Entries in "transformation"

December 20, 2007

BookSense review of the Handbook of Transformative Cooperation

I was notified last week that our handbook had been reviewed by BookSense:

"By now we know top-down change is not always good change, nor is it even more than temporarily efficient. The editors (all organizational behavior, Case Western Reserve U.) and their contributors, primarily US academics, argue for "transformative cooperation" (TC), which they define as a systematic and compassionate method of partnering with like-minded individuals and organizations to produce sustainable alternatives and promote a higher stage of moral development; in the real world this translates to businesses working with governments and non-profits on global concerns. Their topics here include the reasons for using TC in creating a more inclusive capitalism, the transformational nature of compassion at work, ego and identity as barriers to TC, creating TC through positive emotions, applying TC to leadership, designing transformative learning, including researching elementary and high schools for management education, and TC as a generative possibility. Includes case studies and avenues for further inquiry. (Annotation ©2007 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)"

July 21, 2007

Weatherhead's Dean, Mohan Reddy, continues to impress

In case anyone did not have a chance to read the article that appeared in Crain's Cleveland Business earlier this week, I will underline some of the key news. The headline in Crain's was Reddy's Ready For Action: With much of Weatherhead’s turmoil in rearview mirror, dean aims to revamp its MBA program . Here are a few key excerpts:

"An enhanced executive MBA program and a revamped MBA program will roll out in fall 2008, he said. ... The second year of the program [will] incorporate specialties that would be taught across the curriculum, which would make Weatherhead stand out among other MBA programs, according to Dr. Reddy. Some specialties the school is considering are social entrepreneurship [and] business sustainability. ...

With Cleveland’s population and corporate footprint shrinking, Dr. Reddy said it’s important to create an executive MBA program that appeals to students from outside Northeast Ohio. He said he’s beginning to meet with faculty and advisers now to figure out how Weatherhead can accomplish that goal.In the meantime, he said he’s also in talks with universities in China and India to create joint master’s degrees in areas such as organizational development and science and technology."

As I wrote last December, Mohan is a powerhouse. Stay tuned for positive results in the next year.

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

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"

March 26, 2007

"wasting time" at the office

As an update on my entry from early last Friday morning, here's a link to the WCPN podcast of last Friday morning's 90.3 at 9 show during which I was one of the guests to speak on the topic of "wasting time at the office".

My "maiden" experience on the radio waves as a guest was quite enjoyable, particularly because I had the pleasure of meeting the Friday host, Regina Brett. The show's producer, Paul Cox, and assistant producter, Marie Andrusewicz, both helped me to settle in at the studio. I even learned how to use a "cough" button!

Here are some background links to information I mentioned during the segment:


The piece on wasting time at the office is in the second half of the podcast, and the first half is also worth listening to, with guests commenting on population loss in Cuyahoga county and how we can take action to counteract the current trends. One of the guests recommends this report, The Vital Center, from the Brookings Institute. The guest who was in the studio with Regina Brett and myself, Mark Rosentraub, has a number of worthwhile pieces published on the topic of urban and regional renewal, also worth reading:

December 28, 2006

choices made, and results to follow

There's an article in Crain's Cleveland Business by Shannon Mortland, from 12/19/06, drawing attention to the latest report from Voices and Choices. Here's part of what Mortland wrote:

"Local government officials are going to have to put away their personal agendas long enough to work together toward improving Northeast Ohio’s future. ... The “Report on the Public’s Priorities for Northeast Ohio’s Future” also noted that post-secondary education must be more affordable, accessible and achievable; quality education and training for low-income residents and minorities must be made more available; and businesses and local entrepreneurs will need increased public and private investment and support."

The report that Mortland summarizes is worth reading to appreciate the magnitude of the challenges that face this region. I also recommend downloading the earlier released report on citizen interviews, which includes extensive quotes from Northeast Ohio residents. It's worth reading, and worth acting upon.

How will we help move these choices from ideas to action? How will we measure the results of those actions?

December 22, 2006

a new powerhouse for Weatherhead

He may only be 5-foot-2, and yet, Mohan Reddy can light up a room. He is modest and unassuming, and does not choose to step into the spotlight; however, he can carry burdens far greater than most, and without forgetting to stop and ask "how are you?" of his colleagues, students, or alumni.

