We focus on what individuals do for their teams, but rarely on what teams do for them.
Are we wrong?
Let’s be honest: virtual connection just isn’t the same as human-to-human contact. But it can be a valuable tool for developing and sustaining workplace culture.
Virtual connection is an integral part of our organizational culture. We have learned that our mindsets and behaviors are more important than the software we leverage or the habits we practice.
Exploration of the edges – of ideas, of perspectives, of backgrounds – is something we examine frequently at Books@Work.
The results we see again and again in Books@Work sessions reinforce the idea that the collision of diverse perspectives are key to creativity and innovation – and the effects spill over into the workplace.
When we think of values, we often think of big nouns like trust, integrity, and moral responsibility. Values are words and standards to live by.
But one quick look at the stated values in today’s companies indicates an interesting trend – namely, that there are no nouns without verbs, and that values are nothing without actions to back them up.
In deeply divided times, and with so many forces competing for our attention, a good conversation is rare. We can go days and months with only the most perfunctory interactions, often aided by social channels and digital devices.
Good conversations build trust, invite learning and break down barriers. But a good conversation takes work and practice – and, in today’s environment , a new set of skills.
Literature is a powerful storytelling technology that unites us across space and time. It invites us to reflect on our lives and our work and, in discussion with others, to share our voices. Literature makes us think.
To unleash the full power of literature, we need to bring it to new people in new places in new ways.
Most people can identify a police officer by their uniform. Although the police wear the uniform with a sense of pride, it can elicit emotions of fear and despair in others. In recent years, excess violence against people of color has increased awareness by law enforcement that the uniform sends a mixed message. This awareness is a critical first step toward bridging the gap between police and community.
The time to bridge these differences is now. The Cleveland Police are making community relations a top priority. Among many activities designed to help them engage with residents, they have teamed up with Books@Work to build a sense of community by inviting all voices to the table using literature.
Navigating today’s workplace takes the courage and conviction to call out behaviors that limit inclusion and the full realization of human possibility. But work can be the hardest place to take a stand. We are least comfortable “taking on” colleagues, let alone superiors, when we are keen to prove ourselves as “team players.”
How do we create the conditions to enable the courageous conversations we need for our organizations to benefit fully from the plurality of human perspective and experience? The courage to champion true belonging and inclusion – and to have the hard conversations – takes time and practice, and a commitment to a culture of openness and respect.
Of the many metaphors we live by, not “judging a book by its cover” honors the people we encounter at work and in our communities, and acknowledges the depth and power of their stories and perspectives. By opening ourselves fully to the different experiences of others, we challenge our assumptions, view the world through other eyes and expose ourselves to new ideas.
But “don’t judge a book by its cover” also applies, quite literally, to books!
Participants often tell us that Books@Work introduces them to books they never would have picked up on their own. Reading with initial skepticism, some quickly discover themes and ideas that trigger interesting thoughts. Others are converted only in conversation, where the interpretations of others introduce them to viewpoints that they might never have entertained.