Wednesday, March 3, 2021

(im)Measurable

We humans are fond of measurement.  It seems to give us a sense of control, of understanding, of certainty.   

Below is a picture of the folding rule my paternal grandfather (who passed before I was born) used in his trade as a carpenter.


To be sure, Austin Coulter used that rule to design and craft buildings, cabinets, and furniture that was at once structurally sound, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. 

However, very few things are as reliably static and dependably consistent as a 2x4 cut to 82.5" in length (actually, even those vary wildly).  And, the more complex the issue we wish to measure - mental health, body weight, wind speed, IQ, love - the less dependable our measuring devices become. 

Complexity of contexts added to relentless variability makes the act of measurement, on its best day, tenuous. 

Albert Einstein is oft quoted, "Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted." 

Margaret Wheatley, one of my favorite authors, asserts that "Every act of measurement loses more information than it gains, closing the box irretrievably and forever on other potentials."

We are wise to try to take account - to measure - things in order to track change and make improvements.  

We are wiser still to understand that those measurements, in almost all instances, are nothing more than snapshots of the present state (which has already changed).

Saturday, February 27, 2021

44

 For the 44th time I woke up with my lovely bride on our anniversary.

She is NOT the same person I married 44 years ago.  And neither am I.  The hang is easy, still. 

We feel greatly blessed for our having evolved through those years in ways that have made us even more compatible than we were when it all started.

Here's hoping for 44 more (but absolutely thrilled with each one we get to have together).  

The year 2020 seems to have raised our awareness in that regard.

Monday, February 22, 2021

BandwidthBumping

Bandwidth is a term we have come to use with great frequency over the last 20 years.  We typically use it to describe the amount of capacity a system has for delivering/processing digital data.

 

The more bandwidth you have in the system, the more capacity it has to receive, move, and process the digital information at hand.  

 

In the digital realm, we can increase bandwidth through beefing up the capacity of the transmission, hardware, and/or software systems.

 

Wise leaders understand that organizations also have “bandwidth,” in terms of the capacity of their teams.  Only in the rarest of cases can they simply buy more bandwidth (as occurs in the digital context).  

 

In most instances, those astute leaders understand that they must build the capacity of the organization – its “bandwidth” – through very intentional processes of expanding the learning and skills – the “bandwidth” – of each member of the organization.  

 

Organizational learning occurs as result of purposeful planning and deployment processes, NOT happenstance. 

 

But, oh what dividends it pays…

 




Saturday, February 13, 2021

ConsciousLeadership

I recently read Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Businessby John Mackey, Steve McIntosh, and Carter Phipps (2020).

This was an excellent read, detailing how leaders can approach the work of influencing others from a holistic mindset of improving the future through a triadic focus on environmental, social, and economic stewardship.  JM is the founder of Whole Foods and actively practices/encourages that stewardship perspective, both personally and organizationally. 

 

My top takeaways:

- Conscious leaders are relentless about their own personal learning and growth.

- Conscious leaders demonstrate and embody the “why” while showing us a reasonable pathway to “how.”

- Meaning is a far greater motivator than money (for most people).

- Leading with love means persistent demonstrations of generosity, gratitude, appreciation, care, compassion, and forgiveness.

- Integrity = Truth-telling + Honor + Authenticity + Courage

- Leaders who fail to invest in the development of their team members will most certainly lose the best ones.

- Leaders who fail to engage in systems thinking (i.e., patterns, connections, interdependencies, relationships) are failing to think.

- Effective leaders understand the three prevailing social worldviews - modernism, traditionalism, and progressivism – and seek continually to build bridges between the holders of each.

 

My favorite quotes:

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity.” (p. 53)

 

“There is nothing that will undermine your culture more than saying one thing and rewarding something else.” (p. 106)

 

This book is well worth the time for anyone interested in making better futures, for others and for ourselves, a reality.


Monday, February 8, 2021

ProbecitoSyndrome

Dr. Pedro Noguera has coined the phrase “Probecito Syndrome” to describe the view of many toward children raised in non-privileged environments.  Loosely translated, it means “poor baby” syndrome.  It is the assumed inability of those children to achieve academically, based on the environments in which they were raised.  Former President George W. Bush also spoke of this viewpoint as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” 

 

Noguera, Dean of the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, has researched and written extensively over the last 20 years about issues of educational equity (and inequity) as they apply to children raised in non-privileged environments.  He chronicles well the pervasive low-expectation worldview that predominates in all but the rarest of communities.

 

Yet, a group of rural schools in Texas are aggressively challenging the Probecito mindset, by adopting and deploying the P20 Model, supported by Collegiate Edu-Nation(CEN).  The leaders in these schools are boldly asserting that ALLchildren, even those from non-privileged environments, possess the needed intellect and proclivities to prosper in a rigorous educational experience.  And, to successfully compete thereafter in the global work environment.  These progressive leaders and school communities have learned that, provided the right support systems and educational guidance, ALL students can, in fact, learn and prosper.

 

High Aspirations and High Expectations are the watchwords of schools in the CEN universe.  

 

To what effect?  

Better futures for those students.

Better futures for the current and future families of those very students.

Better futures for the rural communities from which those students come.

Better futures for the state/nation/world those students will eventually become.

