I love this book. It's true that I say this about every book I review here. And why shouldn't I? Why waste time reviewing a book I don't love.
That being said...Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea: (and other business diseases of the industrial age) is one of my favorite business books for a long time.
It starts with the title. It's eye-catching, provocative, right? Mentally, it's a head-slap, positing a theorem inside your head then pounding it home with AlwayandBad to let you know you're not getting away; you're going to have your mind changed. Right now.
As I kept looking at the title, tilting my head like a dog - one side to the other - I began to smile. I read a kindred spirit. Here's a rebel, a true disruptor, someone who's willing speak up, take a stand; I like that. I might not agree with what I'm about to read, but his title made me smile without being cloying or clever so I knew I was in for a good ride.
I was right. His prose and message is as direct and bold and disruptive as his title promises. That's a beautiful thing, too. We need, we want to be, not employees but stakeholders; owners of our destiny and the organization we devote a goodly part of our waking hours. Chuck shows how to do that, for everyone, and why they should do that. It's for everyone.
His introduction had me nodding my head like I do at live shows just before I start dancing and laughing and going 'Yeah. Come on and bring it." The last one I did that for was The Robert Randolph Band. He tore it up. Chuck Blakeman's book tears it up, the whole failed industrial age where adults are titled employees, put into boxes and treated as children. But Chuck's book shows us the way out: The Participation Age with adults and stakeholders leading organizations. You pay for results not for timecards. And he describes the 7 diseases of the Industrial Age, their symptoms and their cures. He profiles companies that live free of these diseases, too.
Now, there are a lot of books talking about stakeholders and giving ownership. Some are very good. Some offer very good platitudes, unfortunately. Here's where Chuck's book stands out from the majority of business books. I see business books falling into two categories.
Category One I'll call the Action Adventures. Their authors focus on solutions, actionable steps the reader can take...at the end of a chapter, maybe. There's some supporting context and data, but not much. The problem is obvious; they assume the reader is well-versed in it and needs solutions. Now.
Category Two, I'll call the Blue Sky Ponderables. These authors offer tremendous context and theory and data, big picture stuff, opening up our mind and letting us ponder the landscape from 30,000 feet. It's exhilarating, stimulating. Other than the view and a good story for dinner companions, they don't offer many actionable items.
I love them both. They feed both sides of our brain, the analytic and synthetic, adding meaning to our lives by enhancing our learning. But what if you found a book that offers both: actionable items and paradigm-shifting perspective backed with anecdotes, profiles and data. Hmmm?
That's what Chuck's book offers: actionable steps any stakeholder, or wannabe stakeholder, can take right now as well as a bold, accurate, and in my words a 'come on now-we all know this is true-why do we tolerate it' perspective on our current business philosophy. That's the one that inspires 70% of employees to sleep walk through their day. Yeah, that one.
There are a lot great business books out there. You probably have your favorites, too. But rocketing to the top of my favorites list is Why Employees Are Always A Bad Idea.
Chuck's busy. He's founder of The Crankset Group that helps companies grow and mature and their leaders reconnect with that original passion they carried with them when they started the company. Oh by they way, their growth rate shows why employees are always a bad idea. He's also written, I expect, another great book titled Making Money is Killing Your Business: How to Build a Business You Love and Have a Life, Too! Doncha love that title. Grabs your attention!
I am very fortunate that Chuck's agreed to share a half-hour of his time to talk about his book, his business and his international projects. You can listen live at 1PM, Central today or listen later at this link. I hope you do. He deserves your attention. You deserve to pay attention and so do your employees stakeholders.