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The Book

Where Did Fake Work Come From?

FAKE “WORK” the book has come out of the many years of the authors’ combined experience, and their clear understanding that companies have every intention to create the most productive, quality product, but are not aligned to do so. They state:

“After years of managing people and consulting in Fortune 1000 companies as well as: government agencies, non-profits, and every other work environment; we grew tired of good ideas and good intentions that turned to dust. Much of those efforts are about dispersing knowledge, even building skills, but almost none of it focuses on work—where it all matters—where results occur.”

“We believe execution effectiveness happens at the point of work, which is a very different approach from those who think they just need to create leaders.” Brent and Gaylan have been working together for many years. They are the co-founders of The Work Itself Group—which is the company created to address problems of Fake Work.”

FAKE “WORK” grew out of their frustration with companies who spent an extraordinary amount of time on strategies that were never translated into daily tasks—that didn’t become The Work Itself. They have had a broad spectrum of experience in their varied professional careers that include consulting, organizational development, organizational learning, training, coaching working in every industry, across the United States, and across the globe, and at every level of organizations.

Brent and Gaylan also developed a best-in-class model for learning called The Organizational Learning Framework that has been imbedded in many companies as the macro-structure for their learning culture.

Fake Work Statistics

The authors have done extensive research, even blending it with research from other resources like the Gallup Organization and FranklinCovey. Here is what Brent and Gaylan have said about their findings:

“Our research has been revealing. We knew that workplaces are filled with conflict and confusion. We knew that people change their minds and so do organizations. We knew that marketplaces shift and demand new attention. What we didn’t know is that the bigger, more pressing problem is Fake Work—where people are doing tons of Fake Work and organizations haven’t begun to calculate the real costs. More importantly, perhaps, is that our anecdotal research—the hundreds of stories we have heard about thousands of people are much stronger in tone and concern that these numbers—if that is possible.”

The following statistics represent their research:

  • 87% of workers are not satisfied with the results of their work.
  • 81% of workers do not feel a strong level of commitment to their company’s top priorities.
  • 68% of workers do not feel that their workgroup goals are translated into Real Work tasks.
  • 52% of workers feel they are held accountable for reaching their commitments on time, however.
  • 54% of all workers feel they have more creativity, resourcefulness, talent, and intelligence than their job requires or allows.
  • 53% of workers think that the work they do doesn’t count for anything.

Statistics like these don’t paint a particularly promising portrait of the individual workers responsible for driving the global economy we’re all a part of. But, if you look at the company cultures these workers are a part of, the view isn’t much better. We have found that:

  • 56% of workers don’t clearly understand their company’s most important goals.
  • 73% of workers don’t think their company’s goals are translated into specific work they can execute.
  • 70% of workers don’t routinely plan how to support agreed-upon goals and tasks in their workgroups.

Book Forward

Stephen R. Covey wrote the foreword to FAKE “WORK”. This was very generous and proves what an “abundant” thinker he is, which is one of the principles discussed in “Seven Habits”. Since he wrote the foreword, he has been in several interviews where he talks about FAKE “WORK” and reinforces his support for the book.

THIS IS AN amazing book. And so needed today! Just consider this story: You’re flying to a business meeting in Chicago. You land on time, go to the car rental place, and rent a car. The person at the desk gives you a map. You find your rental car in the lot and drive off, happily on your way. The problem is, the person at the desk made a mistake and handed you a map of Philadelphia. That was the only source of information that you had. You’re totally lost and utterly confused, so you call your business associate, who is waiting for you at the meeting, and tell him that you can hardly find your way out of the airport. He glibly tells you to try harder, so you double your speed, but now you’re getting increasingly lost twice as fast. You call your associate again in a state of utter discouragement, complaining that you can find no landmark that resembles anything on the map. He senses your negative energy and tells you to think positively. He even gives one of his favorite little speeches about the importance of PMA—Positive Mental Attitude—and sings a few lines of “Your altitude is governed by your attitude” to you. So you start thinking positively and now you don’t care that you’re lost. You’re happy and contented in your lost state. You never really wanted to attend the meeting, anyway.

