Required readings and movies for these study questions can be found in the Readings section.
1. In "Strategic Stories," the authors comment: "A good story (and a good strategic plan) defines relationships, a sequence of events, cause and effect, and a priority among items–and those elements are likely to be remembered as a complex whole." (p. 4) Can you think of examples from your work experience—whether in the planning process or as part of company culture—that confirm this assertion?
2. What is the "narrative logic" (p. 5) of your decision to attend Sloan?
3. In Du Bose Heyward's story, does the Country Bunny need or receive mentoring?
4. Do the Country Bunny's family structure and parenting style provide an appropriate model for corporate organization and management? Compare that model with the one described in Cheaper by the Dozen.
1. How would you describe the community in which the Derranes live at the beginning of "Two Lovely Beasts"?
2. What is Kate Higgins' hold on Colm Derrane?
3. "Seeing their parents happily united again, the children also became imbued with enthusiasm. They willingly consented to make sacrifices for the common effort. Even the youngest boy, barely five years old, had a little job to do every day. The whole family worked like bees in a hive" (p. 22). How does the family's response here to Colm and his vision compare with other people's views of him in this story?
1. Early in Crouching Tiger, Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) cites the importance of "codes" of behavior: what are those codes in the film, and how do they relate to one another?
2. How would you define the relations between Jen/Yu Jiao Long (Zhang Ziyi) and the other characters in the film?
3. What is the role of expertise or mastery in the film? What authority does it confer?
1. In his "Author's Note," Soyinka steers us away from reading Death and the King's Horseman as a critique of colonial power. Why does he argue this point?
2. What ethical standards can we apply to the action of Soyinka's play?
3. How does "honor" factor into the events Soyinka describes? Does each character define it differently?
1. Jean, Janine, and René face changes on the job. Do their challenges square with your own experience of career change and the personal costs it can entail?
2. What are the scientist Henri Laborit's views on human behavior in the workplace? How are they mirrored in the film's narrative elements—film clips, voice-over, editorial juxtapositions?
3. Who is "my uncle from America" for each of the main characters in the film? Does that figure have anything to do with America as we know it?
1. What kind of woman is Clarissa Dalloway, and what role does she seek to fulfill in this novel?
2. How does Septimus Warren Smith, who never meets Clarissa, nevertheless intersect with her world?
3. Can we speak of a place for ethics in the worlds sketched around these characters? Why does death loom so large for them, and how do they—and we—address that presence?
1. How would you describe the roles of the three main characters in The Queen—Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Diana, Princess of Wales—and the challenges each of them faces?
2. Why does the Queen change her stance on Diana's funeral?
3. Who are "the people," based on Frears' film and Woolf's novel?
1. Late in Copenhagen, the physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg have the following exchange: Bohr: "Heisenberg, I have to say—if people are to be measured strictly in terms of observable quantities . . ." Heisenberg: "Then we should need a strange new quantum ethics. There'd be a place in heaven for me." (92) What are these two men saying to each other? What does Heisenberg mean by "quantum ethics"?
2. What is Margrethe's role in this play? How does her comment that "what I see isn't a story? It's confusion and rage . . . " (p. 73) reflect on the central methodological principle of 15.269?
3. Could Frayn have written this play about businesspeople? What organizational roles might Bohr and Heisenberg fill?
1. In this film about war and the military, we are presented with numerous examples of leadership and the exercise of authority. What is the nature of that leadership, and of the hierarchy in which it is exercised?
2. What do you make of the religious overtones of Three Kings, from Chief Elgin's faith, to the Muslim shrine where Vig will be buried, to U2's "In God's Country" (on the soundtrack during the closing credits), to the title of the film? Do these elements offer an implicit commentary on the ethics of the various characters' actions, or on the nature of faith?
3. Why does Russell, the director, include views of internal organs in the course of the film? What do you make of Gates' thoroughly documented medical intervention to save Barlow? How does it comment on the action of the film as a whole?
1. How would you describe Paul Rusesabagina—manager, leader, humanitarian?
2. What survival skills did Rusesabagina use in protecting his refugee population at the Hotel des Mille Collines? Was ethics a factor in his decision-making processes?
3. How would you assess the behavior of the Western legal, journalistic, medical, military, and political figures in the film? What choices did they have in confronting the crisis in Rwanda?
