"…broadening the base…"

"What we have in common is not knowledge about which we agree but a shared world about which we will always disagree." David Weinberger

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Adult 625 #4: it’s all in the way that you frame it!

It's all in the frame, baby!

It’s all in the way you frame it, baby!

Have you ever noticed that actors of Asian and Western ethnic backgrounds are often stereotyped?  Asians businesspersons are portrayed as reserved individuals, who are serious and incapable of taking a joke while those individuals from the west are portrayed as boisterous, idiotic and incapable of being serious.  My first reaction to the viewing of this clip from the 1986 film, “Gung Ho” was to recognize the blatant stereotypes. Under the direction of Ron Howard, my assumption is that the stereotyped characters and situations will reveal universal truths about individuals and organizations.

While the above reaction was sociological in perspective, my next reaction was to consider the angle of the camera and the placement of characters in the scene. What was the director trying to say?  What was the purpose of the exaggerated stereotypes beyond making the audience laugh? Why were some characters dressed in clean professional clothing sporting conservative haircuts? The majority of the characters in the open courtyard are sloppy, unshaven and wearing dirty or messy clothing. Reframing the scene through the lens of an organizational practitioner is a new lens for me. It is one that is useful when considering how an organization works and where to begin when instituting change.

The Four-Frame Approach to Understanding Organizations, as described by Gallos (2006) asks the OD practitioner to consider the structural, human resource, political and symbolic components of an organization.  My small group looked at the symbolic components of the organization asking what the group exercise might mean to those involved, how did each individual interpret it and it what way might these exercises represent the values and beliefs of the organization? 

 This organizational event, where employees are gathered in a large, open space as a group, could become a part of the group’s culture, where the event expresses what’s important to the group.Through a symbolic frame, this activity, ritualistic in nature, is not what is most important.  What is important is what is means to the people in the organization.  By the comedic way in which the character initially react to the cal esthetics, one can only imagine the dialog that transpires in the next scene. 

The selection, Reframing Complexity in Gallos, was very useful to me when writing the Change Agent Interview paper.  At times, I found it very challenging to remove the human resource lens, where I attend to people. My natural inclination is to consider how the individual fits within the organization, as well as how the culture of the organization reflects the needs and values of the individual. Looking at the organization through just one frame presents a rather skewed image of the organization.  

Remembering to “frame” details to tell about the change event forced me to engage the skills of a practitioner more intentionally by looking at how the underlying assumptions behind the change event was a logical path to maintain the structure of the organization.  The school system in the change event as an organization exists to achieve the goals established by the State Department of Education. The “Four-Frame Approach to Understanding Organizations” encourages me to wear each lens of Change Agent Practioner, structural, human resource, political and symbolic when analyzing a change event. All four frames present a complete image of the organization. 

When considering this scene, I wonder how Michael Keaton is going to ensure the integration of all of the group efforts in the manufacturing plant.  Will the factory workers pull together as a group in order to meet the goal of producing 15,000 cars in one month?  They’ll certainly need to operate as a “machine,” with a clear division of labor.


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Adult 625: #3 From…“I’m lovin’ it!” to “I’ll endure it…”

Parents of athletes know that when the season begins, what becomes fragmented is the number of sit-down family meals.  It is common to rely on a fast food meal during a weekday game as we rush to get home and in bed. With the arrival of Five Guys Burgers and Fries ® or Panera Bread ® as our preferable options, we rarely frequent McDonalds. Somehow, the allure of Happy Meal® toys has lost its appeal in favor of specialty burgers and smoothies. We have gone from an “I’m lovin’ it” family to an “I’m endurin’ it” type of family when it comes to the golden arches. 

