional management practices for a healthy and productive working environment include hiring the best talent and providing them appropriate incentives, giving stretch assignments to develop talent, using emotional intelligence to connect with each individual, and reviewing performance carefully. Although these conventional practices are important, they miss a fundamental act of good management: managing for progress.
The findings in this book are highly relevant to Agile software processes, due to their strong dependency on, perhaps motivated, individuals; Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches should manage for progress as one of their main responsibilities is to remove roadblocks impeding progress of the development team.
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