Poetic Advantage
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Poets are our original systems thinkers.
—Sidney Harman

Change has changed. Today’s executives and managers face a dizzying array of large-scale human problems where solutions must be created out of ambiguity, uncertainty, and across disciplines—the critical thinking skills traditionally found in liberal arts education.

If anything embodies a liberal arts approach, it is the practice and study of poetry. Since antiquity, poetry has been at the heart of our interaction, expression, and creativity. And now more than ever, poetry is the ideal discipline for developing the perspective and patience for making order out of difficulty and chaos.

From the Harvard Business Review to Boston Consulting Group, studies show that poetry helps executives understand “the other” with greater empathy, and enhances greater self-awareness and qualitative and creative judgement skills. Poetry drives readers to generate nearly twice as many solutions as compared to traditional problem-solving approaches.

Businesses want managers who have “the ability to think, the ability to write, the ability to understand the cultural or historical context of whatever business decision they’re making,” according to Rachel Reiser of Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. From technology to psychology and from marketing to neuro-biology, we find that poetry is behind the insights that power innovation. If you can learn to read poetry, and if you are inspired to write it, you can tackle any problem in business.

Poetry provides the filter to re-see the work right in front of you and re-frame the world outside of your office. In Poetic Advantage workshops, you will learn how to use poetry’s best strategies to build and refine your creative capabilities allowing you to keep your organization entrepreneurial, help make sense out of complex markets, and communicate solutions concisely to a diverse audience.

Poetic Advantage will enable you to transform ambiguity into certainty, information into knowledge, and knowledge into something useful, original, and marketable. You will learn how to use poetry to help you see what everybody else has seen, but to think what very few have thought.

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Poetic Advantage is an intensive 1-day workshop featuring a tailored set of lectures, discussions, case studies, and poetry analyses where you will apply Poetic Advantage to your own business straightaway. Hence, you are encouraged to come with specific challenges that you would like to work on during the program.

In the opening session you will learn how reading and writing poetry develops the capacity of all managers to become world-class leaders who can hold multiple perspectives at once, create solutions when problems are unclear, and communicate answers to a wide audience.


In a literal sense, we create the worlds we live in. Therefore we can also re-create them. The great breakthroughs in business thinking have most often been accomplished by simply using old things in new and different ways across categories. In this session, you will learn how reading poetry helps managers make sense of our complex and ambiguous market universe.

Poetry at work

  • What poetry brings to business

  • Re-envisioning your day-to-day job

  • Uncovering the dynamics of your workplace

How reading and writing poetry can enhance your strategic vision

  • Discerning intent

  • Metaphorical thinking

Patterns and variations

  • Structures we do business by

  • Variation as habit-making

Negotiating ambiguity

  • Competing principles

  • Uncertainty as advantage

Understanding biases

  • Playing to your natural strengths

  • Seeing others in order to better see yourself

  • The power of “memory mindbugs”


As Steve Jobs famously noted, innovation is about connecting the dots across disciplines. A poem helps the mind play with its well-trod patterns of thought, and can even help reroute those patterns by making us see the familiar anew.

Poems teach us how to make multiple connections between phrases and lines, time and perspectives, geographies and histories. In this session we will learn how to generate new ideas, solutions, products and services by using the perspective taking approach in the previous section with a set of practical and proven tools and frameworks.

Employing juxtaposition 

  • The rules of order

  • How to read and navigate chaos

“Playing” to create ideas big and small

  • Introducing aleatory operations

  • Games words play

  • Thinking from the bottom up


Company-wide mindset change and creative insights are very rarely executed by individuals, but instead are accomplished through the dynamics of collaboration.

This is why the Poetic Advantage approach begins by working with cross-functional teams to frame our “as is” organizational and strategic situation. Then, we move forward using the tools and frameworks of the program to develop “to be” strategic options for short- and long-term goals.

Approaching creative collaboration

  • Creating the conditions for creativity

  • Building objectives organically

  • Using group play for personal renewal

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Dr. Mark Yakich

A Fulbright Fellow and communications consultant, Dr. Mark Yakich is the Gregory F. Curtin, S.J., Distinguished Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans. He has 25 years of experience teaching writing, editing, literature, politics, history, and design, and has published books of poetry, fiction, memoir, and pedagogy. His unconventional guide to reading and writing poems: Poetry: A Survivor's Guide (Bloomsbury) is taught worldwide.

Jason Hunter

As a Senior Global Practitioner for the Blue Ocean Strategy Network, Mr. Hunter has led successful innovation and strategy initiatives for some of the world’s most recognizable companies, including L’Oreal, Pfizer, Toshiba, Honeywell, Samsung, and SAP. Recently, he co-directed a White House initiative (2012-2014) to dramatically raise the value proposition of U.S. higher education. Previously, as an Executive Fellow at INSEAD, Mr. Hunter taught strategy, innovation, and leadership to executives in Europe, Asia, and North America.

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