A Positive Approach to Organizational Tensions

Pos_Org_QuinnI know I probably should be talking about Adam Grant´s Originals (I did…) or Angela Duckworth´s Grit (I will…) these days, but instead, today, I´d like to point you towards another superb book: The Positive Organization by Robert Quinn.

Robert is professor at the University of Michigan and serves on the faculty of Organization and Management at the Ross Business School. He is one of the co-founders and of the Center for Positive Organizations and author several bestsellers on management.

Description of the book (taken from the book´s wrapper):

The problem is that leaders are following a negative and constraining “mental map” that insists organizations must be rigid, top-down hierarchies and that the people in them are driven mainly by self-interest and fear. But leaders can adopt a different mental map, one where organizations are networks of fluid, evolving relationships and where people are motivated by a desire to grow, learn, and serve a larger goal. Using dozens of memorable stories, Quinn describes specific actions leaders can take to facilitate the emergence of this organizational culture—helping people gain a sense of purpose, engage in authentic conversations, see new possibilities, and sacrifice for the common good.

The book includes the Positive Organization Generator, a tool that provides 100 real-life practices from positive organizations and helps you reinvent them to fit your specific needs. With the POG you can identify and implement the practices that will have the greatest impact on your organization.

For me, the most intriguing part of the book is Quinn´s proposition to see organizations not as more or less static entities, but rather as a systems of tensions. This figure provides a nice overview:

Quinn_Org_Tensions.png

The remainder of the book is equally valuable. If you´re looking for management book that is based on solid science (Positive Organizational Scholarship) and yet offers jargon-free language and actionable ideas, “The Positive Organization” is for you.

Positive Psychology: Infographic on the 24 Character Strengths

This one´s just a quickie. I just wanted to share with you a nice infographic on the 24 character strengths according to the framework of Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman. It´s taken from the homepage of the VIA Institute on Character. They have recently re-launched their website and offer other free stuff on character strengths. Please go and have a look…

VIA_graph.png

What’s your “Ikigai”? On Purpose, Meaning, and making a Living

There’s a very popular infographic on the net. It’s been around for a couple of years in several different versions.*

The graphic is supposed to help us find our life purpose by showing the different elements it consists of. It displays several overlapping Venn diagrams, thereby distinguishing the elements of mission, vocation, profession, and passion.

Ikigai - Purpose - Meaning
In later versions, at the center of those four circles, you’ll see the Japanese word Ikigai. Just in case you are wondering: Ikigai is composed of two separate Japanese terms: iki (life), and kai, which roughly means the realisation of what one expects and hopes for.

In more specific terms, ikigai is a) used to indicate the things that make one’s life worthwhile, and b) to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable.

Having found (and living according to) one’s personal ikigai seems to be associated with greater health and longevity. At least this was a finding from a large-scale study among Japanese citizens. From the summary:

In this population-based prospective cohort study in Japan, those who did not find a sense of ikigai were significantly associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality. The increase in mortality risk was attributed to an increase in the mortality from CVD (mainly stroke) and external causes […]. 

In our study subjects, those who did not find a sense of ikigai were likely to have a poorer socioeconomic status and poorer objective health status. However, the mortality risk in those who did not find a sense of ikigai was consistently increased, irrespective of socioeconomic factors, other psychological factors, physical function, lifestyle habits, and a history of illness.

*The infographic can be found in numerous versions on a ton of websites. In case you know who created it originally, please leave a comment so I can give proper credit.

Surprising Finding | Mental Illness vs. Mental Health: Continuum or Matrix?

A few days ago, I shared some research by Carol Ryff and Corey Keyes on the structure of psychological well-being. Today, I’d like to highlight more of Keyes’  work.

When we think about psychological health, we typically have a kind of continuum in mind. On the one end, there are states such as satisfaction and happiness, on the other end there’s (severe) mental illness, e.g., depression and anxiety disorders. And we’re also sure all people can be located on this single dimension at any given point in time. Additionally, the absence of one state is mostly equated to the presence of the other. Accordingly, an individual is perceived as being psychological healthy when there are no signs of mental illness.

Turns out this perspective may be flawed, or rather: incomplete. Using large-scale samples, Corey Keyes is able to show that we should probably see mental health and mental illness as two interrelated, yet clearly separable dimensions. The first one is about the presence or absence of mental health, the other about the presence or absence of mental illness (please take a look at his paper Mental Illness and/or Mental Health? Investigating Axioms of the Complete State Model of Health)

Keyes_Mental_Health_Matrix

When creating a matrix that is composed of these two continua, we’re able to understand psychological states on a much more nuanced level. By way of example, in his data, Keyes finds there are people who portray distinct signs of mental illness (e.g., depressive symptoms) while at the same time displaying a moderately high level of psychological health (e.g., perception of meaning in life). Conversely, there are quite a few people who are clearly neither mentally ill nor particularly healthy, a state that Keyes calls languishing. In the words of the researcher:

The current study confirms empirically that mental health and mental illness are not opposite ends of a single continuum; rather, they constitute distinct but correlated axes that suggest that mental health should be viewed as a complete state. Thus, the absence of mental illness does not equal the presence of mental health.