But the problem had nothing to do with your behavior or with your attitude. It had everything to do with a bad map.  That’s what this book is about. It gives us the right map about work. Now of course, if you have the correct map, then behavior and attitude become important. But until you have a correct map, to change your behavior or to shape up your attitude would be worthless. In almost every field of endeavor, significant breakthroughs are breaks with old ways of thinking, old mental models, in short – bad maps.

Take a moment and consider the following question: What is more central to life than work? Work is the major activity that occupies most of our time every day. Therefore, it is supremely important to get a correct map, or a correct view, of what real work is.

That’s why this book is so valuable, particularly today, when we have moved from the Industrial Age into the Knowledge Worker Age. In the Industrial Age, over 80 percent of the value added to goods and services came from machinery and manual labor, and there was a greater alignment and connection between this kind of work and producing desired results. But in the Knowledge Worker Age, 70 to 80 percent of the value added to goods and services comes from knowledge work—that is, human input, where the connection between such work and desired results has become blurred. In this global, digitized economy, competition is ten times what it was before, and the necessity to avoid fake work and do real work will make all the difference, producing success or failure.

Another reason it’s so important to get a correct map of work is that organizations are currently under tremendous pressure to produce more for less, and yet employees are, for the most part, disempowered or even disallowed from using their capabilities,their intelligence, their talents, and their passion. What a dilemma—pressure to produce more for less yet prevented from using talent! Fake work is deeply demoralizing and disempowering and contributes to the metastasizing emotional cancers of interpersonal conflict, interdepartmental rivalries, hidden agendas, complaining, criticizing, angry contention, and profound cynicism. And people often feel that they’re being victimized by the system or a bad boss or some other corporate bad guy.

Employees today are caught in the activity trap—they’re busy to the hilt but profoundly misaligned with well-thought-through strategies and desired results. In fact, in most cases, even if the strategies are well thought through, they’re not understood down the line. Or if the strategies are understood, most people don’t know how their role connects to those strategic goals. Then the whole world of work revolves around execution gaps. The activity trap becomes institutionalized and enculturated, and eventually many come to assume that this is simply the way things are—they start to accept that most reports are never even looked at, most meetings don’t need to be held, and little by little they become codependent and complicit in maintaining this terribly costly fake reality. Then more and more people complain, criticize, and blame, blame, blame. (This is sometimes called a self fulfilling prophecy, where you produce the evidence to support your perception.)

I encourage you to seriously study this book; it is so beautifully, sequentially organized into two parts: Part 1, Understanding Fake Work and Its Causes; and Part 2, The Pathways out of Fake Work, and the stories wonderfully represent and illustrate each of the points made in this sequence. If you allow the sequence to have its way with you, as I did, you will have a growing conviction of the difference between fake work and real work. You will also feel excited and energized about fixing the problem.

This fixing process is immensely practical and hands-on, but also fundamentally principle-based, so that you can adapt these principles to most every situation. I’ve had years of involvement in both doing fake work and researching fake work, and I’ve learned from personal experience the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from doing real work that is aligned with carefully thought through strategic results. The combination of the paradigm of fake and real work and the stories in this book will give you the confidence to resolve and deal with the execution gaps that are so pervasive in most organizations.

Synergy means the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. These two authors have produced a superior, synergistic product on a subject of immense importance. Gaylan Nielson was a senior leader at FranklinCovey at a period when I traveled extensively, so I don’t know him well, but I know of his accomplishments and his work with our consulting group—helping us forge new services and building long-term relationships with our clients with a whole new perspective. That new perspective manifests itself as a fresh angle, a unique, creative contribution to this book and to his work with Brent Peterson in building several companies that have grown into The Work Itself Group. I have known Brent Peterson for many years and believe him to be one of the finest educators I have ever known. The textbooks he has written have been brilliant and well accepted. We have worked together as professors at a university and then as consultants, trainers, researchers, and writers in a marvelous training company. He has served as a real work leader, CEO, entrepreneur, and business owner and developer for many years. There is true synergy in this wonderful book, which I commend to you as being foundational in helping organizations to align and to execute on that which they have strategically decided to be worthy to focus on. This book should be read by leaders, by managers, by trainers and by workers.

