When he was CEO of 40,000-employee international energy corporation AES, maverick entrepreneur and Christian philanthropist Dennis W. Bakke realized that many of his employees were missing something God meant for them to have at work: fun. By fun, Bakke means the kind of co-creative thrill that Adam must have felt while naming the animals.
So Bakke made radical changes. As a result, about 99 percent of all decisions at the company were made not by bosses or board members, but by the employees in the trenches. He eliminated the management class and human resources department. He began paying everyone according to the same scale. Almost every employee at the company gained access to all financial data. All employees were allowed to make statements to the public about the company, including to shareholders.
Bakke's fun at AES ended in 2002 when, under shareholder pressure during the energy crisis following the Enron scandal, he submitted his resignation. But his ideas are so fascinating, if controversial, that his bookJoy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job (PVG, 2005) made The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal business bestseller lists. Associate editor Agnieszka Tennant recently interviewed Bakke. This is the longer version of the conversation that ran in the July 2005 issue of the print edition.
Some people find it hard to utter the words joy and work in the same breath. Is this idea even biblical? Of course! I was teaching from the parable of the talents at a church stewardship class. The boss sends folks out to make all the decisions. He doesn't guide them from afar. He says, "Come back when you've risked all, invested things, made decisions." The people who take the biggest risks are the ones rewarded. ...