 

*If you’d like to read more of nc’s blatherings, go to www.nelsonwcoulter.com       

Thursday, February 4, 2021

UncertaintyLeaders

Times of uncertainty put a strain on all of us. Times of uncertainty call for exceptional service from those of us in leadership roles (whether we’re parents, teachers, managers, preachers, mentors, board members, executives, coaches, captains,….).  

 How can we best lead in times of uncertainty?  What do others need to hear, see, feelas they rely on us to lead forward?

 

Consider the following three-point recipe as a guide for leading in uncertain times:

 

High Aspirations– the best servant leaders help us think about, talk about, envision, and codify high and lofty futures for ourselves and for the organizations we are members of.  Clarity around direction is critical.

 

Create the Conditions– the best servant leaders constantly work with us to craft the success-enhancing conditions over which we have control – embed new systems, craft new schedules, build needful infrastructure, forge new partnerships, revise, reshape, reorganize – to optimize the likelihood that our Aspirations are realized.

 

High Expectations– the best servant leaders keep us, in intensely disciplined ways, focused on our High Aspirations and engaged continually in Creating the Conditions, by embedding accountability. They both model and insist that we “walk the walk” toward our aspirations, with the clear understanding that achieving High Expectations is a process, not an event.

 

For perspective, just imagine the outcomes we can expect if our leaders choose to map for us a path of 

Low Aspirations > Stagnation in Status Quo > Low Expectations.  Leaders of this mindset are plentiful, because it is by far the easier and less risky path.

 

When, really, has the future everbeen certain?  Our wisest leaders know this as fact; thus, they constantly challenge us to think about and toward better futures.

 

We can aimfor better.

We can dobetter.  

We can bebetter.  

 

The futures of those who follow our lead, especially our children, depend on it.


Monday, January 18, 2021

SuccessFoci

Most of us want to be successful.  And the meaning assigned to the word "success" is unique to each of us.

Regardless of our respective goals, our priorities, the task of actually achieving them is the tricky part.  How do we get to where/what we wanna be?

Being able to stay focused on that which is important seems to be the key.  Our days are filled with an overwhelming bombardment of interactions, data, information, meetings, reports, scheduling obligations,.... 

More often than not, most of those encroachments on our time are NOT well-aligned to our achieving "success," as we understand it.  So, what to do????

Consider a simple two-step approach:

  1. Decide, and write down and keep handy, the 2-3 three things you deem MOST important to your being able to achieve "success."
  2. Dedicate a portion of each day, EVERY day, to pursuit of those things and only those things.  It does not have to be a huge chunk of the day, but it's best done EVERY day.
Otherwise, as so oft noted by the late Dr. Stephen Covey, the urgent will most certainly crowd out that which is important. 

Life is too short to forsake the important.

Friday, January 8, 2021

FB Approuver

“Eat what your body needs. More importantly, STOP eating what your body doesn’t need.”  

Those are the wise words of my physician friend, Dr. Ben Edwards, of Veritas Health Community.  I have taken Ben’s advice to heart since 2012. And, my physical health and wellbeing have shown subsequent positive effect.

 

I have long believed that our “nutrition” also impacts our “health and wellbeing” in the cognitive and emotional-spiritual dimensions of our lives.  We Are What We Eat, truly, whether that consumption is in the form of physical food, or in our intellectual intake, or in our emotional-spiritual diet.

 

I have chosen to stay of Facebook to try to be a positive influence in an environment that has a ton of negativity flowing through it. So, I remained. I tried. I failed.

 

I am puzzled by the amount of negativity and vileness that flows through that medium. Often, from people I know, I love, and I am certain are decent human beings. 

 

So, I’m gonna clean up my diet, so to speak. For those who want to continue to connect with me in the digital environment, I won’t be hard to find. My website will still be active, and about a bazillion of you have my cell number. You won’t, however, find me in another cesspool. Life is too short to swim therein.

 

Best wishes to you all for a happier, healthier life. Choose well what you consume.

Monday, January 4, 2021

10MindframesForLeaders

I recently read 10 Mindframes for Leaders: The VISIBLE LEARNING(R) Approach to School Success, a book edited by John Hattie and Raymond Smith (2020).


In this relatively short book, JH/RS have enlisted other prominent leaders in the learning-causation field to contribute chapters.  Those contributors include the likes of Micheal Fullan, Zaretta Hammond, Sugara Mitra, Dylan Wilam, and others.  It was quite a coup to get their participation, and the product is a superb book to help guide us educator types as we continually search for better and more effective ways to improve schools AND the learning outcomes of the students who attend those schools. 

My favorite quote from the book:

As Simon Sinek (2019) claims, a “Just Cause” is a specific vision about the future that does not yet exist, a future state so appealing that people are willing to make sacrifices in order to help advance toward that vision. Our notion of the Just Cause for schooling is for school leaders and teachers to create a learning environment where children want to come to learn, want to invest in learning, enjoy the mastery of learning, and are invited to reinvest in learning. We want schools to be places where children are taught precious knowledge, heritages of themselves and others, respect for self and others, and how to participate in the rule of law and fundamental premises of a democracy. We desire for schools to be inviting places where children want to explore, create, be curious, and relate and transfer ideas, as these are the very attributes we would want them to explore and exhibit when they are adults...We believe the best way to do the above is to create an environment in which information can flow freely, mistakes can be comfortably made, and teaching can be offered and received in a way all students feel safe.” (p. 116)

It's well worth the time, and would be an excellent resource around which to have team book studies, either at the school district or campus level.