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Spadework | Issue 34 | n+1
"By the time I started organizing so much that it felt like a full-time job, it was the spring of 2016, and I had plenty of company. Around the country there were high-profile efforts to organize magazines, fast-food places, and nursing homes. Erstwhile Occupiers became involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign and joined the exploding Democratic Socialists of America, whose members receive shabby business cards proclaiming them an “official socialist organizer.” Today’s organizers — not activists, thank you — make clear that they are not black bloc participants brawling with police or hippies plotting a love-in. They are inspired by a tradition of professional revolutionaries, by Lenin’s exhortation that “unless the masses are organized, the proletariat is nothing. Organized — it is everything.” Organizing, in other words, is unembarrassed about power. It recognizes that to wield it you need to persuade untold numbers of people to join a cause, and to begin organizing themselves. Organizing means being in it to win.

But how do you win? Historical materialism holds that crises of capitalism spark revolts, perhaps even revolutions, as witnessed in the eruption of Occupy and Black Lives Matter; uprisings in Spain, Greece, and Egypt; and the British student movement against tuition fees. But there’s no guide for what happens in the long aftermath, as the left has often learned the hard way.

In previous moments of upheaval and promise the left has often turned to Antonio Gramsci, who sought to understand why working-class revolts in Europe following the Russian Revolution had led to fascism. Gramsci concluded that on some level people consent to subservience, even take it for granted, when the order in which they live comes to seem like common sense. Hegemony was subtler than outright coercion, more pervasive, permeating the tempos of daily life.

It was hegemony, Stuart Hall argued in 1983, that was key to understanding the disappointment of his own generation — why Thatcher and the new right had triumphed in remaking common sense after a decade of labor union revolt. Hegemony shaped how people acted when they weren’t thinking about it, what they thought was right and wrong, what they imagined the good life to be. A hegemonic project had to “occupy each and every front” of life, “to insert itself into the pores of the practical consciousness of human beings.” Thatcherism had understood this better than the left. It had “entered the struggle on every single front on which it calculated it could advance itself,” put forth a “theory for every single arena of human life,” from economics to language, morality to culture. The domains the left dismissed as bourgeois were simply the ones where the ruling class was winning. Yet creating hegemony was “difficult work,” Hall reminded us. Never fully settled, “it always has to be won.”"



"The Thatcherite project was since then much advanced, and we had internalized its dictates. For our whole lives we had learned to do school very well; in graduate school we learned to exploit ourselves on weekends and vacations before putting ourselves “on the market.” Many of us still believed in meritocracy, despite learning every day how it was failing us. The worse the conditions of academic life became, the harder everyone worked, and the harder it became to contest them. Plus, we were so lucky to be there — at Yale! Compared to so many grad students, we had it good, and surely jobs were waiting on the other side for us, if for anyone. Who were we to complain? Organizing a union of graduate students at Yale seemed to many like an act of unbearable privilege — a bunch of Ivy League self-styled radicals doing worker cosplay."



"Realizing that it was not enough for people to like me was revelatory. I had to learn to be more comfortable with antagonism and disagreement, with putting a choice in front of people and letting them make it instead of smiling away tension and doing the work myself. I had to expect more from other people. With other organizers, I role-played the conversations I feared most before having them; afterward, I replayed them over and over in my head. I struggled to be different: the version of myself I wanted to be, someone who could move people and bend at least some tiny corner of the universe.

It’s not easy to be the site of a battle for hegemony. It’s not a beatific Whitmanesque “I contain multitudes”; it’s an often painful struggle among your competing selves for dominance. You have one body and twenty-four hours in a day. An organizer asks what you’ll do with them, concretely, now. You may not like your own answer. Your inner Thatcherite will raise its voice. You can’t kill it off entirely; you will almost certainly find that it’s a bigger part of you than you thought. But organizing burrows into the pores of your practical consciousness and asks you to choose the part of yourself that wants something other than common sense. It’s unsettling. It can be alienating. And yet I also often felt I was finally reconciling parts of myself I’d tried to keep separate — what I thought, what I said, what I did. To organize, and to be organized, you have to keep in mind Hall’s lesson: there is no true or false consciousness, no true self that organizing discovers or undoes. You too, Hall reminds us, were made by this world you hope to change. The more distant the world you want to live in is from the world that exists, the more deeply you yourself will feel this disjuncture. “I’m not cut out for this,” people often say when they struggle with organizing. No one is: one isn’t born an organizer, but becomes one."



"The relationality of organizing is maybe the hardest thing to understand before you’ve done it. But it is the most important. This is not because people are governed by emotions instead of reason, though they sometimes are. It’s because the entire problem of collective action is that it’s rational to act collectively where it’s not to act alone. And you build the collective piece by piece.

Organizing relationships can be utopian: at their best, they offer the feminist dream of intimacy outside of romance or family. In the union, I loved people I did not know very well. In meetings I was often overcome with awe and affection at the courage and wisdom of the people there with me. I came to count many of the people I organized with as my dearest friends. When I needed help, there were always people I could call, people who would always pick up the phone, people I could and did talk to about anything. These relationships often served as a source of care and support in a world with too little of those things. But they were not only friendships, and not only emotional ballast. The people I looked to for support would also push me when it was called for, as I would them; that, I knew, was the deal.

Our relationships forged the practical commitments to one another that held the union together. They made us accountable to each other. They were difficult and multifaceted, often frustrating, intensely vulnerable, and potentially transformative but no less prone than any other relationship to carelessness, hurt, and betrayal, and always a lot of work. We were constantly building them and testing their limits, pushing each other harder the closer we got. They had to bear a lot of weight. In more abject moments, I wondered whether they were anything more than instrumental. More often, though, I wondered what was so menacing about usefulness that it threatened to contaminate all else.

The word comrade, Jodi Dean argues, names a political relationship, not a personal one: you are someone’s comrade not because you like them but because you are on the same side of a struggle. Comrades are not neighbors, citizens, or friends; nor are they any kind of family, though you might call them brother or sister. The comrade has no race, gender, or nation. (As one meme goes: “My favorite gender-neutral pronoun is comrade.”) Comrades are not even unique individuals; they are “multiple, replaceable, fungible.” You can be comrades with millions of people you have never met and never will. Your relationship is ultimately with the political project you have in common. To many noncommunists, Dean readily admits, this instrumentalism is “horrifying”: a confirmation that communism means submitting to the Borg. But the sameness of the comrade is a kind of genuine equality.

Being an organizer is like being a comrade in some ways but different in others. The people you organize alongside may be comrades, but the people you are organizing often aren’t; the point of organizing, after all, is to reach beyond the people who are already on your side and win over as many others as you can. So you can’t assume the people you organize share your values; in fact, you should usually assume they don’t. This means that unlike comrades, organizers aren’t interchangeable. It matters who you are. McAlevey’s theory of the organic leader is that people have to be organized by people they know and trust, not by strangers who claim to have the right ideas. The SNCC looked for “strong people” — not necessarily traditional leaders, but people who were respected and trusted among their peers, on the logic that people would only take risky political action alongside people they trusted. When organizers reflect the people they organize, they win: when women of color organize other women of color, a 2007 paper by Kate Bronfenbrenner and Dorian Warren shows, they win almost 90 percent of elections. This cuts both ways: when women and people of color led the organizing in my department, we often struggled to get white men to take us seriously.

Yet the comradely element of organizing can also open up space for building relationships with people beyond those boundaries. It’s not that class and race and gender disappear, transcended by the cause — … [more]
alyssabattistoni  organizing  academia  academics  highereducation  highered  2019  labor  work  unions  thatcherism  reaganism  margartthatcher  communism  ronaldreagan  capitalism  meritocracy  hegemony  stuarthall  busyness  antoniogramsci  comrades  relationships  relationality  utopia  hierarchy  instrumentalism  equality  leadership  politics  class  race  gender  school  schooliness  schooling  transcontextualism 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit: When the Hero is the Problem | Literary Hub
"Positive social change results mostly from connecting more deeply to the people around you than rising above them, from coordinated rather than solo action. Among the virtues that matter are those traditionally considered feminine rather than masculine, more nerd than jock: listening, respect, patience, negotiation, strategic planning, storytelling. But we like our lone and exceptional heroes, and the drama of violence and virtue of muscle, or at least that’s what we get, over and over, and in the course of getting them we don’t get much of a picture of how change happens and what our role in it might be, or how ordinary people matter. “Unhappy the land that needs heroes” is a line of Bertold Brecht’s I’ve gone to dozens of times, but now I’m more inclined to think, pity the land that thinks it needs a hero, or doesn’t know it has lots and what they look like."



"William James said of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, “Surely the cutting edge of all our usual misfortunes comes from their character of loneliness.” That is, if I lose my home, I’m cast out among those who remain comfortable, but if we all lose our homes in the earthquake, we’re in this together. One of my favorite sentences from a 1906 survivor is this: “Then when the dynamite explosions were making the night noisy and keeping everybody awake and anxious, the girls or some of the refugees would start playing the piano, and Billy Delaney and other folks would start singing; so that the place became quite homey and sociable, considering it was on the sidewalk, outside the high school, and the town all around it was on fire.”

I don’t know what Billy Delaney or the girls sang, or what stories the oat gatherers Le Guin writes about might have told. But I do have a metaphor, which is itself a kind of carrier bag and metaphor literally means to carry something beyond, carrying being the basic thing language does, language being great nets we weave to hold meaning. Jonathan Jones, an indigenous Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi Australian artist, has an installation—a great infinity-loop figure eight of feathered objects on a curving wall in the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane that mimics a murmuration, one of those great flocks of birds in flight that seems to swell and contract and shift as the myriad individual creatures climb and bank and turn together, not crashing into each other, not drifting apart.

From a distance Jones’s objects look like birds; up close they are traditional tools of stick and stone with feathers attached, tools of making taking flight. The feathers were given to him by hundreds who responded to the call he put out, a murmuration of gatherers. “I’m interested in this idea of collective thinking,” he told a journalist. “How the formation of really beautiful patterns and arrangements in the sky can help us potentially start to understand how we exist in this country, how we operate together, how we can all call ourselves Australians. That we all have our own little ideas which can somehow come together to make something bigger.”

What are human murmurations, I wondered? They are, speaking of choruses, in Horton Hears a Who, the tiny Whos of Whoville, who find that if every last one of them raises their voice, they become loud enough to save their home. They are a million and a half young people across the globe on March 15 protesting climate change, coalitions led by Native people holding back fossil fuel pipelines across Canada, the lawyers and others who converged on airports all over the US on January 29, 2017, to protest the Muslim ban.

They are the hundreds who turned out in Victoria, BC, to protect a mosque there during Friday prayers the week after the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand. My cousin Jessica was one of them, and she wrote about how deeply moving it was for her, “At the end, when prayers were over, and the mosque was emptying onto the street, if felt like a wedding, a celebration of love and joy. We all shook hands and hugged and spoke kindly to each other—Muslim, Jew, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, atheist…” We don’t have enough art to make us see and prize these human murmurations even when they are all around us, even when they are doing the most important work on earth."
rebeccasolnit  heroes  change  democracy  collectivism  multitudes  2019  robertmueller  gretathunberg  society  movements  murmurations  relationships  connection  femininity  masculinity  leadership  patience  negotiation  listening  strategy  planning  storytelling  bertoldbrecht  violence  attention  ursulaleguin  williamjames  1906  sanfrancisco  loneliness  comfort  billdelaney  jonathanjones  art  humans  humanism  scale  activism  action 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The Myth of the Superhero Leader - Educational Leadership
"They can't fly, but they can leap tall obstacles—if they stay balanced.

In light of the many feats we ask principals to perform as instructional leaders—like guiding teachers to improve student outcomes and arranging for teachers' continued learning, all while overseeing budgets, placating parents, and addressing student behavior and mental health needs—principals might wonder if their job description should also include leap tall buildings in a single bound. Is the widespread notion of principals as instructional leaders tantamount to asking them to be superhuman? Where did this idea of principal as hero come from, anyway?

Origins of Instructional Leadership

By most accounts, the concept of instructional leadership emerged in the 1970s, when researchers began to study so-called effective schools—high-poverty schools that were performing better than expected—and noted a common feature: Leaders focused on instruction. That is, principals were instructional leaders. In the ensuring years, scholars proposed dueling lists of key traits for instructional leadership.

As the lists grew, so did questions, including whether it was humanly possible to be an instructional leader. How could anyone, short of a bite from a radioactive spider, do everything scholars, superintendents, and policymakers expected of principals? Some scholars, like Leithwood (1992), questioned the roots of the concept, noting that it emerged from studies of a particular type of school (turnaround schools) whose leaders focused on boosting standardized test scores in a top-down way. What about the rest of schools, including those that were good but could be better? Might they need a different kind of leadership, one that could, say, inspire people to change by rallying around a shared moral purpose? Thus, a new concept, transformational leadership, was born—along with lists and surveys to define and measure it (Bass & Avolio, 1994).

Which Leadership Behaviors Matter Most?

By the early 2000s, researchers hoped to cut through the proliferation of lists by using scientific (or at least quantitative) methods to pin down more precisely which leadership behaviors had the most impact on student achievement. One meta-analysis of 37 published studies (Witziers, Bosker, & Kruger, 2003), found no significant link between principals' scores on a measure of leader effectiveness and the performance of those principals' schools. Yet a McREL meta-analysis drawing upon a sample of 70 studies identified 21 leadership responsibilities with links to student achievement that reflected elements of both instructional and transformational leadership (Waters, Marzano, & McNulty, 2003).

A few years later, in a meta-analysis of 27 studies, Australian researchers (Robinson, Lloyd, & Rowe, 2008) found that instructional leadership behaviors, such as actively engaging in teacher learning and guiding curriculum planning and enactment, had three to four times the effect size of transformational leadership behaviors. This finding prompted the researchers to conclude that "the closer leaders are to the core business of teaching and learning, the more likely they are to make a difference to students" (p. 636). Nonetheless, they noted that while transformational leadership behaviors like building school culture and fostering shared purpose weren't as strongly tied to student achievement, they still had significant effects, and thus might be "necessary but not sufficient" (p. 666) for improving school performance.

This phrase might apply to most, if not all, leadership behaviors. In fact, the one thing we might glean from studies of school leadership is that the best leaders demonstrate a wide array of behaviors, playing not one but many roles, which I've identified as:

• Visionary: Seeing new possibilities and inspiring others to pursue stretch goals.
• Learner: Modeling intellectual inquiry by reflecting on data and learning with teachers.
• Commander: Turning vision to action by aligning resources and accountability to goals.
• Connector: Creating a positive culture that empowers teachers to learn from each other.

Send in the Architects

In practice, these four roles likely reflect both natural traits and learned behaviors, so some leaders may slide more easily into certain roles and need to "lean in" to others. Yet, as a recent study suggests, the most effective leaders balance all four. British researchers Alex Hill and colleagues (2016) analyzed the behaviors of hundreds of school principals in the United Kingdom. They identified five leadership "personalities" that produce markedly different results:

• Philosophers seem most comfortable in the visionary and connector roles. They talk a good game about new ways of teaching and empowering teachers, yet often fail to translate vision into action.

• Surgeons are comfortable in commander mode. They quickly size up problems, remove ineffective teachers, and bring in new programs and routines to boost test results. School performance initially improves, but levels off after a couple years due a lack of investment in teacher learning.

• Soldiers are no-nonsense commanders of a different sort; they focus on trimming fat from school budgets, automating processes, and tightening the screws to get teachers to work harder. (As one such leader put it, "If you cut resources, people have to change!") School finances improve, but little else. Morale tanks.

• Accountants serve as commanders and connectors. They busy themselves with bringing new resources to the school and avoid ruffling feathers by giving teachers latitude in using resources. The financial picture improves, but little else changes.

Only one leadership personality, the architect, delivers sustained improvement—by balancing all four roles. In the words of the researchers, "they're insightful, humble, visionary leaders who believe schools fail because they're poorly designed," so they work with teachers to develop a collaborative school vision and engage directly in professional learning, coaching, mentoring, and peer collaboration. "In many ways," noted the researchers, "they combine the best parts of the other leaders."

With an architect at the helm, gains come slowly at first, but about three years in, performance begins to improve—and keeps improving. Notably, architects are unassuming leaders who seek few accolades, preferring to recede into the background. As one put it, "No one should notice when I leave the room." Thus, these balanced leaders seem to debunk the myth of principals as superheroes by demonstrating that the best leaders are those who create conditions for everyone else to be everyday heroes."
2019  leadership  administration  schools  education  slow  bryangoodwin  behavior  balance  humility  vision  howwlearn 
march 2019 by robertogreco
THE CLOUD INSTITUTE
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The objective of the game is to catch as many fish as possible within 10 rounds. Will you break the system?

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The EfS Digital Library houses units, lessons, templates, assessment protocols, design tools, workshop handouts, videos and podcasts that support education for sustainability.

Green Schools Conference
April 8 - 10, 2019 | The Green Schools Conference & Expo
May 24 - 26, 2019 | Goethe-Institut Sustainability Summit "
cloudinstitute  jaimecloud  sustainability  education  lcproject  openstudioproject  future  optimism  k12  highereducation  highered  systemsthinking  change  adaptability  ecosystems  responsibility  leadership  systems  criticalthinking  hope 
february 2019 by robertogreco
“When You Get That Wealthy, You Start to Buy Your Own Bullshit”: The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg | Vanity Fair
"Harvard Business School invented the “leadership” industry—and produced a generation of corporate monsters. No wonder Sandberg, one of the school’s most prominent graduates, lacks a functioning moral compass."



"The truth is, Harvard Business School, like much of the M.B.A. universe in which Sandberg was reared, has always cared less about moral leadership than career advancement and financial performance. The roots of the problem can be found in the School’s vaunted “Case Method,” a discussion-based pedagogy that asks students to put themselves in the role of corporate Übermensch. At the start of each class, one unlucky soul is put in the hot seat, presented with a “what would you do” scenario, and then subjected to the ruthless interrogation of their peers. Graded on a curve, the intramural competition can be intense—M.B.A.s are super-competitive, after all.

Let’s be clear about this: in business, as in life, there isn’t always one correct answer. So the teaching of a decision-making philosophy that is deliberate and systematic, but still open-minded, is hardly controversial on its face. But to help students overcome the fear of sounding stupid and being remorselessly critiqued, they are reminded, in case after case—and with emphasis—that there are no right answers. And that has had the unfortunate effect of opening up a chasm of moral equivalence in too many of their graduates.

And yet, there are obviously many situations where some answers are more right than others. Especially when it comes to moral issues like privacy, around which both Sandberg and Facebook have a history of demonstrating poor judgment. While H.B.S. is correct in its assertion that it produces people who can make decisions, the fact of the matter is that they have never emphasized how to make the right ones.

Consider investment banker Bowen McCoy’s “The Parable of the Sadhu,” published in Harvard Business Review in 1977, and again 20 years later. It addressed what seemed, at least to the H.B.S. crowd, to be an ethical dilemma. McCoy was on a trip to the Himalayas when his expedition encountered a sadhu, or holy man, near death from hypothermia and exposure. Their compassion extended only to clothing the man and leaving him in the sun, before continuing on to the summit. One of McCoy’s group saw a “breakdown between the individual ethic and the group ethic,” and was gripped by guilt that the climbers had not made absolutely sure that the sadhu made it down the mountain alive. McCoy’s response: “Here we are . . . at the apex of one of the most powerful experiences of our lives. . . . What right does an almost naked pilgrim who chooses the wrong trail have to disrupt our lives?”

McCoy later felt guilt over the incident, but his parable nevertheless illustrated the extent to which aspiring managers might justify putting personal accomplishment ahead of collateral damage—including the life of a dying man. The fact that H.B.S. enthusiastically incorporated said parable into its curriculum says far more about the fundamental mindset of the school than almost anything else that has come out of it. The “dilemma” was perfectly in line with the thinking at H.B.S. that an inability to clearly delineate the right choice in business isn’t the fault of the chooser but rather a fundamental characteristic of business, itself.

Here’s a slightly more recent example: remember Jeff Skilling? Like Sandberg, he graduated from H.B.S. and went to work at McKinsey. And like Sandberg, he left McKinsey for a C-suite gig—in his case, Enron—that took him to the stratosphere. Again like Sandberg, he basked in adulation over his ability to deliver shareholder returns. Skilling had done so, of course, by turning Enron into one of the greatest frauds the world has ever seen.

One of Skilling’s H.B.S. classmates, John LeBoutillier, who went on to be a U.S. congressman, later recalled a case discussion in which the students were debating what the C.E.O. should do if he discovered that his company was producing a product that could be potentially fatal to consumers. “I’d keep making and selling the product,” he recalled Skilling saying. “My job as a businessman is to be a profit center and to maximize return to the shareholders. It’s the government’s job to step in if a product is dangerous.” Several students nodded in agreement, recalled LeBoutillier. “Neither Jeff nor the others seemed to care about the potential effects of their cavalier attitude. . . . At H.B.S. . . . you were then, and still are, considered soft or a wuss if you dwell on morality or scruples.”

Why do so many M.B.A.s struggle to make the ethical decisions that seem so clear to the rest of us? Is it right to employ a scummy P.R. firm to deflect attention from our failures? Is it O.K. if we bury questions about user privacy and consent under a mountain of legalese? Can we get away with repeatedly choosing profits over principles and then promising that we will do better in the future?

If you think this kind of thing isn’t still going on at Harvard Business School—or wasn’t going on when Sandberg graduated in 1995—I refer you to Michel Anteby, who joined the faculty 10 years later, in 2005. At first enthusiastic, Anteby was soon flummoxed by the complete absence of normative viewpoints in classroom discussion. “I grew up in France where there were very articulated norms,” he told the BBC in 2015. “Higher norms and lower norms. Basically, you have convictions of what was right or wrong, and when I tried to articulate this in the classroom, I encountered . . . silence on the part of students. Because they weren’t used to these value judgments in the classroom.”

Eight years after his arrival, Anteby published Manufacturing Morals: The Values of Silence in Business School Education. The book was not published by Harvard but the University of Chicago Press. Calling the case system an “unscripted journey” for students, it was one of the first times an insider had joined the chorus of outsiders who have long criticized the case method as one that glamorizes the C.E.O.-as-hero, as well as the overuse of martial terminology in business curricula. (The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Mark Zuckerberg currently considers Facebook “at war.”)

“H.B.S. studies everybody under the sun,” Anteby told me in early 2015. “There is no reason we should be off limits.” Alas, they were. Not long after his book was published, Anteby came to believe that H.B.S. would not grant him tenure, and left the school soon after. “He is an unbelievably productive and smart guy,” one of his supporters, the University of Michigan’s Jerry Davis, told me later that year. “And they fired him. Probably because H.B.S. wasn’t the right place to have a conversation about itself. It would be like being at Versailles in 1789, offering up leadership secrets of Louis XIV. The really unfortunate part is that he wasn’t as harsh as he should have been, because he was up for tenure.”

The absence of voices like Anteby’s are evident to this day, and an ongoing indictment of the culture that turned Facebook from a Harvard sophomore’s dorm-room project into what passes for a Harvard Business School success story. Return one last time to the H.B.R. Web site, and you will find a case study that was published just a few months ago entitled “Facebook—Can Ethics Scale in the Digital Age?” Set aside the abuse of the English language in the question—M.B.A.s specialize in that kind of thing. The mere fact that it’s being asked serves as resounding proof that the moral equivalence problem is still with us today. The question is not whether or not a company of Facebook’s size and reach can stay ethical. The question is whether it will even try."
harvard  harvardbusinessschool  ethics  sherylsandberg  facebook  2018  business  careerism  morality  hbs  via:nicoleslaw  leadership  billclinton  mba  mbas  harvardbusinessrevie  hbr  duffmcdonald  competition  competitiveness  winning  decisionmaking  billgeorge  larrysummers  abrahamzaleznik  johnleboutillier  jeffskilling  bowenmccoy  michelanteby  norms  values  capitalism  neoliberalism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Land as pedagogy: Nishnaabeg intelligence and rebellious transformation | Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society
"A resurgence of Indigenous political cultures, governances and nation-building requires generations of Indigenous peoples to grow up intimately and strongly connected to our homelands, immersed in our languages and spiritualities, and embodying our traditions of agency, leadership, decision-making and diplomacy. This requires a radical break from state education systems – systems that are primarily designed to produce communities of individuals willing to uphold settler colonialism. This paper uses Nishnaabeg stories to advocate for a reclamation of land as pedagogy, both as process and context for Nishnaabeg intelligence, in order to nurture a generation of Indigenous peoples that have the skills, knowledge and values to rebuild our nation according to the word views and values of Nishnaabeg culture."

[pdf: https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/des/article/view/22170/17985 ]
leannebetasamosakesimpson  decolonization  pedagogy  land  indigeneity  indigenous  decisionmaking  agency  leadership  settlercolonialism  colonialism  place 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Shana V. White on Twitter: "All systems predicated on top down hierarchical power will NEVER work for or benefit those considered the least or placed at the bottom of the hierarchy. (thread)"
"All systems predicated on top down hierarchical power will NEVER work for or benefit those considered the least or placed at the bottom of the hierarchy.
(thread)

Until these systems are dismantled and equitably rebuilt including more and new stakeholders, these systems will always be ineffective, marginalizing, damaging, and not create successful outcomes for everyone.

Our educational system functions this way. Although there are small pockets happening in classrooms, schools, and even some districts, broader and lasting change is pretty rare. It eventually fizzles out, and/or runs into a hindering ceiling or wall it cannot pass.

Gatekeeping works as means to maintain the status quo, hinder, and even gaslight educators and students. Gatekeeping manifests itself in people in leadership who are roadblocks, but also in policies, curricula, and mandates which stop progress or change.

Gatekeepers are the limiting factor in our educational system hierarchy. These people can be our local leadership, district admin and boards as well as our state DOEs. They are the top of the hierarchy. Always remember: "With power comes great responsibility"

Until gatekeeping as a practice and those who 'patrol' these gates have a mindset change or new people with passion for equity, agency, and success for all in edu are put in their place, ceilings, gates, and walls will remain limiting and stop change systemically.

Just understand I appreciate and love those who are passionate about changing our edu system. Just know this battle is emotionally and mentally taxing. But solidarity is one of our strengths. Multiple voices are better than one.

Until the system is dismantled, rebuilt and involves new stakeholders in power, those of us doing this work will continue to be swimming upstream against a very strong current. Please keep fighting the fight though. Change is hopefully coming soon. /FIN"
shanavwhite  hierarchy  2018  gatekeeping  unschooling  deschooling  reform  change  systems  systemsthinking  education  schools  leadership  horizontality  power  solidarity 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Survival of the Kindest: Dacher Keltner Reveals the New Rules of Power
"When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

• The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
• Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
• The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
• How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
• How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
• What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
• How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time."
compassion  kindness  happiness  dacherkeltner  power  charlesdarwin  evolution  psychology  culture  society  history  race  racism  behavior  satisfaction  individualism  humility  authority  humans  humanism  morality  morals  multispecies  morethanhuman  objects  wisdom  knowledge  heidegger  ideas  science  socialdarwinism  class  naturalselection  egalitarianism  abolitionism  care  caring  art  vulnerability  artists  scientists  context  replicability  research  socialsciences  2018  statistics  replication  metaanalysis  socialcontext  social  borntobegood  change  human  emotions  violence  evolutionarypsychology  slvery  rape  stevenpinker  torture  christopherboehm  hunter-gatherers  gender  weapons  democracy  machiavelli  feminism  prisons  mentalillness  drugs  prisonindustrialcomplex  progress  politics  1990s  collaboration  canon  horizontality  hierarchy  small  civilization  cities  urban  urbanism  tribes  religion  dogma  polygamy  slavery  pigeons  archaeology  inequality  nomads  nomadism  anarchism  anarchy  agriculture  literacy  ruleoflaw  humanrights  governance  government  hannah 
march 2018 by robertogreco
#GeniusTweeter on Twitter: "The Midwest Academy Manual for Activist quotes a consultant who was speaking to a group of corporate executives about some of the *tricks* your opponents will use against you.… https://t.co/FGK2Gw2jPs"
"The Midwest Academy Manual for Activists [http://www.midwestacademy.com/manual/ ] quotes a consultant who was speaking to a group of corporate executives about some of the *tricks* your opponents will use against you.
The authors describe it as: "You are reasonable but your allies aren't. Can, we just deal with you?"... In this tactic, institutions resisting change can divide coalitions, decreasing their power and tempering their demands, by bringing those who have the most invested in the status quo into the Inner circle" to negotiate, in theory, for the full group's interests..? Lawyers often have an easier time getting meetings with decision makers precisely because we are seen as more "reasonable," i.e., amenable to the status quo, and we are too often tempted to accept this access rather than insisting on solidarity with more radical leaders from affected communities...

The manual quotes a consultant speaking to a group of corporate executives to explain this tactic,
Activists fall into three basic categories: radicals, idealists, and realists. The first step is to isolate and marginalize the radicals. They're the ones who see inherent structural problems that need remedying if indeed a particular change is to occur..' The goal is to sour the idealists on the idea of working with the radicals. Instead, get them working with the realists. Realists are people who want reform, but don't really want to upset the status quo; big public interest organizations that rely on foundation grants and corporate contributions are a prime example. With correct handling, realists can be counted on to cut a deal with industry that can be touted as a 'win-win" solution, but that is actually an industry victory.

"There's more to what the consultant advises the corporate executives:
"To isolate them (the radicals), try to create the perception in the public mind that people advocating fundamental solutions are terrorists, extremists, fear mongers, outsiders, communists, or whatever.+"
https://twitter.com/prisonculture/status/962360911225937920

"After marginalizing the radicals, then identify and educate the idealists - concerned and sympathetic members of the public -- by convincing them that changes advocated by the radicals would hurt people.""
https://twitter.com/prisonculture/status/962361148841627649 ]
idealists  idealism  activism  activists  radicals  radicalism  radicalists  centrists  statusquo  elitism  policy  politics  institutions  corporatism  democrats  republicans  marginalization  race  racism  cooption  power  control  corporations  law  lawyers  solidarity  leadership  reform  change  changemaking  fear  outsiders  communists  communism  inequality  oppression  perpetuation  terrorism  extremism  perception  messaging  mariamekaba 
february 2018 by robertogreco
What the Arete Project stands for
"1. We offer a higher vision for higher education. Current academic culture values achievement over learning, knowledge over wisdom, research over teaching, and frills over substance. The Arete Project provides an education in the liberal arts and sciences that helps students become thoughtful, responsible, and virtuous human beings. Students are invested with responsibilities that extend far beyond their GPAs; instructors are valued first as teachers and mentors and second as scholars; and education takes place as a communal enterprise in a setting of rustic simplicity.

2. We educate for service and leadership – with real stakes. Many leadership programs are little more than simulations. Many service-work programs are guilty of “voluntourism.” But at the Arete Project, students must create, sustain, and govern their own educational community, as well as work towards the wellbeing of the institution itself. Student self-governance is real. If the cow isn’t milked, she may sicken, leaving the kitchen without dairy products. If recruitment emails aren’t sent, we may have no applicants the next year. Students must take real responsibility for these critical and other functions of the organization.

3. We provide an educational antidote to social fragmentation. It is no secret that our world has fractured deeply along lines of income, identity, and ideology. Our programs require students to step outside of their comfort zones and to build and share an educational space with people from very different backgrounds. The intimacy of the community (including students, staff, and faculty) allows trust and real relationships to flourish; these relationships, in turn, enable the difficult conversations that our society so badly needs to have.

4. We train thoughtful stewards of the natural world. Though we are all ultimately dependent on the ecosystems around us, few of us feel that dependence in our daily lives. The Arete Project asks students to live for extended periods of time in rustic accommodations within rural and wilderness settings, and much work and recreation is out of doors. The labor program in particular – by having students grow their own food and build their own shelter – provides a chance to think deeply about humans' relationship to nature."
education  areteproject  lauramarcus  highered  highereducation  learning  knowledge  wisdom  teching  research  substance  frills  liberalarts  mentoring  responsibility  service  leadership  voluntourism  servicelearning  self-governance  governance  fragmentation  society  inequality  inclusivity  inclusion  lcproject  openstudioproject  relationships  conversation  stewardship  nature  ecosystems  ecology  sustainability  interdependence  labor  work  ideology  criticalthinking  pedagogy  academia  colleges  universities 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Jackson Lears · What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking: #Russiagate · LRB 4 January 2018
" the blend of neoliberal domestic policy and interventionist foreign policy that constitutes consensus in Washington. Neoliberals celebrate market utility as the sole criterion of worth; interventionists exalt military adventure abroad as a means of fighting evil in order to secure global progress. Both agendas have proved calamitous for most Americans. Many registered their disaffection in 2016. Sanders is a social democrat and Trump a demagogic mountebank, but their campaigns underscored a widespread repudiation of the Washington consensus. For about a week after the election, pundits discussed the possibility of a more capacious Democratic strategy. It appeared that the party might learn something from Clinton’s defeat. Then everything changed.

A story that had circulated during the campaign without much effect resurfaced: it involved the charge that Russian operatives had hacked into the servers of the Democratic National Committee, revealing embarrassing emails that damaged Clinton’s chances. With stunning speed, a new centrist-liberal orthodoxy came into being, enveloping the major media and the bipartisan Washington establishment. This secular religion has attracted hordes of converts in the first year of the Trump presidency. In its capacity to exclude dissent, it is like no other formation of mass opinion in my adult life, though it recalls a few dim childhood memories of anti-communist hysteria during the early 1950s.

