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


Adult 625 #2: Balancing the Equation

Continue reading “Adult 625 #2: Balancing the Equation”

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

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.