1. Thoreau opens Civil Disobedience with the comment: "I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least;'" and continues a page later: "For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it." Where does the moral compass point here?
2. What is Thoreau's view of material wealth? Do you agree with his assessment?
3. In the century and-a-half since Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience, have we made any progress toward his vision of "a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor"? Is this a plausible goal?
1. Having read "Raizel Kaidish," how would you define "ethics"?
2. What is the relation of emotion to rationality in our decision-making processes? Can you find a link here first between Marta and Raizel Kaidish, and then between Marta and her own daughter, Rose, and Marta's ethical theory?
3. What is the role of "story" in this story? How does story define ethics for the characters involved?
1. Have you ever seen a community such as Le Guin describes in this story?
2. Where do "the ones who walk away from Omelas" go?
3. What features would you want to see in your own ideal city? How would you insure its success as a social system, and what collective moral compass would you develop for its inhabitants?
1. How do you see Hotel Rwanda now, several classes later, in light of Paul Rusesabagina's portrait of his society and himself?
2. What were Romeo Dallaire's leaderly and professional challenges, as captured in his account of his time in Rwanda, and why does he insist he did not meet them?
3. Can you state the ethical response to genocide that E.O. Wilson's environmental assessment entails?
1. How does the health of the young "Che" Guevara play into the adventures on which he has embarked with his friend and fellow health care aspirant, Alberto Granado?
2. What is the Latin America that the two young men discover?
3. What is Che's "story"? In what elements of his journey does it consist, and to whom does it appeal?
1. Can you find an element of social enterprise in the system that has evolved around the main characters in The Lives of Others? Why does it not seem to work?
2. Is there a "professional" component to the way in which Dreyman, Sieland, and Wiesler, respectively, behave? What might it mean to behave professionally, based on what we see in their case, and how would it apply to you?
3. Can you articulate the changes experienced by the three main characters in the course of the film? Based on those changes, can or do you believe in the possibility of the existence of a "good man"?
1. What means does Antonia use to establish her "line," and what conditions favor her endeavor?
2. What place do intellect and classical knowledge have in the world of these characters?
3. From the Country Bunny to Antonia, we have seen men and women managing organizations, from households to military units to scholarly disciplines to kingdoms and back. Can you articulate a consistent and inclusive theory of that management role?
1. Early in Shall We Dance?, the narrator explains that Western-style ballroom dancing is a suspect activity in Japanese culture. Does the film make clear why that might be the case? Can you think of similar taboos in the West?
2. How would you characterize Mr. Sugiyama's workplace and colleagues, and his relationship to both? How can and does he confront those frameworks?
3. Can we speak of a "romance" between Mr. Sugiyama and Mai? What do they represent, individually and as a pair, for all the other characters in the film?
1. What kind of man is Wallace Nolasco?
2. The world of The Monkey King involves many cultures. How do the characters' relationships and behavior reflect this diversity?
3. What is the link between family and business in the first part of the novel? What are the ethical implications of that link?
4. How do you account for the change in family relations as the story progresses?
5. What is the importance of games in the last two parts of the book?
6. What is the meaning of Wallace's dream at the end of The Monkey King?
1. What relation did surf culture bear to the rest of American society when it began? Today?
2. What corporate model matches the evolving world of the surf community as described in Riding Giants?
3. Why is riding giant waves so important to those who do so? What symbolic role does that occupation have for the rest of the surf world, and for those who don't surf at all?
1. Have you encountered people like Sir Thomas More—or Henry VIII, or Cromwell, or Rich—in your work? How do they function as colleagues? What is their sense of their profession?
2. Can one speak of multiple spheres in the world Bolt portrays in A Man for All Seasons? If so, does each have its own rules or morals, or do the inhabitants of all of them apply the same standards to their behavior?
3. "Affection goes as deep in me as you think, but only God is love right through, Howard; and that's my self" (p. 122). What is a "self" in Bolt's play, and what roles does it play for all of us in society and in our organizations?
1. What role does story play in Slumdog Millionaire? Is Jamal (Dev Patel) a great story-teller, a liar, or a star-crossed naif? What kind of leader is he (see Douglas Ready's article), and how do the game show proceedings define his search for his true love, Latika?
2. Looking back on the session you co-taught earlier in the semester, would you now change your view of the text or film you addressed? If so, how?
3. What story, film, or non-fiction material would you like to see included in future iterations of this course?