Scott Sonenshein

Scott Sonenshein recently featured on Dare to Lead podcast with Brené Brown.


Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) Faculty Affiliate Scott Sonenshein had a timely and intense conversation about reimagining work on the Dare to Lead Podcast with Brené Brown.

In the episode, “Why We’ll Never Be the Same Again (and Why It’s Time to Talk About It),” Scott talked about the pandemic, racial reckoning, and the changes coming to our work lives – and why businesses should play a bigger part in advancing fair and humane communities.

“The world is always changing. Now it’s a racial reckoning and a pandemic. Before this, we had the 2008 recession and the dot-com boom. If you think you’re going to come in and operate your business as if it’s February 2020, you’re going to get crushed. If you think you’re leading the same workforce – people with the same mindset, the same mentality, the same desires, and the same priorities – you are nuts. You have to change or get out of the way. There’s no turning back. This is the big reset, and that’s where the hope and opportunity live.”

Sonenshein is a Professor of Management at Rice University.

Hilary Hoyt Hendricks


Scholar presenter:

Hilary Hoyt Hendricks, University of Michigan

Seed generators:

Karen Golden-Biddle, Boston University
Scott Sonenshein, Rice University

Topic:

Keeping Mom and Pop Alive: Mapping Collective Mourning during Rapid Organizational Growth

Talk description:

When organizations grow, there can be much to grieve. New layers of management disrupt relationships, new processes disrupt routines, unfamiliar logics may guide decision making, and the purpose of the organization can be called into question. In all the change, people may feel that the organization they once knew is dying—and mourn together even as they fight to keep the old organization alive. To better understand the grief that can attend organizational growth, my study follows a community-based laboratory that morphed from 100 to 400 workers over just a few months. In repeated interviews with dozens of organization members, I watched as collective experiences of fear, anger, sorrow, and hope shaped what the company would become.

A challenge in my data analysis is a gap between the words of participants (as recorded in transcripts) and the unspoken meanings and nonconscious processes I sensed were at play. How can a researcher present in trustworthy ways things that went unheard? In this methods-focused Incubator session, I will describe my data collection and ongoing analysis and introduce a preliminary model of collective mourning in organizations. I will then invite the seed generators and attendees to share ideas for refining the analysis—and how that analysis is presented, as well.


Research is the heart of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), and we want to make sure that we support each other in developing high quality research. To that end, we created the Adderley Positive Research Incubator for sharing and encouraging POS-related research ideas that are at various stages of development.

Learn more about the Adderley Positive Research Incubators here and direct questions about individual sessions to cpo-events@umich.edu.

CPO inspires successful researcher and author



CPO inspires successful researcher and author

Scott Sonenshein

“The faculty at the Center have taught me how to approach research in a way that’s been helpful for my own work, encouraging me to focus on questions that really matter.”

Scott Sonenshein says he has the Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) to thank for his successful and fulfilling career. Scott is professor of management at Rice University and a prolific author, writing for both academic and mainstream publications including Fast Company, Inc., The New York Times, and Time.

The faculty pioneering the field of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS)—who would go on to found CPO—were a big reason he chose the PhD program at Michigan Ross. He saw synergy between using a positive lens to improve organizations and his research interests. While many scholars explore unethical behavior, Scott focuses on what’s working right. “I was able to take what was a seed of interest and really cultivate it into something richer,” he said.

After receiving the 2012 Award for Outstanding Published Article in POS, he recalls that Jane Dutton, one of the co-founders of CPO, said to him, “This is amazing. You should write a book about this.” The result was Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less, which became a Wall Street Journal best seller.

Stretch focused on how to activate resourcefulness to solve problems and it led to a collaboration with Marie Kondo, the world-renowned expert in de-cluttering. Their book, Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life, focuses on organizing a physical workspace and providing guidance on such tasks as how to run a meeting that keeps people energized.

“Many of the ideas in the book, including how to build high-quality connections that matter, draw off of POS research,” he said. “Even the title speaks to POS principles.”

Scott is grateful for the support of his CPO colleagues. “The faculty at the Center have taught me how to approach research in a way that’s been helpful for my own work, encouraging me to focus on questions that really matter. Almost every piece of research I have published, I have presented at Center gatherings,” he said. “You get the most amazing, nurturing feedback. It’s had a huge impact on my work.

“This is an organization whose mission I strongly believe in,” he said. “I think it’s had a tremendous impact in shaping conversations in organizational behavior. Being involved in the Center is the most important contribution I can make.”