Mohan was named the interim dean of Weatherhead in August of this year (2006), and at that time, I did not know him well personally. (Click on the link below to read more.)

Continue reading "a new powerhouse for Weatherhead"

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.

November 03, 2006

the journey toward perfection: a status report

On Sept. 1, I posted a blog entry about the speaker at Fall Commencement, entitled food for thought. In it, I discussed speaker Michael Ruhlman's words, both during his speech and in his book, which was assigned as a common reading for all entering first-year undergraduates in August of 2007. The book is entitled The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection. One week later, an article about Fall Commencement was published in the Case campus newspaper, the Observer -- Soul of a Chef Author Addresses Case.

One week before, Mano Singham had also written about his reactions to the book, as a professor who teaches first seminars here at Case. He tells a bit of the story of how Ruhlman's book was selected as a common reading for Case first-year students, and outlines how he dealt with his initial lack of enthusiasm for reading the book. Professor Singham makes two important points which may be helpful reminders for students in MGMT 250: (click through to read more)

Continue reading "the journey toward perfection: a status report"

October 23, 2006

BAWB open to all in NEO!

This is an update on my recent post about BAWB.

Anyone who is a blogger is welcome to attend BAWB tomorrow -- Tuesday -- provided you are willing to write something about your event on your blog. Simply show up at the Veale Center on the Case campus, enter the main door, and turn to your right for the media registration table. State that you are a blogger, and George Nemeth or Sandy Piderit referred you. They'll get you a nametag and you can join us! It will be worth it -- guaranteed or your money back.

There is an event on Tuesday, tomorrow, from 4:30 till 6:30, that is specifically focused on telling the stories of the sustainability movement in NEO, and propelling the movement forward and to a higher level. It will also be in Veale, and my understanding is that anyone may attend.

October 22, 2006

BAWB event open to NEO community coming up...

I will have handouts at BAWB on Tuesday or Wednesday, with the table of contents for the forthcoming Handbook of Transformative Cooperation. It is expected to be in print next summer at Stanford University Press.

I hope you see some of my BFD and/or REALNEO connections at the regional event! If you don't know what I'm talking about, please leave a comment and I'll find out if there is still space available for you to join us at Veale on Tuesday.

For now, let me leave you with a teaser about the forthcoming Handbook:

Continue reading "BAWB event open to NEO community coming up..."

October 01, 2006

management skills save the world, one orphanage at a time

One of my former students, and a recent alumna of Case Western Reserve, has been blogging about her experiences as a volunteer in Kenya. I have found her entries touching and inspiring.

"Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope." -- Robert F. Kennedy


Continue reading "management skills save the world, one orphanage at a time"

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?"

September 01, 2006

food for thought

NB: This blog entry was redistributed with permission in the CoolCleveland eNewsletter, also available online.

Yesterday I attended Convocation, drawn by the promise of ritual and the prospect of hearing Michael Ruhlman, author of Case's Common Reading for this year, speak. He wrote The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection more than 5 years ago, and so I hoped that his speech would go beyond the book into more elaborated thinking about what it takes to become an expert in one's chosen field. He did not disappoint.

He addressed head-on a criticism he has probably heard many times about his writing on cooking: Isn't it frivolous to write about fancy food in a time when there is so much serious stuff happening in world politics? His answer started with this assertion:

"Great cooking, in the end, has such power because it allows us to connect with our past, our future, and all of humanity, if we let it. I believe that America's insatiable appetite for food and cooking know-how is really the beginning of a spiritual quest for the bigger things: a search for meaning, order and beauty in an apparently chaotic and alienating universe."

President Eastwood looked quite comfortable listening to Ruhlman's speech up until that point, but when Ruhlman made his next main point, suggesting that sharing what he learned about master chefs brought into relief how all of America has become a culture of mediocrity, the President started to look a little nervous...

Continue reading "food for thought"

August 04, 2006

why reducing unsustainability fails

From John Ehrenfeld, a just-released Change This manifesto:

Beyond Sustainability: Why an All-Consuming Campaign to Reduce Unsustainability Fails

After a quick skim, this looks like a must-read. What do you think?

