Friday, October 27, 2017

Self-Directed

When it comes to getting better, either as individuals or as organizations, most of us understand that there is an element of learning involved.  

Ideally, it looks something like this:

  1. We clarify what we want to accomplish, specify where it is we want to go
  2. We reflect on what we know or how we performed
  3. We assess whether or not we've met our expectations accordingly
  4. We put a plan in place to either improve on the performance or correct underperformance
  5. We act on that plan (not put it in a three-ring binder and store it on a shelf)
  6. Back to Step 1 - regularly, frequently, habitually, intentionally
One word seems to capture this whole process nicely - LEARNING!

The best learning is self-directed and intrinsically motivated.  Words we often equate with learning, such as "training," "workshops," "classes," "professional development," "in-service," etc. imply that learning is something that others do to us or do for us.  It's almost as if we abdicate the responsibility for our learning to someone else, as if we're at the mercy of others to affect OUR learning.  

Nope! 

Getting better, every day, on purpose, best occurs when WE initiate and engage our learning in a self-directed manner, not waiting for someone else to do it to us or for us.

Learn on!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Forecasting

The best organizational leaders I know are excellent forecasters.  

Just like the best weather forecasters, these wise leaders run models (in their minds, with their teams, across their networks) of the possible outcomes of a particular event/initiative/election/scenario/conversation.

Just like the best weather forecasters, these wise leaders know that, when the dust settles, only ONE of the possible scenarios will have played out (even though hundreds of potentialities might have been considered).

Just like the best weather forecasters, these wise leaders know that shifting conditions can change the outcome potentialities in a matter of minutes, completely undoing and/or negating previous anticipations (and any commensurate contingencies put in place).

Just like the best weather forecasters, these wise leaders know that the ultimate outcomes are NOT within their control.  Mother Nature always bats last.

Just like the best efforts in weather forecasting, these wise leaders know that, at the end of the day, they could be proven wrong.  Or right.  Neither seems to matter that much because the attention of the public/organization shifts quickly to the next storm on the horizon.

Why, then, invest the effort, time, and thinking into anticipating futures?  With weather forecasting, it's a matter of safety, risk management, and saving lives.  In short, stewardship.  Same goes for the motivations behind such forecasting by organizational leaders (though hopefully not so much about saving lives).  

For leaders there is the added element of organizational stability and stewardship.  The wisest leaders invest time in those forecasting and contingency planning activities because it's the right thing to do, for the team.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Messiness

Getting better ain't easy.  It almost always means adjusting our habits (either adopting new ones or abandoning old ones).

Getting better as an individual is hard, really hard.  

Getting better as a small team is harder, really harder.

Getting better as an entire organization is harderer, REALLY harderer.

Why?  With each added person, the complexities of getting better get messier.  It means adjusting personal and organizational habits.  Layered, nested, intertwined, tangled habits.

The high cost of avoiding the messy business of getting better is ... that we DON'T.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

PreciousFew

Precious few people we encounter in life seem fully, completely, and exclusively committed to loving their family and friends, unconditionally.

Precious few people we encounter in life seem perfectly happy living their lives "locally," without fanfare, without bombast, without the need to be elsewhere, to do something else, to own what they don't, to hobnob with the someone different.

Precious few people we encounter in life seem better at listening than they are talking, better at observing than they are at being observed, better at laughing than they are at growling, better at serving than they are being served.

Precious few people we encounter in life seem so perfectly comfortable in their skin that they make the rest of us feel a little more comfortable in our own.

Precious few people we encounter in life seem so trustworthy that we would allow them to help raise our own children - teaching them, guiding them, comforting them, feeding them, loving them.

Joan P was all of those.  Our family was and continues to be blessed by her presence in our lives.  

RIP Joan.