In the Loop: The HDO Blog

Maximizing Mental Agility

March 22, 2017
Pratik Mhatre, PhD, Data & Research Administrator, Texas GEAR UP State Grant, UT Austin’s Institute for Public School Initiatives

One of the advantages of working for a Tier 1 public university in the U.S. is the access to excellent (and inexpensive) professional development opportunities. I’ve been attending seminars offered by the Human Dimensions of Organizations program at UT Austin. I’m usually skeptical of any self-help seminars or talks but these are led by top UT faculty and all the material is backed by solid field-tested academic research.

Anyway, this post is mostly for my reference in transcribing and collating my handwritten notes from the latest seminar I attended, Maximizing Mental Agility led by Dr. Art Markman. This may be long, but here goes:

It’s surprising that given how many of us work in the knowledge economy and essentially work exclusively with our minds, we know so little about it. Research has shown that to be smarter, it helps to first know how your mind works. But being smart is unlike Nero plugging into the matrix to learn kung fu; in fact, getting there takes lots of time and effort. If you start with learning how thinking works, it will eventually make you better at knowledge building and thus, enable you to “maximize” your “mental agility.”

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Art for Work’s Sake

February 28, 2017
Amy Ware, PhD, HDO Associate Director

This is not simply another defense of the liberal arts. This is a call to action for faculty to explore and explain the very real value of their fields outside of academia.

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Make Meetings Matter

January 17, 2017
Lewis Miller, HDO Marketing Coordinator

Meetings often provoke a sense of dread among employees. And they’re a nearly universal fact of work life. How can you make meetings more effective (and enjoyable)?

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Congratulations HDO Class of 2016!

December 22, 2016
Lewis Miller, HDO Marketing Coordinator

The Human Dimensions of Organizations (HDO) Master’s Class of 2016 graduated on Friday, December 2, 2016. HDO’s faculty, staff, and advisors—not to mention the students’ families and friends—are incredibly proud of the hard work these graduates have put in over the past 15 months!

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Practical Applications of the Humanities for the Modern Workplace

November 17, 2016
Lewis Miller, Marketing Coordinator, HDO

UT Austin Graduate Students Present Research-Based Solutions to Organizational Challenges

Is the idea of “corporate culture” a farce? Is the future female? How can organizations overcome resistance to change?

These intriguing questions, and many others, will be addressed at the annual presentation of Practical Applications of the Humanities for the Modern Workplace, led by Master’s degree candidates in the Human Dimensions of Organizations (HDO) program at UT Austin.

Taught by some of the University’s top professors, HDO Master’s students explore a diverse range of disciplines – including psychology, literature, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, and rhetoric – and apply them to key organizational issues including leadership, ethics, communication, change management, and decision-making.

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Play to Your Strengths

September 27, 2016
Lewis Miller, Marketing Coordinator, HDO

In a recent post for Fast Company, social media company Buffer shared impressive results from an experiment in redefining employees roles based on individual strengths.

Buffer’s co-founders Joel and Leo were the guinea pigs in the experiment. After a series of discussions aimed at identifying each other’s strengths, they decided to adopt an editor/operator framework for approaching projects.

Leo, a big-picture project manager took on the role of editor, while Joel, a detail-oriented implementer, took on the role of operator.

In addition to redefining individual roles, this new model promoted productive teamwork by pairing employees with complementary styles together.

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Humanities Education and The Digital Economy

June 14, 2016
Lewis Miller, Marketing Coordinator, HDO

As the economy continues to evolve, skills derived from a humanities-based education will only grow in relevance.

Critical thinking, creativity, communication. These three skills were highlighted by a new Brookings Institution report, Skills for a Changing World, as key to success in the modern workplace, alongside technological expertise.

“In the age of information, a focus on breadth of skills can complement technology. The new digital economy requires individuals to be able to filter, analyze, and create meaning from the vast amounts of information. Skills like complex reasoning and creative thinking can empower individuals to take full advantage of opportunities in the digital world.”

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History and Leadership

June 1, 2016
Lewis Miller, Marketing Coordinator, HDO

Studying history – and the humanities in general – provides valuable skills and long-term earning potential.

As a kid who thoroughly enjoyed history class, I was always annoyed when I heard my fellow students casually throw out the question “Why do we have to learn history? I mean, it’s all about stuff in the past!” No doubt, such comments were uttered more frequently prior to a big test or following a pop quiz.

If they were in earshot, teachers would quickly respond with some version of “those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat mistakes of the past.” I’m pretty sure this would be followed by rolled eyes, the response having failed to change the minds of my complaining classmates.

Even as my interest in history was offended, I could easily brush off such questions, given that they were coming from my pre-teen classmates. As an adult, hearing very similar arguments being offered by serious people is much more worrisome.

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Creating a Happier Society by Focusing on Ourselves

April 26, 2016
Lewis Miller, Marketing Coordinator, HDO

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness. So How Do We Create Happier Individuals and a Happier Society?

Money doesn’t buy happiness. It turns out a long list of accomplishments doesn’t necessarily, either.

The puzzling question of why achieving traditional measures of success doesn’t inevitably translate into happiness is the subject of a new book by Dr. Raj Raghunathan, a professor at UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business and HDO’s One-Day Seminars program.

In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Dr. Raghunathan discussed his research and his new book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? One of his key points is that our principal mode of gauging success – measuring how much more we’ve done, earned, or achieved relative to others – is destined to create personal discontent.

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The Face of Technical Implementation

March 10, 2016
Paige Vurpillat, Certification Specialist at PointClickCare, HDO Class of 2015

The Face of Technical Implementation: Why humans are still key, even in a tech-centric economy

If you’ve ever purchased a new smartphone or installed a software update on your computer, you know that the initial moments of using these new tools can be filled with panic, confusion, or some trial and error. Now, multiply that feeling by 100 or 10,000. This is the challenge facing technical implementation teams in organizations.

When dealing with 100 to 10,000 software users, understanding individual habits, behaviors, confidence, and beliefs are essential if you’re going to reach a positive result. Promoting a greater understanding of people is what I’ve built my career on and what I focused on as a student in the HDO Master’s program.

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