The centrepiece of the faith, based on the hacking charge, is the belief that Vladimir Putin orchestrated an attack on American democracy by ordering his minions to interfere in the election on behalf of Trump. The story became gospel with breathtaking suddenness and completeness. Doubters are perceived as heretics and as apologists for Trump and Putin, the evil twins and co-conspirators behind this attack on American democracy. Responsibility for the absence of debate lies in large part with the major media outlets. Their uncritical embrace and endless repetition of the Russian hack story have made it seem a fait accompli in the public mind. It is hard to estimate popular belief in this new orthodoxy, but it does not seem to be merely a creed of Washington insiders. If you question the received narrative in casual conversations, you run the risk of provoking blank stares or overt hostility – even from old friends. This has all been baffling and troubling to me; there have been moments when pop-culture fantasies (body snatchers, Kool-Aid) have come to mind."



"Once again, the established press is legitimating pronouncements made by the Church Fathers of the national security state."



"The most immediate consequence is that, by finding foreign demons who can be blamed for Trump’s ascendancy, the Democratic leadership have shifted the blame for their defeat away from their own policies without questioning any of their core assumptions. Amid the general recoil from Trump, they can even style themselves dissenters – ‘#the resistance’ was the label Clintonites appropriated within a few days of the election. Mainstream Democrats have begun to use the word ‘progressive’ to apply to a platform that amounts to little more than preserving Obamacare, gesturing towards greater income equality and protecting minorities. This agenda is timid. It has nothing to say about challenging the influence of concentrated capital on policy, reducing the inflated defence budget or withdrawing from overextended foreign commitments; yet without those initiatives, even the mildest egalitarian policies face insuperable obstacles. More genuine insurgencies are in the making, which confront corporate power and connect domestic with foreign policy, but they face an uphill battle against the entrenched money and power of the Democratic leadership – the likes of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, the Clintons and the DNC. Russiagate offers Democratic elites a way to promote party unity against Trump-Putin, while the DNC purges Sanders’s supporters.

For the DNC, the great value of the Russian hack story is that it focuses attention away from what was actually in their emails. The documents revealed a deeply corrupt organisation, whose pose of impartiality was a sham. Even the reliably pro-Clinton Washington Post has admitted that ‘many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.’ Further evidence of collusion between the Clinton machine and the DNC surfaced recently in a memoir by Donna Brazile, who became interim chair of the DNC after Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned in the wake of the email revelations."



"The Steele dossier inhabits a shadowy realm where ideology and intelligence, disinformation and revelation overlap. It is the antechamber to the wider system of epistemological nihilism created by various rival factions in the intelligence community: the ‘tree of smoke’ that, for the novelist Denis Johnson, symbolised CIA operations in Vietnam. I inhaled that smoke myself in 1969-70, when I was a cryptographer with a Top Secret clearance on a US navy ship that carried missiles armed with nuclear warheads – the existence of which the navy denied. I was stripped of my clearance and later honourably discharged when I refused to join the Sealed Authenticator System, which would have authorised the launch of those allegedly non-existent nuclear weapons. The tree of smoke has only grown more complex and elusive since then. Yet the Democratic Party has now embarked on a full-scale rehabilitation of the intelligence community – or at least the part of it that supports the notion of Russian hacking. (We can be sure there is disagreement behind the scenes.) And it is not only the Democratic establishment that is embracing the deep state. Some of the party’s base, believing Trump and Putin to be joined at the hip, has taken to ranting about ‘treason’ like a reconstituted John Birch Society."



"The Democratic Party has now developed a new outlook on the world, a more ambitious partnership between liberal humanitarian interventionists and neoconservative militarists than existed under the cautious Obama. This may be the most disastrous consequence for the Democratic Party of the new anti-Russian orthodoxy: the loss of the opportunity to formulate a more humane and coherent foreign policy. The obsession with Putin has erased any possibility of complexity from the Democratic world picture, creating a void quickly filled by the monochrome fantasies of Hillary Clinton and her exceptionalist allies. For people like Max Boot and Robert Kagan, war is a desirable state of affairs, especially when viewed from the comfort of their keyboards, and the rest of the world – apart from a few bad guys – is filled with populations who want to build societies just like ours: pluralistic, democratic and open for business. This view is difficult to challenge when it cloaks itself in humanitarian sentiment. There is horrific suffering in the world; the US has abundant resources to help relieve it; the moral imperative is clear. There are endless forms of international engagement that do not involve military intervention. But it is the path taken by US policy often enough that one may suspect humanitarian rhetoric is nothing more than window-dressing for a more mundane geopolitics – one that defines the national interest as global and virtually limitless.

Having come of age during the Vietnam War, a calamitous consequence of that inflated definition of national interest, I have always been attracted to the realist critique of globalism. Realism is a label forever besmirched by association with Henry Kissinger, who used it as a rationale for intervening covertly and overtly in other nations’ affairs. Yet there is a more humane realist tradition, the tradition of George Kennan and William Fulbright, which emphasises the limits of military might, counselling that great power requires great restraint. This tradition challenges the doctrine of regime change under the guise of democracy promotion, which – despite its abysmal failures in Iraq and Libya – retains a baffling legitimacy in official Washington. Russiagate has extended its shelf life."



"It is not the Democratic Party that is leading the search for alternatives to the wreckage created by Republican policies: a tax plan that will soak the poor and middle class to benefit the rich; a heedless pursuit of fossil fuels that is already resulting in the contamination of the water supply of the Dakota people; and continued support for police policies of militarisation and mass incarceration. It is local populations that are threatened by oil spills and police beatings, and that is where humane populism survives. A multitude of insurgent groups have begun to use the outrage against Trump as a lever to move the party in egalitarian directions: Justice Democrats, Black Lives Matter, Democratic Socialists of America, as well as a host of local and regional organisations. They recognise that there are far more urgent – and genuine – reasons to oppose Trump than vague allegations of collusion with Russia. They are posing an overdue challenge to the long con of neoliberalism, and the technocratic arrogance that led to Clinton’s defeat in Rust Belt states. Recognising that the current leadership will not bring about significant change, they are seeking funding from outside the DNC. This is the real resistance, as opposed to ‘#theresistance’."



"Francis Shen of the University of Minnesota and Douglas Kriner of Boston University analysed election results in three key states – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – and found that ‘even controlling in a statistical model for many other alternative explanations, we find that there is a significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump.’ Clinton’s record of uncritical commitment to military intervention allowed Trump to … [more]
jacksonlears  2017  politics  us  hillaryclinton  democrats  neoliberalism  donaldtrump  elections  2016  russia  vladimirputin  dishonesty  blame  truth  georgekennan  henrykissinger  williamfulbright  fbi  cia  history  vietnamwar  maxboot  robertkagan  war  militarism  policy  foreignpolicy  humanitarianism  military  humanism  russiagate  jingoism  francisshen  douglaskriner  intervention  disenfranchisement  berniesanders  socialism  grassroots  dsa  blacklivesmatter  resistance  alternative  leadership  issues  healthcareforall  universalhealthcare  singlepayerhealthcare  reform  change  progressive  progressiveness  populism 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership | TED Talk | TED.com
"We have all changed someone's life -- usually without even realizing it. In this funny talk, Drew Dudley calls on all of us to celebrate leadership as the everyday act of improving each other's lives."
small  everyday  leadership  2010  drewdudley  slow 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Peer Resources | San Francisco
"Our Mission

Peer Resources creates just change in our schools and communities through the leadership of young people supporting, training, and advocating for each other.

Our Values

• Leadership opportunities for youth who do not normally get the chance to lead
• Increasing youth voice
• Peer to peer support, training and advocacy
• Just change*
• Institutional change
• Restorative practices
• Putting love in action

*We define “just change” as action toward justice; transformative resistance

Our Goals

Students are empowered as agents of change
Schools are transformed institutions"
sanfrancisco  education  socialjustice  restorativepractices  leadership  change  youth  edg 
june 2017 by robertogreco
When Power Makes Leaders More Sensitive - The New York Times
"I’ve long heard the old warning about leaders who rise too high. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord Acton once said.

But recent psychological research upends this adage. Sure, power in the wrong hands can be dangerous. It turns out, however, that power does not always lead to bad behavior — and can actually make leaders more sensitive to the needs of others. Several studies suggest ways to encourage positive power.

Some psychologists separate power, defined as the control of valued resources, into two concepts: power perceived as freedom, and power perceived as responsibility. How you view power can affect how you use it.

When you see power as a source of freedom, you are likely to use it to serve yourself, selfishly. But when you see it as responsibility, you tend to be selfless.

Who you are — your character and cultural background — affects your approach to power. But contextual clues about how power should be used can be surprisingly effective in altering leadership behavior.

For example, according to one survey, published last year in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people generally had the notion that those with power should act more ethically than those without but in truth act less ethically. And when people reflected on how they felt power was actually used — that is, unethically — obtaining a sense of power themselves made them more likely to cheat in a dice game. But when they thought about how they felt it should be used — ethically — power made them less likely to cheat.

A separate study found that awareness of the good behavior of others can improve the behavior of those with power. In that research, published in The Leadership Quarterly, students assigned to lead a group behaved less selfishly when told that other leaders had been unselfish.

A heightened sense of accountability can also keep power in check. A study in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that making people feel powerful increased their clarity and compassion when they had to lay off an employee in a hypothetical situation, but only when they knew they had to explain their layoff approach to others.

Merely shifting leaders’ focus to the experiences of others can lead them to use power in more thoughtful ways. In a forthcoming study in the British Journal of Social Psychology, researchers had undergraduates write about something that had happened to them or to someone they knew. Then the students evaluated their peers in a product-naming task, and some of them were given the power to help determine a winner. The researchers found that people with that power were more concerned about the peers they were evaluating than were those without it — but only if they’d first been asked to recount another’s experience.

“Any policy, any values, any organizational climate that draws attention to those lower in power should do the trick,” said Annika Scholl, a psychologist at the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien, in Tübingen, Germany, and the lead author of the study.

When people don’t personally identify with a group, Professor Scholl said, giving them more power tends to reduce their feelings of responsibility for people in the group. But when they start with the sense that they belong to the group, greater power tends to make them more concerned about their effects on others. If you can find common ground, she said, “you think in terms of ‘we’ rather than ‘I.’”

Simply leaving a cloistered office and spending time with subordinates can shift a leader’s attitude. Melissa Williams, a psychologist at Goizueta Business School at Emory University, said physical proximity in shared office space often makes leaders more sensitive.

Companies in the marketplace have been using such insights for years. For example, TDIndustries, a privately held construction firm in Dallas, has embraced a principle known as “servant leadership” since 1970. What sounds like an oxymoron neatly describes power seen as responsibility. TDIndustries uses a number of techniques to ensure that its leaders work not to exploit workers but to enable them to flourish.

Every year, for example, employees evaluate their supervisors. They are asked whether their manager treats them fairly, offers appropriate training and includes them in their team. The feedback affects supervisors’ salaries and promotions.

“You’ve got to walk the talk here,” said Maureen Underwood, the executive vice president for human resources at the company. “And if you get lousy scores, then you get some extra adult supervision.”

There is another important factor in using power responsibly: When leaders feel that their power is being threatened, they tend to behave more selfishly, Professor Williams wrote in an article in the Journal of Management. She cited studies showing that such behavior increases when leaders feel insecure in their positions, doubt their own competence or sense that they are not respected. Precarious authority can lead people to lash out in order to maintain control. She notes the importance of selecting people who are a good fit for their tasks, whatever their positions, and then treating them with fairness and gratitude, ameliorating any resentment or self-doubt.

TDIndustries, which has appeared consistently on Fortune’s annual list of the top 100 workplaces in the United States, sees sensitive leadership as a matter of policy. “We say our supervisors have to do two things,” Ms. Underwood said. “You have to be servant leaders, and you have to make money. And they’re not mutually exclusive.”"
power  corruption  leadership  administration  management  2017  matthewhutson  psychology  freedom  responsibility  behavior  policy  hierarchy 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Education Gurus | the édu flâneuse
"Knowledge and advice for schools and about education often seem to exist in a world of commodification and memeification. There is plenty of disagreement and debate in education, and plenty of competition on bookshelves and in conference programs. Educators and academics position themselves as brands via bios, photographs, and certification badges. As an educator and a researcher I have those whose work I follow closely; academics, for instance, whose presence affects me when I meet them because their reputation and body of work precede them.

In education, we have perceived gurus. These are people who have become ubiquitous in education circles, at education conferences, and in education literature. Teachers and school leaders scramble to get tickets to their sessions and to get photographic evidence of having met them. Their words are tweeted out in soundbites ad infinitum (or is that ad nauseum?), and made into internet memes. Sometimes these individuals partner with publishers or education corporates, and so the visibility and reach of their work grows. They become the scholars or experts most cited in staff rooms, at professional learning water coolers, and in job interviews when asked how research informs practice.

Sometimes, these gurus are teachers or principals who have gained a large following on social media and subsequently a monolithic profile. Often, they are academics who have built up bodies of work over many years, becoming more and more well-known along the way, and eventually being perceived as celebrities or gurus. Yesterday I had the pleasure of learning from Dylan Wiliam, firstly at a day long seminar, and then at my school. At one point the seminar organisers apologised for running out of Wiliam’s books, acknowledging the desire of delegates to have the book signed.

Marten Koomen has traced networks of influencers in Australian education organisations. In his new paper ‘School leadership and the cult of the guru: the neo-Taylorism of Hattie’, Scott Eacott challenges the rise of the edu guru, those academics whose work is ubiquitous and influential to the point of being uncritically accepted and canonised. Eacott pushes back against the ‘what works’ mentality in education, in which educators are sold ‘what works’ and encouraged to slavishly apply it to their own contexts. Jon Andrews, too, questions the unquestioning way in which the loudest and most prominent voices become the accepted voices. Meta-analysis and meta-meta-analysis, often translated into league tables of ‘what works’ in education, have been the subject of criticism. George Lilley and Gary Jones have both questioned meta-analysis on their blogs. I’ve written about cautions surrounding the use of meta-analysis in education, especially when it drives clickbait headlines and a silver-bullet mentality of having the answers without having to ask any questions. Yesterday Wiliam made his oft-repeated points: that everything works somewhere, nothing works everywhere, and context matters. A guru cannot provide easy answers in education, as education is too complex and contextual for that.

Much of this conversation around the rise of the edu guru has surrounded John Hattie, although he is by no means the only globally renowned education expert likely to make conference delegates weak at the knees. I was personally uncomfortable when he was beamed in via video link to last year’s ACEL conference and began to give an ‘I have a dream’ speech about education. As an English and Literature teacher I understand the power of rhetoric and analogy to persuade and inspire, but appropriating the legacy and words of Dr Martin Luther King Junior seemed a way to gospelise a personal brand of education reform.

I don’t think that education experts, no matter how influential they become, should encourage the uncritical acceptance of their ideas as dogma, or present themselves as the bringers of the One True Thing To Rule All Things of and for education. As Dylan Wiliam, channelling Ben Goldacre, repeatedly said yesterday, “I think you’ll find it’s a little more complicated than that.”

I wonder how perceived gurus feel about being guru-ised by the education masses. In part the famous and the infamous in education are so because of their actions: accepting more and more speaking gigs, performing the game of publishing and promoting their work. Most, I would guess, do this for the same reason someone like me speaks and publishes. To contribute to education narratives and change those narratives, hopefully for the better. To be of service to the profession and the field. To explore and wrestle with ideas, trying to find ways to make sense of the complexity of education in order to improve the learning of students and the lives of teachers and school leaders.

I wondered about the rise to gurudom and the moral obligation of the academic celebrity figure last year when at AERA I saw a panel in which four educational heavy hitters—Andy Hargreaves, Michael Fullan, Linda Darling-Hammond and Diane Ravitch—all advocating for the moral imperative of educational research and practice. They spoke of lifetime journeys of work intended to make the world a better and more just place. I wondered at the time about how much an early career academic can be brave and resistant in their work, as they try to build a career via the performative pressures of the academe. Can only the guru, free from institutional performativities and the financial pressures often associated with early career academia, say what they really want to say and do the work and writing they really want to do?

I don’t think experts in education are dangerous. We need expertise and people willing to commit their lives and work to making sense of and making better the world of education and learning. But in a world where teachers and school leaders are busy racing on the mouse wheels of their own performative pressures, we need to figure out ways to support and facilitate sceptical and critical engagement with research. Even those who are highly influential and highly admired need to have their work engaged with closely and critically. The danger comes when experts become so guru-fied that the words they use become part of an unthinking professional vernacular, used by educators who haven’t looked behind the curtain or beneath the book cover."
cultofpersonality  edugurus  education  australia  newzealand  2017  deborahnetolicky  learning  research  andyhargreaves  michaelfullan  lindadarling-hammond  dianeravitch  academia  dylanwiliam  bengoldacre  scotteacott  matenkoomen  influence  leadership  thoughtleaders  neo-taylorism  schools  georgelilley  garyjones  jonandrews  bestpractices  echochambers  expertise  experts 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers. - The New York Times
"The glorification of leadership skills, especially in college admissions, has emptied leadership of its meaning."



"In 1934, a young woman named Sara Pollard applied to Vassar College. In those days, parents were asked to fill out a questionnaire, and Sara’s father described her, truthfully, as “more a follower type than a leader.”

The school accepted Sara, explaining that it had enough leaders.

It’s hard to imagine this happening today. No father in his right mind (if the admissions office happened to ask him!) would admit that his child was a natural follower; few colleges would welcome one with open arms. Today we prize leadership skills above all, and nowhere more than in college admissions. As Penny Bach Evins, the head of St. Paul’s School for Girls, an independent school in Maryland, told me, “It seems as if higher ed is looking for alphas, but the doers and thinkers in our schools are not always in front leading.”

Harvard’s application informs students that its mission is “to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society.” Yale’s website advises applicants that it seeks “the leaders of their generation”; on Princeton’s site, “leadership activities” are first among equals on a list of characteristics for would-be students to showcase. Even Wesleyan, known for its artistic culture, was found by one study to evaluate applicants based on leadership potential.

If college admissions offices show us whom and what we value, then we seem to think that the ideal society is composed of Type A’s. This is perhaps unsurprising, even if these examples come from highly competitive institutions. It’s part of the American DNA to celebrate those who rise above the crowd. And in recent decades, the meteoric path to leadership of youthful garage- and dorm-dwellers, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, has made king of the hill status seem possible for every 19-year-old. So now we have high school students vying to be president of as many clubs as they can. It’s no longer enough to be a member of the student council; now you have to run the school.

Yet a well-functioning student body — not to mention polity — also needs followers. It needs team players. And it needs those who go their own way.

It needs leaders who are called to service rather than to status.

Admissions officers will tell you that their quest for tomorrow’s leaders is based on a desire for positive impact, to make the world a better place. I think they mean what they say.

But many students I’ve spoken with read “leadership skills” as a code for authority and dominance and define leaders as those who “can order other people around.” And according to one prominent Ivy League professor, those students aren’t wrong; leadership, as defined by the admissions process, too often “seems to be restricted to political or business power.” She says admissions officers fail to define leadership as “making advances in solving mathematical problems” or “being the best poet of the century.”

Whatever the colleges’ intentions, the pressure to lead now defines and constricts our children’s adolescence. One young woman told me about her childhood as a happy and enthusiastic reader, student and cellist — until freshman year of high school, when “college applications loomed on the horizon, and suddenly, my every activity was held up against the holy grail of ‘leadership,’ ” she recalled. “And everyone knew,” she added, “that it was not the smart people, not the creative people, not the thoughtful people or decent human beings that scored the application letters and the scholarships, but the leaders. It seemed no activity or accomplishment meant squat unless it was somehow connected to leadership.”

This young woman tried to overhaul her personality so she would be selected for a prestigious leadership role as a “freshman mentor.” She made the cut, but was later kicked out of the program because she wasn’t outgoing enough. At the time, she was devastated. But it turned out that she’d been set free to discover her true calling, science. She started working after school with her genetics teacher, another behind-the-scenes soul. She published her first scientific paper when she was 18, and won the highest scholarship her university has to offer, majoring in biomedical engineering and cello.

Our elite schools overemphasize leadership partly because they’re preparing students for the corporate world, and they assume that this is what businesses need. But a discipline in organizational psychology, called “followership,” is gaining in popularity. Robert Kelley, a professor of management and organizational behavior, defined the term in a 1988 Harvard Business Review article, in which he listed the qualities of a good follower, including being committed to “a purpose, principle or person outside themselves” and being “courageous, honest and credible.” It’s an idea that the military has long taught.

Recently, other business thinkers have taken up this mantle. Some focus on the “romance of leadership” theory, which causes us to inaccurately attribute all of an organization’s success and failure to its leader, ignoring its legions of followers. Adam Grant, who has written several books on what drives people to succeed, says that the most frequent question he gets from readers is how to contribute when they’re not in charge but have a suggestion and want to be heard. “These are not questions asked by leaders,” he told me. “They’re fundamental questions of followership.”

Team players are also crucial. My sons are avid soccer players, so I spend a lot of time watching the “beautiful game.” The thing that makes it beautiful is not leadership, though an excellent coach is essential. Nor is it the swoosh of the ball in the goal, though winning is noisily celebrated. It is instead the intricate ballet of patterns and passes, of each player anticipating the other’s strengths and needs, each shining for the brief instant that he has the ball before passing it to a teammate or losing it to an opponent.

We also rely as a society, much more deeply than we realize, on the soloists who forge their own paths. We see those figures in all kinds of pursuits: in the sciences; in sports like tennis, track and figure skating; and in the arts. Art and science are about many things that make life worth living, but they are not, at their core, about leadership. Helen Vendler, a professor of English at Harvard, published an essay in which she encouraged the university to attract more artists and not expect them “to become leaders.” Some of those students will become leaders in the arts, she wrote — conducting an orchestra, working to reinstate the arts in schools — “but one can’t quite picture Baudelaire pursuing public service.”

Perhaps the biggest disservice done by the outsize glorification of “leadership skills” is to the practice of leadership itself — it hollows it out, it empties it of meaning. It attracts those who are motivated by the spotlight rather than by the ideas and people they serve. It teaches students to be a leader for the sake of being in charge, rather than in the name of a cause or idea they care about deeply. The difference between the two states of mind is profound. The latter belongs to transformative leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi; the former to — well, we’ve all seen examples of this kind of leadership lately.

If this seems idealistic, consider the status quo: students jockeying for leadership positions as résumé padders. “They all want to be president of 50 clubs,” a faculty adviser at a New Jersey school told me. “They don’t even know what they’re running for.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

What if we said to college applicants that the qualities we’re looking for are not leadership skills, but excellence, passion and a desire to contribute beyond the self? This framework would encompass exceptional team captains and class presidents. But it wouldn’t make leadership the be-all and end-all.

What if we said to our would-be leaders, “Take this role only if you care desperately about the issue at hand”?

And what if we were honest with ourselves about what we value? If we’re looking for the students and citizens most likely to attain wealth and power, let’s admit it. Then we can have a frank debate about whether that is a good idea.

But if instead we seek a society of caring, creative and committed people, and leaders who feel called to service rather than to stature, then we need to do a better job of making that clear."
susancain  leadership  leaders  sfsh  followers  community  courage  honesty  purpose  2017  colleges  universities  admissions  canon  small  slow  helenvendler  arts  art  artists  followership  soccer  football  us  values  credibility  military  authority  power  dominance  ivyleague  admission  capitalism  politics  elitism  adamgrant  introverts  extroverts  allsorts  attention  edg  srg  care  caring  maintenance  futbol  sports 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Stop Serving the Feedback Sandwich – Medium
"Problem 1: the positives fall on deaf ears. When people hear praise during a feedback conversation, they brace themselves. They’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it makes the opening compliment seem insincere. You didn’t really mean it; you were just trying to soften the blow.

Problem 2: if you avoid that risk and manage to be genuine about the positives, they can drown out the negatives. Research shows that primacy and recency effects are powerful: we often remember what happens first and last in a conversation, glossing over the middle. When you start and end with positive feedback, it’s all too easy for the criticism to get buried or discounted.

Giving a compliment sandwich might make the giver feel good, but it doesn’t help the receiver."
feedback  feedbacksandwich  damgrant  2016  trust  psychology  management  leadership  criticism  constructivecriticism  clarity  teaching  education  change 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Leopold Kohr - Breakdown of Nations
"As the physicists of our time have tried to elaborate an integrated single theory, capable of explaining not only some but all phenomena of the physical universe, so I have tried on a different plane to develop a single theory through which not only some but all phenomena of the social universe can be reduced to a common denominator. The result is a new and unified political philosophy centering on the theory of size. It suggests that there seems only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness...

There seems to be only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness. Oversimplified as this may seem, we shall find the idea more easily acceptable if we consider that bigness, or oversize, is really much more than just a social problem. It appears to be the one and only problem permeating all creation. Whenever something is wrong, something is too big.  And if the body of a people becomes diseased with the fever of aggression, brutality, collectivism, or massive idiocy, it is not because it has fallen victim to bad leadership or mental derangement. It is because human beings, so charming as individuals or in small aggregations have been welded onto overconcentrated social units. That is when they begin to slide into uncontrollable catastrophe. For social problems, to paraphrase the population doctrine of Thomas Malthus, have the unfortunate tendency to grow at a geometric ratio with the growth of the organism of which they are part, while the ability of man to cope with them, if it can be extended at all, grows only at an arithmetic ratio. Which means that, if a society grows beyond its optimum size, its problems must eventually outrun the growth of those human faculties which are necessary for dealing with them.

Hence it is always bigness, and only bigness, which is the problem of existence. The problem is not to grow but to stop growing; the answer: not union but division. 

"A small-state world would not only solve the problems of social brutality and war; it would solve the problems of oppression and tyranny. It would solve all problems arising from power.""
small  smallness  growth  bigness  leopoldkohr  division  union  breakdonofnations  thomsmalthus  society  leadership  power  aggression  brutality  collectivism  humanism  humanity  economics  bioregionalism 
december 2016 by robertogreco
In Praise Of Mess: Why Disorder May Be Good For Us : NPR
""Clean up this mess!"

This is a command you've probably given or received in your life. Perhaps in the last day, or even the last hour.

To many of us, the desire to bring order to chaos – to tidy up our kids' toys, organize an overstuffed closet, or rake the leaves covering the lawn – can be nearly irresistible. And it's a desire that extends to other aspects of our lives: Managers tell employees to get organized. Politicians are elected on promises to clean up Washington. And so on.

But economist and writer Tim Harford thinks we're underestimating the value of disorder. In this episode of Hidden Brain, we talk with Harford about his new book, Messy, and how an embrace of chaos is beneficial to musicians, speechmakers, politicians – and the rest of us."
messiness  chaos  timhartford  disorder  management  leadership  order  organization 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Download PDFs & Order Booklets of To Change Everything / CrimethInc. Ex-Workers' Collective
"The open secret is that we do all have complete self-determination: not because it’s given to us, but because
not even the most totalitarian dictatorship could take it away. Yet as soon as we begin to act for ourselves, we come into conflict with the very institutions that are supposed to secure our freedom.

Managers and tax collectors love to talk about personal responsibility. But if we took complete responsibility for all our actions, would we be following their instructions in the first place?

More harm has been done throughout history by obedience than by malice. The arsenals of all the world’s militaries are the physical manifestation of our willingness to defer to others. If you want to be sure you never contribute to war, genocide, or oppression, the first step is to stop following orders.

That goes for your values, too. Countless rulers and rulebooks demand your unquestioning submission. But even if you want to cede responsibility for your decisions to some god or dogma, how do you decide which one it will be? Like it or not, you are the one who has to choose between them. Usually, people simply make this choice according to what is most familiar or convenient.

We are inescapably responsible for our beliefs and decisions. Answering to ourselves rather than to commanders or commandments, we might still come into conflict with each other, but at least we would do so on our own terms, not needlessly heaping up tragedy in service of others’ agendas.

The workers who perform the labor have power; the bosses who tell them what to do have authority. The tenants who maintain the building have power; the landlord whose name is on the deed has authority. A river has power; a permit to build a dam grants authority.

There’s nothing oppressive about power per se. Many kinds of power can be liberating: the power to care for those you love, to defend yourself and resolve disputes, to perform acupuncture and steer a sailboat and swing on a trapeze. There are ways to develop your capabilities that increase others’ freedom as well. Every person who acts to achieve her full potential offers a gift to all.

Authority over others, on the other hand, usurps their power. And what you take from them, others will take from you. Authority is always derived from above:

The soldier obeys the general, who answers to the president,
who derives his authority from the Constitution—

The priest answers to the bishop, the bishop to the pope, the
pope to scripture, which derives its authority from God—

The employee answers to the owner, who serves the customer,
whose authority is derived from the dollar—

The police officer executes the warrant signed by the magistrate,
who derives authority from the law—

Manhood, whiteness, property—at the tops of all these pyramids, we don’t even find despots, just social constructs: ghosts hypnotizing humanity.

In this society, power and authority are so interlinked that we can barely distinguish them: we can only obtain power in return for obedience. And yet without freedom, power is worthless.

In contrast to authority, trust centers power in the hands of those who confer it, not those who receive it. A person who has earned trust doesn’t need authority. If someone doesn’t deserve trust, he certainly shouldn’t be invested with authority! And yet whom do we trust less than politicians and CEOs?

Without imposed power imbalances, people have an incentive to work out conflicts to their mutual satisfaction—to earn each other’s trust. Hierarchy removes this incentive, enabling those who hold authority to suppress conflicts.

At its best, friendship is a bond between equals who support and challenge each other while respecting each other’s autonomy. That’s a pretty good standard by which to evaluate all our relationships. Without the constraints that are imposed upon us today—citizenship and illegality, property and debt, corporate and military chains of command—we could reconstruct our relations on the basis of free association and mutual aid."
power  authority  anarchism  anarchy  society  mutualaid  hierarchy  imbalance  horizontality  crimethinc  humanism  manhood  whiteness  obedience  freedom  authoritarianism  relationships  trust  domination  self-determination  individualism  collectivism  community  revolt  revolution  liberty  liberation  borders  leaders  leadership  profit  property  ownership 
august 2016 by robertogreco
CM 048: Dacher Keltner on the Power Paradox
"Is there a secret to lasting power? Yes, and Dacher Keltner has been teaching leaders about it for decades. And the secret is not the ruthless, manipulative approach associated with 15th-century politician and writer Niccolo Machiavelli. It is actually the opposite.

As a University of California, Berkeley, Professor of Psychology, and Founder and Director of the Greater Good Science Center, Dacher Keltner shares research-based insights he has gained. And in his latest book, The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence, he discusses a new science of power and 20 guiding power principles.

In this interview, we talk about:

• How the legacy of Niccolo Machiavelli continues to inform power
• Why power is about so much more than dominance, manipulation, and ruthlessness
• Why we need to question a coercive model of power
• The short- versus long-term impact of different kinds of power
• Why power is about lifting others up
• Why lasting power is given, not grabbed
• The important role that reputation, gossip and esteem play in who gains power
• How, within days, group members already know who holds the power
• What makes for enduring power
• How our body language and words speak volumes about power
• Why Abraham Lincoln is a fascinating study of empathetic power
• The fact that great and powerful leaders are incredible storytellers
• How feeling powerful makes us less aware of risk
• How feeling powerful makes us less empathetic, attentive and responsive to others
• How feeling powerful actually overrides the part of our brain that signals empathy
• How drivers of more expensive cars (46 percent) tend to ignore pedestrians
• How powerful people often tell themselves stories to justify hierarchies
• The price we pay for powerlessness
• Concrete ways we can cultivate enduring, empathetic power
• Gender and power
• Why the key to parenting is to empower children to have a voice in the world

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned [all linked within]

Dacher Keltner
Greater Good Science Center
Frans de Waal
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Thomas Clarkson and the abolition movement
Why Civil Resistance Works by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan
House of Cards
The 100-Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott
What Works by Iris Bohnet
Arturo Behar and Facebook
Greater Good in Action
Science of Happiness course on edX"
dacherkeltner  power  hierarchy  machiavelli  influence  paradox  coercion  2016  thomasclarkson  abolition  slavery  history  greatergoodsciencecenter  resistance  ericchenoweth  mariastephan  houseofcards  andrewscott  lyndagratton  irisbohnet  arturobejar  fransdewaal  chimpanzees  primates  privilege  superiority  psychology  empathy  class  poverty  wealth  inequality  poor  happiness  humility  altruism  respect  sfsh  leadership  administration  parenting  friendship  dignity  workplace  horizontality  sharing  generosity  powerlessness  recognition  racism  gender  prestige  socialintelligence  empowerment 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Board of Supervisors : Youth Commission [City and County of San Francisco]
"The Youth Commission is a body of 17 youth from San Franciscan between the ages of 12 and 23. Created by the voters under a 1995 amendment to the City Charter, the commission is responsible for advising the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor on policies and laws related to young people. The Youth Commission is also charged with providing comment and recommendation on all proposed laws that would primarily affect youth before the Board takes final action.  You can read more about the Youth Commission here."
sanfrancisco  youth  edg  srg  sfsh  civics  leadership 
august 2016 by robertogreco
How a single conversation with my boss changed my view on delegation and failure — Medium
"“Listen, if there isn’t something going off the rails on your team, then I know you are micro-managing them. You are really good at what you do, and if you stay in the weeds on everything, you’ll keep things going perfectly, for a while. But eventually two things will happen. One, you will burn out. And two, you will eventually start to seriously piss off your team. So I better see some things going sideways, on a fairly regular basis.”

