Entries in "change"

June 20, 2007

transformative cooperation book is now available

I came in to the office today for the first time in a while, and found a box addressed to me, Ron Fry, and David Cooperrider. Immediately, I knew that it was the first copies of the Handbook of Transformative Cooperation. I'll be carrying one around all day, and I'll be surprised if my feet touch the ground again before bedtime -- I'm floating in a cloud of happiness and relief!

June 13, 2007

21 days and counting

As Valdis commented at BFD a few months back, people don't move to California because of the weather. I've always thought of myself as an optimistic person, and I grew up in Connecticut and Switzerland, so snow, grey skies, and cold don't faze me much. There are a lot of people who move away from this area because they believe Cleveland is dying a slow death. In contrast, I remain optimistic about Cleveland's future. Click through to read why...

Continue reading "21 days and counting"

Handbook of Transformative Cooperation: New Designs and Dynamics

Our handbook (which I co-edited with Ron Fry and David Cooperrider) is to be released next week, according to its Amazon listing. (The other good news is that Amazon is quoting a price almost 30% off Stanford University Press' list price.)

Here is a list of chapters and contributors:

Continue reading "Handbook of Transformative Cooperation: New Designs and Dynamics"

November 14, 2006

challenging students, supporting students: reflecting on the HR simulation

Have you ever read the research of Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi? He's the director of the Quality of Life Research Center at the Drucker School of Management (and he must know that the spelling of his name overwhelms people, because his bio on that site is labeled about Mike.)

Csikszentmihalyi's research over the last few decades has examined the role of flow in human life. Flow is a state of consciousness in which our attention is fully invested in the task at hand, and when we are in flow, time seems to disappear or to stand still. When we are in flow is when we do our best, most creative work. Flow is a natural high.

I don't often think about it this way, but my purpose as a teacher is to create the context in which my students can engage in learning management in a such a way that they experience flow. When I can do this -- when I can balance the challenge that students experience when they encounter new concepts or practice new skills against the support that they receive from me, from each other, and from their learning context -- that is when students get turned on to management. If they have that experience often enough, then they will become intrinsically motivated to learn more, and to pursue mastery of the field of management.

Of course, it would help a lot of I had had this revelation in August, rather than in November. There are signs in many student blog entries that the balance of challenge and support is out of whack. This is especially true with regard to the HR simulation. (Click through to read more.)

(With thanks to the Mutual Improvement Blog, which linked to this post on self-awareness and staying engaged, which, in turn, linked to this Kathy Sierra entry on keeping users engaged, which reminded me of what I had learned long ago, and then forgotten, about the research on flow.)

Continue reading "challenging students, supporting students: reflecting on the HR simulation"

November 09, 2006

Polishing our message

In Northeast Ohio, we typically think of ourselves as old manufacturing powerhouses (think TRW and the like), new financial services companies (think Progressive, MBNA, etc), and internationally reknowned healthcare (think University Hospitals, the Cleveland Clinic, and MetroHealth). One of the arenas in which I'm increasingly aware of our strengths, though, is in a different service industry: marketing, public relations, and the design of products and services.

Take a look at John Booth's recent blog entry over at Crain's Cleveland Business, for example. Or, think about the powerhouse that is Nottingham Spirk (as highlighted in the recent New York Times article about University Circle as a commercial real estate gem). Definitely check out the slide show available through the NYT, with glorious photographs by David Maxwell, entitled Rebuilding Cleveland.

The opportunities available for employment in communications, marketing, and public relations have never been more visible to me. As our region continues its climb to the top of the global heap, we will need individuals who can grasp those opportunities and polish the messages about Northeast Ohio and its companies, nonprofits, and government agencies. That's why I'm so pleased that Weatherhead is now offering our undergraduates the opportunity to concentrate in Marketing, within the B. S. in Management degree. Check out the course listings. (We also offer a minor to students in the College of Arts and Sciences, and a minor or a sequence to students in the Case School of Engineering.) Of course, those course listings understate the opportunities available to our students, because so much learning within the management major is experiential. My students demonstrate all the time how quickly they learn from their internship, career panel, and campus leadership experiences. Still, the chance to learn from and with six faculty in marketing (including our interim Dean) should draw many students into management in the coming years.

I'm delighted to see our region polishing our message -- Northeast Ohio is rebuilding, a renaissance is well under way, and we are proud of what we do here. And I'm heartened to know that my university is playing a role in building that justifiable pride.