August 01, 2006

Best Buy's best bet: Results Oriented Work Environment

I missed a really interesting NPR piece while I was out of the country, focusing on how Best Buy has implemented flextime. Here's the link to the audio of Wendy Kaufman's report. (The story is just over 3 minutes long, and includes an introduction by Renée Montaigne.)

Listening to the piece makes me long to learn more about how this change is really rolling out within the company. I assume that it is overseen by the company's top HR officer, Lori Ballard. I wonder how I could get connected to her for an interview that would let me write a little mini-case for my course next spring... any suggestions?

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"

June 30, 2006

book in development: impacts of gender equity

I just read my copy of the newsletter for the Gender, Diversity, and Organizations division of the Academy of Management, which mentioned a very interesting new book which is in the development stages. It's called Living Life: Stories of Women, Men and Changing Roles in the 20th Century. The premise of the project is that stories about the progress of gender equity need to be told so that we can both cherish and protect these gains.

Click through on the book title to read more! There is an online survey that you can complete to share your stories with the project directors.

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 17, 2006

can you ever trust a consultant?

I came across a great excerpt from a speech by Bob Sutton recently, at the AlwaysOn Network: it's called "Use Common Sense, Not Crystal Balls". In it Professor Sutton (a U of M alum like me) provides four questions for managers to ask themselves when thinking about whether to take the advice offered by consultants. First, is the practice that is being advised time-tested? Second, who benefits? Third, what are the risks? And fourth, what evidence is there that this practice is connected with effectiveness?

I would argue that a consultant who can engage in an honest dialogue with a manager about these questions is a consultant who can be trusted. The rest --

Continue reading "can you ever trust a consultant?"

April 13, 2006

inspiring meeting yesterday -- building a regional coalition

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My NEOBEAN colleagues and I met with Eric Brewer, the mayor of East Cleveland, and he was very supportive and willing to work with us in getting breastfeeding education materials to his city's residents. He and Norm Roulet (who is working on lead abatement in the region) further challenged us to draw together a team of people to get involved in a health fair in the city next month, and to figure out how to reach out to and offer prenatal care, easier access to WIC and other government services, and make sure that all pregnant women are educated about the potential dangers of lead contamination in their living quarters.

I hope that we can draw in some student volunteers to help us with the outreach and health promotion aspects of the initiative. It would be great if we could find a way to offer health promotion curriculum in middle schools and high schools.

April 12, 2006

Anne Lamott at Amasa Stone at Case -- part 2

If you missed Anne Lamott's visit to the Case campus last Friday, I have written a little bit about it already... but part 1 was more about me than about her. In part 2, I want to try to remember what she said, which is tricky, because I did not take many notes.

John Ettorre called Anne Lamott "a poet and a mystic and a prophet and a patriot and the most honest, most moving, most luminous, soul-stirring Christian writing today, perhaps in the entire English language. And all from lefty Marin County, across the bridge from San Fran."

Continue reading "Anne Lamott at Amasa Stone at Case -- part 2"

April 04, 2006

is MacDonalds socially responsible, or is it marketing greenwash?

The Carnival of the Capitalists is up for the week, and one of the highlighted posts is about MacDonalds. Steven Silvers offers mocking commentary on the blog that MacDonalds makes available to consumers with the tag line "Open for Discussion". His teaser summary asserts that "If McDonald's thinks selling salads constitutes social responsibility, they must figure clean bathrooms deserve the Nobel Prize."

The potential that companies might just appear to change their behavior, when in fact all they are doing is disguising themselves as socially responsible, is what makes me skeptical about buying products marketed as supporting particular values, like the Reebok breast cancer eradication sneakers that I wrote about last week when I asked how company values affect consumer behavior. It is why I think new portals like Alonovo which empower consumers with a deeper analysis about whether companies are walking their talk are going to be forces to reckon with in the future.

What do you think about the MacDonald's blog? Is MacDonald's a company you admire? Or do you boycott it on principle?

campus event 4/11: regional coalitions as a way to address inequalities

Did anyone get to attend this? I couldn't (a last-minute conflict arose) but I would love to read a blog entry by someone who did... or even just hear an informal update!

