A New Format For Helping You Find The Best Books
I got a chance to ask some questions of author, Chuck Blakeman, about his new book called Why Employees Are ALWAYS A Bad Idea. I will be reading and reviewing this book in January 2014, but I think you will enjoy hearing directly from the author first. This is my first post in this format, so I hope you find it helpful! If you have any feedback, such as specific questions you would like me to ask future authors, please leave me your ideas in the comment section below this post. I really want to understand how these interviews can be more useful for you.
Now, let’s get on to the interview!
Q: What inspired you to write Why Employees are ALWAYS a Bad Idea?
Chuck Blakeman: I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the employer/manager dichotomy, as well as the way traditional business seemed to use people. I built Crankset, and earlier companies, on what I call a Participation Age model where we all share in building the company and in the rewards of building it. I help other companies do the same.
In June of 2012 I read a desperate blog post by a young employees of a tech company sharing how he had to “leave himself in the car” when he went into work. That led me to write a blog post titled “Why Employees Are Always A Bad Idea”. It went viral and continued to spike once or more every month until I decided in January of 2013 that I needed to write the full experience of building a Participation Age company in book form.
Q: Great, thanks. Please tell us a little bit about your background and what you are currently doing.
C.B.: I’ve started and built eight businesses in 25 years both in the US and internationally, and use my experience to help business founders and leaders create success. Our company, Crankset Group, provides mentoring and peer advisory for business owners and companies worldwide. I also do keynote speaking engagements and facilitate workshops 100+ times per year.
Q: Delving into your book now, who would benefit most from your book?
C.B.: My first book was specifically for entrepreneurs, founders, and business owners. This new book is for anyone who has a job, owns a company or manages people. Companies that want to be more profitable and innovative, who want to retain their people and be selected as the best companies in the world to work for, will want to read this book. And people who are looking to Make Meaning, not just money, who want to share in the building of great companies, not just work there, will want to read this book.
Q: What makes your book different from other books that cover this same topic?
C.B.: It is counter-logical (not counter-intuitive); it challenges everything we think we know about employees, managers, company culture, and leadership. Almost all of our modern business practices were given birth in the Factory System of the Industrial Age. All our common business practices should be challenged and changed. Dilbert shouldn’t be funny anymore.
Q: What are the most important elements, messages, or takeaways of your book that you’d like readers to know they will benefit from?
C.B.: The seven main business diseases of the Industrial Age are still the core of our business management practices. But we’re now in the Participation Age where Time is the New Money and where people want to Make Meaning, not just money. Employees (synonymous with children) must be allowed to become adult Stakeholders who are given ownership of their processes. And the time-based Factory System culture must be replaced with a Results-Based culture.
Thousands of companies are already doing this, resulting in Participation Age companies in every industry and of every size with no titles, no departments, no corporate ladder, no office hours, unlimited vacation time, no written policies or HR department, and profit sharing for everyone. Companies that leave their Industrial Age business practices behind will thrive in the Participation Age. Those that don’t will be left behind.
Q: What are the major sections of your book? (i.e. how is your book structured?)
C.B.: Part I describes the human carnage of the Industrial Age and the seven main business diseases of the Factory System that still dominate our front office practices. Some of those diseases include the very concept of employees and managers, “9-5 Disease”, separation of work and play, and retirement – all bad ideas that need to go away.
Part II teaches companies how to Embrace the Participation Age, replacing employees with Stakeholders, managers with a lot fewer Leaders; trading out the standard time-based “warm the seat” culture for a Result-Based culture that rewards performance, not hanging around, and finished with How to Hire People You’ll Never Have to Manage.
Part III challenges us to Reframe Our Business Practices to enter the Participation Age, stripping out useless concepts like Pre-Planning, Scarcity, Education, Competition, The Rugged Individualist, and the always dangerous notion of “Balance”.
The Afterword describes why capitalism will solve human poverty and why non-profits just make it worse.
Q: What is the best piece of advice for an entrepreneur you’ve ever received?
- It’s never how good your plan is that matters, but how committed your are to the bad plan you’ve got. Commitment is everything.
- The #1 Indicator of success is Speed of Execution, and #2 is Time in Market (be the bulldog). In short, 1) Get Moving , 2) Stay Moving. (Implement Now. Perfect As You Go.)
Q: Give us an interesting fun fact about your book or the research you conducted for your book.
C.B.: Two fun facts:
- I wrote a blog post in June of 2012 by the same title, Why Employees Are Always a Bad Idea. It went viral and continued to go viral every few months. On January 2, 2013, I woke up, checked my web analytics and saw that on New Year’s Day over 2,000 people in Finland alone had hit that six month old blog post. That was when I understood that everyone is feeling the sea change of leaving the Industrial Age, but nobody had a narrative for it. That day I decided to write Why Employees.
- We have been running our company like a Participation Age company for years and have been helping a lot of other companies do the same. When I began writing Why Employees Are Always A Bad Idea, I was actually very surprised to find out how many companies, including some with 3,000, 10,000 and 25,000 Stakeholders that had left the Industrial Age long before us and were thriving as great companies around the world. This isn’t future stuff, or niche business practices. There is a tidal wave of companies entering the Participation Age, and in five to ten years, all of this will be so common it will be a big “duh”.
Q: Where can people find out more about you and/or your book?
C.B.: You can go to the website by the same name www.WhyEmployeesAreAlwaysABadIdea.com or go to www.Amazon.com for both hardcopy and ebook version. You are welcome to visit my site where I write my weekly blog at www.ChuckBlakeman.com or the Speaking site at www.ChuckBlakemanSpeaker.com to connect with us about speaking or doing workshops for your company or conference.
Q: What’s one thing you would leave us with to help us build a Participation Age company?
Chuck Blakeman: Beliefs matter. What you believe about people and business will form the culture and structure of your company. Leaders must believe that people want to Make Meaning, not just money. Stakeholders are everywhere and most of the people you think are employees really WANT to be Stakeholders. The best way for you to build a successful company is to build a culture for Stakeholders who can take decision-making ownership for the processes and results of the company and run it while you build the vision for its future.
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