November 08, 2006

metaphors for social change

Remember back in May, when I wrote about the metaphors of motivating change? We need a whole new set of metaphors for understanding how social change occurs, as well -- metaphors that acknowledge the relational dynamics that accelerate or dampen social change processes.

Political social change seems to be occurring in the United States. The timeframe for that change ranges from the year (2006) to the generation (1980 to 2006), at least according to Joe Kein at Time Magazine. (Thanks to John Ettorre for his blog post bringing this article to our attention.) Klein's article is headlining 2006 as "the year the Democrats punched back", suggesting that political social change occurs in part as a battle of the fists (or at least of the political ad blows and counterblows). Klein's article ends with a very different metaphor, though -- the metaphor of tides cresting and receding:

"2006 may be remembered as the year that the Reagan Revolution finally crested and began to recede."

I recognize that some may consider 26 years more than a generation, and yet Strauss and Howe's 1992 book Generations called 1982-2003 the Millenial Generation. In political writing, this notion that great waves of right-oriented and left-oriented governing alternate is a familiar one, suggesting that perhaps no social change actually occurs; instead we are just watching a pendulum swinging back and forth very slowly... or, we are the grains of sand on the beach, washed first by one wave, and then by another.

And yet our individual experiences suggest that social change does occur, within one lifetime or less, and that relational dynamics are an important part of how social change occurs.

A generation from now, will history acknowledge that the BAWB conference in NEO two weeks ago was actually the tipping point for how business and academia began to act differently together, to make themselves agents of world benefit? Nadya Zhexembayeva is convinced that it was a tipping point, October 25, 2006. She has been watching for this tipping point for a long time -- she heads up the World Inquiry, an action research project of the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit (BAWB). She also served as the host of the Virtual Conference that extended the BAWB Global Forum to additional 500+ participants from all over the world.

Be sure to read what Nadya Zhexembayeva wrote for GreenBiz about BAWB and the tipping point. Read it not just to explore some of the metaphors for social change she evokes -- but also to become your part of the social change that is happening among us and around the world.

September 05, 2006

are you looking for a better you?

In MGMT 250, we have begun the segment of the course which focuses on self-assessment and self-development. My students are thinking about how to make a good first impression on others, what their strengths are, and where they want to be in 5 or 10 years.

There are lots of supplementary resources out there to help people who aren't taking the course explore some of the same questions. One excellent guide which I just came across to some of those resources is the blog Lifestylism. If you're not sure what that means, just read the first entry in the blog, written back in July, 2004.

Another new resource is a spinoff from the increasingly popular site 43 things, which allows users to keep track of their goals and dreams and their progress toward achieving them, and helps them connect with others who have similar goals or dreams for support and mutual encouragement. (I have written about 43things before and about the sister site of 43things, 43 places, as well.) To celebrate the second anniversary of the founding of the Robot COOP, which houses the creators of 43 things, some of the key people in the COOP have launched a new blog called the Mutual Improvement Blog. It looks really fascinating.

And if those don't slake your thirst for advice about how to achieve a better you, you can always peruse my older entries tagged "careers", "networking", and "productivity", or "work-family balance".

Enjoy! And please be sure to let me know what your next steps toward a better you will be, and whether any of the links I recommended were useful.

September 04, 2006

changing the world, and expanding academia along the way

The past graduates of the Ph.D. program in organizational behavior are certainly impressive. You may have read recently about the two projects on which I collaborated with current students, recent graduates, and colleagues, which were presented at the Academy of Management in Atlanta. Last fall, I wrote a little about working with recent graduate Ned Powley, who taught two sections of MGMT 250. (This fall he will be joining Leslie Sekerka and Frank Barrett, also graduates of our Ph.D. program, on the faculty at the Monterrey Naval Postgraduate School.) In May, I participated in the graduation ceremony for Latha Poonamallee, who will be "CEO" for the simulated companies in MGMT 250 this fall, and who is also teaching two SAGES First Seminars in the Case undergraduate program. She is also my collaborator in the founding of NEOBEAN. Our recent graduates are certainly poised to change the world through their teaching, writing, and activism.

So too are our current Ph.D. students. For example, one of our students, Bonnie Richley-Cody, has coauthored a very exciting book.

Continue reading "changing the world, and expanding academia along the way"

September 03, 2006

employers vs. women, or employers supporting working families?

Equal rights for women have come a long way in the United States, since the Declaration of Independence over 240 years ago. Even in the 86 years since the ratification of the 19th amendment to the constitution, inequities between men and women have narrowed. No longer are women expected to quit their jobs when they marry, or when they become pregnant. Between 1960 and 1999, the percentage of of working mothers with infants had risen from 27 percent to almost 60 percent. And yet, huge inequities between mothers and other workers, and among women of different backgrounds still exist.