Scott Sonenshein (PhD ‘07) is the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management at Rice University and a faculty affiliate of the Center for Positive Organizations.


This story and others appear in the Center for Positive Organizations 2020 Impact Report.

Scott Sonenshein discusses his book Stretch on Brené Brown podcast


Scott Sonenshein

Brené Brown interviews Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) faculty affiliate Scott Sonenshein in a recent Unlocking Us podcast episode.

The episode explores “the art and science of being scrappy, why outsiders are sometimes better than experts, and why comparison is truly the thief of joy.” Brown and Sonenshein also discuss his book Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less – and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined.

“Stretching is really about being resourceful. It’s about doing more with what you already have,” Sonenshein says. “It’s focusing on not what other people have, not what you think you should need, not what you hope to have tomorrow, but what you have right now in front of you and how can you be more creative, more productive with what you already have.”

Sonenshein is co-author with Marie Kondo of Joy at Work and is a professor of management at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.

Unlocking Resources for Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience



About the event

The global pandemic and the recent tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and countless other Black Americans have disrupted our lives and organizations at a local and global level. While the current situation can be frightening, saddening, angering, challenging, and depleting, there are also clear signs of the potential for positive change and growth. We are all being challenged to unlock critical human-based resources such as hope, trust, commitment, creativity, courage, energy, and more in these very trying times.

Join us for a conversation with thought leaders on how to intentionally build possibilities for unlocking these kinds of resources that are so essential to organizational recovery, renewal, and resilience – even when financial and material resources are constrained. Learn about current research, what examples have taught us, and how we can think more creatively about unlocking resources today that will fuel the growth and development of the organizations and communities about which we care so deeply.


Curators

Jane Dutton

Jane Dutton


Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Emerita Professor of Business Administration and Psychology
University of Michigan

Jane's bio


Brianna Barker Caza

Brianna Barker Caza


Associate Professor of Management
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Brianna's bio


Presenters

Modupe Akinola

Modupe Akinola


Associate Professor of Management
Columbia University

Modupe's bio



Barb Fredrickson


Barbara Fredrickson


Kenan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Barbara's bio



Scott Sonenshein


Scott Sonenshein


Professor of Management
Rice University

Scott's bio



Jason Wilburn


Jason Wilburn


President & General Manager
FOERSTER Instruments, Inc.

Jason's bio



Lynn Perry Wooten


Lynn Perry Wooten


President
Simmons University

Lynn's bio



Monica Worline


Monica Worline


Lecturer, Ross School of Business
University of Michigan

Monica's bio


This virtual panel event is presented by the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the Managerial and Organizational Cognition (MOC) Division of the Academy of Management.


The Center for Positive Organizations stands united with other organizations around the world who call for fundamental transformation that eradicates systemic, institutional racism, discrimination, brutality, poverty, and violence. See our full statement here.


Unlocking Resources for Recovery, Renewal, and Resilience


About the event

The global pandemic and the recent tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and countless other Black Americans have disrupted our lives and organizations at a local and global level. While the current situation can be frightening, saddening, angering, challenging, and depleting, there are also clear signs of the potential for positive change and growth. We are all being challenged to unlock critical human-based resources such as hope, trust, commitment, creativity, courage, energy, and more in these very trying times.

Join us for a conversation with thought leaders on how to intentionally build possibilities for unlocking these kinds of resources that are so essential to organizational recovery, renewal, and resilience – even when financial and material resources are constrained. Learn about current research, what examples have taught us, and how we can think more creatively about unlocking resources today that will fuel the growth and development of the organizations and communities about which we care so deeply.


Curators

Jane Dutton

Jane Dutton


Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Emerita Professor of Business Administration and Psychology
University of Michigan

Jane's bio


Brianna Barker Caza

Brianna Barker Caza


Associate Professor of Management
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Brianna's bio


Presenters

Modupe Akinola

Modupe Akinola


Associate Professor of Management
Columbia University

Modupe's bio



Barb Fredrickson


Barbara Fredrickson


Kenan Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Barbara's bio



Scott Sonenshein


Scott Sonenshein


Professor of Management
Rice University

Scott's bio



Jason Wilburn


Jason Wilburn


President & General Manager
FOERSTER Instruments, Inc.

Jason's bio



Lynn Perry Wooten


Lynn Perry Wooten


President
Simmons University

Lynn's bio



Monica Worline


Monica Worline


Lecturer, Ross School of Business
University of Michigan

Monica's bio


Video


This virtual panel event is presented by the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the Managerial and Organizational Cognition (MOC) Division of the Academy of Management.