Margaret Weir, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and Sociology, University of California at Berkeley
will present an NSF-ADVANCE Distinguished Lecture on

Challenging Metropolitan Inequalities: Coalition Building for Inclusive Growth

April 11, 2006, Clark Hall 309 - 4:00-5:30 pm

Many discussions of how to address the Cleveland area's economic and social challenges include proposals for some sort of "regionalization." Yet the obstacles to any shared efforts across government boundaries remain substantial. Join us for a talk and conversation about the prospects for policies that seek growth with equity for Cleveland and other metropolitan regions.

Professor Margaret Weir received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 1986. Her research and teaching fields include political sociology, American political development, urban politics and policy, and comparative studies of the welfare state. She has written extensively on issues of regional coalition-building, metropolitan government, and the political and economic isolation of central cities. Professor Weir is also coauthor, with Benjamin Ginsberg and Theodore J. Lowi, of We the People (5th ed.), a major textbook on American government.

One of her recent chapters on coalitiion building and regionalism is available online here (essay 5).

Sponsored by ACES and the Office of the President and The Provost, in conjunction with the Department of Political Science.

March 29, 2006

how do company values affect consumer behavior?

I've noticed some interesting tidbits lately about how we respond to corporate actions that communicate social responsibility, and I'd welcome a chance to generate a dialogue about these issues. Take this poll, in the right sidebar of the Case (family) Foundation Spotlight, for instance: it asks, when is a company's commitment to a social issue most important? and suggests that the company's values might influence the products we buy, where we work, or how we invest. Which would you choose?

(Go ahead, click over there, and then come back and tell me! And if you have a hard time deciding, check out these Reebok sneakers, and let me know if you would be more likely to buy them because of the cause you'd be supporting....)

Another datapoint: the online shopping portals that are springing up to allow consumers to donate a portion of their purchases to worthy causes. The latest one I've come across is Alonovo, which allows each user to indicate which social and environmental issues are most important, and then get data about the companies which supply books, music, computers, electronics, etc. that you might want to buy. For instance, you can choose to buy products from companies which share their profits with employees, or which have a better representation of women and ethnic minorities on their boards.

A third datapoint: businesses which have fully embraced sustainability, like the ones that students in the green MBA program visit on field trips, or like Cleveland's own Great Lakes Brewing Company and nearby Wooster's Hartzler Dairy. Will the new business ideas emerging from the Entrepreneurs for Sustainability network in Northeast Ohio find that they are favored by consumers because of the values which guide their business development?

What do you think? Is this a blip, or a genuine trend?

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 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.

December 22, 2005

sophomores are careful of some very careful thinking (and writing)

Daniel Jurek wrote:

"Tom becomes bored with his work easily and his performance drops when this happens. Our half of the class suggested that the company look into adopting a method of allowing workers to change to different positions (i.e. operate drill presses for a period of time instead of only tightening nuts and bolts). Assembly line jobs are boring; ask any worker who has had to repeat tasks for long periods of time. I even injured myself out of boredom when operating a drill press for an extended period. By allowing employees to rotate through different positions, a company can change the rhythm of the work and keep workers interested in their job.

This procedure has risks. I'll rewrite that sentence with different styling: This procedure has risks. To execute this properly, management needs to set up a list of workers and desired rotation positions. Training and orientation sessions will then be given to all workers for each position they specify. Workers will be rotated in and out of positions over a regular and stated period of time and all positions will have trained and experienced workers at all times. That way, the number of people moving into a position that are relatively new to that position is small compared to the number of experienced workers at that position at all times."

December 21, 2005

I learn so much from teaching

Euy-Hun Chung wrote:

"My best is not nearly good enough. To improve my life from good to great and great to best, I should not see my limit, but look at the whole picture of the direction and keep walking toward my setting goal. It will be risky and long journey to establish and walk my way. Looking back my values and basic principles, what I would like to do is to contribute to the society by helping people in the world through my business. This is what I want in my life. I have challenged many things that other people don't. And, I will continuously put myself in risky situations in order to keep challenging myself. As now I am young, I have nothing to lose or conceal, and only hope and passion to be happy make me satisfied in my life."