So why a future search surrounding the Golden Arches®? The location of our McDonalds is at a busy intersection.  Those traveling to the mountains and west, those traveling to Washington, DC and those needing a stop along the athletic trail appear to keep our restaurant busy.  When it opened, the community threw the weight of their support behind it while leaving Wendy’s and Burger King in the dust.  Every time I place an order in the drive through lane, I wonder which one of my former students will take my order. This week one of my former students who sported “Crew Trainer” on her shirt took my son’s order.  Headed to college in the fall, I know that our economic support provides the income that she will need.  (She is entering the nursing program at VCU, so I have multiple reasons for throwing my business in her direction!)  Since our restaurant is nearly always busy, it might be natural to consider that they are all contributing to the economy of a community. Maybe not so, as our class discussion revealed.

 “Getting the Whole System in the Room” is difficult when the group available to work on the facilitation is comprised of six individuals.  However, for the sake of experience, it was useful to consider what it means to assume the role of a component of the stakeholders.  I enjoy role-playing and think that it is often an easy way to determine how well the player understands the values and needs of the individual behind the role. When I played this role, I acted as myself when considering ideas for further discovery.  Individuals, such as the master gardeners in my social circle, are invested in an organic lifestyle. However, does organic reflect the values of the typical customer?

The time lines that we created were an interesting way to gather information about the other stakeholders in the room, our classmates. The common themes among our classmates help to bridge the cultural, social and personal experiences with world and organization events. Considering our personal events and world events, along with the events of the organization made this change strategy different from the other two events, Open Space Technology, and Appreciative Inquiry. 

Focusing on the past, present and possible future of an organization engages participants in a situation to consider learning and planning with equal time (Weisbord and Janoff, 2010).  A shared vision for this company, we discovered, would consider the trends that are occurring globally.  Public interest and concern with Monsanto and GMO’s seems to surface in my Facebook feed with regularity.  I wonder how frequently planning sessions include global events that affect an organization?  I would assume more often than stakeholder experiences.  It would certainly be an interesting topic to explore more fully.

When our conversation began to shift towards business concepts and models, my attention began to shift as well.  As a “non-business” stakeholder, I began to gravitate to the periphery of the conversation rather than as a participant in the center of the conversation.   I am wondering how many voices reflected those whose lifestyle, education, and income levels differed from mine.  With time and participant constraints, it was difficult to consider what all of the “hearts and minds” of possible stakeholders. With this in mind, the event did strengthen my understanding of how an event such as Future Search seeks to engage everyone in decision-making.


While the athletic season halts sit down family dinners, it conversely allows for conversation during long car rides.  The arrival of “Team Future Search’s” email invitation in March provided an unanticipated, but interesting conversation regarding the future of The Golden Arches.®  Understanding that high school students are ALWAYS right (ah-hem sarcasm), I mentioned the project topic in passing the night before the presentation.  His reply, “They make a *&$@ ton of money.” “They’re doing fine,” he said as we bypassed McDonalds in favor of Subway. Their parking lot, I noticed was less than half-full.  The other restaurant was full of athletes finishing a day of practice. Participation in this future search gives me a new way to consider change when focusing, for example, on a parking lot full of fast food restaurants.  The data that I pay attention to is not necessarily the same data that all of the other stakeholders consider when drawing conclusions.   Organizing for the inclusion of as many stakeholders as possible is an important component of the planning stage. 

 Life is full of teachable moments.  The learning experience created by “Team Future Search” provides a foundation that transport to many situations. I can see discussion about the role of this corporation and the economy of our community as a possible topic of conversation for the next car ride. I remember the Golden Arches of the past.  He will experience the future of them as an adult. Teachable moments…I love ‘em!

This surfaced on my Facebook® home page-

Yesterday, flying home from Houston, two tired and cranky little girls sitting behind us with their frazzled Mommy. It was not going well even before the door closed. Barely pulled away from the gate and the plane broke. Had to de-plane and wait for a replacement. My husband ran to get himself some McDonald’s. Boarded new plane, smaller of the two little girls commenced with an epic meltdown as she walked down the aisle to her seat behind us, vocalizing what we were all feeling at this point–Not again, I want my Daddy, No I’m not sitting down, and a whole lot of pitch perfect screaming. Then, with charm and grace, my husband turned around and offered her a french fry. Instant quiet. With the biggest smile, he said, “Here, take the whole bag, they’re all for you!” There was a collective sigh from others around us. He said, “she needs them more than I do” and we never heard another peep from her until touchdown. “I’m lovin’ it!”[

For Future Consideration-

The 5 Best and Worst Slogans in McDonald’s History

Not loving it-McDonald’s forced to ditch Golden Arches for TURQUOISE sign

The Origins of McDonald’s Golden Arches  (In JSTOR of all places!)

