robertogreco + administration   616

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 
14 days ago by robertogreco
On Bullsh*t Jobs | David Graeber | RSA Replay - YouTube
"In 2013 David Graeber, professor of anthropology at LSE, wrote an excoriating essay on modern work for Strike! magazine. “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” was read over a million times and the essay translated in seventeen different languages within weeks. Graeber visits the RSA to expand on this phenomenon, and will explore how the proliferation of meaningless jobs - more associated with the 20th-century Soviet Union than latter-day capitalism - has impacted modern society. In doing so, he looks at how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it."
davidgraeber  bullshitjobs  employment  jobs  work  2018  economics  neoliberalism  capitalism  latecapitalism  sovietunion  bureaucracy  productivity  finance  policy  politics  unschooling  deschooling  labor  society  purpose  schooliness  debt  poverty  inequality  rules  anticapitalism  morality  wealth  power  control  technology  progress  consumerism  suffering  morals  psychology  specialization  complexity  systemsthinking  digitization  automation  middlemanagement  academia  highered  highereducation  management  administration  adminstrativebloat  minutia  universalbasicincome  ubi  supplysideeconomics  creativity  elitism  thecultofwork  anarchism  anarchy  zero-basedaccounting  leisure  taylorism  ethics  happiness  production  care  maintenance  marxism  caregiving  serviceindustry  gender  value  values  gdp  socialvalue  education  teaching  freedom  play  feminism  mentalhealth  measurement  fulfillment  supervision  autonomy  humans  humnnature  misery  canon  agency  identity  self-image  self-worth  depression  stress  anxiety  solidarity  camaraderie  respect  community 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Stanford professor: "The workplace is killing people and nobody cares"
"From the disappearance of good health insurance to the psychological effects of long hours, the modern workplace is taking its toll on all of us."
work  labor  health  2018  workplace  culture  capitalism  management  administration  psychology  stress  childcare  jeffreypfeffer  socialpollution  society  nuriachinchilla  isolation  fatigue  time  attention 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
.freethought
"freethought aims to blur the boundaries between thought, creativity, and critique and meld them into a trans-language practice, working with and as artists and knowledge producers in a new way. Making radical combinations of critical work and practice in the arts freethought strives to place these new models in unexpected contexts."



"WHO WE ARE
freethought is a collective working in public research and in curating concepts of urgency.

Irit Rogoff, Stefano Harney, Adrian Heathfield, Massimiliano Mollona, Louis Moreno and Nora Sternfeld formed freethought in 2011. Traversing disciplines, blending influences, and borrowing forms freethought experiments with new combinations of criticism and practice in the arts.

For 2016 Bergen Assembly, freethought focused on its continuing collective interest: Infrastructure. By looking at many different understandings of this keyword – from legacies of colonial and early capitalist systems of governance to current conditions of the financialization of the cultural field to the subversive possibilities of thinking and working with infrastructures as sites of affect and contradiction – infrastructure emerged as the invisible force of manifest culture today. This large-scale investigation reworked the term away from the language of planners and technocrats to put to creative and critical use within the cultural sphere.

Throughout 2015-16 freethought led a programme of public seminars, invited guest lectures and independent research in Bergen with the intention of developing a collective body of research and insights. This research, an interrogation of infrastructure on a local and global scale of ecology, finance, administration, labour, communication, hospitality, and the basic act of assembling culminated in a programme of exhibitions, discursive platforms, publications and artistic commissions opening for the Bergen Assembly in September 2016.

Previous projects have included freethought for FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellations, Prospects, Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, 2013, and freethought I: Economy of crisis workshop, Steirischer Herbst Festival, Graz, 2012.

BIOGRAPHY

Stefano Harney
CURATOR

Adrian Heathfield
WRITER/CURATOR

Massimiliano (Mao) Mollona
WRITER/FILMMAKER
ANTHROPOLOGIST

Louis Moreno
URBANIST/THEORIST

Irit Rogoff
WRITER/TEACHER/
CURATOR/ORGANISER

Nora Stenfeld
EDUCATOR/CURATOR"

[via: http://scratchingthesurface.fm/post/176253243375/85-mindy-seu ]
stefanoharney  adrianheathfield  massimilianomollona  louismoreno  iritrogoff  norastenfeld  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  infrastructure  capitalism  decolonization  colonialism  ecology  finance  administration  labor  communication  hospitality  anthropology  urban  urbanism  curation  education 
july 2018 by robertogreco
An Upsurge of Questioning and Critique: toward a Community of Critical Pedagogy
"There has been, of late, a lot of talk about centers of teaching and learning, digital innovation centers, and efforts to grapple with the emergent nature of the educational profession and practice. Academics of a certain shade are padding down desire lines toward a future where learning and progressive digital education might leave its paddock and find its space upon the wider pasture of higher education. Many of these efforts, though, look and feel like paddocks themselves, circumscribed around professionalism, administrative power or vision, closed by the choice of their constituency even in their testament of openness.

If leaders choose groups of leaders, if those groups publish upon their pedigree in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Times Higher Ed, &c, then they will be hard put to magnify their purpose through an allegiance with education’s lesser privileged: students, adjuncts, “drop outs,” instructional designers—those without access, without committees, without the funding to network, without the key cards necessary to open certain doors. Change kept at high levels—change which doesn’t include, but makes obsequious gestures towards, those who lack the privilege to debate change—cannot be productive except to elevate higher the privileged and further disenchant those who most need change to occur.

Change, in other words, cannot be accomplished with a coffee klatsch, no matter how well-funded by a Mellon grant.

Maxine Greene writes that conscientization—that critical consciousness that alerts us to our agency, and that spurs us to intervene in the world—to make change— “is only available to those capable of reflecting on their own situationality” (102). If we find ourselves finally capable of that reflection only when or if we clear a certain pay band, or are granted a certain title, or are invited into the right rooms (rooms too often unlocked by respectability politics), then what of those who remain outside those rooms, who cannot—or refuse to—participate in respectability, those without the titles, those underpaid?

Doesn’t leadership in education also include the adjunct who offers their time to an online community college student? Doesn’t leadership include a student who conscientiously objects to Turnitin? If leadership in education has to include a 3D printer, an Oculus Rift, a budget to hold “summits” and attend conferences, then I fear there are too many leaders being left out.

Quoting Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Greene writes:
Praxis cannot be the viewed as the project of any single individual. Rather, it is “the cluster of relations of an ideology, a technique, and a movement of productive forces, each involving the others and receiving support from them, each, in its time, playing a directive role that is never exclusive, and all, together, producing a qualified phase of social development.” (99)

In other words, change requires movement across many lives, the weaving together of multiple and unexpected intelligences, and a radical inclusivity that is bound to make uncomfortable those who issue the call, that disrupts the disruptors, that leaves humbled leadership. It’s not that a community formed around inclusion must aim to unsettle and unseat, but rather that the myriad diversity that answers the call will necessarily yield the unexpected. A multitude will never be of a single mind; but it is a multitude, by Merleau-Ponty’s accounting, which is the only means toward change.

Similarly, Jesse Stommel has written about critical digital pedagogy, that praxis:
must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries;
will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices.

Cultivating these many voices to realize a praxis is an ongoing project. I wrote recently to a friend affected by the recent UCU strike in England:
There are times when a critical pedagogy refuses to be merely theoretical. It is a tradition that comes out of a concern for labor, for the agency of those doing labor, and the perspicacity inherent behind that agency. The imagination is not an impractical facility at all, not a dreamer’s tool only, but a precision instrument that delivers a certainty that things can be otherwise; and in the face of circumstances that are unfair, the imagination gives us insight into what is just.

Similarly, though, the imagination asks us to consider justice an evolutionary project, if not an asymptote we will never quite reach, a process more than a destination. “The role of the imagination,” Greene tells us, “is not to resolve, not to point the way, not to improve. It is to awaken, to disclose the ordinary unseen, unheard, and unexpected.” Each new dialogue around justice leads to new insights, new confrontations, new inventions, and each new dialogue necessarily also uncovers old hurts, systemic injustices, and offenses nested within un-inspected assumptions and behaviors.

It is with this in mind that I find myself so often blinking into a teacher’s or administrator’s assertions about grading, or plagiarism, or taking attendance, or just “making sure they do it.” There are undetected injustices riding under our teaching policies, the teaching we received, and the teaching we deliver.

There are likewise injustices riding under so many attempts to gather in our circles of prestige. To enact a just agency, we must step outside those circles into unexpected places. “An upsurge of questioning and critique must first occur,” Greene insists, “experiences of shock are necessary if the limits or the horizons are to be breached” (101)."



"It’s my belief that the Lab must be a place where a cacophony of voices can be heard, where an upsurge of questioning and critique is the mode of the day. And to make this happen, no door is left unopened. If praxis “signifies a thinking about and an action on reality” (98), then Digital Pedagogy Lab seeks to be praxis, and to make change through the movement of productive forces, new insights, new confrontations, new inventions. All gathered together in matching tee-shirts."
seanmichaelmorris  criticalpedagogy  lcproject  openstudioproject  pedagogy  inclusivity  2018  digitalpedagogylab  mauricemerleau-ponty  maxinegreene  jessestommel  praxis  inclusion  justice  vision  administration  hierarchy  injustice  professionalism  power  openness  open  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  privilege  change  respectabilitypolitics  respectability  conferences  labs  ideology  diversity  highered  highereducation  academia  education 
april 2018 by robertogreco
The History of Ed-Tech: What Went Wrong?
"There’s a popular origin story about education technology: that, it was first developed and adopted by progressive educators, those interested in “learning by doing” and committed to schools as democratic institutions. Then, something changed in the 1980s (or so): computers became commonplace, and ed-tech became commodified – built and sold by corporations, not by professors or by universities. Thus the responsibility for acquiring classroom technology and for determining how it would be used shifted from a handful of innovative educators (often buying hardware and software with their own money) to school administration; once computers were networked, the responsibility shifted to IT. The purpose of ed-tech shifted as well – from creative computing to keyboarding, from projects to “productivity.” (And I’ll admit. I’m guilty of having repeated some form of this narrative myself.)

[tweet: "What if the decentralized, open web was a historical aberration, an accident between broadcast models, not an ideal that was won then lost?"
https://twitter.com/ibogost/status/644994975797805056 ]

But what if, to borrow from Ian Bogost, “progressive education technology” – the work of Seymour Papert, for example – was a historical aberration, an accident between broadcast models, not an ideal that was won then lost?

