Byron's Babbles

You Can’t Know It All So You Might As Well Be Curious!

This guest post originally appeared on the Conversations Worth Having Blog

You Can’t Know It All So You Might As Well Be Curious!

By Cheri Torres

Adopt an attitude of curiosity about life. When we are genuinely curious, we naturally ask generative questions. Such questions:

• Make room for diverse and different perspectives. How do you see it?

• Surface new information and knowledge. How did they manage this process at your previous place of work?

• Stimulate creativity and innovation. What might be possible if we . . .?

When dealing with any issue, even difficult issues, generative questions make unseen information visible and result in conversations that create trust, positive energy, and the transformative power to move the system forward in a desired direction. The result: new ways for solving complex problems and compelling images for collective action.  Here is a table from our book, Conversations Worth Having.

Here’s an example that parents of teenagers will easily relate to. Monica, mother of a teenage boy, uses generative questions to change the conversational dynamic with her son. Monica had been in the midst of a recurring argument with her son, Aiden. She was tired of the same old interaction that never produced a way forward. Aiden wanted to borrow the car over the weekend to go ‘do things’ with his friends, and Monica didn’t like the idea of him joyriding with the possibility of getting into trouble. Their critical conversations had created a rift between them, which saddened Monica, but she didn’t know what else to do. Suddenly, in mid-conversation, it occurred to her she could use the practice she’s learned at work for shifting the tone and direction of a conversation. When Aiden started to reiterate the argument, Monica held up her hand, paused and said, “I really do understand why you want the car, and I hope you understand why I’m worried for your safety and well-being. So, how can we have a more productive conversation? How can we come to some agreement that allows you to get the car and me to feel comfortable that you’ll make good decisions, even if your friends are pressuring you?”

Aiden was stopped in his tracks. This time it was his turn to pause, and then they began a brand new conversation that promised to be worthwhile . . . and it was. Monica’s question allowed Aiden to let his mom know he did understand. He shared that sometimes he was glad he hadn’t been allowed to have the car because of where his friends ended up. But other times, he’d missed out on experiences he wanted to have and at those times, he felt she was being over protective. Upon hearing that, she realized she hadn’t even considered that part of the stalemate might be her own refusal to let go. They eventually arrived at an agreement to start small and keep expanding car privileges as trust and confidence grew between them.

Monica shifted the conversation out of critical debate and into a conversation worth having by reframing the situation and asking a generative question. This simple action shifted the tone and direction of the conversation. It allowed both of them to step back, reflect for a moment, and be more open and honest, and this shifted the outcome of their interaction.  [To read more stories like this, order Conversations Worth Having today.]

This is one of the most valuable practices you can develop for building strong relationships, expanding the potential of a group, surfacing possibilities in the face of challenges, and rapidly moving towards desired goals.

Generative questions often arise naturally when we frame a conversation around what we want but don’t currently have. For example, “I don’t have the money to buy a new car” to “I do have the money to buy a new car.” It’s as if the second statement primes our question generator automatically:

• “Where did the money come from?”

• “What did I do to earn, find, or save it?”

• “What miracle might occur to support that?”

• “I wonder how I could ask for a raise, it’s been six years, and they tell me I’m a real asset.” What if I frame it as an adjustment in pay?

• “What if I offered a workshop and had just enough people coming to pay for the car?”

Take the opportunity now to try this little miracle maker with your own problems or “don’t wants”.  Flip it, and then let the generative questions flow. Let your curiosity and imagination help you turn the flip into your future reality. You can download the Executive Summary for an overview of the practices and principles.

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About Cheri Torres:

Cheri Torres, Ph.D. brings the practice of Appreciative Inquiry, design thinking, and an ecological worldview to communities and organizations striving for sustainable growth. Her work facilitates learning, innovation, and dynamic interpersonal relationships capable of achieving remarkable outcomes. Cheri has worked with diverse communities across the globe, from public schools and community organizations to corporations and government entities, to elevate their strengths and broaden their capacity for collaboration and collective intelligence. She has trained thousands of trainers and teachers in the use and practice of Appreciative Inquiry and Experiential Learning, with a particular focus on leadership development, teamwork, creativity, and sustainable collaboration.