In an effort to draw attention to such inequities, last year WorldWIT initiated the Breastfeeding at Work Week, which highlights actions employers can take to level the playing field for mothers and others in the workforce, and encourage new mothers to continue breastfeeding their infants after they return to work. Since I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding, and for supporting working women in equitable ways, I am writing this blog entry as my first effort to honor Breastfeeding at Work Week for 2006.

Perhaps you have read about some of the challenges that mothers who wish to continue breastfeeding face, when they return to work. Recently, Jodi Kantor wrote in the New York Times about the differences between new mothers in white collar and working class jobs in terms of their access to support for pumping breastmilk at work. Kantor noted that "federal law offers no protection to mothers who express milk on the job", despite the efforts of Congressional Representative Carolyn Maloney, who has repeatedly introduced legislation which would create such a protection.

Why wouldn't Congress want to protect a woman's health after childbirth, and specify that new mothers who return to the workplace must be protected from harrassment? Read on for some historical background, and some predictions for the future.

Continue reading "employers vs. women, or employers supporting working families?"

July 08, 2006

what is an organization?

David Pollard says it is "an instrument for doing something a particular way."

This is a great definition, very similar to the one I use in my introductory classes in organizational behavior. (I talk about an organization as a group of three or more people, working toward a common goal or set of goals, in a consciously coordinated way, on a more-or-less continuous basis.)

Pollard goes on with a provocative argument:

Organization does not mean order or structure. When we say "let's get organized" we are not saying let's decide how to structure ourselves, we're saying let's make ourselves an instrument to do something specific. The fact that the first step in so many new organizations is establishing a hierarchy shows how well we've been brainwashed to believe that 'anarchic' self-management is impossible, when it is the natural order. This is perhaps why Open Space is so subversive and unaccepted in the political and corporate mainstream -- if frees people from the false belief that they need someone else to impose order and structure on them in order to be an effective organism, an instrument of action.

What do you think? Can groups of people organize themselves organically, without hierarchy? Do you question that assumption that self-management is impossible in larger groups, or do you accept it unthinkingly? Do you believe that you can be effective outside of an authority structure imposed by others?

Be sure to click through and read the rest of Pollard's entry on the meaning of words, including community, family, freedom, and wisdom.

July 06, 2006

our rights to our own time

This is an excerpt from a very interesting new book, called the Motherhood Manifesto. The particular excerpt can be found here:

"It's Not Just Mothers"
by John de Graaf, National Coordinator of Take Back Your Time

Though working mothers may be the most pressed for time and in need of relief, America’s time poverty crisis affects nearly everyone. American work hours have been climbing slowly, but steadily since the mid-1970s and today, the average American works nine weeks—350 hours—more each year than the average Western European.

Increased working hours threaten our quality of life in many ways: Americans increasingly recognize the impacts of time poverty on their lives. According to a November 28, 2005, Fortune magazine study, even corporate CEOs now want more time outside work (84 percent), even if it means making less money (55 percent). The same article pointed out that many European countries are actually more productive per worker hour than the U.S. is. And a recent report of the World Economic Forum found that several of the world’s most competitive economies are in Scandinavia, where shorter work hours and generous paid leave policies are taken for granted.

Europeans enjoy multiple legal protections of their right to time, including four weeks of paid vacation after a year on the job, paid sick leave, limits on the length of their work weeks, generous paid family leave benefits (which also apply to fathers), and increasingly, the right to choose part-time work, while retaining the same hourly pay, healthcare, opportunities for promotions and other, pro-rated, benefits.

A new campaign, TAKE BACK YOUR TIME, has called for a “Time to Care” legislative agenda for the United States, including paid family leave, paid sick leave, three weeks of paid vacation, limits on compulsory overtime and policies making it easier to choose part-time work with healthcare and other benefits."

July 02, 2006

evolving notions of a mother's place

Societal expectations of mothers have evolved dramatically since the 1930s. Remember the old chestnut that women should be "barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen"? Gone the way of the dodo bird, right? If it were, the Ohio state legislature would not have had any reason to pass a law last year, stating that "a mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location of a place of public accomodation wherein the mother is otherwise permitted." That's why a group of mothers and babies held a nurse-in yesterday at Crocker Park in Westlake. I attended to support their rights to breastfeed in public. The event is covered on page B1 of the July 2 Plain Dealer (which is now available online).

