Done Right – a book review

Done RightI was in Shanghai, China recently. As I have told my friends, I ended paying a “tourist tax” everywhere. Moneychangers, gypsy taxi drivers, tour guides who took me to pearl and silk stores where I am sure they got a cut. Part of me was irritated, part of me glowed – it is so nice to see young men and women hustling and bustling. It feels so alive.

Coming home, I saw protests, I saw whining on TV. Felt like a different world where work ethic is dying. Of  course it is not, but the contrast was striking.

When I wrote Silicon Collar two years ago, I got an exciting view of how drones and wearables and 3d printers and machine learning are reshaping every business process in every industry. I also got the flip side –academics and analysts using the fear of machines to unnecessarily scare workers. I saw how the economy has ended up with 6 million unfilled blue collar and trade jobs and in contrast, graduates with soft white collar skills for which they should never have racked up $ 1.5 trillion in student debt.

With that backdrop, I am so glad to be reading Done Right by Workfront CEO, Alex Shootman. He cites various leaders who have motivated employees and cite terms like Commander’s Intent. Like Tom Watson Sr, founder of IBM. When an executive resigned after a $ 10 million error. Watson told him “You cannot be serious. We have just spent 1o million dollars educating you!” Or the encouraging note he got while at BMC when a quarter cratered as a result of the US –Iraq war in 2003.

He profiles workers who love their work. Examples like the 300 Call Syndrome. 911 call handlers tell about being alert to detect that one different call which invariably comes after hundreds of routine ones. And he recognizes Millennials like Jen Gilligan, who at the drop of a hat will head across the world seeking a more meaningful life. Reminded me of my daughter Rita as she crisscrosses SE Asia.

It is impressively short – only 135 pages if you leave out the footnotes and credits. Each chapter does have an exercise including one which pulls it together – the Done Right Value Pyramid.

It is a smooth, easy read. No fear of machines. No snarkiness.  Not much bragging about himself or his company. He has half a page at the end about Workfront. How rare is that in today’s hyped up vendor marketing world? That right there, makes me want to learn more about Workfront.

Get yourself a copy. And when you read scaremongers talk about jobless societies and encouraging our young workers to seek out the utopia of Universal Basic Income when the economy is screaming for their talent, crack it open

The book is a pure celebration of the joys of work and work ethic.  For eons humans have found dignity through our work. Many of our family names continue to honor our occupational legacy.

The book is about the future of work – enjoyable and rewarding work.


(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)

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CEO of Deal Architect, a top advisory boutique recognized in The Black Book of Outsourcing, author of a widely praised book on technology enabled innovation, The New Polymath, prolific blogger, writing about technology-enabled innovation at New Florence, New Renaissance and about waste in technology at Deal Architect.  Previously Analyst  at Gartner, Partner with PwC Consulting. Keynoted at many business and technology conferences and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, The Financial Times, CIO Magazine, and other executive and technology publications.