She has authored or co-authored numerous books and articles, the newest of which is Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement co-authored with Jackie Stavros.

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What’s Your Leadership Mantra?

The Oxford Dictionary gives us the late 18th century origin of the word “mantra” as: “Sanskrit, literally ‘a thought, thought behind speech or action’, from man- ‘think’, related to mind.” We all have mantras. When working with groups of up and coming leaders I describe it as how others see us or how we see ourselves. Sometimes I even introduce it as what others say about us when we are not there. Yesterday in our 3D Leadership training for North and South Carolina we did a reflection exercise where participants got to do a graphic representation of their mantra and leadership legacy. I was blown away by the great work they did. Honestly, they speak for themselves, so I am going to post them all as the content of this post. Here they are, enjoy:

Hopefully you found these to be as inspiring as I did. So, if we think of mantra as something that is often repeated and expresses a particular strong belief or action, then we can be assured these up and coming leaders will be walking the walk. What’s your leadership mantra?

What Do You Want To Do With Your Life?

Last week I finished reading an incredible book by our former Vice President Joe Biden. Ever since I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with him and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, back in 2010, I was impressed. As Indiana Teacher of the Year, I spent an afternoon at the residence of Joe and Jill Biden. Number One Observatory Circle is the official residence of the Vice President of the United States. Located on the northeast grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., the house was built in 1893 for its superintendent. I just remember thinking how real and genuine the Vice President and Dr. Biden were. They cared about our country, our kids, and the world.

In the book, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose. Vice President Biden opens up and allows himself to be vulnerable. The throughline of the book is about his son’s battle with brain cancer. Vice President Biden recounts in vivid, heart-wrenching detail what it was like for him and his family from the time his eldest son, Beau, a rising star in the Democratic Party, was diagnosed with brain cancer, to his death less than two years later and the aftermath. The Vice President spoke of his son being like him but better. He said, “Beau Biden, at age 45, was Joe Biden 2.0,” Biden writes. “He had all the best of me, but with the bugs and flaws engineered out.” What a great reflection to be able to have about one’s son.

The book was also an awesome recount of the history and what was going on in our country and the world at the time. The Vice President opened up about his weekly lunches with President Obama and the tremendous friendship that developed. Having spent time with the President on the same trip I met Vice President Biden I can understand how that friendship could happen. Both are guys that you would want to be friends with and hang out with.

Probably, the story that most resonated with me in the book was when President Obama, at lunch, asked the Vice President, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” This question really caused me to reflect. I believe that it caused Joe Biden to reflect as well. This wasn’t about success, being President of the United States, or some job; it was about being significant. I thought the Vice President summed it up nicely in the epilogue of the book when he said, “So how do I want to spend the rest of my life? I want to spend as much time with my family, and I want to help change the country and the world for the better. That duty does much more than give me purpose; it gives me something to hope for. It makes me nostalgic for the future.” How can we argue with duty giving us purpose and hope.

“Rules for happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”~ Immanuel Kant

The question of “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” caused such great reflection in me that I decided to use it as the inspiration for a session at our Indiana Cohort training of our Noble Education Initiative 3D Leadership Program. Participants were asked to think about the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” They were to list these things out and then determine what they would like their legacy to be.

This was the catalyst for an incredible discussion. The comment and part of the discussion that most excited me was when one of our very talented young aspiring leaders said, “You know, before you told us not to think in terms of jobs, promotions, or titles, that is where I was headed. This is the first time I’ve really thought in terms of being significant and having a purpose.” Mission accomplished! The graphic recordings each participant made on the tables during this session say it all. Here are a few samples:

So, I leave you with this thought: “What do you want to do with your life?”

Excited About Learning!

img_2534Last week when I was in Germany and Switzerland, I made the comment a few times that adults want to learn in the same way that kids do. What prompted this was some of the learning we were doing while at some of the vocational and apprenticeship centers. As we were touring, there were a few times that I asked our guide (usually an apprenticeship student) if I could try the equipment. At one point I was able to run the robotic welder. This was important to me because I am a very hands on learner. I needed to experience what the students experience.

