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The Water Cooler

A blog of fresh ideas and findings from organizational leaders and researchers on how they’re making work better, shared regularly.

Many hands may not make light work

In 1957, British naval historian and management satirist C. Northcote Parkinson painted a cynical picture of a typical committee: It starts with four or five members, quickly grows to nine or ten, and, once it balloons to 20 and beyond, meetings become an utter waste of time.

How the US Army uses data to improve the lives of soldiers

The Department of Defense manages about seven million people. Major Paul Lester, Director of Research for the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army, discusses how the Army uses HR data to improve the lives of its soldiers.

Be thankful for the power of gratitude

With Thanksgiving coming up in the U.S., and the new year right around the corner, it’s a time to reflect and give thanks for all that we have. But what if we considered our fortunes beyond just the holidays and expressed gratitude year round? Can we become more grateful?

The five keys to a successful Google team

Pod. Work group. Committee. Autonomous collective. Whatever you call it, you’re part of one at Google and probably wherever you work: a team. So if we know what makes managers great, why don’t we know what makes a team great?

How employees and managers can combat unconscious bias

Combatting unconscious biases is hard, because they don’t feel wrong; they feel right. But there are things that individuals - employees and managers - can do to mitigate the potentially negative influence of unconscious bias.

Let’s make work better

We spend more time working than doing anything else in life. Work should be motivating and energizing, and that’s just not the reality for too many people.

Job crafting and creating meaning in your work

Rarely are jobs designed to match the talents, preferences, and aspirations of the individual. Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, professor of Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management, discusses the art and science of job crafting.

Scientifically, happiness can be a choice

Can happiness really be a choice? Our brains are incredible, yet still finite, so when we spend our precious mental resources scanning for the negative, we have fewer resources for the positive.

Encourage employee voice with managerial responsiveness

A fresh graduate, eager to make a positive impact through her work, landed her dream job in an organization where her role was to help make employees' lives better - what could be more exciting?

The science of structured interviewing

In a structured interview, well-trained interviewers ask a set of planned, rigorous, and relevant interview questions and use a scoring guide to make sure their interview ratings are accurate.

More information is better

When my partner and I started our own business, our vision of decision making was not limited to just the ones with the most authority. We wanted decisions made by whomever had the good idea, the information relevant to the issue, or the solution to the problem at hand.