Business school: Working styles and CEOs find ‘flow’ with drugs

Share your ideas about how to be more productive at work

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Welcome to the FT Business school newsletter, a weekly serving of management wisdom, reading recommendations and business-related challenges. FT subscribers can sign up here to receive the newsletter by email every Monday. If you have any feedback about FT Business school, please email bschool@ft.com.

Andrew Hill's challenge

The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

Everyone knows, at least fleetingly, what it is like to be "in the zone" — so involved with, and inspired by, the activity in hand that time flies. Alas, it is rare for most of us to enjoy these moments at work. But, as I've written this week, plenty of people are striving to stimulate such "flow" states — using everything from playground-type installations that safely replicate the positive effect of extreme sports on the brain to illegal drugs.

For this week's challenge I'd like you to share ideas about how to achieve more at work. They could be suggestions about how to change the office to encourage better "flow", or simple tips about how to concentrate. The more innovative, the better: just keep it practical, legal and decent. Send your concise thoughts to bschool@ft.com

This week I've been reading about how to get the best out of your team, in the latest Harvard Business Review. The work described is interesting, but the fun part is working out whether you (and your colleagues) are "Pioneers", "Drivers", "Guardians" or "Integrators" — the four styles of working identified by the authors.

Professor's picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Michael Parke, assistant professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School, selects:

Tata in turmoil: the battle inside India’s biggest business This article nicely illustrates that even though a company has built a world-renowned image for successful business and socially responsible practices over hundreds of years, a divisive and harmful conflict between an outgoing and incoming leader can cause an organisation to lose its positive reputation quickly.

Readers interested in understanding the importance of conflict management and leader succession will find this a useful read. For example, this article raises key issues such as: how does a small work-related conflict spiral out of control? Also how might Tata have prevented this problem with better leader succession planning?

Ask the academics

Got a question for leading business school experts? Send it to bschool@ft.com and we will publish the best replies in future newsletters.

Jonathan Moules' business school news

The dramatic increase in average life expectancy during the 20th century ranks as one of society's greatest achievements. Although, most babies born in 1900 did not live past age 50, life expectancy at birth now exceeds 83 years in Japan — the current leader — and is at least 81 years in several other countries.

It is also an opportunity for business schools as people realise that if they are going to enjoy the tail-end of their increased lifespan they will have to consider going back to the classroom to acquire new skills. It is a subject close to the heart of many FT readers. This week, I consider the opportunity for schools to hire people who have spent a career in business, but would now like a second career in academia. It is not something for everyone but does seem sensible given that MBA classes benefit from professors who are aware of current issues and trends in business.

Test your knowledge

How good is your grasp of the news? Test your reading of last week's top stories with the FirstFT quiz.

Compiled by Wai Kwen Chan

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