This is really an extension of Howard Gardner’s Theory Of Multiple Intellienges. That theory does cross over into adult learning as well. One thing I have learned from the Harvard research is that adults really want to learn the same way kids do. And, when I got involved in a hands on way (engaged) I got very excited. Then, when others got involved, they got excited too. I already blogged about building a model truck in the Benteler Industry 4.0 Learning Factory. Click here to read Learning 4.0.

It was important for me to do this post because we need to be reminded occasionally what are important elements to remember when facilitating learning, whether for kids or adults. The big difference for adults is making sure we know our audience and what they are there to learn. Here are five things that need to happen. We must make the learning:

  1. Immediately transferable to their everyday life
  2. Relevant to the learners current context
  3. Welcoming – safe place to ask questions
  4. Engaging – consider the way each person learns
  5. Respectful – understanding every person comes from a different context or knowledge level

Think about it, if all five of those items happen, there will be a good chance that learning will occur. At least a much better chance than if I come in and listen to you talk and point at a PowerPoint.

In other words, the material presented should have immediate usefulness to the learners. Therefore it should have a real world context for the learners and the material should be relevant to adult learners’ lives right now. The material learned should also be able to be used right now as well.

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Two Very Excited Learners!

Furthermore, the learning environment should be welcoming so that all learners feel safe to participate. How the space is arranged is very important in adult learning and engagement. The learning needs to be facilitated in a way that engages the learners. Representative Bob Behning and I became partners and very engaged when we were allowed to build our own truck. We became curious and active participants in the learning. Really, an opportunity for learning was lost when all participants did not have the opportunity to be paired up and go through the whole 4.0 process. We were fortunate that one of the students realized how interested my partner and I were and bought in to us building a truck. The instructors also realized this and bought in. Fortunately, training for this Industry 4.0 training was presented in a respectful and safe manner, where learners have an opportunity to share their experiences. The learning environment needs to also be a place where it is ok to not have a great deal of knowledge about the topic. We need to remember that just like when teaching young students, adults in a group will all be at different places in terms of knowledge. When facilitating Learning we must recognize the unique background and experience of people.

As you can see it is very important to consider how adult learners just as we do our student learners. Really, as adults we want to learn just like children. Let’s strive to make sure we are creating learning environments that allow adults we work with be curious and engaged.

Reaching For New Heights In Talent Development

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Bern Switzerland

Because my job now involves talent identification, training, retention and helping educators discover, develop, and distribute skills in leadership and their craft (what we at Noble Education Initiative call 3D Leadership™), I have been thinking about this a great deal the past few days while in Germany and Switzerland. While our Indiana delegation organized by Horizon Education Alliance has been focusing on educating students in the 10-18 year old space (high school for Indiana), many of the principles apply to any age or experience group. The application to any age group is important because of the number of incumbent workers, those adults already in the workforce who need training or retraining, in Indiana (I am sure this is the same for many other states, industries, or countries). I really like the idea of a dual track approach to learning in Switzerland. Students are in class one to two days per week, depending on their program of study and then three to four days per week in meaningful employment (apprenticeship).

IMG_1537 Yesterday, our Indiana delegation spent time with CSL Behring in Bern Switzerland studying their talent development. Talent development for this great company includes upskilling current and new employees, soft skill development training, leadership training, and apprenticeships. It impresses me that this company takes a holistic approach to being a talent magnet.

CSL Behring‘s vision for talent development says it all:

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The pillars are the most important part here in my view:

  • Pioneering
  • Reliability
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit
  • Passion

CSL Behring is committed to working on these pillars with not only young apprentices, but with all employees. Let me dig a little deeper and give you my take on the four pillars.

Pioneering

Pioneering leaders are adventurous — driven to keep seeking bigger and better roles, products, and experiences. They inspire a team to venture into uncharted territory. We get caught up in their passion to grow, expand, and explore. Pioneers have a high need for freedom and see opportunities where others don’t. The pioneering leader reminds us that innovation doesn’t happen without active exploration.

Reliability

Reliability means that you do what you promised to do and that others can count on you. It is a positive social character trait. People don’t like to deal with those who are unreliable. They’d rather give their business and rewards to someone they can count on. Being considered reliable means that you are conscientious and keep your promises. A reliable person does not make excuses. A reliable worker will be trusted to do the job as promised and can reap the rewards of raises and promotions. A business that has a reputation of being reliable or making reliable products will get repeat and new business, as well as reducing costs of rework or repair.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

This is about employees thinking like owners. This entrepreneurial spirit is really an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It’s a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement. It really boils down to taking ownership and pride in one’s organization.

