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Freedom Inc: Free Your Employees and Let Them Lead Your Business to Higher Productivity, Profits, and Growth Hardcover – 1 Feb 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group, Division of Random House Inc (1 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307409384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307409386
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 2.7 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 453,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER on 14 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover
What we have in this volume is a brilliant analysis by Brian Carney and Isaac Getz of how specific business leaders recognized and then responded to an ever-increasing "demand for freedom" among workers who felt "stifled, constrained, hemmed in, and tied down by bureaucracy and rules that have nothing to do with allowing them to do the best they can in their jobs. These constraints leave people feeling out of control of their work lives, which, in turn, leads to stress, fatigue, and disengagement from work." Re this last point, recent Gallup research indicates that only 29% of the U.S. workforce is positively engaged (i.e. loyal, enthusiastic, and productive) whereas 55% are passively disengaged. That is, they are going through the motions, doing only what they must, "mailing it in," coasting, etc. What about the other 16%? They are "actively disengaged" in that they are doing whatever they can to undermine their employer's efforts to succeed. Is it any wonder that, in the United States, 80% of the people surveyed believe that incivility is a problem? Moreover, 96% have experienced it at work, 80% believe they get no respect there, and 75% are dissatisfied with the way uncivil behavior is handled. As for the total cost of incivility in the workplace, the conservative estimate is at least $300-billion a year incurred by U.S. corporations but it could be twice that if it were possible to determine the value of customer dissatisfaction, attrition of valued workers, and toxic business development.

Especially during a period such as now when the global economy is so turbulent and disruptive, business executives must be even more effective as leaders and managers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Ordered Liberty in the Workplace 28 Oct. 2009
By Michael Yaeger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished Freedom, Inc. and it was great -- both entertaining and substantive. It was especially fun to find a popular business book full of memorable vignettes (i.e., case studies) and the occasional social science finding that also addresses, without strain or pretension, Max Weber on bureaucracy and Thomas Aquinas on subsidiarity. (The latter being especially surprising.) It's hard to picture other recent business books tackling similar subjects .... "Herr Weber Stole My Cheese"? "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Thomists"? It's a welcome change.
Among other things the book argues that, however valuable salary and bonuses may be in recruiting employees, a business will not retain its best employees or inspire their best efforts with money alone. Money matters, but it is no substitute for workers who understand and agree with a company's mission, regardless of whether that mission is producing the best motorcycle or resolving a customer's insurance claim as quickly as possible. The job of a leader, say Carney and Getz, is to communicate that mission (again and again), and to create an environment that gives employees the freedom to achieve the mission as efficiently as possible. That environment is never reduced to a formula, but is summarized as one that respects the individual's needs for dignity (or "intrinsic equality"), professional growth, and relative autonomy. The point isn't to let the inmates run the asylum, but to convert the asylum to a cooperative effort among individuals who respect one another.
All in all, Freedom, Inc. is a serious yet straightforward discussion of practical leadership in the private sector. Its description of "ordered liberty" in the workplace is appealing and convincing.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful book with broad application! 19 Nov. 2009
By Yudi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm just writing to tell you how much i enjoyed this book. The
blend of psychology, business smarts, and good old fashion common
sense not only makes for a wonderful read but also opens up a whole
new dimension to psychology and the study of human behavior, far
beyond the traditional "couch therapy".

The argument that people are intrinsically driven by their need to be
productive, creative, self expressing and free, as opposed to just
being motivated by money, profit, and the pleasures they afford, is
amazingly powerful, both in its broad practical application as well as
in its philosophical and spiritual insight.

As someone looking to begin studying psychology its an idea i hope to
follow closely.

Looking forward to reading much more
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
"If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need." William L. McKnight 14 Oct. 2009
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What we have in this volume is a brilliant analysis by Brian Carney and Isaac Getz of how specific business leaders recognized and then responded to an ever-increasing "demand for freedom" among workers who felt "stifled, constrained, hemmed in, and tied down by bureaucracy and rules that have nothing to do with allowing them to do the best they can in their jobs. These constraints leave people feeling out of control of their work lives, which, in turn, leads to stress, fatigue, and disengagement from work." Re this last point, recent Gallup research indicates that only 29% of the U.S. workforce is positively engaged (i.e. loyal, enthusiastic, and productive) whereas 55% are passively disengaged. That is, they are going through the motions, doing only what they must, "mailing it in," coasting, etc. What about the other 16%? They are "actively disengaged" in that they are doing whatever they can to undermine their employer's efforts to succeed. Is it any wonder that, in the United States, 80% of the people surveyed believe that incivility is a problem? Moreover, 96% have experienced it at work, 80% believe they get no respect there, and 75% are dissatisfied with the way uncivil behavior is handled. As for the total cost of incivility in the workplace, the conservative estimate is at least $300-billion a year incurred by U.S. corporations but it could be twice that if it were possible to determine the value of customer dissatisfaction, attrition of valued workers, and toxic business development.

