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The Game of Work: How to Enjoy Work as Much as Play [Paperback]

Charles Coonradt , Lee Nelson
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Gibbs M. Smith Inc (28 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423630858
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423630852
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 529,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Since its original printing in 1984, "The Game of Work" helped thousands of companies and hundreds of thousands of managers and employees experience increased job enjoyment while producing extraordinary results. "The Game of Work" examines the question of why people work harder at sports and recreation than they do on the job and uses these as metaphors for inspirational leadership strategies. Corporations worldwide have enjoyed the increased productivity, employee satisfaction and motivation, and bottom-line profits by implementing the concepts taught in "The Game of Work". As qualified people become increasingly difficult to attract and retain, the implementation of the five principles in this book is the one key factor to improving results, retention, and recruitment. Five principles of "The Game of Work" are: frequent feedback; better scorekeeping; clearly defined goals; consistent coaching; and a higher degree of personal choice. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book on relationship dynamics 4 Dec 2013
By holly
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This must be the 4th copy I have bought, so it must be good! Others have been passed on to grateful owners. It unravels the unseen agendas which lurk amidst relationships, the politics which pervade personal life, at work and otherwise. A timeless classic which can be read and re-read, always offering up new insights.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Proto-gamification 24 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Game of Work is important because it foreshadows the whole gamification movement by a couple of decades. Coonradt identifies features of games that make them motivating for players and applies these quite successfully to the business world. However, his view of games is limited to competitive sports, and the whole book is riddled with the attitude that winning is the only thing that matters. There's is hardly anything about the playful aspect of games, which is what makes games worth playing; it's all about performing, scoring and winning. As such it fits in with the general American culture of "winners" vs. "losers", which personally I find toxic.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Totally simplistic and unconvincing 20 April 2008
By H. Reid - Published on
Mr Coonradt's premise is that people are motivated to work well when they can keep score against very straightforwardly measurable goals. To bolster this argument, Conraadt points to what people do in their leisure time, claiming that people like and are motivated to do their leisure activities more than their work because score keeping and measurement in these leisure activities is very simple. He also claims that people who don't concentrate on their scores -- and in particular how they measure up against other people -- are "losers".

One clear problem with this argument is that the book totally and absolutely ignores the fact that many people the world over spend their precious leisure time engaged in activities where "scoring" and objective measurement doesn't even enter into the equation. think of artistic endeavors -- surely a very important area of human activity! In many aspects of arts (most?) scoring and measurement don't have a place at all -- is Van Gogh measurably better than Cezanne? Indeed, that very kind of thinking is anathema to artistic creation. Or think of the hobbies of reading, playing music, listening to music, watching plays, watching dance, painting, photography, etc. etc. etc. Why do people engage in these activities with such dedication when there is no measuring or scoring of any sort going on? Even if you grant the author his sports-myopic-vision, there are many sporting activities where scoring isn't important to the majority of participants, or isn't present at all -- fishing, sailing, kayaking, horseback riding, hiking, etc etc etc. Granted some people do these "non-scoring" sports in scoring settings.... but I would argue the vast majority of participants do not. There are far more recreational trail riders than there are grand prix show jumpers or racing jockeys: there are far more people who just "putter" in their boats than people who race competitively.

So, really the author's argument largely applyies only if you limit your thinking to a subset of sporting activity (itself a subset of what he should in fact be looking at and examining) and ignore the characteristics of a broad swath of the activities that humans in fact find deeply satisfying. He's focused on a very, very limited slice of life and basically writes-off people who are motivated by things other than simple scores.

Meanwhile, many companies provide their employees with very clear score-keeping parameters and the jobs involved are miserable (I've had experience of that myself in spades!!). Bottom line: when I applied this book's arguments to myself and what I have seen in my 20 year career -- what I find rewarding, what jobs I've found most satisfying, the environments and practices that make people thrive -- the arguments just didn't ring true to me. It certainly would be very comforting to think that constructing a rewarding, highly productive and humane work environment could be this simple -- that there's a magic bullet like this -- but I think how humans approach jobs and how we respond to work environments are just like everything else in human life -- complex and, at times, bewildering. And it also seems to me that American business in these times needs more of the kind of complex, nuanced analysis and judgment that belong in the sphere of the arts rather than the simple score-keeping of football or baseball. There are many good business books out there that acknowledge that and give better advice on how to navigate this area.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do employees really know how to score themselves? 27 Oct 2011
By Mark Horton - Published on
Some say the premise of the book is that people will pay to play harder than they work when they are paid. However, the important message here is to make sure employees(including you) know how to rate whether he/she won or lost that day. They need to know what poor, good, and outstanding look like so that they can rate themselves every day, every week, and every review period. There may still be a lot of "Yes, I failed but the reasons are X,Y and Z" and the manager and the employee have to hash that out. If you, as a manager, spend the time to create the scorecard and keep it relevant to the actual goals of the company, it works. I've seen it be successful over and over. It makes it much easier to rate/review a person's performance if they can do it themselves AND it's accurate. The next step is to let them write their own performance review before you give them the one you did. Compare the two if you're using the Game of Work and see if you've done a good job setting goals and expectations.

The pity is that managers in the U.S. are getting so bad that they don't know how to make it relevant, or worse, don't even know what winning and losing looks like in their own companies. I agree, Coonradt's presentations could be more interesting but the substance is there, even if you don't like the form.
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read 21 April 2014
By happy s3 guy - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book opened my eyes to what I can do as a new manager! I would highly recommend it to anyone in a management position.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Loser's elbow 20 Mar 2014
By Magnatron - Published on
Crack for the arrogant exploiter. Loser's Elbow comes from a manager's repetitive motion (wink, wink), not a negative attitude. The concept that claims that someone will enjoy anything as much as their leisure choices if there are more and better rules is beyond stupidity. Worthless thirty year old pop-psychology. Try contacting the author's website and requesting a list of successful users contact information. I have, and have not even received an acknowledgement that I contacted them. Worthless and detrimental to all who waste their time reading it, let alone having it imposed on them. A rip off, even if free.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Game of Work 20 Oct 2012
By Mr Black - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book really helped me to create the framework a training program for my new employees and teammates. Also provided me with another way to think about how I manage people. I enjoyed the opportunity review fresh ways think about how and why people are motivated. Strongly recommend the book.
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