Tough Times For The Golden Arches

McDonald’s CEO Is Out as Sales Decline

Adlt 625 #1: Balancing the See-Saw of Change


Source:  http://people-equation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Biz-people-on-see-saw.jpg
People who love change are so irritating, aren’t they?

The Broader the Base the Higher the Tower

The credo that guides change in me

     A large oval of grass rests at the bottom of the steps to the library.  I notice it each time that I visit my friend at the institution where she works.  There are no plants, sculptures or fountains in this oval.  The lack of visual stimulation ironically maintains my interest.  Why was this space free?  Upon entering the library, I notice the lack of plants as well as the lack of artwork.  The wheels of change begin to move in my head.  I consider ways to use the oval as well as how subtle changes to the visual appearance of the library would create positive change.  After a brief greeting, I question my friend about my observations.  I believe that change is exciting and invigorating.  For me, it provides the impetus for growth and productivity.  I cultivate my creative energies by making changes.

     Teaching is a playing field for those who crave change.  Each academic year brought change to my life as an educator.  A change in students, a classroom move, a different schedule, teammates who transition from department to department, or an enhanced curriculum ushered in a new year.  Thirty-six weeks of teaching, four marking periods, two semesters and a wealth of units bring change.  Administration provides a curriculum to adapt to one discipline with the edict to create a new program for a different discipline.  I balanced the see-saw between innovation and adaptation with fluidity.  The ban wagon of change moves through public education with regularity.  The mantra, “If it ain’t broke, break it” is a habitual ride on this bandwagon of change. As a teacher, I learned to embrace change or to become engulfed by it.  These changes occurred at an administrative level with no inclusion of me as the recipient of change.  This is a common practice in public education.

     When I began teaching in the 1980’s, the phrase “life-long learner” was not one that I heard in academic or professional settings.  Professional development offerings through human resources cultivated my desire to learn.  The reactions to my participation, which would extend well beyond my contractual obligations, were skeptical. My co-workers could not wrap their brains around my behavior. Participation in new learning on my part meant an instance of new learning on the part of my students.  Students polarized in their reactions to these changes: some eyes would roll while some would sparkle with excitement.  My attention to their polarization, as an inexperienced teacher, attributed negativity to opposition.  Those on the welcoming side of change affirmed the inclusion of a change as complimentary. My interpretation of these reactions engaged the lowest level of inference.  I based reaction to change from data that I could observe directly.

      When I enrolled in the introductory adult learning course at Virginia Commonwealth University, I noticed that students referred to themselves as lifelong learners.  They did so with great conviction. learning beyond the basic recall of facts to that of the integration of learning to new contexts was the expectation.  This engagement was a change from other graduate courses I encountered in diverse settings.  As a leader in an organization, the instance to learn continuously is one that I would employ when facilitating organizational change.  While I believe that lifelong learning translates beyond a traditional classroom setting, my understanding of polarization has changed. I cannot attend to every piece of behavior that adult learners exhibit.  As a well-seasoned professional, when I make inferences, I move from translation to evaluation before I decide how to respond to adults in an organization setting.

     The credo, by which I live my life, is one I embraced early in my career.  While a belief that the broader the base, the higher the tower, sounds trite, the principle behind it is not.  I value a growth mindset that leads me to believe that one’s traits, intelligence, and capabilities are not set.  When developing for the needs of my learners, regardless of setting, I consider the tools necessary to reach a higher goal.  In one of my early work settings, my school system welcomed opportunities for students to broaden their education base.  Exposure to rich learning events outside of the classroom does not occur naturally in all home settings.  My classroom environment and the learning events that I created was the medium through which change occurred.  I did not tell my students how to change, but rather illustrated models through which thinking and behavior could changed.  When I engage in learning events for adults, my skill as a networker and my ability to recognize opportunities will enhance change events.  I recognize this model as valid for young learners.  Time and opportunity will determine the efficacy of this credo for change in adults and organizations.

