ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - June 2000

Issue Highlight - Safe Return Doubtful
--- Much of the attention in human resources seems to be about how to recruit and retain good people. The conventional wisdom is to offer people the possibility of big benefits and instant wealth.

In This Issue...
The Real World at MTV
New American Revolution
Basic Training
Bringing Values to Life

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change

Heard on the Street
Diary of a Shutdown

Book Reivews with a Twist

"22 Keys to Creating a Meaningful Workplace"
by Tom Terez
5 Stars

-- Evidence of the search for meaning in life is as old as recorded history. Many of us spend over half our waking hours at work. So why did it take so long for somebody to write a book about meaningful workplaces? No one has an answer, but Tom Terez certainly filled the void.

- The author spent two years conducting hundreds of interviews and focus groups with people from various workplaces. The book is full of real people and their stories, anecdotes and revelations about what makes workplaces meaningful. Their insights led to the identification of 22 distinctive "keys." From these, Terez created five groups: mission (valuing what the organization does); people (valuing those who do it); development (valuing growth); community (valuing collective effort); and me (valuing the individual). Chapters detail each key and include examples and stories.

- One thing I liked most about this book was that Terez avoids buzzwords and quick fixes. In fact, he goes out of his way to discourage that approach to using the keys. He also makes solid suggestions on approaches for opening up dialogue and discussion on the idea of creating more meaningful workplaces. In the final two chapters he provides tools, such as the Meaningful Workplace Scorecard, and suggestions for action planning.

- At the end of each of the 22 chapters there are "reality checks" that allow the reader to evaluate and score their own situation. The full potential of this book can probably best be realized when it is read as a group. It is a must read for people in human resources, career development and organizational development. However, any person looking for greater understanding of workplace dynamics, or interested in creating a better work environment, can learn a great deal from it.

Favorite quote
-- "In a meaningful one deifies a set of heavily starched traditions." Chapter 9

Favorite story

--The story about the company policy restricting open-toed sandals on casual dress day only to those who wore toenail polish. Chapter 10 .

Most innovative idea:

-- Terez created a Web site ( for the purpose of developing a virtual community to post questions about the keys, share stories and gather information and ideas for improvement.

-- A lot of people grouse about their work environment. Some people rave about where they work. This book puts the reasons for these experiences in focus and gives everyone an opportunity to reflect and attempt to create a meaningful workplace.


"22 Keys to Creating a Meaningful Workplace." Tom Terez, 2000, Adams Media Corporation, Holbrook, Mass., ISBN: 1-58062-266-6, 278 pages. Reviewed by Nathan Strong, program manager, State of S.C. Office of Human Resources, Columbia, S.C.


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