The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace (Jossey-Bass Business & Management)

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9780787902810: The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace (Jossey-Bass Business & Management)

This is a splAndid book, grounded in deep experience with organizations and with life. Its insights could help heal our souls, our structures, and our society.
-- Parker J. Palmer, author of The Active Life and To Know as We Are Known

The qualities that come to mind when we think of soul--meaning, memory, wildness, beauty, divinity--are necessary elements for navigating today's workplace. But today's employees experience a gap between what organizations say and what they do about soul in the workplace. The Stirring of Soul in the Workplaceoffers a way to understand that gap. Evocatively written, it is an inspiring alternative to the flood of management books, suggesting ways to shift your paradigm and get you home in time for dinner. It gives people seeking to balance their personal spiritual path with job realities a unique opportunity to reflect and find encouragement on their journey.

This lyrical book offers perspective to those struggling to hear the quiet voice of the soul over the din of contemporary life. Alan Briskin shows how the modern organization has gradually increased its demands on us, beginning with our bodies, then our minds, and now our souls. Filled with memorable, moving stories of people in a wide range of occupations and their personal struggles to reclaim their souls, The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace sAnds a hopeful message that encourages individuals to keep their spiritual integrity and values alive within the pragmatic environment of the organization.

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From the Publisher:

Questions for Discussion:

1. What are some of the meanings of soul as seen in myth and religion? * What are four key themes of the soul as ancient hypothesis about our meaning and purpose as human beings? * What is it about the nature of the soul that addresses questions of meaning and purpose?

2. How might the concepts of spirit and soul complement and contrast each other?

3. What do soul and spirit mean to you?

4. What consequences of ignoring soul have you seen in your own workplace?

5. How is soul expressed through metaphor, emotion, fantasy, and story? For example, what are some of the dominant feelings (spoken and unspoken) in your work group or within the organization? What are the stories, past or present, that reveal something about how your organization really operates?

6. How is soul expressed through the tension of different parts of ourselves, e.g., hopeful optimist and despairing pessimist, cheerleader and cynic, control freak and free spirit, healer and wounded, etc.?

7. What is meant by shadow?

8. How is the understanding of shadow relevant to your organization? * How could a recognition and exploration of shadow be valuable in serving as a source of insight and new perspective, as well as greater connection to others in your organization?

9. How would you describe the underworld of soul (human feelings of hurt, betrayal, loss, fear,anger) as it manifests itself in you and you organization?

10. How are the metaphor of the panopticon and the internalization of authority's demands relevant to your efforts to retain your own sense of yourself at work?

11. What price is paid for unnecessary conformity, dependency, and fear in your organization? How might you begin to respond to these costs without deepening the destructive dynamics that exist?

12. How does the management and business mentality that led to Henry Frick's handling of the Homestead Strike persist in today's workplace?

13. What legacies in your organization seem to be the result of Frederick Taylor's quest to engineer perfection in the workplace? What costs does the quest for high performance exact in today's organizations?

14. What are some of the programs currently in fashion within your organization (e.g., TQM, balanced scorecard, empowerment, reengineering)?

* What are they trying to achieve with regard to individual and groupbehavior? * What business results are they trying to achieve? * How are they working? What unintended consequences are they creating?

15. How is Elton Mayo's philosophy concerning the management of feelings in the service of getting work done reflected and satirized in current popular workplace commentaries (such as "Dilbert")? How do you see people in your organization resisting the infantilization and false love at the core of this philosophy?

16. What does it mean to "take up" a role? How does this idea change your own concept of what you do at work?

17. How is a psychological stance different from a role as defined in a job description?

18. Describe, in your own words, the actions relevant to finding, making, and taking up a role?

19. How is thinking systemically related to being able to shift perspective?

20. How would you contrast and compare the purposeful and preserving systems perspectives?

21. In what ways are both perspectives necessary? In what ways can either perspective be problematic? Think of an example in your own organization to illustrate how these systems perspectives operate.

22. How well does your organization assimilate information about its internal an external environment? * How are new ideas, people, or processes accepted? * What is the emotional response to information about competitors, changing business practices, technology, other challenges? * What are some examples of constructive new practices modeled by individuals or, groups within your organization?

23. What is the effect of dialogue and deep listening on communication? How is it different than debate or advocacy of a particular point of view?

24. How do you attend to and account for meaningful coincidences in your life and work?

25. How is the nature of paradox reflected in you personally and in your organization?

Other possible questions?

1. What struck you most about this book? Why?

2. What does it mean for a group or organization to respect the whole person?

Suggestions for Further Reading:

* Leider, Richard J., The Power of Purpose * Hawley, Jack, Reawakening the Spirit in Work * Richards, Dick, Artful Work * Jaworski, Joseph, Synchronicity * Wheatley, Margaret J. and Kellner-Rogers, Myron, A Simpler Way

Courtesy of Berrett-Koehler Publishers BERRETT-KOEHLER STUDY GUIDE

From the Inside Flap:

In this remarkable book, consultant Alan Briskin eloquently challenges the assumption that the needs of the individual must be checked at the office door. He shows how the modern organization has gradually increased its demands on us?beginning with our bodies, then our minds, and now our souls. Filled with evocative, moving stories of people working to reclaim their individuality?and with poignant lessons from history, psychology, and management theory?The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace speaks to the growing legion of professionals who insist on keeping their spiritual integrity alive and their relationships with fellow workers humane.

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