This right has been frequently challenged in recent years. Lots of people still think that mothers with nursing babies should stay home, or go home to feed their babies. Breastpumps, bottles, and artificial baby milk make it possible for anyone to feed a baby, and once that is possible, there's more room to argue that a mother should conform to notions of modesty that have been applied to all women equally in our society. This view privileges the sexual appeal of breasts to men, and argues that mothers should not appear in public when they are using their breasts to feed their babies. It's expressed by comments such as this one, responding to news coverage of a Milwalkee nurse-in:

"Honestly think somethings are done better in a private place and why on earth would anyone want to breast feed in a dressing room, working in retail I can agree with the employees most malls set up family restrooms for this purpose. You take away from business."

Obviously, this is not a view with which I agree. Restrooms are noplace where anyone should be eating. Family restrooms in malls are great places to change diapers, but they do not have a comfortable spot to sit down and nurse.

There's a lot of work still to be done before our society broadly accepts that a breastfeeding mother's place is anywhere...

Continue reading "evolving notions of a mother's place"

May 17, 2006

guiding change to a destination still below the horizon

As I promised before my hiatus, I'm returning to ideas about the roles of managers and employees in organizational change processes. I want to share a reference that I came across during a presentation by two of our doctoral students on Monday, based on their qualifying research on the nature of mindfulness. They mentioned Linda Ackerman and Dean Anderson, which lead me to Scholar.Google.Com and to this article, which asserts that the type of managerial activity required depends on the type of change envisioned. Some change is developmental, and some is transitional, and perhaps for those types of change the old wisdom about minimizing resistance might be useful, but for the third type of change, the transformational type, different challenges must be addressed.

Click through to read more about what they mean, why I concur, and how I think they may be overstating the power of leadership in transformational change...

Continue reading "guiding change to a destination still below the horizon"

May 03, 2006

the metaphors of motivating change

"buy in", "get on board", "commit"

"selling", "signing up", "winning over"

Such interesting metaphors we use to describe what we want employees to do in response to a proposed organizational change, and what we as change agents need to do to get them to cooperate.

Yet one metaphor is even more pernicious than all the others, and potentially, much more damaging. "Overcoming resistance".

I'm going to leave you with that teaser, and come back to these ideas in about 10 days, when my grading is finished, my summer research projects are out for review in the human subjects committee or the grant approval committees, and I have had some time to recharge by visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and niece. The quiet phase should end around May 15.

In the meantime, please explore my other blog entries, and leave me a comment or two if you'd like? I will look forward to hearing from you.

Here are some old, but valuable, thoughts on organizational change and transformative cooperation:

Enjoy!

April 30, 2006

outcomes of the Global Night Commute

There was an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Friday about plans for the Saturday night event. Similarly, in California, KGET reported on plans in Bakersfield and 10news reported on plans in San Diego. In Seattle, over 1000 people were expected to participate.

News is also beginning to come in about attendance at the events around the world. In Rochester, NY, there is already a report from WROC, a local television station, saying that 200 people in that city participated in the night commute last night. In Augusta, GA, more than 25 people participated in the march, and in Aiken County, GA, participants numbered over 200 (story here, login required or use bugmenot.com). In Austin, TX, the Austin American Statesman reported that hundreds of college students walked from the clock tower at the UT campus to the grounds of the state capitol to participate in the night commute. There are also photos of this event available at Flickr already, and here's a story from an Austin TV station. In San Francisco, over 500 people gathered, according to the local CBS news station. In Chicago, over 2000 people gathered in Grant Park, including one teenager from Uganda who now attends a private school in the US thanks to the folks at Invisible Children. And here's a personal account of the San Diego event, which was huge -- 5000 people in Balboa park! Participants in other cities have been checking in on MySpace with updates about what the Global Night Commute was like for them. The pictures are really inspiring!

Unfortunately, I can't find any information from anyone who was at the Free Stamp last night. If you were there, would you please leave a comment and let me know what it was like?

April 26, 2006

reinventing jobs, careers, and the w

"Reinventing Jobs, Careers, and the World of Work"

It's a good sign when three posts emerge in the same morning of blog reading, all ready to be packaged up in a theme. It probably indicates that all the cultivation I have been doing of online relationships -- reading blogs, adding some to my Bloglines so I can read them again later, commenting, making my own posts -- is starting to yield fruit for intellectual enjoyment.

Click through to read on if you'd like to learn more about Diane at Zaadz, Miriam Peskowitz, and David Pollard, and how the different social movemnts they help to advance are converging.

Continue reading "reinventing jobs, careers, and the w"

April 25, 2006

developing a career, growing a family...

