Book review: “Why employees are always a bad idea”

Estimated read time: 2 minutes


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AUDIO EXTRA: A discussion with the author (Recorded with Google Voice)

I would recommend Chuck Blakeman’s new business book “Why Employees Are Always a Bad Ideato leaders and others in Iowa’s Creative Corridor and beyond.

Mr. Blakeman says that the concept of employees is an outdated model that is hanging around from the Industrial Age. Employees are told by managers what to do and, in many instances, are extensions of machines. Employees report to work at specific times and go home for their off-work activities.

Mr. Blakeman discusses a societal shift from the Industrial Age to the Participation Age, where the different parts of our lives are more fluid and where employees are now stakeholders who want to do meaningful work.

As we are continuing our journey into the Participation Age, companies will want stakeholders, not employees, writes Mr. Blakeman. Stakeholders are adults, owners (at least of their tasks), focus on work – not titles – and live in a world of abundance. In essence, stakeholders are people who take ownership in their work. And not just between 9 and 5, though, Mr. Blakeman mentions that companies that do this successfully have stakeholders who work less than 40 hours a week and are more productive than employees were under the old model.

He also discusses the importance of moving from time-based to results-based performance. This means it’s less important to sit in front of your computer for a given amount of time and it’s more important to finish the task – no matter where a stakeholder needs to be to accomplish this. Productivity is not measured by seeing people sitting at their desks. It’s measured by results.

Titles and promotions are discussed. At Mr. Blakeman’s company – Crankset Group – everyone starts at the top title wise. Everyone’s title is Chief (Insert Specific Word) Officer. The role grows as people’s responsibilities grow.

He offers many examples of companies from several different industries where this new model of stakeholders has worked. Some are smaller companies and some have thousands of stakeholders. Many are ranked as a best place to work and are profitable.

As we are continuing to evolve in the Creative Corridor and beyond I would recommend this book.

Note: This book review also appeared in the Jan. 6, 2014, Corridor Business Journal.