There’s always a danger in nostalgia, when one invents a romanticized past – in this case, a once-upon-a-time when education technology was oriented towards justice and inquiry before it was re-oriented towards test scores and flash cards. But rather than think about “what went wrong,” it might be useful to think about what was wrong all along.

Although Papert was no doubt a pioneer, he wasn’t the first person to recognize the potential for computers in education. And he was hardly alone in the 1960s and 1970s in theorizing or developing educational technologies. There was Patrick Suppes at Stanford, for example, who developed math instruction software for IBM mainframes and who popularized what became known as “computer-assisted instruction.” (Arguably, Papert refers to Suppes’ work in Mindstorms when he refers to “the computer being used to program the child” rather than his own vision of the child programming the computer.)

Indeed, as I’ve argued repeatedly, the history of ed-tech dates at least as far back as the turn of the twentieth century and the foundation of the field of educational psychology. Much of we see in ed-tech today reflects those origins – the work of psychologist Sidney Pressey, the work of psychologist B. F. Skinner, the work of psychologist Edward Thorndike. It reflects those origins because, as historian Ellen Condliffe Lagemann has astutely observed, “One cannot understand the history of education in the United States during the twentieth century unless one realizes that Edward L. Thorndike won and John Dewey lost.”

Ed-tech has always been more Thorndike than Dewey because education has been more Thorndike than Dewey. That means more instructivism than constructionism. That means more multiple choice tests than projects. That means more surveillance than justice.
(How Thorndike's ed-tech is now being rebranded as “personalization” (and by extension, as progressive education) – now that's an interesting story..."

[via: ""Edward L. Thorndike won and John Dewey lost" is pretty much the perfect tl;dr version of the history of education."
https://twitter.com/jonbecker/status/884460561584594944

See also: "Or David Snedden won. People forget about him."
https://twitter.com/doxtdatorb/status/884520604287860736 ]
audreywatters  ianbogost  johndewey  seymourpapert  edtech  computers  technology  education  ellencondliffe  edwardthorndike  bfskinner  sidneypressey  psychology  management  administration  it  patricksuppes  constructivism  constructionism  progressive  mindstorms  progressiveeducation  standardization  personalization  instructivism  testing  davidsnedden  history 
july 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
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
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
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
on microaggressions and administrative power - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"Let’s try to put a few things together that need to be put together.

First, read this post by Jonathan Haidt excerpting and summarizing this article on the culture of campus microaggressions. A key passage:
Campbell and Manning describe how this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized. It is the very presence of such administrative bodies, within a culture that is highly egalitarian and diverse (i.e., many college campuses) that gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim. This is why we have seen the recent explosion of concerns about microaggressions, combined with demands for trigger warnings and safe spaces, that Greg Lukianoff and I wrote about in The Coddling of the American Mind.

Now, take a look at this post by Conor Friedersdorf illustrating how this kind of thing works in practice. Note especially the account of an Oberlin student accused of microaggression and the way the conflict escalates.

And finally, to give you the proper socio-political context for all this, please read Freddie deBoer’s outstanding essay in the New York Times Magazine. Here’s an absolutely vital passage:
Current conditions result in neither the muscular and effective student activism favored by the defenders of current campus politics nor the emboldened, challenging professors that critics prefer. Instead, both sides seem to be gradually marginalized in favor of the growing managerial class that dominates so many campuses. Yes, students get to dictate increasingly elaborate and punitive speech codes that some of them prefer. But what could be more corporate or bureaucratic than the increasingly tight control on language and culture in the workplace? Those efforts both divert attention from the material politics that the administration often strenuously opposes (like divestment campaigns) and contribute to a deepening cultural disrespect for student activism. Professors, meanwhile, cling for dear life, trying merely to preserve whatever tenure track they can, prevented by academic culture, a lack of coordination and interdepartmental resentments from rallying together as labor activists. That the contemporary campus quiets the voices of both students and teachers — the two indispensable actors in the educational exchange — speaks to the funhouse-mirror quality of today’s academy.

I wish that committed student activists would recognize that the administrators who run their universities, no matter how convenient a recipient of their appeals, are not their friends. I want these bright, passionate students to remember that the best legacy of student activism lies in shaking up administrators, not in making appeals to them. At its worst, this tendency results in something like collusion between activists and administrators.

This is brilliantly incisive stuff by Freddie, and anyone who cares about the state of American higher education needs to reflect on it. When students demand the intervention of administrative authority to solve every little conflict, they end up simply reinforcing a power structure in which students and faculty alike are stripped of moral agency, in which all of us in the university — including the administrators themselves, since they’re typically reading responses from an instruction manual prepared in close consultation with university lawyers — are instruments in the hands of a self-perpetuating bureaucratic regime. Few social structures could be more alien to the character of true education.

Friedersdorf’s post encourages us to consider whether these habits of mind are characteristic of society as a whole. That seems indubitable to me. When people in the workplace routinely make complaints to HR officers instead of dealing directly with their colleagues, or calling the police when they see kids out on their own rather than talking to the parents, they’re employing the same strategy of enlisting Authority to fight their battles for them — and thereby consolidating the power of those who are currently in charge. Not exactly a strategy for changing the world. Nor for creating a minimally responsible citizenry.

In a fascinating article called “The Japanese Preschool’s Pedagogy of Peripheral Participation,”, Akiko Hayashi and Joseph Tobin describe a twofold strategy commonly deployed in Japan to deal with preschoolers’ conflicts: machi no hoiku and mimamoru. The former means “caring by waiting”; the second means “standing guard.” When children come into conflict, the teacher makes sure the students know that she is present, that she is watching — she may even add, kamisama datte miterun, daiyo (the gods too are watching) — but she does not intervene unless absolutely necessary. Even if the children start to fight she may not intervene; that will depend on whether a child is genuinely attempting to hurt another or the two are halfheartedly “play-fighting.”

The idea is to give children every possible opportunity to resolve their own conflicts — even past the point at which it might, to an American observer, seem that a conflict is irresolvable. This requires patient waiting; and of course one can wait too long — just as one can intervene too quickly. The mimamoru strategy is meant to reassure children that their authorities will not allow anything really bad to happen to them, though perhaps some unpleasant moments may arise. But those unpleasant moments must be tolerated, else how will the children learn to respond constructively and effectively to conflict — conflict which is, after all, inevitable in any social environment? And if children don't begin to learn such responses in preschool when will they learn it? Imagine if at university, or even in the workplace, they had developed no such abilities and were constantly dependent on authorities to ease every instance of social friction. What a mess that would be."
academia  preschool  conflictresolution  japan  alanjacobs  freddiedeboer  akikohayashi  josephtobin  machinohoiku  mimamoru  disagreement  rules  freespeech  culture  discomfort  collegiality  jonathanhaidt  power  authority  children  activism  management  administration  schools  society 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The tragedy of Cooper Union | Fusion
"Annals of Incompetence: How one of America’s last free colleges screwed its students and betrayed its legacy"
cooperunion  2015  felixsalmon  mismanagement  freecooperunion  small  education  management  administration  growth  scale  highered  highereducation 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Siddhartha sits under the bodhi tree. | Fred Klonsky
"My friend Michelle Gunderson teaches first grade at a Chicago public school.

She is a staunch teacher union activist and a proponent of student-learning from play.

In a sane world this would be considered common sense and obvious.

As a sign of how nuts schools have become, Gunderson must be considered an educational radical for advocating play.

On Facebook this morning Michelle posted this:

As we build education policy groups, let’s make sure we include teachers who have spent their lives playing on rugs with children. Too often early childhood voices are missing from the process.

I think I would take that another step.

Education policy groups (if we need them at all) should only include teachers who have spent their professional lives on the floor with children.

Years ago I worked with an administrator who happened to be a Buddhist.

She often complained to me how she missed being in the classroom with kids.

“No problem,” I finally said. “Why don’t you come to my room and tell my second graders the story of how Siddhartha got to be the Buddha.”

I was already showing my students how to draw the human figure and how legs and arms bend and which way they bend. And which way they don’t.

And how some joints bend only one way and others have joints called balls. Which always got a giggle.

I would stick pieces of tape at the joints and we would move around and discover the amazing fact that arms and legs only bend where there is a joint.

One student would demonstrate a ballet position and then we would all take that position.

Another would pretend to be a hockey goalie. And then we all would.

Trust me. This all led to amazing discoveries.

The day came when the  administrator came to the art room with her personal Buddha and sat on the floor in a lotus position, telling the story of how Siddhartha sat under the bodhi tree and gained enlightenment.

And with tape on our joints we also sat in the lotus position.

Including me.

And listen. I was still doing this at 60.

I believe we gained a level of enlightenment.

I’m not sure that it made her a better administrator.

But she continued to come back every year for years.

I have to admit that in my last few years it was much easier for second graders to go full lotus than it was for me.

Yet I never gave up the floor."
2015  fredklonsky  michellegunderson  education  policy  teaching  howweteach  administration  buddha  buddhism  siddhartha  bodies  humans  cv  howwelean  movement  classideas  visualization  body 
july 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
Administrators Ate My Tuition by Benjamin Ginsberg | The Washington Monthly
[See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/opinion/sunday/the-real-reason-college-tuition-costs-so-much.html ]

"Forty years ago, America’s colleges employed more professors than administrators. The efforts of 446,830 professors were supported by 268,952 administrators and staffers. Over the past four decades, though, the number of full-time professors or “full-time equivalents”—that is, slots filled by two or more part-time faculty members whose combined hours equal those of a full-timer—increased slightly more than 50 percent. That percentage is comparable to the growth in student enrollments during the same time period. But the number of administrators and administrative staffers employed by those schools increased by an astonishing 85 percent and 240 percent, respectively."



"If you have any remaining doubt about where colleges and universities have been spending their increasing tuition and other revenues, consider this: between 1947 and 1995 (the last year for which the relevant data was published), administrative costs increased from barely 9 percent to nearly 15 percent of college and university budgets. More recent data, though not strictly comparable, follows a similar pattern. During this same time period, stated in constant dollars, overall university spending increased 148 percent. Instructional spending increased only 128 percent, 20 points less than the overall rate of spending increase. Administrative spending, though, increased by a whopping 235 percent.



"The number of administrators and staffers on university campuses has increased so rapidly in recent years that often there is not enough work to keep all of them busy. To fill their time, administrators engage in a number of make-work activities. This includes endless rounds of meetings, mostly with other administrators, often consisting of reports from and plans for other meetings. For example, at a recent “president’s staff meeting” at an Ohio community college, eleven of the eighteen agenda items discussed by administrators involved plans for future meetings or discussions of other recently held meetings. At a gathering of the “Process Management Steering Committee” of a Midwestern community college, virtually the entire meeting was devoted to planning subsequent meetings by process management teams, including the “search committee training team,” the “faculty advising and mentoring team,” and the “culture team,” which was said to be meeting with “renewed energy.” The culture team was apparently also close to making a recommendation on the composition of a “Culture Committee.” Since culture is a notoriously abstruse issue, this committee may need to meet for years, if not decades, to unravel its complexities."



