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This book is about both the why and the how of meaning at work.
The why refers to the human search for meaning that finds its way into our offices and factories, a search that motivates, inspires, and defines us. The how gets us into the practicalities of how leaders facilitate that search personally and among their employees. We offer many specific tools and principles to help leaders put meaning to work to not only build personal meaning but help companies succeed in the marketplace of human endeavor.
In the spirit of taxonomy (finding simple patterns to organize complicated data), we culled our experience, our conversations, and the theory and research that informed our work and identified seven disciplines, each of which look at meaning-making through a slightly different lens.
These disciplines all contribute to the model driving this book: seven drivers, questions, and toolsets that leaders may use to build meaning, in turn creating a strong organizational purpose and identity that create value for customers, investors, and employees alike. Click here for additional reading.
We propose a meaning “menu” that helps leaders tune in to the values, goals, and preferences of both their organizations and their people. This menu includes seven questions that help personalize the search for meaning for both individuals and organizations, guiding the process of institutionalizing meaning as a leadership agenda. Assessment tools in The Why of Work will help leaders determine at both an individual and organizational level which of these meaning-drivers matter most to them and their organization. These tools will also help them identify who in the organization is tending the fires of meaning in all seven domains to ensure that the benefits of each domain are fostered for the organization as a whole.
Within each domain, we offer additional assessment instruments and we suggest tools and practices to help leaders tune up their work lives and infuse them with meaning, creating abundant organizations in which people have the sense that there is “enough and to spare” of the things that matter most to them. For some people this will mean a more focused personal achievement agenda; for others it will mean attention to creating a more positive work environment; for others it might mean a rededication to learning and resilience; others may find work meaningful only when there are supportive personal relationships.