My head exploded. This was so counter to traditional management philosophy: keeping everything going smoothly and hold leadership accountable when things went awry. This philosophy is certainly better than blaming the team itself, but ultimately it makes leaders paranoid about failing, and that has enormous repercussions. It makes us more conservative in our decisions to avoid failure and embarrassment. It teaches us to cover up our mistakes instead of being open about and learning from them. And worst of all, it keeps us from delegating and growing our leadership bench.

As leaders, we must learn to hand off significant portions of our jobs in order to grow and scale our teams. Sometimes these hand-offs are necessarily to people who may not be quite ready for it. They have to learn a bunch of things that we already know how to do, and initially they will do it slower and less effectively. The short term thinker in us may want to stay involved in everything because it’s less risky. But in doing so, we may unintentionally rob high potential members of our teams of leadership opportunities. We have to give them the space to fail in the short term so they can succeed and grow in the long term. And of course, there is that magical moment when we delegate and allow an emerging leader to grow into their new responsibilities, and they end up being way better at it than we ever were. That’s real management success.

That single conversation with my boss has had a big effect on me. His management philosophy has created a safe space for our leadership team to share what’s not going well. As a result, we are less likely to judge each other for the things that go “off the rails” in our teams. It feels good to be in a place where I can talk about areas of concern without fear of being judged, and instead even be praised for it. And because we share our challenges openly with each other, we are much more able to collaborate in productive ways to help each other succeed."
management  leadership  administration  failure  2016  micromanagement  margaretgouldstewart 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Nerf guns, beds and beanbag areas: what makes a productive office? | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian
[via: https://workfutures.io/message-ansel-on-overwork-jenkin-on-the-workplace-cortese-on-stocksy-mohdin-on-project-3cb6502c79a8 ]

"Leaving aside debates about open plan offices, do we even need offices anymore? Advances in technology and remote working mean many staff can choose to work elsewhere.

For Chopovsky, this does not mean the end of the office. If staff can choose to work elsewhere, the office could become a place where workers can have important social encounters and build professional relationships rather than simply knuckle down and work. That means a combination of open plan offices and private rooms. He believes companies should facilitate that by creating areas where staff can come together either for informal chats or company-wide meetings.

This may already be happening in the UK. A survey of 1,100 British office workers, published in June, shows that most workplaces (70%) now also include a communal environment – break out spaces such as a shared kitchen or beanbag area – to work from or have meetings in, providing a space for more dynamic working. This is key to meeting workers’ needs, with almost a third (29%) deeming the ability to work from a variety of different locations in the office to be important, and almost half (48%) considering access to collaboration space with colleagues an imperative.

Better designed offices are not the end of the matter, however. John Ridd, councillor of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (CIEHF), says that while getting the design of the office right for your business and worker needs, it cannot be used as a panacea for improving employee wellbeing.

“To me the major thing is looking at the design of a person’s job in terms of workload and responsibilities. That is going to be far more important in terms of increasing productivity and indeed the wellbeing of the individual – because it is the happy worker who works more efficiently.”"
offices  officedesign  openoffices  2016  work  labor  health  well-being  culture  management  leadership  administration 
july 2016 by robertogreco
After years of intensive analysis, Google discovers the key to good teamwork is being nice — Quartz
[via: https://workfutures.io/message-ansel-on-overwork-jenkin-on-the-workplace-cortese-on-stocksy-mohdin-on-project-3cb6502c79a8 ]

"Google’s data-driven approach ended up highlighting what leaders in the business world have known for a while; the best teams respect one another’s emotions and are mindful that all members should contribute to the conversation equally. It has less to do with who is in a team, and more with how a team’s members interact with one another.

The findings echo Stephen Covey’s influential 1989 book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Members of productive teams take the effort to understand each other, find a way to relate to each other, and then try to make themselves understood."
2016  google  work  niceness  kindness  labor  teams  howwework  commonsense  understanding  administration  leadership  management  sfsh  conversation  productivity  projectaristotle 
july 2016 by robertogreco
How the ‘first-in-last-out’ ethic is creating a culture of overwork | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian
[via: https://workfutures.io/message-ansel-on-overwork-jenkin-on-the-workplace-cortese-on-stocksy-mohdin-on-project-3cb6502c79a8 ]

"There is no doubt that working long hours in short sprints is sometimes necessary. But years of research shows that consistently logging too much at the office harms both productivity and the quality of one’s work. For certain jobs, such as those in the medical or industrial fields, overwork raises the prevalence of accidents and mistakes that can be costly and dangerous. This was a major reason Henry Ford cut the workweek to 40 hours back in 1914, and saw profits and productivity soar.

Office staff that are overworked spend time doing increasingly meaningless tasks and tend to get lost in the weeds, eventually becoming unproductive. Stanford University economist John Pencavel found that a worker’s output drops sharply if he or she works too much. In one study, employees who put in more than 70 hours of work a week accomplished little more than those who worked 56 hours on a consistent weekly basis. In other words, those extra 14 hours were a complete waste of time.

If we know the consequences of overwork, why do businesses think it’s a good strategy? Employers face fixed costs per employee, which means that inducing one employee to put in long hours, even if they are less productive, may be cheaper than hiring a second employee to split the work.

Rising inequality is another factor in this equation. As businesses have downsized their labor force over the past several decades, a trend exacerbated by the recession of 2008, spending extra time at the office felt like a small price to pay for those who remained. Research shows that overwork is especially prevalent within many occupations that have the biggest gap between their highest and lowest-paid workers, including business and finance, the legal profession, and computer and mathematical science. And while some of these workers are well compensated, there are many more that are putting in an increasing number of hours without seeing any increase in pay."

As a greater number of people began putting in longer hours, overwork became embedded in certain workplaces and organizational cultures. And, while the advent of technology allowed more flexible schedules for many workers, it also blurred the boundaries between work and home. Because evaluating the productivity of creative or knowledge workers is difficult, many managers consciously or subconsciously use long work hours and face time at the office as an evaluation metric rather than more concrete deliverables. A study of one firm by Boston University’s Erin Reid found that managers couldn’t tell the difference between their workers who were working 80-hour weeks, and those who just pretended to work 80 hours (while actually working much less). Both groups did well in their performance reviews. In contrast, those employees who were transparent in their need to work fewer hours were marginalized and received lower performance reviews regardless of what they accomplished.

That’s why we need a cultural shift. The Obama Administration’s decision to raise the overtime income threshold gives some hope that things will change for certain workers. But policy reforms can only go so far. It’s hard to contemplate that any worker will suddenly cite “productivity” and leave the office before their colleagues do without the explicit approval of their boss. Businesses, then, must lead the way, and there are a number of companies that are doing so.

Menlo Innovations in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for example, locks the doors at 6pm and bans employees from working from home because, as CEO Rich Sheridan says, “tired programmers start putting in lots of bugs”. Similarly, Leslie Perlow of Harvard Business School did an experiment with the Boston Consulting Group and found that mandating predictable, required time off resulted in higher employee satisfaction and retention. For these kinds of shorter work hours to be successful, of course, businesses must change the way they evaluate performance and focus on results and not hours.

It’s important that these companies do not apply these policies on a case-by-case basis, which often backfire for those who take advantage of them, primarily women. That is because those who receive this “special treatment” are often resented by colleagues, or seen as less competent. Businesses who truly want to combat overwork, therefore, must implement and enforce policies that apply to everyone.

That begins with ditching the hours-as-productivity model. Managers should instead focus on what is actually being produced rather than how long somebody stayed at work, at least for professional workers. That also means helping employees set realistic deadlines, and then getting out of the way. Giving workers more autonomy over their work results in greater efficiency, and results in more engaged, happier workers as well.

Managers must set an example and protect non-work time by limiting their own after-hours communication, and mandating more regular work hours and vacations. They should also clearly define this non-work time, and not leave it to their employees to set boundaries. In fact, telling employees to take as much time as they need may actually result in people taking less time off, as they tend to fall back on the expectation that “good” employees are the ones that work the hardest.

With all due respect to Mr Bloomberg, most of us have responsibilities outside of work that make it impossible to fulfill this “first-in-last-out” mindset. And even if we could, it’s clear that doing so not only wastes our time but also the time and money of our employers."
work  productivity  bridgetansel  workism  workaholism  henryford  history  economics  johnpencavel  overwork  labor  culture  social  leadership  management  administration 
july 2016 by robertogreco
We need to stop treating nonprofits the way society treats poor people | Nonprofit With Balls
[via: https://twitter.com/tiffani/status/755092034243928064

"This is a good list of reasons (except in one instance) I've basically stayed away from foundations in fundraising for The @HumanUtility. Not to mention too many foundations are slow, conservative, + not interested in funding things that stray too far from stquo. And when you're a new organization w/ a very small staff, still trying to streamline operations, small, yet restricted grants are dangerous. I read an essay a few weeks ago about a large foundation that basically ran a startup into the ground w/program requirements. The foundation's program officers didn't seem the least bit contrite. It was weird. One literally said they didn't regret what they did smh. Of course, it was also on the startup's leadership to have planned to not have the foundation's funds become a distraction, but still. They who have the gold make the rules, but you have to be wary of processes that excessively distract you from the work to get the gold. I sat with someone for 30mins once + landed a gift of $25K. Then I got back in the car and went back to work. Now, that was from a (very) warm intro, but they didn't want letters of inquiry or 30-pg proposals. OTOH, a foundation I talked to in Maryland was interested in our work, but wanted a letter of inquiry just for permission to ask for $25K."]

"Many leaders, from both nonprofit as well as foundations, have been speaking up against restricted funding for years now—here’s a compelling piece by Paul Shoemaker [https://philanthropynw.org/news/reconstructing-philanthropy-outside ]—and I’m glad to see that it is starting to make some progress. But it is still slow, and it makes me wonder why this is. Why is general operating so difficult for many to accept? Why is it OK for us to be OK with the fact that millions of hours each year are wasted by nonprofits trying to comply with some funders’ unrealistic, and frankly, destructive [http://nonprofitwithballs.com/2016/02/the-myth-of-double-dipping-and-the-destructiveness-of-restricted-funding/ ] requirements?

I think the answer may be that there is a strong parallel between how we treat nonprofits, and how society treats low-income people. I don’t think it is intentional. Like implicit racial or gender biases, most people are not even aware that it’s affecting their behaviors. But it’s important for us to examine these parallels, so we can better understand and change them:

The teach-a-man-to-fish paternalism. This philosophy, so ingrained in our culture, is patronizing and often ineffective, sometimes harmful. It assumes one person is a fount of knowledge while the other is an ignorant, empty vessel to be filled with wisdom. It ignores systems and environmental variables. We can teach someone to fish, but if they have no transportation to get to the pond, or if the pond is polluted, or if better-equipped corporations have been destroying aquaculture through over-fishing, then they’re still screwed while we feel good about ourselves. We see the same dynamics in funding via this belief that nonprofits can be self-sustaining if we just teach them to earn their revenues instead of constantly asking for free fish in the form of grants and donations.

The Bootstrap Mentality: This belief that people should pull themselves up by their bootstraps has been plaguing our low-income families for decades. It manifests in individuals who have found success to think they actually did it all on their own, blaming poor people for their situations, never mind again the privilege and system issues. In the nonprofit sector, it is seen in people from for-profits having an inflated sense of superiority, thinking “If my for-profit was successful in generating revenues, why can’t these lazy nonprofits also pull themselves up by their bootstraps?” Never mind the fact that over half of for-profits fail and that nonprofits and for-profits are completely different from each other.

The assumption of inability for future planning. There is an assumption that poor people don’t know how to plan for their future. If they do, why are they so poor then? Obviously they suck at planning ahead. The same assumption plays out in our sector. There is a belief among many people that if we give nonprofits too much money, they won’t know what to do with it. A program officer once told me, “I don’t want to give multi-year funding, because I think that will stop nonprofits from being innovative.” Because nothing encourages innovation better than regular bouts of night-terror-inducing, morale-sinking cash-flow emergencies.

The lack of trust in people’s ability to manage money: Society thinks poor people don’t know how to spend the money we give them. That’s why we have to monitor how they do it. Let’s restrict their ability to spend their food stamps on junk food; left to their own devices, they’ll probably just guzzle beer while feeding their kids tons of Hot Cheetos. Same with nonprofits. We need to monitor every penny they spend; otherwise, they’d probably waste money on fancy chairs and blinged-out business cards. And if we can’t protect these irresponsible organizations from themselves, then at least let’s make sure our own money is not being used to fund these things.

The No-Free-Lunch: There have been idiotic proposals by clueless politicians designed to punish the poor for violating whatever ridiculous expectations are set out for them. Like taking away food stamps if their kids don’t get good enough grades or if they’re not volunteering or seeking out employment, despite the fact that there are only so many volunteer and paid positions to go around. In our sector, our funding gets threatened if we don’t comply with various requirements, such as working toward “sustainability.” A colleague mentioned a grant that won’t pay for staff wages and other indirect expenses, and applicants have to demonstrate that they will be completely self-sustaining within a year. That gave us all a good chuckle.

The punishment of success. Ironically, while we expect poor people to work and save up money so they can stop being dependent, we punish them when they succeed at that, removing their benefits if they earn close to an amount where they may actually be able to no longer need the benefits. It’s weirdly paradoxical, demotivating, and insulting. In nonprofits, many funders expect sustainability and yet punish nonprofits for having a strong reserve, which is probably the most important factor for sustainability. You need to be sustainable, but if you are too successful at that, we’re not funding you, or we take away the money we gave you. I remember frantically trying to spend some left-over money because it otherwise would have had to be returned, per the requirement of this funder, even though the reason we had leftover was because we were spending it wisely; that money we saved would have greatly helped our programs if we had been allowed to put it into reserve.

The avoidance of eye contact. Poor people make the general public sad. That’s why most people avoid eye contact with individuals experiencing homelessness. And in our sector, it leads to some donors and foundations to avoid nonprofits, creating barriers in the form of “safe space” that prevent those doing the work from communicating and collaborating with those funding the work.

The expectation of gratitude: Every single time I bring up some sort of feedback regarding ineffective, time-wasting funding practices in our sector—such as requiring board chair signatures on grant applications (Why? Whyyyyy?!)—inevitably some people will counter with things like, “So people are giving you their hard-earned money, and you’re whining? You should just be grateful and comply.” It’s the same as poor people being expected to just be happy and appreciative of whatever scraps they manage to get."



"So many funding and accounting practices are anchored in a severe and pervasive distrust of nonprofits, the same distrust we heap on individuals with low-income. It goes without saying that these myths and philosophies are destructive, toward both our low-income community members and toward nonprofits. We must begin with trust as the default, or our community loses. If we are going to effectively address society’s numerous, complex problems—and recent tragedies and violence nationally and internationally highlight just how complex and serious things are—the way we currently view nonprofits must change. The relationships between funders, donors, nonprofits, for-profits, media, and government must change. We must see each other as equal partners with different but complementary roles to play. We must understand where philosophically our requirements come from and how they are affecting our partners, how it helps or hampers their work. We must be able to provide each other honest feedback and push one another to do better for our community. "
nonprofit  nonprofits  2016  funding  foundations  paulshoemaker  fundraising  restrictedfunding  sustainability  grantwriting  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  money  power  control  gratitude  trust  management  administration  leadership  planning  capitalism 
july 2016 by robertogreco
A theory of nonscalability | A Working Library
"Tsing on scalability:
Progress itself has often been defined by its ability to make projects expand without changing their framing assumptions. This quality is “scalability.” The term is a bit confusing, because it could be interpreted to mean “able to be discussed in terms of scale.” Both scalable and nonscalable projects, however, can be discussed in relation to scale. When Ferdand Braudel explained history’s “long durée” or Niels Bohr showed us the quantum atom, these were not projects of scalability, although they each revolutionized thinking about scale. Scalability, in contrast, is the ability of a project to change scales smoothly without any change in project frames. A scalable business, for example, does not change its organization as it expands. This is possible only if business relations are not transformative, changing the business as new relations are added. Similarly, a scalable research project admits only data that already fit the research frame. Scalability requires that project elements be oblivious to indeterminacies of encounter; that’s how they allow smooth expansion. Thus, too, scalability banishes meaningful diversity, that is, diversity that might change things.

(Emphasis mine.) I think about scalability and diversity in my work-life quite a bit: the tech and media industries have explicitly acknowledged the need for diversity (while so far only making token steps towards achieving it). But there’s often a notion that diversifying an organization will not require changes to that organization’s culture: the concept of “culture fit” presumes someone can neatly fit into the existing culture, as opposed to challenging it or expanding it—or even razing it. That tech (and, increasingly, media—and oh, that boundary is nothing if not fluid) also speaks of scalability in religious terms puts Tsing’s contention here in an even more interesting light. Scalability is expressed not only in the external artifacts of an organization—the software, the servers, the business model—but also the people who work for it and the people who interact with it as customers, clients, and, increasingly, inconstant laborers. That latter category—the Uber drivers, TaskRabbits, and Postmates—seems especially relevant to notions of scalability. Uber can scale, but the single parent who works as a driver and can’t predict what they’ll make from week to week cannot.

Tsing continues:
Scalability is not an ordinary feature of nature. Making projects scalable takes a lot of work. Even after that work, there will still be interactions between scalable and nonscalable project elements. Yet, despite the contributions of thinkers like Braudel and Bohr, the connection between scaling up and the advancement of humanity has been so strong that scalable elements receive the lion’s share of attention. The nonscalable becomes an impediment. It’s time to turn attention to the nonscalable, not only as objects for description but also as incitements to theory.

A theory of nonscalability might begin in the work it takes to create scalability—and the messes it makes. One vantage point might be that early and influential icon for this work: the European colonial plantation. In their sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sugarcane plantations in Brazil, for example, Portuguese planters stumbled on a formula for smooth expansion. They crafted self-contained, interchangeable project elements, as follows: exterminate local people and plants; prepare now-empty, unclaimed land; and bring in exotic and isolated labor and crops for production. This landscape model of scalability became an inspiration for later industrialization and modernization.

There’s the savage bit again: scalability often swamps all other considerations. If you define scalability as the solitary success metric, then you are bound to ignore—or violently overcome—all other measures. So another place to begin to build a theory of nonscalability might be to ask by what other metrics we should measure progress. Scalability cannot be our only aim."
mandybrown  leadership  management  scalability  hiring  scale  2016  annalowenhaupttsing  nonscalability  diversity  small  business  annatsing 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Processing — Race Condition — Medium
"I am sitting in the Library at Slack.

I plan to leave work today at 3pm because that’s when someone has the Library booked and I can’t be at work today unless I am in the Library.

The Library is my shelter and solace from the smiling, happy, faces of my coworkers. The Library protects me from their good cheer and protects them from the stew of negative emotions currently on a low boil inside me. The Library prevents them from stoking the flame.

Last night I learned that yet another black man was murdered by a police officer. There was video. I was unable to watch the video. I tried, but immediately broke down in tears when the police pinned Alton Sterling to the ground. I gathered bits and pieces from the endless tweets about it, from people close to me who had watched it, from the video of the store owner, Alton Sterling’s friend, who talked about it.

Alton Sterling was selling CD’s in front of his friend’s store. Somebody called the police. The police tackled him to the ground, held him there restrained, and then shot him point blank. They did not immediately call for medical assistance. Two 28 year old men, hiding behind the badges given to them by the city of Baton Rouge and the power given to them by the system that says white is right, murdered a black man, a husband, a father.

***

This morning on my way to work, I scrolled through Twitter while riding BART to work. I encountered a video of a press conference of Alton Sterling’s family. His 15 year old son was visibly and vocally destroyed. His father, doing nothing wrong, was suddenly ripped away from him. This young black man, who lives in this society where young black men are conditioned to be “hard” and “tough”, could not help but to bawl at the loss of his father. My heart broke. I closed the video and looked up at the ceiling in an attempt to hold my tears back.

I got to work and made a beeline for the Library. Headphones on, so I could pretend not to hear the cheerful greetings. Head down, so I would not make eye contact. I did not want to invite a discussion that would almost certainly include the sort of banter wherein I would be expected to be pleasant and smiling and say “Fine, how are you,” in response to a query about how I’m doing. In therapy I learned that I shouldn’t lie to people about how I’m feeling to protect them, but sometimes, I don’t want to deal with the emotional weight of having to explain my feelings to someone who couldn’t possibly understand them, no matter how hard they tried. This morning was one of those times.

***

Though many black folks joke about it, there is no such thing as “calling in black.” To call in black would be a radical act of self care, were it available to most black people. On the day after we have watched yet another black body be destroyed by modern day slave patrols, it would be helpful for us to be able to take a day away to process. To grieve. To hurt. To be angry. To try to once again come to grips with the fact that many people in this country, especially those in power, consider us disposable at best.

It would be equally helpful to be shielded from the smiling, happy, faces of those oblivious of what it is like to watch someone who could easily be your brother, cousin, auntie, or nephew be murdered in cold blood. To not have to force a smile when a coworker greets you with anything but grim remorse. To not have to think about the what it must be like to be so shielded, so protected, so blissfully unaware that you are able to utter the words “good morning” when the morning is anything but. To avoid the inevitable “Oh, I hadn’t heard,” belying that person’s “commitment to inclusion,” as to include me is to know that my people continue to be systemically marginalized and brutalized, to include me is to go out of your way to make yourself aware, to include me is to speak up about it. And today I don’t want to be reminded that I’m not really included.

But because most of us work in companies largely helmed by non-black people, there is nobody in a position of power who would even understand the need to “call in black” and so it does not exist, at least in my workplace.

And so I sit at work, in this Library, in my shelter, with my headphones on, as removed from anyone else as I can possibly be, while I process, and grieve.
Rest in Power Alton Sterling. You, like all those before you, did not deserve to be added to the list of hashtags.

***

Update: Yesterday after I published this, Stewart reached out to me to say this: “You, or anyone else, can call in Black any day.” Not 3 hours after that, I learned of yet another brutal and senseless shooting of a Black man by a police officer. I did not watch that video either. I cannot. I cannot continue to watch Black people die at the hands of police. And like yesterday, I am grieving, hurting, mourning, aching, worrying, angry, and scared. Unlike yesterday, I will do this in a safe space. Today I am calling in Black.

Today I will give myself the space to grieve for Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and every other Black person that has been executed and all those that will be executed by the police, until we finally say enough is enough and put an end to the terrorism that we call modern day policing. There has to be a better way. This way that criminalizes blackness is destroying families, communities, and cultures. So while I encourage Black folks to call in Black today, I am encouraging everyone else, especially White folks, to stop shaking your heads, and moaning about the tragedies. I am specifically asking you, White people, to police your police.

I am encouraging you to speak up, to rise up, to ask questions, to shine the same spotlight on your local police department that is shining on Baltimore, Ferguson, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Oakland. I am encouraging you to educate and inform yourselves about the police force in your area. How frequently do they pull over and arrest black people? How often are officers put on leave with pay for excessive force? How many people have they killed? What are they saying on social media? Dig. Look into every record, into every background. Leave no stone unturned. I don’t want your thoughts and prayers. Your thoughts and prayers are clearly not helping. I want you to do something that will prevent another Black person from being summarily executed for merely existing."
ericajoy  self-care  2016  blacklivesmatter  policbrutality  altonsterling  philandocastile  racism  trauma  stewartbutterfield  slack  work  leadership  administration  callinginblack  mourning  safety 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Intensification without representation – a recipe for collapse | Lebenskünstler
"Inspired by M. Jahi Chappell (title above), Ivan Illich (relationship of energy consumption, social/economic inequality, and specialization) and Joseph Tainter (quote below). Needless to say the arts are subject to the same law of declining marginal returns. Also note that there is immense energy consumption involved in administrators maintaining the social coercion necessary for institutional buy in from the administered."
randallszott  participatorydemocracy  democracy  infrastructure  specialization  technocracy  technology  inequality  community  representation  hierarchy  horizontality  mjahichappell  ivanillich  josephtainter  energy  energyconsumption  socialcoercion  coercion  administration  management  leadership 
june 2016 by robertogreco
A Manager’s FAQ — The Startup — Medium
"How do I get employees to perform better? Tell them what they are doing well.

How do I give negative feedback? By being curious.

How do I decide what to delegate? Delegate the work you want to do.

How should I prioritize? Fix problems. Then prevent problems.

How should I grade employees? Don’t. Teach them to self-evaluate.

When do I fire somebody? When you know they can’t succeed.

How do I fire somebody? By apologizing for our failures.

Why can’t I just tell people what to do? Because the more responsibility you have, the less authority you have.

How do I know if I am a good manager? Employees ask you for advice.

How do I know if I have good management team? Shit rolls uphill.

***

[Each point elaborated upon like…]

How do I get employees to perform better?
Tell them what they are doing well.

Most managers attempt to minimize an employee’s bad work instead of maximizing their good work. When 98% of an employee’s work is great and 2% is not, managers give feedback on the 2%.

We do this because schools taught us to. Tests started with a maximum score of 100 and points were deducted for every wrong answer. If tests started at zero and awarded points for every correct answer, we would be encouraged to continue doing better. Instead, we learn to fear mistakes and point them out in others.

Startups start at zero and earn points along the way. We expand our strengths instead of minimize our weaknesses. There is no maximum score. Steady progress, not expected outcome, is the measuring stick.

Treat employees similarly. An employee has a finite amount of time. Doing more good work leaves less time for bad work. Double-down on what your employees do well.
It also creates a positive feedback loop. Reinforcing great work encourages more great work, which creates more reinforcement. When you try to correct bad work, the best you can hope for is to stop giving feedback.

Maximizing good work instead of minimizing bad work requires patience and confidence. Fight the urge to tell people to “do better.” Instead, tell employees when they do something well. It takes conscious effort to find these opportunities but with practice it becomes habit. And your people will be more effective for it.

[and…]

How do I decide what to delegate?
Delegate the work you want to do.

When I ask this question most managers respond with, “I delegated the call to Mary because she needs to learn how to handle an angry customer” or, “I delegated the report to John because he’s good at writing.”

It is funny how managers rationalize giving employees shitty work as a benefit to them. Mary’s manager delegated the call because he didn’t want to deal with the angry customer. John’s manager delegated the report because she didn’t want to write it.

Many managers treat their position as a privilege and delegating shitty work is one of the perks. They are lousy managers.

I can give you a simple rule to decide what to delegate. Delegate the work you want to do. There are reasons to do this:

1. Employees will love working for you. The work you want to do is probably the work they want to do, and they will be happy employees because of it.

2. You will train future leaders. They will see you doing the hard, miserable work that nobody wants to do. One day they will want to do it too. Not because they enjoy the work, but because they see you doing it as their leader, and they want to be leaders too.

3. You will grow. Most people want to do the work they are good at. If you delegate the work you are good at, the remainder will mostly be work you are bad at. You will struggle, suffer, and learn. That is where growth comes from.

To extend the eShares 101 sports analogy, hockey coaches talk about “skating to the hard parts of the ice.” This is the ice in front of the goal where defenders punish players. But this is where goals are scored, and those who suffer most score most. The best managers are always found on the hard parts of the ice.

[…and…]

How should I grade employees?
Don’t. Teach them to self-evaluate.

Employees often ask, “How am I doing?” I respond with, “How do you think you are doing?” Self-evaluation is the most important skill you can teach an employee. I am happy to offer my perspective, but only as feedback on theirs. They can evaluate themselves every day, minute, and second. I am lucky if I see their work once a week.

This may seem strange after years of receiving report cards and employee performance reviews. Companies (and schools) have convinced us we should be graded. It benefits the institution to do so. They can sort, rank, and filter employees. They can use it to decide who to fire and keep. They can set compensation against it. It is easer to manage employees as a distribution of scores rather than as unique individuals.

But employees gain nothing from it. It is selfish for us to reduce employees to a letter grade. Instead, we should become experts on our people’s strengths and weaknesses and help them become experts too.

We ask employees to have a ten-year career at eShares. If the only evaluation they come away with is a letter grade or employee rank, we have failed them as managers. They deserve more and the most valuable skill we can teach them is self-evaluation. They will carry that for the rest of their careers."
management  leadership  administration  howto  motivation  via:ableparris  tests  testing  grades  grading  howweteach  howwelearn  henryward  power  authority  evaluation  assessment 
june 2016 by robertogreco
From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy [.pdf]
Gustavo Esteva
Madhu S. Prakash
Dana L. Stuchul

"At the end of his life, Freire wrote a short book, Pedagogía de la autonomía. (Freire, 1997) In it, he offers a meditation on his life and work, while returning to his most important themes. Freire reminds us that his education, his pedagogy, is pointedly and purposively ideological and interventionist. It requires mediators. Here again, it addresses those mediators: a final call to involve them in the crusade.
The leitmotiv of the book, the thread woven through every page as it occurred everyday in the life of Freire, is the affirmation of the universal ethic of the human being --- universal love as an ontological vocation. He recognizes its historical character. And he reminds us that it is not any ethic: it is the ethic of human solidarity. (Freire, 1996, p.124) Freire promotes a policy of human development, privileging men and humans, rather than profit. (Freire, 1996, p.125) He proclaims solidarity as a historical commitment of men and women, as one of the forms of struggle capable of promoting and instilling the universal ethic of the human being. (Freire, 1997, p.13)

Similar to liberation theology (an option for the poor) courageously adopted by an important sector of the Catholic Church in Latin America, Freire finds a foundation and a destiny for his theory and practice in the ideal of solidarity. Solidarity expresses an historical commitment based on a universal ethics. Solidarity legitimizes intervention in the lives of others in order to conscienticize them. Derived from charity, caritas, the Greek and Latin word for love, and motivated by care, by benevolence, by love for the other, conscientization becomes a universal, ethical imperative.

Certainly, Freire was fully aware of the nature of modern aid; of what he called false generosity. He identified clearly the disabling and damaging impact of all kinds of such aid. Yet, for all of his clarity and awareness, he is unable to focus his critique on service: particularly that service provided by service professionals. Freire's specific blindness is an inability to identify the false premises and dubious interventions --- in the name of care --- of one specific class of service professionals: educators.

In its modern institutional form, qua service, care is the mask of love. This mask is not a false face. The modernized service-provider believes in his care and love, perhaps more than even the serviced. The mask is the face. (McKnight, 1977, p.73) Yet, the mask of care and love obscure the economic nature of service, the economic interests behind it. Even worse, this mask hides the disabling nature of service professions, like education.

All of the caring, disabling professions are based on the assumption or presupposition of a lack, a deficiency, a need, that the professional service can best satisfy. The very modern creation of the needy man, a product of economic society, of capitalism, and the very mechanism through which needs are systematically produced in the economic society, are hidden behind the idea of service. Once the need is identified, the necessity of service becomes evident. It is a mechanism analogous to the one used by an expert to transmogrify a situation into a "problem" whose solution --- usually including his own services --- he proposes.

In this way, Freire constructed the human need for the conscience he conceived. In attributing such need to his oppressed, he also constructed the process to satisfy it: conscientization. Thus, the process reifies the need and the outcome: only conscientization can address the need for an improved conscience and consciousness and only education can deliver conscientization. This educational servicing of the oppressed, however, is masked: as care, love, vocation, historical commitment, as an expression of Freire's universal ethic of solidarity. Freire's blindness is his inability to perceive the disabling effect of his various activities or strategies of conscientization. He seems unaware that the business of modern society is service and that social service in modern society is business. (McKnight, 1997, p.69) Today, economic powers like the USA pride themselves in being post-industrial: that is, the replacement of smoke stacks and sweatshops moved to the South, with an economy retooled for global supremacy in providing service. With ever increasing needs, satisfaction of these needs requires more service resulting in unlimited economic growth.

Freire was also unaware that solidarity, both the word and the idea, are today the new mask of aid and development, of care and love. For example, in the 1990s, the neoliberal government of Mexican president Carlos Salinas used a good portion of the funds obtained through privatization to implement the Programa Nacional de Solidaridad. The program was celebrated by the World Bank as the best social program in the world. It is now well documented that, like all other wars against poverty, it was basically a war waged against the poor, widening and deepening the condition it was supposed to cure, a condition that, in the first place, was aggravated by the policies associated with the neoliberal credo.

Freire could not perceive the corruption of love through caring, through service. Furthermore, he was unable to perceive that the very foundation of his own notion of universal, globalized love, God's love for his children through Christ, is also a corruption of Christianity. (Cayley, 2000)

Freire was particularly unable to perceive the impact of the corruption which occurs when the oppressed are transformed into the objects of service: as clients, beneficiaries, and customers. Having created a radical separation between his oppressed and their educators, Freire was unsuccessful in bringing them together, despite all his attempts to do so through his dialogue, his deep literacy --- key words for empowerment and participation. All these pedagogical and curricular tools of education prove themselves repeatedly to be counterproductive: they produce the opposite of what they pretend to create. Instead of liberation, they add to the lives of oppressed clients, more chains and more dependency on the pedagogy and curricula of the mediator.iii.

During the last several centuries, all kinds of agents have pretended to "liberate" pagans, savages, natives, the oppressed, the under-developed, the uneducated, under-educated, and the illiterate in the name of the Cross, civilization (i.e. Westernization), capitalism or socialism, human rights, democracy, a universal ethic, progress or any other banner of development. Every time the mediator conceptualizes the category or class of the oppressed in his/her own terms, with his/her own ideology, he is morally obligated to evangelize: to promote among them, for their own good, the kind of transformation he or she defines as liberation. Yet, a specific blindness seems to be the common denominator among these mediators: an awareness of their own oppression. In assuming that they have succeeded in reaching an advanced level or stage of awareness, conscience, or even liberation (at least in theory, in imagination, in dreams), and in assuming, even more, that what their oppressed lack is this specific notion or stage, they assume and legitimate their own role as liberators. Herein, they betray their intentions.