I wish you all the best in your study of this new mindset, and acquisition of the new tool set and skill set that enables the movement from the activity trap to both institutionalizing and enculturating real work.

Endorsements

Business Leaders, Educators, and Authors all Agree: FAKE “WORK” is a Must-Read!

Endorsements are a way to gauge the perception of a book and to get a feel for how people see its value. Following are a list of Authors, Educators, and Business Leaders and a list of International Business Leaders who had high praise and interesting insights into FAKE WORK.

But first, some highlights:

…People are overworked and yet are under performing, trapped in the thick of thin things.”

Stephen M.R. Covey

FAKE WORK cuts like a laser to the all-too-common practices that transform smart, well-intended people into disheartened residents of the Dilbert Zone. An organization pays a heavy price when its bright, capable people quit and leave. But it’s even more costly when bright, capable people quit and stay”

Rodger Dean Duncan

The systemic transformation of Fake Work to Real Work is the new definition of execution.”

Mike Gillespie

FAKE WORK will unshackle businesses from unproductive behaviors and workplace cultures that bleed productivity and profits from their bottom line. FAKE WORK is more than a must read, it is an imperative to adopt the plan of action outlined in FAKE WORK.”

C. McClain Haddow

It is amazing that despite all the efforts and programs pulled together to improve how organizations operate, leaders and consultants in their exuberance, often overlook the most important factor; the work itself.”

Curt J. Howes

This book is a must read for anyone who works…This will drastically change how you feel about your work and positively affect the productivity of your company in a big way.”

Stan Sinclair

In more than fifty years in the business world, from the lofty heights of senior positions in multinational corporations, to my exposure to a wide variety of entrepreneurial ventures, this seminal work is the first time I have seen, or even heard of, any serious examination of the disconnect between effort expended and work (results) accomplished.”

Leroy K. Spiers

We all want to think our work is real, important, and makes a difference. The truth is that much of it isn’t and doesn’t. The damage Fake Work does to our organizations is incalculable.”

Craig Swenson

The authors propose actionable cures for this silent disease of Fake Work that most businesses don’t recognize they have.”

Jack Zengar

This book poses interesting questions that challenge commonly used practices in the workplace and takes you through a journey to realize new heights of efficiencies. The concept cuts through culture and is truly an eye opener.”

Mohamed Farouk Hafeez

The book unravels the numerous issues organizations face around having ‘extremely busy and hardworking’ employees who may not, in many cases, be impacting the bottom line.”

Stephen Krempl

When I look around any organization, everyone is very busy, working very hard and staying very late to get work done. When I look at results, somehow there is a mismatch between all the work that is being done and the results that are attained. “

Darryl Wee

Authors, Educators and Business Leaders

Brent Peterson and Gaylan Nielson bring to light a rarely examined activity that occurs daily in many organizations: Fake Work. Fake Work wastes a precious resource—the time and talent of valuable employees. The authors underscore the problem—and solution pathways—with real-life examples that are at times disturbingly familiar. Read this book and get real!”

Ken Blanchard – Coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and The One Minute Entrepreneur™

Brent Peterson and Gaylan Nielson have delivered! Their intriguing book, Fake Work, powerfully diagnoses why most organizations and people are overworked and yet are underperforming, being trapped in the ‘thick of thin things.’ This book is filled with illuminating insight while at the same time being immensely practical and useful. Above all, it will forever change how you and your organization look at work—and better yet how Real Work is identified and done, and the results that follow.”

Stephen M. R. Covey – Author of the New York Times bestseller The Speed of Trust

FAKE WORK cuts like a laser to the all-too-common practices that transform smart, well-intended people into disheartened residents of the Dilbert Zone. An organization pays a heavy price when its bright, capable people quit and leave. But it’s even more costly when bright, capable people quit and stay. Disengagement is a silent killer. Fake Work masterfully helps you diagnose the symptoms, spot the root causes, and put your people on the path to work that really matters.”

