Reflecting on the Summer Fellows Program

August 1, 2014

By: Allison Sheehan

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One of the things that I value most about the Center is the people. As I wrote in my initial blog about first impressions, right away what caught my attention about the Center were the bright-colored walls and the collaborative set up of each room. However, I quickly realized it’s the interesting people and conversation that make this place so unique. It has only been eight weeks since the Summer Fellows started at the Center, but I have built high quality connections with my fellows much faster than I have in any of my other jobs. I think this is due to the focus on recognizing and sharing positive identities with one another, and our weekly celebrations at the beginning at every Lunch and Learn.

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What Does Mentoring Look Like in Today’s Context?

July 31, 2014

By: Kathy Kram, Wendy Murphy

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Today’s career environment is very different than it was two decades ago. The pace of change is ever increasing. Globalization is inevitably requiring most of us to work effectively and learn from individuals who are from different countries and ethnic backgrounds, requiring well-honed communication skills. And, technology has significantly changed the way we work and the way we create and sustain relationships with others. These trends make us all novices over and over again, as we necessarily move to a new job, new organization, or new country. It is almost impossible to be an expert for very long.

So what does mentoring look like in this new context? Our review of three decades of research and our own observation and experiences clearly indicate that rather than seek out one mentor who can provide all of the guidance that is needed at a particular point in time, we all need to build a network of developers that can help us to continuously learn, innovate, work with others, and realize our goals.

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One Size Doesn’t Fit All

July 25, 2014

By: Allison Sheehan

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I’m always amazed when I walk into a store and read the label on a piece of clothing to see the size, and the tag simply reads “one size fits all.” I specifically remember the first time I saw one of these labels–I was young, with my mom. The piece of clothing was a Disney nightgown, and there was only one size that claimed to “fit all.” I remember looking up at my mom, wondering how this gown could possibly fit both her and me. There was no way it was going to fit her adult body and my eight-year-old body. The only way she could describe it was that there was only one size made for everyone to fit into, and it would just fit everyone differently, or realistically, some wouldn’t fit into it at all.

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Three Leadership Lessons We Can Learn from America’s Best Teachers

July 21, 2014

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While debates over education reform pick up steam across the country, Ross professors Robert Quinn and Gretchen Spreitzer hope to add a little analytical rigor to the discussions with their new book, The Best Teacher in You, out this month from Berrett-Koehler in partnership with Battelle For Kids.

In the book, Quinn and Spreitzer (along with co-authors Mike Thomas and Katherine Heynoski of BFK) explore interviews, workshops, and studies with more than 350 highly effective teachers from across the country and reveal some interesting details.

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Finding the Light in Darkness: The Heliotropic Effect

July 18, 2014

By: Allison Sheehan

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If you walk into a dark, unfamiliar room, what is your first instinct? Probably to find the nearest light and turn it on. If you’re stressed and under a lot of pressure at school or work, why do people say, “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel?” And why was there an Oprah quote on my Starbucks cup today, telling me to “know what sparks the light in [me],” and to “use that light to illuminate the world”? Finding “the light” is a common thing that people are searching for.

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Reflecting on Reflection

July 3, 2014

By: Allison Sheehan


At last week’s Lunch and Learn, Chris Myers, PhD student in Management & Organizations, explained that “sharing experiences and reflecting jointly with others enhances individual learning.” By sharing, we are able to learn vicariously through the person we’re sharing with.

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Playing Golf, and Other Mistakes CEOs Make

June 30, 2014

By: Adam Grant

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When you become the head of a major company, you instantly join the ranks of the rich and famous. Ethical questions aside, new evidence shows that the perks of celebrity life are bad for companies. Here are six situations that CEOs might want to refuse.

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Finding the Cherry on Top

June 27, 2014

By: Allison Sheehan


It’s a hot summer day, and all you want is vanilla ice cream. So you go to the ice cream shop, and you see they have vanilla ice cream. You’re happy. They have the ice cream you wanted, so now you can end this incessant craving you’ve been having. But wait – now you see that they offer over twenty different ice cream toppings. Instead of getting plain vanilla ice cream, you decide to add cookie dough, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. You would have been perfectly happy if you had walked away with your plain vanilla ice cream, but now that you have all these toppings, you’re even happier.

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Why Behavioral Economics is Cool, and I’m Not

June 23, 2014

By: Adam Grant


Here are some of my favorite surprising studies. What do they have in common?

–People are more likely to buy jam when they’re presented with 6 flavors than 24.
–After inspecting a house, real estate agents thought it was $14,000 more valuable when the seller listed it at $149,900 than $119,900.
–When children play a fun game and then get rewarded for it, they lose interest in playing the game once the rewards are gone.
–People conserve more energy when they see their neighbors’ consumption rates.
–If you flip a coin six times, people think Heads-Heads-Heads-Tails-Tails-Tails is less likely than Heads-Tails-Tails-Heads-Heads-Tails, even though the two are equally likely.
–Managers underestimate the intrinsic motivation of their employees.

They’ve all appeared in the media as research done by behavioral economists, when in fact they were done by psychologists.

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Solving Wicked Complex Problems

June 20, 2014

By: Allison Sheehan

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Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion states that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I remember learning this in grade school, and doing experiment after experiment to prove that the law was true. I quickly learned this law also held true beyond the world of science. It social settings, it was simple—every action could create consequences or benefits, and it was your task to understand how your actions were going to affect others. When it was a person—or people—on the other end of the equation, rather than an object, it was a lot easier to understand. It seems to me that this also happens in the business world. When one is the CEO of a company, it may be a little easier to hide behind the structure of the building or behind the name of the company to fight for profit maximization, and it’s easier to forget the reactions that take place outside of that business. However, positive business leaders like Fred Keller are taking the initiative to reinstate the idea of looking at the whole picture of business, and are showing how businesses can use their power to create a better, sustainable society. They’re proving that positive work places can be prosperous work places, too.

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First Impressions of the Center for Positive Organizations

June 13, 2014

By: Allison Sheehan


The first thing I noticed when I walked into the Center were the colorful walls—orange, yellow, and green. And when I moved from room to room, I noticed that all the tables and chairs had been set up in ways that encouraged an environment for collaboration and sharing. The tables were big enough to seat several people; for seats, you had a choice between a chair and an exercise ball. Every room was open to everybody—there was no hierarchy of offices. And when I glanced at the corner of the community room, I was so shocked to see that the Center has a little pet tortoise named Rosa!

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