Beware the Bullet Point: Critical Thinking and Well-Told Stories

Beware the Bullet Point: Critical Thinking and Well-Told Stories

At first, some are skeptical of the role literature can play in corporate settings. After all, a novel (or short story or play) can take a long time to make even a single point about human experience. In Hamlet, for example, Shakespeare expends 30,000 words to provide a window on the pitfalls of decision-making. Wouldn’t a short article (or even a PowerPoint presentation) more efficiently summarize the salient factors that produce good or bad decisions for work teams? But what might we miss?

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Changing Philosophies: Creating Open and Inclusive Workplaces

Changing Philosophies: Creating Open and Inclusive Workplaces

Recent research leaves little doubt that open, connected and inclusive organizations consistently outperform peers in employee wellbeing, innovation and workplace productivity. But the culture required to maintain openness and inclusion assumes an authentically collective mindset – a mindset that differs considerably from the individual focus that dominates Western society. How do we override centuries of Western thinking and open ourselves up to new philosophies of human relationships at work?

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Reading Mindfully: Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”

Reading Mindfully: Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”

Jamaica Kincaid’s short story “Girl” appeared in the New Yorker in 1978 and later went on to become one of the most anthologized short stories of all time. Brief and powerful, “Girl” reads as a “how-to” list for living relayed from mother to daughter in a mere 650 words.

As you read, consider: Do the expectations of parents or family members help or hinder you? Or both?

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The Power of Experience

The Power of Experience

One of the most amazing discoveries to come out of Books@Work is the power of participant life experience. Unlike a traditional classroom-based seminar, in which the professor and text have something to teach the students, the power of our model is that it fosters the unique collision of three important elements: professor expertise, text and participant experience.

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Books@Work Goes to College: Our Wellness Programs with University Staff and Faculty

Books@Work Goes to College: Our Wellness Programs with University Staff and Faculty

When we think of workplace wellness, we tend to think of physical health: weight loss challenges, gym reimbursements, on-site flu vaccinations, or fitness trackers. There are clear benefits to keeping a workforce healthy and strong, like fewer sick days and lower healthcare costs. But a large research university that recently completed two Books@Work programs sees wellness in a whole new light.

Is physical health really the only factor that affects employee well-being – or is there more to wellness than we think?

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Weekend Reading: June 2017

Weekend Reading: June 2017

Happy Friday! We’ve scoured the web for thought-provoking articles and essays for you to enjoy during our first full weekend of summer.

The Beatles convinced us that “we get by with a little help from our friends” – but is there actual science to back that up? Over at the New York Times, Jane E. Brody reports on recent studies out of Harvard, Duke, Stanford and more that stress how critical social interaction is for our mental and physical health.

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Being Asked to Dance: The Key to Diversity Is Inclusion

Being Asked to Dance: The Key to Diversity Is Inclusion

Most leaders know that diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand. But like many concepts in the business world, “diversity and inclusion” has become a buzzword phrase, something that we speak of frequently but may not fully understand.

In a talk at the AppNexus Women’s Leadership Forum in 2015, diversity consultant Vernā Myers brilliantly described the difference between diversity and inclusion: “Diversity is being invited to the party,” she said. “Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

So why is inclusion so hard?

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A Meeting of Minds: Shared Reading and Lifelong Learning at Work

A Meeting of Minds: Shared Reading and Lifelong Learning at Work

Who doesn’t enjoy a lively conversation? Mortimer Adler, the co-founder of the Great Books program, wrote, “Of all the things that human beings do, conversing with one another is the most characteristically human.” Adler’s How to Read a Book is a literary classic, but less well known is his 1983 companion volume How to Speak and How to Listen. Conversation – speaking and listening – is part of the normal activities of life, but Adler describes a kind of communication that goes deeper, a “two-way talk [that] can achieve a meeting of minds, a sharing of understandings and thoughts, of feelings and wishes.” This kind of conversation is pleasurable and satisfying – but why is it so rare?

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Reading Mindfully: Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations”

Reading Mindfully: Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations”

Renowned and prolific science fiction writer Tom Godwin’s short story “The Cold Equations” takes place aboard a cargo spaceship bound for a far-off planet in need of medical supplies. The ship’s pilot finds himself – and his ship – in an unexpected predicament when he discovers a stowaway on board.

As you read, consider the many hard choices we must make in our lives – should decisions be rooted in reason or emotion?

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The Elephant in the Room: Healthy Companies Address Workplace Problems

The Elephant in the Room: Healthy Companies Address Workplace Problems

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on the importance of social interactions in the workplace at the International Conference & Exposition of the Association of Training and Development in Atlanta. Over four days, 10,000 attendees chose from 400 presentations on a broad array of topics.

In a session on culture, Joseph Grenny, author and co-founder of the social science research firm VitalSmarts, asserted simply: “The health of a relationship, team or organization is a function of the average time lag between identifying and discussing problems.”

We’ve all worked with someone who excels at finding all the things an organization does wrong. Maybe we’ve even found ourselves doing it too. Identifying problems is easy. Talking about them? Not so much.

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