     Cultivating a relationship with those engaged in change creation is of equal importance to me as cultivating a relationship with the recipient of change.  The role of president-elect in one non-profit setting is rather ambiguous.  In preparation for the role or president, I have elected to learn about each program within the organization. I meet with those who manage the programs to understand the relationship between the auxiliary and the medical center.  Within each program, are board members and volunteers who welcome the occasion to share their positions and their expectations.  The feedback indicates that this time is well spent.  In a hand-written thank you note, I reflect on the personal life of the volunteer before I recognize their contribution to the organization.  It has a remarkable return rate for me.  An organization that relies solely on the goodwill of volunteers recognizes that time building relationships is a crucial component in facilitating change.  Volunteers who invest in the organization expect a high rate of return on their investment.

     Through self-reflection, I know that my desire to enact change is sometimes a mechanism that I engage to deflect boredom. This behavior can unintentionally invalidate adults.  At times, they have expressed that my desire or interest to consider change springs from my dissatisfaction with life.  I have heard that my questioning reflects negativity on my part.  I am aware that some members of my non-profit organizations view my behavior and actions as malaprop to the mission of the organization.  This knowledge of how others view change is of substance when contemplating change in an organization.  I cannot change others; I can only change how I react to them.  A judicious reflection of my motives is the necessary pause between the stimulus for change and the appropriateness of change in each situation.

     The exchange between my library friend and me transitions to a more congenial topic.  I thank her for the instance to visit her at work.  I enjoy the view of the library as I return to my car.  This organization, nearly 200 years in existence, does not need to ride the bandwagon of change for plants, artwork and fountains.  At times, continuity is comforting.

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Adlt 612: #5 “Stop enrolling, start embodying!”

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In nearly every one of my work settings, a mission statement hung in a prominent space.  My first encounter was nearly 25 years ago. While waiting for the elevator that would transport my haul to the top floor of my elementary school, I would stare at the mission statement that hung on the wall.  I had no idea who had created it, but assumed that it was the work of unknown people in central office.  How it applied to me, considering that I had no voice in it, was unknown.  Very rarely was it discussed or considered when planning curriculum for students and learning events.  In the time that has ensued, mission statements, beliefs and vision and values are featured on the mast-head of newsletters, in lobbies and hallways as well as websites.  Organizations embrace them as a mantra for the collective group.  Considerable time is spent by small interest groups in creating them for the good of the organization.  Survey employees in an organization about them, and I would imagine that you’d become Jay Leno walking the streets of NYC unearthing ignorance at every cubicle.

“Every child, every chance, every day” was the philosophy of one of my work settings. It was prominently displayed for the public to see in buildings and on the marquee of the school complex.  On several occasions I used it to my advantage as both a parent and a teacher.  When every other strategy that I tried failed, I would pull out the mission statement.  I became Elizabeth Swann invoking the right of parley, when asking for accommodations that I felt would benefit a student.  “If the adversary demands parley, you can do them no harm until the parley is complete, she reminds Pintel.  ” Hence a discussion would ensue between me, and the adversary, who was typically an  administrator or a committee of educators.  Negotiations about the terms necessary to make a change for a student may have not occurred without this trump card.   After nearly 8 years, the school board has adopted a new mission statement,

“The…system encourages, challenges, and engages students in an educational process that fosters critical thinkers, lifelong learners, and responsible citizens to be prepared for college, a career and a globally interconnected world.”  

Hurumph, perhaps I wasn’t the only Elizabeth in the organization who evoked parley when quoting the mission statement? I despair to consider how this current mission statement provides for the needs of those who can not speak for themselves? Which part of the statement tells their story?

