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Monday, July 15, 2013

The Progress Principle and Meaningful "Use"

My wife turned me on to this book. She participates in a "book club" at work wherein they read and discuss selected works of interest.
2008, Google accomplished a rare feat among companies in any industry. Perched in Fortune magazine’s lofty ranks of the top five most admired companies in America, Google also ranked among the top five of the magazine’s best companies to work for. Millions of people around the world used Google’s search engine daily, and ad revenues streamed in at an astonishing rate. The company’s Mountain View, California, headquarters took on almost mythical status, tempting many business observers to assume that lavish perks led to employees’ outstanding performance. 

Media accounts made the ten-year-old Internet powerhouse seem like an employees’ paradise, albeit one that relied on fabulous wealth. World-class chefs served up three free meals a day in several cafés spread across the two dozen buildings of the Google campus. Hourly shuttles with Wi-Fi access transported employees, free of charge, between Mountain View and San Francisco. Ping-pong games enlivened workdays, dogs tagged by their owners’ sides, and the free state-of-the-art gym never closed. How could other companies possibly aspire to this double nirvana of business success and employee delight? Our research shows how. And the secret is not free food or athletic facilities. The secret is creating the conditions for great inner work life—the conditions that foster positive emotions, strong internal motivation, and favorable perceptions of colleagues and the work itself. Great inner work life is about the work, not the accoutrements. It starts with giving people something meaningful to accomplish, like Google’s mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It requires giving clear goals, autonomy, help, and resources—what people need to make real progress in their daily work. And it depends on showing respect for ideas and the people who create them. 
As Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin said during the company’s magical early years, “Talented people are attracted to Google because we empower them to change the world; Google has large computational resources and distribution that enables individuals to make a difference. Our main benefit is a workplace with important projects, where employees can contribute and grow.”1 In other words, the secret to amazing performance is empowering talented people to succeed at meaningful work. [emphasis mine]
Meaningful work, not "use."

More shortly. I'm traveling this week and my internet connectivity is maddeningly sketchy at times.


Monday morning Google scan...

Like retail, financial services, music, travel and a range of other industries before it, healthcare is becoming a digital business, and that means providers should benchmark their online engagement against other industries'. Healthcare providers will face these questions: How come a retailer such as Amazon or Apple can remember I bought an Ace of Bass recording the last time I visited, but the people who help keep me alive or healthy have to ask about my allergies every time I show up at the doctor's office? Why can I book a flight, hotel and car from three different companies on one website but not schedule doctor appointments online and see all of my upcoming medical visits in one place?
Indeed. From "Why Health IT Must Work More Like Amazon."

As we delved deeper, we realized that we could unravel the mystery of what really affects workplace creativity only by understanding the human stories behind inner work life: what happens to people’s thoughts, feelings, and drives as they try to solve complex problems inside companies?

...To get answers, we opened a window onto the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of people as they did their work every day. We spent years looking through that window, discovering the rich, complex world of inner work life, how it fluctuates as events at work change, and how it influences performance every day.

Inner work life discoveries
  • Inner work life is a rich, multifaceted phenomenon. 
  • Inner work life influences people’s performance on four dimensions: creativity, productivity, work commitment, and collegiality. We call this the inner work life effect. 
  • Inner work life matters for companies because, no matter how brilliant a company’s strategy might be, the strategy’s execution depends on great performance by people inside the organization. Inner work life is profoundly influenced by events occurring every day at work. 
  • Inner work life matters deeply to employees. 
A testament to this is the extraordinary participation of the volunteers in our research, who completed the diary form day after day, for no more compensation than the insight they would gain into themselves, their work, and their team’s work. In addition to revealing how much inner work life matters to employees—and thus to companies—our research turned up another, deeper layer of meaning, concerning events that are part of every workday
  • Three types of events—what we call the key three—stand out as particularly potent forces supporting inner work life, in this order: progress in meaningful work; catalysts (events that directly help project work); and nourishers (interpersonal events that uplift the people doing the work). 
  • The primacy of progress among the key three influences on inner work life is what we call the progress principle: of all the positive events that influence inner work life, the single most powerful is progress in meaningful work. 
  • The negative forms—or absence of—the key three events powerfully undermine inner work life: setbacks in the work; inhibitors (events that directly hinder project work); and toxins (interpersonal events that undermine the people doing the work). 
  • Negative events are more powerful than positive events, all else being equal. 
  • Even seemingly mundane events—such as small wins and minor setbacks—can exert potent influence on inner work life.
From the highest-level executive offices and meeting rooms to the lowest-level cubicles and research labs of every company, events play out every day that shape inner work life, steer performance, and set the course of the organization...
...Inner work life is the mostly invisible part of each individual’s experience—the thoughts, feelings, and drives triggered by the events of the workday. Each person has a private inner work life, but when people go through the same events at the same time, they often have extremely similar private experiences. Over days, weeks, and months, if the same sorts of events keep happening in a group or an organization, those similar experiences can combine to become a formidable force—even if each event, by itself, seems trivial. “The Power of Small Wins (and Losses)” reveals the surprising strength of apparently trivial events...
As I progress, I will connect the dots here back to Lean thinking. This is good stuff. Where can we link "Meaningful Use" to "Meaningful Work"? To what extent can we link "Meaningful Work" in health care to "Meaningful Outcomes" for patients? To what extent can Lean principles and tactics leverage all of the foregoing?


Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill To Expand Meaningful Use Eligibility
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Last week, lawmakers reintroduced legislation (HR 2676; S 1286) in the House and Senate that would expand meaningful use incentive payments to certain safety-net providers and clinics that currently do not qualify for the Medicaid electronic health record incentive program, EHR Intelligence reports...

According to EHR Intelligence, the legislation has just a 4% chance of passing the committee and a 1% chance of being enacted...
Meaningful Use doldrums days.

More to come...


  1. Seems like a really interesting book. I'll be sure to grab a copy. Thanks for writing about it!

  2. I also have put this book on my short list for "Must reads"...thanks Bobby!