Passion

Passion, without compromise, is the fuel behind all great leaders. If we want outstanding employee engagement, then we must help those in our organizations find their passion. This is particularly true with young apprentices. I don’t think we are even scratching the service on what needs to be done to help our young scholars find their passion. Leadership is the passion toward each team member, pushing them toward a higher level of accomplishment. Leadership is the passion for continuous and deliberate self-improvement.

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Noble Education Initiative’s 3D Leadership™ Approach

Here’s what I’ve learned, we must be providing practical know-how and the skills needed for all occupation. Incumbent workers and young apprentice scholars need to have an active part in the production process of the industry he or she is studying to be a part of. In the classroom we must be developing technical, methodological and social skills, theoretical, and general principles. I have been calling these the core competencies and transferable skills. We also need to figure out how to leverage our third party providers of technical skills and knowledge for our students. We owe it to all our learners to provide high quality training that is delivered through state-of-the-art teaching and efficient transfer into practice™.

Learning 4.0

IMG_2531Yesterday I had an incredible experience at the Benteler Education and Training Center in Paderborn Germany. We had the opportunity to learn Smart Manufacturing first hand by working in the Benteler Industry 4.0 Learning Factory. This factory was built by the students and used to teach Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing practices and techniques. This learning factory also affords students the opportunity to use equipment and use 4.0 practices. There are three choices of products to build in the learning factory: speed boat, semi tractor; or sports car. The cool part was that all of the parts for the products except for the the grill ornament (made by 3D printer) were Lego™. I had the honor of working with Representative Bob Behning on this project.

The line starts with the selection of which product and what color the product will be built. For this part of the factory SMART glasses are used in order to give the student the opportunity to use and navigate this 4.0 technology. I am really glad I had the opportunity to do this. We had been hearing about SMART glasses and having the opportunity to actually use them on the production line was awesome. Then after the selection of the color and product the line gave us a tray of parts to get started.

IMG_2532After assembling the frame of our truck it was then moved down the assembly line and the RFID chip (I could relate to this because it is like the RFID tags we use for data and identification of our dairy cows) read what product we were building and gave us the next set of instructions digitally. As we waved our hand over the screen the proper bin for the next part would light up and then the screen told us where to put the parts. Even though we were doing some human labor on this it was evident to see all the skilled labor that was needed to program the line to give us the right parts on time during the assembly. Finally, we installed the Benteler emblem made in the 3D Printer to the grill of the truck.

One of the coolest things was at the end of the assembly line when our completed truck went into the sensors to tell us if we had made it correctly. We either got a green light or a red light. The green light meant we had it perfect, the red meant we had a flaw. Sadly, we got a read light. We went back and studied, but could not find the issue. We found there was an error and we were not given the instruction or part to put some covers on the clearance lights on the front of the truck. But, how cool is that to have sensors that could tell us if the product was perfect. Here is a picture of our final product:

IMG_2530I am so glad I had this experience. It also really drove home the fact that, as the research tells us, as adults we like to learn like our young students. We want the education to be relevant and we want to be engaged in the process. Let me tell you, Representative Behning and I were very engaged. We were excited as the truck came together and went down the line. Then we were screaming when the truck did not pass inspection. We were ultimately proud of our product. Bottom-line – This Industry 4.0 Learning Factory made school work into real work. We were using real life digital tools to make a real product in real time. How much more engaging can you get?

IMG_2534The factories of the future will be very different from the workplaces of today – in 2016 alone nearly 200,000 robots were deployed in automotive factories and a further 85,000 were installed in factories making electrical and electronic goods, so automation will liberate people from the drudgery of production lines. Now with Artificial Intelligence (AI), the robots will be able to interact with the human. These “cobots” will take robotics to a new level. This past week we have also learned that at work or at home, the Internet of Things (IoT) will completely change the way in which most of us carry out our basic daily tasks, eliminating the drudgery of shopping, banking and even cooking.

