Nine Lies About Work by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall

Lie 1: People care which company they work for #

I'll flip the order of the arguments form the chapter. Building on Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari, idea of "intersubjective reality".

such as countries, borders, religion, money and companies, all created to enable large-scale, flexible cooperation between different individual human beings.

The important here is the idea that company or corporation is one of the examples of "intersubjective reality". It makes it easier for me to think of it a "shared myth".

Here authors make to two great observations.

  1. Company culture is a shared myth
  2. Company culture is just sygnalling

The idea that culture is sygnalling was new to me, but if your education is signaling to get the job then it only makes sense for it to work both ways.

One thing that they can't disprove is that people look at the culture to pick the company they want to join. But, the importance of culture ends there.

Your day-to-day does not correlate with you company, but it correlates with the team you're part of.
We all probably know this to some extent. I was always aware of differences between the teams in the companies I've worked with. I never made the logical conclusion that it's more important than the company.
The other downside is that in most places you can pick the company you're joining, but you don't have much say about your team. The only way I can think of is joining companies so small that you can we sure about the team.

Lie 2: The best plan wins #

  1. What are your priorities this week?
  2. How can I help?

The book gives more advice to the team leader. If teams are so impartant then position of the team leader is greatly underappreciated. So what are the thing team leader shoud do:

  1. Weekly 1-on-1 meeting.

That's unexpected for me. First, I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of those meetings. They take a lot of time. Both for the team leader and every team member. I'm striggling with the idea that they are so important and beneficial. But, it may the the concequence of having monthly 1-on-1 meeting at most companies, and monthy schedule hinders team performance. The lesson to take from this is that heuristics I've learned in one context can be wrong even if the difference is only how often the meeting take place.

Lie 3: The best companies cascade goals #

MBOs - Managment by Objectives (Peter Drucker, The Practice of Managment, 1954)
SMART goals - specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound
KPIs - Key Performance Indicators
BHAGs - big hairy audacious goals - Jim Collins
OKRs - Objectives and Key Results

Goals process costs a lot of money. Goals:

  1. stimulate and cooridinate performance
  2. allow to track progress throughout the year
  3. allow to evaluate team members' performance at the end of the year
    Goals are seen as:
  4. stimulator
  5. tracker
  6. evaluator

1. stimulator #

-> Goals set for you from above hinder performance.

-> sales quota is a good forecasting device for executives.
-> sales quota won't improve sales

2. tracker #

We like to track progress. But, progress on a goal is not linear.

How to track running a marathon.

  1. preparations
  2. running.
  3. running the last 6 miles (the hardest ones)

Goals are binary. You did them or not. ([[Black or White]] thinking, but there is a point there). You can finish sub-goals, but assigning percentage is falsely precise.

3. evaluator #

We can't properly judge different goals against each other. Managers can't balance that between teams as well.


Goals are behing. When you're asked to write you're goals you write what you intended to do.


Useful goals: #

the only criterion is that you must set it for yourself, voluntarily.

The best companies don’t cascade goals; the best companies cascade meaning.

  1. I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
  2. I have great confidence in my company’s future.
    So we began thinking of these as the “company” factor, and the remaining six questions as the “team” factor—and these two factors together as “engagement.”

Cascade down:

  1. Meaning.
  2. Purpose.

Our people don’t need to be told what to do; they want to be told why.

Company Culture can help explain meaning and values to the workers. It's a useful company culture.

How to cascade meaning: #

  1. expressed value
  2. rituals
  3. stories

1. expressed value #

Facebook’s Sun Microsystems logos, its love of posters, and the “Hacker Company” signage are all vivid examples of this.

2. rituals #

A second way to cascade meaning is through rituals. Facebook has their famous bimonthly hack-a-thon; Chick-fil-A stops work on Sundays.

Let’s say you have a meeting: What time do you show up? Are you five minutes early, or five minutes late? What are you wearing? Do you catch up with your team members about their personal lives or do you launch right into business? Who talks first? Do you allow your team members to speak, or do you cut them off? Does the meeting go long? Do you hold people back to finish things up?

Facebook - leaders answer questions every week.
Apple - they make demos and talk about beauty and design.

3. stories #


We should let our people know what’s going on in the world, and which hill we’re trying to take, and then we should trust them to figure out how to make a contribution.

Lie 4: The best people are well rounded #

But what is a strength? #

A strength, on the other hand, is an “activity that makes you feel strong.” This sort of activity possesses for you certain definable qualities. Before you do it, you find yourself actively looking forward to doing it. While you are doing it, time seems to speed up, one moment blurring into the next. And after you’ve done it, while you may be tired and not quite ready to suit up and tackle it again, you nonetheless feel filled up, proud. It is this combination of three distinct feelings—positive anticipation beforehand, flow during, and fulfillment afterward—that makes a certain activity a strength.

This betrays, perhaps, a misunderstanding of what a strength actually is. It is not, for each of us, where performance is easiest—it is where performance is most impactful and increasing.

Commercial tests:



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