"The expansion of college and university administration has not been coupled with the development of adequate mechanisms of oversight and supervision, particularly for senior managers. University boards, which technically oversee the administrations, are generally not well prepared for the task. One recent study found that 40 percent of university trustees said they were not prepared for the job and 42 percent indicated that they spent less than five hours a month on board business. Many trustees serve because of loyalty to their school and say they have “faith” in its administration. They do not go out of their way to look for problems, and administrators are generally able to satisfy trustees with the rosy pictures of college life presented at weekend board meetings."



"The priorities of the hyper-administrative university emerge most clearly during times of economic crisis, when managers are forced to make choices among spending options. Thanks to the sharp economic downturn that followed America’s 2008 financial crisis, almost every institution, even Harvard, America’s wealthiest school, has been compelled to make substantial cuts in its expenditures. What cuts did university administrations choose to make during these hard times?

A tiny number of schools took the opportunity to confront years of administrative and staff bloat and moved to cut costs by shedding unneeded administrators and their brigades of staffers. The most notable example is the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, which in February 2009 addressed a $100 million budget deficit by eliminating fifteen “leadership positions,” along with 450 staff jobs, among other cuts. The dean also emphasized that faculty would not be affected by the planned budget cuts. Chicago’s message was clear: administrators and staffers were less important than teaching, research, and—since this involved a medical school—patient care; if the budget had to be cut, it would be done by thinning the school’s administrative ranks, not by reducing its core efforts.

Unfortunately, few if any other colleges and universities copied the Chicago model. Facing budgetary problems, many schools eliminated academic programs and announced across-the-board salary and hiring freezes, which meant that vacant staff and faculty positions, including the positions of many adjunct professors, would remain unfilled until the severity of the crisis eased."



"On any given campus, the only institution with the actual power to halt the onward march of the all-administrative university is the board of trustees or regents— which, as we’ve seen, tend to be unprepared or disinclined to make waves. But they need to do so if their institutions are to be saved from sinking into the expanding swamp of administrative mediocrity.

To begin with, trustees interested in trimming administrative fat should compare their own school’s ratio of managers and staffers per hundred students to the national mean, which is currently an already inflated nine for private schools and eight for public colleges. If the national mean is nine administrators per hundred students at private colleges, why does Vanderbilt need sixty-four? Why does Rochester need forty and Johns Hopkins thirty-one? Management-minded administrators claim to believe in benchmarking, so they should not object to being benchmarked in this way.

The right kind of media coverage would embolden boards to ask the right questions. In particular, the various publications that rate and rank colleges—U.S. News is the most influential—should take account of administrative bloat in their ratings. After all, a high administrator-to-student ratio means that the school is diverting funds from academic programs to support an overgrown bureaucracy. I am certain that if Vanderbilt or Duke or Hopkins or Rochester or Emory or any of the other most administratively top-heavy schools lost a few notches in the U.S. News rankings because of their particularly egregious administrative bloat, their boards would be forced to act.

But given the general fattening of administrative ranks in recent years, even schools with average administrator-to-student ratios could stand to see major cuts in their administrative staffs and budgets. This could help not only to fill budget holes but, more importantly, to begin a healthy shift in the balance of bureaucratic power within universities. A 10 percent cut in the staff and management ranks would save millions of dollars but would have no effect whatsoever on the operations of most campuses. The deanlets would never be missed; their absence from campus would go unnoticed. A 20 percent or larger cut would begin to be noticed and would have the beneficial effect of substantially reducing administrative power and the ongoing diversion of scarce funds into unproductive channels.

With fewer deanlets to command, senior administrators would be compelled to turn once again to the faculty for administrative support. Such a change would result in better programs and less unchecked power for presidents and provosts. Faculty who work part-time or for part of their careers as administrators tend to ask questions, use judgment, and interfere with arbitrary presidential and provostial decision making. Senior full-time administrators might resent the interference, but the university would benefit from the result. Moreover, with fewer administrators to pay and send to conferences and retreats, more resources might be available for educational programs and student support, the actual items for which parents, donors, and funding agencies think they are paying."
highered  highereducation  education  academia  administration  money  costs  tuition  administrativebloat 
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
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
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
“Wider lessons” | Music for Deckchairs
"Put more simply: throw together a crowd of smart, driven individuals who’ve been rewarded throughout their entire lives for being ranked well, for being top of the class, and through a mixture of threat and reward you can coerce self-harming behaviour out of them to the extent that you can run a knowledge economy on the fumes of their freely given labour.

They will give you their health, their family time, the time they intended to spend on things that were ethically important to them, their creativity, their sleep. They will volunteer to give you all of this so that you can run your business on a shoestring, relative to what you intend to produce, so that you can be better than the business up the road. They will blame themselves if they can’t find enough of this borrowed time—other people’s borrowed time—to hand over to you.

Just wait while I send this email. Start without me. I’ll be along in a bit. Do you mind if I don’t come?

They will do this at all levels of the career, even if you pay them by the hour at a real rate that disintegrates to something approaching casual retail work once you factor in all the things they’ll have to do on their own time to get the job done well. They will do this especially if they’re also trying to run alongside the speeding train that might represent their future career hopes.

Some days they will also drive each other for you. They will whisper about each other, and turn a blind eye to each other, and not quite find the time to act on their own secret critical thinking about any of it. They will also surreptitiously maintain each other through care and coping practices and shrugs in the corridor and exchanged glances and raised eyebrows in meetings and Friday drinks that become chronic, secretive drinking problems so that they can get some rest without writing emails in their heads at 3am.

In fact, if you get the scarcity, intermittency and celebratory settings for occasional reward just right, then the toxic alchemy of hope and shame will diminish their capacity for solidarity, and they will keep the whole thing going for you, in the name of commitment, professional standards, the value of scholarship, academic freedom, the public good of educational equity.

But I love teaching. I love my students. I love my research. I love that I get to work from home on Fridays. And Saturdays. And Sundays.

Until they don’t. Until they can’t.

This week, an email is circulating that seems to have been organised to go out with a degree of aforethought, by Professor Stefan Grimm, a senior UK academic who has died after being put on performance management for the insufficiency of his research. He was 51.

The university concerned are reviewing their procedures. They’re even having a think about “wider lessons” to be drawn from this unfortunate turn of events.

Is it about one bad manager, at one particularly bad university? Is it about the culture of one place, all by itself, some unique sinkhole of shame into which one life has fallen? Can that one university review its procedures and its management training, and encourage the rest of us to move on to the next bit of news?

As you were. Nothing to see here.

Here’s my thought. This is only how it will turn out if we all agree that this is an OK way for rankings impact to be seen as good.
An alternative is for us at a broad level of professional solidarity to do some version of putting our bats out for Professor Stefan Grimm.

So what I will do is this. It’s a little personal pledge and I’m putting it here to remind me.

Whenever I hear the senior management of our university talk about rankings, competitiveness or performance I will tell someone about Professor Stefan Grimm.

Whenever I hear our government say that Australia needs a more competitive university system, I promise to think about Professor Stefan Grimm instead.

Whenever a colleague is being talked about in my hearing as unproductive, I will stop what I’m doing and remember that Professor Stefan Grimm took the action that he did.

Whenever someone uses the word “deadwood” to describe something other than actually dead wood, I will ask them if they heard about Professor Stefan Grimm.

That’s all we have. But if we agree to mind about this together, it really is not nothing.

Some days hope is really very difficult to sustain."

[See also: http://plashingvole.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/grimms-tale.html
http://www.dcscience.net/2014/12/01/publish-and-perish-at-imperial-college-london-the-death-of-stefan-grimm/ ]
management  academia  science  highered  highereducation  education  money  work  labor  stress  corporatization  2014  stefangrimm  competitiveness  capitalism  performance  research  professionalism  katebowles  solidarity  equity  hierarchy  administration 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The Plashing Vole: Grimm's Tale
"Stefan was going to be fired. Not because his work was no good: it was, as the publications list shows. No, he was going to be fired because he didn't attract the 'sexy', headline funding. He quietly raised money to pay for his ongoing research as and when he needed it. His failure was the inability to grasp that his university – which isn't so different from lots of others – care far less about the discoveries made than the headlines achieved from lottery-style grants. 'X wins £50m grant' is the dream THES or New Scientist headline, not '£50,000 for Grimm'.
Your current level of funding does not constitute the appropriate level for a professor at Imperial College. Unless you submit and are awarded a Platform grant as PI in the next 12 months we will seek to initiate disciplinary action against you. This email constitutes a warning that your performance is being monitored and that action may be brought if you fail to meet the conditions herein

Grimm was told he had to bring in £200,000 p.a. – not contractually, but let's leave that aside. His letter explains that he did that through a series of small grants, but that wasn't good enough: it had to be the stuff of headlines, or 'impact' as it's officially known in the Research Assessment Framework to which we all have to submit.

This isn't about science - it's about bragging rights, or institutional willy-waving. Grimm was informed – in public – that he was to be fired, and left waiting for the axe to fall while the axe-wielder marauded around the campus boasting about it like an even more pathetic Alan Sugar.
I fell into the trap of confusing the reputation of science here with the present reality. This is not a university anymore but a business with very few up in the hierarchy, like our formidable duo, profiteering and the rest of us are milked for money, be it professors for their grant income or students who pay 100.- pounds just to extend their write-up status.

If anyone believes that I feel what my excellent coworkers and I have accomplished here over the years is inferior to other work, is wrong. With our apoptosis genes and the concept of Anticancer Genes we have developed something that is probably much more exciting than most other projects, including those that are heavily supported by grants.

This is not, I shouldn't have to say, how academia works. Einstein famously published one peer-reviewed paper. Science rarely has a Eureka moment: it's rather a series of careful, thoughtful developments of work done by one's forebears and peers. A management which demands a Eureka a day is one which doesn't just not 'get' academia, it's a management which contradicts the academic method and it's one which has forgotten that it's meant to serve the needs of science, the arts, students and researchers, not the insatiable maw of attention seeking 'Leaders' (that's the word they use now) and the PR office. It's also a management that kills."

