The Map of Meaning: A Guide to Sustaining Our Humanity in the World of Work
By Marjolein Lips-Wiersma and Lani Morris (Greenleaf Publishing 2011)
The Map of Meaning skilfully marries idealism and practicality. Growing out of 15 years of research and application, the book explicates both a theory and its practical use. Lips-Wiersma and Morris begin by laying out their Holistic Development Model, demonstrating, first, how individuals can use it to create and sustain meaningful work. They then move on to showing how organisations can improve morale, employee engagement, productivity and profit by attending to what makes work meaningful.
Through a carefully constructed argument, the authors convincingly demonstrate the power of their model, both for individuals and for organisations. Part 1, “Taking Responsibility for Meaningful Work”, helps the reader learn to talk about what matters most and to bridge the gap between inspiration and reality. The authors provide many examples, as well as exercises that help the reader apply the material. Part 2, “Where Meaning Meets Organisation”, focuses on bringing the insights of Part 1 into contemporary organisations, by creating organisation practices and structures that respond to the whole human being. Again, examples and exercises flesh out the framework.
The Holistic Development Model is not naive, having been tested in many settings over many years
The Holistic Development Model is not naive, having been tested in many settings over many years. The authors understand the tensions, paradoxes and imperfections of individual humans and of organisations. The model is built to work in the midst of imperfection.
I found the authors’ response to reader’s unspoken question, “Is this another fad?” to be particularly powerful. “Being human is not a fad”, they assert. They point out that being human is enduring and needs to be taken seriously. Individuals and organisations will thrive only if they build on the foundation of attending to what makes humans thrive.
The Map of Meaning is an excellent resource for individual employees seeking meaning in their work, for organisational leaders committed to building a better organisation, and for faculty seeking a practical, realistic, down-to-earth text that will inspire students and teach them enduring skills.
by Margaret Benefiel
Andover Newton Theological School
This review appeared in the Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion, Vol. 9 No. 4, December 2012.
To find out more about the Map of Meaning, why not have a look at author Marjo Lips-Wiersma’s engaging TEDx talk on how to find meaning in the daily grind.