In response to colonization, Yvonne Dion-Buffalo and John Mohawk recently suggested that colonized peoples have three choices: 1) to become good subjects, accepting the premises of the modern West without much question, 2) to become bad subjects, always resisting the parameters of the colonizing world, or 3) to become non-subjects, acting and thinking in ways far removed from those of the modern West. (Quoted in Esteva and Prakash, 1998, p.45)"



"In his denunciation of the discrimination suffered by the illiterate, Freire does not see, smell, imagine or perceive the differential reality of the oral world. While aspiring to eliminate all these forms of discrimination from the planet, he takes for granted, without more critical consideration, that reading and writing are fundamental basic needs for all humans. And, he embraces the implications of such assumptions: that the illiterate person is not a full human being.

Freire's pedagogic method requires that literacy should be rooted in the socio- political context of the illiterate. He is convinced that in and through such a process, they would acquire a critical judgement about the society in which they suffer oppression. But he does not take into account any critical consideration of the oppressive and alienating character implicit in the tool itself, the alphabet. He can not bring his reflection and practice to the point in which it is possible, like with many other modern tools, to establish clear limits to the alphabet in order to create the conditions for the oppressed to critically use the alphabet instead of being used by it."



"IV. Resisting Love: The Case Against Education

Freire's central presupposition: that education is a universal good, part and parcel of the human condition, was never questioned, in spite of the fact that he was personally exposed, for a long time, to an alternative view. This seems to us at least strange, if not abhorrent.
Freire was explicitly interested in the oppressed. His entire life and work were presented as a vocation committed to assuming their view, their interests. Yet, he ignored the plain fact that for the oppressed, the social majorities of the world, education has become one of the most humiliating and disabling components of their oppression: perhaps, even the very worst.



"For clarifying the issues of this essay, we chose to reflect on the life, the work, and the teachings of Gandhi, Subcommandante Marcos and Wendell Berry. Purposely, we juxtapose them to exacerbate their radical and dramatic differences. Is it absurd to even place them under the umbrella of public and private virtues we dwell on as we … [more]
gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  liberation  pedagogy  pedagogyoftheoppressed  wendellberry  solidarity  care  love  caring  carlossalinas  neoliberalism  teaching  howweteach  education  conscientization  liberationtheology  charity  service  servicelearning  economics  oppression  capitalism  mediators  leadership  evangelization  yvonnedion-buffalo  johnmohawk  legibility  decolonization  colonialism  karlmarx  ivanillich  technology  literacy  illegibility  bankingeducation  oraltradition  plato  text  writing  memory  communication  justice  modernism  class  inequality  humility  zapatistas  comandantemarcos  parochialism  globalphilia  resistance  canon  gandhi  grassroots  hope  individuality  newness  sophistication  specialization  professionalization  dislocation  evolution  careerism  alienation  self-knowledge  schooling  schools  progress  power  victimization  slow  small 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Databite No. 76: Neil Selwyn - live stream - YouTube
"Neil Selwyn presents (Dis)Connected Learning: the messy realities of digital schooling: In this Databite, Neil Selwyn will work through some emerging headline findings from a new three year study of digital technology use in Australian high schools. In particular Neil will highlight the ways in which schools’ actual uses of technology often contradict presumptions of ‘connected learning’, ‘digital education’ and the like. Instead Neil will consider ….

• how and why recent innovations such as maker culture, personalised learning and data-driven education are subsumed within more restrictive institutional ‘logics’;

• the tensions of ‘bring your own device’ and other permissive digital learning practices • how alternative and resistant forms of technology use by students tend to mitigate *against* educational engagement and/or learning gains;

• the ways in which digital technologies enhance (rather than disrupt) existing forms of advantage and privilege amongst groups of students;

• how the distributed nature of technology leadership and innovation throughout schools tends to restrict widespread institutional change and reform;

• the ambiguous role that digital technologies play in teachers’ work and the labor of teaching;

• the often surprising ways that technology seems to take hold throughout schools – echoing broader imperatives of accountability, surveillance and control.

The talk will provide plenty of scope to consider how technology use in schools might be ‘otherwise’, and alternate agendas to be pursued by educators, policymakers, technology developers and other stakeholders in the ed-tech space."

[via: "V interesting talk by Neil Selwyn on ed-tech and (dis)connected learning in school"
https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/718900001271783424 ]

"the grammar of schooling"
neilselwyn  edtech  byod  via:audreywatters  logitics  technology  teaching  learning  howweteacher  power  mobile  phones  ipads  laptops  pedagogy  instruction  resistance  compliance  firewalls  making  makingdo  youth  schools  design  micromanagement  lms  application  sameoldsameold  efficiency  data  privacy  education  howweteach  regimentation  regulation  rules  flexibility  shininess  time  schooliness  assessment  engagement  evidence  resilience  knowledge  schedules  class  leadership  performativity  schooldesign  connectedlearning  surveillance  control  accountability  change  institutions  deschooling  quest2play  relationships  curriculum  monitoring  liberation  dml  liberatorytechnology  society  culture  ethnography  schooling  sorting  discipline  ipad 
april 2016 by robertogreco
The Bad Habits You Learn in School
"There is an ongoing debate about whether leadership can be taught, and whether business schools, in particular, are teaching it. There are fair arguments on both sides, but I would broaden the discussion. Our entire education system, from elementary school to graduate school, is poorly constructed to teach young people leadership. Schools do many things well, but they often cultivate habits that can be detrimental to future leaders. Given that most of us spend 13-20 years in educational institutions, those habits can be hard to break.

Consider first the emphasis schools have on authority. Schools are hierarchical: The teacher is the authority in the classroom. Principals or deans preside over teachers and professors. Seniors “rank” higher than juniors, and so on. In our years in the educational system, many of us become obsessed with hierarchy. We think we’re leaders if we’re the “boss,” and if we’re not the boss, we should simply do as we’re told. In reality, even the most senior people in organizations can’t rely solely on hierarchy, particularly given the much needed talents, experiences, and intelligence of the others who surround them. Leadership is an activity, not a position, a distinction explored deeply by Ron Heifetz in Leadership Without Easy Answers. Many great leaders like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela have led others, despite having little to no formal authority, and writers are now exploring methods for leading without formal authority. While some hierarchy may be needed, leaders who learn to lean too hard on formal authority often find themselves and their organizations frustrated, stunted, and stagnant.

Schools also teach us to deal with information as if it is certain and unchanging, when there’s rarely a stable “right answer.” In my first job, I was constantly frustrated by the lack of guidance I received. If you gave me a textbook, I could learn almost anything. But in the workplace, there were no textbooks. Real world problems are complex. They evolve. They’re organizational and analytical. And success is often driven as much (or more) by successful and rapid implementation as by developing the “correct” approach. Understanding that there’s rarely one right answer can make a person more adaptive, agile, and open to the thoughts of their peers. But that understanding is rarely cultivated through textbooks and multiple choice tests."



"Finally, while many schools tell us to serve others, they are rarely structured to actively show us that leadership is serving others. In most educational environments, our primary goal is to serve ourselves — to improve our individual grades, to compete for individual positions, and to maximize our own employment, college, or grad school placements. But as Bill George once said in a panel discussion on next generation leadership, “We are not heroes of our own journey.” People follow leaders who care for them, who share their vision, and who are dedicated to serving a cause greater than one’s self."
schools  education  authority  hierarchy  uncertainty  certainty  complexity  criticalthinking  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  ranking  leadership  service  billgeorge  johncoleman 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Allen Tan on Twitter: "Organizational complexity, misaligned incentives, and false accountability are the biggest issues ailing (all kinds of) institutions today."
"Organizational complexity, misaligned incentives, and false accountability are the biggest issues ailing (all kinds of) institutions today."

[Preceded by a series of tweets with screenshots from this article:
"One Day, 625 Delays: A mechanical failure at Union Square cascaded into hours of underground hell, revealing just how fragile the subway really is."
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/02/mta-one-day-625-delays.html

"That thing when institutions respond to criticism with self-congratulatory bullshit:"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702164413084803072

"That thing when institutions fix problems with infrastructure by actively destroying it for short term gains"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702164738525032448

"That thing when institutions blame the people they serve:"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702164960252731392

"That thing when an institution’s incentives backfire: "
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702165380995948544

"That thing where an institution issue noncommittal statements ungrounded in the underlying causes:"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702166278103048192

"That thing where institutions fancies themselves those futuresight people in Minority Report:"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/702166805616467968 ]
organizations  change  organization  leadership  complexity  oranizationalchange  accountability  incentives  allentan  cv  2016  institutions  bureaucracy 
march 2016 by robertogreco
What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team - The New York Times
"Project Aristotle’s researchers began by reviewing a half-century of academic studies looking at how teams worked. Were the best teams made up of people with similar interests? Or did it matter more whether everyone was motivated by the same kinds of rewards? Based on those studies, the researchers scrutinized the composition of groups inside Google: How often did teammates socialize outside the office? Did they have the same hobbies? Were their educational backgrounds similar? Was it better for all teammates to be outgoing or for all of them to be shy? They drew diagrams showing which teams had overlapping memberships and which groups had exceeded their departments’ goals. They studied how long teams stuck together and if gender balance seemed to have an impact on a team’s success.

No matter how researchers arranged the data, though, it was almost impossible to find patterns — or any evidence that the composition of a team made any difference. ‘‘We looked at 180 teams from all over the company,’’ Dubey said. ‘‘We had lots of data, but there was nothing showing that a mix of specific personality types or skills or backgrounds made any difference. The ‘who’ part of the equation didn’t seem to matter.’’

Some groups that were ranked among Google’s most effective teams, for instance, were composed of friends who socialized outside work. Others were made up of people who were basically strangers away from the conference room. Some groups sought strong managers. Others preferred a less hierarchical structure. Most confounding of all, two teams might have nearly identical makeups, with overlapping memberships, but radically different levels of effectiveness. ‘‘At Google, we’re good at finding patterns,’’ Dubey said. ‘‘There weren’t strong patterns here.’’

As they struggled to figure out what made a team successful, Rozovsky and her colleagues kept coming across research by psychologists and sociologists that focused on what are known as ‘‘group norms.’’ Norms are the traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather: One team may come to a consensus that avoiding disagreement is more valuable than debate; another team might develop a culture that encourages vigorous arguments and spurns groupthink. Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound. Team members may behave in certain ways as individuals — they may chafe against authority or prefer working independently — but when they gather, the group’s norms typically override individual proclivities and encourage deference to the team.

Project Aristotle’s researchers began searching through the data they had collected, looking for norms. They looked for instances when team members described a particular behavior as an ‘‘unwritten rule’’ or when they explained certain things as part of the ‘‘team’s culture.’’ Some groups said that teammates interrupted one another constantly and that team leaders reinforced that behavior by interrupting others themselves. On other teams, leaders enforced conversational order, and when someone cut off a teammate, group members would politely ask everyone to wait his or her turn. Some teams celebrated birthdays and began each meeting with informal chitchat about weekend plans. Other groups got right to business and discouraged gossip. There were teams that contained outsize personalities who hewed to their group’s sedate norms, and others in which introverts came out of their shells as soon as meetings began.

After looking at over a hundred groups for more than a year, Project Aristotle researchers concluded that understanding and influencing group norms were the keys to improving Google’s teams. But Rozovsky, now a lead researcher, needed to figure out which norms mattered most. Google’s research had identified dozens of behaviors that seemed important, except that sometimes the norms of one effective team contrasted sharply with those of another equally successful group. Was it better to let everyone speak as much as they wanted, or should strong leaders end meandering debates? Was it more effective for people to openly disagree with one another, or should conflicts be played down? The data didn’t offer clear verdicts. In fact, the data sometimes pointed in opposite directions. The only thing worse than not finding a pattern is finding too many of them. Which norms, Rozovsky and her colleagues wondered, were the ones that successful teams shared?"



"As the researchers studied the groups, however, they noticed two behaviors that all the good teams generally shared. First, on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as ‘‘equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.’’ On some teams, everyone spoke during each task; on others, leadership shifted among teammates from assignment to assignment. But in each case, by the end of the day, everyone had spoken roughly the same amount. ‘‘As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,’’ Woolley said. ‘‘But if only one person or a small group spoke all the time, the collective intelligence declined.’’

Second, the good teams all had high ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ — a fancy way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions and other nonverbal cues. One of the easiest ways to gauge social sensitivity is to show someone photos of people’s eyes and ask him or her to describe what the people are thinking or feeling — an exam known as the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. People on the more successful teams in Woolley’s experiment scored above average on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test. They seemed to know when someone was feeling upset or left out. People on the ineffective teams, in contrast, scored below average. They seemed, as a group, to have less sensitivity toward their colleagues."



"When Rozovsky and her Google colleagues encountered the concept of psychological safety in academic papers, it was as if everything suddenly fell into place. One engineer, for instance, had told researchers that his team leader was ‘‘direct and straightforward, which creates a safe space for you to take risks.’’ That team, researchers estimated, was among Google’s accomplished groups. By contrast, another engineer had told the researchers that his ‘‘team leader has poor emotional control.’’ He added: ‘‘He panics over small issues and keeps trying to grab control. I would hate to be driving with him being in the passenger seat, because he would keep trying to grab the steering wheel and crash the car.’’ That team, researchers presumed, did not perform well.

Most of all, employees had talked about how various teams felt. ‘‘And that made a lot of sense to me, maybe because of my experiences at Yale,’’ Rozovsky said. ‘‘I’d been on some teams that left me feeling totally exhausted and others where I got so much energy from the group.’’ Rozovsky’s study group at Yale was draining because the norms — the fights over leadership, the tendency to critique — put her on guard. Whereas the norms of her case-competition team — enthusiasm for one another’s ideas, joking around and having fun — allowed everyone to feel relaxed and energized.

For Project Aristotle, research on psychological safety pointed to particular norms that are vital to success. There were other behaviors that seemed important as well — like making sure teams had clear goals and creating a culture of dependability. But Google’s data indicated that psychological safety, more than anything else, was critical to making a team work.

‘‘We had to get people to establish psychologically safe environments,’’ Rozovsky told me. But it wasn’t clear how to do that. ‘‘People here are really busy,’’ she said. ‘‘We needed clear guidelines.’’

However, establishing psychological safety is, by its very nature, somewhat messy and difficult to implement. You can tell people to take turns during a conversation and to listen to one another more. You can instruct employees to be sensitive to how their colleagues feel and to notice when someone seems upset. But the kinds of people who work at Google are often the ones who became software engineers because they wanted to avoid talking about feelings in the first place.

Rozovsky and her colleagues had figured out which norms were most critical. Now they had to find a way to make communication and empathy — the building blocks of forging real connections — into an algorithm they could easily scale."



"Project Aristotle is a reminder that when companies try to optimize everything, it’s sometimes easy to forget that success is often built on experiences — like emotional interactions and complicated conversations and discussions of who we want to be and how our teammates make us feel — that can’t really be optimized. Rozovsky herself was reminded of this midway through her work with the Project Aristotle team. ‘‘We were in a meeting where I made a mistake,’’ Rozovsky told me. She sent out a note afterward explaining how she was going to remedy the problem. ‘‘I got an email back from a team member that said, ‘Ouch,’ ’’ she recalled. ‘‘It was like a punch to the gut. I was already upset about making this mistake, and this note totally played on my insecurities.’’"
charlesduhigg  google  teams  teamwork  groups  groupdynamics  juliarozovsky  psychology  norms  groupnorms  communication  2016  siliconvalley  collaboration  projectaristotle  behavior  safety  emocions  socialemotional  empathy  psychologicalsafety  leadership  socialemotionallearning 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Quiet Schools Network - Quiet Revolution
"Our mission is to create Quiet Schools, which are characterized by an inclusive culture in which everyone is recognized for their potential to learn and lead in authentic ways.

We partner with schools to train Quiet Ambassadors to serve as experts in introversion/extroversion and work with their colleagues to:

• Enhance engagement, creativity and kindness.
• Foster the ability to communicate with presence and compassion.
• Tap into the power of quiet leadership."



"Quiet Ambassador Program
Our yearlong comprehensive training and support of one or more Quiet Ambassadors from your school includes in-person and online workshops, individual and team coaching sessions, and a treasure trove of online resources for the entire community.

Susan Cain, whose work has been deemed by educators as “salient, timely, and crucial,” will kick off the Quiet Summer Institute with a keynote about the Quiet Revolution in education, which will be followed by two full days of interactive workshops that promise to be engaging and enlightening. After developing a deeper awareness of their own personality styles, participants learn strategies that include, but are not limited to: empowering quiet students, collaborating more effectively with colleagues, maximizing flow in the creative process, and creating more balanced classroom environments.

…and Membership in Quiet Schools Network
When schools partner with Quiet Revolution through the Ambassador Program, they become part of a national independent school community dedicated to collective innovation and the sharing of best practices. Network benefits include a monthly newsletter, a yearly student magazine, regional seminars offered by our Quiet Revolution team, and measurement tools for year-end assessments."
quiet  susancain  heidikasevich  schools  education  kindness  presence  compassion  lcproject  openstudioproject  introverts  schooldesign  leadership  sfsh 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Our view: Sweet Briar College, one year later - Roanoke Times: Editorials
"A year ago this time, the board at Sweet Briar College was secretly planning to shut down the school, convinced the women’s college could not survive in today’s world.

Now, here’s the new president at Sweet Briar, touring the country, and soon the world, telling a remarkable story about why the school is not just surviving, but perhaps even flourishing.

The saga of how Sweet Briar alumnae rallied to save their school — raising $30 million in 100 days and, just as importantly, waging a legal fight that resulted in a dramatic victory in the Virginia Supreme Court — has been told before.

Sweet Briar President Phil Stone went before the Salem Rotary last week to tell the rest of the story.

Even after the legal settlement last June that resulted in an agreement that the old board would quit and a new board, picked by the Saving Sweet Briar alumnae group, would take over, the outgoing regime did not go gently.

The previous administration was reluctant to share information, for one thing, so even though it was clear Stone would be the new president, he had little to go on as he prepared to take office.

When he arrived on campus on the evening of July 2, he discovered the outgoing regime had fired almost everyone. The old board had insisted the school would close on June 30, so, by golly, even though a settlement had been reached, the school still sent out an e-mail notifying all but a few people that their employment ended that date and cleared out their computer passwords.

Stone — who had spent 16 years as president of Bridgewater College before retiring to practice law with his children — is a courtly man, perhaps the living embodiment of a Virginia gentleman.

He was, perhaps, not feeling so gentlemanly when he learned what the outgoing administrators had done. “It was absolutely gratuitous,” he told the Salem Rotary. “Absolutely unnecessary. I could not believe people would be treated that way.”

One of his first duties was to re-hire faculty and staff. That was one of the easier tasks — although at one point he was writing up contracts himself because there was no one else to do it. Stone took office on July 4th weekend. On the first business day following the holiday, he had a lot of phone calls to make.

To the accrediting agency. How much money did the school have?, the agency asked. Stone had no idea — there was no staff there to tell him, and no records available.

To the commissioner of the Salem-based Old Dominion Athletic Conference, where the conversation went something like this:

We’re still in the ODAC, right?

Sure. How many teams will you have?

I don’t know.

How many players do you have?

I don’t know.

If it seems a miracle the school got saved, it seems an equal miracle that it re-opened on time — with all its programs, and its sports teams, intact.

Since then, there have been more such miracles — or maybe they’re not miracles, at all.

Sweet Briar’s enrollment had been declining, one of the things that led the old board to call it quits. Now enrollment is increasing. Most schools see enrollment drop from fall semester to spring semester — some students always drop out. Sweet Briar, though, has seen an increase — with 31 students transferring in, 20 of them former students who had gone elsewhere for the fall but now want to return “home.”

Even better, the school just logged a record number of applications (more than 1,300), thanks to an energetic alumnae recruiting effort, and something the school curiously didn’t have before — a full-time admissions director who doesn’t have to do that job and another one at the same time.

Sweet Briar won’t know what the yield on those applications will be until the spring. There’s always the danger the number is a mirage — it’s easy these days for students to click a button on the “common app” and apply to multiple colleges at once. Still, Stone points out, it’s better to have a record number of applications than to not have a record number.

Later this month, Stone leaves on a recruiting trip to China — in an effort to boost the school’s international enrollment. At Hollins University, nearly 6 percent of the students are international. At Randolph College, the figure is 10 percent. At Mount Holyoke, it’s 24 percent.

At Sweet Briar right now, it’s one. Not percent. One student — a Chinese woman who originally found the college on her own, through an Internet search. She’s helped make a recruiting video that will be shown to prospective students in China.

During question time at the Salem Rotary, Stone was asked what happened to Sweet Briar. His theory is the old board simply gave up. He had been on accrediting teams that had looked at the school’s finances in the recent past — and never found a hint of trouble.

He pointed out that on the day Sweet Briar “closed,” its $72 million endowment was still bigger than many colleges its size — though the board had been unwisely spending it down at a rate of up to 9 percent a year because expenses were simply too high. Stone has worked on cutting costs.

Now, here’s the most amazing thing of all. Under his tenure, Sweet Briar hasn’t spent any of its endowment. None. Not the $16 million in restricted funds that Attorney General Mark Herring released as part of the settlement, and not any of the unrestricted portion of the endowment. “I’m telling you those are miracles,” Stone says.

And, he says, all bills have been paid on time. It’s becoming even clearer now: Sweet Briar was only in trouble because its old board stopped trying. Stone may have been easing into semi-retirement last year this time, now he’s working full-time and more in a way that the previous regime clearly had not.

In one of those first chaotic days at Sweet Briar, a graduate from Charlottesville sent him a necktie — pink-and-green, the school’s colors. He now owns twelve of them, and is never seen in public without one. At his Salem appearance, maybe a half dozen alumnae showed up — all in their pink-and-green. After his talk, they queued up to shake his hand, give him a hug, and their thanks.

Nobody pressed a check into his hand, but one Salem businessman did take him aside to talk about a possible internship program at his engineering firm. For a school that likes to talk up its engineering program — Sweet Briar is one of just two women’s colleges to offer an engineering degree — that’s just as good as money in the bank."
sweetbriarcollege  leadership  highered  highereducation  2016  philstone  colleges 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Great Re-Anchoring
"When I joined BuzzFeed just over a year ago, I spent the first few months of my time there setting the Product Design team up so it could scale well. I wrote a roles and responsibilities document, instituted Basecamp as the place for design work and discussion and overhauled our recruiting process. Since then, the design managers and I have set up quarterly peer reviews for the team, written our Design Leadership Principles and initiated weekly small group critiques in addition to our weekly one with the entire team. Each of these changes were made in response to needs we identified and wanted to make sure were met. They started out as experiments, but quickly became an official part of our team and process as each addition proved its usefulness. Progress was made. We felt good.

But recently, we decided to blow it all up.

A couple of months ago, my manager (our publisher) Dao initiated an offsite with senior tech management. The purpose of the offsite, she explained, was to do a close, critical examination of our processes and beliefs as an organization. She described our current processes and beliefs as anchors - things that we do because we’ve always done them and beliefs we have because we’ve always believed them. She told us that in order to evolve and grow our tech team, it was imperative that we reevaluate our anchors, decide whether not they’re still valid, and then re-anchor ourselves somewhere else. We got together and discussed all sorts of topics: why do we tend to lean toward building our own tools rather than buying things off the shelf? Why do we believe so strongly in small, iterative changes over large projects? In a few cases, our thinking was totally validated and we decided to leave our anchor where it was. In many cases, though, the discussion revealed that our current anchors were holding us back, or even that we disagreed on whether or not an anchor was important. It was a super productive day and has already impacted the way we work and communicate as senior management on the team."
design  leadership  management  buzzfeed  anchors  change  howwechange  unschooling  deschooling  process  tools  capwatkins  beliefs  legacy  2016 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Hot Allostatic Load – The New Inquiry
"HI

I am too sick to write this article. The act of writing about my injuries is like performing an interpretative dance after breaking nearly every bone in my body. When I sit down to edit this doc, my head starts aching like a capsule full of some corrosive fluid has dissolved and is leaking its contents. The mental haze builds until it becomes difficult to see the text, to form a thesis, to connect parts. They drop onto the page in fragments. This is the difficulty of writing about brain damage.

The last time I was in the New Inquiry, several years ago, I was being interviewed. I was visibly sick. I was in an abusive “community” that had destroyed my health with regular, sustained emotional abuse and neglect. Sleep-deprived, unable to take care of myself, my body was tearing itself apart. I was suicidal from the abuse, and I had an infected jaw that needed treatment.

Years later, I’m talking to my therapist. I told her, when you have PTSD, everything you make is about PTSD. After a few minutes I slid down and curled up on the couch like the shed husk of a cicada. I go to therapy specifically because of the harassment and ostracism from within my field.

This is about disposability from a trans feminine perspective, through the lens of an artistic career. It’s about being human trash.

This is in defense of the hyper-marginalized among the marginalized, the Omelas kids, the marked for death, those who came looking for safety and found something worse than anything they’d experienced before.

For years, queer/trans/feminist scenes have been processing an influx of trans fems, often impoverished, disabled, and/or from traumatic backgrounds. These scenes have been abusing them, using them as free labor, and sexually exploiting them. The leaders of these scenes exert undue influence over tastemaking, jobs, finance, access to conferences, access to spaces. If someone resists, they are disappeared, in the mundane, boring, horrible way that many trans people are susceptible to, through a trapdoor that can be activated at any time. Housing, community, reputation—gone. No one mourns them, no one asks questions. Everyone agrees that they must have been crazy and problematic and that is why they were gone.

I was one of these people.

They controlled my housing and access to nearly every resource. I was sexually harassed, had my bathroom use monitored, my crumbling health ignored or used as a tool of control, was constantly yelled at, and was pressured to hurt other trans people and punished severely when I refused.

The cycle of trans kids being used up and then smeared is a systemic, institutionalized practice. It happens in the shelters, in the radical organizations, in the artistic scenes—everywhere they might have a chance of gaining a foothold. It’s like an abusive foster household that constantly kicks kids out then uses their tears and anger at being raped and abused to justify why they had to be kicked out—look at these problem kids. Look at these problematic kids.

Trans fems are especially vulnerable to abuse for the following reasons:

— A lot of us encounter concepts for the first time and have no idea what is “normal” or not.

— We have nowhere else to go. Abuse thrives on scarcity.

— No one cares what happens to us.

This foster cycle relies on amnesia. A lot of people who enter spaces for the first time don’t know those spaces’ history. They may not know that leaders regularly exploit and make sexual advances on new members, or that those members who resisted are no longer around. Spaces self-select for people who will play the game, until the empathic people have been drained out and the only ones who remain are those who have perfectly identified with the agendas and survival of the Space—the pyramid scheme of believers who bring capital and victims to those on top."



"
TRASH ART

When it was really bad, I wrote: “Build the shittiest thing possible. Build out of trash because all i have is trash. Trash materials, trash bodies, trash brain syndrome. Build in the gaps between storms of chronic pain. Build inside the storms. Move a single inch and call it a victory. Mold my sexuality toward immobility. Lie here leaking water from my eyes like a statue covered in melting frost. Zero affect. Build like moss grows. Build like crystals harden. Give up. Make your art the merest displacement of molecules at your slightest quiver. Don’t build in spite of the body and fail on their terms, build with the body. Immaculate is boring and impossible. Health based aesthetic.”

Twine, trashzines made of wadded up torn paper because we don’t have the energy to do binding, street recordings done from our bed where we lie immobilized.

Laziness is not laziness, it is many things: avoiding encountering one’s own body, avoiding triggers, avoiding thinking about the future because it’s proven to be unbearable. Slashing the Gordian Knot isn’t a sign of strength; it’s a sign of exhaustion."



"SOCIAL DYNAMICS

COMMUNITY IS DISPOSABILITY
There are no activist communities, only the desire for communities, or the convenient fiction of communities. A community is a material web that binds people together, for better and for worse, in interdependence. If its members move away every couple years because the next place seems cooler, it is not a community. If it is easier to kick someone out than to go through a difficult series of conversations with them, it is not a community. Among the societies that had real communities, exile was the most extreme sanction possible, tantamount to killing them. On many levels, losing the community and all the relationships it involved was the same as dying. Let’s not kid ourselves: we don’t have communities.

—The Broken Teapot, Anonymous"

People crave community so badly that it constitutes a kind of linguistic virus. Everything in this world apparently has a community attached to it, no matter how fragmented or varied the reality is. This feels like both wishful thinking in an extremely lonely world (trans fems often have a community-shaped wound a mile wide) and also the necessary lens to convert everything to profit. Queerness is a marketplace. Alt is a marketplace. Buy my feminist butt plugs.

The dream of an imaginary community that allows total identification with one’s role within it to an extent that rules out interiority or doubt, the fixity and clearness of an external image or cliche as opposed to ephemera of lived experience, a life as it looks from the outside.

—Stephen Murphy

These idealized communities require disposability to maintain the illusion—violence and ostracism against the black/brown/trans/trash bodies that serve as safety valves for the inevitable anxiety and disillusionment of those who wish “total identification”.

Feminism/queerness takes a vague disposability and makes it a specific one. The vague ambient hate that I felt my whole life became intensely focused—the difference between being soaked in noxious, irritating gasoline and having someone throw a match at you. Normal hate means someone and their friends being shitty toward you; radical hate places a moral dimension onto hate, requiring your exclusion from every possible space—a true social death."



"There is immense pressure on trans people to engage in this form of complaint if they want access to spaces—but we, with our higher rates of homelessness, joblessness, lifelessness, lovelessness, are the most fragile. We are the glass fems of an already delicate genderscape.

Purification is meaningless because anyone can perform these rituals—an effigy burnt in digital. And their inflexibility provides a place where abuse can thrive—a set of rules which abusers can hold over their victims.

Deleuze wrote, “The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people from expressing themselves, but rather, force them to express themselves. What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, or ever rarer, the thing that might be worth saying.”

>>

ENDING

People talk about feminism and queerness the way you’d apologize for an abusive relationship.

This isn’t for the people who are benefiting from these spaces and have no reason to change. This is for the people who were exiled, the people essays aren’t supposed to be written for. This is to say, you didn’t deserve that. That even tens or hundreds or thousands of people can be wrong, and they often are, no matter how much our socially constructed brains take that as a message to lie down and die. That nothing is too bad, too ridiculous, too bizarre to be real when it comes to making marginalized people disappear.

Ideology is a sick fetish.

RESISTING DISPOSABILITY

— Let marginalized people be flawed. Let them fuck up like the Real Humans who get to fuck up all the time.

— Fight criminal-justice thinking. Disposability runs on the innocence/guilt binary, another category that applies dynamically to certain bodies and not others. The mob trials used to run trans people out of communities are inherently abusive, favor predators, and must be rejected as a process unequivocally. There is no kind of justice that resembles hundreds of people ganging up on one person, or tangible lifelong damage being inflicted on someone for failing the rituals of purification that have no connection to real life.

— Pay attention when people disappear. Like drowning, it’s frequently silent. They might be blackmailed, threatened, and/or in shock.

— Even if the victim doesn’t want to fight (which is deeply understandable—often moving on is the only response), private support is huge. This is the time to make sure the wound doesn’t become infected, that the PTSD they acquire is as minimized as … [more]
porpentine  community  via:sevensixfive  feminism  abuse  disposability  identity  interdependence  ptsd  trauma  recovery  punishment  safety  socialmedia  call-outculture  society  culture  violence  mobbing  rape  emotionalabuse  witchhunts  silviafederici  damage  health  communication  stigma  judithherman  terror  despair  twine  laziness  trashart  trashzines  alliyates  social  socialdynamics  stephenmurphy  queerness  jackiewang  complaint  complaints  power  powerlessness  pain  purity  fragility  gillesdeleuze  deleuze  solitude  silence  ideology  canon  reintegration  integration  rejection  inclusivity  yvetteflunder  leadership  inclusion  marginalization  innocence  guilt  binaries  falsebinaries  predators 
december 2015 by robertogreco
bell hooks: Buddhism, the Beats and Loving Blackness - The New York Times
"G.Y.: Absolutely. You’ve talked about how theory can function as a place of healing. Can you say more about that?

b.h.: I always start with children. Most children are amazing critical thinkers before we silence them. I think that theory is essentially a way to make sense of the world; as a gifted child growing up in a dysfunctional family where giftedness was not appreciated, what held me above water was the idea of thinking through, “Why are Mom and Dad the way they are?” And those are questions that are at the heart of critical thinking. And that’s why I think critical thinking and theory can be such a source of healing. It moves us forward. And, of course, I don’t know about other thinkers and writers, but I have the good fortune every day of my life to have somebody contacting me, either on the streets or by mail, telling me about how my work has changed their life, how it has enabled them to go forward. And what greater gift to be had as a thinker-theorist, than that?"



"G.Y.: Is there a connection between teaching as a space of healing and your understanding of love?

b.h.: Well, I believe whole-heartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love, and that includes teaching. I don’t do a lot of teaching these days. I am semi-retired. Because, like any act of love, it takes a lot of your energy."



"G.Y.: You’ve conceptualized love as the opposite of estrangement. Can you say something about that?

b.h.: When we engage love as action, you can’t act without connecting. I often think of that phrase, only connect. In terms of white supremacy right now for instance, the police stopped me a few weeks ago here in Berea, because I was doing something wrong. I initially felt fear, and I was thinking about the fact that in all of my 60-some years of my life in this country, I have never felt afraid of policemen before, but I feel afraid now. He was just total sweetness. And yet I thought, what a horrible change in our society that that level of estrangement has taken place that was not there before.

