Byron's Babbles

Explore Heuristically

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 6.23.02 PMThis past weekend at the kickoff of our Indy 3D Leadership Program for education leadership we did a session on norm building for our learning journey. I had put together a few example norms to get the juices flowing. One of the examples was #9. Explore Heuristically. This caused quite the discussion. Of course, that was my intent!

IMG_1857I have to give credit where credit is due on the thought of exploring heuristically. This came from my good friend and great graphic facilitator, Mike Fleisch. Everything he does as a facilitator is heuristic and I really respect that about him and have learned a lot from him on how to let learning happen organically.

The participants were working in groups, so of course the first thing was for the groups to define heuristic. This really gave them pause and made them think, because here are of some of the definitions:

  1.  Any approach to problem solving, learning, or discovery that employs a practical method not guaranteed to be optimal or perfect (Wikipedia).
  2.  Often enough the search ends in no overt positive conclusion (Dictionary.com).
  3. Describing an approach to learning by trying without necessarily having an organized hypothesis or way of proving that the results proved or disproved the hypothesis. That is, “seat-of-the-pants” or “trial-by-error” learning (WhatIs.com).

IMG_1987Now let’s dig a little deeper. It is really deriving an answer from experience. In other words, enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves. So, wouldn’t it make sense to learn heuristically when in a group, from the experience of everyone in the group. This gives us the chance to explore the possibilities rather than a set of rules. Leadership learning developed by most organizations seems to be one where system developed provisions over-shadows individuals taking personal responsibility for their leadership learning. I believe we must endeavor to create a balance between organization and individual agendas, with the pendulum swung more toward the individual side. Amazingly, we talk a lot about differentiating and individualization of education for our students but we don’t do a very good job of it with adults. Furthermore, it has been my experience that adults really like to learn in the same way we learned when we were kids. Therefore, we should create more leadership learning models that make use of heuristic pedagogy and tools.

IMG_1949Let me share an example of an activity I used this past weekend. Participants were given a Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head kit and told to build a model that represented and answered the question: Who Am I As A Leader Today? After giving participants time to think through create their models we then got in a circle and went around and had everyone explain why they built their model the way they did. Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads are great to use for model building because of the many pieces and infinite ways to build them. Needless to say it was inspiring. Here are a few of examples of what was said:

IMG_1957To me this was a great model of heuristic learning. I designed this model building activity as a starting point only, intended to help leaders identify the state of their current knowledge about leadership as well as their future professional development needs. The Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head models were used to show his or her current leadership knowledge profile and the knowledge fields on which he or she will need to focus their learning in the future. Heuristically, the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head model building guided discovery and investigation. This allowed participants a rare chance for reflection. This reflection allowed participants to learn things about themselves and for themselves.

IMG_1958As opposed to traditional learning which usually employs facts, theories and postulations, heuristic learning involves testing, doing, practice, trying, and listening to others’ experiences. One of my heroes, Thomas Edison, was the ideal role model of learning heuristically. You all know the famous story of how Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb after 1000s of unsuccessful attempts. In fact we have all heard the quote from Edison when he said, “I have not failed 1000 times, but I have discovered 1000 ways how not to invent the light bulb.” Are you exploring heuristically? Better yet, how are you helping others explore heuristically?

Advertisements

Reluctant Leader

IMG_1855Today when doing one of our newly developed Noble Education Initiative 3D Leadership Program trainings, I had a teacher say, “You know, I would call myself a reluctant leader.” This was in response to me saying that “Everyone is a leader.” And…I really believe it. Interestingly as I dug deeper into the teacher’s comment we realized it was not what you might think. It had nothing to do with being passionless or not wanting to step up to fully embrace his leadership role. Taking on a leadership role does not always come naturally. Lack of confidence, self-doubt, apprehension and fear of failure all hold many gifted people back. Or just simply having a leader who does not embrace developing others as leaders or empowering others in an intent-based leadership environment.

IMG_1857Many times individuals, maybe including this wonderful teacher, might have no pressing desire to be the one that directs and guides others (and would prefer to stay in the background) yet responsibility regularly falls in his lap. If so, he may be what is often called a reluctant leader. The reluctance does not reflect the individual’s desire or ability to be a leader. More than likely, this might be the very type of leader that would fit best into a situation because the reluctant leader is not seeking the opportunity for status or recognition.This type of leader simply wants to serve. I think this describes many teachers.