[See also: http://musicfordeckchairs.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/wider-lessons/
http://www.dcscience.net/2014/12/01/publish-and-perish-at-imperial-college-london-the-death-of-stefan-grimm/ ]
stefangrimm  academia  education  funding  highereducation  highered  money  finance  business  corporatization  2014  science  publishorperish  bullying  capitalism  pressure  management  administration  hierarchy 
december 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
When the Boss Says, 'Don't Tell Your Coworkers How Much You Get Paid' - Jonathan Timm - The Atlantic
"In both workplaces, my bosses were breaking the law.

Under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA), all workers have the right to engage “concerted activity for mutual aid or protection” and “organize a union to negotiate with [their] employer concerning [their] wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.” In six states, including my home state of Illinois, the law even more explicitly protects the rights of workers to discuss their pay.

This is true whether the employers make their threats verbally or on paper and whether the consequences are firing or merely some sort of cold shoulder from management. My managers at the coffee shop seemed to understand that they weren't allowed to fire me solely for talking about pay, but they may not have known that it is also illegal to discourage employees from discussing their pay with each other. As NYU law professor Cynthia Estlund explained to NPR, the law "means that you and your co-workers get to talk together about things that matter to you at work." Even "a nudge from the boss saying 'we don't do that around here' ... is also unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act," Estlund added.

And yet, gag rules thrive in workplaces across the country. In a report updated this year, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that about half of American employees in all sectors are either explicitly prohibited or strongly discouraged from discussing pay with their coworkers. In the private sector, the number is higher, at 61 percent.

This is why President Obama recently signed two executive actions addressing workplace transparency and accountability. One prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay with one another. The other requires contractors to provide compensation data on their employees, including race and sex. But while these protect workers at federally contracted employers—of which Lilly Ledbetter was one—it does not affect any other employers.

The bill that would cover the rest of workers is the Paycheck Fairness Act. The law would both strengthen penalties to employers who retaliate against workers for discussing pay and require employers to provide a justification for wage differentials.

These reforms are necessary to address this widespread, illegal problem that the law has failed to address for decades. Gag rules violate a fundamental labor right and allow for discriminatory pay schemes.

Given their illegality, why are gag rules so common? One answer is that the NLRA is toothless and employers know it. When employees file complaints, the National Labor Relations Board’s “remedies” are slaps on the wrist: reinstatement for wrongful termination, back-pay, and/or “informational remedies” such as “the posting of a notice by the employer promising to not violate the law.”

At the same time, ignorance of the law can just as easily fuel gag rules. Craig Becker, general counsel for the AFL-CIO, used to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. He told me that workers who called the NLRB rarely were aware that their employer’s pay secrecy policy was unlawful.

“The problem isn’t so much that the remedies are inadequate,” Becker said, “but that so few workers know their rights.” He says that even among those workers who are aware of the NLRA, many think that it protects unions but no one else. Now overseeing organizers at the AFL-CIO, Becker has found that before organizers even begin helping workers, they have to educate employees on this very basic law. “Workers call us up saying they’re unhappy and they want to organize,” Becker explains, “and when organizers look at the employee manual, sure enough, they find a policy saying that workers aren’t allowed to discuss their pay.”

Gag rules, then, are policies that flourish when employers know the law and their employees do not.

But why do employers do this in the first place? Many employers say that if workers talk to each other about pay, then tension is sure to follow. It’s understandable: If you found out that your coworker made more than you for doing the same work, then you’d probably be upset.

A study by economists David Card, Enrico Moretti, and Emmanuel Saez from Berkeley and Alexandre Mas from Princeton supports that prediction. To study the relationship between pay transparency, turnover, and workplace satisfaction, they selected a group of employees in the University of California system and showed them a website that lists the salaries of all UC employees. They found that employees who were paid above the median were unaffected by using the website, while those who were paid lower than the median became less satisfied with their work and more likely to start job hunting. This result suggests, according to the authors, that employers have an incentive to keep pay under wraps."
salaries  employment  legal  tcsnmy  chandlerschool  2014  gagrules  management  administration  labor  organization  compensation  transparency  opacity  morale  inequality  discrimination  race  gender 
july 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
Open Ed 12 - Gardner Campbell Keynote - Ecologies of Yearning - YouTube
[See also: https://storify.com/audreywatters/ecologies-of-yearning-and-the-future-of-open-educa ]

[See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steps_to_an_Ecology_of_Mind and
PDF http://www.edtechpost.ca/readings/Gregory%20Bateson%20-%20Ecology%20of%20Mind.pdf ]

[References these videos by a student: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmFL4Khu2yJoR0Oq5dcY5pw ]

[via: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:e91b15f323b8

"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.) 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.”"]

"30:29 Bateson's Hierarchy of learning

30:52 Zero Learning:"receipt of signal". No error possible

31:37 Learning I: "change in specificity of response by correction of errors of choice within a set of alternatives". Palov, etc. Habituation, adaptation.

32:16 Learning II: Learning-to-learn, context recognition, "corrective change in the set of alternatives from which choice is made, or.. in how the sequence of experience is punctuated". Premises are self-validating.

34:23 Learning III: Meta-contextual perspective, imagining and shifting contexts of understanding. "a corrective change in the system of sets of alternatives from which choice is made" Puts self at risk. Questions become explosive.

36:22 Learning IV: change to level III, "probably does not occur in any adult living organisms on this earth"

38:59 "Double bind"

44:49 Habits of being that might be counter-intuitive

51:49 Participant observers constructed Wordles of students' blogs"

[Comment from Céline Keller:

"This is my favorite talk online: Open Ed 12 - Gardner Campbell Keynote - Ecologies of Yearning +Gardner Campbell

This is what I wrote about it 7 month ago:

"Academia is to knowledge what prostitution is to love; close enough on the surface but, to the nonsucker, not exactly the same thing." Nassim Nicholas Taleb

If you care about education and learning don't miss listening to Gardner Campbell!

As described on the #edcmooc resource page:

"(This lecture)...serves as a warning that what we really want - our utopia - is not necessarily to be found in the structures we are putting in place (or finding ourselves within)."
Love it."

I still mean it. This is great, listen."]

[More here: http://krustelkrammoocs.blogspot.com/2013/02/gardner-campbell-sense-of-wonder-how-to.html ]
2012  gardnercampbell  nassimtaleb  academia  web  participatory  learning  howwelearn  hierarchyoflearning  love  habituation  adaption  open  openeducation  coursera  gregorybateson  udacity  sebastianthrun  mooc  moocs  georgesiemens  stephendownes  davecormier  carolyeager  aleccouros  jimgroom  audreywatters  edupunk  jalfredprufrock  missingthepoint  highered  edx  highereducation  tseliot  rubrics  control  assessment  quantification  canon  administration  hierarchy  hierarchies  pedagogy  philosophy  doublebind  paranoia  hepephrenia  catatonia  mentalhealth  schizophrenia  life  grades  grading  seymourpapert  ecologiesofyearning  systems  systemsthinking  suppression  context  education  conditioning  pavlov  gamification  freedom  liberation  alankay  human  humans  humanism  agency  moreofthesame  metacontexts  unfinished  ongoing  lifelonglearning  cognition  communication  networkedtranscontextualism  transcontextualism  transcontextualsyndromes  apgartest  virginiaapgar  howweteach  scottmccloud  michaelchorost  georgedyson  opening  openness  orpheus  experience  consciousness  pur 
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
Dreaming about the future is bad for your career — Gigaom Research
"Dan goes on to make this a cautionary tale for business leaders. But I believe the issue isn’t just managers and leaders: it’s everybody. People are afraid of creativity in general, and especially in times of stress, where traditional approaches to problem are strongly favored, even when they don’t work.

And creative people are uniformly considered unsuitable leaders unless they couple that with high degrees of charisma, as I detailed in The cultural bias against creatives as leaders. In fact, this bias has been suggested as the root cause of why so many leaders fail, and why groups seem to resist change. We continue to select for leaders that are uncreative, who strongly favor tradition over innovation, and who inspire a culture that follows that lead.

The answer? Alas, I am not sure that there is one. Being a dreamer may be something like ‘following your passion’. As Cal Newport has observed, following your passion may be terrible job advice."



"So, before you can get a job where you get to dream about the future, you need to sharpen your skills and share a lot of dreams that matter to others. Share your dreams, hone them, but don’t be surprised if you are sidelined because of them. You may need to intentionally take on the techniques of charisma to be considered a leader if you lead with ideas instead of traditionalism.

Sagan is right, that we rely on those who can imagine new worlds, devices, tools, or practices, but many of those dreamers pay a high price, and many of those dreams never see the light of day."

[Update: see also:
http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2014/04/change-agents-and-the-hiring-dilemma.html

"Here’s a working hypothesis:
The organizations that most need change agents probably are the least likely to hire them because change agents typically make people with non-change orientations scared or nervous. If the people within were already oriented toward change and innovation, their organizations wouldn’t be the ones in the most need of change agents.

So a change- and innovation-oriented job candidate has a steep uphill battle to get considered and hired. The challenge is how to get people on hiring committees in non-change-oriented institutions to recognize the value of hiring for innovation, not replication…

Got any thoughts on this?"]
leadership  creativity  charisma  2014  bias  passion  cv  stoweboyd  carlsagan  danpontefract  calnewport  values  administration  management  careers  scottmccleod  schools  changeagents  change  hiring 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Episode Forty One: When You're Part Of A Team; The Dabbler
"The thing is, a lot of this behaviour is very easy to mistake for cult-like behaviour from the outside. Apple frequently gets described as a cult - not only are its employees members of the cult, but its customers are described in terms of being followers, too. And you see this cult behaviour in terms of the reverence expressed toward dear leaders (Messrs Wieden and Kennedy, for example, or the brain trust at Pixar, or Steve at Apple) but also in terms of the transmission of the values of those leaders. Wieden prides itself on a number of maxims ranging from a thousands-of-thumbtacks installation done by members of its advertising school of the slogan FAIL HARDER (with requisite misplaced thumbtack) to pretty much every employee being able to understand what's meant by "the work comes first" even if they do need a bit of re-education as to how, exactly, the work comes first (ie: it is not a get out of jail free card when you disagree with the client about what counts as good work). Then there are the Other Rules, the ones practically handed down from the mount (or, more accurately, discovered in an office scribbled in pen) that state:

1. Don't act big
2. No sharp stuff
3. Follow directions
4. Shut up when someone is talking to you

and turned out to be a parent's note to their child but actually not that bad advice when you think about it.