I know that the essential experience of black men and women has always been different, but from the time I was a girl to now, I never thought the police were my enemy. Yet, what black woman witnessing the incredible abuse of Sandra Bland can’t shake in her boots if she’s being stopped by the police? When I was watching that video, I was amazed the police didn’t shoot her on the spot! White supremacist white people are crazy.

I used to talk about patriarchy as a mental illness of disordered desire, but white supremacy is equally a serious and profound mental illness, and it leads people to do completely and utterly insane things. I think one of the things that is going on in our society is the normalization of mental illness, and the normalization of white supremacy, and the evocation and the spreading of this is part of that mental illness. So remember that we are a culture in crisis. Our crisis is as much a spiritual crisis as it is a political crisis, and that’s why Martin Luther King, Jr. was so profoundly prescient in describing how the work of love would be necessary to have a transformative impact.

G.Y.: And of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t find an important place in your work for rage, as in your book “Killing Rage”?

b.h.: Oh, absolutely. The first time that I got to be with Thich Nhat Hanh, I had just been longing to meet him. I was like, I’m going to meet this incredibly holy man. On the day that I was going to him, every step of the way I felt that I was encountering some kind of racism or sexism. When I got to him, the first thing out of my mouth was, “I am so angry!” And he, of course, Mr. Calm himself, Mr. Peace, said, “Well, you know, hold on to your anger, and use it as compost for your garden.” And I thought, “Yes, yes, I can do that!” I tell that story to people all the time. I was telling him about the struggles I was having with my male partner at the time and he said, “It is O.K. to say I want to kill you, but then you need to step back from that, and remember what brought you to this person in the first place.” And I think that if we think of anger as compost, we think of it as energy that can be recycled in the direction of our good. It is an empowering force. If we don’t think about it that way, it becomes a debilitating and destructive force.

G.Y.: Since you mentioned Sandra Bland, and there are so many other cases that we can mention, how can we use the trauma that black people are experiencing, or reconfigure that trauma into compost? How can black people do that? What does that look like therapeutically, or collectively?

b.h.: We have to be willing to be truthful. And to be truthful, we have to say, the problem that black people face, the trauma of white supremacy in our lives, is not limited to police brutality. That’s just one aspect. I often say that the issue for young black males is the street. If you only have the streets, you encounter violence on all sides: black on black violence, the violence of addiction, and the violence of police brutality. So the question is why at this stage of our history, with so many wealthy black people, and so many gifted black people, how do we provide a place other than the streets for black males? And it is so gendered, because the street, in an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, is male, especially when it is dark. There is so much feeling of being lost that it is beyond the trauma of racism. It is the trauma of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, because poverty has become infinitely more violent than it ever was when I was a girl. You lived next door to very poor black people, but who had very joyful lives. That’s not the poverty of today.

G.Y.: How is the poverty of today different?

b.h.: Let’s face it, one of the things white people gave us when they gave us integration was full access to the tormenting reality of desire, and the expectation of constant consumption. So part of the difference of poverty today is this sort of world of fantasy — fantasizing that you’ll win the lottery, fantasizing that money will come. I always cling to Lorraine Hansberry’s mama saying in “A in Raisin in the Sun,” “Since when did money become life?” I think that with the poverty of my growing up that I lived with and among, we were always made to feel like money is not what life is all about. That’s the total difference for everyone living right now, because most people in our culture believe money is everything. That is the big tie, the connecting tie to black, white, Hispanic, native people, Asian people — the greed and the materialism that we all invest in and share.

G.Y.: When you make that claim, I can see some readers saying that bell is pathologizing black spaces.

b.h.: As I said, we have normalized mental illness in this society. So it’s not the pathologizing of black spaces; it’s saying that the majority of cultural spaces in our society are infused with pathology. That’s why it’s so hard to get out of it, because it has become the culture that is being fed to us every day. None of us can escape it unless we do so by conscious living and conscious loving, and that’s become harder for everybody. I don’t have a problem stating the fact that trauma creates wounds, and most of our wounds are not healed as African-Americans. We’re not really different in that way from all the others who are wounded. Let’s face it — wounded white people frequently can cover up their wounds, because they have greater access to material power.

I find it fascinating that every day you go to the supermarket, and you look at the people, and you look at us, and you look at all of this media that is parading the sorrows and the mental illnesses of the white rich in our society. And it’s like everybody just skips over that. Nobody would raise the question, “why don’t we pathologize the rich?” We actually believe that they suffer mental illness, and that they deserve healing. The issue for us as black people is that very few people feel that we deserve healing. Which is why we have very few systems that promote healing in our lives. The primary system that ever promoted healing in black people is the church, and we see what is going on in most churches today. They’ve become an extension of that material greed.

G.Y.: As you shared being stopped by police, I thought of your book “Black Looks: Race and Representation,” where you describe whiteness as a site of terror. Has that changed for you?

b.h.: I don’t think that has changed for most black people. That particular essay, “Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination,” talks about whiteness, the black imagination, and how many of us live in fear of whiteness. And I emphasize the story about the policeman because for many of us that fear of whiteness has intensified. I think that white people, for the most part, never think about black people wanting to be in black only spaces, because we do not feel safe.

In my last book, “Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice,” I really wanted to raise and problematize the question: Where do we feel safe as black people? I definitely return to the home as a place of spiritual possibility, home as a holy place.

I bought my current house from a conservative white male capitalist who lives across the street from me, and I’m so happy in my little home. I tell people, when I open the doors of my house it’s like these arms come out, and they’re just embracing me. I think that is part of our radical resistance to the culture of domination. I know that I’m not who he imagined in this little house. He imagined a nice white family with two kids, and I think on some level it was very hard for … [more]
bellhooks  2015  georgeyancy  buddhism  christianity  spirituality  religion  race  class  patriarchy  racism  classism  mentalillness  money  greed  mentalhealth  society  capitalism  consumerism  materialism  domination  power  gender  feminism  idenity  listening  love  humor  martinlutherkingjr  cornelwest  allies  influence  homes  intellectualism  theory  practice  criticalthinking  pedagogy  writing  children  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  oedagogy  solitude  workinginpublic  publicintellectuals  narcissism  healing  malcolmx  blackness  whitesupremacy  abandonment  betrayal  anger  masculinity  markmcleodbethune  resistance  safety  whiteness  terror  wealth  imperialism  inequality  pathology  poverty  truth  truthfulness  sandrabland  thichnhathanh  activism  estrangement  everyday  humanism  humanization  humility  grace  change  changemaking  transformation  canon  empowerment  composting  desire  lotteries  lorrainehansberry  araisininthesun  culture  trauma  sorrow  leadership  psychology  self-determination  slow  small  beatpoets  jackkerouac  garysnyder  beatpoetry  ethics 
december 2015 by robertogreco
All Aboard the LeaderShip - Alfie Kohn
"If you’re going to lead a school or other organization, it might be smart to give some thought to what it means to be a good leader. But that fact doesn’t explain why some schools proudly announce that they train their students — every last one of them — in the art of leadership. What’s up with that?

I’d suggest three possible explanations. The first is that leadership, like a lot of other terms that show up in mission statements (transformational, responsible, good citizens, 21st-century as an adjective), is just a rhetorical flourish — something we’re not supposed to think about too carefully. No one is likely to stand up and say, “Hey, wait just a minute! Exactly which characteristics does this school regard as admirable in the 21st century that it didn’t value in, say, 1995?”

Similarly, you’re not expected to ask how it’s possible for everyone to be a leader. You’re just supposed to smile and nod. Leadership good.

Possibility number 2 is that the term does have a specific meaning — a meaning that’s actually rather disturbing in this context. “When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge,” William Deresiewicz wrote in the September issue of Harper’s magazine. In fact, that pact with the privileged begins well before college. The message, if made explicit, would sound something like this: “No, of course everyone can’t be a leader. The elite are far more likely to attain that status. So buy your kids an education here and we’ll equip them to be part of that elite.”[1]

It’s a shrewd selling point for a selective school, granted. And it explains why, as someone observed recently, you don’t find many institutions that refer to themselves as “followership academies.”

The relatively benign word leadership may be a way to mute the objectionable implications of grooming certain students to run the world. It’s not unlike how adults try to make themselves feel better about punishing children by referring to what they’re doing as “imposing a consequence.”

*

When I mused about this issue on Twitter a few weeks ago, wondering whether appeals to leadership implicitly endorsed a competitive hierarchy, my post produced a bushel of responses that made me consider possibility number 3: Maybe leadership, like a lot of other words, just means whatever the hell you want it to mean.

One person pointed me to a website about being a “servant/leader” — a phrase with religious roots, I discovered. The site, which had the feel of a late-night TV commercial, offered materials to promote both “personal development” and an “entrepreneurial mindset.”

Here, reproduced verbatim, are a few of the other replies I received:

* Leadership requires that we lead ourselves first. Part of being a great leader is being a good follower too

* Students can lead in 4 directions- leading up, leading peers, leading down, and leading self

* Everyone can be a leader, everyone can be a servant, and everyone can treat others w/ respect

* Some leadership actually comes from the followers within a group

* Lead from YOUR passion. All can.

* [I] always interpreted “teaching leadership” to mean recognizing/owning our gifts & challenges, and learning what we can do with them

One reasonable reaction to all these declarations would be: “Huh?” The dictionary says a leader is “one who is in charge or command of others.” The leader’s style doesn’t have to be (and ideally wouldn’t be) heavy-handed or authoritarian. But that doesn’t mean the word can be redefined to signify anything we choose, such that the inherent power differential between leaders and followers is magically erased. To deny that feature, or to claim that leadership can refer to being a good follower, stretches the word beyond all usefulness. Likewise for the blithe reassurance that everyone can be a leader, which recalls Debbie Meier’s marvelous analogy: It’s like telling children to line up for lunch, then adding, “And I want all of you to be in the front half of the line!”

In a political context, it makes sense to discuss how to prevent leaders from abusing their power. But if our focus is on education or child rearing, then I’m not sure why we’re promoting a hierarchical arrangement. And teaching kids to “follow as well as lead” doesn’t address this concern any more than the harm caused by having a punitive parent is rectified by having another parent who’s permissive.

It’s fine to hope that those children who do eventually end up in leadership positions will act with kindness and skill. But, again, why frame education in these terms? Why not promote characteristics that apply to everyone (just by virtue of being human) and are relevant to children as well as adults: compassion, skepticism, self-awareness, curiosity, and so on? Why not emphasize the value of being part of a well-functioning team, of treating everyone with respect within a model that’s fundamentally collaborative and democratic? At best, a focus on leadership distracts us from helping people decide things together; at worst, it inures us to a social order that consists of those who tell and those who are told.

*

Alongside my substantive objection to an emphasis on leadership (as the word is actually defined) I will confess to some irritation with the more general tendency to be unconstrained by how words are actually defined. This temptation presents itself with respect to all sorts of terms, and even people with admirable views give in to it. Faced with an objection to a certain idea or practice, the response is likely to be, in effect, “No, no. I use that label to mean only good things.”

Thus: “I reject your criticisms of the flipped classroom [making students watch lecture videos as homework and do what’s more commonly assigned as homework during class] because when I talk about flipped classrooms, I mean those that include wonderful student-designed projects.”

Or: “Why would someone who’s progressive raise concerns about the idea of a growth mindset [attributing outcomes to effort rather than to fixed ability]? The way I use that term, it includes a rejection of grades and other traditional pedagogical practices.”[2]

We’ve disappeared through the looking glass here, finding ourselves in a reality where, as Lewis Carroll had Humpty Dumpty put it, “a word…means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”[3] Like Carroll, I think it’s fine to argue that x is consistent with things you already like (if you can defend that proposition), but it’s not fine to defend x by redefining it however you see fit.

After all, that’s something a good leader would never permit."
alfiekohn  leadership  education  howweteach  schools  williamderesiewicz  skepticism  power  elitism  buzzwords  missionstatements  2015  deborahmeier  compassion  self-awareness  curiosity  democracy  collaboration  society  selfishness  language  lewiscarroll  growthmindset  flippedclassroom  pedagogy  whatweteach  words  kindness  consensus  hierarchy  horizontality  competition 
october 2015 by robertogreco
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

A spatial structure, the sentence also suggests a temporal sequence. Thinking clearly, it wants us to recognize, leads to thinking independently. Thinking independently leads to living confidently. Living confidently leads to living courageously. Living courageously leads to living hopefully. And the entire chain begins with a college that recognizes it has an obligation to its students, an obligation to develop their abilities to think and live.

Finally, the sentence is attributed to an individual. It expresses her convictions and ideals. It announces that she is prepared to hold herself accountable for certain responsibilities.

The second text is not a sentence. It is four words floating in space, unconnected to one another or to any other concept. Four words — four slogans, really — whose meaning and function are left undefined, open to whatever interpretation the reader cares to project on them.

Four words, three of which — “leadership,” “service,” and “creativity” — are the loudest buzzwords in contemporary higher education. (“Integrity” is presumably intended as a synonym for the more familiar “character,” which for colleges at this point means nothing more than not cheating.) The text is not the statement of an individual; it is the emanation of a bureaucracy. In this case, a literally anonymous bureaucracy: no one could tell me when this version of the institution’s mission statement was formulated, or by whom. No one could even tell me who had decided to hang those banners all over campus. The sentence from the founder has also long been mounted on the college walls. The other words had just appeared, as if enunciated by the zeitgeist.

But the most important thing to note about the second text is what it doesn’t talk about: thinking or learning. In what it both does and doesn’t say, it therefore constitutes an apt reflection of the current state of higher education. College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.

This is education in the age of neoliberalism. Call it Reaganism or Thatcherism, economism or market fundamentalism, neoliberalism is an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your getting and spending.

The purpose of education in a neoliberal age is to produce producers. I published a book last year that said that, by and large, elite American universities no longer provide their students with a real education, one that addresses them as complete human beings rather than as future specialists — that enables them, as I put it, to build a self or (following Keats) to become a soul. Of all the responses the book aroused, the most dismaying was this: that so many individuals associated with those institutions said not, “Of course we provide our students with a real education,” but rather, “What is this ‘real education’ nonsense, anyway?”"



"So what’s so bad about leadership, service, and creativity? What’s bad about them is that, as they’re understood on campus and beyond, they are all encased in neoliberal assumptions. Neoliberalism, which dovetails perfectly with meritocracy, has generated a caste system: “winners and losers,” “makers and takers,” “the best and the brightest,” the whole gospel of Ayn Rand and her Übermenschen. That’s what “leadership” is finally about. There are leaders, and then there is everyone else: the led, presumably — the followers, the little people. Leaders get things done; leaders take command. When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge.

“Service” is what the winners engage in when they find themselves in a benevolent mood. Call it Clintonism, by analogy with Reaganism. Bill Clinton not only ratified the neoliberal consensus as president, he has extended its logic as a former president. Reaganism means the affluent have all the money, as well as all the power. Clintonism means they use their money and power, or a bit of it, to help the less fortunate — because the less fortunate (i.e., the losers) can’t help themselves. Hence the Clinton Foundation, hence every philanthropic or altruistic endeavor on the part of highly privileged, highly credentialed, highly resourced elites, including all those nonprofits or socially conscious for-profits that college students start or dream of starting.

“Creativity,” meanwhile, is basically a business concept, aligned with the other clichés that have come to us from the management schools by way of Silicon Valley: “disruption,” “innovation,” “transformation.” “Creativity” is not about becoming an artist. No one wants you to become an artist. It’s about devising “innovative” products, services, and techniques — “solutions,” which imply that you already know the problem. “Creativity” means design thinking, in the terms articulated by the writer Amy Whitaker, not art thinking: getting from A to a predetermined B, not engaging in an open-ended exploratory process in the course of which you discover the B.

Leadership, service, and creativity do not seek fundamental change (remember, fundamental change is out in neoliberalism); they seek technological or technocratic change within a static social framework, within a market framework. Which is really too bad, because the biggest challenges we face — climate change, resource depletion, the disappearance of work in the face of automation — will require nothing less than fundamental change, a new organization of society. If there was ever a time that we needed young people to imagine a different world, that time is now.

We have always been, in the United States, what Lionel Trilling called a business civilization. But we have also always had a range of counterbalancing institutions, countercultural institutions, to advance a different set of values: the churches, the arts, the democratic tradition itself. When the pendulum has swung too far in one direction (and it’s always the same direction), new institutions or movements have emerged, or old ones have renewed their mission. Education in general, and higher education in particular, has always been one of those institutions. But now the market has become so powerful that it’s swallowing the very things that are supposed to keep it in check. Artists are becoming “creatives.” Journalism has become “the media.” Government is bought and paid for. The prosperity gospel has arisen as one of the most prominent movements in American Christianity. And colleges and universities are acting like businesses, and in the service of businesses.

What is to be done? Those very same WASP aristocrats — enough of them, at least, including several presidents of Harvard and Yale — when facing the failure of their own class in the form of the Great Depression, succeeded in superseding themselves and creating a new system, the meritocracy we live with now. But I’m not sure we possess the moral resources to do the same. The WASPs had been taught that leadership meant putting the collective good ahead of your own. But meritocracy means looking out for number one, and neoliberalism doesn’t believe in the collective. As Margaret Thatcher famously said about society, “There’s no such thing. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” As for elite university presidents, they are little more these days than lackeys of the plutocracy, with all the moral stature of the butler in a country house.

Neoliberalism disarms us in another sense as well. For all its rhetoric of freedom and individual initiative, the culture of the market is exceptionally good at inculcating a sense of helplessness. So much of the language around college today, and so much of the negative response to my suggestion that students ought to worry less about pursuing wealth and more about constructing a sense of purpose for themselves, presumes that young people are the passive objects of economic forces. That they have no agency, no options. That they have to do what the market tells them. A Princeton student literally made this argument to me: If the market is incentivizing me to go to Wall Street, he said, then who am I to argue?

I have also had the pleasure, over the past year, of hearing from a lot of people who are pushing back against the dictates of neoliberal education: starting high schools, starting colleges, creating alternatives to high school and college, making documentaries, launching nonprofits, parenting in different ways, conducting their lives in different ways. I welcome these efforts, but none of them address the fundamental problem, which is that we no longer believe in public solutions. We only … [more]
williamderesiewicz  education  highereducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  learning  purpose  stevenpinker  2015  individualism  economics  leadership  missionstatements  courage  confidence  hope  criticalthinking  independence  autonomy  liberalarts  wealth  inequality  citizenship  civics  society  highered  publicpurpose  business  ronaldreagan  billclinton  margaretthatcher  government  media  lioneltrilling  socialgood  creativity  innovation  amywhitaker  service  servicelearning  change  fundamentalchange  systemsthinking  us  civilization  transformation  money  power  aynrand  meritocracy  plutocracy  college  colleges  universities  schools  markets  wallstreet  helplessness  elitism  berniesanders  communitycolleges  aristocracy  reaganism  clintonism  politics  entrepreneurship  volunteerism  rickscott  corporatization  modernity  joshuarothman  greatbooks  1960s  stem  steam  commercialization  davidbrooks 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Thriving World, the Wilting World, and You — Medium
"We are a community branded as leaders living through this revolutionary moment, living through this extreme winning and extreme losing. It falls on us to ask the tough questions about it.

But we here in Aspen are in a bit of a tight spot.

Our deliberations about what to do about this extreme winning and losing are sponsored by the extreme winners. This community was formed by stalwarts of American capitalism; today we sit in spaces named after Pepsi (as in the beverage) and Koch (as in the brothers); our discussion of Martin Luther King and Omelas is sponsored by folks like Accenture, David Rubenstein and someone named Pom; we are deeply enmeshed and invested in the establishment and systems we are supposed to question. And yet we are a community of leaders that claims to seek justice. These identities are tricky to reconcile.

Today I want to challenge how we reconcile them. There is no consensus on anything here, as any seminar participant knows. But I believe that many of our discussions operate within what I will call the “Aspen Consensus,” which, like the “Washington Consensus” or “Beijing Consensus,” describes a nest of shared assumptions within which diverse ideas hatch. The “Aspen Consensus” demarcates what we mostly agree not to question, even as we question so much. And though I call it the Aspen Consensus, it is in many ways the prevailing ethic among the winners of our age worldwide, across business, government and even nonprofits.

The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this: the winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.

The Aspen Consensus holds that capitalism’s rough edges must be sanded and its surplus fruit shared, but the underlying system must never be questioned.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Give back,” which is of course a compassionate and noble thing. But, amid the $20 million second homes and $4,000 parkas of Aspen, it is gauche to observe that giving back is also a Band-Aid that winners stick onto the system that has privileged them, in the conscious or subconscious hope that it will forestall major surgery to that system — surgery that might threaten their privileges.

The Aspen Consensus, I believe, tries to market the idea of generosity as a substitute for the idea of justice. It says: make money in all the usual ways, and then give some back through a foundation, or factor in social impact, or add a second or third bottom line to your analysis, or give a left sock to the poor for every right sock you sell.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Do more good” — not “Do less harm.”

I want to sow the seed of a difficult conversation today about this Aspen Consensus. Because I love this community, and I fear for all of us — myself very much included — that we may not be as virtuous as we think we are, that history may not be as kind to us as we hope it will, that in the final analysis our role in the inequities of our age may not be remembered well.

This may sound strange at first, because the winners of our disruptive age are arguably as concerned about the plight of the losers as any elite in human history. But the question I’m raising is about what the winners propose to do in response. And I believe the winners’ response, certainly not always but still too often, is to soften the blows of the system but to preserve the system at any cost. This response is problematic. It keeps the winners too safe. It allows far too many of us to evade hard questions about our role in contributing to the disease we also seek to treat."



"Now, a significant minority of us here don’t work in business. Yet even in other sectors, we’re living in an age in which the assumptions and values of business are more influential than they ought to be. Our culture has turned businessmen and -women into philosophers, revolutionaries, social activists, saviors of the poor. We are at risk of forgetting other languages of human progress: of morality, of democracy, of solidarity, of decency, of justice.

Sometimes we succumb to the seductive Davos dogma that the business approach is the only thing that can change the world, in the face of so much historical evidence to the contrary.

And so when the winners of our age answer the problem of inequality and injustice, all too often they answer it within the logic and frameworks of business and markets. We talk a lot about giving back, profit-sharing, win-wins, social-impact investing, triple bottom lines (which, by the way, are something my four-month-old son has).

Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.

Because when you give back, when you have a side foundation, a side CSR project, a side social-impact fund, you gain an exemption from more rigorous scrutiny. You helped 100 poor kids in the ghetto learn how to code. The indulgence spares you from questions about the larger systems and structures you sustain that benefit you and punish others: weak banking regulations and labor laws, zoning rules that happen to keep the poor far from your neighborhood, porous safety nets, the enduring and unrepaired legacies of slavery and racial supremacy and caste systems.

These systems and structures have victims, and we here are at risk, I think, of confusing generosity toward those victims with justice for those victims. For generosity is a win-win, but justice often is not. The winners of our age don’t enjoy the idea that some of them might actually have to lose, to sacrifice, for justice to be done. In Aspen you don’t hear a lot of ideas involving the privileged and powerful actually being in the wrong, and needing to surrender their status and position for the sake of justice.

We talk a lot here about giving more. We don’t talk about taking less.

We talk a lot here about what we should be doing more of. We don’t talk about what we should be doing less of.

I think sometimes that our Aspen Consensus has an underdeveloped sense of human darkness. There is risk in too much positivity. Sometimes to do right by people, you must begin by naming who is in the wrong.

So let’s just come out and say the thing you’re never supposed to say in Aspen: that many of the winners of our age are active, vigorous contributors to the problems they bravely seek to solve. And for the greater good to prevail on any number of issues, some people will have to lose — to actually do less harm, and not merely more good.

We know that enlightened capital didn’t get rid of the slave trade. Impact investing didn’t abolish child labor and put fire escapes on tenement factories. Drug makers didn’t stop slipping antifreeze into medicine as part of a CSR initiative. In each of these cases, the interests of the many had to defeat the interests of the recalcitrant few.

Look, I know this speech won’t make me popular at the bar tonight. But this, for me, is an act of stepping into the arena — something our wonderful teacher-moderators challenged us to do.

I know many of you agree with me already, because we have bonded for years over a shared feeling that something in this extraordinary community didn’t feel quite right. There are many others who, instead of criticizing as I do, are living rejections of this Aspen Consensus — quitting lucrative lives, risking everything, to fight the system. You awe me: you who battle for gay rights in India, who live ardently among the rural poor in South Africa, who risk assassination or worse to report news of corruption.

I am not speaking to you tonight, and I know there are many of you. I am speaking to those who, like me, may feel caught between the ideals championed by this Institute and the self-protective instinct that is always the reflex of people with much to lose.

I am as guilty as anyone. I am part of the wave of gentrification and displacement in Brooklyn, one of the most rapidly gentrifying places in America. Any success I’ve had can be traced to my excellent choice in parents and their ability to afford incredibly expensive private schools. I like good wine. I use Uber — a lot. I once stole playing cards from a private plane. I want my new son to have everything I can give him, even though I know that this is the beginning of the inequality I loathe.

I often wonder if what I do — writing — is capable of making any difference.

When I entered this fellowship, I was so taken with that summons to make a difference. But, to be honest, I have also always had a complicated relationship to this place.

I have heard too many of us talking of how only after the IPO or the next few million will we feel our kids have security. These inflated notions of what it takes to “make a living” and “support a family” are the beginning of so much neglect of our larger human family.

I walk into too many rooms named for people and companies that don’t mean well for the world, and then in those rooms we talk and talk about making the world better.

I struggled in particular with the project. I couldn’t figure out what bothered me about it for the longest time. I wasn’t very good at coming up with one or getting it done.

And I realized, through conversation with fellows in similar dilemmas, what my problem was. Many people, including some being featured later tonight, are engaged in truly extraordinary and commendable projects. We are at our best when our projects take the system head on. But I wrestled with what I perceived to be the idea behind the project, of creating generous side endeavors rather than fighting to reform, bite by bite, the hands that feed us. I felt the project distracted us from the real question: is your regular life — not your side project — on the right side … [more]
anandgiridharadas  capitalism  change  cooperation  aspeninstitute  philanthropy  climatechange  inequality  virtue  competition  inequity  elitism  power  systemschange  privilege  finance  wealth  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  wealthdistribution  davos  riggedgames  goldmansachs  indulgence  handwashing  via:tealtan  risk  stackeddecks  labor  employment  disruption  work  civics  commongood  abstraction  business  corporatism  corporations  taxes  government  socialgood  virtualization  economics  politics  policy  speculation  democracy  solidarity  socialjustice  neoliberalism  well-being  decency  egalitarianism  community  indulgences  noblesseoblige  absolution  racism  castes  leadership  generosity  sacrifice  gambling  gender  race  sexism  emotionallabor  positivity  slavery  socialsafetnet  winwin  zerosum  gentrification  stewardship  paradigmshifts  charitableindustrialcomplex  control 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS
"GRACE LEE BOGGS: Well, I had no idea what I was gonna do after I got my degree in philosophy in 1940. But what I did know was at that time, if you were a Chinese-American, even department stores wouldn't hire you. They'd come right out and say, "We don't hire Orientals." And so the idea of my getting a job teaching in a university and so forth was really ridiculous. And I went to Chicago and I got a job in the philosophy library there for $10 a week, And so I found a little old Jewish woman right near the university who took pity on me and said I could stay in her basement rent-free. The only obstacle was that I had to face down a barricade of rats in order to get into her basement. And at that time, in the black communities, they were beginning to protest and struggle against rat-infested housing. So I joined one of the tenants' organizations and thereby came in touch with the black community for the first time in my life.

BILL MOYERS: One of her first heroes in that community was A. Philip Randolph, the charismatic labor leader who had won a long struggle to organize black railroad porters. In the 1930s. on the eve of World War II, Randolph was furious that blacks were being turned away from good paying jobs in the booming defense plants.

When he took his argument to F.D.R., the president was sympathetic but reluctant to act. Proclaiming that quote 'power is the active principle of only the organized masses,' Randolph called for a huge march on Washington to shame the president. It worked. F.D.R. backed down and signed an order banning discrimination in the defense industry. All over America blacks moved from the countryside into the cities to take up jobs — the first time in 400 years — says Grace Lee Boggs, that black men could bring home a regular paycheck.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: And when I saw what a movement could do, I said, "Boy, that's what I wanna do with my life."

GRACE LEE BOGGS: It was just amazing. I mean, how you have to take advantage of a crisis in the system and in the government and also press to meet the needs of the people who are struggling for dignity. I mean, that's very tricky.

BILL MOYERS: It does take moral force to make political decisions possible.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Yeah. and I think that too much of our emphasis on struggle has simply been in terms of confrontation and not enough recognition of how much spiritual and moral force is involved in the people who are struggling.

BILL MOYERS: Well, that's true. But power never gives up anything voluntarily. People have to ask for it. They have to demand it. They have-to--

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Well, you know as Douglas said, "Power yields nothing without a struggle." But how one struggles I think is now a very challenging question.

BILL MOYERS: She would learn a lot more about struggle from the man she married in 1952 — Jimmy Boggs, a radical activist, organizer, and writer. They couldn't have been outwardly more different — he was a black man, an auto worker and she was a Chinese-American, college educated philosopher — but they were kindred spirits, and their marriage lasted four decades until his death.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I think that I owe a great deal of my rootedness to Jimmy because he learned to write and become a writer because in his illiterate community nobody could read and write. He picked cotton, and then went to work in Detroit. He saw himself as having been part of one epoch, the agriculture epoch, and now the industrial epoch, and now the post-industrial epoch. I think that's a very important part of what we need in this country, is that sense that we have lived through so many stages, and that we are entering into a new stage where we could create something completely different. Jimmy had that feeling. "



"BILL MOYERS: And you think that this question of work was at the heart of what happened-- or it was part of what happened in Detroit that summer?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I don't think it's that they were conscious of it, but I thought-- what I saw happen was that young people who recognized that working in the factory was what had allowed their parents to buy a house, to raise a family, to get married, to send their kids to school, that was eroding. They felt that-- no one cares anymore.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: And what we tried to do is explain that a rebellion is righteous, because it's the protest by a people against injustice, because of unrighteous situation, but it's not enough. You have to go beyond rebellion. And it was amazing, a turning point in my life, because until that time, I had not made a distinction between a rebellion and revolution. And it forced us to begin thinking, what does a revolution mean? How does it relate to evolution?"



"BILL MOYERS: The conundrum for me is this; The war in Vietnam continued another seven years after Martin Luther King's great speech at Riverside here in New York City on April 4th, 1967. His moral argument did not take hold with the powers-that-be.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I don't expect moral arguments to take hold with the powers-that-be. They are in their positions of power. They are part of the system. They are part of the problem.

BILL MOYERS: Then do moral arguments have any force if they--

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Of course they do.

BILL MOYERS: If they can be so heedlessly ignored?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I think because we depend too much on the government to do it. I think we're not looking sufficiently at what is happening at the grassroots in the country. We have not emphasized sufficiently the cultural revolution that we have to make among ourselves in order to force the government to do differently. Things do not start with governments--

BILL MOYERS: But wars do.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: There's big changes--

BILL MOYERS: Wars do. Wars do.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Wars do. But positive changes leaps forward in the evolution of human kind, do not start with governments. I think that's what the Civil Rights Movement taught us.

BILL MOYERS: But Martin Luther King was ignored then on the war. In fact, the last few years of his life, as he was moving beyond the protest in the South, and the end of official segregation, he was largely ignored if not ridiculed for his position on economic equality. Upon doing something about poverty. And, in fact, many civil rights leaders, as you remember, Grace, condemned him for mixing foreign policy with civil rights. They said; That's not what we should be about.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: But see, what I hear in what you're saying is a separation of the anti-war speech of the peace trajectory, from the other things that Martin said. He was talking about a radical revolution of values. And that radical revolution of values has not been pursued in the last forty years. The consumerism, and materialism, has gotten worse. The militarism has continued, while people are going around, you know just using their credit cards. All that's been taking place. And so, would he have continued to challenge those? I think he would. But on the whole, our society has not been challenging those, except in small pockets.

BILL MOYERS: He said that the three triplets of society in America were; Racism, consumerism or materialism and militarism. And you're saying those haven't changed.

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I'm saying that not only have those not changed, but people have isolated the struggles against each of these from the other. They have not seen that they're part of one whole of a radical revolution of values that we all must undergo. "



"BILL MOYERS: Yes, but where is the sign of the movement today?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I believe that we are at the point now, in the United States, where a movement is beginning to emerge. I think that the calamity, the quagmire of the Iraq war, the outsourcing of jobs, the drop-out of young people from the education system, the monstrous growth of the prison-industrial complex, the planetary emergency, which we are engulfed at the present moment, is demanding that instead of just complaining about these things, instead of just protesting about these things, we begin to look for, and hope for, another way of living. And I think that's where the movement -- I see a movement beginning to emerge, 'cause I see hope beginning to trump despair.

BILL MOYERS: Where do you see the signs of it?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I see the signs in the various small groups that are emerging all over the place to try and regain our humanity in very practical ways. For example in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Will Allen, who is a former basketball player has purchased two and a half acres of land, with five greenhouses on it, and he is beginning to grow food, healthy food for his community. And communities are growing up around that idea. I mean, that's a huge change in the way that we think of the city. I mean, the things we have to restore are so elemental. Not just food, and not just healthy food, but a different way of relating to time and history and to the earth.

BILL MOYERS: And a garden does that for you?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Yes. A garden does all sorts of things. It helps young people to relate to the Earth in a different way. It helps them to relate to their elders in a different way. It helps them to think of time in a different way.

