• Thu, Nov 29 2012

If You Want To Be CEO, You Should Start Writing Poetry

I never thought of Emily Dickinson as CEO material what with all the weeping flowers and depression, but according to a new Harvard Business Review article, she may have been perfect. John Coleman wrote that though poetry is not considered great business reading, but it actually can be quite valuable for the business mind.

From Coleman:

“For one, poetry teaches us to wrestle with and simplify complexity. Harman Industries founder Sidney Harman once told The New York Times, “I used to tell my senior staff to get me poets as managers. Poets are our original systems thinkers. They look at our most complex environments and they reduce the complexity to something they begin to understand.” Emily Dickinson, for example, masterfully simplified complex topics with poems like “Because I could not stop for Death,” and many poets are similarly adept. Business leaders live in multifaceted, dynamic environments. Their challenge is to take that chaos and make it meaningful and understandable. Reading and writing poetry can exercise that capacity, improving one’s ability to better conceptualize the world and communicate it — through presentations or writing — to others.”

Poems are full of useful tips on how to be more understanding and empathetic which would be great for business. I always knew there were underlying themes in all those T.S. Eliot and Emily Dickinson poems in high school, but I just assumed they were about death or the end of innocence or your lover dying from the plague or you know, weird cats.

And then, of course, reading and writing poetry helps develop creativity. Clare Morgan, in her book What Poetry Brings to Business, cites a study showing that poems caused readers to generate nearly twice as many alternative meanings as “stories,” and poetry readers further developed greater “self-monitoring” strategies that enhanced the efficacy of their thinking processes. Being able to be creative in this way can help executives keep their organizations entrepreneurial, draw imaginative solutions, and navigate disruptive environments where data alone are insufficient to make progress.

And of course, rhyming is awesome and always makes things better Think how fun it would have been if Dr. Seuss had worked in your office. You could have gossiped about all the sneetches in your office and that girl with the floob-boober-bab-boober-bubs.

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