Book Review: Peak

How Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow

Key Point: Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs still has a role to play in high-performing organizations

Chip Conley is the CEO and founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality (California's largest boutique hotel group) is the author of Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow. I have to say straight up, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found myself highlighting many pages.

Certainly any leader, in any organization, will benefit from reading this book, however, it will be easier for the leader who is in an organization that is not hamstrung by traditional corporate bonds and has already taken steps to build high performance.

Chip provides, throughout the book an awesome bibliography of leadership books (many of them grace my bookshelves as long-term keepers), so if for no other reason buy this book - however I think you'll find what he shares with us the reader is good, solid Breakthrough Leadership experience and advice.

When Chip's company hit a tough patch post 9/11 he re-discovered Abraham Maslow's work. This set him upon a path that helped him to turn his company around.

Not only does the book pull theory into practical experience through application in Chip's company, he provides many examples of other organizations who have successfully applied the principles to transform both work and personal lives.

I found it particularly exciting that Chip also called upon the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Daniel Goleman, Marcus Buckingham and Marty Seligman. All researchers and authors that I have had a long-term fascination with because of the impact individually and collectively each of them have had in improving workplace cultures.

If leaders in organizations were consistently to draw upon the work of each of these authors, along with the principles Chip shares, our workplaces cannot help but be transformed.

Because you are a member of this club, I know you have an unending faith in human potential and are working toward aligning both your own and the potential of others. Chip's book gives you many practical tips and techniques to help you in your journey of aligning and releasing potential, so that you succeed, your team members succeed and the organization succeeds.

What You Can Learn

Chip talks to the three ingredients of any successful, sustainable business:

  1. 1
    The Employees
  2. 2
    The Customer
  3. 3
    The Investors

The Triangle of success business! (Note, this model, shown above, doesn't come from the Peak book, it is one that I drew up. (See this page for more info)

In the first three chapters Chip takes you through Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs model and describes a little of his journey along with why he feels Maslow's Theory is still applicable to organizations.

Chapters 4-6: Focus on Employees

Chapters 4-6 you learn how he (and other organizations) have used Maslow's principles to build trust, loyalty and motivation for team member. He believes for employees the hierarchy of needs are:

  • Money which creates base motivation
  • Recognition which creates loyalty, and
  • Meaning which creates inspiration

Chapters 7-9: Focus on Customers

Chapters 7-9 you learn about creating customers who are committed and ardent fans of your business. The three needs of customers are:

  • Meets expectations with creates satisfaction
  • Meets desires which creates commitment, and
  • Meets unrecognized needs which creates evangelism

Chapters 10-12: Focus on Investors

Chapters 10-12 the focus is on investors - building trust, confidence and pride in being an owner of the business. For Investors the three needs are:

  • Transactional alignment which creates trust,
  • Relationship alignment which creates confidence, and
  • Legacy which creates pride of ownership

Chip's premise is that most businesses are focusing only on the lowest needs of each group, thinking of basic business survival. He posits that the opportunity for real growth is in the upper needs of each group.

As Conley explains in the Preface, "This book is about the miracle of human potential: employees living up to their full potential in the workplace, customers feeling the potential bliss associated with having their unrecognized needs met, and investors feeling fulfilled by seeing the potential of their capital leveraged."

I agree with him that all great leaders know how to tap into this "potential" and actualize it into reality. Moreover, I also agree with Conley that great leadership can - and should - be found at all levels and in all areas of an organization.

Is this book filled with 'how-tos'. Yes and No. There are some great tips and ideas, but for me it doesn't (and I don't think it was ever Chip's intention for it to) map the process to high performance. Certainly, you won't go too far wrong, taking some of the thinking and ideas in the book as part of a strategic process for creating high performance, but you wouldn't rely on the book as your only source.

Buy Or Not Buy?

Well worth the buy, easy to read and will definitely help you to maximize both your own potential and the potential of those around you.

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