BILL MOYERS: How so?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Well, if we just press a button, and you think that's the key to reality, you're in a hell of a mess of a human being."



"BILL MOYERS: You know, a lot of young people out there would agree with your analysis. With your diagnosis. And then they will say; What can I do that's practical? How do I make the difference that Grace Lee Boggs is taking about. What would you be doing?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: I would say do something local. Do something real, however, small. And don't diss the political things, but understand their limitations.

BILL MOYERS: Don't 'diss' them?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Disrespect them.

BILL MOYERS: Disrespect them?

GRACE LEE BOGGS: Understand their … [more]
via:jackcheng  2007  graceleeboggs  activism  gardens  gardening  civilrightsmovement  us  prisonindustrialcomplex  education  climatechange  protest  change  revolution  democracy  struggle  rebellion  racism  socialism  occupation  riots  righteousness  injustice  justice  martinlutherkingjr  jimmyboggs  aphiliprandolph  detroit  evolution  changemaking  consumerism  materialism  militarism  vietnamwar  morality  power  grassroots  war  economics  poverty  government  systemsthinking  values  christianity  philosophy  karlmarx  marxism  humanevolution  society  labor  local  politics  discussion  leadership  mlk 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Continuous learning : it’s a mindset not a technology or product | Learning in the Modern Workplace
"In this fast-moving world, we constantly need to learn new stuff. In the workplace, this is particularly important, as I showed in an earlier blog post, where Jacob Morgan talks of the future employee moving from “knowledge worker” (knowing stuff) to “learning worker” (learning new stuff).

So how can organisations support continuous learning at work?

1. It doesn’t mean creating more training or e-learning and force-feeding it to people. It means encouraging and supporting individuals to continuously learn for themselves.

2. It doesn’t mean trying to manage everyone’s learning for them – and trying to track it all in a LMS, It means everyone taking responsibility for their own learning, and managers measuring success in terms of job and team performance.

Of course, many individuals are already doing this – as a natural part of who they are – and that is what is giving them a personal competitive edge at work (as well as in life). They are always aware of what they learning, they seek out new opportunities to do so, and they share their thoughts (often in their blogs).

Although many organizations are implementing social technologies to support sharing at work, it takes more than technology to underpin continuous learning

Continuous learning is a mindset not a product or technology.

It means ..

• working with managers to help them build a learning mindset in their teams, and to provide the time and space to do so – and to measure success by changes in job and team performance.

• working with individuals to encourage and support independent (self-organised, self-managed) learning, e.g. showing them how

-- to extract the “learning” from their daily work

-- to discover the wide range of learning opportunities on offer – not just internally but also on the Web through professional networking, “learning the new”– through both people and content, formal and informal; and

-- to share the good stuff with their colleagues

• working with teams to support valued (rather than indiscriminate) sharing of learning and experiences

Whereas there is still a need for a L&D department to provide training (and manage that it has been done), continuous learning is not the sole responsibility of the L&D department – everyone has a part to play."
learning  lms  janehart  2015  via:willrichardson  self-organization  technology  mindset  management  leadership  administration 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Why boarding schools produce bad leaders | Education | The Guardian
"The elite tradition is to send children away at a young age to be educated. But future politicians who suffer this 'privileged abandonment' often turn out as bullies or bumblers. A psychotherapist explains why"



"Bullying is inevitable and endemic in 24/7 institutions full of abandoned and frightened kids. Ex-boarders’ partners often report that it ends up ruining home life, many years later. Bullying pervades British society, especially in politics and the media, but, like boarding, we normalise it. When, in 2011, Jeremy Clarkson ranted that he would have striking public-sector workers shot, he was even defended by Cameron – it was apparently a bit of fun. No prizes for guessing where both men learned their styles. And no wonder that the House of Commons, with its adversarial architecture of Victorian Gothic – just like a public school chapel – runs on polarised debate and bullying."
psychology  education  schools  2015  nickduffell  leadership  bullying  bullies  bumblers  childhood  uk 
may 2015 by robertogreco
No Dickheads! A Guide To Building Happy, Healthy, And Creative Teams. — Medium
"There is a perpetuated myth within the design community, that a single visionary is required to build great products. Rubbish. Great teams build great products; moreover, in my experience, the greatest teams prioritize and nurture a healthy and positive internal culture because they understand it is critical to the design process itself.

In 20 years of leading design studios and teams, ranging from a small boutique consultancy to several in global corporations, I have become obsessed with the differences between a successful studio and a merely effective one. Inevitably what makes or breaks a studio depends on its ability to evolve skills and competencies while remaining fastidiously creative. However, simple adaptability is not enough. In an ever-changing hyper-competitive landscape, what I’ve found to be even more important is the value of laughter, empathy, a collective responsibility and a distinct lack of ego.

My measure of success — beyond incredible products — has been creating studios and a studio culture where the creative capacity of the collective team is palpable; where designers love to come to work, and visitors remark how positive and creative it feels.

The following, is an attempt to create a guide for the (often-overlooked, humanist leaning) behaviors that make a studio happy, functional and sustainable. I believe there is a straight line between how the studio feels, how we as designers treat each other, and the innovative impact of the team. The value of articulating the characteristics of an effective studio will hopefully make each team member a more conscientious contributor. Of course, these characteristics will ebb and flow to varying degrees and should not be considered concrete rules. Rather, these behaviors serve as a guideline for creating a consistently positive, and as a result, a consistently more creative place to work.

SAY GOOD MORNING AND GOOD NIGHT … While it may appear trivial, the act of observing (and even encouraging) these subtle cultural rituals increases a studio’s functionality by making it more personal.

BE OPTIMISTIC, EMBRACE FAILURE, AND LAUGH MORE… Design, through a humanist’s lens, sees optimism as a choice and creativity as an optimistic act. Therefore, constant optimism is a key ingredient to iteration. It fuels the persistence and tenacity necessary for sustaining the creative process, especially during challenging times. For example, the difficulty of innovating within a large corporation reflects a work environment where people often say, “No” or “I don’t understand” because change in corporate culture is often uncomfortable and slow. As a result, negativity must be confronted and countered — not just in a brainstorming session or during a proposal — but on a daily basis. …

EAT AND COOK TOGETHER … Team events within a big corporation are set up to facilitate these informal conversations but often do the opposite: you go to a nice restaurant, everyone orders expensive food and lots of wine, they drink until they get drunk, and you go back to your hotel room. One year, our budget ran low so we thought, “What if we did the opposite? Go to the wilderness, buy food, and cook for each other.”

What happened next was amazing! Somebody invariably took responsibility for cooking, another for preparing food, and someone else for laying the table. Without much discussion the whole team was buzzing around the kitchen, like a hive working towards a common goal. There’s something inherently vulnerable about cooking together and for each other. It’s humbling to serve and to be served.

GOOD STUDIOS BUILD GOOD WALLS It is important when you walk into any studio that you feel as much as see what is being built — the studio should crackle with creative energy. Specifically, I believe you can determine the health of any design studio simply by looking at its walls. …

READ FICTION … As designers we are often asking people to take a leap of faith and to picture a world that doesn’t quite exist. We are, at our essence, doing nothing more than creating fiction and telling good stories — an essential part of human communication. Wouldn’t it then make sense to, at the very least, invite fiction into the studio or at the most encourage it to flourish?

Storytelling is a craft. It’s emotional and it’s part of the design process. We should therefore read and study fiction.

DESIGN THE DESIGNING There’s one very simple rule when innovating: design the process to fit the project. …

EMBRACE THE FRINGE I believe creative people want “to make”. In corporations or complex projects, the products we make often take an inordinate amount of time. As a result, I assume that most designers (myself included) work on fringe projects — creative projects made outside of the studio. …

MIND YOUR LANGUAGE Language defines the territory of projects. It is therefore important to constantly check that people share the same understanding of a word, phrase or name. Ideally at the outset of the project you should define the language, almost to the point of giving each person on the team a list: when we say this, this is what ‘this’ means. This pedantic approach is particularly important in multicultural studios where a diverse language encourages multiple, sometimes volatile, interpretations …

MEET OUT IN THE OPEN There are very few highly confidential things in an effective studio, so why go in a room and close the door? Instead, move most conversations out in the open. They will be better as a result. …

EVERYONE LEADS AT SOME POINT … At any point everyone should feel the responsibility, or the opportunity, to lead. It is so important to be collectively responsible. No one person can lead these dynamic projects effectively in a studio because they are never two-dimensional. …

INVERT EVERYTHING Designing products for people requires that you get inside their minds, feelings, motivations and values. To do so, a smart designer must invert their own worldview and see the world through someone else’s eyes in order to empathize with them. This ability to empathize with others, a very humanist behavior, is perhaps the most important capability and characteristic of both a studio and a designer. …

HIRE A BOOKIE Competition motivates a team, that’s a given. But betting on shit seems to be galvanizing and brings a team together. …

BRING THE OUTSIDE, INSIDE … We spend most of our time with our colleagues at work rather than with our partners or families. So whether we like it or not, we are all going through this life together. We should embrace that fact.

Yes, I understand people value privacy and you must respect that boundary. But the reality of the modern studio is that boundaries often blur. In fact, I think it is good that they are blurred. Children, pets, and hobbies — shared human connections and interests — promote this intimacy. …

….. ALLOWED! … I believe it is a perpetuated myth that great products are built by a single visionary. Often the people who think they are visionaries are just egomaniacal Dickheads. I honestly believe that great teams build great products and that careers are made by people that prioritize great products first, not their own ambition. …

FIND A GOOD MIRROR The studio mirror is a distinct role and a job title. In our studio Luke’s role was to archive our work and reflect it back to the team in a unique way, much like the documentation of these principles. Pursued with persistence and the eye of a journalist, the Studio Mirror should capture not only WHAT is being made but HOW and by WHOM. This isn’t simply dumping files on a server but rather curating the content in a way that is compelling and consumable for the team. For example, our studio created a quarterly magazine. You can read ADQ2.1: The Launch Issue here."
rhysnewman  lukejohnson  teams  creativity  studios  openstudioproject  lcproject  2015  collaboration  tcsnmy  leadership  open  openness  transparency  process  fun  play  intimacy  sharing  language  storytelling  fiction  walls  design  place  work  food  optimism  failure  laughter  howwework  conviviality  cohabitation  facetime  relationships  publishing  reflection  documentation  jpl  omata  culture  fringe  display  planning  outdoors  criticism  connection  conflict 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Research Action Design | RAD: community-led research, transformative media organizing, and collaborative design to build the power of grassroots social movements.
"Research Action Design (RAD) uses community-led research, transformative media organizing, technology development, and collaborative design to build the power of grassroots social movements.

We are a worker-owned collective. Our projects are grounded in the needs and leadership of communities in the struggle for justice and liberation."



"RABBLE ROUSING RESEARCH
We’ll work with you to design and carry out the research you need for high-powered campaigns that get the goods. Communities are the experts, and research done right builds grassroots power.

TRANSFORMATIVE MEDIA ORGANIZING
Your media, your message, your community. We’ll help you plan and implement media organizing work that is transformative, participatory, cross-platform, accountable, and grounded in the vision and needs of your community.

COLLABORATIVE DESIGN
Design can be simple. Together, we’ll walk through each stage of the design process, including project ideation, prototyping, testing, and evaluation.

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
We’ll work with you to understand what technology makes the most sense for your community, then build it together. We’ve built websites, interactive voice hotlines, mobile tools, zines, and more.

COMMUNITY BUILDING
We believe in Voltron. Our work is better when we work together! We organize skill sharing and community building networks and events, both face to face and online."
chrisschweidler  bexhurwitz  sashacostanza-chock  grassroots  organizing  socialmovements  activism  leadership  justice  liberation  research  design  media  collaboration  collaborativedesign  technology  community  communitybuilding 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Freakonomics » From Good to Great … to Below Average
"Ironically, I began reading the book on the very same day that one of the eleven “good to great” companies, Fannie Mae, made the headlines of the business pages. It looks like Fannie Mae is going to need to be bailed out by the federal government. If you had bought Fannie Mae stock around the time Good to Great was published, you would have lost over 80 percent of your initial investment.

Another one of the “good to great” companies is Circuit City. You would have lost your shirt investing in Circuit City as well, which is also down 80 percent or more. Best Buy has cleaned Circuit City’s clock for the last seven or eight years.

Nine of the eleven companies remain more or less intact. Of these, Nucor is the only one that has dramatically outperformed the stock market since the book came out. Abbott Labs and Wells Fargo have done okay. Overall, a portfolio of the “good to great” companies looks like it would have underperformed the S&P 500.

I seem to remember that someone did an analysis of the companies highlighted in Peters and Waterman‘s 1980′s classic book In Search of Excellence and found the same thing.
What does this all mean? In one sense, not much.

These business books are mostly backward-looking: what have companies done that has made them successful? The future is always hard to predict, and understanding the past is valuable; on the other hand, the implicit message of these business books is that the principles that these companies use not only have made them good in the past, but position them for continued success.

To the extent that this doesn’t actually turn out to be true, it calls into question the basic premise of these books, doesn’t it?"
2008  goodtogreat  jimcollins  leadership  administration  management  business  businessbooks 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Deep Culture: A New Way of Work — Work Futures — Medium
"I will be keynoting at the Social Now conference on 21 April 2015 in Amsterdam. The topic is the theme of the book I am writing, Deep Culture: A New Way of Work.
The future attitude to work is to question all assumptions, and only retain what works, what adds to the mix, and what opens options. This is why autonomy, purpose, and the regard of those you respect will become the first theorems of a new logic in business: not because it sounds good when trying to hire people, but because it works, and because the legacy, shallow culture left over from the last century has led to the highest levels of disengagement since we started to pay attention. — Stowe Boyd

I intend to explore a number of contradictions that define the new way of work emerging today, which I am calling deep culture. For example, deep work culture is based on embracing dissent, not slavishly pursuing consensus. It embraces widespread democracy, and rejects oligarchic control of the many by the few. Deep culture is based on distributed and emergent leadership, where any and all can step forward to lead when it makes sense, instead of leadership being limited to an elite caste of managers.

The changing nature of work is happening so fast and we are so close to it that we have a hard time seeing what’s different, or to abstract the new principles that underlie the new practices. I hope to tease some of those out, and to treat them as a new set of requirements for work technologies of the next five or so years."

[via: "So what do you think @stoweboyd’s deep culture of work mean for k12 edu https://medium.com/the-future-of-work-and-business/deep-culture-a-new-way-of-work-857da007d11f "
https://twitter.com/Braddo/status/574427438110797824

replied: “@Braddo @stoweboyd Great question. Maybe moving from ~Monopoly to ~Calvin Ball / Nomic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomic )? https://twitter.com/rogre/status/574283912878252032 * ”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/574434845050318848

*referencing: “often the case ☛ school : learning :: finite game: infinite game*

*defined: https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574279146727194626 …”
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/574283912878252032

""A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play."
Finite & Infinite Games
Carse"
https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574279146727194626 ]
stoweboyd  work  autonomy  howwework  deepculture  change  2015  via:braddo  purpose  democracy  horizontality  dissent  consensus  control  leadership  emergent  management  administration  nomic  infinitegames  finitegames  jamescarse 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Future is Learning, But What About Schooling? | Higher Ed Beta @insidehighered
"I am, in short, moving away from my earlier conviction that schooling is learning enacted for public purposes through public institutions, and moving toward a broader vision for learning as a social activity upon which society depends for its future development. I am increasingly aware that the weight of politics and public policy upon the institutions of schooling is making schools less and less likely to be the privileged place where learning occurs in the future.

The future of learning in society is virtually unlimited, at least for the foreseeable future. Learning is the conversion of information into knowledge; information, in the digital age has become a vast sea of ones and zeros; information becomes knowledge by passing through some medium that transforms the ones and zeros into a conceptually organized form.

In the past, we have thought of this transformation as a single authoritative portal, called schooling. The advent of digital culture means that this portal is now one among many possible places, virtual and physical, where information can become knowledge. The type of knowledge and skill required to negotiate this increasingly complex world is completely different from what schools have conventionally done, and schools are institutionally disadvantaged as players in this new world, in large part because of the well-intentioned efforts of school reformers.

While learning has largely escaped the boundaries of institutionalized schooling, educational reformers have for the past thirty years or so deliberately and systematically engaged in public policy choices that make schools less and less capable of responding to the movement of learning into society at large.

Standards and expectations have become more and more literal and highly prescriptive in an age where human beings will be exercising more and more choice over what and how they will learn.

Testing and assessment practices have become more and more conventional and narrow as the range of competencies required to negotiate digital culture has become more complex and highly variegated.

Teacher preparation, hiring, induction, and evaluation practices have become more and more rigid and hierarchical in an age where the teaching function is migrating out into a more individualized and tailored set of learning environments.

We are continuing to invest massively in hard-boundary physical structures in an age where learning is moving into mobile, flexible, and networked relationships. In other words, it would be hard to imagine an institutional structure for learning that is less suited for the future than the heavily institutionalized, hierarchical world that education reformers have constructed."

[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/107596923875/oh-the-irony ]
richardelmore  2015  education  learning  howweteach  unschooling  dechooling  schooliness  edreform  netwrokedlearning  policy  standards  standardization  expectations  evaluation  hierarchy  schooling  decentralization  obsolescence  irrelevance  bureaucracy  knowledge  information  schoolreform  institutions  institutionalization  publicschools  society  scriptedlearning  testing  assessment  hiring  flexibility  mobility  experience  leadership  politics 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The Great Equity Test | EduShyster
"Xian Franzinger Barrett argues that accountability without equity means more inequity…

EduShyster: OK—I need you to set me straight here. Is ensuring that we continue to test kids in high-needs schools the civil rights issue of our time? Or is striking a blow against too much testing in high needs schools the civil rights issue of our time? Or is civil rights actually the civil rights issue of our time?

Xian Franzinger Barrett: The people who are talking about this genuinely on both sides are talking about the same thing, it’s just that the problem they’re trying to address is pervasive and terrible. This idea that we’re unseen and unheard unless we’re measured has a basis in history and reality, so I think it’s important that we don’t lose that. But anyone who says *you’re not going to be acknowledged unless you’re tested* is either too pessimistic or they’re racist. We also have to acknowledge that the very fact that people aren’t being supported or treated equitably unless they’re measured is racism. No one would ever say: *the rich kids in this private school—we don’t have a good measurement of them so we’re just not going to give them an education.* That’s just ridiculous.

EduShyster: That was only my first question and I’m pretty sure that already you have caused a number of heads to explode. So let’s keep going. You argue that accountability without equity actually ends up deepening inequity. Explain.

Franzinger Barrett: You think of that old expression about how when one person gets a cold, the other folks get pneumonia. If you mandate testing, it’s going to cause a mild disruption in most privileged communities, and it’s going to utterly decimate education in high-needs communities—unless, of course, there is some kind of intervention to stop that from happening. So when people say: *to acknowledge these communities, we have to do testing,* we need to ask why the communities aren’t acknowledged—and how are we going to make sure that this doesn’t become another inequitable thing stacked on top of people who are already burdened by inequity. You have the folks who argue that we need data on everything, everywhere saying that *if no one is watching what’s happening to the highest needs kids they’re not going to be supported.* But the flip side of that is that if there’s no filter for equity, you end up creating impossible burdens on the students, the parents and the teachers.

Xian2EduShyster: Well, I can tell you that you’re wrong because it says so right here in this internal messaging guide *How to Talk About Testing.* And one of the first thing it says is that if a parent or teacher tells you that there is too much testing, explain slowly and in simple language that they are wrong.

Franzinger Barrett: The burden of testing is inequitable. I’ll tell you what it means in the kind of environment that I’ve taught in. I happen to have a progressive principal now who advocates for our students and our building. But I’ve had 10 principals in 9 years in the Chicago Public Schools, and most have pushed the central office line on test at the staff and students of the community. So you’ve got a principal who spends most of her time outside of the building being harassed by higher ups about low test scores. She then comes back to the building and says *we’ve got a new plan and all of our resources are going to go to support test prep,* which means no field trips this year. Usually the plan isn’t based on any real research. The plan gets passed down, which means that every teacher is forced to ask themselves in an individual context: how do I weigh what I know is best for young people against my job? Teaching engaging lessons with culturally relevant curriculum is a hard thing to do even when you’re fully supported. But it becomes almost impossible when you’re basically being asked to risk your career in order to do that. What I need to do to really teach the highest needs students well automatically puts me at odds with higher ups in a district that’s focused on testing.

EduShyster: I follow you on Twitter, where you are a master of, among other things, the 140 character history lesson, especially when it comes to reminding people that inequity didn’t exactly arise with the advent of standardized testing.

Franzinger Barrett: I think it’s important that we don’t frame testing and the resulting narrowing of the curriculum as a new thing that has created inequity. While testing has created more inequity, high needs minorities communities have always been subjected to compliance-focused education—with one important exception: when these communities have run their own educations. Jean Anyon has written about the hidden curriculum of schools and how schools have been set up to teach empowerment and creativity and agency to affluent kids, but to teach working class kids to be compliant and follow orders. What’s interesting is that these sort of *improve everything* charter schools tend to fall into the second category. We can look back before Brown vs. Board of Education and say education was a catastrophe because of under-resourcing. When we look at the actual agency that African-American teachers had teaching African-American students, an argument can be made that it was better.

Ice CreamEduShyster: Since this interview is about race and equity, I have to ask you about racial tensions within the pro-public education movement. You’re a leader of that movement but you’ve also been a sharp critic of it for being overly white and frankly out-of-touch when it comes to issues of race.

Franzinger Barrett: So much of it has to do with organizing strategies and our core beliefs about what a pathway to freedom or a march to freedom looks like. We need to face the fact that it’s not possible for the privileged to lead a movement for educational justice on behalf of high-needs communities—and I would place myself in that privileged group here. Whether it’s our stance on testing or a just and empowering curriculum or teacher evaluation, we would all do better if we sat down and listened to the communities we work in and the students we serve. And we need to be prepared to hear some very harsh realities. I’m very interested, by the way, to see what happens this spring with our Network for Public Education (which I’m on the governing board of) conference in Chicago because you have a lot of great people with awesome motives who have worked their butts off for justice who are scratching their heads and asking *why are we so white?* I don’t think this is about shaming that. We have to address it head on and ask: *What is our long term plan to ensure that our movement is led by those most affected by policy?*

EduShyster: That idea that teachers need to listen to their students and the communities they’re from is a big part of the vision of CORE, the Chicago Teachers Union’s Caucus of Rank and File Educators, that you’re part of. Give us an example of what you hear.

Franzinger Barrett: In my 9th year of teaching in Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood, I did peace circles with my students, which are safe spaces where participants can share their experiences without judgment. It was like being a first-year teacher again. I had assumed for all of those years that the honors kids liked the way they were learning at the school and the highest-needs kids, who I spent my time with, didn’t. But what I found out was that all of those kids who were doing great on tests hated the general school culture too. It was just that they’d learned along the way that there was some compensation for towing the line. And that was really hard. It was hard as an educator to stand there and hear that, as good as your motives are, you’re still part of the team that’s trapping us in this oppressive place. I was really thankful that they were willing to tell me that. That led to a lot of effective activism to make our school a more affirming, welcoming place. It was a tough moment but something beautiful came out of it.

EduShyster: One of the things I love about you is that you talk about *peace circles,* and say things like *march to freedom.* No one talks like that! Other than listening to Xian Franzinger Barrett, who else should we be paying more attention to in the debate over the future of public education?

Franzinger Barrett: Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) did opt-out work that wasn’t covered much. The first thing they did was hold protests and press conferences to try to get the right to take the ACT—because many students had been declared ineligible in order to raise test scores. Then not long after they led a walk out from the ACT Workkeys test because they said that it was more likely to steer them towards non-professional jobs as youth of color. Some of the reporters found this very confusing and wanted to know how students could be demanding to take the tests one week and refusing to take them the next, but to VOYCE that was the whole point. They wanted a choice and a say. I just want to point out though that there tends to be a lot of overlap between groups that are doing great work around high-stakes testing with other community groups, because the issues all intersect. So it’s hard to be in community and care about testing and not also work on the school to prison pipeline or curriculum justice. So I’d point to folks like the Schools LA Students Deserve, Project NIA, the Black Youth Project, the Algebra Project, the student unions in Providence and Philly. Those are some of the groups I’m looking to learn from."
xianfranzingerbarrett  xianbarrett  2015  jenniferberkshire  teaching  howweteach  socialjustice  schools  publicschools  inequality  education  policy  measurement  oppression  control  power  learning  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  brownvsboardofeducation  integration  segregation  class  chicago  race  equity  justice  legibility  leadership  privilege  inequity  empowerment  agency  activism  curriculum  voyce  canon 
february 2015 by robertogreco
When Employees Talk and Managers Don’t Listen
"When faced with important decisions, managers can choose to rule in an autocratic (making unilateral choices) or democratic (inviting employees to have a say) way. Managers are often encouraged to take the democratic approach (generally called participative management) because research has shown that motivation, job performance, and morale increase when employees have the opportunity to contribute their concerns and ideas.

But this study finds that there’s a consequence to giving employees a voice: A company then has to listen. If employees conclude that a manager is just trying to win points by paying lip service to consulting them — and has no intention of acting on their advice — they are likely to stop offering input and, worse, act out their frustration by clashing with their colleagues.

The researchers refer to the illusion of having participative influence as “pseudo voice.” It comes into play whenever a manager ignores ideas slipped into suggestion boxes, concerns voiced in meetings, and complaints registered in employee surveys. And it is common even at companies that say they are committed to giving employees a chance to contribute their ideas. In that setting, according to the authors of this paper, some managers feel constrained to ask for their employees’ views even though they have no intention of following through on anything they hear."



"Conversely, employees who thought their manager was indeed paying attention spoke up more often and got along better with one another, improving the organization’s functioning as a whole.

With so much to be gained, some managers may be tempted to play the voice card cynically, capitalizing on the initial trust that employees typically exhibit. “If a manager succeeds in offering employees an illusion of influence without being noticed, the organization benefits from the positive effects of voice opportunity,” the authors write.

But such bogus efforts will most likely backfire on the manager, the authors warn. “It is likely that their employees will soon notice that their input is not regarded, and the accompanying negative feelings will undo the positive effects of voice opportunity,” they write. “As a result, employees are more likely to suspect pseudo voice in future situations,” and wind up convinced that their opinions are being ignored even when they are not.

To avoid this outcome, it is not enough for managers to solicit opinions only when they intend to listen — they also have to provide feedback that includes tangible evidence that they followed up and did something."

[via: http://blog.edlynyuen.com/post/110551366738 ]
management  voice  democracy  leadership  2015  farce  pseudovoice  administration 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Just Us Seeking Sustice [Village Leadership Academy (Chicago, IL) blog]
Welcome to our blog! The teachers and administrators at Village Leadership Academy (Chicago, IL)  will give you an insider’s perspective of real issues, real stories, and real solutions to inner city education. Here is a brief look into who we are:

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vn8uwNtjoz8 ]

The achievement gap is alive, but we refuse to let it hinder our students and their potentials. We are a group of educators who recognize that the current education system continues to fail low income students every year. Therefore, we have created a new and upcoming school that aims to educate our population in a very different way.

Not only do we raise our teaching standards and expectations of our students across core subject areas, but this year, we are also creating and piloting a unique, rigorous, and social justice based teaching model to reform education on the elementary level (and eventually through the high school level). Through our innovative model (beginning at Kindergarten), we aim to empower and transform low income students from the West Side of Chicago into inspiring leaders of tomorrow.

As educators, we know the importance of assuring our students’ success, regardless of their background. However, we recognize that student success cannot and should not end at high grades, test scores, and graduation rates. Rather, educational success is a prerequisite for further leadership roles and global change. In this sense, we will teach our students that their whole education is not only a fundemental tool to go to college, obtain a job, and better their own lives, but it is also a crucial stepping stone to evaluate, challenge, and improve current social, economic, and environmental systems.

Read the experiences, stories, successes, challenges, and insights of all our teachers and administrators in their day to day lives as we enter our first year of really changing education, in which we prioritize social justice, critical thinking, and a global awareness mindset as much as we prioritize literacy, science, and math skills. At VLA, we are not only giving our kids academic skills, but also critical skills and global awareness. We are teaching kids a critical and analytical perspective of all regions of the world and its chronological history. Some of the topics each class will cover include their own communities, a critical and chronological world history that covers all regions throughout time, human patterns, the social construction of race, past and present justices and injustices, and global responsibility.

This year, we will experience and explore answers to these questions: Can young kids understand and care about big concepts? Can teachers find solutions to inner city education problems? Can educating students on social justice and critical thinking at a young age make a difference in their self image, their ambitions, and their overall development? What should social justice education look like? Can a rigorous, social justice, and innovative school transform a group of underprivileged children?

Our students and fellow educators will undoubtably face many adversities and successes ahead as we embark on this journey together as a school family. Our kids are up against an entire perpetuating system of social, economic, and historical injustices that have followed them for too long. However, as educators, we will team with our students to relentlessly seek justice through education. Our staff firmly believes that not only will we teach our kids about justice (despite injustice in the world), but we will also spread justice through our children and their future successes.

Follow our journey and read our story…"
schools  socialjustice  chicago  villageleadershipacademy  education  leadership  teaching  learning 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Outside the Skinner Box
"There are two commonly repeated tropes about educational technology impeding progress and clouding our judgment. The first such myth is that technology is neutral. This is untrue. All technology was designed to influence behavior; the fact that a handful of people can stretch a technology beyond its normal trajectory does not change this fundamental truth.

It is not uncommon for a school committed to progressive learner-centered education to undermine its mission by investing in a well-intentioned school-to-home communication package that allows Dad to sit at his office desk and day-trade his eight-year-old when the expectation of continuous numerical reporting is offered by such a system. Similarly, I have encountered many independent schools committed to whole language development that then contradict their missions by using phonics software on iPads for no other reason than, “There’s an app for that.”

In schools, all hardware and software bestow agency on one of three parties: the system, the teacher, or the learner. Typically, two of these actors lose their power as the technology benefits the third. Ask a group of colleagues to create a three-column table and brainstorm the hardware or software in your school and who is granted agency by each. Management software, school-wide grade-book programs, integrated learning systems, school-to-home communication packages, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and other cost-cutting technologies grant maximum benefit to the system. Interactive whiteboards, worksheet generators, projectors, whole-class simulations, plagiarism software, and so on, benefit the teacher. Personal laptops, programming languages, creativity software, cameras, MIDI keyboards, microcontrollers, fabrication equipment, and personal web space primarily benefit (bestow agency to) the learner.

The second oft-recited myth is that technology changes constantly. If only this were the case in schools. Regrettably, much of what schools do with technology is exactly the same, or less than, what they did 25 years ago. Wordles, note taking, looking stuff up, word-processing essays, and making PowerPoint presentations on topics students don’t care about for audiences they’ll never encounter represent the state-of-the-art in far too many classrooms. We can do better.

I enjoyed the great fortune of leading professional development at the world’s first laptop schools nearly a quarter century ago. Those Australian schools never saw laptops as an experiment or pilot project. For them, laptops represented a way to rescue kids explicitly from a failing hierarchical bureaucracy. Every student learned to program from every teacher as a means to encounter powerful ideas, express oneself, and change the nature of the educational experience.

When teachers saw what was possible through the eyes and the screens of their children, they demanded rapid changes to scheduling, assessment, classroom furniture, and even school architecture. They blurred the artificial boundaries between subject areas, shared expertise, challenged peers, and transformed many schools to benefit the children they served. Those early “laptop teachers” often viewed themselves in new and powerful ways. An amazing number of them went on to become school principals, Ph.D.s, policy makers, and entrepreneurs. A school like Methodist Ladies’ College in Melbourne, Australia, changed the world with its existing teaching staff through a coherent vision articulated clearly by a bold, charismatic leader, David Loader, who focused on benefiting the largest number of stakeholders in any school community: the students.2"



"A Bold Vision for the Future of Computers in Schools

The future of schools is not found in a shopping list of devices and programs, no matter how interesting or revolutionary the technology may be. In order for schools to seize the power of computers as intellectual laboratories and vehicles for self-expression, the following traits need to be in place.

Awareness

Educators, parents, and policy makers need to understand that, currently, their investment in technology is not maximizing its promise to amplify the human potential of each student. Alternative models must be made available.

Governance

Too many schools conflate instructional and noninstructional technology. Such an inability to reconcile often-competing priorities harms the educational enterprise of a school. One role is of the plumber and the other of a philosopher; both are important functions, but you would never consciously surrender the setting of graduation standards to your maintenance department. Why, then, is educational policy so greatly impacted by IT personnel?

Vision

Schools need a bolder concept of what computing can mean in the creative and intellectual development of young people. Such a vision must be consistent with the educational ­ideals of a school. In far too many cases, technology is used in ways contrary to the stated mission of the school. At no point should technology be used as a substitute for competent educators or to narrow educational experiences. The vision should not be rigid, but needs to embrace the serendipitous discoveries and emerging technologies that expand the power of our goals.

Consistent leadership

Once a vision of educational technology use is established, school leadership needs to model that approach, enact rituals and practices designed to reinforce it, and lend a coherent voice leading the entire community in a fashion consistent with its vision to improve the lives of young people.

Great leaders recognize the forces that water down innovation and enact safeguards to minimize such inertia.

Professional development for professionals

You cannot be expected to teach 21st-century learners if you have not learned in this century. Professional development strategies need to focus on creating the sorts of rich constructive learning experiences schools desire for students, not on using computers to perform clerical tasks. We must refrain from purchasing “teacher-proof” curricula or technology and then acting surprised when teachers fail to embrace it. PD needs to stop rewarding helplessness and embrace the competence of educators.

