Read Fiction and Be a Better Leader

HBR IdeaCast • 20 June 2013

Lit lessons. Check out this interview with Harvard Business School professor Joseph Badaracco on why he uses literature in his classes to teach leadership skills and business smarts. Some favorites include Joseph Conrad's Secret Sharer, Sophocles' Antigone and Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day. "[T]he questions that really engage people are the ones where you've got competing obligations, competing responsibilities," he says, adding that the key is reading slowly and then discussing what you've read about with others.

The famous Harvard case studies are just stories that concentrate on a very narrow dimension of the underlying story. In this turnabout he takes a marvelous story and asks "good HBS questions. Did they get these decisions right? Did they think about them in the right way? Would you have handled them differently? Why did they do what they did?" (Michalko)
 
 

Your Brain at Work

Harvard Business Review • July-August 2013

Beyond "brain porn." The latest focus in neuroscience has shifted from tracking the activities of specific brain regions to mapping complex neural networks involving several brain regions working together concurrently. Read on for a quick overview of the four core networks—default, reward, affect and control—involved in creative thinking, pleasure seeking, decision making and multitasking.

This article is an antidote to the wacky conclusions that have been drawn from indiscriminate use of fMRI. (We showed you some of this in a recent ATF article—Adventures in Neurohumanities.) From what is genuinely known they offer concrete implications. To reap work-related rewards from the behaviors in the default network don't just allot unfocused free time, instead concentrate on the quality of detachment. Turning off e-mail and calendars for instance. (Michalko)
 
 

Why Living in a City Makes You More Innovative

Smithsonian Magazine • 28 June 2013

Watercoolers on steroids. Rubbing shoulders with fellow humans can boost creativity, according to MIT researchers, who propose that productivity and innovation in urban areas expand in tandem with population growth, largely through random encounters with new people and ideas. Read on for more on what does—and doesn't—work in promoting innovation.

Okay. So why isn't Nairobi a leading center for productivity? Because of this. (Michalko)
 
 

Disrupting the Faculty: The Changing Face of the College Textbook Business

The Scholarly Kitchen • 24 June 2013

Pre-installed. Rather than pay extortionist pricing for college textbooks, students have turned to the second-hand market, rentals, sharing, piracy or even boycott. Now some universities are experimenting with broad institutional arrangements that limit individual professors' choices on reading requirements. Read on for one solution to the widespread resistance to the spiraling costs of college textbooks.

What Joseph Esposito has to say is always interesting and his predictions often likely. I thought this article had a most intelligent aside about Cengage and the likelihood of their dilemma playing out in the STM world. (Michalko)
 
 

Download Me—Saying "Yes" to the Web’s Most Dangerous Search Terms

Ars Technica • 25 June 2013

It's a jungle out there. Think the Web has gotten safer? Scan this eye-opening article on journalist Conor Myhrvold's experiment with downloading free software—you’ll never click through for freebies again.

The screen shots in this article are worth a look. They made me queasy. And the first comment on the article made me laugh out loud. As did this "After Checking Your Bank Account, Remember To Log Out, Close The Web Browser, And Throw Your Computer Into The Ocean." (Michalko)
 
 

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what has evolved over the course of the last decade from a research topic to a integral part of best practice for the long-term stewardship of digital materials?

Get the answer.

 
 
 

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