ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - April 2000

Issue Highlight - Hard Measures for Human Values
--- We have now made the stock market our primary measure of well-being. It is the lead story on the news, it stares me in the face at the top of my home page. It peers at me from the lower right hand corner of my TV screen...

In This Issue...
Looking For Adventure
Healing Blue Cross And Blue Shield
Applying The Magic Of Disney
When Teams Are Destructive

Peter Block Column
Views for a Change

Diary of a Shutdown

Book Reivews with a Twist

"Hidden Dynamics: How Emotions Affect Business Performance & How You Can Harness Their Power for Positive Results"
by Faith Ralston
4 Stars

--In these times of constant change (social and technological), emotions can no longer be politely stifled. They are constantly at the surface; but the good news is that they can be harvested into a positive force for building a more vigorous organization and enhancing one's own job satisfaction. This book is packed with examples, practical exercises and tools for training that will help improve individual and team performance; reduce interpersonal conflict and barriers to cooperation; integrate feelings and facts when making business decisions; develop managerial skills of facilitation, communication, and leadership and create an atmosphere of personal responsibility that will not tolerate "victim" behavior. Each chapter provides questions and specific actions to help one's colleagues banish forever such common barriers to participation as hierarchy issues, career problems, lack of cooperation, destructive management styles and jaded skepticism.

The Eight Principles of Emotion
-- Ralston takes the issue of "emotion" out of the closet and names erroneous assumptions we tend to have about them. She makes the point that there are no secrets with emotions. Her eight principles of emotion are:

1) Emotional needs always express themselves one way or another

2) Anger is an expression of need

3) Our feelings and needs are not wrong or bad

4) Emotions are the gateway to vitality and feeling alive

5) We can address emotional issues and still save face

6) Immediate reactions to problems often disguise deeper feelings

7) We must clarify individual needs before problem solving with others

8) We need to express positive feelings and communicate negative ones


A Particular Favorite
-- I have designed an In-House/On-Site seminar based on this book, and participant reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. The chapter "Corporate Craziness" is a particular favorite and describes 11 cultural "symptoms" that create chaos such as frenetic behaviors, lack of focus or direction and crisis-orientation. Her exercise for dialoguing about these issues consists of individuals reacting to the following statements about ways they participate in the craziness:

  • What I do that doesn't make sense is.
  • If I were brave, I would stop doing.
  • I question the effectiveness of the following activities, but do them anyway...

Then, they consider what changes will improve effectiveness:

  • I can stop doing.
  • I can better understand why... ·
  • I can improve the way we...

--Overall, the exercises are excellent. They are real and designed to deal with current organizational issues and gaps-no "Kumbaya" or "What if there were a group of you in the desert.?".

-- If there is one weakness, I was slightly disappointed in the chapter "Gaining Commitment to Change." It struck me as rather superficial and didn't have the practical information needed to "get on with it." She Saw It Coming. "Emotional Intelligence" has become the latest "hot" topic in organizational development. Ralston has distilled it to its realistic, practical elements of self-awareness, managing emotions, motivating oneself, empathy and handling relationships. She says managers will find "Hidden Dynamics" to be a valuable resource for building a work environment that promotes flexible, dynamic management roles and gives employees a new sense of purpose.


Hidden Dynamics: How Emotions Affect Business Performance & How You Can Harness Their Power for Positive Results, American Management Association, New York, 1995, ISBN 0-8144-0272-0, 176 pages. Reviewed by: Davis Balestracci, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN


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