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AFS Review: Notes

The Moment You Can't Ignore: A Folklorist and an Anthropologist Examine Organizational Culture

Friday, October 17, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tim Lloyd
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The Moment You Can’t Ignore, the new book by folklorist Mal O’Connor and anthropologist Barry Dornfeld published earlier this month by PublicAffairs Books, examines the cultural "moments that cannot be ignored”: events, actions, or comments that stop people in their tracks and make it blindingly clear that an organization is stuck and unable to move forward.

Culture is the key to success in a 21st-century organization—not simply because it affects how we think and behave, but because it’s the set of agreements and behaviors that drive how we act in groups and the decisions we collectively make. But every organization now faces the moment it can’t ignore as new forms of work, communication and technology wreak havoc on "the way we do things around here.” When a traditional structure can morph into a culturally attuned and culturally aligned organization, it can become superconducting: everything works better, more smoothly, faster.


O’Connor and Dornfeld provide powerful insights on how to confront the clash of old and new so that the people and businesses can successfully meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. They show how to ask the big questions that point the way to renewing a culture: Who are we? Who’s in charge? How do I lead? What’s our future? These are extremely relevant questions for folklorists in leadership positions in non-profits and government, in the increasingly corporatized university setting, and in private consulting practice.


Mal O’Connor and Barry Dornfeld are Principals at CFAR, a private management consulting firm that helps organizations put strategy into action quickly. Mal holds a PhD in folklore from the University of Pennsylvania, and has worked extensively with AFS and many other organizations in the folklore studies field. Barry is an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker with a PhD in communications from the University of Pennsylvania, and has done a good deal of work with the Philadelphia Folklore Project. For more on The Moment You Can’t Ignore, go to The book will be on sale at the AFS annual meeting next month.





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