Especially during a period such as now when the global economy is so turbulent and disruptive, business executives must be even more effective as leaders and managers. As Geoff Colvin suggests in The Upside of the Downturn: Ten Management Strategies to Prevail in the Recession and Thrive in the Aftermath, they understand the importance of taking five actions that are "simple to state and may seem simple to do, but they aren't": (1) They are highly visible and "make it emphatically clear they are present and on the job," (2) They are calm and in control, demonstrating composure and especially self-discipline; (3) They are decisive, making not only the tough calls but making what Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis characterize (in their book Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls) as "the right tough calls"; (4) They show fearlessness by "facing bad news head on without cringing," addressing dangers in unvarnished terms; and (5) They explain a crisis in a larger context "by giving shape to events that have occurred and are occurring, portraying them as interesting, normal elements of life that may be no fun but [can be dealt with] while learning and growing." In the healthiest organizations, there are leaders at every level and in all areas who demonstrate these five actions.

That certainly describes the leadership and management style of the exemplary CEOs whom Carney and Getz discuss, notably Bob Davids (Radica Games and then Sea Smoke Cellars), Kiyoshi Furuta (NUMMI), Bill Gore (W.L. Gore & Associates), Liisa Joronen (SOL), David Kelley (IDEO), Lars Kolind (Oticon), Bob Koski (Sun Hydraulics), Robert McDermott (USAA), Stan Richards (Richards Group), Jacques Szulevicz (GSI), Rich Teerlink (Harley-Davidson), Jeff Westfal (Vertex), and Jean-François Zobrist (FAVI). What they accomplished in their respective organizations provides rock-solid evidence of what liberated workers can accomplish when given what William L. McKnight characterizes as "the room they need."

At one point in their narrative, Carney and Getz identify and then discuss four initiatives that all of these CEOs took during the "liberation campaign" each led: First, stop telling and start listening, showing respect for others as partners, not as subordinates; next, compellingly describe and enthusiastically share your vision of the company with them so that they will "own" it...but don't do this until after Step 1; and stop trying to motivate people and, instead, create an environment that allows people to grow and self-direct; finally, "stay alert" with "eternal vigilance," serving as the "culture keeper." At Southwest Airlines, there is a Culture Committee whose membership consists of C-level executives and baggage handlers, mechanics and flight attendants, accountants and gatekeepers. As former CEO Herb Kelleher explains, "Before people knew how to make fire, there was a fire watcher. Cave dwellers may have found a tree hit by lightning and brought fire back to the cave. Somebody had to make sure it kept going because if it went out, everyone would be in great danger so the fire watcher was the most important person in the tribe. I said to our culture committee, `You are our fire watchers, who make sure the fire does not go out. I think you are the most important committee at Southwest Airlines.'"

Carney and Getz are to be commended on the wealth of valuable information they provide in this book, and especially for the pragmatic idealism that guides and informs their suggestions as to how to derive the greatest value from this information. Almost all of their observations are relevant to any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. Moreover, almost every initiative they recommend can be acted upon immediately. That said, they hasten to add - and I fully agree - that planning, launching, and then sustaining a "liberation campaign" is immensely complicated and requires effective leadership, of course, but whose success ultimately depends on inspiring rather than "motivating" workers to become self-directed, supporting their efforts during a sometimes difficult journey of discovery. When concluding this review, I am reminded of a passage from Lao-Tzu's Tao Te Ching:

"Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know;
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves. "
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Are your talents being utilized? 17 Mar. 2010
By Waldorf Heinrichs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a fantastic read for anyone who feels that their abilities are not being maximized. There are ramifications that go beyond private companies, profits, and bottom lines. If you work in ANY job where you feel your creative talents are not effectively utilized, you should read this book. Company culture has been shown in numerous studies to have a direct impact on individual performance. The book examines several case studies where companies "freed" their employees by creating an environment of trust and support, and the results were synergy, the growth and productive harvesting of individual talents, and organizational success. You will think differently about the organization that you work for
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great subject-to be read absolutely but badly written 8 Sept. 2012
By Matthieu Oliviers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The subject is great nad very inspiring.

It is a pity that the book is poorly structured, the Text badly written and above all the subject not enough supported by framework or tolls&tips for action.
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