[See also: http://wklondon.typepad.com/welcome_to_optimism/2005/02/words_from_wied.html ]

And now, another nascent organisation, another one that I constantly harp on about: the UK's Government Digital Service. I don't think it's a coincidence that from the outside two of the people (but certainly by no means the only people) influential in the success of GDS and its culture are Russell Davies and Ben Terrett, both of whom have been through the Wieden+Kennedy, er, experience.

Russell is an exceedingly smart, unassuming and humble person who has a singularly incredibly ability to be almost devastatingly insightful and plain-speaking at the same time. It feels rare to see both at the same time. But what he's articulating at the moment in terms of GDS strategy and implementation is the thought that "the unit of delivery is the team" and when you're building a new organisation from the ground up, and one whose success is tied directly to its ability to embed within and absorb the culture of an existing massive entity, the UK civil service, it feels like watching a (so far successful) experiment in sociology and anthropology being deployed in realtime. A note (and thanks to Matthew Solle for the clarification because it's an important one): while the GDS works with the civil service, it's not actually a part of it, instead being a part of the cabinet office and being more tied to the government of the day.

So there are macro-level observations about Pixar that you glean from books and other secondary sources, but it's not until you visit the place and start to talk to the people who work there that understand starts to feel that it unlocks a little more. I'm lucky enough to know one person at Pixar who's been gracious enough to host me a few times and while we were talking about the culture of the place and how, exactly, they get done what they get done, one thing that struck me was the role of the individual and the individual's place in the team.

You see, one of the things it felt like they concentrated on was empowerment and responsibility but also those two things set against context. My friend would talk about how every person on his team would know what their superpower was - the thing they were good at, the thing that they were expert at - and everyone else would know what that superpower was, too. And the culture thus fostered was one where everyone was entitled to have a reckon or an opinion about something and were listened to, but when it came down to it, the decision and authority rested with the expert.

Now, this might not sound like a stunningly insightful revelation. Allowing people to have opinions about the work of the greater team and then restricting decision-making to those best qualified to make it sounds on the surface like a fairly reasonable if not obvious tenet, and maybe even one that because of its obviousness would seem reasonably easy if not trivial to implement. Well, if you think that, then I'm sorry, it sounds like you've never been a good manager before: it turns out to be exceedingly difficult.

At this point the narrative begins to sound rather trite: Pixar, and the companies like it that consistently achieve "good" results and are able to marshall the resources of large teams to accomplish something greater, are simply trying harder than all the other ones. And in the end, it may well be as simple as that. It's easy to have a mission statement. It's easy to have values. It's significantly harder to try as hard you can, every single day, for thirty years, to actually live them.

In the same way that one does not simply walk into Mordor, one does not simply say that one has a set of values or culture and it magically happen.

This is perhaps best illustrated in the blindness of the new wave of stereotypical valley startups that rail against bureaucracy and instead insist that their trademarked culture of holocracy inures them to the requirement of bureaucracy. That the way they instinctively do things is sufficient in and of itself. Well: bullshit to that. That simply doesn't scale, and the companies that think they're doing that - and I'm looking at you, Github, winner so far of the Best Example Of The Need To Grow Up award of 2014 and we've not even finished the first quarter of the year - are living in some sort of hundred-million-dollar VC-fueled fantasy land. Which, I suppose, goes without saying.

I began this part by implying something about teams, and I sort of alluded to it when mentioning the GDS maxim that the unit of delivery is the team.

I think it's becoming clear that the type of delivery that is expected in this age by its nature requires a multi-disciplinary team that works together. It's not enough, anymore, to have specialisms siloed away, and one thing that jumped out at me recently was the assertion in conversation on Twitter with a number of GDS members that there isn't anybody with the role of "user experience" at GDS. Everyone, each and every single member of the team, is responsible and accountable to the user experience of delivery, from operations to design to copy and research.

The sharpest end of this is where digital expertise had traditionally been siloed away in a sort of other. In a sort of check-boxing exercise, organisations would recruit in those with digital experience and either for reasons of expediency or for their own good, would shepherd them into a separate organisational unit. Davies' point - and one that is rapidly becoming clear - is that this just doesn't make sense anymore. I would qualify that and say that it doesn't make sense for certain organisations, but I'm not even sure if I can do that, and instead should just agree that it's a rule across the board.

Of course, the devil is always in the detail of the implementation."



"The thing about hobbies in the networked age is that it's incredibly easy for them to become performative instead of insular. That's not to say that insular hobbies are great, but the networked performance of a hobby comes with seductive interactions built not necessarily for the hobbyist's benefit but for the benefit of the network substrate or medium. As a general reckon, hobbies in their purest form are nothing but intrinsic motivation: whether they're an idiosyncratic desire to catalogue every single model of rolling stock in the UK or increasingly intricate nail art, before the hobby becomes performative it is for the self's benefit only, a sort of meditation in repetitive action and a practice.

The hobby as the networked performance, though (and I realise that at this point I may well sound like a reactionary luddite who doesn't 'get' the point of social media) perhaps too easily tips the balance in favour of extrinsic motivation. Whether that extrinsic motivation is in terms of metrics like followers, likes, retweets, subscribers or other measurable interaction with the hobbyist the point remains that it's there, and it's never necessarily for a clear benefit for the hobbyist. You could perhaps absolve blame and say that such metrics are intrinsic properties of the enactment of a social graph and that they're making explicit what would be rendered as implicit feedback cues in any event, but I don't buy that. They were put there for a reason. Friend counts and subscriber counts were put there because those of us who are product designers and of the more geeky persuasion realised that we could count something (and here, we get to point the finger at the recording pencil of the train spotter), and the step from counting something to making visible that count was a small one and then our evolutionary psychology and comparison of sexual fitness took over and before you knew it people were doing at the very least SXSW panels or if you were really lucky TED talks about gamification and leaderboards and whether you had more Fuelpoints than your friends.

So that's what happened to the hobby: it moved from the private to the public and at the same time the dominant public medium of the day, the one that all of us had access to, marched inexorably to measurement, quantification and feedback loops of attention."
danhon  leadership  administration  management  pixar  wk  gov.uk  russelldavies  benterrett  authority  empowerment  collaboration  teams  2014  hobbies  expertise  trust  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  motivation  performance 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Myth of the Non-Technical Startup Employee, by Zoelle Egner | Model View Culture
"The indignities unwittingly foisted upon the early operations employee are many and varied."

As the first non-technical hire at a startup, you wear many hats.

You answer support tickets, write newsletters, even order lunch: whatever needs to get done. When you’re lucky - and I was - that means days spent untangling complex problems and creating processes to keep the chaos at bay.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the tech industry at large, it can also mean a constant battle to justify your intelligence, your value, and your very existence. It can mean struggling against gendered expectations about your work product and complete ignorance of what your role entails. Worse, as the defacto keeper of the sacred Company Culture™, you run the risk of enabling and reinforcing a system of amenities and perks which aren’t actually meant for you.

Though the indignities unwittingly foisted upon the early operations employee are many and varied, at their core, most can be traced back to three core misconceptions that pervade the industry at large.

1. You only take a job in business operations if you aren’t smart enough to be an engineer (or designer, or product manager, or…)



2. If your role isn’t technical, you don’t actually understand the product.



3. The ops person is here to be your mommy.



Operations is a necessary evil, and it doesn’t really matter

That means the people who do it don’t really matter, either.

Choosing to work at an early-stage startup can mean choosing to sacrifice a lot: weekends, the opportunity to see friends for weeks on end, even basic knowledge of what’s going on in the outside world. Obviously, it’s also rewarding enough that we continue to make those sacrifices time and time again. Yet the myths we hold so dear — the noble engineer, sleeping under his desk to get the product out on time; the company that cares for its employees’ every need — exclude and marginalize an entire class of people whose contributions to these startups make their success possible. Perhaps that just comes with the territory of working in an operational role, but it also sends a clear message: this industry is supposedly changing the world, but only the contributions of a select few are worthy of celebration. The rest, well — someone had to keep the snacks filled.

But of course it’s not that simple. If you don’t file your taxes or pay vendors on time or hire the right people at the right speed or handle any of the other, myriad issues that operations folks handle each day, it doesn’t matter how great your product is: you’re going to run into serious problems. Technical infrastructure isn’t the only part of a startup that needs to scale seamlessly. This, ultimately, is why these myths about business operations are so painful and damaging, both to the professionals who suffer from them and the businesses that perpetuate them. You can have a great product and still fail because your business was broken. But it shouldn’t happen that way, and it doesn’t have to.

Yes, it means taking the time as a founder to understand what operations means, and finding the right person to help make it happen, regardless of their gender. It means trusting that whomever you hire will be just as invested in the success of the company and just as valuable as people with more widely understood responsibilities. But the result is worth it. Particularly when it comes to early stage startups, a good operations person who is engaged as a true partner in building the business can lengthen your runway and give you the chance you need to be successful and sustainable. That’s a prospect worth fighting for."
zoelleegner  softskills  management  operations  startups  2014  gender  organizations  work  labor  culture  administration  technology  emotionallabor  shrequest1 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The GitHub Debacle and Why Holacracy is Bullshit | BraceLand
"EDIT: I should make very clear that GitHub does not seem to have been employing holacracy as their organizing model. Instead, Tom Preston-Werner describes it in this talk as “business minimalism.” I was sloppy in equating the two. I do stand by the larger point that these anti-hierarchical models, whatever you call them, don’t deal with power structures effectively. Business minimalism and holacracy both seem to be trying to address the same problem, bureaucracy, without really dealing with why bureaucracies get to be the way they are in the first place. I also edited the title of this post replacing a colon with the word “and” to help clarify.

————

A couple weeks ago I was in a conversation with some of my progressive organizer friends about holacracy, the latest fad in tech culture which calls for organizational structures without any hierarchy (ie: managers). Some of them were really intrigued by the elements of empowerment and decentralization at it’s core. I felt differently. Holacracy always smelled to me like a naive reaction to bureaucracy, without really understanding how and why bureaucracies end up like they do. It also has this implicit disdain for people in organizations who are responsible for the softer skills that keep things running smoothly. You know, things like communication, empathy, human resources management, etc. I see these skills getting devalued in the tech world all the time. If you can’t build shit you’re not worth anything.

Watching this debacle go down at GitHub, I’m not at all surprised to hear (from my fabulous colleague Mike Migurski, who explains perfectly why I think holacracy is bullshit) that the co-founder implicated in the story was a believer in the holacratic ideal.

Channeling Marshall Ganz, the absence of structure is a structure in and of itself. When you allow a power vacuum to emerge someone will fill it, and it’s usually the people who have traditionally held power (rich white men). That’s how you end up with stories like this coming out of GitHub.