[…]

The diagnosis and measurement of mental health […] has provided some invaluable information. First, relatively few adults (i.e., about 2 in 10) who were free of any of the four 12-month mental disorders could be classified as flourishing or completely mentally healthy. Almost as many adults were mentally unhealthy (i.e., languishing) as were mentally healthy (i.e., flourishing), and most adults were moderately mentally healthy. Second, diagnoses less than flourishing were associated with greater levels of dysfunctions in terms of work reductions, health limitations, and psychosocial functioning. Moreover, pure languishing was as dysfunctional (sometimes more) than pure mental illness.

Especially the last sentence should give some food for thought to public health officials and corporate health executives alike. For decades, their focus has been on understanding, assessing, and mitigating mental illness. And while this certainly is an important endeavor, Keyes´ esearch clearly shows that it might be and equally pressing mission to help people find pathways from a state of low mental health (languishing) to high mental health (flourishing).

Enter Positive Psychology

The 3 Layers of Meaningful Work

A while ago, I shared a summary of a fantastic article on the sources of meaning in work co-authored by Amy Wrzesniewski. This year, while trying to understand how to create infographics, I wrote an article about Michael Steger’s (University of Colorado) CARMA framework on how leaders can help their employees to perceive meaning in their work.

Today, I’d like to share more of Michael’s insightful work. With several co-workers, he created a new scale that aims at measuring how much meaning somebody perceives in his or her current working role. It’s called Work and Meaning Inventory (WAMI, here’s the original article).

Steger et al. find that it might be useful to conceptualize meaningful work as having three different layers (please also see the infographic at the bottom): The meaning of the work itself, the meaning it helps to generate in the wider context of the person’s life, and the meaning that is generated when a job helps to achieve some greater good. In their own words:

Positive meaning in work. This facet is a straightforward reflection of the idea of psychological meaningfulness that has been part of work psychology since the job characteristics model. […] Meaningful work is often a subjective experience that what one is doing has personal significance. 

Meaning making through work. Empirical research has shown that work frequently is an important source of meaning in life as a whole. There seems to be a common overlap between one’s work and one’s life work. Indeed, the idea that work could be meaningful without also leading people to build meaning in their lives as a whole makes little sense.

Greater good (GG) motivations. The desire to make a positive impact on the greater good is consistently related to the experience of meaningful work as well as the related construct of calling. […] This facet reflects commonly held ideas that work is most meaningful if it has a broader impact on others. 

As the saying goes:

All good comes in threes.

Three_Level_Meaning_Steger

Infographic: 31 Ways to be Creative

Here´s another fantastic infographic by Anna Vital of Funders and Founders. If you´re not sure about the meaning of each individual way, please check out the original post.

Please also check out here other works related to Positive Psychology here, here, and here.

31-ways-how-to-be-creative-infographic

9 Ways to Learn. Which ones do you prefer? [Infographic]

This is another cool infographic by Anna Vital (featured her work on Mappalicious here, here, here, and here in the past. I definitely prefer No. 1 (doing), 2 (searching inside), and 5 (reading). How about you?

Share and enjoy! 

Learn_Vital

Infographic: Carol Dweck and the Growth Mindset

Now, I´m aware that this infographic (created by Nigel Holmes) has been around for a while – but then, there´s probably some 6,999,000,000 people on this planet who have not seen it as of yet – so I´m doing an important job here. 😉

The Growth Mindset – based on Carol Dweck

Growth Mindset

Infographic: Building Blocks of the Good Life (PERMA-V)

This is the second artwork (well…) in my self-imposed learning journey on the way to producing decent infographics. This time, I chose Martin Seligman´s PERMA framework, which, by many people, is considered to be the most comprehensive framework of “the good life”, the foundation of Positive Psychology in science and practice.

Since PERMA is not exactly hot from the presses, I added a little twist: For a couple of years now, Marty challenges his students in the Penn Master of Positive Psychology program to propose meaningful additions to the original PERMA outline (Positive Emotions | Engagement | Relationships | Meaning | Achievement). Over time, it became clear that the original framework may be somewhat “neck-up”, thereby omitting aspects such as sports, sex, sustenance, and sleep.

PERMA-V: Positive Psychology, neck-up and neck-down

Therefore, students kept asking for the letter “S” to be added – which ultimately would result in the acronym PERMAS (doesn´t sound too funky…) or SPERMA (uh-uh, not a proper name for a scientific term…). Meanwhile, there seems to be a growing mutual consent to choose the letter “V” for Vitality – and to put it at the end with a hyphen. To my knowledge, this was first proposed by a fellow Mapp graduate, Emiliya Zhivotovskaya.

What do you think?

PERMA_V_Good_Life

Share and enjoy!

How Leaders Enable Meaningful Work [Infographic]

Thanks to the stunning infographics of Anna Vital (see them here, here, and here), I’ve decided to learn how to better think and communicate in a visual way. I’m not a designer, so I don’t know how to work with Software packages like Illustrator. Therefore, for the time being I have to use what’s already out there, e.g., the Webdings that come with Microsoft’s fonts.

To start, I´ve chosen a topic that´s very close to my heart: Meaningful work. Prof. Michael F. Steger is one of the world´s foremost authorities on this topic. He created the acronym CARMA to outline a set of leadership behaviors that help employees to perceive their work as being valuable and meaningful.

What do you think?

CARMA_Work

Share and enjoy!