I am so glad I have had the opportunity to learn about Industry 4.0 this past week. One thing is for sure: this will completely change the dynamics of manufacturing and will mean that we will be able to make products that are tailored exactly to our wishes in every way we could want. The very same technology is already being used to produce motor vehicles and even to “print” buildings, so the possibilities are almost endless! We need to make a commitment to making sure we have our students ready for this workforce. That means we must start and continue to have the conversations between all sectors about how to do what is best for our students. This involves bringing business/industry, k-12 education, higher education, education advocate organizations, business/industry organizations, state officials, families, and students together to partner how to make this happen. I appreciate all the work that organizations like Horizon Education Alliance are already doing to make the conversations happen – thus why we are learning in Germany and Switzerland. It is the right thing to do for our scholars!

 

From Best Practice To Next Practice

IMG_2336Today was the final day of the 2nd Annual Global Smart Manufacturing Summit in Berlin, Germany. I really valued the time to get to know business and industry leaders from around the world. I was reminded of what my good friend Kevin Eikenberry and I used to talk about a lot – when we look at the differences between different industries (eg. manufacturing vs. education), we see about 90-95% of our issues being the same and about 5-10% different. What I mean here is that many of the challenges and roads to improvement are the same. Think about it, we all have responsibility in finance, HR, facilities, and customers. If we break that down further, we all have one of the same groups within the customer category – employees. Now, I get it; our employees are our competitive advantage, but employees are still a customer to be taken care of at the highest level.

Organizational Commitment

The first session this morning was about initiatives and organizational commitment. As a believer in learning organizations, I was really enamored by the discussion of organizational commitment. This thinking really fits with a lot of the Gallup® research I have been studying around employee engagement. When we discuss organizational commitment, we are talking about the bond employees experience with their organization. Broadly speaking, we know employees who are committed to their organization generally feel a connection with their organization, feel that they fit in, and believe they understand the goals of their organization.

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 8.25.16 PMNext Practice

One of the session titles this morning was “From Best Practice To Next Practice.” I really appreciated this session because we talk a lot in education about “best practices,” but really it is about making the right choice and implementing the next practice. Good or bad, I tend to be the one looking for the next practices. Really, that is what this entire discussion was about for the global leaders here: what are the next practices.

Convergence

Then, it comes down to convergence. How do we take several sources of independent data and bring them together to develop strong conclusions? In education we call this using “multiple data points.” I don’t think we do the best job of bringing all the data points together. For example, this week I was reading and article about teacher pay and how it was decreasing. I question if we have been properly converging HR, financial planning, and student data in a way that would inform what we have been paying our teachers in Indiana. I’ll let you grapple with my comment here, but you get the point.

Problems

One of the comments that I loved most today was, “We shouldn’t be talking about the problems of today, but the problems of tomorrow.” This is so true! This means in education we need to be looking several years out as to what business and industry needs. We also need to think about what our execution model will be for making sure our students have the skills necessary to meet the needs of the workforce. A few phrases/questions coming from the global manufacturing leaders that jumped out at me were:

  • What data is coming from where?
  • How do you use your data?
  • Appropriate levels of (you fill in the blank here)
  • Move from reactive to predictive and preventative

Outcomes

All of this discussion has made me an hinkeven bigger believer in us (both Indiana and the United States) needing to move to a strictly outcomes based school accountability system. We could then, truly in partnership with business/industry and higher education, determine what transferable skills students need and have coming out of high school. Then we can match those transferable skills to outcomes that the students needs to accomplish. Here are some examples and outcomes:

  • industry certifications
  • 4 year degrees
  • Associate degrees
  • Trade school
  • Joining the military
  • Meaningful employment

At a time when our state has 75,000 jobs per year going unfilled because there are not skilled workers to take those jobs, we need to be thinking about the outcomes for our students. Thus the skills gap of only 42% having any kind of post-secondary preparedness versus the 75% needed.

If we are going to have our students ready for the workforce we will need to:

  • Teach students in a real world and relevant context
  • Enable, encourage, and stimulate students to be curious
  • Teach students how to fail and that it is o.k. to fail
  • Engage students in career exploration activities at a young age
  • Determine the transferable skills needed to have students ready for today’s jobs
  • Teach students to be disruptors
  • Provide pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship, and work based learning internships

Business and Industry engagement in education programs not only prepares students with the skills they need for careers, but it also contributes to the development of clearly developed career pathways that lead students to careers after graduation.