How can one develop a career and grow a family at the same time? Especially in academia, this is a sticky question. The Tomorrow's Professor blog recently explored the question of whether there is a global warming trend toward women in academia, but concludes that in many traditionally male disciplines, the climate for women is still chilly. And in all this focus on women, the broader point about how men in two-career marriages can play more egalitarian roles in their growing families while moving into academic careers sometimes gets lost. (This is a more specific version of the broader question which I addressed yesterday in my post on what fathers want.)

I was particularly struck by this series of posts at Mommy Ph.D....

Continue reading "developing a career, growing a family..."

April 22, 2006

framing your inquiry

My colleague Ron Fry has a new book out, coauthored with Frank Barrett (an alumnus of our Ph.D. program, now on the faculty at the Monterrey Naval Academy).

The press release aboout the book, in the link above, describes the approach that Ron Fry takes to combining problem solving and appreciative inquiry: "I don't try to avoid ever focusing on the problem, deficit or the negative. I just try to live more often in conversations that are unbalanced in terms of having more attention, questions and imagery that relate to possibilities, hope and the positive."

I think that is really a key element of understanding the role of positively framing an organizational change intervention. A positive frame is chosen because of the momentum and energy it can unleash, not because there is any desire to avoid a problem-focused frame.

This is a subtlety that I am still learning, in the context of my work with NEOBEAN, as is evidenced in my earlier entry about when to trust a consultant.

April 21, 2006

responsible capitalism: employee-owned companies, and how they support one another

Did you know that Ohio is home to a Center for Employee Owned Corporations? Are you planning to attend their conference today in Akron?

Companies with ESOPs suggest a more socially responsible variant of capitalism, where the interests of the stockholders and of the employees need not be divergent. When employees have a stake in the corporation, the long-term interests of investing in a particular region can be taken more seriously when members are elected to the board of directors, and when decisions about relocating facilities or changing working conditions for employees are considered.

Want to learn more?

Continue reading "responsible capitalism: employee-owned companies, and how they support one another"

April 07, 2006

more musings on role models, in fiction and in history

The twelfth Carnival of the Feminists is up at Ragnells (ah, I mean, Star Sapphire's) blog, called Written World. It includes a link to my earlier post on Kim Possible and Wonder Woman (and ElastiGirl), along with several other posts on the same theme...

Continue reading "more musings on role models, in fiction and in history"

April 01, 2006

female role models, then and now

When I think back to the influences that made me into a feminist, one of my first memories is of watching Wonder Woman with my younger sister. (We never read the comic strip series but watched the tv series which starred Lynda Carter. In case you want to estimate my age, let me out myself -- I was ten when this show finished production.) I still remember running around the backyard pretending that I had bullet-deflecting armbands and could protect the world from bad guys. All too quickly, though, I learned that not even quick wits and a sharp tongue could always protect us from the painful criticisms that teenagers can inflict on one another.

Now, my daughter watches Kim Possible, and I've noticed that the message being sent about what it takes to be a "super woman" has not changed that much over the years.

Continue reading "female role models, then and now"

March 09, 2006

how are universities managed?

No, this is not a post about the budget issues and faculty-leadership tensions on my home campus. (Be sure to read what Aaron had to say about that, though.)

This is the seventh of a series of posts introducing the NEO community to the intrepid students who have taken on an optional assignment in MGMT 251 this spring. The seventh student I am highlighting is Takanori Kido, whose blog focuses on Contrasts in University Management: the US vs. Japan. He has made several entries so far, and his latest addresses the challenge of firing employees. Would you add any considerations to his list? Read his entry and leave him a comment, please!

P. S. The previous entry in my series highlighting students' blogs is here, and has trackbacks to the earlier entries as well. Any support you can give to these novice bloggers is most welcome!

March 08, 2006

let this be the century when sexism ends

Today is Blog Against Sexism day, and as promised, I'm going to write something about pregnancy discrimination. It's by no means the only manifestation of sexism in our society, but it's one that I have thought about a lot over the last few years, especially since I began teaching my undergraduates the basics about nondiscrimination in employment interviewing.

In a great post on BlogHer about ten days back, Jory DesJardins told a story that sounded all too familiar to me:

Recently I helped a friend get a position at a firm where I knew the principals, who were both men. She already had a small child, and they'd agreed to flexible hours. She worked from home but was enormously structured, starting work at 5am to begin sales calls on the East Coast and taking breaks in the middle of the day to be with her daughter. The situation was working well, until she got pregnant again. Her voice was low and secretive when she called. "I'm pregnant," she nearly whispered. "Congratulations!" I said. She didn't sound as happy as I was for her.

