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A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Devil's Advocate: Happiness Can't Be Imposed at Work

December 12, 2013, 4:22 PM

Oliver Burkeman pushes back against the irrepressible movement by bloggers and business gurus to make work fun in a New York Times op-ed. Burkeman, the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, points out that while a happy work environment certainly has its advantages, studies also show that efforts to create workplace utopias can also damage overall productivity. 

The problem, as Burkeman points out, is the organizational version of what John Stuart Mill called "the paradox of hedonism," that is, when you ask yourself whether you are happy, you cease to be so. Happiness is not something can be imposed, and when it is, it is often a self-sabotaging effort. This is particularly damaging to people who start out with low self-esteem who end up feeling worse about themselves. 

Burkeman says that instead of forcing everyone to have fun at work, managers need to refocus their efforts to enable a variety of personality types to flourish. 

Burkeman's argument here

As regular followers of this blog will note, Americans are downright miserable at work, at an enormous cost to economic activity. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to remedy this situation. In fact, Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter likens the process of finding job satisfaction to solving a Rubik’s cube. Managers need to fully understand the challenge of aligning personal growth opportunities for employees with business needs. Employees also need to take responsibility for their own happiness and growth. 

Read about that here

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Devil's Advocate: Happiness...

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