Spirit of the New Workplace

Discovering the Greatest Possibilities of Work

All Blog Posts (65)

The Economy as a Living System

The recent economic crisis has me thinking about how a living systems perspective applies here as well as to the organizations we might aspire to create.

Obviously, the layers of systems nested within other systems, and the complexity of the entire global situation suggests that point number one, interdependence, is certainly present.

Concepts of self-organizing apply as well, as it was a number of cells operating as if they were independent and pursuing their own… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on September 30, 2008 at 11:47am — No Comments

SNW was our last class at SCU!

Adam, Alex, Toan, Vanessa...


Added by Joe Harder on September 12, 2008 at 10:30am — No Comments

Easy stretching and yoga poses

1. sit comfortably

2. neck stretches

3. hand flexors

4. crescent stretches

5. seated twists

6. extend legs long

7. hurdler stretches

8. transition to all fours

9. child's pose

10. cat/cow stretches

11. extend right arm and left leg; switch

12. move to standing

13. mountain pose

14. half sun salutations

15. full sun salutations with variations

- lunge with hands on knee and/or arms overhead

- warrior I and II

-… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on August 22, 2008 at 7:00pm — No Comments

Leading a Living Organization brief summary

Peter wrote up the following to summarize some of the “why” of thinking of your organization as a living system, and I have attached some slides that also summarize some of what he was saying in class:

When we talk about organizations being living systems, there are two ways to think about this. On one hand, an organization is essentially an ecosystem, comprised of a diverse array of component parts each with a separate function that contributes to the maintenance of the system as… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on August 21, 2008 at 6:20pm — No Comments

"Showing Up for your Life at Work" journal panels

From my recollection, these were the panels (in addition to What's Your Perfect Day?) that participants recommended from their initial work with the course journal:

- What if it wasn't about the money?

- Holistic view of profit

- Get out of your chair

- What do you have to give up?

- What's on your stop doing list?

- Think about a high point experience

- What poisons your day?

Were there others? Or are there ones you would now add to the list… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on August 20, 2008 at 3:18pm — 2 Comments

Recap of first weekend of SCU SNW 08


Building our Learning Community

- Koosh ball name game

- Six questions (dream job, real job, fun at work, first/worst job lesson, hidden talent, book takeaway)

- Dice game sharing of answers in random organic pods

- Headlines task

Establishing Common Purpose

- What's Your Perfect Day? group activity

- Collins and Porras, Building Your Company's Vision

Movement session #1

- Synovial fluid

- Waking up… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on August 18, 2008 at 6:56pm — 2 Comments

Will John ever learn?

Yesterday I taught an executive education session on Individual Change that used the case of John Wolford, a stressed-out general manager with a litany of problems. It always generates a good discussion, since most of the "emerging leaders" in this program can empathize with John's time management/work-life balance issues, as well as many others in the case.

Below are some slides I worked up on stress, Type A behavior, change, and a few things anyone can do to start making positive… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on August 8, 2008 at 1:46pm — 2 Comments


Recently read a blog post by Penelope Wise, The Brazen Careerist in Cville Weekly in which she argued that rather than letting technology, like Blackberries, rule our lives, we need to take control and use them mindfully (my words).

Food for thought.

Interestingly, when I went searching for a link to her article just now, I tried… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on August 1, 2008 at 9:30am — 1 Comment

What we are hoping to get from taking the SNW course

With most participants for the upcoming SCU SNW having weighed in, here's what people are saying they are hoping to gain from taking the course.

We work in very demanding customer facing environment and i am looking for ways in which my team can perform effectively and enjoy the experience as well.

I guess I would hope to have my work experience, what ever I may be doing, be more fulfilling and satisfying upon completion of this course. I often feel like I have to go to…

Added by Joe Harder on July 22, 2008 at 9:47pm — No Comments

Quick Book Summary: "A Whole New Mind - Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future" by Dan Pink

Am in the midst of reading the above, and am liking the arguments put forth. Basically, Pink identifies 3 factors - Asia, Automation, and Abundance - that result in three questions that all individuals and organizations in a system (my word) should be asking.

Can what I/we do be done more cheaply by knowledge workers in Asia (e.g., software development, basic legal documents) or automated (e.g., many medical diagnoses, software… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on July 12, 2008 at 7:32pm — No Comments

"Companies Win as Workers Lose Pounds"

The Wall Street Journal had an article last Thursday that profiled how some companies have both encouraged employee wellness and saved money, which of course good economic thinking would encourage anyway. Seems like a no-brainer!