"Thanks," she said. "I haven't said anything yet to my boss."

Sadly that is often what women think upon hearing such news--how do I make it look like having another life in the house won't have any effect on my work performance?

Yes, many employers consider it a bad thing if a worker gets pregnant, and it's such a short-term and narrow-minded point of view. Forget the joy of bringing a new life into the world, forget the long-term contribution that the mother and her social support system will make by raising a young citizen with untold promise, forget that all workers eventually retire and we do need, as a society, to nurture the next generation of productive workers... are you going to be able to deliver your tasks on time to me over the next six months?

I understand that it is disruptive to the normal flow of work to deal with someone going on maternity leave, to find a temporary replacement, to manage the uncertainties of when the new mother will be ready and able to return to full-time work. But let's not forget to be human when we are managers -- let's not forget to say "congratulations!" and mean it. After all, most women are already confronting a lot of stress and challenges when they are holding down a job and growing a baby simultaneously, especially in countries like Papua New Guinea and the United States, where they have no guarantee of paid maternity leave. The least you can do, as an employer, is not add to that stress with a selfish, short-term reaction to the news that an employee is expecting.

According to Carmen Armenti, many women academics either attempt to hide their pre-tenure babies by having May babies or delay having children until after they have earned tenure. In both situations, women are hiding their maternal desires to meet an unwritten professional standard that is geared toward the male life course. While I did not go this far with my first child, I did make a conscious effort not to conceive at a time when I would have gone on leave in the middle of a semester. I didn't want to develop relationships with students and then "leave them in the lurch" when I went into labor, and I didn't want to develop any complicated system for my colleagues to cover for me through the second half of a semester.

That many academic women feel these pressures to minimize the visibility of their motherhood and its impact on their work productivity in the first few months after childbirth is problematic, particularly since that many academics pursue long careers -- 30, 40, or sometimes even 50 years long. Why must their first 10 years follow a lock-step pattern of 4 years earning their doctorate, followed by 6 years of incredibly long hours spent on research, writing, and teaching, in order to earn tenure? Why must people who wish to pursue an academic career, but would prefer not to work 55, 65, or 75 hours a week, be treated as second-class citizens?

Many women entering professional work face these challenges, not just academic women. In consulting, twice as many women exit the big companies from the middle rungs of the career ladder as do men. In medicine, a whole wave of new entrants into the field are seeking ways to combine careers as doctors with family or other personal interests -- both men and women. The organizations which can figure out how to rework traditional male career patterns and create options for their professional employees, both male and female, are the ones which will succeed in retaining outstanding talent in the coming decades, when baby boomers will retire and there will be smaller numbers of new professionals entering the US workforce.

Let this be the century when biased attitudes toward working women who get pregnant fade away, replaced by an appreciation for the value that childbearing and parenting have in our society in the long term.

Let this be the century when shards of the shattered glass ceiling are swept up and shipped off to be recycled, and the maternal wall is demolished for good.

Let this be the century when employers learn to manage employees flexibly, allowing them to structure their own days so they can be most productive.

Let this be the century when women (whether mothers or not) come to be treated as true equals, in the workplace and in their homes, and our global society learns the meaning of equity.

Let this be the century when sexism ends.

(If you want to participate in Blog Against Sexism day, just make a post in your own blog, and put a tag on it that says "blog against sexism". Then you can read other posts made in honor of the cause via Technorati.)

March 04, 2006

standing behind the President

After the meeting on Friday afternoon, I'm still feeling a bit uninformed about the point of view of the Arts and Sciences faculty. As I wrote on Thursday, I think more dialogue is needed, but it is certainly my impression that President Hundert and Provost Anderson want to facilitate that process.

The fact that Professor Krauss' initiative was inspired by Harvard concerns me -- it's not clear how our university will benefit from this apparent case of "me-too-ism". There are significant differences between Harvard's faculty of arts and sciences and our College of Arts and Sciences. Harvard has over 940 faculty in Arts and Sciences. In contrast, our College of Arts and Sciences numbers only about 220 professors. Their arts and sciences faculty have sustained the reputation of the entire university in past decades, while Case's reputation comes primarily from engineering and medicine.

I understand that faculty are disappointed that we have not achieved what we had hoped according to the plan launched three years ago. I know it has been and will be very difficult to continue to implement changes when we have not been able to afford as sizeable an investment as we had hoped to support the changes that are underway.

