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Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us

Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us

by Dan Lyons


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New York Times bestselling author Dan Lyons exposes how the "new oligarchs" of Silicon Valley have turned technology into a tool for oppressing workers in this "passionate" (Kirkus) and "darkly funny" (Publishers Weekly) examination of workplace culture.

At a time of soaring corporate profits and plenty of HR lip service about "wellness," millions of workers—in virtually every industry — are deeply unhappy. Why did work become so miserable? Who is responsible? And does any company have a model for doing it right?

For two years, Lyons ventured in search of answers. From the innovation-crazed headquarters of the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, to a cult-like "Holocracy" workshop in San Francisco, and to corporate trainers who specialize in . . . Legos, Lyons immersed himself in the often half-baked and frequently lucrative world of what passes for management science today. He shows how new tools, workplace practices, and business models championed by tech's empathy-impaired power brokers have shattered the social contract that once existed between companies and their employees. These dystopian beliefs—often masked by pithy slogans like "We're a Team, Not a Family" — have dire consequences: millions of workers who are subject to constant change, dehumanizing technologies — even health risks.

A few companies, however, get it right. With Lab Rats, Lyons makes a passionate plea for business leaders to understand this dangerous transformation, showing how profit and happy employees can indeed coexist.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316561860
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 10/23/2018
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 339,903
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 4.50(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Dan Lyons is a novelist, journalist, and screenwriter. He is currently a co-producer and -writer for the HBO series Silicon Valley. Previously, Lyons was technology editor at Newsweek and the creator of the groundbreaking viral blog "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs" (AKA "Fake Steve Jobs"). Lyons has written for the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Vanity Fair, and Wired. He lives in Winchester, MA.

Table of Contents

Welcome to Your New Job xi

Introduction: Make a Duck 1

Part I Misery In The Maze 13

Chapter 1 Unhappy in Paradise 15

Chapter 2 The New Oligarchs 29

Chapter 3 A Very Brief History of Management Science (and Why You Shouldn't Trust It) 51

Chapter 4 Who's Afraid of Silicon Valley? 68

Part II Four Factors of Workplace Despair 79

Chapter 5 Building the Workforce of the Future (or: Sorry You're Old and We'd Like You to Leave) 81

Chapter 6 Money: "Garbage at the Speed of Light" 89

Chapter 7 Insecurity: "We're a Team, Not a Family" 108

Chapter 8 Change: "What Happens If You Live Inside a Hurricane That Never Ends?" 125

Chapter 9 Dehumanization: "Think of Yourself as a Machine Within a Machine" 146

Part III The No-Shit-Sherlock School of Management 165

Chapter 10 The Battle for the Soul of Work 167

Chapter 11 Basecamp: Back to Basics 175

Chapter 12 Managed by Q: "Everybody Cleans" 188

Chapter 13 Kapor Capital: Conscious Capitalists 201

Chapter 14 The Social Enterprise Movement 217

Epilogue: Can Zebras Fix What Unicorns Have Broken? 228

Acknowledgments 235

Selected Bibliography 237

Index 251

What People are Saying About This

#1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies - Gretchen Rubin

“I loved Dan Lyons’s book Disrupted. With LAB RATS, he takes his critique of the modern workplace to the next level, to show how Silicon Valley’s sometimes disturbing ideas about how to treat employees now pervade many workplaces. This is a fascinating, thought-provoking, hilarious, and sometimes harrowing account of current work culture.”

New York Times-bestselling author of In Search of Excellence - Tom Peters

“Dan Lyons' LAB RATS defies easy description. It is hilarious, but not funny. I sputtered laughing and choked crying (literally, not figuratively) as I read it. Yes, to an extreme, Lyons gives Silicon Valley the thrashing that it, alas, largely deserves. But in the final third of the book, he offers us an effectively illustrated way out--an approach to work and business that puts people first, profitably serves customers, and makes the world a little bit better in the process.”

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