Rodger Dean Duncan – Author of ChangeSmarts: Engaging People’s Heads, Hearts, and Hopes

FAKE WORK is an insightful exploration of the disconnects between work, employees and corporate strategy. It’s an invaluable practical approach to identifying and eliminating Fake Work and aligning individual behavior with organizational objectives. The systemic transformation of Fake Work to Real Work is the new definition of execution.”

Michael Gillespie – CEO, TrueNorth Academy

FAKE WORK is the seminal breakthrough manifesto for every business in the global marketplace that will refocus their employees on the strategic vision and objectives of their companies. At the bottom line every business exists to generate profits, and profitable businesses expand and hire more employees. The implementation of the strategies and pathways in FAKE WORK will unshackle businesses from unproductive behaviors and workplace cultures that bleed productivity and profits from their bottom line, and will build a solid foundation for more successful and productive workers. It is more than a must read, it is an imperative to adopt the plan of action outlined in FAKE WORK.”

C. McClain Haddow – CEO, Haddow and Associates, McLean, Virginia

FAKE WORK takes the reader on a comprehensive journey to the central core of what causes low productivity in companies and other organizations. With captivating narrative the authors help us see how universally debilitating the problem is and how it can be fixed. This remarkable book, backed by years of research, is a how to do it road map leading to peak performance.”

Dr. Charles R. Hobbs – President, Unified Power, LLC, and creator of the internationally acclaimed

“Time Power Seminar” for Achieving High Productivity

FAKE WORK gets at the heart of what organizations are about, conducting work activities that create real value as defined by an organization’s strategies. It is amazing that despite all the efforts and programs pulled together to improve how organizations operate, leaders and consultants in their exuberance, often overlook the most important factor; the work itself. Brent and Gaylan provide a clear and easy to read text that illustrates experiences we can all relate to. More important, they provide a roadmap for how to get out of this conundrum.”

Curt J. Howes – President, OP Strategies, Inc.

Buzzing blackberries, compulsive emailing and deadly powerpoints are indicators that your workforce may be busy doing Fake Work. Let’s refocus our work on the goals and strategies that really matter. Peterson & Nielson provide a clear pathway to Real Work!”

Elliott Masie – Chair, The Learning CONSORTIUM

This book is a must read for anyone who works. That should cover just about everyone. The concepts within theses pages will change your view of work and inspire you to channel your energy and focus on what’s really important to the strategies of your company regardless of what role you play in that company. The impact of FAKE WORK could eliminate time, money and energy wasters by learning how to recognize and do ‘real’ work. This will drastically change how you feel about your work and positively affect the productivity of your company in a big way.”

Stan Sinclair – CEO, Watkins/Sinclair, Bethesda, Maryland

FAKE WORK is a seriously instructive book that illuminates the pitfalls of work that lacks authenticity. Peterson and Nielson explore the depth and breadth of a subtle yet intriguing phenomenon that plagues contemporary work-life. No one can afford to be without this book since it probes an issue central to continued productivity and success.”

Hyrum Smith – Co-Founder FranklinCovey, CEO Galileo

In more than fifty years in the business world, from the lofty heights of senior positions in multinational corporations, to my exposure to a wide variety of entrepreneurial ventures, this seminal work is the first time I have seen, or even heard of, any serious examination of the disconnect between effort expended and work (results) accomplished. Following the paths as contained in the book should appeal to everyone in the work place, whether the work place is the home, the charitable organization, or the bread and butter enterprise. Doing so will align the person’s Real Work with the organization’s objectives and goals. At that point, the individual’s contribution to the bottom line will be visible, and the individual will enjoy a substantial increase in their perception of their own self worth and the satisfaction of seeing their value making a real difference. Everyone, from the entry level person through the successful moves through middle management to top management will find this book useful in guiding them to make their work Real Work, not ‘Fake Work’.”

Leroy K. Speirs – National Advisory Council of the Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University

After just a few pages FAKE WORK forced me to begin asking myself hard questions about my organization—and about my own work. We all want to think our work is real, important, and makes a difference. The truth is that much of it isn’t and doesn’t. The damage Fake Work does to our organizations is incalculable. Leaders who care passionately about both performance and people should pay close attention to this important book.”

