Synopses & Reviews
The Challenge Built to Last,
the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.
But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world's greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?
Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness -- why some companies make the leap and others don't.
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:
- Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
- The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
- A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.
- The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.
“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, "fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.”
Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?
One of the top ten business books of 2001 Business Week
“What a gem! Enough that it's a thorough, practical manual for optimizing relationships and work environments, based on new and solid research in human behavior--but it's a surprising, witty, well-written, and wonderfully engaging read. I had countless "aha!"s about how we effectively get things done, as I read it. Bravo, Ron Friedman.”
-David Allen, author of Getting Things Done
"We've lost our way. In this stunning book, Ron Friedman helps us get back on track, exploring not only what work is for, but how we can leap forward and become more human, more alive and more effective."
"In The Best Place to Work, Ron Friedman examines the factors that take a company from ordinary to extraordinary. The stories in this book -- which range from cruise ship casinos to hostage negotiations -- are fascinating in their own right, but they also pack powerful, research-based lessons for better leadership in the workplace. Friedman's findings are often surprisingly counterintuitive, yet always convincing.”
-Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human
“The Best Place to Work is an engaging journey through the latest science of improving the quality of life in organizations. Psychologist Ron Friedman examines how to unleash creativity, boost motivation, and offer rewards and recognition that bring people together rather than driving them apart.”
-Adam Grant, author of Give and Take
“A must-read for managers, decision ¬makers, and emerging leaders.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
"This is an energetic, conversational look at what really makes an office environment tick."
"Most readers will find some arresting ideas in this book...with a light and entertaining touch."
"A contemporary classic. Dr. Friedmans new book offers a highly original guide to creating exceptional workplaces based on cross-field academic research and superb examples from real companies. You wont find these insights elsewhere. From office design to employee motivation to conflict resolution, The Best Place to Work is the best book to have on your shelf now."
-Marshall Goldsmith, author of What Got You Here Wont Get You There
"I love this book! It's smart, fun to read, interesting, clear, and practical. We're all owners of our workplaces, and this is our owner's manual. Following Ron's advice is easy and will pay huge dividends for you and the people with whom you work."
-Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done
“An eye-opening, highly-readable, and practical guide to improving the way we work. No matter what you do for a living, this book will change the way you see your workplace.”
-Professor Richard Wiseman, author of 59 Seconds: Think a Little Change a Lot
“In The Best Place to Work, Ron Friedman brings together decades of psychological research into a package that offers organizations concrete advice to improve the well-being of workers and the quality of work. Much of the advice is eye-opening. I'm sure the results of taking the advice will be too.”
-Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice and Practical Wisdom
“This fascinating book shows how to create workspaces that foster creativity, collaboration, and high productivity. Its a joy to read, filled with practical advice for leaders, engaging real-world stories, and grounded in scientific research.”
-Keith Sawyer, Morgan Distinguished Professor in Educational Innovations, University of NC at Chapel Hill, and author of Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity
"Friedman's book fills you with optimism about the future of work. If enough managers pay attention to the science he is promoting, then a lot of people are going to roll out of bed on Mondays truly eager to get to the other side of their commutes."
-David McRaney, author of You Are Not So Smart
“When it comes to motivation and engagement, the problem is rarely that the work itself is terrible - its that the way we are working is. In The Best Place to Work, Ron Friedman tells you everything - and I mean everything - you need to know to bring out the best in your employees. This powerful (and entertaining!) book is a guide to understanding how subtle, often unconscious influences in the workplace affect happiness, creativity, productivity and loyalty - and how you can use these insights to create real and lasting impact, on your team and in your organization. Everyone should be reading this book.”
-Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD, Associate Director of Columbia Business School's Motivation Science Center and author of 9 Things Successful People Do Differently
"If you want to attract and keep exceptional employees, your culture is the key. In this entertaining book, Ron Friedman offers a practical game plan for building a workplace that thrives.”
-Todd Henry, author of Die Empty
“Theres an astonishing gap between what science knows about human behavior and what companies think they know. In this fascinating book, Ron Friedman outlines the science behind thriving at work and offers practical advice for managers who are committed to making a real difference in the workplace."
