Book review: “Workout: Games, Tools & Practices to Engage People, Improve Work, and Delight Clients”

Book cover


The book “Workout: Games, Tools & Practices to Engage People, Improve Work, and Delight Clients” is Jurgen Appelo‘s third book. It’s like the second part of Management 3.0 which gives a different approach to management.
It focuses on management practices whereas Management 3.0 is more theoretical.

Although these kind of books aren’t my favorite, I decided to read it because his blog posts are very good and I frequently read them.

Good practices

In the author’s opinion, a good practice should:

  • engage people and their interactions.
  • enable people to improve the system.
  • help to delight all clients.

This is a good pattern to know when a manager is following a good practice or not. When you have doubts about whether a practice is good or bad these three points should help you.

The top 3, for me, were kudo box (, merit money ( and delegation boards (

I’m going to write just about kudo box and other different subject (the law of requisite variety) because I don’t want to write a long blog post but If you want to know more about these practices, in the links next to them you will find a lot of information.

Law of Requisite Variety

This law says “if a system is to be stable, the number of states of its control mechanism must be greater than or equal to the number of states in the system being controlled”.
This means that anything that controls a system must be at least as complex as the system being controlled.
Organizations are complex adaptative systems. Then, for example, a manager of a team in an organization should be as complex as the team who is managed. As you can image that’s a ridiculous statement. In simple terms, a manager can’t manage a group of people.

Kudo box

This practice consists of writing a letter to a colleague when she did something good for the team. All the letters are put in the kudo box and, for example, once a month the box is opened and all the letters are read aloud.
Each letter should focus on individual effort instead of outcome because a great outcome requires many individuals’ effort.


Despite the amount of pages, this book is easy to read. What I’m more impressed about is that it gave me a different point of view on management.

I’m not a big fan of managers or management but now I know that is because of all the bad practices that I’ve suffered in my career.
It also shows me that it’s possible to create an environment where people really want to work when we focus on the real important things (see good practices).

In short, if you have money buy this book as soon as possible or if you don’t have any money the book is free when you sign up here: