Books and Articles

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen (Penguin, 2001). Allen's influence is seen in the setup of Koeze's office, his emphasis on delegating, his indifference to his BlackBerry, and more.

Punished by Rewards: The Trouble With Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and other Bribes, by Alfie Kohn (Houghton Mifflin, 1993). Individual incentives, Kohn argues, treat workers like lab animals and ultimately undermine productivity. Koeze adopted a Kohn-style profit-sharing plan.

Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlingham (Portfolio, 2005). Koeze had long wondered about the costs and benefits of growing slowly. Small Giants gave him the answer. "It's the first book I've read that holds out the possibility that you can have a thriving and successful business without putting growth at the forefront of your objectives," he says.

"Tricks of the Trade: On Factory Floors, Top Workers Hide Secrets to Success," The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2002, by Timothy Aeppel. This article inspired Koeze to begin recording processes so that the loss of a key worker wouldn't mean the loss of a successful work method.

Seminars

Gerald Bell on hiring. Koeze attended a Bell seminar, then trained his staff in the methods, which involve phone screening followed by three sets of daylong interviews.

Roger Schwarz's "Group Facilitation and Consultation." Schwarz argues that leaders cause the behavior they dislike by communicating poorly.

Plus: Koeze On Business

"The Three Levels of Work," an essay by Jeff Koeze. Being a boss is stressful and humbling. How to cope? "The classic defense is bravado, ruthlessness, and the claiming of certainty in the face of obscurity," Koeze writes. "Greed, materialism, and social-climbing is the second defense." His prescription: breathing exercises, friendship, and finding satisfaction in the work one performs.