High Expectations and Big Dreams

When we abandon our prejudices and superstitions in order to create the conditions in which anything is possible, teachers and children alike will exceed our expectations.

Some people are excited by using technology to teach what we have always wanted kids to know, perhaps with greater efficiency, efficacy, or comprehension. I am not interested in using computers to improve education by 0.02 percent. Incrementalism is the enemy of progress. My work is driven by the actualization of young people learning and doing in ways unimaginable just a few years ago.

This is not a fantasy; it’s happening in schools today. Here are a few vignettes from my own work.

Learning by Doing"
2015  garystager  computing  schools  education  technology  makers  makermovement  seymourpapert  edtech  physicalcomputing  governance  awareness  vision  leadership  nais  learningbydoing  learning  constructionism 
january 2015 by robertogreco
10 Reasons to Love Uruguay’s President José Mujica | Alternet
"1. He lives simply and rejects the perks of the presidency. Mujica has refused to live at the Presidential Palace or use a motorcade. He lives in a one-bedroom house on his wife’s farm and drives a 1987 Volkswagen. “There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress,” said Mujica, referring to his time in prison. He donates over 90% of his $12,000/month salary to charity so he makes the same as the average citizen in Uruguay. When called “the poorest president in the world,” Mujica says he is not poor. “A poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more. I don’t live in poverty, I live in simplicity. There’s very little that I need to live.”

2. He supported the nation’s groundbreaking legalization of marijuana. “In no part of the world has repression of drug consumption brought results. It’s time to try something different,” Mujica said. So this year, Uruguay became the first country in the world to regulate the legal production, sale and consumption of marijuana. The law allows individuals to grow a certain amount each year and the government controls the price of marijuana sold at pharmacies. The law requires consumers, sellers, and distributors to be licensed by the government. Uruguay’s experience aims to take the market away from the ruthless drug traffickers and treat drug addiction as a public health issue and will have reverberations worldwide.

3. In August 2013, Mujica signed the bill making Uruguay the second nation in Latin America (after Argentina) to legalize gay marriage. He said legalizing gay marriage is simply recognizing reality. “Not to legalize it would be unnecessary torture for some people,” he said. In recent years, Uruguay has also moved to allow adoption by gay couples and openly gay people to serve in the armed forces.

4. He’s not afraid to confront corporate abuses, as evidenced by the epic struggle his government is waging against the American tobacco giant Philip Morris. A former smoker, Mujica says tobacco is a killer that needs to be brought under control. But Philip Morris is suing Uruguay for $25 million at the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes because of the country’s tough smoking laws that prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces and require warning labels, including graphic images of the health effects. Uruguay is the first Latin American country and the fifth nation worldwide to implement a ban on smoking in enclosed public places. Philip Morris has huge global business interests (and a well-paid army of lawyers). Uruguay’s battle against the tobacco Goliath will also have global repercussions.

5. He supported the legalization of abortion in Uruguay (his predecessor had vetoed the bill). The law is very limited, compared to laws in the US and Europe. It allows abortions within the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy and requires women to meet with a panel of doctors and social workers on the risks and possible effects of an abortion. But this law is the most liberal abortion law in socially conservative, Catholic Latin America and is a step in the right direction for women’s reproductive rights.

6. He’s an environmentalist trying to limit needless consumption. At the Rio+20 Summit in 2012, he criticized the model of development pushed by affluent societies. “We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within our means – by being prudent – the 7 billion people in the world could have everything they needed. Global politics should be moving in that direction," he said. He also recently rejected a joint energy project with Brazil that would have provided his country with cheap coal energy because of his concern for the environment.

7. He has focusing on redistributing his nation’s wealth, claiming his administration has reduced poverty from 37% to 11%. “Businesses just want to increase their profits; it’s up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so workers have the money to buy the goods they produce,” he told businessmen at the US Chamber of Commerce. “It’s no mystery--the less poverty, the more commerce. The most important investment we can make is in human resources.” His government’s redistributive policies include setting prices for essential commodities such as milk and providing free computers and education for every child.

8. He has offered to take detainees cleared for release from Guantanamo. Mujica has called the detention center at Guantanamo Bay a “disgrace” and insisted that Uruguay take responsibility to help close the facility. The proposal is unpopular in Uruguay, but Mujica, who was a political prisoner for 14 years, said he is “doing this for humanity.”

9. He is opposed to war and militarism. “The world spends $2 million a minute on military spending,” he exclaimed to the students at American University. “I used to think there were just, noble wars, but I don’t think that anymore,” said the former armed guerrilla. “Now I think the only solution is negotiations. The worst negotiation is better than the best war, and the only way to ensure peace is to cultivate tolerance.”

10. He has an adorable three-legged dog, Manuela! Manuela lost a foot when Mujica accidentally ran over her with a tractor. Since then, Mujica and Manuela have been almost inseparable."
josémujica  uruguay  leadership  pacifism  militarism  guantanamo  simplicy  drugs  marijuana  gaymarriage  marriageequality  abortion  environment  climatechange  inequality  wealthredistribution  economics  war  humanism  consumption  poverty  capitalism  2014  via:jenlowe 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Joi Ito's 9 Principles of the Media Lab on Vimeo
"In a brief address delivered at the MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference, Media Lab director Joi Ito proposed the "9 Principles" that will guide the Media Lab's work under his leadership… some in pointed contrast to those of the Lab's founder, Nicholas Negroponte.

Ito's principles are:

1. Disobedience over compliance
2. Pull over push
3. Compasses over maps
4. Emergence over authority
5. Learning over education
6. Resilience over strength
7. Systems over objects
8. Risk over safety
9. Practice over theory"
joiito  mitmedialab  disobedience  compliance  authority  emergence  learning  education  resilience  systemsthinking  systems  2014  practice  process  risk  risktaking  safety  leadership  administration  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  knightfoundation  money  academia  internet  culture  business  mbas  innovation  permission  startups  power  funding  journalism  hardware  highered  highereducation  agile  citizenjournalism  nicholasnegroponte  citizenscience  medialab 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Balance : Stager-to-Go
"Ah, balance!

Balance is the Fabreze of education policy. It is a chemical spray designed to mask the stench of a two year-old tuna sandwich found in the minvan with the artificial bouquet of an April rain dancing on a lily pad.

• Balanced literacy got us systemic phonics.
• Balanced math begot Singapore Math worksheets.
• Balanced standards produced The Common Core.
• Balanced policy debates produced No Child Left Behind and Race-to-the-Top

A balanced approach to educational technology made computer science extinct in schools and has now taught two generations of children to find the space bar in a computer lab-based keyboarding class.

I could go on.

Balance is elusive. It is fake and lazy and cowardly and sad. Balance is embraced by those who don’t know or can’t/won’t articulate what they truly believe. Balance fills the void left by the absence of alternative models and excellence. It is anonymous.

Educators are told that passion should be tempered. Every pedagogical idea is just fine as long as it is “for the children.” We should just do our jobs and not complain about outrageous attacks on our dignity, paycheck, curriculum, working conditions, or the living conditions of the students we serve.

Balance fills the school day with mandates and directives and lots of interruptions that while offering an illusion of options make it impossible for a learner to focus on anything long enough to become good at it.

Balance teaches children that teachers are helpless pawns in a system they don’t control or cannot understand.
Balance is the absentee parent of incrementalism. As educators take “baby steps” towards what they know is right or righteous they lead a long and meandering hike after which the followers cannot remember the original destination.
“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963)


Educators are to remain neutral and seek consensus at all-costs. Balance programs us to find the silver lining in tornados. There MUST be SOMETHING good in what Bill Gates or Sal Khan or any number of a million corporations with ED or MENTUM or ACHIEVE or VATION in their names happen to be peddling.

The laws of the political universe, and education is inherently political, greet each embrace of “balance” as ten steps in a more conservative direction. There is no balance – just weakness.

I urge you to read one of my favorite passages ever written about “balance” in education. It is from a lesser-known classic, On Being a Teacher,”  by the great American educator, Jonathan Kozol. Please take a few minutes to read, “Extreme Ideas. [http://stager.tv/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Kozol-Extreme-Ideas.pdf ]”
garystager  balance  compromise  mediocrity  submission  2014  jonathankozol  resistance  hybridmodel  politics  policy  weakness  dilution  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  curriculum  commoncore  phonics  rttt  nclb  mandates  directives  rules  standardization  helplessness  gradualism  teching  pedagogy  schools  education  khanacademy  socialjustice  leadership  learning 
november 2014 by robertogreco
We Don’t Need New Models, We Need a New Mindset | Art Museum Teaching
"The old models we’re using aren’t matching up with the deeply complex challenges we’re faced with right now.

Income/Revenue
Old model: Ticket sales + government + foundation + corporate + wealthy patrons + small donors + endowment income = Balanced budget
New challenge: To generate new sources of sustained revenue and capital

Audience development
Old model: Sell subscriptions and market shows
New challenge: To engage new and more diverse groups of people in meaningful arts experiences

Governance
Old model: Give/get boards focused on fiduciary oversight and maintaining stability
New challenge: To cultivate boards that are partners in change

Evaluation
Old model: More ticket sales, more revenue, bigger budget, nice building = Success!
New challenge: To evaluate the success of our organizations based on the value they create in people’s lives

Leadership development
Old model: Attend leadership conferences and seminars, build your network, wait for your boss to finally leave/retire/die. (Alternatively, change jobs every year.)
New challenge: To develop a generation of new leaders equipped with the tools they’ll need to tackle the wickedly complex challenges the future has in store

Artistic development
Old model: MFA programs, residencies, commissions, occasionally a grant, get a day job
New challenge: To support artists in making a living and a life

Strategic planning
Old model: Decide where you want to be in 5 years. Outline the steps to get there in a long document no one will read.
New challenge: To plan for the future in a way that allows us to stay close to our core values and make incremental improvement while also making room for experimentation, failure, and rapidly changing conditions.

Funding allocation
Old model: The money goes to whoever the funder says it to goes to. Usually bigger organizations run by white people in major cities.
Our challenge today: To distribute funds in a way that is equitable, geographically diverse, and creates the most value

Note: I decided I was too ignorant in the areas of creative placemaking, advocacy and arts education to weigh in. I’ll leave that to my colleagues.

Here’s my main argument

Over 60 years in the field, we’ve developed standard practices, or models, in all these different areas. They worked for a while. Now they don’t. This has given us a false notion that we need new models in each area. This is wrong.

Models, best practices, recipes, and blueprints work only when your challenge has a knowable, replicable solution. Sure, there are some challenges that fit this mold. I’d argue that having a great website, designing an effective ad, doing a successful crowd funding campaign, and producing a complicated show are all challenges where best practices, models, and experts are really valuable. You might not know the solution, but someone does, and you can find it out.

But what happens when there actually isn’t a knowable solution to your challenge? When there is no expert, no model to call upon? When the only way forward is through experimentation and failure?

I’d argue that every one of the big challenges I name above falls into the realm of complexity, where the search for replicable models is fruitless. There isn’t going to be a new model for generating revenue that the field can galvanize around that will work for every or even most arts organizations. Nor is there going to be a long lasting model for community engagement that can be replicated by organizations across the country. For the deeply complex challenges we face today, there simply isn’t a knowable solution or model that can reliably help us tackle them. These kinds of challenges require a new way of working.

We don’t need new models, we need a new theory of practice

Instead of new models, I’d argue that we need a new theory of practice, one that champions a different set of priorities in how we do our work.

Our old models imply a vision of success that’s rooted in growth, stability, and excellence. They drive us towards efficiency and competition by perpetuating an atmosphere of scarcity. They are not as creative as we are.

What if a new vision of success in our field could prioritize resilience, flexibility, and intimacy? What if we could be enablers, not producers? What if we could harness the abundance of creative potential around us?

This new vision of success doesn’t demand consensus around a new set of standards, best practices, or “examples for imitation,” it demands a new way of thinking and acting that empowers us to shift and change our routines all the time, as needed.

A proposed theory of practice for the future

Here is my call to the field: a proposed set of practices that align with the world as it is today, not as it was before:

• Let’s get clear about the challenges we’re facing and if they’re complex, treat them as such
• Let’s ask hard questions, listen, do research, and stay vulnerable to what we learn.
• Let’s question our assumptions and let go of what’s no longer working.
• Let’s embrace ambiguity and conflict as a crucial part of change
• Let’s bring together people with different experiences and lean into difference
• Let’s experiment our way forward and fail often
• Let’s recognize the system in which we’re operating.
• Let’s rigorously reflect and continuously learn

In conclusion

When I set out to write this post, I wanted to question the premise that a conversation about “broken models” could even be useful in a time when expertise, excellence and replicability are the values of the past. I wanted to propose that we move past the very notion of models – let’s jettison the word itself from our vocabulary.

In the end, I guess you could call what I’ve proposed a kind of “new model.” But I’d rather think of it as a new mindset."
change  museums  museumeducation  2014  complexity  organizations  models  paradigmshifts  theory  karinamangu-ward  practice  bestpractices  experience  difference  funding  strategicplanning  corevalues  values  experimentation  failure  art  arteducation  leadership  evaluation  purpose  governance  audience  income  revenue 
september 2014 by robertogreco
'No aceptaría el Nobel de la Paz en este mundo loco' | Internacional | EL MUNDO
"Fiel a sí mismo, José Mujica ha cambiado las comodidades del palacio presidencial por una chacra a las afueras de Montevideo. EL MUNDO ha viajado hasta esta pequeña finca para entrevistar al presidente de Uruguay, el hombre que ha logrado que su país pueda presumir de ser el menos corrupto de la región."
josémujica  uruguay  2014  interviews  leadership  politics 
september 2014 by robertogreco
My letter of application to the Harvard Kennedy School's Senior Professorship of Social Innovation
"Dear Sir or Madam, But Most Likely Sir:

I am writing to apply for your advertised position in Social Innovation. As a Comparative Literature Ph.D, I am proficient in the fabrication of closed tautological circles of non-meaning; this makes me the ideal candidate for a job seeking “innovative teachers…for the position of lecturer in innovation.”

On the other hand, as an Assistant Professor of English, I know only too well the dangers of failing to innovate. For example, I am often forced to talk to human students who are sitting in bounded classrooms often wired for multimedia applications I am unable or simply unwilling to use. Paper books are an obsolete technology barely worthy of the word, and poetry, despite its promising shortness, takes far too long to understand. These hardships have granted me an acute understanding of the innovation deficit your department so bravely seeks to overcome.

In spite of English Literature’s disciplinary hostility to “innovation,” change agency, and both entre- and intra-preneurship, my training as a literature scholar would offer immediate benefits to your department’s offerings in Social Innovation. For example, I would be pleased to proofread your job advertisements, in order to innovate their presently sub-optimal levels of intelligibility.

The professorship is open to both distinguished practitioners, especially those with a deep understanding of social entrepreneurship, and to tenure-level scholars in fields related to social innovation, including social entrepreneurs, social intrapreneurs and, more broadly, social change makers.

“Social entrepreneurs” are not a field, as the sentence’s syntax suggests, and that final clause could be made nimbler by using the adjective “social” only once, as here: “social entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and change makers.” In addition, it’s not clear that “change makers” constitutes a broader category than “entrepreneurs,” yet neither is it obviously more specific. Given my exposure to creative industries like literature, I would be excited to invent more terminology to make this list of synonyms for “businessman” even longer.

But innovating new ways of saying “entrepreneur” isn’t the only thought-leadership I would exercise within the field of Innovation Studies. As thinkfluencers have argued persuasively, disruption must occur not only within fields and businesses but institutions and organizations. My first intrapreneurial initiative, therefore, would be to fatally disrupt your (hopefully soon to be our) department. Moving our courses entirely online and replacing department faculty other than myself with low-wage adjuncts armed with xeroxes of J.S. Schumpeter quotations would improve efficiency, reach even more students, and ultimately make a bigger difference.

To paraphrase a great disruptor: We must destroy the Professorship of Social Innovation in order to save it. I am available for immediate Skype interviews.

Sincerely,

John Patrick Leary"
2014  via:javierarbona  johnpatrickleary  language  business  education  highered  malarkey  highereducation  bullshitjobs  intrapreneurs  entrepreneurs  changeagency  thoughtleaders  leadership  thinkfluencers  disruption  endoftimes  socialentrepreneurship  entrepreneurialism  jsschumpter  innovation  canon  changemaking  changemakers 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How to Teach Kids About What's Happening in Ferguson - The Atlantic
"A crowdsourced syllabus about race, African American history, civil rights, and policing

When the unrest in Ferguson erupted, my husband made an observation that broke my heart: “The kids were supposed to start school today.”

For me, the perfume of synthetic fibers and freshly sharpened pencils always signals the start of a new school year, and it makes me ecstatic. As a child, the ritual began with a trip to the uniform store. My older sister and I trekked onto Clark Street via a city bus. Each year, we found ourselves before the counters of what had to be the world’s largest purveyor of Catholic school uniforms. “St. Margaret Mary, please,” we would say. The elderly salesman would fetch my mostly polyester wardrobe for the upcoming school year—a plaid jumper, pleated skirts, Peter Pan-collared blouse, acrylic cardigans—carefully folded in individual plastic bags.

I loved the preparations for the first day of school so much that I became a college professor. I’ve spent most of my 34 Augusts anticipating a school year.

From the beginning of the situation in Ferguson, news reports alerted the public that Michael Brown was to start college soon. Before surveillance videos and photographs of protestors with their hands up were available, people saw a stoic Brown in a bright orange, probably acetate graduation gown. He will not have a first day ever again. And for the children of Ferguson, who have yet to have their first day, they may remember the smell of death, the odor of tear gas, the stench of an American tragedy.

In this kind of situation, people all say, what can I do? I have few talents in a crisis, but I do know I’m pretty good at teaching, and I knew Ferguson would be a challenge for teachers: When schools opened across the country, how were they going to talk about what happened? My idea was simple, but has resonated across the country: Reach out to the educators who use Twitter. Ask them to commit to talking about Ferguson on the first day of classes. Suggest a book, an article, a film, a song, a piece of artwork, or an assignment that speaks to some aspect of Ferguson. Use the hashtag: #FergusonSyllabus.

From a children’s book about living with someone with PTSD to maps of St. Louis’s school-desegregation struggles to J. Cole’s “Be Free,” the Ferguson archive was tweeted, re-tweeted, mentioned, and favorited thousands of times. A small community has formed; the fabric of this group is woven across disciplines and cultural climates. Some of us will talk about Ferguson forcefully, others gingerly, but from preschool classrooms to postdoctoral seminars, Ferguson is on the syllabus.

The following list was compiled by a community of teachers, academics, community leaders, and parents to teach about some aspect of the national crisis in Ferguson, Missouri. This is a snapshot of the recommendations that has been edited. The contributions continue on Twitter."
ferguson  teaching  education  race  2014  marciachatelain  history  us  civilrights  leadership  activism  journalism  policing  violence 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Against Editors
[similar situation to education… teacher : writer :: administrator : editor]

"Here is the traditional career track for someone employed in journalism: first, you are a writer. If you hang on, and don't wash out, and manage not to get laid off, and don't alienate too many people, at some point you will be promoted to an editor position. It is really a two-step career journey, in the writing world. Writing, then editing. You don't have to accept a promotion to an editing position of course. You don't have to send your kids to college and pay a mortgage, necessarily. If you want to get regular promotions and raises, you will, for the most part, accept the fact that your path takes you away from writing and into editing, in some form. The number of pure writing positions that offer salaries as high as top editing positions is vanishingly small. Most well-paid writers are celebrities in the writing world. That is how few of them there are.

Here is the problem with this career path: writing and editing are two completely different skills. There are good writers who are terrible editors. (Indeed, some of the worst editors are good writers!) There are good editors who lack the creativity and antisocial personality disorders that would make them great writers. This is okay. This is natural. It is thoroughly unremarkable for an industry to have different positions that require different skill sets. The problem in the writing world is that, in order to move up, the writer must stop doing what he did well in the first place and transition into an editing job that he may or may not have any aptitude for. It is impossible to count how many great writers have made the dutiful step up the career ladder to become an editor and forsaken years of great stories that could have been written had they remained writers. Journalism's two-step career path is a tragedy, because it robs the world of many talented writers, who spend the latter half of their careers in the conceptual muddle of various editing positions.

It is also a farce. The grand traditional print media system—still seen today in top-tier magazines and newspapers—in which each writer's story is monkeyed with by a succession of ever more senior editors is, on the whole, a waste of time and resources. If you believe that having four editors edit a story produces a better story than having one editor edit a story, I submit that you have the small mind of a middle manager, and should be employed not in journalism but in something more appropriate for your numbers-based outlook on life, like carpet sales. Writing is not a field in which quantity produces quality. Writing is more often an endeavor in which the passion and vision of one person produces a piece of work that must then be defended against an onslaught of competing visions of a series of editors who did not actually write or report the story—but who have some great ideas on how it should be changed."



"When any industry fills itself with middle managers, those middle managers will quite naturally work to justify their own existence. The less their own existence is inherently necessary, the harder they will work to appear to be necessary. An editor who looks over a story and declares it to be fine is not demonstrating his own necessity. He is therefore placing himself in danger of being seen as unnecessary. Editors, therefore, tend to edit. Whether it is necessary or not.

This is not to say that editing is not a legitimate job. It is. It is also a necessary step in the writing process. But it is not the most important role in the writing process. That would be writing, which any honest editor will tell you is much harder than editing. (An editor who will not admit this is not worth listening to.) Reporting is a difficult chore. Writing is a psychologically agonizing struggle. Editing is not easy, but not as onerous as either of the two tasks that precede it. You would never know that, though, by looking at the relative salaries of the people who do the work."
journalism  writing  editing  administration  middlemanagement  administrativebloat  teaching  management  leadership  careers  careerism  2014  hamiltonnoland  thisisaboutteaching  education 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Why Talking About The Future of Museums May Be Holding Museums Back | Know Your Own Bone
"Many resources focusing on “the future” are actually communicating about emerging trends that are happening right now…and when we call them “the future” we do our organizations a grave disservice.

Here’s why:

1. Things that are characterized as the future within the museum industry generally are not about the future at all

Check this out: Embracing millennials, mastering community management on social media, opening authority, heightening engagement with onsite technologies, breaking down ivory towers with shifts from prescription to participation, engaging more diverse audiences, utilizing mobile platforms, understanding the role of “digital,” breaking down organizational silos…These are things that we frequently discuss as if they are part of the future. But they aren’t. In fact, if your organization hasn’t already had deep discussions about these issues and begun evolving and deploying new strategies at this point, then you may arguably be too late in responding to forces challenging our sector today.

2. Calling it the future excuses putting off issues which are actually immediate needs for organizational survival

What if we called these things “The Right Now?” Would it be easier to get leadership to allocate resources to social media endeavors or deploy creative ways to grow stakeholder affinity by highlighting participation and personalization? Are we excusing the poor transition from planning to action by deferring most investments to “The Future?”

Basically, we’ve created a beat-around-the-bush way of talking about hard things that separates successful and unsuccessful organizations. For many less successful organizations struggling to find their footing in our rapidly evolving times, their go-to euphemistic solution for “immediate and difficult” seems to be “worth thinking about in the future.” When we call it “the future,” we excuse ourselves from thinking about these issues right now (which is exactly when we should be considering if not fully deploying them).

Contrast this deferment strategy with those of more successful organizations who invariably and reliably “beat the market to the spot.” It isn’t pure chance and serendipity that underpins successful engagement strategies – these are the product of ample foresight, planning, investment and action…all of it done many yesterdays ago!

3. The future implies uncertainty but trend data is not uncertain

Moreover, common wisdom supports that “the future” is uncertain. “We cannot tell the future.” Admittedly, some sources that aim to talk about the future truly attempt to open folks’ brains to a distant time period. However, much of what is shared by those we call “futurists” is not necessarily uncertain. In fact (and especially when it comes to trends in data), we’re not guessing. I’ve sat in on a few meetings within organizations in which trends and actual data are taken and then presented as “the future” or within the conversation of “things to discuss in the future.” Wait. What?

Certainly, new opportunities evolve and trends may ebb with shifting market sentiments…but why would an organization choose uncertainty over something that is known right now?

4. We may not be paying enough attention to right now

I don’t think that referring to “right now trends” as “the future” would be as potentially damaging to organizations if we spent enough time being more strategic and thoughtful about “right now trends” in general. Many organizations seem to be always playing catch-up with the present. If organizations are struggling to keep up with the present, how will they ever be adequately prepared for the future?

5. Talking about the future sometimes provides a false sense of innovation that may simply be vanity

To be certain, we all need “wins” – especially in nonprofit organizations where burnout is frequent and market perceptions are quickly changing. The need for evolution is constant and the want for a moment’s rest may be justified. That said, it seems as though talking about “the future” (which, as we’ve covered, is actually upon us) is often simply providing the opportunity for organizations to pat themselves on the back for “considering” movement instead of actually moving. To have the perceived luxury of being able to think about the future may give some leaders a false sense of security that they aren’t, in fact, constantly trying to keep up with the present.

Talking about “the future” seems to mean that you are talking about something that is – yes – perhaps cutting edge, but also uncertain, not urgent, not immediate, and somehow a type of creative brainstorming endeavor. While certainly brainstorming about the actual future may be beneficial (there are some great minds in the museum industry that do this!), it may be wise for organizations to realize that most of what we call “the future” is a too-nice way of reminding organizations that the world is turning as we speak and you may already be a laggard organization.

Think about your favorite museum or nonprofit thinker. My guess is that you consider that person to be a kind of futurist, but really, you may find that they are interesting to you because they are actually a “right-now-ist.” They provide ideas, thoughts, and innovative solutions about challenges that are currently facing your organization."
museums  innovation  future  futurism  now  programs  excuses  vanity  change  procrastination  certainty  uncertainty  2014  strategy  talk  leadership  administration  socialmedia  communitymanagement  authority  millennials  engagement  technology  edtech  mobile  digital  organizations  nonprofit  personalization  obsolescence  colleendilen  nonprofits 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Choice-Making with Head and Heart: Finding the Ethnographic Center of Strategy | EPIC
Pull-out: "The power of ethnography is not in its methods, but in the way it shapes our perspective on the world. "



"Being an anthropologist has been a core part of my personal identity since graduate school – not because of all the years of schooling or the grueling dissertation, but because a holistic, systemic, and people-centered perspective on the world became woven into the fabric of who I am. The power of ethnography is not in its methods, but in the way it shapes our perspective on the world. We frame complex problems in holistic ways, seek out connections between micro-behaviors and macro-dynamics, and are inspired by the rich color of people’s stories. An ethnographic perspective helps us find meaning in everything we look at. Applying that perspective in our work is about translating that meaning into action.

These skills are all fundamental to the choice-making enterprise of business strategy. Recently I have had the great fortune to facilitate and inspire strategy development alongside leaders of multi-million dollar businesses, and truly experiment with applying our ethnographic tools to this endeavor. At Steelcase, all corners of our company are steeped in design thinking and we share corporate goals around people-centered, insight-led strategy and innovation. We have been upping the ante by expanding the role of our insights from product and service design to business strategy design, and this has provided me a rich opportunity to yet again reframe my own ethnographic perspective.

Here are some thoughts on why I believe more of us should be doing business or corporate strategy work:

Understand, imagine, and make choices.

We are pattern-finders of complex systems. We dig deep to understand root causes. We are attuned to the interactive dynamics between social and economic forces. We identify levers and triggers. We can paint pictures of complex landscapes. But that in itself is not enough. How will you chart a path through that landscape? What will you pursue and what will you leave behind? At Steelcase, we leverage a lot of tools from Roger Martin’s work to help us with this – define your ‘wicked problem’ for the business; apply integrative thinking to bring together disparate frames; and imagine future scenarios or ‘happy stories.’ What kinds of futures does the world offer this business? Imagine what could be, test the options, and then make informed choices.

Practice and partner.

Too frequently in the business world, research is treated as a service. Changing this attitude towards ethnography needs to begin with all of you. Present your ethnographic expertise as a practice and a way of making sense of your business. Position yourself as a partner to others who bring complementary practices to the table. Be honest and authentic, learn from and with your partners, and iterate your strategies as you go. By consistently practicing and learning as part of a multidisciplinary team, you are infusing more reliability into the choice-making endeavor and minimizing risk as you run your strategy scenarios through diverse perspectives and frames.

Lead with heart.

Strategy is about choice-making and setting direction, and robust strategies set a compelling direction with vision that people in the organization want to follow. As ethnographers, we often find ourselves as champions of people outside our organizations. My advice is to mirror that heart back into your organization. MIT’s Otto Scharmer has worked extensively on leadership approaches centered around an ‘open mind-open heart-open will’ framework, and I highly recommend looking at some of his work through your ethnographic lens. In many ways, he is talking about applying the ethnographic perspective internally to a team and organization. Empathy is not just what we do for our ‘users’ – it’s what we should be doing for our own colleagues and organizations.

In closing, a call to action.

Experiment with the ethnographic center of strategy – by putting your people skills to work to frame, find meaning, make choices for your business, and design stories that create compelling visions for everyone in your organization."
ethnography  perspective  2014  leadership  donnaflynn  via:anne  learning  empathy 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere. | New Republic
"Experience itself has been reduced to instrumental function, via the college essay. From learning to commodify your experiences for the application, the next step has been to seek out experiences in order to have them to commodify. The New York Times reports that there is now a thriving sector devoted to producing essay-ready summers, but what strikes one is the superficiality of the activities involved: a month traveling around Italy studying the Renaissance, “a whole day” with a band of renegade artists. A whole day!

I’ve noticed something similar when it comes to service. Why is it that people feel the need to go to places like Guatemala to do their projects of rescue or documentation, instead of Milwaukee or Arkansas? When students do stay in the States, why is it that so many head for New Orleans? Perhaps it’s no surprise, when kids are trained to think of service as something they are ultimately doing for themselves—that is, for their résumés. “Do well by doing good,” goes the slogan. How about just doing good?

If there is one idea, above all, through which the concept of social responsibility is communicated at the most prestigious schools, it is “leadership.” “Harvard is for leaders,” goes the Cambridge cliché. To be a high-achieving student is to constantly be urged to think of yourself as a future leader of society. But what these institutions mean by leadership is nothing more than getting to the top. Making partner at a major law firm or becoming a chief executive, climbing the greasy pole of whatever hierarchy you decide to attach yourself to. I don’t think it occurs to the people in charge of elite colleges that the concept of leadership ought to have a higher meaning, or, really, any meaning.

The irony is that elite students are told that they can be whatever they want, but most of them end up choosing to be one of a few very similar things. As of 2010, about a third of graduates went into financing or consulting at a number of top schools, including Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell. Whole fields have disappeared from view: the clergy, the military, electoral politics, even academia itself, for the most part, including basic science. It’s considered glamorous to drop out of a selective college if you want to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, but ludicrous to stay in to become a social worker. “What Wall Street figured out,” as Ezra Klein has put it, “is that colleges are producing a large number of very smart, completely confused graduates. Kids who have ample mental horsepower, an incredible work ethic and no idea what to do next.”

For the most selective colleges, this system is working very well indeed. Application numbers continue to swell, endowments are robust, tuition hikes bring ritual complaints but no decline in business. Whether it is working for anyone else is a different question."



"Is there anything that I can do, a lot of young people have written to ask me, to avoid becoming an out-of-touch, entitled little shit? I don’t have a satisfying answer, short of telling them to transfer to a public university. You cannot cogitate your way to sympathy with people of different backgrounds, still less to knowledge of them. You need to interact with them directly, and it has to be on an equal footing: not in the context of “service,” and not in the spirit of “making an effort,” either—swooping down on a member of the college support staff and offering to “buy them a coffee,” as a former Yalie once suggested, in order to “ask them about themselves.”

Instead of service, how about service work? That’ll really give you insight into other people. How about waiting tables so that you can see how hard it is, physically and mentally? You really aren’t as smart as everyone has been telling you; you’re only smarter in a certain way. There are smart people who do not go to a prestigious college, or to any college—often precisely for reasons of class. There are smart people who are not “smart.”"



"More broadly, they need to rethink their conception of merit. If schools are going to train a better class of leaders than the ones we have today, they’re going to have to ask themselves what kinds of qualities they need to promote. Selecting students by GPA or the number of extracurriculars more often benefits the faithful drudge than the original mind.

The changes must go deeper, though, than reforming the admissions process. That might address the problem of mediocrity, but it won’t address the greater one of inequality. The problem is the Ivy League itself. We have contracted the training of our leadership class to a set of private institutions. However much they claim to act for the common good, they will always place their interests first. The arrangement is great for the schools, but is Harvard’s desire for alumni donations a sufficient reason to perpetuate the class system?

I used to think that we needed to create a world where every child had an equal chance to get to the Ivy League. I’ve come to see that what we really need is to create one where you don’t have to go to the Ivy League, or any private college, to get a first-rate education.

