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An eye-opening, groundbreaking tour of the purpose of work in our lives, showing how work operates in our culture and how you can find your own path to happiness in the workplace.
Why do we work? The question seems so simple. But Professor Barry Schwartz proves that the answer is surprising, complex, and urgent.
We’ve long been taught that the reason we work is primarily fo...more
Published September 1st 2015 by Simon Schuster/ TED (first published March 3rd 2015)
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21 books — 8 voters
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Feb 25, 2018Richard Newton
rated it liked it
Shelves: business-and-organization, thinking-about-life
Interesting and well written - but not as good as I hoped it would be. A short book, even so it feels like an essay that has been over extended than a full read.
The first 3 chapters explain that people do not work just for money, and motivating them just for money gives perverse incentives. Apart from the fact that Schwartz says this nicely and references it well, there is nothing new, surprising or original here. I'm not saying those chapters aren't worth reading, but its hardly news in managem...more
Oct 31, 2015Frank rated it it was ok
Easy to read in a night. It's mainly a criticism of the modern workplace. According to the author, to enjoy your work, you need, above all else, a higher sense of purpose i.e. your job contributes to making the world a better place. You need to use your skills that you enjoy using, autonomy in decision-making as opposed to being micro-managed, and an enjoyable social environment.
This book, like so many I've read, has a lot of filler. I cannot tolerate filler. It reaks of 'I needed enough pages t...more
Nov 04, 2015Nikki rated it really liked it
I don't read a lot of psychology or business books, but I really appreciated the explorations of why we work undertaken by Barry Schwartz. I feel a lot more equipped to understand my own relationship to work. I may have more to say about this once I've met with my book group about it (in April)....more
Jun 05, 2015Jeff Scott rated it liked it
A great tome that recenters thinking about what motivates us to work (it's not about the money). Great analysis on job crafting (going above and beyond the job description) and job efficiency (tamping down on extras, just stick to the work). Finding a bigger purpose, better than pay, a higher purpose to the work. Don't fall into the trap of the ideologue, don't believe in just your version of events.
The general theme is that people don't just work for money. There is a bit of redundancy from mo...more
3 stars for: its ok
4 stars for: ideas ok, writing ok
i wanted to give 3.5. minus point 5 for the rambling anecdote style at the second half of the book.
ideas used in this book
- incentives (systems thinking)
- self fulfilling prophecy (systems thinking)
- the danger of ideology in social science
- adam smith
- the idea of incentives and difficulty in designing incentives
- the idea of self fulfilling prophecy (ideology)
- the idea that humans are driven by meaning, and how people can use to progre...more
Sep 02, 2015Phil Simon rated it really liked it
Invoking plenty of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and even a bit of Bruce Springsteen, Schwartz's inspiring manifesto forces us to question the very nature of modern-day work. Why is it generally so dismal? Is it designed because we are 'money hungry' or is the causal chain reversed?
Via fascinating anecdote and plenty of data, the book forcefully claims that how we work isn't working—at least not to the extent to which it should. We need more out of our jobs than a paycheck. We nee...more
This was good. Some really cool ideas (and case studies to support them) were brought forth that will stick with me for a while. I thought the ending could have been better, as I feel like the author could have tried to offer some strategies on how our society could turn around its negative view towards work. Basically, how can we begin to undo Adam Smith's pessimistic view of people and how they are motivated only by incentives, mainly financial and material (not that he said exactly that, but ...more
Sep 20, 2017Rob Thompson
Shelves: 2017-challenge, blinkist, psychology, reviewed, non-fiction
About the book: Why We Work exposes the flawed assumptions that govern the modern working world. These blinks walk you through the reasons why current management strategies backfire, and show you some far more effective alternatives. In addition, case studies based on company success stories illustrate just how powerful engaged and fulfilled employees can be.
About the author: Barry Schwartz is an American psychologist and Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmo...more
Why work? If you’re new to this question, here are some ideas that psychologists talk about when they talk about work. Do people work for money? Yes, but they work for other reasons, too. And it would seem the other reasons are more important. Unfortunately, workplaces can be structured to turn people who view their work as a calling into people who just call it in. In such moments, workplaces turn the why of work into task compensated drudgery (i.e. working for money) and people not only lose t...more
Jan 10, 2021Shahamat Shakir rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 13, 2018Kimball
rated it liked it ·
review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, audio-books, post-college, i-read-while-at-city-of-plano, business
This was a nice little short book. Not Barry's best work IMO but worth a read.
To have a job that you are happy and even eager to do, it helps IF:
-the work itself is challenging, varied, and engaging.
-the work allows you to use your skills and to develop new skills.
-you have discretion over how you do your job.
-you feel that you are part of a group with fellow coworkers that you respect.
-the work is aimed at a goal that is valuable and that gives the work that you do meaning and purpose.
Is incentive the key reason for why we work or is their any other reason behind this? Many of times, we may think what we if we never get hungry and had lot of energy - would we still continue working ? if yes - why and if not why.