I really believe we often find this reluctance in teachers. I was that teacher for a long time, too. I just wanted to be a great teacher, period. Then I began to realize I could have a leadership influence in the school and had a principal at the time that embraced that. Out of this added responsibility came my passion as a teacher leader. We must leverage our teachers as leaders if we want to have our schools operating at maximum potential performance for our students. Teacher leaders assume a wide range of roles to support school and student success. Whether these roles are assigned formally or shared informally, they build the entire school’s capacity to improve. Because teachers can lead in a variety of ways, many teachers can serve as leaders among their peers. Teacher leaders are the most important untapped resource in many of our schools today.

Teachers have front-line knowledge of classroom issues and the culture of schools, and they understand the support needed to do their jobs well. Teachers’ contributions are critical to making education reform efforts succeed. When teachers participate in improving education, the changes are more likely to work. Without teacher leaders’ contributions, teachers often pretend to comply with the new expectations, but conduct business as usual once the classroom door is closed.

I loved the fact that at the end of our retreat today the same teacher that had called himself a reluctant leader was now saying, “I must embrace the role and opportunities that I have.” In fact, click here for this teacher’s reflection using his Mr. Potato Head model at the end of the day. It’s pretty powerful. If we can train and help all teachers to be all the teacher leader they can be, think of the great schools we will have.  It is our role, as leaders, in whatever the organization, to help our team members be ready to embrace their roles and responsibilities and give them the opportunities for professional and personal growth.

Creating Places of Innocence

IMG_1676

My Son, Heath, And I On a Dad and Lad Adventure

Yesterday in a meeting of North & South Carolina principals, the comment was made that we need to create places where innocence is fostered for our children. This really got me thinking about how we do this both with our own children and the students we serve in our schools. The notion of innocence refers to children’s simplicity, their lack of knowledge, and their purity not yet spoiled by mundane affairs. Such innocence is taken as the promise of a renewal of the world by the children. One of the most delightful things about children is their sense of innocence and wonder, yet helping them maintain that sense of wonder can be challenging in our sophisticated, hurried society.

This rapid and early gain of knowledge by our children is quite the paradox. We all know that knowledge is powerful, but when children learn the wrong things too early it can really be detrimental. Vast amounts of knowledge and information is readily available to our children, and we, as parents, want our children to have this knowledge because we believe it will help them grow and compete. However, this same knowledge can ruin their innocence.

Here are a few things I believe can help us in the creation of places of innocence:

Have fun. Build time into your schedule to allow for silliness, downtime, and play.

Leverage nature and the scenery around us. Children are instinctively attuned to the wonders of nature. We do not have to prompt students to enjoy playing in the mud, seeing the beauty of flowers, watching kittens play. I love the idea I heard one time of planting a family tree and then having family time at each season change to note changes in the tree. My family has a Pin Oak tree that my son brought home from school when he was in the 4th grade that we use for this. In fact, I blogged about this tree in Lesson Of A Pin Oak.

Reading together. This is so important and can even be done with high-school age students. For example, I have chosen to read the same books my son has to read for school. For example, I just read Tough As They Come by Travis Mills because my son was reading it for a class. Wow, what great conversations this spurred for he and I. All I can say is, “try it.”

Use technology wisely and discreetly. Children should not be burdened with information that is too adult in nature. They have neither the cognitive nor social-emotional skills to process this information.

Family events. Or, family events where the children bring a friend. We do a lot of family activities and my son and I do Dad and Lad events/trips. The beauty of these is that we control our own content.

This is way too complex an issue to solve with a blog post, but I believe we all need to be reflecting on creating places of innocence. Most importantly we need to be mindful of what our children are being exposed to and give them more age appropriate choices. If you have thoughts on this important and complicated issue, please comment/respond to this post.