High-quality public education, financed with public money, for the benefit of all: the exact commitment that drove the growth of public higher education in the postwar years. Everybody gets an equal chance to go as far as their hard work and talent will take them—you know, the American dream. Everyone who wants it gets to have the kind of mind-expanding, soul-enriching experience that a liberal arts education provides. We recognize that free, quality K–12 education is a right of citizenship. We also need to recognize—as we once did and as many countries still do—that the same is true of higher education. We have tried aristocracy. We have tried meritocracy. Now it’s time to try democracy."
williamderesiewicz  education  class  academia  experience  society  us  socialwork  admissions  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  clergy  lifeofthemind  ivyleague  2014  leadership  servicelearning  glamor  ineqaulity  incomeinequality 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Twitter / tlhote: "Bureaucracy is a construction ...
"Bureaucracy is a construction designed to maximize the distance between a decision-maker and the risks of the decision." —@nntaleb

[via: http://alecresnick.com/post/88006424970/bureaucracy-is-a-construction-designed-to ]
leadership  organizations  bureaucracy  decisionmaking  responsibility  risk  nassimtaleb 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Why You Hate Work - NYTimes.com
"Employees are vastly more satisfied and productive, it turns out, when four of their core needs are met: physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work."



"Put simply, the way people feel at work profoundly influences how they perform. What our study revealed is just how much impact companies can have when they meet each of the four core needs of their employees.

Renewal: Employees who take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who take no breaks or just one during the day. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and well-being. The more hours people work beyond 40 — and the more continuously they work — the worse they feel, and the less engaged they become. By contrast, feeling encouraged by one’s supervisor to take breaks increases by nearly 100 percent people’s likelihood to stay with any given company, and also doubles their sense of health and well-being.

Value: Feeling cared for by one’s supervisor has a more significant impact on people’s sense of trust and safety than any other behavior by a leader. Employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organization and are 67 percent more engaged.

Focus: Only 20 percent of respondents said they were able to focus on one task at a time at work, but those who could were 50 percent more engaged. Similarly, only one-third of respondents said they were able to effectively prioritize their tasks, but those who did were 1.6 times better able to focus on one thing at a time.

Purpose: Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable in our survey. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.

We often ask senior leaders a simple question: If your employees feel more energized, valued, focused and purposeful, do they perform better? Not surprisingly, the answer is almost always “Yes.” Next we ask, “So how much do you invest in meeting those needs?” An uncomfortable silence typically ensues.

How to explain this odd disconnect?

The most obvious answer is that systematically investing in employees, beyond paying them a salary, didn’t seem necessary until recently. So long as employees were able to meet work demands, employers were under no pressure to address their more complex needs. Increasingly, however, employers are recognizing that the relentless stress of increased demand — caused in large part by digital technology — simply must be addressed."
leadership  administration  management  tcsnmy  work  purpose  focus  schedules  employment  care  rest  renewal  productivity  2014  tonyschwartz  christineporath 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Avoid these three traps and become a more decisive leader - Quartz
[via: http://randsinrepose.com/links/2014/05/28/most-people-tend-to-move-toward-the-status-quo/ ]

"I recently oversaw a study designed to clarify the relationship between pivotal decisions and leadership. Based on our nationwide survey of 500 college-educated adults in professional careers, representative of 16% of adults in the United States, we uncovered four distinct decision-making styles, all defined by the level of accountability and ingenuity employed.

1. A leader continually works on improving how things are done in large and small ways, seeking different perspectives, and bringing people along a purposeful mission.

2. A manager focuses on the job at hand without greater vision or ingenuity.

3. A wanderer offers exciting ideas but can’t make things happen.

4. A clock puncher stays in a comfort zone and resists change.
Particularly when making decisions at pivot points—which by definition call for changing the status quo—you need to avoid the trap of risk avoidance and make decisions like a leader. However, our study found that, over time, most people tend to move toward the status quo–with increasingly unsuccessful results.

People slip in and out of the four decision-making modes, but tend to default to one of them. For those who find themselves not making pivotal decisions consistently as a leader, it is likely that they have landed unwittingly in one of three common traps.

Complacency

The first trap I uncovered is complacency—it’s simply easier not to rock the boat. New ideas take work and face too many skeptics. Insular thinking sets in, making ideas more safe than imaginative and solutions more recycled than on target. But a key finding in our study is that people who focus only on the day-to-day issues—even with diligence and excellence—don’t get the successful outcomes leaders get. To stand out as a leader, make appointments with yourself—literally, block out time on your calendar—to brainstorm on a regular basis about forward-looking needs of your team and business.

Busy-ness

Another trap that almost everyone falls into on occasion is busy-ness. Being so busy getting through a day can leave no time for matters that need careful thought. Daily interactions at the office become primarily transactional, such as project and information updates. Ideation and problem solving become work done solely in scheduled meetings and the annual planning process. There’s no other time to discuss new perspectives and ideas with colleagues and customers. It becomes a way of life and years pass since you had an idea that truly excited you. Our study found that leaders make the time to talk with a variety of people to explore a number of options and to gain support for ideas. So, I often advise people to make the time to have lunch once a week with someone other than daily contacts to have conversations that explore new ideas and options.

Playing it safe

A third common decision-making trap is having more concern for keeping your job than for doing your job. The job of meeting expectations can turn into managing by a checklist. While it’s certainly important to deliver according to agreed upon goals and expectations, the job of the leader also includes inspiring others through example and outlook. People want to be part of something that engages the passion and optimism of their leaders. They want their leader to care about the work more than they care about profits, and to care about what the team thinks. Our study found that leaders worked hard to build enthusiasm and to make sure that everyone affected by a major decision understood his or her thinking.

Overall, the most important differentiator of leader decision-making is reaching out to people, listening to them, understanding the problems people struggle with in their jobs, and building awareness and support for decisions. Often, people lend support simply because they feel treated with respect and appreciation when they were asked to give their perspective. Accountability for rallying support is so important that, if you do nothing else differently, do this as a regular part of your job and you’ll likely see more consistently successful outcomes.

Coming up short on ingenuity, the other key measure of leadership decision making, can also be a blind spot for many people. Often, they fail to see the extent to which they stay within the comfort zone of the status quo. They don’t know what they don’t know. From the vantage point of their comfort zone, new ideas appear as more work and disruptions than they are worth.

The challenge is to recognize these warning signs in your approach to decisions. It’s difficult to see yourself as others see you. It’s easy to trade off effectiveness for efficiency just to get through a day, especially when technology and globalization enable constant connectivity. This makes it more important than ever to look truthfully at the trade-offs we’ve made and which of them we want to reclaim, where we are, where we want to go, and take action on closing the gap."
juliatangpeters  leadership  management  administration  change  statusquo  busyness  complacency  institutions  organizations  decisionmaking  perspective  ingenuity  cv  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
How to Minimize Politics in Your Company - Ben's Blog
[via: http://www.vox.com/2014/5/15/5719916/why-salaries-shouldnt-be-secret ]

"As I developed as a CEO, I found three key techniques to be extremely useful in minimizing politics.

1. Hire people with the right kind of ambition—The cases that I described above might involve people who are ambitious, but not necessarily inherently political. All cases are not like this. The surest way to turn your company into the political equivalent of the US Senate is to hire people with the wrong kind of ambition. As defined by Andy Grove, the right kind of ambition is ambition for the company’s success with the executive’s own success only coming as a by-product of the company’s victory. The wrong kind of ambition is ambition for the executive’s personal success regardless of the company’s outcome.

2. Build strict processes for potentially political issues and do not deviate—Certain activities attract political behavior. These activities include:

• Performance evaluation and compensation
• Organizational design and territory
• Promotions

Let’s examine each case and how you might build and execute a process that insulates the company from bad behavior and politically motivated outcomes.

Performance and compensation—Often companies defer putting performance management and compensation processes in place. This doesn’t mean that they don’t evaluate employees or give pay raises; it just means they do so in an ad hoc manner that’s highly vulnerable to political machinations. By conducting well-structured, regular performance and compensation reviews, you will ensure that pay and stock increases are as fair as possible. This is especially important for executive compensation as doing so will also serve to minimize politics. In the example above, the CEO should have had an airtight performance and compensation policy and simply told the executive that his compensation would be evaluated with everyone else’s. Ideally, the executive compensation process should involve the board of directors. This will a) help ensure good governance and b) make exceptions even more difficult.

Organizational design and territory—If you manage ambitious people, from time to time, they will want to expand their scope of responsibility. In the example above, the CFO wanted to become the COO. In other situations, the head of marketing might want to run sales and marketing or the head of engineering may want to run engineering and product management. When someone raises an issue like this with you, you must be very careful about what you say, because everything that you say can be turned into political cannon fodder. Generally, it’s best to say nothing at all. At most, you might ask “why?”, but if you do so be sure not to react to the reasons. If you indicate what you are thinking, that information will leak, rumors will spread and you plant the seeds for all kinds of unproductive discussions. You should evaluate your organizational design on a regular basis and gather the information that you need to decide without tipping people to what you plan to do. Once you decide, you should immediately execute the re-org: don’t leave time for leaks and lobbying.

Promotions—Every time your company gives someone a promotion, everyone else at that person’s level evaluates the promotion and judges whether merit or political favors yielded the promotion. If the latter, then the other employees generally react in one of three ways:

a. They sulk and feel undervalued

b. They outwardly disagree, campaign against the person, and undermine them in their new position

c. They attempt to copy the political behavior that generated the unwarranted promotion

Clearly, you don’t want any of these behaviors in your company. Therefore, you must have a formal, visible, defensible promotion process that governs every employee promotion. Often this process must be different for people on your own staff (the general process may involve various managers who are familiar with the employee’s work, the executive process should include the board of directors). The purpose of the process is twofold. First, it will give the organization confidence that the company at least attempted to base the promotion on merit and second, the result of the process will be the information necessary for your team to explain the promotion decisions that you made.

3. Be careful with “he said, she said”—Once your organization grows to a significant size, members of your team will, from time to time, complain about each other. Sometimes this criticism will be extremely aggressive. Be very careful about how you listen and the message that it sends. Simply by hearing them out without defending the employee in question, you will send the message that you agree. If people in the company think that you agree that one of your executives is less than stellar, that information will spread quickly and without qualification. As a result, people will stop listening to the executive in question and they will soon become ineffective.

There are two distinct types of complaints that you will receive:

a. Complaints about an executive’s behavior

b. Complaints about an executive’s competency or performance

Generally, the best way to handle complaints of type 1 is to get the complaining executive and the targeted executive in the room together and have them explain themselves. Usually, simply having this meeting will resolve the conflict and correct the behavior (if it was actually broken). Do not attempt to address behavioral issues without both executives in the room. Doing so will invite manipulation and politics.

Complaints of type 2 are both more rare and more complex. If one of your executives summons the courage to complain about the competency of one of their peers, then there is a good chance that either the complainer or the targeted executive has a major problem. If you receive a type 2 complaint, you will generally have one of two reactions: a) they will be telling you something that you already know or b) they’ll be telling you shocking news.

If they are telling you something that you already know, then the big news is that you have let the situation go too far. Whatever your reasons for attempting to rehabilitate the wayward executive, you have taken too long and now your organization has turned on the executive in question. You must resolve the situation quickly. Almost always, this means firing the executive. While I’ve seen executives improve their performance and skill sets, I’ve never seen one lose the support of the organization then regain it.

On the other hand, if the complaint is new news, then you must immediately stop the conversation and make clear to the complaining executive that you in no way agree with their assessment. You do not want to cripple the other executive before you re-evaluate their performance. You do not want the complaint to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once you’ve shut down the conversation, you must quickly re-assess the employee in question. If you find that they are doing an excellent job, then you must figure out the complaining executive’s motivations and resolve them. Do not let an accusation of this magnitude fester. If you find that the employee is doing a poor job, there will be time to go back and get the complaining employee’s input, but you should be on a track to remove the poor performer at that point."
benhorowitz  2010  management  leadership  officepolitics  politics  work  workplace  business  behavior  psychology  groupdynamics  relationships  administration  organizations  promotions  conflict 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Why salaries shouldn't be secret - Vox
"One of the problems is that virtually everybody in corporate America — from senior management all the way down to entry-level employees — has internalized the primacy of capital over labor. There’s an unspoken assumption that any given person should be paid the minimum amount necessary to prevent that person from leaving. The simplest way to calculate that amount is to simply see what the employee could earn elsewhere, and pay ever so slightly more than that. If a company pays a lot more than the employee could earn elsewhere, then the excess is considered to be wasted, on the grounds that you could get the same employee, performing the same work, for less money.

How is it that most Americans still believe in this way of looking at pay, even as we reach the 100th anniversary of Henry Ford’s efficiency wages? Ford was the first — but by no means the last — businessman to notice that if you pay well above market rates, you get loyal, hard-working employees who rarely leave. Many contemporary companies have followed suit, from Goldman Sachs to Google to Bloomberg: a well-paid workforce is a happy workforce, which can build a truly world-beating company.

Such companies are, sadly, still rare, however. That’s bad for employees — and it’s bad for the economy as a whole. We need wages to go up: they’ve been stagnant, for the bottom 90% of the population, for some 35 years now. We also need employee turnover to go down: employees become more valuable, in general, the longer they stay with a company — and it takes a long time, and a lot of human resources, to train a new employee up to the point at which they really understand how their new employer works.

There are two things I look for, then, in any company. The first is high entry-level wages. They’re a sign that a company values all of its employees highly; that it likes to be able to pick anybody it wants to join its team; and that it considers new employees to be a long-term investment, rather than a short-term source of cheap labor."



"If you work for a company where everybody knows what everybody else is earning, then it’s going to be very easy to see what’s going on. You’ll see who the stars are, you’ll see what kind of skills and talent the company rewards, and you’ll see whether this is the kind of place where you fit in. You’ll also see whether men get paid more than women, whether managers are generally overpaid, and whether behavior like threatening to quit is rewarded with big raises. What’s more, because management knows that everybody else will see such things, they’ll be much less likely to do the kind of secret deals which are all too common in most companies today."
salaries  pay  employment  administration  management  leadership  2014  felixsalmon  compensation  transparency 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Meetings: even more of a soul-sucking waste of time than you thought | News | theguardian.com
"Nobody needs telling that meetings are a catastrophic waste of work time. But even so, it's a little alarming to learn just how much time they can waste. In the Harvard Business Review, three consultants from Bain report the results of an exercise in which they analyzed the Outlook schedules of the employees of an unnamed "large company" – and concluded that one weekly executive meeting ate up a dizzying 300,000 hours a year. Which is impressive, given that each of us only has about 8,700 hours a year to begin with. Including sleep.

The explanation is that a weekly meeting of a few hours doesn't just use up those hours for each person present; it creates knock-on time demands throughout the organisation. In this case, the weekly meeting took up 7,000 person-hours for the executives involved. But they also had to meet with unit heads in order to prepare for it, generating another 20,000 hours of meetings; those unit heads had to prepare for those meetings with team meetings (63,000 hours), and those team meetings generated numerous preparatory meetings (210,000 hours). And that total, the authors write, "doesn't include the work time spent preparing for meetings".

To be sure, the figures would mean rather more if we knew the size of the workforce involved. Nor do I have any idea what line of business this company's in. But it's hard not to conclude that the purpose for which it really exists is … having meetings. The Harvard Business Review doesn't quote Dave Barry, but maybe should have: "Meetings are an addictive, highly self-indulgent activity that corporations and other large organisations habitually engage in only because they cannot actually masturbate."

It's not my place to say that most or even many of those 300,000 hours were wasted ones. But there's plenty of research to suggest they may well have been. It would be hard to invent a worse system for reaching decisions than the modern meeting. For a start, there's evidence to suggest – as you expected – that it's the overconfident loudmouths who get their way, not the most knowledgeable attendees. Moreover, items higher up the agenda get more attention regardless of their importance.

Oh, and meetings are ground zero for Parkinson's Law of Trivilality, otherwise known as the Bike Shed Effect. People won't speak up about the big, complex, important decisions, because they're scared of embarrassing themselves. But they still want to feel (and appear) as if they're making a contribution, so they'll make sure to weigh in on the unimportant stuff instead. The result: triviality gradually comes to dominate. A decision about the construction of a new bike shed, as Parkinson put it, "will be debated for an hour and a quarter, then deferred for decision to the next meeting, pending the gathering of more information".

There are other reasons for holding meetings besides decisionmaking, it's true. But there's not much reason to think these purposes are best achieved that way either. If the goal is status reporting – catching everyone up on where things stand – there are numerous electronic tools for that. (These have the great advantage of being asynchronous: the boss can demand that everyone provide an update by a certain time, without requiring that everybody do it at a certain time.) And if the goal is generating new ideas, quiet, focused solitude may be more effective as brainstorming. (Here's an interesting technique, 'brainswarming', that seeks to combine the best of both.)

Or maybe you're using meetings primarily to foster a sense of togetherness and team spirit? Don't do that.

If it's not in your power to consign meetings to purgatory for evermore, you might at least suggest holding them standing up. That way you could reduce the time they take up by 34% without any reduction in the quality of decisions reached. (In any case, sitting is killing you.) If at all possible, though, find an alternative. "A meeting," the business writer Dale Dauten once wrote, "moves at the speed of the slowest mind in the room … all but one participant will be bored, all but one mind under-used". That's no way to spend 300,000 hours a year."
meetings  2014  productivity  leadership  administration  management  time 
may 2014 by robertogreco
What Does (and Doesn’t) Progressive Education Plus Technology Look Like? Thoughts on AltSchool
"What Does (and Doesn’t) Progressive Education Plus Technology Look Like? Thoughts on AltSchool
By Audrey Watters

What does it look like when a Silicon Valley engineer decides to reinvent primary school education? Former Google exec Max Ventilla has just raised $33 million to build AltSchool, which he says will be an updated version of Montessori, but a version that relies more heavily on technology R&D. The funding — and the philosophy — prompted EML editor Audrey Watters to ask what does progressive education plus Silicon Valley engineering look like? Does it look like progressive education at all?

In his keynote at the 2012 OpenEd conference, Gardner Campbell, an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, talked about the “Ecologies of Yearning.” (Seriously: watch the video. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIzA4ItynYw ]) Campbell offered a powerful and poetic vision about the future of open learning, but noted too that there are competing visions for that future, particularly from the business and technology sectors. There are competing definitions of “open” as well, and pointing to the way in which “open” is used (and arguably misused) by education technology companies, Campbell’s keynote had a refrain, borrowed from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”: “That is not it at all. That is not what I meant, at all.”

“That is not it at all.” I’ve thought of that line again recently when reading about a new school that recently opened in San Francisco. AltSchool, according to headlines in the technology press, seeks to “reinvent” [http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/01/meet-altschool-the-startup-that-is-going-to-reinvent-primary-education/ ] and “reimagine“ [http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/18/former-googlers-altschool-raises-33m-from-founders-fund-and-a16z-to-reimagine-primary-education/ ] primary education. “Silicon Valley startup model meets progressive education,” KQED Mindshift describes the startup. [http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/04/the-one-room-schoolhouse-goes-high-tech/ ]

Progressive education plus progressive technology — that is, technology in the service of inquiry, computing in the hands of the learner, the Web and the world readily available to the student, and the reformulation of school that could come as a result — is something we want to explore here at Educating Modern Learners. But looking at AltSchool, all I hear is T.S. Eliot: ”That is not it at all. That is not what I meant, at all.”

Silicon Valley Startup Model Meets Progressive Education

AltSchool [https://www.altschool.com/ ] was founded in 2013 by Max Ventilla, a former Google executive (his Q&A company Aardvark was acquired by Google in 2010, but he’d worked at the tech giant previously too). When he departed Google last year, Techcrunch speculated [http://techcrunch.com/2013/04/03/max-ventilla-leaves-google/ ] that his next project would be education-related, based on a tweet from his wife — a photograph of a pile of education-related books. Embracing the Silicon Valley mantra of “fail fast and pivot,” Ventilla has taken that reading list and jumped headfirst into education, hiring engineers and teachers (as well as Richard Ludlow, the founder of the education video site Academic Earth) and starting a new, for-profit school. (The startup has started the process of becoming a “B corp,” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefit_corporation ] meaning that profit isn’t its only goal).

It hasn’t officially opened its doors yet, but AltSchool is running a pilot program now with 20 students from age 5 to 12. Tuition currently runs $19,100 per year, but might be lower as the school plans to expand into multiple locations in the fall.

The students at AltSchool are not separated by grade; they’re in one large room that has various activity centers and space for solitary and group work. Mindshift writer Katrina Schwartz, who visited the school, writes [http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/04/the-one-room-schoolhouse-goes-high-tech/ ] that “There are times in the day when students are working on independent projects and skills tailored to their skill level, interests, and needs. ‘We expose them to a lot of different things and then sit back and observe, listen to what they say, watch what really excites them, and then build on that and ask questions that go deeper,’ [teacher Carolyn] Wilson said.”

“Personalization” and Playlists

There are elements of AltSchool that draw on progressive education, to be sure, and the startup says that it’s focused on helping students “drive their own education through their real-world motivations and interests.”

But the startup draws on a mishmash of educational theories and technologies, many of which undercut the claims of AltSchool being “progressive.” Although it touts the “personalization” of the program, it’s worth questioning here (as is often the case when that buzzword is used in education circles) what that actually means.

Ventilla describes [http://blog.altschool.com/bespoke-education ] the school’s “Personalized Learning Plan” as something “developed collaboratively with insights from teachers, family, and students. It prioritizes a set of learning objectives and milestones that are informed by a standards-based curriculum. It also includes goals for academic, social, and emotional development. The PLP maps from AltSchool’s global notion of what children should learn and how students generally learn best, as represented by their Learner Profile.”

And again, from the Mindshift description of the school:
Another borrowed idea applied to AltSchool is the School of One model in New York. Students at AltSchool work from an individual playlist the teacher puts together that’s keyed to his or her interests. The teacher can keep track of student progress on a dashboard, ensure the tasks have been completed, and adjust activities depending on how students are progressing. For example, recently, AltSchool teacher Carolyn Wilson assigned a video about California’s delta to one student, paired with questions about how water moves through the system.
“He moved it to the ‘done’ column, but it wasn’t done, so I told him he was turning me into a screaming monster,” Wilson said. When she checked his work and saw he hadn’t finished, Wilson tagged that assignment with a screaming monster icon and a note to the student telling him to go back and answer the questions and complete a reflection.

As a video filmed during a visit to the school by Techcrunch’s Leena Rao [http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/01/meet-altschool-the-startup-that-is-going-to-reinvent-primary-education/ ] also highlights, the talk about “personalization” is translated into a “choice” about which assignments to do next, a “choice” of whether to watch a video or complete a digital worksheet.

Although students have access to tablets, their usage of technology hardly seems transformational. The tools are used to deliver content and quizzes and to track students. Indeed, that seems to be the major point of using technology: for data collection and analysis to be used by adults (parents, teachers, school engineers). The tracking doesn’t just happen through the tablets either; the schoolroom is equipped with video cameras [http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/18/former-googlers-altschool-raises-33m-from-founders-fund-and-a16z-to-reimagine-primary-education/ ]
so that teachers can just press a button to document a moment. Ventilla says that teachers, parents and students who have been able to actually watch a breakthrough moment or a moment of breakdown have been able to help their children learn better. AltSchool has built audio hardware to better record in noisy settings, and video is uploaded to an online CMS that both parents and teachers can access.

Can we reconcile education as surveillance and education as a practice of freedom? I’m not so sure.

A New Model? An Old Model?

AltSchool recently raised [http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/18/former-googlers-altschool-raises-33m-from-founders-fund-and-a16z-to-reimagine-primary-education/ ] $33 million from Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Harrison Metal, John Doerr, Jonathan Sackler, Learn Capital, and Omidyar Network. (It had previously raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding. [http://www.crunchbase.com/organization/altschool ]) As San Francisco Chronicle writer Jill Tucker remarked [http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/AltSchool-gets-33-million-in-venture-capital-5327204.php ] about the $33 million, “In the public school world, that much money would be enough to support a small school district for a year or pay the annual salaries of more than 400 experienced teachers. Ventilla plans to mostly spend it on engineers. The AltSchool computer whizzes will design software and applications that make payroll, hiring, admissions, facilities services, purchasing and other services — typically done by a school district’s central office staff — electronically seamless, Ventilla said.”

“We’re not trying to make existing schools work better. We are trying to actually advance a new model of a school.” – Max Ventilla
“We’re not trying to make existing schools work better,” Ventilla has said in several interviews. [http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/04/the-one-room-schoolhouse-goes-high-tech/ ] “We are trying to actually advance a new model of a school.”

AltSchool raises so many questions about what progressive education plus technology should or could look like; it certainly shows what I’d argue is the sort of superficial approach to “fixing education” that’s all too common from Silicon Valley technologists. Read a book or two; then start an education company. How hard can it be?

One of the things that I find particularly fascinating (and frightening) about this approach is how little it knows about the history of … [more]
audreywatters  2014  progressive  education  progressiveeducation  altschool  johndewey  gardnercampbell  freedom  surveillance  coercion  control  maxventilla  pedagogy  technology  google  montessori  learning  leadership  californianideology  comments  jalfredprufrock  tseliot 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Reciprocal Needs in the Employment Relation
* Reciprocal Needs in the Employment Relation

We can look at two sides of the management coin: What do the individuals get out of it? And what benefit does the whole system derive from it?

I will disregard any benefits that accrue to managers just by holding the position of managing. Those are just circular logic. Circular logic abounds in discussions of management and hierarchy. For example, consider status reports. It will be said that status reports are necessary so managers know what their employees are working on. It's circular because it treats the existence of hierarchic management as axiomatic, then demands an interaction to serve that hierarchy. In other words, I will not consider interactions that only exist to serve the structure itself.

Let's look first at the needs that an individual has as an employee. From "Drive" we see that an individual is motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose\cite{Pink09}. Over the long-term, these positive motivators have the greatest effect. However, they do require security and trust. A developer working on a big, change-the-world project still can't be motivated if they fear layoffs will be coming next month.

Over the short term, an individual also needs to avoid the demotivators. A bad fit in workload, autonomy, rewards, fairness, community, or values\cite{Masl97} will outweigh long-term positives by about three to one.\cite{Amab11}

I will frame these needs in the form of questions to which an individual would like to have answers.

1. "What should I be working on now?"
1. "Do I know how to do it?"
1. "Can I work in a way that I enjoy?"
1. "Am I good at what I do?"
1. "Does my work mean anything?"
1. "Can I get my work done in time?"
1. "Can I get the resources I need to do the work? (Training,
equipment, assistance.)"
1. "Am I making enough money?"
1. "Am I being treated fairly, compared to my peers in the company?"
1. "Am I being treated fairly, compared to my peers in the rest of the
industry?"
1. "How do I fit in here?"
1. "Does anybody care about me?"
1. "Does anybody care about my work?"
1. "Do I agree with my colleagues about the right ways to work, act,
and interact?"
1. "Where am I going?"
1. "Can I get there from here?"

With each of these needs, they are not met by "the company", because "the company" is not a corporeal entity: it cannot talk, think, act, or feel. Rather, each of these needs can be met by interactions with other members of the company. By the same token, if a need goes unmet, it is unmet because some important interaction is not handled.

Some questions also address relations among people. These are not questions a person would ask about themselves, but rather questions a person would ask about how to affect other people in their company:

1. "How can I deliver a hard message to X?"
1. "I believe that X is not meeting their commitments. How can I get that fixed?"
1. "How do I ensure I never work with X again?"
1. "I know that X is creating legal or financial problems. What should I do?"

We will turn now to the reciprocal side of the employment relationship, which is the needs of the system as a whole.

In order to keep functioning, the system has to be able to deal with certain issues. When I say "the system", of course I mean that the individuals in the system need a way to arrive at collectively acceptable decisions and implement those decisions.[fn::Although John Gall would disagree with me. In his view the system has ends of its
own, namely those which cause the system itself to grow.] Unfortunately, there will always be some systemic needs that are not unanimously popular. For example, you can't ask for 100% decision about the need to terminate someone's employment. It may be necessary for the company, and even good for the majority of the people, but it won't be a unanimous decision. Other decisions may involve changing the character of the system by hiring people in new skill sets or service areas or exiting service areas that many of us enjoy.

These system mechanisms can't be expressed as personal questions, since there is no "I" to voice them. I'll write these as declarations of systemic needs. In order to function and scale, the system needs mechanisms to:

1. Limit expenditures to within available resources.
1. Ensure that all needed tasks get done, not just the fun ones.
1. Incorporate new people as the company grows.
1. Correct problems that could disrupt the system.
1. Reposition within the market.
1. Converge on cultural and community standards."
via:sha  reciprocity  employment  management  relationships  motivation  hierarchy  administration  leadership  autonomy  mastery  danielpink  purpose  security  trust  care  belonging  systems  systemsthinking 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Fast Path to a Great UX - Increased Exposure Hours
"As we've been researching what design teams need to do to create great user experiences, we've stumbled across an interesting finding. It's the closest thing we've found to a silver bullet when it comes to reliably improving the designs teams produce. This solution is so simple that we didn't believe it at first. After all, if it was this easy, why isn't everyone already doing it?

To make sure, we've spent the last few years working directly with teams, showing them what we found and helping them do it themselves. By golly, it actually worked. We were stunned.

The solution? Exposure hours. The number of hours each team member is exposed directly to real users interacting with the team's designs or the team's competitor's designs. There is a direct correlation between this exposure and the improvements we see in the designs that team produces."

[via: http://tinyletter.com/danhon/letters/episode-sixty-we-have-always-been-at-war-our-independence-day-spimes-duh ]
design  research  usability  ux  observation  understanding  empathy  2010  learning  administration  leadership  management  tcsnmy  attention  exposure  exposurehours  organizations  fieldwork  fieldvisits  ethnography  listening  noticing 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Episode Sixty: We Have Always Been At War; Our Independence Day; Spimes, Duh
"Last episode I talked about the Chief Empathy Officer, and in case I wasn't clear, I want to make it abundantly so this time: I think having a chief empathy officer is a stupid idea, exactly the kind of tactic that makes it look like you're jumping on a bandwagon and fixing something without fixing anything at all. It's almost as bad as having a hived-off UX team and exactly the kind of thing where, as Matt Locke points out, a general good practice in business is promoted up to the C-level suite so that you don't have to do deal with it anymore.

Let me put it clearly: no one person in an organisation should have sole responsibility for "empathy", especially in a manner that's going to make it easy for detractors to make fun of it. Instead, customer-centricism is something that needs to be distributed throughout, from the bottom-up as well as top-down

Leisa Reichelt tweeted at me in response to that episode the concept of 'exposure hours'[1], which is such a blindingly simple idea that you're kind of surprised (and then when you think about, it understand why) more companies or organisations don't use it. It's just this: the more time your designers or product owners spend with end-users, the better designed those products or services tend to be: "There is a direct correlation between this exposure and the improvements we see in the designs that team produces." And this isn't just for design personnel - as soon as non-design personnel were included in the contact hours, the entire group would fall together. This is as much an argument for audience/customer contact across each functional unit or team across an organisation.

An aside: there's a wonderful tv series (it's true! Such things exist!) called Back To The Floor[2] which started in the UK in which, for entertainment purposes (and the occasional tear-jerker), C-level executives are forced to take entry level jobs in their organisations and are bluntly confronted with the humanity of their employees. Because, you know, living in a bubble.

At this point my brain wanders off and looks at the anti-pattern. Capitalism is all too often thought of as being combative and the American strand in particular borrows heavily from sports metaphors (crushing it, home run, left field, sprint). It's all anyone can do to try and impress that often capitalism doesn't necessarily have to be a zero-sum game, and that type of thinking feels like it's at odds with a customer-centric or empathy-driven organisation.

The anti-pattern, of course, is dehumanising your enemies so you can make it easier to kill them. Losing shopkeepers with face-to-face interaction dehumanises customers. Interchangeable call-center workers dehumanise customers. Reducing a customer to a statistic and traffic-light feedback mechanisms. In essence, putting up barriers and abstracting away difficult-to-quantise or measure or digitise measures that seek to make the customer experience more predictable and scaleable.

In some ways, you can get at this empathy intuitively and by having strong direction - if you're lucky. And by lucky, I mean *really* lucky - you're the kind of person who's a one in a million Steve Jobs type, and remember even *he* got it wrong with things like the hocky puck mouse and, well, iTunes, where the strategy was right and the initial user experience (plug in a first gen iPod, FireWire your songs over) was great but then degraded over time with lack of focus. And Jobs, well, Jobs was just making sure that he understood *himself* really well and appeared to be pretty true to that and wouldn't stand for any shit. So at least you get clarity of vision for products like iPhone or iPad that way.

But for everyone else, and for everyone else, chances are blindingly highly likely that you're not Steve Jobs, in which case research to understand the audience and the user need is absolutely critical. So the question is: why do hardly any organisations do this?

It's interesting because for engineers and entrepreneuers the first product is often the "scratch your own itch", which makes sense, because you understand your own itch and you know exactly where it's itching and what you might need to un-itch yourself. But when that product or service starts to grow outside of that market or that population, then having the ability to understand the people you're interacting with becomes super important, I think.

There are ways to mitigate needing to have a super-developed corporate sense of empathy, though. You can use network effects to tie people in social applications, you can use local monopolies like in fixed-line telecommunications, and plain-old regulation of competitors and limited service in air travel. But the flip side of Moore's Law is that communication and computation has gotten ever cheaper, so all of these organisations got "social", which the consultants remind us is all about having "conversations". And the thing about having conversations with an organisation that lacks empathy, or lacks the ability to act upon empathy, is that over time, they end up feeling like a sociopath.

For those of you who have been following along at home, the protracted amount of thinking in this area may or may not have something to do with one of my side projects.

[1] http://www.uie.com/articles/user_exposure_hours/
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_to_the_Floor_(UK_TV_series) "
danhon  empathy  titles  culture  ux  organizations  administration  leadership  management  tcsnmy  knowing  leisareichelt  exposurehours  exposure  attention  fieldwork  fieldvisits  ethnography  listening  noticing 
april 2014 by robertogreco