Sunday, February 18, 2018

Bring your teddy bear to work

December 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Practice, Work

I was fascinated by this interview with Sreedhari Desai, an Assistant Professor at Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina.  Sreedhari has found that “adults are less likely to cheat and more likely to engage in pro-social behaviour when reminders of children, such as teddy bears and crayons, are present”.


My facilitator toolbox is full of all sorts of “childish” things – scented, colourful markers, squishy toys, puzzles, toy animals, Legos and tons of smiley face stickers.  I have always known intuitively that these tools are critical to creating workshop environments that are open, honest, creative and collaborative.  Invariably, participants leave my workshops saying, “That was fun Marguerite and I experienced real insight about myself and my team members”.


Funnily enough, in one of those “full circle” moments, at my graduation from Harvard Business School in 1985 (do the math – 26 years ago), teddy bears were freely handed out “for the kids”.    Ha!  Kids!  Well you know I grabbed one for ME!  And I still have it as you can see in the photo.  You will also note that my HBS teddy bear is now a diva, compliments of my daughter many years ago who saw it fitting to adorn her in pink feathers, a tiara and a butterfly on her cheek.   Clearly the way my wise daughter sees her mom!


Full circle.  Could HBS even then have known deep down that symbols of childhood affect executive behaviour?  I wonder how many of my classmates kept their bears?  I wonder how many look at those bears before they make a decision and remember their personal core values and ethics?


Today, take your teddy bear to work!   You will reduce cheating, increase ethical behaviour and generally make for more honest, values-driven workplaces.  The research proves this.  But didn’t you know this, deep down, all along?



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  1. […] This is an old post where I reference an article about the impact of childish items on executives’ ethical behaviour. The research found that having a teddy bear in a boardroom actually INCREASED ethical decision-making! So now I happily take stuffed animals into the corporate retreats I facilitate. click HERE for post […]