The Progress Principle – Catching Up

Posted on November 25, 2011


Ok, so I started reading The Progress Principle before I started writing this blog, so I wanted to give a brief overview of the half of the book I’ve read so far. From here on out I’ll start providing more detailed posts of what resonates with me about the book.

Overall it’s a good book and an even more important topic. The authors recruited 238 people from 26 projects in 7 companies across 3 industries to write daily journal entries documenting their daily work lives. Overall they collected more than 12,000 diary posts that allowed the to track the inner work lives of people across these companies and compare them with the overall success of the projects and companies as a whole.

Personally I think it’s about time we start to focus more attention on the daily lives we all live. I think our daily lives are far more relevant to motivation than almost anything else. If you’re coming home at night obsessing over how your boss was a jerk to you or how upper-management passed some decry from on high that makes no sense to you, then you will not be doing your job as well as you can. If such an environment continues then I think you’re much more likely to have people in your organization that are just looking forward to their day ending, the weekend coming, their next vacation, etc. There’s no way that is an optimal environment.

So far the book is good. The study was so expansive that it provides a lot of quality insight in to people’s lives and the impact of their environment on them and on their projects. The correlations between great inner work life and success is very high based on their study. In fact the company that had the lowest scores across the board went out of business despite being a large, well-known, and highly respected company, so that says a lot about how an environment that is corrosive to inner work life can be very destructive.

Like most business books I have found myself consistently thinking “ok, get to the point”. I’m not sure if this is because the authors are academics and tend to be more wordy than necessary or if the publishers wanted a book of a certain length or what, but I think you could have condensed the book down considerably, made it more to-the-point, and it would be a better book. That said, so far I haven’t put it down in frustration yet, which is saying a lot.