Amabile is one of my intellectual heroes (heroines?). She and her associates have conducted extensive research on the impact of job conditions on the quality of work produced.
They discovered that this is what the best work requires:
1. That people be given a great deal of freedom in figuring out how to complete the work – that is, the opportunity to make day-to-day decisions during the project. In a word, autonomy.
2. That team members felt both challenged and excited in a positive fashion by the work they were asked to do. In a word, inspiration.
3. That those involved had sufficient organizational support such as resources, a supportive work group, a supportive supervisor who communicates well, and an organizational environment in which creativity is strong encouraged and generously rewarded. In a word, appreciation.Another of my intellectual heroes is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (1997) and Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (2008). He and his associates have also conducted rigorous and extensive research to determine when people are happiest in the workplace. Here is a brief excerpt from Flow:
“Hours pass by in minutes, and minutes can stretch out to seem like hours.” When researchers interviewed highly-accomplished specialists (e.g. musicians engaged in a performance, athletes engaged in competition), they spoke of feeling as though they were being carried along by water. They were almost floating. In a word, flow.
Therein lies both the challenge and opportunity that every organization faces: To establish and then sustain a work environment in which people do what they love and love what they do.
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Teresa Amabile is the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School. She is also a Director of Research at the School and is the author of Creativity in Context and Growing Up Creative, as well as over 150 scholarly papers, chapters, case studies, and presentations.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is professor and former chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. His previous books include the aforementioned Creativity and Flow as well as The Evolving Self.
(note from Randy – I am certainly no expert in this field. I read books, and then try to let the authors and the books speak. This post is an attempt to let Friedman’s book speak to us).
The news is not yet turning any better in the aftermath of the Gulf Oil disaster. Oil continues to escape. No expert is sure, but there seems to be a growing consensus that the total amount of oil seeping into the environment is going to be greater than the 11 million gallons of the Exxon Valdez disaster – maybe much more.
Maybe it’s time to revisit a few of the quotes/warnings from Thomas Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Like this paragraph:
We now understand that these fossil fuels are exhaustible, increasingly expensive, and politically, ecologically, and climatically toxic. That’s the line we’ve crossed.
What changed? The simple answer is that flat met crowded. So many more people were suddenly able to improve their standards of living so much faster. And when the crowding of the world and the flattening of the world converged around the year 2000, the world went into a track where global demand for energy, natural resources, and food all started to grow at a much accelerated pace – as the Western industrialized countries still consumed considerable amounts of energy and natural resources and big emerging countries got to join them at the middle-class dinner table.
So, this is the problem. What is the solution? There is no “one solution” — it will take an array, a constellation of solutions. But, before we embrace any solution, we have to acknowledge the reality:
“Hello, my name is Randy,
We are the United States,
We are the world,
And we are all addicted to oil.”
Only when we acknowledge the depth of the problem do we have a chance to turn toward true alternatives. (Remember, the phrase “alternative energy” is about true alternatives!)
Friedman includes this quote in his book:
“Obsessing over recycling and installing a few special light bulbs won’t cut it… We need to be looking at fundamental change in our energy, transportation and agricultural systems rather than technological tweaking on the margins… To stop at “easy” is to say that the best we can do is accept an uninspired politics of guilt around a parade of uncoordinated individual action…” (Michael Maniates, Washington Post, November 22, 2007).
Our economy needs us to make money on energy in ways that are – renewable; cleaner; different.. The fish, and the people who make their living from our oceans, need no more oil spills. Our bodies need cleaner air. The reasons are numerous – it really is time to get serious about alternatives.
Here’s Friedman’s key quote from the book:
Green is the new red, white, and blue because it is a strategy that can help to ease global warming, biodiversity loss, energy poverty, petrodictatorship, and energy supply shortages – and make America stronger at the same time. We solve our own problems by helping the world solve its problems. We help the world solve its problems by solving our own problems.
If climate change is a hoax, it is the most wonderful hoax ever perpetrated on the United States of America. Because transforming our economy to clean power and energy efficiency to mitigate global warming and the other challenges of the Energy-Climate Era is the equivalent of training for the Olympic triathlon: If you make it to the Olympics, you have a better chance of winning because you’ve developed every muscle. If you don’t make it to the Olympics, you’re still healthier, stronger, fitter, and more likely to live longer and win every other race in life. And as with the triathlon, you don’t just improve one muscle or skill, but many, which become mutually reinforcing and improve the health of your whole system.
Writing matters. Good writing makes a difference. Poor writing? – it simply does not get read.
All good writing has this one element in common – the writing entices you to keep reading. Once it rambles, is dry, is boring, the reader is gone.
Will the reader read my next sentence? is the question to be asked about every sentence.
The ReWork guys are big on good writing. They are really, really down on bad writing. It’s in their book. It’s in their own writing style. And, now, Jason Fried has written: Why Is Business Writing so Awful? for Inc.com.
He starts with this:
Nearly every company relies on the written word to woo customers. So why is most business writing so numbingly banal?
What’s bad, boring, and barely read all over? Business writing. If you could taste words, most corporate websites, brochures, and sales materials would remind you of stale, soggy rice cakes: nearly calorie free, devoid of nutrition, and completely unsatisfying.
Click on over, and keep reading. It’s short – to the point – just like all of his writing.
And, yes, it will keep you reading until the end, and is worthy of your time.