Key ideas include team (not individual) competitions to lose weight, limit tobacco intake, exercise, and so on.

Tonya Vyhlidal, wellness and life enhancement director at Lincoln Industries, sums it up well when she says their program "encourages… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on July 12, 2008 at 9:05am — No Comments

"Would you like a cup of excellence today?"

That's a question I just heard, from a barista to a customer in reference to special "brews of the day" at one of my alterna-work spots.

His answer was "why not?", which is indeed a fine response. But it got me thinking metaphorically about daily excellence, and leads to today's question.

"How could you enjoy a cup of excellence today?"

It could be that you seek out and appreciate excellence in something mundane...it could be that you yourself make it a priority… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on July 11, 2008 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Positive link between healthy diet and productivity

In today's Washington Post, Vickie Elmer reports that "almost three-quarters of people who eat a healthy diet report being highly productive on the job vs. one-quarter of those who say their diet is poor or unbalanced, a new report from ComPsych says." ComPsych's survey of 1,000 U.S. employees also found that active workers had much higher energy levels and morale than the sedentary ones and that workers… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on July 9, 2008 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Fun with a purpose

Guy walks into a psychiatrist's office and says "I'm a wigwam, I'm a tepee...I'm a wigwam, I'm a teepee..."

The doc says "Calm down, you're two tents."

(Just overheard from a barista who is happy to be at her job...what a difference.

Added by Joe Harder on July 8, 2008 at 12:56pm — No Comments

Happily at Work

I was struck this morning by the arrival of one of the baristas at my favorite internet coffee shop, and she just didn't look happy to be there. She was a minute late, and perhaps fearing the wrath of the owner, but it made me think about the converse...being happy at work, or more aptly, perhaps, being happily at work.

So, the question for today is "when, if ever, are you happily at work?"

For me, I like to deal with things that aren't urgent (though I have a tremendous… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on July 8, 2008 at 11:57am — 2 Comments

Take ten breaths

I have shared this with many SNW classes, but I routinely forget to do this myself, so I thought I'd write it down in a blog post here to solidify it in my mind (and, ideally, in my practice).

One great way to start a day is to take ten deep breaths first thing upon awakening...yes, maybe the dog needs to go out (hello, Katrina!), or you need to get up and go into the bathroom, but taking a couple of minutes to do some conscious deep breathing, for me at least, gets the day off to a… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on June 24, 2008 at 10:14am — No Comments

Neeraj's wheel and other things that I have found useful in my quest

A few years after I started teaching Spirit of the New Workplace, I reconnected with a former Darden student (MBA '96) named Neeraj Bhagat, who was in the process of becoming an executive coach. One of the things that he shared with me is something that I now think of as "Neeraj's Wheel," although my colleague Jim Clawson (as well as many others, I'm sure) have their own approaches to it.

Essentially, you draw a circle and break it… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on June 18, 2008 at 12:13pm — No Comments

Reflections on Yoga, "Notyoga," and Pilates the last two days

I've been doing yoga for about four years now, primarily enjoying the teachings of Jeannette Payne, and recently I have also added a weekly men-only "stretching" class with Allison Wilkie, that a "Rude Boys" softball teammate (and intense rugby player) got me involved in.

Then, today, I went to a mat… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on June 10, 2008 at 4:00pm — No Comments

Richard Leider's "Calling Cards"

I've shared this in a few Spirit of the New Workplace courses, but I wanted to make it more widely available. Some years ago at a FastCompany conference in Phoenix that featured both Jim Collins and Play's Andy Stefanovich, I had the fortune of sitting in on a session by Richard Leider in which all participants were given a deck of… Continue

Added by Joe Harder on June 9, 2008 at 3:45pm — No Comments

Mindful Coaching

I wanted to share a valuable coaching resource with you all. Doug Silsbee is the author of Mindful Coaching and has a series of six weekly newsletters on "Presence-Based Leadership Development." He has given me permission to share these (with attribution to him), so if you'd like to see them, just let me know!

Added by Joe Harder on June 8, 2008 at 10:32am — No Comments


Suggested booklist

301 Ways to Have Fun at Work (or books of a similar bent)…


Created by Joe Harder Jul 14, 2008 at 10:25am. Last updated by Joe Harder Jun 5, 2009.



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