What Does Industry 4.0 Mean?

IMG_2367Today, I had the honor of being in attendance at the 2nd Annual Global Smart Manufacturing Summit in Berlin, Germany. One of the topics we grappled with was of what does Industry 4.0 mean? Ron Zahavi, Chief Strategist for IoT Standards and Consortia, Microsoft Corporation did a great job of walking us through some history.

Industry 1.0

This is the first industrial revolution:

  • Technology such as wheels and engines replaced artisans
  • Child labor laws had to be introduced to prevent abuse

Industry 2.0

  • Assembly lines allowed workers to be turned into consumers

Industry 3.0

  • Lean Processes improved the quality of products
  • Advent of computer use
  • Robots reduced mistakes and improved productivity and safety, but began replacing people

Industry 4.0

  • Big data and analytics
  • Autonomous robots
  • Simulation
  • Horizontal and vertical system integration
  • The industrial Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Cybersecurity
  • Additive Manufacturing/Advanced Manufacturing
  • Augmented Reality

Interestingly, in all these cases technology and mechanization are involved, but in the revolutions of Industry 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0, I wonder if we forgot how important people are. We must remember as we navigate Industry 4.0 that people are more important that the devices and technology.

In my world of educating young scholars and creating education policy, we have a responsibility to make sure as we move to Industry 4.0 to put people at the forefront. We do not want to make the same human mistakes with 4.0 that we made with the first three revolutions.

I really believe more than ever that we must make sure that we create space for industry to do as much of the training of our students as possible. Industry is in a good position to do this. What we have to do, though, is identify the transferable skills students need and institutionalize those skills in the framework of the internship learning being done in partnership with industry. This is crucial because of the mobility of our students.

We must be educating our students on the new things being done with Industry 4.0, but must also be educating them on the benefits. In other words, answering the question: How does this make life easier? Not just always pointing to financial improvement and the bottom line. We must begin to develop a workforce made up of the right quantity and right quality of workers. The skills we are preparing students with must match the needs of the workplace.

Industry 4.0 will require new skill sets, and manufacturers will need to attract the right talent. This may involve partnering with k-12 schools to train students. Existing training programs may need to be expanded to include new technologies that are introduced to the marketplace. Manufacturers also need to recruit for Industry 4.0, which may differ from how they have done it in the past. Both business and industry and education will need to stop all focus being on qualifications determined by degrees and certificates, companies should recruit for capabilities to succeed. These capabilities will include specialized skills.

For us to compete during Industry 4.0, it will require us to conduct constant iteration and be flexible. It’s not about buying software or purchasing a curriculum and then watching it all play out. To compete in Industry 4.0, the education sector and manufacturers must be flexible and agile in the face of change, and, most importantly, partner together.

 

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:

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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.

Leading Without Surprises

In Gem #18 entitled, “No One Likes Surprises” in 52 Leadership Gems: Practical and Quick Insights For Leading Others by John Parker Stewart I was reminded that there are three types of news:

  1. Good news
  2. Bad news
  3. No news

Stewart told us that people love good news the most and hate no news. With this I was reminded that no one likes to be surprised unless it is a party, an award, or a call/visit from someone special we haven’t seen for a while.

We need to be reminded of this every so often (probably often). I just had a situation where I did this. It wasn’t really good or bad news (it was a good thing that I was going to be doing) but it was something I needed to discuss with those above me. I had just got busy and had not had the conversation. I was in the wrong here, make no mistake. Let me tell you, I took responsibility and apologized. By the way, it worked out ok because I work with great leaders who understand when you take responsibility for your own actions. It is best to report news at at the first point at which we know it.

“Diplomacy and timing are important; but whenever possible, avoid delaying the sharing of news (however bad) with your boss, your team, or your customers.” ~ John Parker Stewart

Now I know some of you are saying, “yes but sometimes news needs to be timed right.” I get that, but not providing news gives others the opportunity to write the narrative. My experience has been, when we allow someone else to tell and set the narrative of our news it usually is not reported correctly. Can you remember a time when this happened to you?

So, let’s all remember, we really don’t like surprises and report information and news we have whether it’s good or bad.