Getting to Yes, And

Leah Weiss: How We Work


Leah Weiss

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Second City Works “Getting to Yes, And” – Rule of Three

Dr. Leah Weiss is a Stanford professor whose new book, “How We Work,” explores the science behind re-humanizing the workplace.

It’s interesting when you talk about mindfulness at work, you talk about like we talk about other kinds of creative practices – like Second City talks about Improvisation or IDEO talks about Design Thinking.

“So I think having this whole process to view the learning of mindfulness, of compassion, of purpose as a growth mindset, as something that we are setting intentions we’re experimenting with and then we’re reflecting and the reflections will  filter back in to the next round of intentions, experiments and reflections. And it’s very similar to the process of learning about a context, prototyping a solution, getting feedback and iterating from there. So that’s a draw the connection with design thinking.”

Improvisation is a very failure positive practice – how do you like to talk about failure in a work context?

“I think there’s a few things at play in the way that I talk about failure. One is that we need to be honest with ourselves –  and I see this in my MBA students and in the work I do with organizations – that even if the organization is valuing innovation and they say they want to learn from failure, that doesn’t in itself overcome the obstacles that individuals and teams experience. It feels uncomfortable and people need to learn how to deal with that experience emotionally, especially when many of us are in the habit of learning. Whenever we find ourselves in that uncomfortable situation where something’s gone wrong, we’re in the habit of attributing blame and it becomes a reflex. So this is really actually revolutionary and calling for people to feel that discomfort but move away from it and in fact be able to move back in and through it towards the lessons learned. And that’s where the success can emerge from the failure.”

Ultimately, you say, purpose is vital.

“I think it’s important to think of purpose as a verb, as something that we touch in on repeatedly and we have to see as our zone of responsibility for ourselves and if we’re managing other people that this is something we’re taking seriously for them. I think it has everything to do with whether our employees are engaged and passionate. It is common sense if we’re not purposeful about our work, then of course were half assing it.”

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