In the wake of this, I’m starting to think all of the problems we’re seeing with Silicon Valley these days—the ineptitude at politics, the clumsiness with handling inequality in SF, the lack of gender and racial diversity in the industry—are actually rooted in a systemic failure to understand how power works. As we move to an era where tech is central to our culture and economy, smart founders and investors will come to realize that stacking their companies full of people who understand politics and can create healthy cultures is as important to success as having kick-ass engineers.

The problem with management isn’t managers, the problem with management is bad managers. And it’s not hard to imagine that people who don’t understand how power works aren’t going to be very good managers."

[Conversation about Julie Ann Horvath's Github experience here: http://www.metafilter.com/137546/Julie-Horvath-Describes-Sexism-And-Intimidation-Behind-Her-GitHub-Exit

An Metafilter discussion that predated this news: Do we need managers? http://www.metafilter.com/137257/We-look-at-our-employees-as-adults ]
catherinebracy  github  2014  michalmigurski  softskills  holocracy  horizontality  hierarchy  management  hierarchies  administration  power  social  groupdynamics  inequality  technology  technosolutionism  marshallganz  structure  structurelessness 
march 2014 by robertogreco
What Your Culture Really Says — about work — Medium
[via: http://mike.teczno.com/notes/on-managers.html ]

"Toxic lies about culture are afoot in Silicon Valley. They spread too fast as we take our bubble money and designer Powerpoints to drinkups, conferences and meetups all over the world, flying premium economy, ad nauseam. Well-intentioned darlings south of Market wax poetic on distributed teams, office perks, work/life balance, passion, “shipping”, “iteration,” “freedom”. A world of startup privilege hides blithely unexamined underneath an insipid, self-reinforcing banner of meritocracy and funding. An economic and class-based revolt of programmers against traditional power structures within organizations manifests itself as an (ostensively) radical re-imagining of work life. But really, you should meet the new boss. Hint: he’s the same as the old boss.

The monied, celebrated, nuevo-social, 1% poster children of startup life spread the mythology of their cushy jobs, 20% time, and self-empowerment as a thinly-veiled recruiting tactic in the war for talent against internet giants. The materialistic, viral nature of these campaigns have redefined how we think about culture, replacing meaningful critique with symbols of privilege. The word “culture” has become a signifier of superficial company assets rather than an ongoing practice of examination and self-reflection.

Culture is not about the furniture in your office. It is not about how much time you have to spend on feel-good projects. It is not about catered food, expensive social outings, internal chat tools, your ability to travel all over the world, or your never-ending self-congratulation.

Culture is about power dynamics, unspoken priorities and beliefs, mythologies, conflicts, enforcement of social norms, creation of in/out groups and distribution of wealth and control inside companies. Culture is usually ugly. It is as much about the inevitable brokenness and dysfunction of teams as it is about their accomplishments. Culture is exceedingly difficult to talk about honestly. The critique of startup culture that came in large part from the agile movement has been replaced by sanitized, pompous, dishonest slogans.

Let’s examine popular startup trends that are being called “culture” and look beneath the surface to find the real culture that may be playing out beneath it. This is not a critique of the practices themselves, which often contribute value to an organization. This is to show a contrast between the much deeper, systemic cultural problems that are rampant in our startups and the materialistic trappings that can disguise them.

We make sure to hire people who are a cultural fit
What your culture might actually be saying is… We have implemented a loosely coordinated social policy to ensure homogeneity in our workforce. We are able to reject qualified, diverse candidates on the grounds that they “aren’t a culture fit” while not having to examine what that means - and it might mean that we’re all white, mostly male, mostly college-educated, mostly young/unmarried, mostly binge drinkers, mostly from a similar work background. We tend to hire within our employees’ friend and social groups. Because everyone we work with is a great culture fit, which is code for “able to fit in without friction,” we are all friends and have an unhealthy blur between social and work life. Because everyone is a “great culture fit,” we don’t have to acknowledge employee alienation and friction between individuals or groups. The desire to continue being a “culture fit” means it is harder for employees to raise meaningful critique and criticism of the culture itself.

Meetings are evil and we have them as little as possible.
What your culture might actually be saying is… We have a collective post-traumatic stress reaction to previous workplaces that had hostile, unnecessary, unproductive and authoritarian meetings. We tend to avoid projects and initiatives that require strict coordination across the company. We might have difficulty meeting the expectations of enterprise companies and do better selling to startups organized like us. We are heavily invested in being rebels against traditional corporate culture. Because we communicate largely asynchronously and through chat, it is easy to mentally dehumanize teammates and form silos around functional groups with different communications practices or business functions.

We have a team of people who are responsible for organizing frequent employee social events, maintaining the office “feel”, and making sure work is a great place to hang out. We get served organic, vegan, farm-raised, nutritious lunches every day at work.
What your culture might actually be saying is… Our employees must be treated as spoiled, coddled children that cannot perform their own administrative functions. We have a team of primarily women supporting the eating, drinking, management and social functions of a primarily male workforce whose output is considered more valuable. We struggle to hire women in non-administrative positions and most gender diversity in our company is centralized in social and admin work. Because our office has more amenities than home life, our employees work much longer hours and we are able to extract more value from them for the same paycheck. The environment reinforces the cultural belief that work is a pleasant dream and can help us distract or bribe from deeper issues in the organization.

20% of the time, or all of the time, people can work on whatever they want to
What your culture might actually be saying is… We have enough venture funding to pay people to work on non-core parts of the business. We are not under that much pressure to make money. The normal work of the business is not sufficiently rewarding so we bribe employees with pet projects. We’re not entirely sure what our business objectives and vision are, so we are trying to discover it by letting employee passions take root. We have a really hard time developing work that takes more than a few people to release. We have lots of unfinished but valuable projects that get left behind due to shifts in focus, lack of concentrated effort, and inability to organize sufficient resources to bring projects to completion.

We don’t have managers and the company is managed with no hierarchy
What your culture might actually be saying is… Management decisions are siloed at the very top layers of management, kept so close to the chest they appear not to exist at all. The lack of visibility into investor demands, financial affairs, HR issues, etc. provides an abstraction layer between employees and real management, which we pretend doesn’t exist. We don’t have an explicit power structure, which makes it easier for the unspoken power dynamics in the company to play out without investigation or criticism.

We don’t have a vacation policy
What your culture might actually be saying is… We fool ourselves into thinking we have a better work/life balance when really people take even less vacation than they would when they had a vacation policy. Social pressure and addiction to work has replaced policy as a regulator of vacation time.

We are all makers who are focused on shipping.
What your culture might actually be saying is… Features are the most important function of our business. We lack processes for surfacing and addressing technical debt. We have systemic infrastructure problems but they are not relevant because we are more focused on short-term adoption than long-term reliability. We prioritize fast visible progress, even if it is trivial, over longer and more meaningful projects. Productivity is measured more by lines of code than the value of that code. Pretty things are more important than useful things.

Closing
Talk to your company about culture. Talk to other companies about culture. Stop mistaking symbology and VC spoils for culture. Be honest with yourself, and with each other. Otherwise, your culture will kill you softly with its song, and you won’t even notice. But hey, you have a beer keg in the office."
shanley  2013  business  culture  github  horizontality  hierarchy  hierarchies  control  power  meetings  homogeneity  organzations  vacation  policies  politics  work  labor  process  social  socialpressure  management  administration  illegibility  legibility  decisionmaking  powerstructures  criticism  valve 
march 2014 by robertogreco
managers are awesome / managers are cool when they’re part of your team (tecznotes)
"Apropos the Julie Ann Horvath Github shitshow, I’ve been thinking this weekend about management, generally.

I don’t know details about the particular Github situation so I won’t say much about it, but I was present for Tom Preston-Werner’s 2013 OSCON talk about Github. After a strong core message about open source licenses, liability, and freedom (tl;dr: avoid the WTFPL), Tom talked a bit about Github’s management model.
Management is about subjugation; it’s about control.

At Github, Tom described a setup where the power structure of the company is defined by the social structures of the employees. He showed a network hairball to illustrate his point, said that Github employees can work on what they feel like, subject to the strategic direction set for the company. There are no managers.

This bothered me a bit when I heard it last summer, and it’s gotten increasingly more uncomfortable since. I’ve been paraphrasing this part of the talk as “management is a form of workplace violence,” and the still-evolving story of Julie Ann Horvath suggests that the removal of one form of workplace violence has resulted in the reintroduction of another, much worse form. In my first post-college job, I was blessed with an awesome manager who described his work as “firefighter up and cheerleader down,” an idea I’ve tried to live by as I’ve moved into positions of authority myself. The idea of having no managers, echoed in other companies like Valve Software, suggests the presence of major cultural problems at a company like Github. As Shanley Kane wrote in What Your Culture Really Says, “we don’t have an explicit power structure, which makes it easier for the unspoken power dynamics in the company to play out without investigation or criticism.” Managers might be difficult, hostile, or useless, but because they are parts of an explicit power structure they can be evaluted explicitly. For people on the wrong side of a power dynamic, engaging with explicit structure is often the only means possible to fix a problem.

Implicit power can be a liability as well as a strength. In the popular imagination, implicit power elites close sweetheart deals in smoke-filled rooms. In reality, the need for implicit power to stay in the shadows can cripple it in the face of an outside context problem. Aaron Bady wrote of Julian Assange and Wikileaks that “while an organization structured by direct and open lines of communication will be much more vulnerable to outside penetration, the more opaque it becomes to itself (as a defense against the outside gaze), the less able it will be to “think” as a system, to communicate with itself. The more conspiratorial it becomes, in a certain sense, the less effective it will be as a conspiracy.”

Going back to the social diagram, this lack of ability to communicate internally seems to be an eventual property of purely bottoms-up social structures. Github has been enormously successful on the strength of a single core strategy: the creation of a delightful, easy-to-use web UI on top of a work-sharing system designed for distributed use. I’ve been a user since 2009, and my belief is that the product has consistently improved, but not meaningfully changed. Github’s central, most powerful innovation is the Pull Request. Github has annexed adjoining territory, but has not yet had to respond to a threat that may force it to abandon territory or change approach entirely.

Without a structured means of communication, the company is left with the vague notion that employees can do what they feel like, as long as it’s compliant with the company’s strategic direction. Who sets that direction, and how might it be possible to change it? There’s your implicit power and first point of weakness.

