Byron's Babbles

Focus On The Wider World

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 8.20.17 PMLast week I did a 3D Leadership Program™ session on focusing as a leader. It was about focusing on three things:

  1. Self
  2. Others
  3. Wider World

Clearly if we want to be effective leaders we must focus on ourselves. This focus does not mean being self-centered, but self-caring. We must take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Additionally, we must take ownership of our own professional growth. If we are taking care of ourselves then we can begin to focus on others using our empathy, caring, and relationships.

Another important focus area and focus of this post is to focus on the wider world. To do this I believe it is important for us to not only take a worldview look at our own part of the world, but also look literally at the rest of the world. I will be doing this for the next 12 days in Germany and Switzerland. I am on the plane flying to Berlin, Germany as I write this post. I am very honored to have been asked to go on this trip that was organized by Horizon Education Alliance. There are representatives from schools and business/industry in Elkhart County, Indiana as well as State Representatives, Governor’s Office officials, colleges and universities, and me as a member of the Indiana State Board of Education taking part in this experience and serving as ambassadors of our state and country. Again, what an honor!

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 8.25.16 PMI am hoping to add a post to my blog each day as our journey progresses. So, stay tuned to Byron’s Babbles each day to see where we have been and what we have learned. It is going to be fast and action packed learning. Tomorrow we will be attending the 2nd Annual Global SMART Summit in Berlin, Germany. This will be a chance to learn more about Manufacturing 4.0 and I am excited to learn how we can better prepare Indiana’s students to work in this environment upon completion of high school. I am super pumped about all the businesses and industries that will be represented. See the photo here to see who the players are who will be in Berlin:

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 8.22.59 PM

Surely you recognize a few on the list. This will be the who’s who of business and industry. SMART, or 4.0 Advanced Manufacturing applies information and manufacturing intelligence to integrate the voice, demands and intelligence of the ‘customer’ throughout the entire manufacturing supply chain. It marries information, technology and human ingenuity to bring about a rapid revolution in the development and application of manufacturing intelligence to every aspect of business. It changes how products are invented, manufactured, shipped and sold. We will be gaining insights on what it takes to thrive in this new paradigm shift in manufacturing through the use of advanced technology. Our Indiana delegation will be part of the 200+ delegates from the top leading companies from around the world sharing their management strategies on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in the Digital Economy.

Back to the point of this post – focusing on the wider world. This is so important because we must practice exploratory strategic thinking and creative thinking. Leaders with a strong outward focus are able to exercise these two skills. These leaders tend to be visionaries who sense the far-flung consequences of local decisions and imagine how the choices they make today will play out in the future.Take Bill Gates: On 60 Minutes, Melinda Gates remarked that Bill was the type of person who would read an entire book on fertilizer. “Why fertilizer?” Charlie Rose wanted to know. The connection was obvious to Bill Gates, who is constantly looking for technological advances that can save lives on a massive scale: “A few billion people would have to die if we hadn’t come up with fertilizer.”

Any business school course on strategy will give you the two main elements: exploiting your current advantage and exploring for new ones. It’s not surprising to find that exploitation requires concentration on the job at hand, whereas exploration demands open awareness to recognize new possibilities. But exploitation is connected to the brain’s reward circuitry—in other words, it feels good to coast along in a familiar routine. So when you switch to exploration to roam widely and pursue fresh paths, you have to make a deliberate cognitive effort to disengage from that routine and maintain open awareness. We must always be looking to spot new opportunities.

Thinking creatively involves three forms of focus:

  1. Vigilance—remaining alert for relevant information while immersing yourself in all kinds of input
  2. Selective attention—focusing on one thing while filtering out everything else
  3. Open awareness, which we’ve discussed earlier

The classic model of creative thinking shows how you use each of these:

• First you use vigilance to gather a wide variety of pertinent information.
• Then you alternate between intense concentration on the problem at hand (selective attention) and letting your mind wander freely, as you might in the shower or going out for a run (open awareness).

Being a focused leader doesn’t merely mean concentrating on the biggest priorities of the year or being in tune with corporate culture. It means commanding the full range of your own attention. With diligence, you can cultivate focus on yourself, on others, and on the wider world. As a result, you’ll be able to direct your attention—and others’ attention—where you need it.

For the next few days I am going to focus on a wider world view. I want to know how the best of the best are leading our industries. I want to learn how the best of the best in Germany and Switzerland are educating young scholars to be ready for post-secondary success. Let me be clear; I do not want the United States to become Germany or Switzerland. What I want is for us to learn the best of what others are doing find ways for us to get better at educating our students. In saying that it does not mean that I do not think we are doing a good job. It means that if better is possible than good is not enough. We need to be pursuing fresh paths by spotting new opportunities with open awareness. I hope you will tune into my blog over the next several days and check out the wider world global learning taking place with a group of us from Indiana, USA.

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  1. […] Focus On The Wider World […]

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  2. […] and employees, thus keeping the operation running smoothly and efficiently. We talk a lot about SMART Manufacturing and Industry 4.0, but this is truly Agriculture 4.0. Andy is on the pioneering side of using […]

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