Entries in "wisdom"
June 21, 2007
benefits of daily writing
Liz Strauss has written a neat post on reasons to write which echoes my post from a while back about why I ask students to blog. Although management is often described as primarily an oral craft, I continue to insist to my students that the ability to write well is a great ace in the whole. That skill impresses others who value critical thinking and attention to detail, helps one make a good first impression, and sharpens the ability to think analytically and critically. All this is true not just for current students, but also for those who are already in the workplace. If you're not happy with your writing skills, then take Liz Strauss' advice, and begin a daily practice -- it can only yield positive rewards!
June 14, 2007
work and life as two balls....
... one of rubber, one of glass. A great metaphor, from Sandra Pianalto, in her speech to the graduating class at John Carroll last month:
Imagine that in one hand you hold a rubber ball and in the other hand you hold a beautiful fragile glass ball. The rubber ball represents your work life. The fragile glass ball represents your personal life - your family, your health, your friends.
What happens if you drop the rubber ball? It will bounce. Someone will pick it up for you, or it will just stay put until you are able to pick it up again.
But if you drop the glass ball, it may smash into a million pieces. If you are lucky, it will only crack - but either way, it will never be the same again.
Don't allow your justifiable concern with your career to cause you to drop the precious ball that represents your family, your friends, and your health.
I want to end today by wishing you, our graduates, not just a successful career, but a successful life. Take a few risks - bounce that rubber ball if you need to. Learn from everyone you meet. Be kind. And be happy. Do these simple things, and we will all be astonished by what you accomplish.
March 16, 2007
when do managers decide based on evidence?
In my workplace flexibility course, we had an interesting discussion of Bob Sutton and Jeff Pfeffer's Harvard Business Review article on evidence-based management a few weeks back.
More recently, I stumbled across the blog for the Evidence-Based Management book, and was intrigued by this entry on Lovaglia's law. Professor Lovaglia, a sociologist, asserts that people are least likely to make decisions based on evidence when it seems most crucial -- when the outcome of the decision seems most important.
With my students, I discussed when managers make use of the evidence about the benefits of flexible work practices, and when they ignore the evidence (and suffer the consequences in terms of lower morale and productivity, higher turnover and worker stress and burnout).
We also talked about the kinds of evidence available to managers, and the possibility of gathering evidence as organizational changes are implemented that would allow managers to assess wither the interventions are having the desired effects.
I'd be curious to hear from managers about how and when they use evidence in their decision-making, and from others about how they see businesses making decisions. What kind of evidence counts for you? What kinds of evidence get ignored?
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.)
November 10, 2006
a noble profession
Which is the most noble of professions? Certainly, medicine is a top contender -- and one of the reasons is the Hippocratic Oath. In the next 100 years, though, it's possible that management will give medicine "a run for its money", so to speak. Here's a quote from my colleague, Julia Grant:
"all business schools are under an imperative to try to get better at teaching strong ethics, at teaching strong business values that do have to do with creating a better world. Business cannot be just about profit."(from Peter Krouse's October 28 article in the Plain Dealer, "Honor among managers")
The dean of Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management, told the story of Thunderbird's new oath during the BAWB conference in Cleveland last month. Some are skeptical about the ability of a voluntary oath taken by students at one management school to change the practices of managers around the world. Normally, I'm known for my skepticism. In this instance, though, I believe it's more important to match the high intent of those students with practical actions which will reinforce their intent.
I'm lining up beside those recent Thunderbird graduates who signed their oath, and beside any Weatherhead students who will draft and then sign our own version. I will do whatever I can to make management practice more ethical, day by day, so that we can truly say, 100 years from now, that management is a noble profession.
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)
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:
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...
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.
April 21, 2006
responsible capitalism: employee-owned companies, and how they support one another
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?
February 20, 2006
Global Discover Contest
The Weatherhead School of Management’s Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit (BAWB) has partnered with Net Impact to develop the Global Discover Contest, which invites people to offer suggestions on new ways for business to live in mutual benefit with the earth’s ecosystems and world’s societies. The deadline is April 1. Learn more at this URL.
December 23, 2005
People will listen when they're ready... above all, listen.
"People will listen when they're ready to listen and not before. Probably, once upon a time, you weren't ready to listen to an idea than now seems to you obvious, even urgent. Let people come to it in their own time. Nagging or bullying will only alienate them. Don't preach. Don't waste time with people who want to argue. They'll keep you immobilized forever. Look for people who are already open to something new.
When presenting a new idea, you don't have to have all the answers. It's better to say 'I don't know' than to fake it. Make people formulate their own questions. Don't take on the responsibility of figuring out what their difficulty is. We each internalize information differently. If you don't understand a question, keep insisting they explain it until it's clear. Nine times out of ten they'll supply the answer themselves.
Above all, listen. Your close attention is sometimes more important than your articulateness in winning converts. And learning is always a good thing."
-- Daniel Quinn
December 21, 2005
I learn so much from teaching
"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."