This is incidentally what’s so fascinating about the government technology position I’m in at Code for America. I believe that we’re in the midst of a shift in power from abusive tech vendor relationships to something driven by a city’s own digital capabilities. The amazing thing about GOV.UK is that a government has decided it has the know-how to hire its own team of designers and developers, and exercised its authority. That it’s a cost-saving measure is beside the point. It’s the change I want to see in the world: for governments large and small to stop copy-pasting RFP line items and cargo-culting tech trends (including the OMFG Ur On Github trend) and start thinking for themselves about their relationship with digital communication."
michalmigurski  2014  julieannhovarth  github  horizontality  hierarchy  hierarchies  power  julianassange  wikileaks  valve  culture  business  organizations  management  legibility  illegibility  communication  gov.uk  codeforamerica  subjugation  abuse  shanley  teams  administration  leadership 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Tyranny of Structurelessness (Jo Freeman)
[Already bookmarked another version of this: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:d3995eef07ce . Thanks to Max for resurfacing today.]

"Unstructured groups may be very effective in getting women to talk about their lives; they aren’t very good for getting things done. It is when people get tired of “just talking” and want to do something more that the groups flounder, unless they change the nature of their operation. Occasionally, the developed informal structure of the group coincides with an available need that the group can fill in such a way as to give the appearance that an unstructured group “works.” That is, the group has fortuitously developed precisely the kind of structure best suited for engaging in a particular project.

While working in this kind of group is a very heady experience, it is also rare and very hard to replicate. There are almost inevitably four conditions found in such a group:

1) It is task oriented. Its function is very narrow and very specific, like putting on a conference or putting out a newspaper. It is the task that basically structures the group. The task determines what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. It provides a guide by which people can judge their actions and make plans for future activity.

2) It is relatively small and homogeneous. Homogeneity is necessary to ensure that participants have a “common language” or interaction. People from widely different backgrounds may provide richness to a consciousness-raising group where each can learn from the others’ experience, but too great a diversity among members of a task-oriented group means only that they continually misunderstand each other. Such diverse people interpret words and actions differently. They have different expectations about each other’s behavior and judge the results according to different criteria. If everyone knows everyone else well enough to understand the nuances, these can be accommodated. Usually, they only lead to confusion and endless hours spent straightening out conflicts no one ever thought would arise.

3) There is a high degree of communication. Information must be passed on to everyone, opinions checked, work divided up, and participation assured in the relevant decisions. This is only possible if the group is small and people practically live together for the most crucial phases of the task. Needless to say, the number of interactions necessary to involve everybody increases geometrically with the number of participants. This inevitably limits group participants to about five, or excludes some from some of the decisions. Successful groups can be as large as 10 or 15, but only when they are in fact composed of several smaller subgroups which perform specific parts of the task, and whose members overlap with each other so that knowledge of what the different subgroups are doing can be passed around easily.

4) There is a low degree of skill specialization. Not everyone has to be able to do everything, but everything must be able to be done by more than one person. Thus no one is indispensable. To a certain extent, people become interchangeable parts."



"Once the movement no longer clings tenaciously to the ideology of “structurelessness,” it is free to develop those forms of organization best suited to its healthy functioning. This does not mean that we should go to the other extreme and blindly imitate the traditional forms of organization. But neither should we blindly reject them all. Some of the traditional techniques will prove useful, albeit not perfect; some will give us insights into what we should and should not do to obtain certain ends with minimal costs to the individuals in the movement. Mostly, we will have to experiment with different kinds of structuring and develop a variety of techniques to use for different situations. The Lot System is one such idea which has emerged from the movement. It is not applicable to all situations, but is useful in some. Other ideas for structuring are needed. But before we can proceed to experiment intelligently, we must accept the idea that there is nothing inherently bad about structure itself — only its excess use.

While engaging in this trial-and-error process, there are some principles we can keep in mind that are essential to democratic structuring and are also politically effective:

1) Delegation of specific authority to specific individuals for specific tasks by democratic procedures. Letting people assume jobs or tasks only by default means they are not dependably done. If people are selected to do a task, preferably after expressing an interest or willingness to do it, they have made a commitment which cannot so easily be ignored.

2) Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be responsible to those who selected them. This is how the group has control over people in positions of authority. Individuals may exercise power, but it is the group that has ultimate say over how the power is exercised.

3) Distribution of authority among as many people as is reasonably possible. This prevents monopoly of power and requires those in positions of authority to consult with many others in the process of exercising it. It also gives many people the opportunity to have responsibility for specific tasks and thereby to learn different skills.

4) Rotation of tasks among individuals. Responsibilities which are held too long by one person, formally or informally, come to be seen as that person’s “property” and are not easily relinquished or controlled by the group. Conversely, if tasks are rotated too frequently the individual does not have time to learn her job well and acquire the sense of satisfaction of doing a good job.

5) Allocation of tasks along rational criteria. Selecting someone for a position because they are liked by the group or giving them hard work because they are disliked serves neither the group nor the person in the long run. Ability, interest, and responsibility have got to be the major concerns in such selection. People should be given an opportunity to learn skills they do not have, but this is best done through some sort of “apprenticeship” program rather than the “sink or swim” method. Having a responsibility one can’t handle well is demoralizing. Conversely, being blacklisted from doing what one can do well does not encourage one to develop one’s skills. Women have been punished for being competent throughout most of human history; the movement does not need to repeat this process.

6) Diffusion of information to everyone as frequently as possible. Information is power. Access to information enhances one’s power. When an informal network spreads new ideas and information among themselves outside the group, they are already engaged in the process of forming an opinion — without the group participating. The more one knows about how things work and what is happening, the more politically effective one can be.

7) Equal access to resources needed by the group. This is not always perfectly possible, but should be striven for. A member who maintains a monopoly over a needed resource (like a printing press owned by a husband, or a darkroom) can unduly influence the use of that resource. Skills and information are also resources. Members’ skills can be equitably available only when members are willing to teach what they know to others.

When these principles are applied, they ensure that whatever structures are developed by different movement groups will be controlled by and responsible to the group. The group of people in positions of authority will be diffuse, flexible, open, and temporary. They will not be in such an easy position to institutionalize their power because ultimate decisions will be made by the group at large, The group will have the power to determine who shall exercise authority within it."
feminism  groups  groupdynamics  power  control  social  politics  jofreeman  anarchy  anarchism  consensus  democracy  delegation  responsibility  elitism  politicalimpotence  decisionmaking  authority  leadership  administration  organizations  structure  structurelessness 
march 2014 by robertogreco
A Poet's Warning | Harvard Magazine Nov-Dec 2007
"Yet even as the College returns to its civilian pursuits and petty vanities—students struggling with the poems of Donne, “professors back from secret missions” bragging about their adventures—Auden sees another kind of conflict taking shape. This is the war between the two sensibilities, the two social and spiritual visions, that Auden names Apollo and Hermes. Apollo, the Greek god of light and music, becomes for Auden “pompous Apollo,” the patron saint of “official art.” Against him, Auden sets Hermes, the trickster god, protector of thieves and liars, who is “precocious” and undisciplined. Both of these gods can make a kind of music, but Auden asks the reader to decide “under which lyre” he will take his stand.

The comedy of the poem, and its prescience, lies in Auden’s description of Apollo, the presiding spirit of what he calls “the fattening forties.” The danger to postwar America, the poet suggests, lies in the soft tyranny of institutions, authorities, and experts—of people who know what’s best for you and don’t hesitate to make sure you know it, too. Auden gives a wonderful catalog of the things these Apollonians want to impose: colleges where “Truth is replaced by Useful Knowledge,” with courses on “Public Relations, Hygiene, Sport”; poems that “Extol the doughnut and commend/The Common Man” (did Byron Price flinch at those lines?); even processed foods: “a glass of prune juice or a nice/Marsh-mallow salad.” In short, Auden is already predicting the dullest, most conformist aspects of American life in the Cold War years, the kind of prosperous mediocrity that gave the 1950s a bad name.

But if it’s impossible to dislodge Apollo from his throne, Auden suggests, you can still follow Hermes in private. That is why the last stanzas of “Under Which Lyre” offer a “Hermetic Decalogue,” a set of commandments for free spirits who refuse to fall into line:

Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
On education,
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Administration.

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science.

This advice is half-joking, but only half. For Auden is reminding his Harvard audience that all the official apparatus of the university is extraneous to its highest purpose, which is to cultivate freedom and inwardness. It is a message that still needs to be heard today, when the expense of higher education forces so many students to look at it as an investment, rather than an adventure.

Auden knows that, if everyone lived by the Hermetic Decalogue all the time, the world would grind to a halt. “The earth would soon, did Hermes run it,/Be like the Balkans,” he ruefully acknowledges. A society run by Hermes would be a disaster; but a society without any followers of Hermes in it would be a nightmare. That message makes “Under Which Lyre” a truly American poem, in the tradition of Emerson and Whitman and Twain, all of them defenders of the individual against the collective. The continued life of Auden’s Phi Beta Kappa poem is a reminder that, when the generals and censors and other powers of the earth are forgotten, it is the mere poet who remains."

[Full poem: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/under-which-lyre-3/
Also here: http://members.wizzards.net/~mlworden/atyp/auden.htm
Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZE_bhSUgG8 ]

"Professors back from secret missions
Resume their proper eruditions,
Though some regret it;
They liked their dictaphones a lot,
T hey met some big wheels, and do not
Let you forget it.



The sons of Hermes love to play
And only do their best when they
Are told they oughtn't;
Apollo's children never shrink
From boring jobs but have to think
Their work important.



But jealous of our god of dreams,
His common-sense in secret schemes
To rule the heart;
Unable to invent the lyre,
Creates with simulated fire
Official art.

And when he occupies a college,
Truth is replaced by Useful Knowledge;
He pays particular
Attention to Commercial Thought,
Public Relations, Hygiene, Sport,
In his curricula.



Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
On education,
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Administration.

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science."
via:lukeneff  trickster  whauden  poetry  experts  administration  authority  truth  mediocrity  unschooling  deschooling  edreform  education  learning  management  self-importance  hierarchy  poems  1946  highered  highereducation  tyranny  softtyranny  authorities 
february 2014 by robertogreco
STET | Making remote teams work
"I’ll be the first to admit that remote work is not a panacea for all that ails the modern workplace, nor is it suitable for everyone. It’s just as possible to have a dysfunctional remote team as it is to have a broken and unproductive office space.