What I do not understand is why the Arts and Sciences faculty feel that the surprises we have experienced in NIH research funding and development are exclusively the president's fault. The course of action he is proposing now, to cease the planned draw on working capital a year early, seems the most responsible course of action. I don't believe that a change in leadership would result in any different decisionmaking. What has happened must be faced, and a change in leadership would only slow down the process of getting back on course.

P.S.: At least one student is standing with President Hundert as well... and don't miss the reasoned comments from Glenn Starkman on this entry. I hope that we can continue to have continued dialogue about these issues (though not necessarily via the blog).

March 03, 2006

the unfolding story of a challenge to leadership

The common wisdom is that any publicity is good publicity, and clearly recent campus events have the local community buzzing about Case and its President. In the season of the year when admitted students are making decisions about where they will enroll next fall, though, I'd rather have the publicity about our campus focusing on positive signs instead of internal discord.

I have not written anything about this story because I feel very uninformed. The best reporting I have found on the no-confidence vote here on campus yesterday is the story in the campus paper. Much like the members of the Undergraduate Student Government, who called earlier this week for faculty to postpone the vote, I think caution is appropriate. Clearly, more dialogue is needed. Weatherhead faculty meet with President Hundert late this afternoon. I'm hoping that something concrete and constructive will emerge from that conversation.

February 16, 2006

step 1: believe in yourself

Today Meredith Myers and Latha Poonamallee will be leading MGMT 251 students through a presentation skills workshop. As this essay by Carmine Gallo in Business Week points out, step 1 in delivering an effective presentation is to believe in yourself. The article offers other helpful tips as well.

I found the article online via the Tom Peters Newswire, which is a really helpful filter if you are looking for discussions of current business topics on the web.

There is also a collection of other presentation tips collected at my deli.cio.us tag about presentations, and at the aggregation of all popular deli.cio.us links on presentations. If you have not already seen Delicious, I recommend checking it out -- you can even integrate your list of tagged weblinks into your Blog@Case! Here's how.

Unfortunately, I cannot be in class today, because I am scheduled to fly to Chicago at 10:30 am for a board meeting in a professional association. I was elected last May to serve as a representative-at-large for the 2600+ members of the Organization Development and Change division of the Academy of Management. I'll be back Saturday evening. If anyone needs me before then, my office voicemail has my cellphone number.

October 07, 2005

What Women (and Men) Want: Flexible Workplaces

In my previous entry about how young women's expectations regarding work and family roles, and what it will take to level the playing field for mothers and fathers in the workplace, I suggested that Louise Story's New York Times article suggesting a new trend toward full-time at-home motherhood might have some flaws. This new Alternet commentary by Linda Basch, Ilene Lang, and Deborah Merrill-Sands encourages other writers to correct the bias in Louise Story's reporting by refocusing public attention not on the anecdotally-documented preferences of elite women, but on the statistical patterns evident in the American workplace as a whole.

Some of the statistics in the commentary spoke particularly eloquently to me, so I am quoting them here:

Continue reading "What Women (and Men) Want: Flexible Workplaces"

August 02, 2005

Deye mon gen mon

"Deye mon gen mon" is Haitian saying which translates as "beyond mountains there are mountains" and the saying is explained in this way: "as you solve one problem, another problem appears, and so you go on and try to solve that one too."

Mountains Beyond Mountains is a book by Tracy Kidder which tells the story of Paul Farmer, a doctor who works at Harvard and the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and at Zamni Lasante, a clinic he founded in the mountains of Haiti.

This book was selected as a common reading for the Case community for the coming academic year, the fourth year of our common reading program. My colleagues selected this book to inspire, I am sure; Case is involved in a variety of ways in fighting poverty and disease, and recently won a multi-million-dollar grant to do research on fighting tuberculosis, and there is much work left to be done. First-year students were invited to submit essays in response to several prompts, and upperclass students were invited to address equally tough questions.

I will be taking the book with me on vacation for a slow rereading, since it was almost too intense to absorb on my first read, back in June. [I did eventually write up an answer to an essay question; see my post from several months after this one, on my areas of moral clarity.]

By the way, this idea of a common reading is not Case's innovation. Duke students were invited to read the same book last summer, and this year Case students will be joined in spirit by members of the LaRoche College community in Pittsburgh, by campus residents at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and by first-year students at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, among others.

