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A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

When Should You Say No to Your Boss?

The typical workday is long enough as it is, and technology is making it even longer. When you do finally get home from a full day at the office, your mobile phone rings off the hook, and emails drop into your inbox from people who expect immediate responses.

While most people claim to disconnect as soon as they get home, recent research says otherwise. A study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that more than 50% of us check work email before and after work hours, throughout the weekend, and even when we’re sick. Even worse, 44% of us check work email while on vacation.

A Northern Illinois University study that came out this summer shows just how bad this level of connection really is. The study found that the expectation that people need to respond to emails during off-work hours produces a prolonged stress response, which the researchers named telepressure. Telepressure ensures that you are never able to relax and truly disengage from work. This prolonged state of stress is terrible for your health. Besides increasing your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity, stress decreases your cognitive performance.

We need to establish boundaries between our personal...

Cultivating Future Conservation Leaders

Every kid should have a creek. I had mine, a little silver rill that spilled through my grandma’s farm in central Georgia. Through the mystical chords of memory I can hear the closing wooden clack of her screen door already five yards behind me as I high-stepped it toward the freedom of the fields and woods. It was as joyful as eating ice cream on a hot day. The world was mine to discover and own then, an open book, the pages yet to be written 50-some years ago. Discovering turtles and fish and oaks and the brambles, they all made their mark on my future. Knowing nature steered me down a path in biology and toward a career in conservation.

Not every child can have a creek, of course. And in this time when our population is increasingly urbanized, the opportunity for youngsters to fully immerse themselves in nature is becoming increasingly difficult. Couple urbanization with the fact that children typically have a highly regimented schedule and you can quickly see that engagement with the out-of-doors is not always the norm.

Life without an appreciation for nature should be a concern for all people who love the out-of-doors...

Please Don’t Talk About THAT

Many times, I hear people say things like: "you can talk about this and can talk about that, but please don't talk about that."

I remember when I was a little girl and whenever a controversial subject came up my mother used to say "shhh" and her mother used to say "shhh" and my other grandmother used to say the same. Generally everyone said "shhh" to keep the peace.

As an adult this comes up all the time. When you're dealing with your kids' school and there is an issue, you don't want to antagonize the teacher or the principal. When you're at work and there is a difficult issue, you don't want to antagonize your boss. And, of course, in your relationship when a difficult issue comes up you don't want to antagonize your partner.

But I was reading this good article about the Google way of solving problems — which is to "attack" them — and it reminded me of something I have learned over time. The only way to truly tackle a difficult issue is to have everybody talk about it pretty much openly, without anyone being told to "keep your mouth shut...

Why Your Strategy Is Failing

You are motivated, you and your team are committed, and you come out of a strategy development process inspired. You put the document together, you do initial outreach and then it inevitably fizzles. Was it the wrong strategy? Were the wrong people involved? Was your team actually never invested in the first place? Are you in this alone?

The tendency is to blame your people – in particular when you have attempted to do something collaboratively, came out with something consensus-based and it still fails. I’m going to tell you the truth; in all likelihood it is you, your people, and the environment that you work in that are the problem.

Here are some reasons your strategy may be failing:

Reality has set in. The three months you spent building the strategy was great, and now it is back to the day-to-day. You address the data drills you have been ignoring and your managers go back to reassuring their people all is the same so they will continue to produce. How does the strategy fit into an organization that is already fully taxed?

Nothing changes. The strategy is set and you do some internal outreach to tell people about it...

Gender Inequality Is Costing the World $28 Trillion

A new report quantifies what enlightened employers have long known: gender parity in the workforce has enormous value.

new study from the McKinsey Global Institute analyzed current and potential economic output in 95 countries around the world, and found that if women and men contributed equally to the workforce—same hours worked, equal pay, equitable representation across all fields—it would add $28 trillion to global GDP by the year 2025. That’s an increase of 26%, according to their findings.

For now, women make up half the world’s population, but just 37% of the global GDP.

To understand the reasons for this gap, authors looked at 15 factors that affect women’s presence in the workforce, from family planning availability to wage parity to legal and political representation. They found high or extremely high levels of gender inequality in at least half of those factors, in 40 of the 95 nations surveyed.

However, the study also revealed signs of progress in the global fight for equality. Fewer than one-fifth of surveyed countries, for example, still show drastic gender inequality in educational attainment.

(Image via tanoochai/