Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach To Fun on the Job; the story of AES, whose business model and operating ethos -“let’s have fun”-were conceived during a 90-minute car ride from Annapolis, Maryland, to Washington, D.C. In the next two decades, it became a worldwide energy giant

Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach To Fun on the Job [Paperback]

Dennis W. Bakke (Author)

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Book Description

Publication Date: July 1, 2006

Imagine a company where people love coming to work and are highly productive on a daily basis. Imagine a company whose top executives, in a quest to create the most “fun” workplace ever, obliterate labor-management divisions and push decision-making responsibility down to the plant floor. Could such a company compete in today’s bottom-line corporate world? Could it even turn a profit? Well, imagine no more.

In Joy at Work, Dennis W. Bakke tells the true story of this extraordinary company–and how, as its co-founder and longtime CEO, he challenged the business establishment with revolutionary ideas that could remake America’s organizations. It is the story of AES, whose business model and operating ethos -“let’s have fun”-were conceived during a 90-minute car ride from Annapolis, Maryland, to Washington, D.C. In the next two decades, it became a worldwide energy giant with 40,000 employees in 31 countries and revenues of $8.6 billion. It’s a remarkable tale told by a remarkable man: Bakke, a farm boy who was shaped by his religious faith, his years at Harvard Business School, and his experience working for the Federal Energy Administration. He rejects workplace drudgery as a noxious remnant of the Industrial Revolution. He believes work should be fun, and at AES he set out to prove it could be. Bakke sought not the empty “fun” of the Friday beer blast but the joy of a workplace where every person, from custodian to CEO, has the power to use his or her God-given talents free of needless corporate bureaucracy.

In Joy at Work, Bakke tells how he helped create a company where every decision made at the top was lamented as a lost chance to delegate responsibility–and where all employees were encouraged to take the “game-winning shot,” even when it wasn’t a slam-dunk. Perhaps Bakke’s most radical stand was his struggle to break the stranglehold of “creating shareholder value” on the corporate mind-set and replace it with more timeless values: integrity, fairness, social responsibility, and a sense of fun.Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Dennis Bakke was co-founder and eventually CEO of AES, a large energy company which grew to over $8 billion in annual revenue and over 40,000 employees. Bakke’s Joy at Work is in part, a CEO memoir, as it chronicles AES’s growth, complete with anecdotes about boardroom confrontations, employee relations, and new openings of production facilities. Joy at Work goes beyond the standard business tale, though: Bakke believes in moral values as ends in themselves, as opposed to means towards the end of greater financial return, and he’s not afraid to say it.

A number of authors in recent years have made the case that companies which embody humanistic values, and which nurture uplifting cultures, come to house happier, more productive employees. “Values” should be embraced, the argument goes, because they lead to better business results. Bakke shuns such thinking. He wants “values” for values’ sake–because he believes they are an integral part of the human experience, and one that daily work should incorporate. He argues that financial return is only one good alongside others. As Bakke writes at one point in Joy at Work: “Why should enriching shareholders be more important than producing quality products and selling them to customers at fair prices?”

Readers who start off sympathetic to Bakke’s worldview will likely enjoy Bakke’s book. “Joy at Work” is situated perfectly within values-led business literature, alongside books like Howard Schultz’s Pour Your Heart Into It, the Body Shop’s Anita Roddick (Take It Personally) and Ben & Jerry’s Double Dip, by the ice-cream guys. Joy at Work provokes questions and warrants a read, if, for no reason other than its impressive string of blurbs from friends of the author: Everyone from President Bill Clinton to Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren vouches for Bakke and his gospel. –Peter Han –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Bakke cofounded international energy giant AES in 1981 and was its president and CEO from 1994 to 2002. This memoir-cum-inspirational business book has an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel; in relaxed, roundabout prose, Bakke tells of his first work experience (chasing cows to the barn for milking at age five), his schooling, his friendships and partnerships, and how it all coalesced into a philosophy of work that puts employee satisfaction ahead of profit as a company’s goal—a frightening thing for most managers. Bakke believes worker autonomy and self-determination to be the straightest path to success. Most of the book takes AES as a case study; his matter-of-fact descriptions of the Houston power plant’s experience with “honeycombing”—or transition to egalitarian, collective self-supervision, including spending—or of humility as a managerial necessity, are genuinely inspiring, though job elimination is involved in the transitions he proposes. Bakke argues that his values and techniques did, in fact, lead to profit (until, he says, the energy industry scandals of the past few years), but that profit is not the point of work. While most managers would not dream of experimenting with Bakke’s ideas, they will find it difficult to deny their potential. 22-city author tour.(Mar. 8)

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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