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The Evolution of Greatness

January 4, 2016

By: Robert E. Quinn

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I have a precious friend. He is a man of very deep understanding. Everywhere he goes he brings out the best in people. He does this by deeply listening to others while simultaneously holding them accountable to their own most central values. As he lovingly confronts people, he turns them authentic and they come to love him. Where he goes, life flourishes. I have often watched this man turn organizations positive.

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Generating and evaluating new ideas

December 17, 2015

By: Kevin Yang

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Effective organizations are not only able to generate new ideas, but are also able to correctly identify and pursue its most promising leads. In this month’s session of the Positive Links Speaker Series, Justin Berg (BA ‘07) presented “Creative Forecasting” and how to improve the selection and rejection of ideas within organizations.

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Hello, Goodbye: Endings as Positive Opportunities

December 14, 2015

By: Chris Murchison

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Investing in new employee orientation is a no-brainer for most organizations. A thoughtful beginning sets staff up for success. Positive orientation experiences help create a workplace where employees feel that they belong, where they can show up as a whole person and have a sense of focus and purpose in their work.

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Opening to the Opposite

December 1, 2015

By: Jennifer Evans

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I had a volunteer job at the hospital last winter offering patients the opportunity to switch the art hanging on their walls. I did it with a partner, one of us to push the “art-cart” and do the recording tasks, and one to chat with each patient. We took turns. Sounds fun, which it was, and easy which it wasn’t—actually it was a very stressful experience! My partner was a very step-by-step, do-it-by-the-book type of person, I am a try it this way, try it that way, depending on how circumstances are presenting themselves and how it feels type. It was a rough road for us both.

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How to Do More with Less: The Power of Relational Coordination

November 30, 2015

By: Rachael Moreton

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It is no secret that it is certainly a challenging time to be leading an organization. Leaders are faced with pressure to achieve better outcomes with fewer resources. In other words, they are expected to do more with less. Sound familiar? In her Positive Links Speaker Series session, Jody Hoffer Gittell proposes that we can use relational coordination to begin tackling this seemingly impossible feat. In this hour-long session, we learn how and why we should invest in the relationships among and between groups of people within an organization.

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Valiant Leadership

November 18, 2015

By: Jennifer Evans


I usually go to yoga on Fridays. Actually I don’t really like yoga though I keep thinking I should like it and I keep trying it every few years … It’s just not my thing. Surprisingly I do like this class. The teacher is eccentric enough to keep me interested and she calls this Friday evening class Happy Hour. So for the last year I’ve been going pretty consistently.

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Expertise and the Paradox of Power

November 17, 2015

By: Robert E. Quinn


There is a very impressive woman I have known for a long time. Professionally she spent her life as a public school teacher. One day we were discussing the work I was doing interviewing highly effective teachers. I mentioned that many of them seemed to be masterful facilitators. They could ask relevant questions, listen deeply to student answers and then weave a meaningful, collective conversation. They seemed different from their peers. Their classrooms were positive organizations where learning accelerated. She immediately responded, “I could never do that facilitator thing.”

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Earth Laughs in Flowers – Ralph Waldo Emerson

November 3, 2015

By: Jennifer Evans


I was thinking about putting flowers in the lobby of my floor at the business school. It seems like people generally like flowers but I also had a sense that there might be a bigger impact from this small action based in what I understand of Gretchen Spreitzer’s research on Thriving. Also I was curious to extend something that happened when I’d brought lobby flowers to a school at which I was Dean. I noticed that a student was taking a picture of each fresh bunch. She told me that when she saw the flowers she was reminded that she could start fresh each day which made me happy. At that school I was in a position to do such a thing, here I hesitated because I thought I might be asked to stop. Maybe because our building is very designed, glass and modern and this addition would make our floor inconsistent with the others.

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How to Turn an Organization Positive

October 29, 2015

By: Katherine Johnson


Positive deviance—a seemingly ironic phrase I first heard when I was introduced to Positive Organizational Scholarship less than a year ago. At the 100th session of the Positive Links Speaker Series, Bob Quinn illuminated, to me, what it means to be positively deviant: to act outside of a conventional norm—a deviant behavior—and in a more positive direction. Seems pretty simple.

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Becoming Bilingual

October 27, 2015

By: Robert E. Quinn


The conventional mental map is not our only choice. The positive mental map offers the language of possibility. Most people don’t look for or find this map unless they have experienced a crisis of some sort, which breaks down their conventional assumptions and allows them to be more open. When they do this, they begin to evolve into a more complex thinker. Acquiring this positive mental map is a lot like becoming bilingual. It is a journey, not an instant transformation. It involves taking risks, failing your way forward, and having the confidence to keep trying. Learning a new language doesn’t mean forgetting your native language; rather, it adds a greater capacity to communicate and learn.

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Seeing New Possibilities

October 19, 2015

By: Robert E. Quinn


I have a close associate who took over a troubled company. There was one unit that had a “particularly horrible culture.” The people were “actively disengaged.” The phrase suggests that they were using their talents to proactively undermine the collective good of the company. It is what happens when people lose all faith in their leaders. It a sign of advanced organizational decay and often managers have no idea what to do about it.

My associate read the earlier positive passage titled Change the Music – Change the Dance. He took it to his management group and they discussed it. The ideas in the passages did not reflect their conventional logic. They began to talk about their work in a new way.

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High Quality Connections

October 12, 2015

By: Jennifer Evans

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I have been feeling happier than usual and started to wonder why. As I pondered, I saw images of a number of interactions I’d been enjoying. Thanks to Jane Dutton at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, I have a concept to wrap around such energizing experiences. She calls these energizing moments High […]

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