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Posts Tagged ‘Theresa Amabile’

Dejected, Frustrated, Infuriated

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

How often does this happen to you?

Never, right? Just in case you do experience feelings of dejection, frustration, and infuriation from time to time, how do you you handle those pesky little critters? Suppression? Expression?

Concealing Outrage

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

In “The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work“, Harvard B-school professor and researcher Theresa Amabile writes:

Did she say “most” orgs ? Thank Allah she didn’t say “all” orgs, no?

If you think Ms. Amabile’s assertion is true, why do you think it is true? Could it be that the culture at those orgs is unintentionally, but irreversibly, toxic? Could it be that “suppression of emotionally strong opinions” is an innate attribute of hierarchically structured orgs? What about your org? If you’ve never seen a test of Theresa’s  assertion at your org, why is that? If you have directly seen, indirectly heard about, or have been a participator in a “strong emotional, strong opinion” situation, how did it turn out and how did you feel? What about the “loath to reveal themselves to superiors” assertion? Got any thoughts about that?

Inner Work Life

November 12, 2011 1 comment

The premise behind Theresa Amabile’s “The Progress Principle” is that individual performance in the work place is a function of the quality of one’s “Inner Work Life” (IWL). In addition, the greatest effector of a positive IWL is “continuing progress on meaningful work“.

To set the context for her subsequent findings, at the beginning of the book Ms. Amabile describes her research protocol:

“We recruited 238 people in 26 project teams in 7 companies in 3 industries. Some of the companies were small start-ups; some were well established, with marquee names. But all of the teams had one thing in common: they were composed primarily of knowledge workers, professionals whose work required them to solve complex problems creatively. Most of the teams participated in our study throughout the course of a particular project—on average, about four months. Every workday, we e-mailed everyone on the team a diary form that included several questions about that day. Most of those questions asked for numerical ratings about their inner work lives—their perceptions, emotions, and motivations during that day. The most important question allowed our respondents free rein: “Briefly describe one event from today that stands out in your mind. Amazingly, 75 percent of these e-mailed forms came back completed within twenty-four hours, yielding nearly 12,000 individual diary reports.

The figure below shows the three tightly integrated and inseparable components of IWL and four major external forces that act upon it.

Of course, the quality of IWL can vary from month-to-month, day-to-day, and even hour-to-hour, depending on the presence and magnitude of the external forces acting upon it and the person-specific thoughts/feelings/motivation regarding said forces.

Contributors to an increase in IWL are catalysts, nourishers, meaningful work, and especially, progress on that meaningful work. Detractors are meaningless work, inhibitors, toxins, and setbacks to progress.

In orgs that are setup (either intentionally or unintentionally) as internally competitive command and control hierarchies where “me” is king, inhibitors, toxins, and setbacks abound. In great orgs,  which can be structured as collaborative hierarchies or as any other pattern, catalysts, nourishers, and progress are pervasive up and down and across the structure.

Of course, the best parts of Ms. Amabile book are when she exhibits many of the heartfelt entries written by real people from her massive stash of 12,000 diary entries. Read it and weep, or read it and leap for joy, or read it and “meh“.

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