Sunday, June 05, 2005

Joy At Work

I am reading a book that I feel is a very important read, entitled Joy at Work [PVG 2005, ISBN: 0-9762686-0-4]. The author is Dennis Bakke, a Christian, who co-founded the largest energy company in the world. You can follow the embedded links herein for more information. I whole-heartedly believe in the methods Mr. Bakke discusses. They parallel another man's profound ideas, W. Edwards Deming, who has had a great impact on my thought process(ref. Out of the Crisis; The New Economics). I present the following excerpts, in italics, for your consideration. I hope it provokes comments and thoughts about Discipleship and Work. More importantly, I hope it inspires you to read the book.

FYI: Mr. Bakke lives on 1% of his income and gives the rest away.

Bakke's purpose:
My passion is to make work exciting, rewarding, stimulating, and enjoyable.

One reason I am plugging the book:
This book is for you if you are: ... A priest, pastor, imam, or rabbi who is looking for a better way to understand and explain the relationship between faith and the jobs where congregates spend much of their time.

Work values Bakke espouses:
... The shared values [of AES are] Integrity, Fairness, Social Responsibility, and Fun. ... We defined fun to mean rewarding, exciting, creative, and successful. The idea that a company could be fun kept AES fresh and vibrant for years.

Note: Mr. Bakke is no longer CEO of AES, but the shared values are still included in the company's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics].

Discipleship application:
... For Christians, Jews, and Muslims, the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall often is cited as the reason that work is difficult. A few years ago, I was asked to give the commencement address at Eastern University, a Christian school in Pennsylvania. My topic was "Fun in the Workplace." In preparation, I reread the Genesis account of the Creation and realized that many of us have misinterpreted the story. [bold type replaces original italic emphasis]

God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden. In the Garden, they named and cared for the animals. They tilled the ground and harvested the fruit and vegetables. In other words, they seemed to spend much of their time "working." Their work was not hard, difficult, or the least bit boring. It was paradise. The whole experience sublime. Of course, they sinned and were ousted from the garden, and life became more difficult. It is this last part of the story that appears to mark our attitude and expectations about work.

[Ref: Genesis 1:28; 2:15; 3:17-19. Gen. 2:3 (why the need for a Holy Day of rest if pre-fall man was to have no work?)]

Another way to view the story, however, is that God intended that the workplace be beautiful, exciting, and satisfying. Work was to be filled with joy. Work was a major reason for our creation. It was intended to be an important act of worship. It was one of the most significant ways in which we could honor our Creator. From this perspective it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to make the modern workplace the way it was intended to be. While I realize the world is not the Garden of Eden, I do believe it is incumbent on those of us in leadership roles to do whatever we can to make the workplace as fun and successful as we can. [bold type emphasis added]

Does this spur any thoughts, any revelations? Do you agree with Mr. Bakke? Disagree?

Peace, Tony


JMG said...

Wow, I wish I worked where he is the boss!

I think so many people are dissatisfied at work because everyone is worried about the bottom line. We are pressured to produce, produce, produce so that the top dog of the company can make more money. And we as employees contribute to this situation because we have to work, work, work, to pay for all of the stuff we have bought on credit.

I think most of our problems with work come down to the love of money.

Tony Arnold said...

Amen to your comments. You will love this book. My wife, who doesn't read in large quantities at anyone sitting, read 30 pages in a less than an hour, she was so enthralled.

I also highly recommend the Deming material. It had a profound effect on the way I interact with my spouse and others although it is regarded as workplace material.