Learning To Appreciate All Who Contribute To The Success

“Quite often it takes more than just ourselves to achieve the success we claim to have made. Our success is a result of many people’s contributions: those of our parents and other family members, fellow workers, peers, teachers, and advisers.” ~ Martin Kalungu Banda

We’ve all seen it in a TV show. The character goes to her boss or parents with a bright idea, the idea is ridiculed, and then (sometimes in the same breath), the idea is repeated right back, word for word.  And, get this, it then becomes a great idea and he is glad he thought of it, too!

Unfortunately, these people do exist. In every company, in every organization, in every community, in every political party.  Some might not have as bad a case of it as others, but at some point, we will run into one of these people, or an entire organization of these vane people.

Furthermore, I have even experienced not being able to reach compromise or consensus because certain individuals ideas weren’t being used or he had not come up with the idea. This level of ego and vanity is amazing to me.

It Is Amazing What You Can Accomplish If You Do Not Care Who Gets the Credit.” ~ President Harry S. Truman

When faced with these type of situations I always remind myself and the group I am working with of the great thought of our 33rd President, Harry S. Truman, “It Is Amazing What You Can Accomplish If You Do Not Care Who Gets the Credit.” My choice has always been to favor the accomplishment of the idea, rather than worrying about getting credit for it. Really, very few accomplishments can be credited to any single person anyway.

This very topic was the subject of the chapter I was reading this morning in the awesome book I am currently reading, Leading Like Madiba: Leadership Lessons From Nelson Mandela by Martin Kalungu Banda. In this chapter, Kalungu Banda teaches us that sharing the credit is a mark of great leadership. An interview of Nelson Mandela is the subject here where he shows that success is often the result of concerted effort by many people. In the interview Mandela says, “…the reality of our struggle is that no individual among us can claim to have played a greater role than the rest.” To me, this says it all – it took (or will take) everyone, not just one!

“Being praised for what we have done is such a sweet feeling. Then we know that our efforts are being recognised and appreciated by others. We all need that kind of feedback from those around us. But I suspect we are sometimes too eager to receive praise for ourselves. Then we end up forgetting those we worked with to achieve the very things we are being praised for. Selfishly we make ourselves the centre of a reality that is much larger and greater than us alone. We exaggerate our contribution out of all proportion. Without meaning to, we start radiating negative energies that repel others from wanting to cooperate with us.” ~ Martin Kalungu Banda

We have all seen people who have become so caught up in what they think they have accomplished that they forget there are/were a lot of of others working on that same issue with them.

“The paradox is that the more we acknowledge and celebrate the capacities and contributions of those around us, the more we deepen the strength and prowess of our own character. We become poised to do greater things because others feel confident enough to win with us.” ~ Martin Kalungu Banda

The fact is, great leaders recognize and honor the contributions of others. In fact, the greatest of leaders deflect credit from themselves to others. We need to learn from Mandela and create the space for others to be acknowledged. Here are a couple of questions to consider:

  • Even if it is your idea, would you rather be right, or get the idea implemented?
  • How much do you value your vanity, your pride?

Tuning in to Your Life

file1-1Super excited to have this guest post from Mark Nation. I just read his  new book, Made for Amazing: An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation. It is amazing!

514MGs7krKL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_I met a woman who didn’t sing until she was forty because her kindergarten teacher told her before a performance, “Just move your mouth, dear.” How horribly tragic. The truth is, this woman had a wonderful voice, and it was clear she loved to sing. Who would have known she was silenced for decades, refusing to believe she possessed an incredible gift that was literally dying to be released?

Maybe you are one of those who say, “I have no musical ear,” or, “I can’t carry a tune,” because, like my friend, somewhere along the line you’ve come to mistrust the lyrical, melodic expression of yourself. To you, I would say, Stop! Listen to me! There is something critically important I need you to understand.

Not to believe in the music you came to play is not to believe in yourself.

You are not only musical, you are a musician, a melody-maker. Like all of us, you have a special song to sing; it’s the way you “do yourself,” the way you come across to others, the way you live your existence. Perhaps you have not realized it nor thought about it this way, but you are a vital part of a grand symphony, the harmonious expression of life.

Music is the beat of your life, the unique vibratory algorithm embedded in all you do and all you are. There is music in your voice, music in your face, music in your soul, in your thoughts, and in every throb of your heart. It can be a boisterous dance, a march, a sonata or even a lullaby. It’s not only okay for your music to change over time—it’s necessary, and beautiful. It’s you.