The Center for Positive Organizations stands united with other organizations around the world who call for fundamental transformation that eradicates systemic, institutional racism, discrimination, brutality, poverty, and violence. See our full statement here.


Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life


The workplace is a magnet for clutter and mess. Who hasn’t felt drained by wasteful meetings, disorganized papers, endless emails, and unnecessary tasks? These are the modern-day hazards of working, and they can slowly drain the joy from work, limit our chances of career progress, and undermine our well-being.

There is another way.

In Joy at Work, bestselling author and Netflix star Marie Kondo and Rice University business professor Scott Sonenshein offer stories, studies, and strategies to help you eliminate clutter and make space for work that really matters.

Using the world-renowned KonMari Method™ and cutting-edge research, Joy at Work will help you overcome the challenges of workplace mess and enjoy the productivity, success, and happiness that comes with a tidy desk and mind.

Scott Sonenshein shares work-from-home tips in TIME article


Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) faculty affiliate Scott Sonenshein offers advice for working remotely in the TIME magazine article “Don’t Bring Your Work Messes Home. Simple Steps to Working Well in the Midst of Coronavirus.

The article explores how to avoid introducing work clutter and chaos into your home life. Sonenshein suggests the following steps to boost productivity and morale while working from home:

  • Start with an organized physical space
  • Set boundaries, dress the part and take breaks
  • Create connections with co-workers to ease tensions
  • Practice good email etiquette
  • Use the experience to break unproductive routines

“Messy desks, endless email, wasteful meetings, and multitasking are all clutter from the office that we shouldn’t bring home,” Sonenshein writes. “When we eliminate them, we open up space to work efficiently on our most critical and satisfying work.”

Sonenshein is the co-author with Marie Kondo of Joy at Work and is a professor of management at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.

2019 POS Research Conference: Looking Towards the Future


2019 POS Research Conference

Looking Towards the Future: An Emerging Research Agenda for POS

Concluding the 9th biennial POS Research Conference, Jody Hoffer Gittell, Andrew Knight, Michael Pirson, and Scott Sonenshein reflect on the emerging research agenda for POS, while also sharing their insights on the best ways to work together as a research community to maintain the momentum of POS. Moderated by Gretchen Spreitzer.

Learn more about the conference.

June 6, 2019

The money or the morals? When moral language is more effective for selling social issues


We examine the effectiveness of economic and moral language used by employees when selling social issues to management. In contrast to prior work finding that employees believe it is best to use economic language to influence management to address social issues, we draw on the issue selling, persuasion, and behavioral ethics literatures to demonstrate that moral language is actually most influential-especially when the language is framed to align with the organization’s values and/or mission. The results from a combination of 3 field survey studies and 1 experimental vignette study provide support for this hypothesis. In addition, we find support for obligation (i.e., manager’s anticipated guilt), rather than inspiration (i.e., manager’s prosocial motivation), as a mediator of this interactive effect. We discuss implications for literatures on issue selling, persuasion, and behavioral ethics.

Mayer, Ashford, and Sonenshein pen HBR article about creating social change from within organizations


Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) superstars David M. Mayer, Susan J. Ashford, and Scott Sonenshein (along with Madeline Ong) teamed up to author a Harvard Business Review article detailing their research recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The HBR article, “To Get Companies to Take Action on Social Issues, Emphasize Morals, Not the Business Case,” walks readers through some important concepts for employees to consider if they want to talk to their leader(s) about creating social change from within an organization.

Mayer is part of CPO’s core faculty and a professor of management and organizations at Michigan Ross. His research focuses on how organizations can create environments that promote ethical behavior and discourage wrongdoing.

Ashford is a CPO faculty associate and holds the Michael and Susan Jandernoa Professorship of Management and Organizations at Michigan Ross. Her research has long focused on the ways individuals enhance their own effectiveness and have a positive impact in organizations.

Sonenshein is a member of CPO’s research advisory board and is professor of management at Rice University. Sonenshein’s research employs field methodologies to explain the resourceful actions of employees in the context of organizational and social/ethical change.

Scott Sonenshein interviewed on WEMU about Stretch


Scott Sonenshein, member of our Research and Advisory Board and a professor at Rice University, was interviewed on local NPR station WEMU’s “The Art of Better Living.”

Host Lisa Barry asked questions about Sonenshein’s new book, Stretch and what it means to “stretch.” Sonenshein explained that stretching is actively using the resources one already possesses to achieve success.

Sonenshein, a University of Michigan alumnus, also talked about his book at the Center for Positive Organizations’ Thought Leadership Showcase event on March 13.