The book narrates, that it is not incentive that trigger the work. It is finding out a meaningful purpose on how our work is linked to the purpose. If we can craft our purpose to the job, the work becomes meaningful and joy. The book is very narrative of examples on b...more
Aug 28, 2019Sherri rated it it was amazing
Really quick, interesting and smart discussion about our satisfaction with work. Swarthmore Psychologist Schwartz starts with a discussion of Adam Smith and theories about the efficient division of labor in factories and covers behavioralist psychology, intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation, and finally how human environment seriously impacts human nature. All of this in fewer than 100 pages. It was a timely read for me as I start a new school year after a really relaxing summer break.
Insightful book, and refreshingly succinct. Definitely worth a read.
It is not just about the money and paycheck.
The value of what you are doing is the main key. This is why you will find people who are underpaid, they still can be happy, if they feel the value of their outcome of their work.
Give me some clear reasons why I am so committed with something although these work give me the minimum I can earn from the other works.
The book is well structured to explain why a simple job can become a meaningful career and then a should-be-a-meaningful- career job can turn into a worst job ever.
Definitely recommend to someone who are searching for reasons to get up every morning!
I don't like it it repeats itself and mentions didn't get to the point , though it is mini book
AND I STILL DON'T WHY WE WORK !
Oct 13, 2021Moran
rated it it was ok ·
review of another edition
Shelves: psychology-economics, audiobooks, business
Why do some people like their jobs and why do others hate it? The book covers a lot of these reasons for that, based both on studies and on anecdotes.
The main weak point of the book is that it's boring. It fails to turn the whole discussion on why people don't like their jobs to 'if we can make people satisfied about their work we can increase productivity and change the world', so I honestly didn't see a reason to read it.
Maybe it's because I like my job....more
This book is suitable for either individuals who wants to know how to boost up their performance at work, until managements who may need advice on how to handle and lead people. Yet, the approach used in this book starts from the most fundamental, about why we work in the first place, leading way back to where Adam Smith's theory about labor theory of value.
A light read that can get you to suddenly finish the book within as short period of time. This book explains how work shifts from just labor...more
Interesting extension of the original TED talks. I do like the quote (that was shared with me by Nick Alchin), that is congruent with the message within 'why we work'
The system which makes no great demands upon originality, upon invention, upon the continuous expression of individuality, works automatically to put and to keep the more incompetent teachers in the school. It puts them there because, by a natural law of spiritual gravitation, the best minds are drawn to the places where they can wo...more
Nov 28, 2015Doreen
rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Scott, Matt, Nick, Stephie, Bill...
This book is informational, thought-provoking, and concise in its delivery. The book is written in the fashion of TED talks. Schwartz explains how our comprehension and attitudes toward work have been shaped and distorted throughout history. He interprets the reasons for working which extend beyond simply making money to pay for stuff;(food, clothing, shelter, etc.) His facts and observations encourage further exploration of the daily activity we call 'work'.
It can be read in one sitting. For...more
I will admit that I am enjoying these TED books. Reading like extended essays, they give the reader a lot to think about. Here, Schwartz argues that material incentives are not what drives the best workers, who finding meaning and fulfillment in their labors.
Really bad, waste of money. I was hoping to find practical ideas on how to design or choose work that we can find meaningful and hence find lasting satisfaction. But this book goes on and on about everything but this.
May 31, 2016Janssen rated it it was ok
There were some interesting bits, but I was glad when it was done. If I hadn't been in the car, I doubt I would have finished it. ...more
Interesting topic, didn't like the book so much...more
Sep 19, 2018Ericka Clou
rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology, 0-borrowed, 2010s, business, read-nonfiction, social-science
This is a great book for employers, human resources, managers, and business owners. The rest of us are already well aware of all this.
It is generally an interesting, concise book, which gives positive view of work environment.
It leaves the feeling as it is a bit overstretched at certain moments in the purpose of adding false content. Basically it is trying to prove that not everything is money, but if you've been around the internet for a while you cannot have missed on this topic being popular.
I was reading it in parallel with 'Mind Over Money' by Claudia Hammond and I can say it was a good idea. Both authors sometimes cite ...more
If we seek fulfillment in our jobs rather than money, we have the potential to change human nature. That is essentially what this book is saying, and while it wasn't anything groundbreaking, I appreciate the argument and insights the author put forth to establish the message. Also, I love how it tore into current widespread beliefs on industrialization and efficiency.
This book basically has three sections. In the first, we hear about how by striving for 'a calling' rather than a job and looking ...more
Jan 04, 2018Michelle rated it it was amazing
Thank you Mr. Schwartz for writing an honest book about what work can be and work has become for me. I've never entertained the idea of joining the workforce until 2 years into grad school when I realized the PhD wasn't for me and my perception of work changed completely after I started working.
If I think about my early conceptions of work (outside of academia) they mostly originate from some of my favorite literature read in college: corporate work was mind-numbing and soul-sucking because the...more
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an American psychologist. Schwartz is the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College. He frequently publishes editorials in the New York Times applying his research in psychology to current events.
From non-fiction to fantasy, here are Goodreads members' top 12 most popular books from each of the past five years. And we're delighted to...
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Importance Of Work
“But clearly, the lesson is that incentives can be a dangerous weapon. A critic of this research might say that the problem is not incentives, but dumb incentives. No doubt, some incentives are dumber than others. But no incentives can ever be smart enough to substitute for people who do the right thing because it’s the right thing.” — 6 likes
“Ninety percent of adults spend half their waking lives doing things they would rather not be doing at places they would rather not be.” — 3 likes
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