Podcasts, criticism and ‘burstiness’

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I’m back on the podcast bandwagon and likely won’t be off it anytime soon. I’m in the midst of training for a trail running race (yes, that one), and the podcasts help make the longer runs feel shorter.

Recently, I started listening to “WorkLife” with Adam Grant. His podcast is a production of TED, which I’ve already admitted I enjoy. TED talks cover a broad range of topics and can range from inspiring to infuriating to hilarious. 

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author. He wrote the books “Give and Take” and “Originals,” which is one of my favorite nonfiction titles. He also wrote “Option B” with Sheryl Sandberg, a book about facing adversity, building resilience and finding joy. That one is on my reading list, but I haven’t cracked the cover yet.

So combining TED and Grant seemed like an obvious spark of brilliance.

The podcast is young — just two episodes. Both captured my attention.

The first focused on a company called Bridgewater Associates, which publicly ranked its employees according to performance. The cringeworthy public criticism made for a compelling opening to the podcast that explored criticism and its physical and emotional implications. Physically, when criticized, we tighten our muscles and go on the defensive. We’re even readying to launch our own attack.

Bridgewater leadership, though, believes that the more you hear criticism, the better you get at letting it in without being angry, hurt or defensive.

The take on constructive criticism certainly isn’t for everyone.

The second podcast explored the idea of “burstiness.” I promise I did not make that word up. I even looked it up on Google.

According to Grant’s podcast, “burstiness” is a description used in the psychology of creativity to describe bursts of creativity that occur in group environments. It’s when everyone is speaking and responding to each other, interrupting and collaborating — all in a short amount of time.

Some people thrive on the feel of “burstiness,” while others cringe at the chaos and disorganization. Research has shown, according to the podcast, that the more “bursty” a group, the more productive it is. Everyone in the group is energized, exchanging and building on ideas.

I’m sure I’ll continue my podcast addiction, especially with Grant’s show. After all, Grant studies how to make work not suck. When you’re working on a treadmill, the less suck the better.

By |March 9th, 2018|

About the Author:

Kristen Czaban has been with The Sheridan Press since June 2008 and has covered the entire gamut of beats including government, crime, business and the outdoors. Before heading west, she graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s in journalism. Email Kristen at: kristen.czaban@thesheridanpress.com