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Guest Podcast: Creating Good Jobs to Build Better Cultures with Zeynep Ton

By Aga Bajer

Today’s guest is Zeynep Ton. Zeynep is an adjunct associate professor in Operations Management at MIT Sloan School of Management and co-founder of the nonprofit Good Jobs Institute (GJI). Before MIT Sloan, Zeynep spent seven years on the faculty at Harvard Business School.

Zeynep’s research explores how companies can design and manage their operations in a way that satisfies customers, employees, and investors simultaneously. In 2014, Zeynep published her findings in a book, The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits.

In this interview, Zeynep shares her expertise, experience, and examples and gives the listeners useful ideas on how to build the supporting architecture for better cultures. 

Interview highlights

  • Why bad jobs put companies in a vicious cycle of poor service, low profits, and low employee engagement
  • How better operational choices can reverse the vicious cycle and create superior value for employees, customers, and investors
  • An overview of the four operational choices that drive performance and continuous improvement: Focus & Simplify, Standardize & Empower, Cross-train, and Operate with Slack
  • What the right balance between standardization and empowerment looks like
  • Why empowerment often doesn’t work and what companies who got it right do differently
  • How one company saved 1.2 million just by allowing their frontline employees to contribute and make improvements to processes and solving burning business issues

Contrary to popular belief, ordinary people can be extraordinarily creative – when given the right tools and processes.

If you enjoyed listening to this, you can find more episodes of the CultureLab with Aga Bajer here.

Zeynep Ton was named to the Thinkers 50 Radar. Learn more about her here.

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