The 4 Dice group, of the Learning in Groups and Teams class selected “Developing Shared Vision and Values” to facilitate with our class.  At a first glance, the chapter was rather straight forward. It provided several activities, but was very dry. It needed some life, action and a bit of Hollywood to capture the attention of our classmates.   All learning, according to Dr. Jane Vella, must be anchored in work that connects the learner to the task.  Thus we start with the question

What inspires you?

Periodically, I luncheon with a group of retired public school educators.  Conversation is circular, as each woman weaves from present day activity to recollections of life as a career person.  So I posed the question, “What inspires you,” before I launched into an encapsulated version of our facilitation project.  Their responses

Work that uses one’s skills, has merit, provides good feedback, appreciation, work that is effective, makes a difference somewhere for someone,provides opportunity to try new ideas, encourages creativity, provides a balance between sedentary and active work, between doing and receiving, personal relationships make the work worth doing, I want something out of work-it needs to tickle my brain.

Inspiration comes in many venues, forms  and through a variety of experiences.  Consider Jerry McGuire’s recollections of how to embody the philosophy of his late mentor who suggests that “the key to this business is personal relationships.”

 The things we think, but do not say

If we had surveyed our classmates, I would imagine that a variety of (printable) responses about the idea of a mission statement would run along these lines-

Mission Statements are:

  • pointless
  • created by the human resource department
  • take space on a wall
  • mean nothing to me
  • What mission statement?

How do we create new learning?

Anne Davidson, consultant with Schwarz and Associates,  asks the facilitator to consider “…vision as a specific, richly detailed picture of a desired future that a group seeks to create.”  Mission statements are ways that organizations define what is worthwhile, desirable and what it exists to do. Facilitators offer intervention which allow organizations to clarify their mission and vision productively when considering the purpose, an agreement about the values that are at the core of the organization before creating a vision.

What would an ideal future look like and in what way would it be consistent with the values of your organization? Davidson suggests that each facilitation begin with an activity or exercise that helps adults to clarify their desires.  Personal stories may follow the exercise while providing elements to start a conversation about shared vision.  Stories about the peaks and valleys that I have experienced as an educator, would give a starting point for a conversation about “my” ideal working environment. Group conversations are necessary to lead to the establishment of a common ground, a desired future and a goal to meet.

Creating a Vision


Response to new content allows adult learners to use what they are learning and not simply responding to it.

Let’s use the new content immediately!

Welcome to Laurinburg, North Carolina

Reading and discussing the exhibit 17.3, Values and Beliefs of the Laurinburg Management Team in printed form is rather static.  Classmates needed to dig deep into the website to practice using the ideas in the content.  An introductory video, Target Laurinburg, provided a visual welcome to the group, albeit a little Mayberry, North Carolina for the taste of some.  Classmates then worked in groups of four to discover ways in which the community embodied the vision. The thirteen beliefs were divided between the small groups.  Members used the city’s website, Welcome to Laurinburg and Scotland County…what do you see?  links provided to them. These links shared initiatives supported by the town as well as quarterly newsletters to answer two important questions:

In what way does the city provide sufficient evidence to support the vision and values stated by the management team?  What relevant information is needed to support these values? 

The vision and values proposed by the management team began with a call by then manager, Peter S. Vandenberg, to reflect deeply about what qualities would create an exceptional organization.  This event was preceded by a tour of the Celestial Seasonings Tea company in Boulder, Colorado. He left the company with the impression that it was the finest company that he had ever toured with the greatest employees.  How did Celestial Seasons carry out this feat?

The management team’s journey began with a foundation of systems thinking, mental models and ground rules before considering how to develop shared values and beliefs.  Over a period of three months, June, 1996-September 1996, the team spent five days in dialogue.  Dialogue was necessary to reach consensus.  Two days were spent clarifying and revising the exhibit.  Consensus seeking is rather time consuming, but a necessary step before a team may begin to test the potency of these thirteen values.

Where do we go from here?

