Tag Archive for: Innovation

There is only one of you

Ponder this for a moment:  as big and as global as the Internet is, every single human being is born with a far more impressive network. It’s called a brain.

I learned last week from author Steven Campbell (Making Your Mind Magnificent) that the human brain has  more than 100 billion neurons (that’s not a typo!). But, as Campbell says,

…this is nothing! Each of those neurons has an average of 10,000 connections to other neurons. This computes to 100,000,000,000 connections! That is a quantity found by multiplying 100 billion times 100 billion, times 100 billion…ten thousand times. As a comparison, 100 billion multiplied by 40,000 is a number larger than the number of stars in the Milky Way. We truly cannot fathom the number of connections our brain has.

(Making Your Mind Magnificent, p.4)

Campbell is describing the network inside just one human brain! And there are upwards of 7 billion human beings alive today – most of them in possession of a functioning brain.

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Listen to Your Mother

Mother Nature, that is.

No, this is not a rant about climate change (although I hope you know how important that is).

Rather, I think it is imperative for us to learn from living systems as we design organizations and determine how to manage them.

I spent most of this past holiday weekend outdoors (it was Memorial Day here in the United States, a time when we honor our military veterans, remember their sacrifices, and give thanks for their service).

We enjoyed wonderful weather, and the inherent beauty of the mountains, streams, forests, and fresh air reminded me of how much we can learn from thinking about the world we are so fortunate to inhabit.

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Creativity versus Cortisol

As I suggested last week (“Thinking About Thinking“), in today’s fast-paced business world it’s extremely difficult to find time to think on our own – and thus to be creative. Pressure for productivity, in combination with open office designs, means that not only are most of us collaborating with others most of the time, but we often can’t find a quiet place in the office even when we actually want some private “think time.”

But in turns out my analysis left out an incredibly important factor that makes our quest for creativity even more difficult than I realized. And may be making us more obese than we’d like.

My colleague and close friend Candace Fitzpatrick, the founder and president of CoreClarity, gently pointed out to me a few days ago that the biggest barrier to creativity in the workplace may well be stress – the tension we feel to perform at high levels, to respond quickly to emails and voice messages, and to accept as “normal” the insecurities many of us feel about our jobs and our lives more broadly.

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What Makes a Learning Experience Unforgettable?

Last month I highlighted Alvin Toffler’s observation that 21st-century literacy meant the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn – being agile enough to acquire new knowledge and skills almost daily, in tune with the very dynamic and uncertain global economy we have created (“A New Look at Adult Learning”).

Now I want to reflect on several of my own experiences that have convinced me of the importance of Toffler’s observation.

Shortly after I graduated from college (a very long time ago!) I came across a book that has had a profound impact on my career and on my interest in adult learning, even though the book was primarily about reforming elementary and secondary public school education.

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Taking charge of the future – one day at a time

How often have you been heard someone claim to have “the magic answer” about how to break a bad habit? You know, how to stop drinking all those sugary sodas, or eating all that other junk food? Or sleeping late, or chewing your fingernails, or smoking, or, or, or…

At the same time we’re also admonished daily to “start exercising regularly,” or to write a blog post every day, no matter what, or to “work on that next book for an hour every morning, before you look at your email.” [continue reading...]

Future of Work Agenda Newsletter

November 2012

We work with senior executives who want to take charge of their future at work by attracting exceptional people, leveraging innate talents, and increasing productivity

It’s been said many times that “less is more.”

What does that mean for The Future of Work Agenda? I’m working on simplifying this newsletter – first, to focus only on the things I believe will most help you thrive in the future.

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All Work and No Play. . .

James Ware, PhD

Brace yourself; this is a more personal essay than my usual feature article. I’m using this space to do some serious reflecting about the nature of work in 2012, and to look ahead at the same time. I don’t think it is being overly self-centered to consider myself a “living laboratory” or a harbinger of the future of work that’s facing us all. [continue reading...]

The Future of . . . (May 2012)

Here is a small sample of the stories and developments we are paying attention to these days. It’s our way of helping you stay on top of developments in the worlds of technology, workplace and facilities design, the workforce, and work design—any and all of which are going to affect the future of work, often in ways we can’t even imagine. [continue reading...]

Have we gone too far with “open office” landscapes?

What’s the right mix of private space and collaborative space in an office? Does organizational creativity go up or down when the workforce is distributed? These are critical workplace strategy questions…and the answers may not be what you think, or what the “conventional wisdom” suggests.

Susan Cain, author of the forthcoming book  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, thinks organizations today have put too much emphasis on collaboration and not enough on solitude as a source of innovation and creativity.

Her article, “The Rise of the New Groupthink,” which appeared in the New York Times on January 15, is a must-read for all workplace professionals. In it she suggests that the modern-day emphasis on teams, teamwork, and collaboration spaces may actually be hurting organizational innovation. She makes a strong argument that we should be providing more private space, and time, for individual innovators to work “in solitude.”

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A Really, Really Different Workplace

Jay Momet of Leapfrog recently sent me a link to some pictures of one of the most unusual workplaces you will ever see. It’s at  Davison International, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Check this out:


One work area is looks just like a medieval castle; it’s called “Inventalot.” But it’s an actual office! There’s also a pirate ship, a tree house, a racetrack, and a huge shoe. [continue reading...]