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Meaning at Work: Using Meetings in the Organization to Create Meaning for Participants


Meaning at Work: Using Meetings in the Organization to CreateMeaning for Participants. 7th European Conference on Positive Psychology. Amsterdam, July 1-4, 2014 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Meaning at Work: Using Meetings in the Organization to Create Meaning for Participants

Meaning at Work Using Meetings in the
Organization to Create Meaning for Participants
7th European Conference on Positive
Psychology Amsterdam, July 1-4, 2014 Nina Tange
and Ib Ravn Research Program on Organization and
LearningDepartment of Education, Aarhus
University, Campus and Website
1. Todays program
  • What is meaning?
  • Meaning at work and in meetings
  • Meaning-creating processes in meetings

2. Meaning in PERMA (Seligman, 2011)
  • Positive emotions. Engagement. Relationships.
    Meaning. Accomplishment.
  • The meaningful life Using you signature
    strengths in the service of something larger
    than yourself (Seligman, 2002)
  • We grasp the meaning of objects and events by
    taking them out of their apparent brute
    isolation and finding them to be parts of some
    larger whole, which explains them, that is,
    renders them significant (Dewey, 1910, p. 117)

3. When is work meaningful?
  • You use your strengths realize your potentials
    (Eagleton, 2007)
  • You make a unique contribution to work (Drucker,
  • Your organization creates value in society
    (Ghoshal et al., 2001)
  • You work with others to accomplish something
    important (Ravn, 2009)

4. Productive community
3. Value creation
1. Use of strengths
2. Contribution
4. Meetings often sorely lack meaning
  • Goals are unclear Exactly what are we supposed
    to accomplish (that will connect us to
    something larger)?
  • Manager talks too much and its not relevant to
  • Discussions are unfocused and incoherent
  • Meeting participants are passive, bored and
  • A meeting often disconnects participants from
    any larger organizational whole or meaning.

5. Our intervention research on meetings
  • To be involved and have a say in the organization
    is meaningful because it connects you to the
    larger whole
  • The organizational meeting is potentially a forum
    for this
  • We did an intervention study in Denmark Three
    partnerships (bank, local government, state
    agency) (Ravn, 2013, 2014)
  • Intervention We trained 105 managers in meeting
  • Pre- and post-measurements (survey) Does this
    increase meaning and value creation, as seen by
    the participants?

6. The bank Some results
  • Do you contribute through the meeting? Pre
    50, post 66
  • At the beginning of the meeting, is it clear
    what the overall purpose of each agenda item is?
    Pre 12, post 41
  • Management group meeting4 times a year, full
    day, 15 branch managers.Hardly any
    involvementWe redesigned for meaning-ful

7. Redesign Processes that create meaning (a)
  • Sit next to a (relative) stranger and talk to
    herHow does my work connect with that of my
  • Specify meeting goalsThe importance of this
    agenda item for our work is
  • Anchoring the meeting goals What can you
    contribute towards the shared goal?

8. Redesign Processes that create meaning (b)
  1. Co-creationTop management present
    ideas-in-progress, involve middle managers, use
    their feedback
  2. Best practice in small groupsKnowledge sharing
    creation. Making sure your peers see and
    appreciate your contribution
  3. Two consultants, free of chargeHelping someone
    with their challenge. Connects you with their

9. Meaning process 5 Best practice in dyads
  • Identify a recent work task that you did well and
    which you found connected you to a larger
    wholeness in your life (Silent reflection, 2
  • Find a person you dont know and tell him/her
    about it (5 minutes)
  1. That person responds by picking out one
    important thing you and telling you.
  2. Switch roles (12 minutes)

10. Meeting techniques today
  • Meeting type Information meeting with
    presentation. Do inter-action before and after
    (other than Q and A)
  • Optimize seating, so people can see each other
  • At the start Meet people
  • The six processes that create meaning (slides
  • Dyad task tries on the presented material
  • Questions? Grab us in the hall, now or later
  • Individual take-aways for maximum impact Team up
    in triads on your way out (unless you have to
    rush). Introduce yourselves. Tell each other
    about best your best outcome from this session.

11. Literature
  • Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. Dutton.
  • Drucker, P. (1999). Management challenges for the
    21th century. Harper.
  • Eagleton, T. (2007). The meaning of life. Oxford
    University Press.
  • Ghoshal, S., Barlett, C. A., Moran, P. (1999).
    A new manifesto for manage-ment. Sloan Management
    Review, 40(3) 9-20.
  • Ravn, I. (2009). Meaning in Work Life Definition
    and Conceptualization. First World Congress on
    Positive Psychology, Philadelphia, PA, USA, June
  • Ravn, I. (2013). A folk theory of meetings and
    beyond. European Business Review, 25(2), 163-173.
  • Ravn, I. (2014). Training managers to facilitate
    their meetings. International Journal of
    Management Practice 7(1) 70-87.
  • Seligman, Martin (2002). Authentic happiness. New
    York The Free Press.
  • Seligman, Martin (2011). Flourish. New York The
    Free Press.