Everything you do expresses the one-of-a-kind melody that you bring to life.

Decide now to believe that you not only love music, but love making it. Explore this song of yourself. Take more pleasure in its expression, and follow the melody to see where it takes you. This is your journey, and your music. Therefore, you owe it yourself to develop your craft and take good care of the sounds you release into the world. We are all waiting for the song you bring, for we are your fans. Please don’t deprive us of those notes which only you can add to the harmony of life. Join in now.

**************************************************************************************

Mark Nation is a globally-recognized management expert, leadership consultant, executive coach, author, and speaker. He is personally driven to discover what makes individuals, teams, and organizations amazing—those elements which power the heart and soul of individuals and businesses worldwide. His new book, Made for Amazing: An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation, helps people to identify and optimize their unique talents.

Neuroscience Savvy Leadership Practices

This guest post is an excerpt from The New Leadership Literacies (Johansen, 2017).

Neuroscience Savvy Leadership PracticesBy Bob Johansen

David Rock is the founder the Neuroleaderhip Institute in New York, the first research group that is integrating neuroscience and leadership principles. They are studying things like job performance.

They argue that many of the classic performance review systems trigger fight or flight mechanism in our brain and have exactly opposite effect from what we like to have. They draw upon neuroscience research and bridge to what they research means in a work environment.

David Rock’s book Your Brain at Work is a practical handbook for applying neuroscience lessons to specific daily work activities. Using detailed scenarios from days in the life of a young working couple, he makes the research practical. For example:

“I noticed a surprising pattern while putting this book together. I saw that there are five domains of social experience that your brain treats the same as survival issues. These domains form a model, which I call the SCARF model, which stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. The model describes the interpersonal primary rewards or threats that are important to the brain.”

The SCARF model suggests that, in order to be balanced and productive, our brains need to feel a sense of status, some certainty that provides grounding, autonomy to for self strength, balanced with a sense of relatedness to others, and finally a sense of fairness in the system. Without these brain balance basics, we feel sapped of energy.

*****************************************

About Bob Johansen:

Bob Johansen is a distinguished fellow with the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley. For more than 30 years, Bob has helped organizations around the world prepare for and shape the future, including corporations such as P&G, Walmart, McKinsey, United Rentals, and Syngenta, as well as major universities and nonprofits.
The author or co-author of ten books, Bob is a frequent keynote speaker. His best-selling book Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present was selected as one of the top business books of 2007. His latest book is The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything discusses five new leadership literacies—combinations of disciplines, practices, and worldviews—that will be needed to thrive in a VUCA world of increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. 

 
 

Wildly Adaptive

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 12.41.40 PMToday, during our first Harvard University Learning Innovation Lab (LILA) session of the year we discussed many of the commonalities of what is going on in the worlds of all the members of our consortium of leading researchers and practitioners in the field of organizational learning and change. Our theme for the year is “Emergence in Organizations.” During our discussion the phrase “wildly adaptive” really resonated with me. I have always been a person who believes in and strives to practice adaptive leadership, but the thought of being wildly adaptive struck a chord.

We need to remember that we do not have to be, or need to hold ourselves, or those organizations or individuals we lead to a certain niche or existing reality. As humans, we are designed with the ability to think through situations and conclude that the current reality is not sufficient. It is easy to be complacent and stay in a state if status quo for a long period of time. We need, however, to pay attention to the contexts and environments in which we lead for changes that should be triggering us to adapt or lead a wildly adaptive change. FullSizeRender 4

To master adaptive change we must help people to learn new ways, change behavior, achieve new understandings, and see the world through new filters. We and those we lead must do all of these things in a collective and collaborative way. This topic has caused me to reflect on a meeting on Graduation Pathways I chaired this week where the comment was made, “The pathways already exist we just need to find a way to make them work in a new graduation pathways structure.” This reminded me that we must not always look to make wholesale or technical changes but must also be adaptive.

Let’s remember to practice adaptive leadership with our initiatives as they are happening to understand how today’s turns in the road will affect tomorrow’s plans.