Members of the class, overwhelmingly, agreed that Laurinburg tried to embody the life that they created, as Block suggests in the above quote.  The work occurred nearly eighteen years ago, while the research was published fourteen years ago, by Anne S. Davidson and Richard R. McMahon in Popular Government magazine.  The reading selection in the fieldbook is an overview of this lengthy project.  I found the publication worth the time to read as it unfolds the wealth of learning done by this management team.  It is important to see how the concepts presented by Schwarz were employed by this team in a real-life facilitation and not simply concepts in a textbook.  They do have a life outside of research with implication for systemic change in any organization.

When learners move the content into the real work,meaning their own personal work settings, they discover how to integrate what they know about vision, values and a personal belief system.  For me, this is the most important component of the learning task, but is often one that is rushed with lack of time to consider for future use.  My own enthusiasm for this facilitation and way in which to learn maintained my motivation for the duration of the project.  Vella reminds me to consider ways in which to protect the learning space from my enthusiasm.  The growth mindset with which I navigate through life, makes enthusiasm difficult to contain.  Time allows shared vision to become the values of the group.

“If top management wants to 

create a vision or set of values

for the organization, let them create it

and live it out for themselves first-

for two years or more.  Then let them

worry about how to engage others in

the vision.  Stop enrolling, start embodying.”  



So who is with me?

The next time I travel south for vacation, I may just stop in Laurinburg and see the vision in action.


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Adlt 612#4 Maintaining the proportion…

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To say that my son is NOT a morning person is an understatement.  He is every bit a snarky and surly teenager.  Catch him after an exhilarating soccer match, and that’s a different story.  He’s played soccer in every group setting from Hot Shots in preschool to Junior Varsity now as an 8th grade student.  The bulk of his travel is now over, while the next two weeks are comprised of mostly home games.  While clocking hundreds of miles over a two month time frame is something that most parents willingly relinquish at the end of the season, I must admit that I am feeling rather sad to see this time end.  Discourse between parent and child during the teen years is precious.  Our conversations typically surround evaluating the game, venue and skill level and performance of the opposing team. Discussion invariably transitions to thoughts about philosophy, books or presentations that we’ve heard. I have a captive audience and he is locked into the car with no way to escape. Our last away game conversation surrounded “The 3 R’s and Coach Davis, of whom we have great fondness, to that of a revisit to an earlier discussion about the idea of talent and outliers.

My son’s experience as a player on an “Elite” travel team during the fall of 2013  was by far the most difficult one he experienced.  The dissonant leadership style of his coach fueled poor sportsmanship on the part of his teammates.  This team resembled an autoimmune disorder that attacked itself during times of difficulty and stress. In earlier team situations, my son would admonish me to “hurry up!” as we raced to practice.   He could never be late and always wanted to enter the pitch before the other players arrived.  His anticipation for a strenuous workout transitioned to one of apathy.  He was a young man who lost his best friend, “futbol!” As a mother, my heart sank.  Enter Coach Davis.

Summer break is an opportunity for a player to spread his wings and to embrace new ideas and coaching practices outside of his typical routine. A new philosophy is the  scaffolding which allows a player to reach greater heights, while providing  me with the necessary tools to encourage their player.  John Davis, of ETM Academy in Charlottesville, Virginia  was the saving grace that I needed for each drive to soccer practice and each long haul to a game during this difficult season. When confronted with a difficult experience, a grueling match, referees that one would swear slept through training and dissonant leadership, I would work through a scenario involving, “What would Coach Davis say?”

The “3 R’s:  Refocus, Reform and Refine” became that phrase that began and concluded many a long soccer event.  (My apologies to John if I have transposed theses ideas.)  The idea that a player may refocus-change the way that he views a situation and opponent or a call, to reform-try a new approach and then refine it-work it until it occurs with little or no effort is empowering!  When players internalize positive self-talk it facilitates systemic change.  The performance of an individual player as well as that of an entire team may be transformed.