December 17, 2005

Rebuilding New Orleans with a wifi network

I had missed this post by Youngjin Yoo about the plan to blanket New Orleans in wifi, which I think is a wonderful way to go about rebuilding downtown in a new and better way. As Professor Yoo writes, however, there are questions about how it will be implemented:

"This is an interesting idea, but leaves several questions."

"1. Does New Orleans have full power throughout the city? Do they have other basic infrastructure in place? Or is free WiFi being considered a part of basic infrastructure now?"

[snip]

"3. It is one thing to have free WiFi throughout the city, but it is another to have plans how to use them. Even if you build them, they may not come, or will they?"

Click through the first link above to read the full original post by my colleague.

December 16, 2005

My research focus

For the record:

My work centers on how relationships enable productive organizational and social change.

I have published seven peer-reviewed papers connected to this overarching interest, and in the next year or so two books of contributed chapters will appear which I edited with colleagues.

The most significant papers include the following:

Ashford, Susan J.; Rothbard, Nancy P.; Piderit, S. K.; & Jane E. Dutton. 1998. “Out on a limb: The role of context and impression management in issue selling.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 43(1): 23-57. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

Bilimoria, Diana & S. K. Piderit. 1994. “Board committee membership: Effects of sex-based bias,” Academy of Management Journal, 37(6): 1453-77. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

Piderit, S. K. 2000. “Rethinking resistance and recognizing ambivalent attitudes toward organizational change: A multidimensional view.” Academy of Management Review, 25: 783-794. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

Solow, Daniel; Vairaktarakis, George; Piderit, S. K.; & Ming-chi Tsai. 2002. “Managerial insights into the effects of interactions on replacing members of a team.” Management Science, 48(8): 1060-1073. Citations tracked by scholar.google.com.

It appears that I may get my ticket punched to play another round in the publish-or-perish game. So now it's up to me to decide whether to ante up for the next hand of cards, or to fold, cash in my chips, and find another game to play.

What'd'ya think, folks, should I try to remake my good-ole Cal Ripken self into a Jim Thome? And can I do it without moving to Philly?

October 12, 2005

article about SAGES in the Observer

There was an article in the campus newspaper last Friday with two key words in the headline: SAGES and disappointing. I could not get a sense of how typical the varied reactions to the program have been, though it seems important to find out. It might be easy to dismiss student complaints about the program as just stemming from Case's broader student culture of criticism and complaint, but it's hard to say whether the squeaky wheels are attracting the reporter's attention, or if there are not many students out there singing the praises of their First Seminar instructors.

If SAGES is a change initiative, bumps along the road to implementation are to be expected. How do we make sense of this feedback? Do we need to adjust our marketing so that it gives more of a sense of realistic preview? Do we need to provide more training and support to SAGES instructors? Do we need to surface the enthusiastic voices so that they cannot drown out the naysayers? This would make an interesting consulting project for an action research team.

August 03, 2005

Education is a human right and we have community responsibilities

Two pieces combined to strike a mournful chord in a minor key as I read this morning's Plain Dealer. The first was the front-page headline, Cleveland voters reject school levy, and the second was an op-ed piece on page B9, Just enough cash to live opulently (which was reprinted from the Scripps-Howard News Service, with the original headline "Forbes' working stiff and his millions" and written by Paul Campos at the University of Colorado.

The first piece explains that with a pitifully low turnout (11 percent of registered voters) a small number of West Side voters who opposed the school levy drowned out the voices of Cleveland's schoolchildren and their needs. The reason given? They did not receive notice from the levy campaign of the reasons for requesting the levy. MaryBeth understands, but I'm not feeling that charitable this morning. Did none of those opposed voters consider purchasing a Plain Dealer at any point in the past month? Or visiting a local public library and reading it for free? Did any of them calculate how much it would cost to mail campaign materials to every household in the city of Cleveland, and compare that with the paltry budget for the campaign? Since when do people need an engraved invitation in order to vote in favor of a public good? Yep, you can tell, I'm really ranting and raving about this.

