Many Possible Directions for Setting Course


These boats are heading in four different directions. They mirror my attempts to narrow down my doctoral study topic. I thought it was employee engagement for baby boomers and now I’m not so sure anymore. Each new course offers new exciting topics. I feel like “Squirrel!!!!” in the movie “Up.” Does every doctoral student go through this?

I even scouted a possible topic in my course, Management Information Systems. I read about data warehouses, knowledge management systems and supply chain management wondering how individuals’ brains are wired to successfully manage technology like that?

Then I read about a company’s attempts to convert best practices and stories into a knowledge management system. The term “occupational community” jumped right off the page! We read so much about how disengaged employees are. Does a strong occupational community support employee engagement? I would bet my 401(k) on it!

How do you build and maintain a strong occupational community? With employees in all sectors working virtually more often, there are fewer watercooler and elevator chats where people spontaneously talk about projects. Those informal face-to-face interactions make work much more fun. I find that no amount of emoticons can replace a real smile and a laugh from a colleague. Moreover, solutions to problems and opportunities for collaboration often emerge out of spontaneous, informal, face to face interactions.

Normally I love to plan ahead. For my doctoral study topic, I’ll quote Emily Dickinson: “I dwell in possibility.”

Lisa Cook, DBA Student and Senior Director of Career Services

Originally published on LinkedIn, May 19, 2016