Monthly Archives: November 2010

Stomping on Humanity

1. Stomping on humanity

Let’s start this great quote from a McKinsey article by Bob Sutton, ‘Why good bosses tune in to their people’ (Aug 2010): “Bosses who ignore and stomp on their subordinates’ humanity sometimes generate quick gains. But in the long run, such short-sightedness usually undermines their followers’ creativity, efficiency, and commitment.”

2. Can teams be depressed?

Over the years I’ve sent a few emails about mindfulness and meditation, the earliest being in July 2004 where I quoted: “According to Chin-Ning Chu, in her 1998 book, ‘Work Less, Do More’ both Harvard Business School and the leading European business school INSEAD have concluded from research that the two most effective new business tools for 21st century executives are meditation and intuition.”   (http://www.amandahorne.com.au/pdf/Jul04MediationMedicationMeditation.pdf)

Meditation and mindfulness are clearly topics which are capturing broader and broader attention, not just 21st century executives but everyone. I recently read “The Mindful Way Through Depression” (2007) by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindal Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn. I became interested in this because I’d heard from many people that the book is one of their recommended reads.  I was curious about this:

“Thus we find ourselves compulsively trying over and over to get to the bottom of what is wrong with us as people, or with the way we live our lives, and fix it. Caught up in this way, how on earth could we possibly contemplate switching our attention away from these pressing and understandable concerns to focus on other topics or approaches, even if doing so might contribute to a lightening of our mood? Sorting things out and forcing a solution will always seem like the most compelling thing to do – figuring out what it is that is not good enough about us, sorting out what we need to do to minimize the havoc that our unhappiness will wreak in our lives if it persists.  But in fact focusing on these issues in this way is using exactly the wrong tools for the job. It simply fuels further unhappiness and keeps us fixated on the very thoughts and memories that are making us unhappy. It is as if a horror story were being enacted in from of us: we hate looking, but, at the same time, we can’t turn away.” (pg 39)

This is written for the individual, yet I couldn’t help but read those words again, this time imagining it’s written about teams of people in organisations, working on day-to-day organisational problems. Can team discussions become too fixated to the point that they are detrimental to the health and well-being of the collective team and its individual participants?

3. Multipliers or Diminishers…. Dream Converters or Dream Killers

At the recent TEDx Canberra event (October 2010), we heard from creative artist and founder of Kulture Break, Francis Owusu, who talked about whether we are dream converters or dream killers.  In Harvard Business Review, May 2010, the article ‘Bringing Out The Best In Your People’ uses different language, but a similar sentiment. Are we a multiplier or a diminisher?

Diminishers drain people, they stifle their intelligence, ideas, energy and capability. Diminishers like to be the smartest person in the room, they hoard resources, create a tense environment, make decisions without collaboration, and micromanage.

Multipliers like to enhance the ‘smarts and capabilities of the people around them’. People feel engaged, energised, inspired, respected and have a desire to stretch themselves. Multipliers use the strengths of their people, create a safe environment where people can flourish, challenge people so they are inspired to stretch, engage in collaborative debate, and give people ownership and responsibility.

4. A reminder for your diaries…..

Put 15, 22 and 29 November 2010 in your diaries, and settle down at 8.30pm to watch a new series on ABC TV: Making Australia Happy.

It’s about the role of mindfulness, physical well-being and positive psychology in enhancing happiness: “In a groundbreaking experiment, the science of positive psychology is put to the test – what does it take to make Australia happy. Eight unhappy people offer themselves up to science – their brains are scanned, their lives examined, their saliva swabbed and their blood tested. Can they improve their happiness and wellbeing in eight weeks? This is not self-help TV. There’s no tree hugging, stargazing or standing in circles singing kumbaya. It’s an opportunity for 8 ordinary Australians to road test the new science of happiness. And to prove that it works.”

This series was created by Heiress Films, the organisation behind the award winning “Life Series” about child development. Some of you might recall the ABC TV series Life at 1, Life at 3.