Coach Shaka Smart’s recent visit to our Learning in Groups in Teams Class on April 14 , provides multiple layers of thinking about being a member of a team and team leadership. He referenced the writing of psychologist Carol Dweck and her work, “Mindset,” which my son and I consider often when struggling to keep up an outlook about one’s ability.

The “5 Core Values” uphold standards for participation that transcend athletic teams to be useful for teams in any setting. 

1. AppreciationWhat is the relationship between appreciation and entitlement?  You may win today, but you must fight for your culture everyday. If the team leader doesn’t emphasize appreciation then the team may lean toward entitlement. Quotes from coaches that Smart considers as he leads his young men:

“We’re entitled to nothing and grateful for everything.”  Jack Clark, Head Rugby Coach, University of California

“We’re in a daily battle for the hearts and minds of our players.” Oliver Purnell, Hear Basketball Coach, DePaul University

Learning in Groups and Teams Take-Away– You can not be highly appreciative and down on yourself.  An interesting way to consider how to work with players who are self-deprecating.  If a player or member of a group focuses negative energy he is not able to consider the benefits of the opportunity.

2. EnthusiasmBeing a member of the team is something you “get” to do vs. something that you “got” to do.  It’s a daily choice to be at practice/to be on the team.  This fact alone should empower a player to be all that he is capable of being.

Learning in Groups and Teams Take-Away– How can good leaders encourage enthusiasm and avoid confusing the daily choice with the necessity of survival? (needing a job vs. wanting a stimulating career)

3.  Competitiveness-players need to push each other to be better.  Competition should not be situational, meaning just on the court.  Be competitive all around.  A leader should promote it among players and encourage them to be competitive in each aspect of his life.

Learning in Groups and Teams Take-Away– I was so impressed with the kind manner in which Coach Smart spoke of the academic tutor.  He showed high regard for education, and a respect for each member of his coaching and learning staff.

4. Unselfishness-  the needs and values of the team need to come before a member’s personal agenda.  Players must commit to something greater than themselves.  When students are selected to be a member of the team they must “get over” themselves.

Learning in Groups and Teams Take-Away– Find a side interest or means to take care of the need for self.  In order to be successful as a unit, one must be in the team not just on the team.

5.  Accountability-Team members must be taught how to be accountable, to be responsible for themselves and for the team.

Learning in Groups and Teams Take-Away-Accountability must be learned, and at times, it’s must be in context.

The ease with which Coach Smart spoke of his work, his team and his philosophy, evidences that he embodies the values that characterize his team.  When faced with a potentially deprecating remark about one of his players, he exhibited diplomacy.  His understanding of the social and emotional development of his players indicates that he knows his audience well. He referenced the work of Carole Dweck, Mindset, as a part of his foundation for learning.  The ability to operate within the context of a “growth mindset” and not a “fixed mindset” is the medium from which one can either succeed or fail in life.  This coach is well-educated, well read and engages theory with strategy to produce results. In otherwords, his “espoused theory” and theory in action mirror each other.

Learning in Groups and Teams Take-Away- I would suggest that groups begin by reading and incorporating the research presented in Carol Dweck’s “Mindset”  Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?  You might be surprised by what you discover and how it navigates your work and relationships. Try this: Test your mind

Daniel Coyle’s “The Talent Code” explores the secret to becoming good at anything.  Talent isn’t born he explains, it’s grown.  In an earlier post from the spring 2013, I considered the implications for his ideas.

Finally, consider Malcolm Gladstone’s “Outliers.” His writing is insightful and asks the reader to disband beliefs about intelligence and perceived intelligence. I have found that each of these books gave me ideas to consider that impact my thoughts and ideas about learning.  I use the concepts explored by each writer in both my personal and professional life and most importantly, in my role as a parent.

If the author Robert Fulghum were to revise his ideas about “All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten, I would imagine that children could remember Coach Davis’ “3 R’s” Coach Smart’s 5 Core Values. When presented in the simplest of terms, children can blossom into adults who embody the skills necessary to be effective team members. Coach Shaka Smart and the core value of appreciation is now a new source of strength for me as a parent and for my son as a team player.  In our discussions, we revisit these ideas and layer them with new experiences.

