Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling book Lean In didn’t so much create buzz in the biz-book world as it did a jet-engine roar. Nearly six months after its release, Lean In seems still as talked-about as ever – so much so that at least a few of our member companies are hosting ongoing discussions centered on the blockbuster.

Sandberg’s manifesto and its subtly powerful stance – that in a male-dominated world, women unwittingly hold themselves back too – resonated with us at the Center for Operational Excellence. And like some of our member companies, we decided to do something about it.

lean in women

Topics at COE’s “Lean In” discussion included “The Search for 50/50″ and “Are You My Mentor?”

Last week we hosted an experimental “book club” discussion on Lean In featuring more than 50 women from COE member companies. Instead of a panel or a “breakout” into small groups, we decided to make a cocktail out of them both: Eight tables, eight topics, eight facilitators, and 15 minutes for a group to share their thoughts before the next rotation.

Click here for a look at photos from the event.

We’re thrilled with the results of our round-robin book club, which provoked some provocative discussions on topics that are crucial to our professional and personal lives, but not always easy to talk about: Self-doubt, career mobility, finding balance with a partner, parental guilt, and a number of others.

Some of the women who attended wrote down their thoughts during the discussions, and we thought we’d share some of the best:

“Accept that there will be guilt” – This, from our table on “Raising Future Leaders,” echoes Sandberg’s own struggles with being a working parent.

“Expectations are an invitation to resentment.”

“Are you an arsonist at your own fire?” – This, at our table on finding balance with a partner.

“Have difficult conversations now!”

And, an audience favorite: “Laundry is always a problem.”



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