Craig Swenson – President, Argosy University

At a time when most management literature rehashes the same old stuff, it is refreshing to be exposed to some fresh ideas with enormous practical relevance. Better yet the authors propose actionable cures for this silent disease of Fake Work that most business don’t recognize they have.”

Jack Zenger – CEO of Zenger | Folkman and co-author of the best-selling The Extraordinary Leader.

International Business Leaders

FAKE WORK is a culmination of a wealth of research and experience that have been utilized in identifying and addressing a problem currently endemic to global management: work that is not aligned with organizational strategies. Fake Work is an apt title for an ingenious concept. Brent Peterson and Gaylan Nielson have developed an approach that is at once practical, simple and efficient to eliminate “Fake Work” and the problems associated with it. This book is a must have for any organization.”

Tamer M. Badrawi – Executive Director, FUTURE GENERATION FOUNDATION – FGF. Cairo, Egypt

This book poses interesting questions that challenge commonly used practices in the workplace and takes you through a journey to realize new heights of efficiencies. The concept cuts through culture and is truly an eye opener.”

Mohamed Farouk Hafeez – Sr. Vice President, HR, American Company, Cairo, Egypt

Are you tired, unchallenged, unfocused and having no fun in your work? If you are, you are probably suffering from an overdose of Fake Work. Get this book and learn how to get rid of Fake Work – it will restore you to a life of energy and purpose. You owe it to yourself, your company and your family to get rid of Fake Work once and for all.”

AC Ho – Executive Consultant, Right Management — Singapore

FAKE WORK provides a different view of how to get people impacting their organizational goals and results. Using many simple but painfully true and recognizable stories, the book unravels the numerous issues organizations face around having ‘extremely busy and hardworking’ employees who may not, in many cases, be impacting the bottom line. The good news is Peterson and Nielson layout deceptively simple but effective steps to resolve this. If you are prepared to get to the root of ensuring everyone is contributing to results – then this is the way to go!”

Stephen Krempl – President, Krempl Communications International

FAKE WORK is an excellent way to describe what I have seen in many organizations after more than 30 years of management consulting work. Fake Work describes situations that are common on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. I am convinced that you as a reader will be motivated to find ways to stop doing Fake Work and start doing Real Work by reading this book.”

Håkan Palm – CEO and Founder, HåBe Konsultation AB, Stockholm, Sweden

FAKE WORK delivers practical and well-proven techniques to identify gaps and fill them with Real Work. Brent and Gaylan have worked with several multinational companies in Singapore from entertainment, to research, to manufacturing firms; and all of them have found the principles of Fake Work to be extremely useful and are still using these principles to track Real Work! Master the skills of Real Work at work and at home, and you will have lots of time to play!”

Tan Bee Wan – PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Integrative Learning Corporation Pte. Ltd. — Singapore

When I look around any organization, everyone is very busy, working very hard and staying very late to get work done. When I look at results, somehow there is a mismatch between all the work that is being done and the results that are attained. The simplicity of the concepts and applications in FAKE WORK will help any organization move from Fake Work to Real Work, thereby having all of their resources aligned to achieving the same goals. If you are looking for something that is practical and not just hype, take the time to read and apply these concepts.”

Darryl Wee – Chief Commercial Officer, Nestronics Ltd., Singapore

Clients & Testimonials

You Have Unique Problems, We Have Unique Experience

Diversity of Clients All Over the World

We have worked with a very diverse, very challenging client base all over the world. We have worked for companies large, medium, and small; with government agencies, and with non-profits. We have worked in all 50 states in the U.S. and in many countries such as The United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, France, Singapore, Australia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Malaysia, India, and China to name a few. We have worked in all functions, at all levels, on an array of consulting projects, development projects, and training events.

Below are some of the many clients we have served in:

Aerospace

Automotive

Consumer Products, Retail

Energy

Financial Services

Food and Beverage

Manufacturing

Media

Technology

Transportation

Government

Other

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Real Work Resources

Use our resources to help you better understand Fake Work and Real Work both personally and as an organization.
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