There’s a relaxed atmosphere at Energized Work and, because we‘re always larking about, it doesn’t feel like work. We have our ups and downs, but it’s easy to enjoy work when humor is used to share ideas and insights and you can put energy into the things you believe in. We ask people to do what they think is right, to direct their own work, and take initiative when they see opportunities to improve. As Peter Senge says, “A shared vision isn’t an idea; it’s a force in people’s hearts.” If we aren't intrinsically motivated by what we do, then it’s a waste of time. We all share the same values and work to a common purpose—to delight our customers. Because of this, we trust people to just get on with it.
Lisa Crispin: I learned some new book titles I wasn’t familiar with while visiting your team. Do your employees just naturally read a lot, or is there something you do to encourage that?
Simon Baker: It varies considerably. People have different interests. Some love to read books; others prefer blogs. I have tried to encourage people to read by sharing what I have learned from books. I think reading sparks interest in people and gives oxygen to ideas. I introduced a book club at the start of the year. It‘s been wonderful to see people eager to try out things they’ve just read about and develop their ideas to such an extent that they have featured in a few of our monthly Tech Talks.
The book club is great. It meets once a week for an hour, and a small group has become the driving force behind its success. People are free to get involved when they want. I’ve been working at client sites a lot recently, and I feared the club might wane, but Gordon grabbed the reins, kept people informed about reading milestones, and facilitated the sessions.
We’re now on our ninth book. To help sustain the pace, someone had the idea to space out the books by reading other types of publications or watching conference videos in between. Last week we read a paper by Chris Argyris called “Teaching Smart People How to Learn.” The club chose this as a warm up for the book we’re starting this week, Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone. Personally, I’m looking forward to Managing to Learn by John Shook because I’m keen to improve my use of Toyota’s A3 technique.