Do More Great Work: Stop the Busywork Start the Work That Matters Paperback – 5 Mar 2010
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About the Author
Michael Bungay Stanier is the founder and senior partner of Box of Crayons, a company that works with organizations, ranging from AstraZeneca to Xerox, to help them do more great work. A Rhodes scholar who earned both arts and law degrees with highest honors from Australian National University and an MPhil from Oxford, he is a popular speaker at business and coaching conferences, and was named Canadian Coach of the Year in 2006. He lives in Toronto.
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Top customer reviews
Getting really clear about what matters, what your unique skills are and how you can marry the two in the work that you do is not easy on your own. Actually filling in the various 'maps' in this book (rather than just looking at them before you read on) is great for enhancing your self-awareness. Armed with that knowledge, you'll be in a much more focused frame of mind to take the next steps to make your particular 'mission' in life a reality.
I'll definitely be recommending this to my coaching clients.
As I worked my way through Stanier's narrative, I was again reminded of Teresa Amabile's admonition, "Do what you love and love what you do." In her various writings, she also stresses the importance of having a purpose that includes but is not limited to achieving personal goals. For Dave and Ulrich, this means "the why of work." For Simon Sinek, it suggests the imperative to "start with why." Stanier joins the discussion when expressing the first of six "Great Work Paradoxes": You don't need to save the world but you do need to make a difference...a positive, productive, beneficial difference. More about the other paradoxes later.
Stanier invokes the journey as his central metaphor and presents his information, observations, insights, cautions, caveats, and recommendations within the framework of a journey that involves both sustained effort (e.g. reflection, completing separate but interrelated exercises, maintaining commitment and focus) and significant discovery (i.e. revelations of what really is -- and isn't -- most important). The ultimate objective is to Do More Great Work. This is not a destination because the journey of discovery should never end until one's life does.
The reader is asked to complete a series of exercises in a sequence of 15 Maps, each posing a question. The first, logically enough, asks "Where are you now?" because "you need to know your starting point" and the last asks "Lost your Great Work mojo?" if and when "you wander off the oath." The 15 Maps are organized within Seven Parts: Laying the Foundation, Seeds of Your Great Work, Uncovering Your Great Work, Pick a Project, Create New Possibilities, Your Great Work Plan, and finally, Continuing Your Great Work Journey. It is important to note that Stanier immediately establishes and then sustains a direct, personal rapport with his reader and throughout the "journey" serves several different functions: instructor, mentor, travel agent, bodyguard, cheerleader, and for some of the "pilgrims" who read this book, he also serves as a mirror that offers reflections that may be unpleasant to behold.
With regard to the map exercises, Stanier offers four tips: (1) make them yours, (2) find five minutes in your day to work on them, (3) use the maps in the order that makes the most sense to you, and (4) don't worry abut getting everything perfect. As for the "Six Great Work Paradoxes," the first asserts that "you don't need to save the world" but " you do need to make a difference," followed by Great Work Can Be Either Public or Private, Great Work Is Both Needed and Not Wanted, Great Work Is Both Easy Difficult, Great Work Is About Doing What's Meaningful But Not Always About Doing It Well, and finally, Great Work Can Take a Moment or It Can Take a Lifetime. Here's my take:
1. Start now.
2. Do the best you can.
3. Keep doing the best you can.
4. Expect surprises.
5. If you get knocked down, get back up.
6. Keep going.
7. Review 3-6.
This is a visually stimulating book, with the material well-organized and exercises clearly explained. That said, I should also suggest that it really will require a great deal of rigorous thinking and therefore I strongly recommend that key passages be highlighted and reviewed frequently. Actually, this is not a book; it's a WORKbook. Bon voyage!
But that's not enough. Great Work is all about taking action, taking responsibility and being authentic. It's helped me add value in my Great Work and fight the waste of Bad Work. However important this book is for individuals though, it's real value is raising expectations for organisations.
I and my colleagues have deployed tactics and strategies described in the book to help others (inspire, motivate, "give permission") to be authentic. We need to create an "abundant organisation" (abundant organisations are defined by Michael Bungay Stanier as having "a work setting in which individuals coordinate their aspirations and actions to create meaning for themselves, value for stakeholders, and hope for humanity at large"). And we need to create a sense of urgency about doing that. Life's too short to get bogged down in the relentless grind of organisational bureaucracy: this is a call to arms and this book provides the ammunition to overthrow mediocrity.
I'm a big advocate of Great Work and I'm in awe of simplicity and pragmatic nature of the approach. I'm not keen on good work and bad work drains the life-blood from me. This is accelerated coaching at its very best - with rapid and effective return on investment.
However, I appreciate not everyone thinks like me. For Jack Fisher, Doc Watson and Norman Einstein and his colleagues at Scientific Radicals (" we screw up, so you don't have to") this book provides a real threat. Scientific Radicals is a world leader in organizational dysfunctionality. They showcase corporate management behaviours guaranteed to sap the motivation and enthusiasm of even the most pathologically optimistic employee. If you've never worked at a place like Scientific Radicals, you may not yet feel the burning need to do more Great Work. But for those of us who strive for step-change improvements with the burden of corporate inertia weighing down on our shoulders, this is the key to unlock our shackles.
Rise up, brothers, make a difference - distribute this book to our comrades!!! Oh and by the way, did I mention it's a fun and entertaining read?
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