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Monday, December 24, 2012

Harvard Business Review: Read Poetry to Become Better Business Leader

By Nancy Pearcey • December 24, 2012, 07:46 AM

John Coleman explains:

Reading and writing poetry . . . develops creativity. [Poet] Dana Gioia says, "As [I rose] in business . . . I felt I had an enormous advantage over my colleagues because I had a background in imagination, in language and in literature."

Noting that the Greek root for poetry means "maker," Dana emphasizes that senior executives need not just quantitative skills but "qualitative and creative" skills and "creative judgment," and feels reading and writing poetry is a route to developing those capabilities.

Indeed, poetry may be an even better tool for developing creativity than conventional fiction.

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.

These creative capabilities can help executives keep their organizations entrepreneurial, draw imaginative solutions, and navigate disruptive environments where data alone are insufficient to make progress.

When I was in college, English majors could take poetry, drama, or novels
-- but my advisor said the smartest students always came out of the poetry course. The intensity of interpretation that poetry requires seems to train the brain . . . So of course, I signed up! It turned out to be my favorite course in college.