How do you maintain a balance in your work and personal life?

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Adlt 612 #3: “Rock the boat, baby.”


Along the Road to Abilene and other trips that I’d rather forget…

I have to admit, I roared with laughter at the father-in-law’s reaction in The Abilene Paradox:  The Management of Agreement.  In this scenario,  I heard the Texas drawl of Matthew McConaughey when reading  of the father’s explosion. Afterall,  who wouldn’t wish to venture through the dust and soaring heat of West Texas? I roll my eyes and sigh thinking of the number incidents in my life that have occurred as a result of “agreement issues.”  Members of both my immediate and extended family could be the members of this family who were unable to manage their agreement.

This training video doesn’t do justice the scenario painted by Jerry P. Harvey. This collection certainly shows how easy it is for one to become engulfed in a crisis of agreement. Like Harvey, my experience is not atypical of many family and work settings.  I know that I have agreed with ideas, practices or decisions that I know full well that I did not endorse.  What causes me to act this way?  What has prevented the institutions where I work or the non-profit organizations where I volunteer to take this trip?

the impetutus for the road trip-

Where is there a “bypass?”

Action Anxiety: Is it possible that there’s someone out there who hasn’t worked on a project that s/he knew wouldn’t work?  Voicing an opinion that goes against the grain of authority costs.  Sometimes the cost is simply negative reactions or being removed from a coveted program or being denied a leadership role.  Having one’s office moved to the bowels of the building or having desired furnishings removed and given to an “agreeable” employee makes a  strong statement.  The price to be paid for acting in a way that is congruent with my feelings has certainly cause anxiety in the past.  I’ve paid for my lack of agreement in the past, which has forced me to  think carefully about the cost of not agreeing each time a situation arises. When I consider the cost of doing so, it’s certainly plausible that I have cultivated some unwarranted anxiety.

Negative Fantasies:  Agreement certainly happens in family and friend  situations. When I was a young person, articulating a sensible action with little regard for the larger group was plausible.  As an adult, the fantasy of breaking a family member or friend’s heart does produce anxiety.  An invitation to dinner, an activity, or worse, an all expense paid vacation does activate anxiety.  I have most definitely taken a “Trip to Abilene” in the last several years in order to be cooperative, to show appreciation for the generosity of others as well as a desire to keep the peace.  Expressing an opinion that differed from others has often labeled me uncooperative, someone who enjoys rocking the boat. Unlike feedback in academic settings,  feedback is not always “a gift!” (smile)

Real risk and Fear of Separation:  Quite frankly, I can’t say that I’ve experienced any setting where I have gone to Abilene and not run the risk of going somewhere worse or the fear of being separated from a group.  My mode of operandi would be to jump ship rather than go down with the rest of the organization.  I watch from the sidelines and shake my head.  Perhaps this is one of the benefit of being a square peg in a round hole?

People Talk:  It’s universal-when the meeting adjourns, members leave two-by-two, head joined in conversation.  I know from experience that the conversation about the “agreement” focuses on what the individuals did not really agree upon.  Been there…done that…

Collusion:  Everyone in the group agrees upon the book to be read for the next book club, or the trip to take to the museum.  When it comes time for people to show up, attendance is either poor and the trip is a flop, or the group mopes and drags their heels.  Individuals read a book they never wanted to read and find it difficult to contribute to the conversation. In an instance such as this, agreement drags the group down rather than unifying and strengthening it.

So who is responsible for getting out of a situation where a group may fall into agreement issues?  Harvey contends that the necessary leverage is NOT found in the hierarchy, but rather in the membership.  The image of the little boy in the classic tale by Hans Christian Anderson, The Emperor’s New Clothes, comes to mind when I think about leverage.  Everyone in the village agrees that the new suit of clothes created by two weavers is the finest that they’ve ever seen.  Only one small child had the courage to act upon his convictions.  Perhaps he is the necessary leverage for a village of adult who can not act upon their convictions?

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