July 28, 2005

new ways of organizing work time

When I called for new ways of organizing careers in my previous post, I neglected to mention the desirability of new ways of organizing the work day. Both will help to address the underrepresentation of women in the upper echelons of business. For one interesting idea about reorganizing the work day, check out a recent article in Time magazine that talks about Best Buy's ROWE (results-oriented work environment) which sounds like the next generation of flextime. Yesterday on Talk of the Nation, Phyllis Moen (a prominent scholar of work-family issues) and two other guests discussed why so few workers are eligible for flextime and Best Buy seems to be finding a way of addressing those inequities -- their ROWE initiative is implemented for a whole work group at a time.

Aaron Shaffer commented on my previous post on the glass ceiling, asking how much of a change I would find reasonable, given the differences in testosterone levels between men and women (he linked to this 2000 article from the NYT magazine by Andrew Sullivan). I think the argument here is that men (with higher levels of testosterone) are more likely to aspire to win at all costs, and thus may have higher ambitions or more persistence in pursuing their ambitions, even in the face of competition from others who also aspire to sit in the CEO chair. However, there are specific elements of Sullivan's article that might contradict that argument -- in particular, his finding that blue-collar workers have higher levels of testosterone than white-collar workers. He offers no specific evidence that testosterone levels of successful venture capitalists or business leaders in other sectors are higher than they are for school principals or directors of nursing. In an unpublished draft of a chapter by Linda Dunn-Jensen and Linda Stroh, they present evidence from several studies that women's levels of ambition are as high as men's at the beginning of their careers, but may lessen over time. This is much more consistent with the notion of ambition being constrained by socialization as it is by the notion that ambition might be determined by hormones. Testosterone may be an influence, but I would expect it to be a small one.

What is most important to me is to see women rise to the top of the corporate world in sufficient numbers that they will be treated as individuals, and not as tokens. Here's a good summary of Rosabeth Moss Kanter's ideas about tokenism. With women representing less than 8% of top managers in the US workforce (as documented by the Economist article which prompted my comments yesterday), we are definitely still in the token role. We may not need that number to rise all the way to 46%, to be exactly proportional to women's representation in the overall workforce, but I think it's reasonable to expect it to rise to 30% or more.

July 27, 2005

Speaking of glacial change...

... last week the Economist published an article about the conundrum of the glass ceiling, stating that although "research by Catalyst found a strong correlation between the number of women in top executive positions and financial performance among Fortune 500 companies between 1996 and 2000" the following facts still hold true:

  • Women account for 46.5% of America's workforce and for less than 8% of its top managers, although at big Fortune 500 companies the figure is a bit higher.
  • [In a] large sample of British quoted companies, 65% had no women on their board at all in 2003.
  • Female managers' earnings now average 72% of their male colleagues'.
  • The management-consulting business.... loses twice as many women as men from the middle rungs of its career ladder.

How do they explain the persistence of the glass ceiling? They mention women's inability to access informal social networks, stereotyping of women as less capable of leadership, a lack of visible female role models, the flattening of corporate structures (which may make it more difficult to get promoted), and women's greater struggle with work-life issues (including taking time off to care for children, parents, and household demands). They also explore the possibility that women are less ambitious for top jobs, and that corporations are losing their best women to the more flexible world of entrepreneurial businesses.

What leverage do we have as a society to change this finding? And no, I don't believe the finding that diversity is associated with increased performance will be enough on its own to overcome stereotypes and unconscious patterns of informal social networking. We need to work from at least three angles:

  • We have to start young, and we have to work on males' beliefs about themselves, not just women's beliefs about their capacity. Some of that work is already being done -- my husband, for example, pulls his weight with the "second shift" tasks in our household. Still, he's uncomfortable with the idea of taking a paid paternity leave, even though his company offers one, and women will never make it to the top in large numbers if men continue to believe it's their responsibility to take care of their households only through paid work.
  • We have to find new ways of organizing careers that appeal to many (rather than being relegated to minority status as mommy tracks) and that allow people to move into and out of full-time work. In the US, that may mean moving away from associating health insurance with employment -- a huge political task.
  • And we have to build networks of supporters for these initiatives which include members of the current, largely male, elite. This probably involves appealing to the generational protectiveness of CEOs and corporate directors who are fathers of daughters.

This is a much bigger change than simply aiming to raise breastfeeding rates in Northeast Ohio. It will probably still be underway when my daughter gives birth to her first child. Nevertheless, the same principles apply, beginning with Margaret Mead's axiom ("never doubt that a small group...") and including some of the additions recently suggested by Zaid over at WorldChanging. He suggests this addendum to Mead's famous quote:

"For a small group of thoughtful and committed people to change the world, they must believe that change is possible. They must be ready to act the moment a stuck system becomes liquid. They will only be effective if they display collective intelligence. Finally, they must live in a small world."