-David Burkus, author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas
"What a great relief to read a business book that is not just about how to be a better leader but about what makes work more fun, exciting and productive. By focusing on what managers at all levels of an organization can do, this book provides a rich inventory of practical, research-based ideas for making work engaging. A most valuable and entertaining read full of powerful insights that should be read by every manager and employee."
-Edgar H. Schein, Professor Emeritus Sloan School of Management, MIT and author of Organizational Culture and Leadership, 4th Edition and co-author, with John Van Maanen, of Career Anchors, 4th Edition
“Ron Friedman's The Best Place to Work presents the latest scientific findings in a highly entertaining but rigorous way. An excellent example of great science writing for practical application in the real world. If you want to make the workplace better, this book is the best place to start.”
-Dean Keith Simonton, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California, Davis
“The Best Place to Work flows seamlessly and is filled with practical, accessible ways of seeing not only oneself in depth, but also the complex mosaics of workplace environments with pitfalls and opportunities galore. The principles that undergird a fulfilling and healthy life, with room for authentic, creative play are infused into practical, real-life vignettes throughout its pages. Bringing the science of human innovativeness and productivity into focus, and combining these science-based truths with a life well lived are what can be gleaned from its chapters.”
-Stuart Brown, M.D., author of Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, and Founder and President of The National Institute for Play
“Ron Friedman bridges the gap between cutting-edge science and the reality of the modern workplace in a way that is clear, sensible, and effective. Friedman does more than offer recommendations - he provides empirically supported tools for turning most any office into a lively, engaging workplace. Written in a user-friendly style that will grab your attention, this book is a must-read for anyone who has wondered why workplaces cant be successful and welcoming at the same time.”
-Harry Reis, PhD, University of Rochester Professor of Psychology, Past President of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and winner of the International Association for Relationship Research's Distinguished Career award
"An excellent book."
For readers of Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, and Freakonomics, comes a captivating and surprising journey through the science of workplace excellence.
Why do successful companies reward failure? What can casinos teach us about building a happy workplace? How do you design an office that enhances both attention to detail and creativity?
In The Best Place to Work, award-winning psychologist Ron Friedman, Ph.D. uses the latest research from the fields of motivation, creativity, behavioral economics, neuroscience, and management to reveal what really makes us successful at work. Combining powerful stories with cutting edge findings, Friedman shows leaders at every level how they can use scientifically-proven techniques to promote smarter thinking, greater innovation, and stronger performance.
Among the many surprising insights, Friedman explains how learning to think like a hostage negotiator can help you defuse a workplace argument, why placing a fish bowl near your desk can elevate your thinking, and how incorporating strategic distractions into your schedule can help you reach smarter decisions. Along the way, the book introduces the inventor who created the cubicle, the president who brought down the worlds most dangerous criminal, and the teenager who single-handedly transformed professional tennisvivid stories that offer unexpected revelations on achieving workplace excellence.
Brimming with counterintuitive insights and actionable recommendations, The Best Place to Work offers employees and executives alike game-changing advice for working smarter and turning any organizationregardless of its size, budgets, or ambitionsinto an extraordinary workplace.
About the Author
Jim Collins is a student and teacher of enduring great companies -- how they grow, how they attain superior performance, and how good companies can become great companies. Having invested over a decade of research into the topic, Jim has co-authored three books, including the classic Built to Last,
a fixture on the Business Week
bestseller list for more than five years, generating over 70 printings and translations into 16 languages. His work has been featured in Fortune, The Economist, Business Week, USA Today, Industry Week, Inc., Harvard Business Review
and Fast Company.
Driven by a relentless curiosity, Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he now conducts multi-year research projects and works with executives from the private, public, and social sectors.
Jim has served as a teacher to senior executives and CEOs at corporations that include: Starbucks Coffee, Merck, Patagonia, American General, W.L. Gore, and hundreds more. He has also worked with the non-corporate sector such as the Leadership Network of Churches, Johns Hopkins Medical School, the Boys &Girls Clubs of America and The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Non-Profit Management.
Jim invests a significant portion of his energy in large-scale research projects -- often five or more years in duration -- to develop fundamental insights and then translate those findings into books, articles and lectures. He uses his management laboratory to work directly with executives and to develop practical tools for applying the concepts that flow from his research.
In addition, Jim is an avid rock climber and has made free ascents of the West Face of El Capitan and the East Face of Washington Column in Yosemite Valley.