According to article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages." But apparently we have been neglecting teaching this value to enough Clevelanders that now, only 15,008 of them were willing to take the time to go to the polls and vote "yes" on the 8 mill levy. Without the revenue from the levy, the school board will need to address a projected $30 million deficit for next year.

How can this be? Well, the second piece may help to explain things. Paul Campos comments on a Forbes magazine article which calculates what it would cost to live in comfortable opulence in different US cities (such as Columbus, Ohio. Professor Campos criticizes the article authors for assuming that individuals at this enviable standard of living would only dedicate 1 percent of their income to savings, and for omitting all federal taxes and charitable donations from its calculations. Perhaps it's unfair to criticize Forbes for this one article. After all, they also publish items like this -- the most powerful women humanitarians. Still, it's hard to find those kinds of pieces amidst Forbes' overwhelming emphasis on financial wealth. Furthermore, Forbes definitely seems to be aiding and abetting the individuals in our society which is increasingly dominated by values that seem to have more to do with "keeping up with the Joneses" (or with the Gateses) than with fulfilling their community responsibilities. I share Professor Campos' concern that our society is overly materialistic, with the effect of transforming "human beings into talking monkeys -- that is, creatures who are genuinely satisfied to live lives dedicated to acquiring an endless stream of shiny new toys." There should be more to life than the pursuit of comfortable affluence.

My response to the despair I felt when I read the headline about Cleveland's failed school levy is to commit to action. If the best I can do is to find a local charitable equivalent to DonorsChoose (which concentrates its efforts in other cities, although they are currently engaged in a matching funds drive which will allow them to commit to further expansion), then that's what I'll do. If I can find the time to volunteer, then I will, even if it means that I'm spending less time at my daughter's private preschool. (We donate to the scholarship fund there as well.)

I may not be willing or able to live like Paul Farmer right now, but I will do what I can to demonstrate my belief that education is a human right, and we have community responsibilities to support public education. If you have suggestions for how I might act on my convictions, will you please let me know?

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 29, 2005

voluntary collaborations on the web

Every time I run across an example of a large-scale voluntary collaboration on the WWW, my optimism for the future is reinforced. These types of projects often have the feel of an open source computer programming effort, in that their aim is to produce a collective good by involving anyone who wished to be involved in the production process. In many cases, they also aim to make the product or service available to all for free. They are not always focused on computer programs, though -- Wikipedians, for instance, are focused on building a storehouse of knowledge for future generations, in over 200 different languages.

The desire to share knowledge with others, accurately, and from a neutral point of view, embodies a set of values that are close to my heart (and are shared by most university professors, I would hope). Indeed, the challenge of teaching individuals how to distinguish between established facts and research conclusions on the one hand, and hypotheses and opinions on the other, is central to a university's teaching mission. Sorting through those hypotheses and opinions and making judgments about which can be moved into the category of facts and conclusions is central to a university's scholarly mission.

I'm thrilled and inspired by the idea of a Wikipedia, and even the idea of Wikibooks is appealing. When I encountered the fledgling Wikiversity, though, I realized that the publishers of encyclopedias and books must be somewhat less than thrilled by these potential free competitors. What will become of universities if the Wikipedians are able to expand their success with their online encyclopedia into the realm of university courses? Will everyone choose to pursue their higher education online, rather than attending courses in person on an old-style university campus? I doubt it, based on my belief that many things (particularly in my field, the study of human interaction in organizations) cannot be understood merely by reading about them.

I do wonder whether anyone in organizational behavior is studying what makes these open source efforts work. Efforts like Drupal, for instance, combine long periods of work coordinated via the web and email with face-to-face conferences, and my hypothesis is that when online communication leads to face-to-face communication, the effort will be more likely to sustain itself and achieve goals for progress defined by the participants. Understanding how these voluntary collaborations which make use of the web work would help contribute to our understanding of transformative cooperation more generally.

I'm off to work on the introductory chapter of our forthcoming book, A Handbook of Transformative cooperation: New Designs and Dynamics, to be published in the traditional mode next year. (I'm not sure my colleagues would consider something published on Wikibooks to be a valuable contribution, yet!) Still, I hope that my colleagues in the blogosphere will let me know if they run across any research about what makes open source collaborations effective!

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."