That said, in the tech community today, remote work has some clear advantages. For the employer, it enables hiring from a more diverse set of workers. Yahoo! may be unwilling to hire an engineer who lives in Kansas City and isn’t inclined (or able) to move to Sunnyvale or New York, but another team may be more than happy to accommodate her. Remote teams also don’t incur the costs associated with expensive campuses and their roster of caterers, laundromats, buses, and gyms, making them more appealing to smaller and leaner organizations. (And, since those perks are usually designed to keep workers at the office, employees could be said to benefit from their absence.) For employees, remote work can permit a flexibility and freedom that is especially valuable to those with less-than-perfect home lives. Caring for children or elderly parents, or contending with an illness or physical or mental disability, may all be made easier with the flexibility to work when and where it best works for you.

This last point is, in some ways, the most damning criticism of Meyer’s policy at Yahoo!: a mother with a full-time nanny may find no difficulty in making it to the office every day, but most parents are not so well-supported. Of the remote workers I spoke to, a recurring theme was the ability to time-shift one’s day to meet their kids’ schedules (as were various techniques for insulating the workspace from tantrums, about which more in a moment). Remote working holds the promise of adapting work to fit our lives, rather than requiring that we twist and bend our lives to fit the space that work demands.

But only if it’s done well. Remote working is a different way of working, with different constraints and practices. It undoes decades of management policies and, given its relatively recent uptake, there’s scant information about the best way to proceed. What follows is some advice, drawn from our own experience at Editorially, with guidance from others about how to make remote teams work — and which pitfalls to look out for."



"One of the most unexpected things that I’ve learned from working remotely is that it isn’t just about accommodating different lifestyles or taking advantage of technology’s ability to compress long distances. Remote working encourages habits of communication and collaboration that can make a team objectively better: redundant communication and a naturally occurring record of conversation enable team members to better understand each other and work productively towards common ends. At the same time, an emphasis on written communication enforces clear thinking, while geography and disparate time zones foster space for that thinking to happen.

In that way, remote teams are more than just a more humane way of working: they are simply a better way to work."

[See also: http://blog.timoni.org/post/75073922089/and-importantly-the-team-chat-room-tool-needs ]
mandybrown  collaboration  tools  communication  2014  stet  technology  remote  work  howwework  editorially  accessibility  inclusivity  chat  video  management  organization  organizations  administration  inclusion  inlcusivity 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Brazil let its citizens make decisions about city budgets. Here’s what happened.
"Our results also show that Participatory Budgeting’s influence strengthens over time, which indicates that its benefits do not merely result from governments making easy policy changes. Instead, Participatory Budgeting’s increasing impact indicates that governments, citizens, and civil society organizations are building new institutions that produce better forms of governance. These cities incorporate citizens at multiple moments of the policy process, allowing community leaders and public officials to exchange better information. The cities are also retraining policy experts and civil servants to better work with poor communities. Finally, public deliberation about spending priorities makes these city governments more transparent, which decreases corruption."
brazil  development  economics  brasil  2014  government  via:jedsundwall  participatory  budgeting  participatorybudgeting  transparency  democracy  governance  administration  leadership  management  classideas  tcsmny 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Education Week: Why Make Reform So Complicated?
"In the realm of organizational improvement, complexity kills. It demoralizes employees and distorts the critical connection between effort and outcomes. It is the enemy of the most indispensable elements of improvement: clarity, priority, and focus.

That is the message of multiple prominent studies, from Jim Collins' 2001 best-seller Good to Great to more recent books like The Laws of Simplicity, by John Maeda, and Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn. These experts implore us to simplify: to prioritize, minimize, and employ only the clearest language in the service of focus. Only this will allow teams and individuals to understand, practice, and perfect those few, highest-priority skills and actions that are most critical to progress.

Education clearly doesn't get this. Perhaps no enterprise is more crippled by complexity than school improvement. For two decades, I've worked with educators in every kind of school and district. For every major initiative, a common theme emerges: There is simply too much to do, and most of it is maddeningly ambiguous and confusing.

Maybe it started with state-mandated strategic planning, which produced those book-length, jargon-laced documents with their impossibly long bulleted lists of goals, tasks, and action plans—which turned out to have no substantive effect on teaching quality.
Then came the standards movement."



"The transition to simple, priority-driven school improvement might require a kind of civil disobedience: a refusal, by a critical mass of educators, to implement anything unless it has been adequately piloted, amply proven, and then made clear and simple enough for educators to learn and implement successfully. If we insist on such conditions, we will move forward at a rate not seen before."
via:lukeneff  simplicity  education  policy  standards  commoncore  2014  complexity  organization  curriculum  mikeschmoker  standardization  leadership  administration  pedagogy  johnmaeda 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Steve Hargadon: Escaping the Education Matrix | MindShift
"“We tell a story about the power of learning that is very different from what we practice in traditional models of school,” says Steve Hargadon, education technology entrepreneur, event organizer, and host of the long-running Future of Education podcast series. If we really want children to grow up to become self-reliant and reach their full potential, “we would be doing something very different in schools. We live in a state of cognitive dissonance.”

His comments are informed by a recent cross-country tour facilitating community discussions on education, as well as more than 400 interviews he’s logged with a broad spectrum of education practitioners, analysts, and innovators.

“What are most kids getting out of 12 years of school?” he asks. “The honest answer is they’re learning how to follow, and that was the original intent. Public schools were based on the belief that what was needed was a small group of elites who would make the decisions for the country, and many more who would simply follow their directions” — hence a system that produces “tremendous intellectual and commercial dependency.”

And the notion that the smartest students rise to the top, regardless of family and social circumstances, “sends a message to the majority of students that they are losers,” Hargadon notes, which doesn’t square with a professed belief in the inherent value and capacity of every child.

The system’s fundamental design also leads to a host of unintended consequences, including bullying. “We’re placing kids in an artificial environment,” he says, “telling most of them they’re not good at things, and then expecting them not to explode at each other? Of course they will. The ‘mean girls’ thing is not a natural part of childhood—it’s more a reflection of how kids are being treated than a reflection of kids. It’s shocking that we put up with it.”

The reason so many adults find the situation tolerable, he says, may stem from the fact that they experience little control over their own lives. Additionally, they themselves are products of the system and, as such, find it difficult to envision an alternative. “People are almost in this Matrix-like existence,” Hargadon says. “They don’t question schooling. How do you tell a story that opens the door to rethinking what people have believed for decades? So much in their lives depends on that story being what they think it is. How do you tell a new story that involves people reclaiming their destinies, children not being defective, and learning not being owned by one organization?”

There are also vested interests in the status quo. “The people who benefit from us not being active citizens, from all buying the same things, and being willing to take jobs that demand we leave our personal values at the door—they all benefit from the current schooling system, because it produces a populace that does not feel confident in being critical,” he notes. “At an institutional or personal level, those who benefit don’t have much incentive to promote changes in education that would lead people to question their motives or challenge their practices.”"



"He sees a need for more people to “stand up and say: ‘This is not the right thing for children—it’s not a healthy childhood.’” But families must also reclaim ownership of learning, rather than viewing it as the responsibility of schools and government, and also resist the tendency to make decisions for others. “In some ways, traditional schools have co-opted a lot of traditional parental responsibilities,” he says. “That’s really unhealthy, and it becomes self-fulfilling. And when society says it knows better than the family, it’s a recipe for disaster. Some family circumstances are not ideal, but it’s a slippery slope. It’s about trusting and respecting the capacity of individuals to make choices.”"



"For models of healthier ways to frame education, Hargadon suggests looking to food and libraries. “No one says that from age six to 17, we will give you all the same food, at the same time, regardless of your individual circumstances or needs,” he says. He envisions a world where families can similarly choose where, how, and what they learn.

What might that world look like? He considers libraries good examples of places that already facilitate such mandate-free learning. “The reason we have a hard time conceiving [an alternate reality],” he says, “is because we so strongly associate education with control. If I ask you how you choose your own food, you’d probably say that it’s just what you do: Depending on your circumstances at the time, you may go to a farmer’s market or grocery store or restaurant or grow your own food. The difficulty is dismantling something that’s taken away our conception of having that kind of agency. But when I imagine that world, it includes things like community college classes, apprenticeships at businesses, educational certification programs. You have a range of choices, depending on the child’s interests.”

Hargadon sees connecting people to each other as the most effective way to get from here to there, hence his recent tour. “The tour convinced me that policy changes are not the answer, and that change needs to come from us,” he says. “As individuals, families and communities, we need to reclaim the conversation around learning, and to do so in such a way as to recognize the inherent worth and value of every student, with the ultimate goal of helping them become self-directed and agents of their own learning.”

Hargadon thinks one way change agents get tripped up is by promoting a particular model, rather than a process by which people can develop (or adopt) models that best fit their needs. He considers deep, meaningful conversations a useful starting point for people to use to shape the future, and to that end, he’s planning to host a series of national conversations in 2014 that probe the deeper questions around education and can serve as models for conversations people initiative in their own communities.

“Living in a democracy means involving people in decision making,” Hargadon says. “You can’t just create a new system to implement top down; you have to provide the opportunity to talk about it and build it constructively.”"
stevehargadon  education  change  schools  democracy  community  competition  cooperation  collaboration  learning  children  history  society  howweteach  howwelearn  sorting  2014  process  leadership  lcproject  openstudioproject  unshooling  deschooling  administration  libraries  control  freedom 
january 2014 by robertogreco
The Paradox of a Great University: Frederick Wiseman's 'At Berkeley,' Reviewed : The New Yorker
"As I watched the movie, I wondered—where are the rebels? Where’s the anger? Where’s the innate sense of rebellion, of resistance to authority, not on any principled opposition to specific policies but to the mere fact of authority itself? Wiseman didn’t go into the dormitories in search of hedonism, riot, or argument, didn’t look for partiers or revelers or malcontents or the ornery, contentious, solitary, disaffected students. He reveals the university as a great institution for the focussing of intellectual energy, the generation of virtually infinite possibilities of mind and invention, the transmission of a progress-oriented sense of values—but one that, ultimately, depends on a sort of energy that the university itself can’t transmit and that, for its very survival, needs to find a way to suppress, divert, or co-opt. In “At Berkeley,” Wiseman, looking admiringly at the historic seat of student radicalism, comes up against the impossibility of a radical university—because real radicalism isn’t something that responsible administrators unwilling to renounce the proper administration of the university itself, and maybe even to put its very existence at risk, can foster.

The paradox of the movie is that of the good student—the better the university does its job, the less likely its students are to defy the institution and the wider set of values and policies that it embodies and, ultimately, reinforces. And that’s why my nightmare is also, in a way, Wiseman’s own."
ucberkeley  radicalism  rebellion  revolution  protest  institutions  highered  highereducation  2013  film  documentary  frederickwiseman  atberkeley  education  unschooling  deschooling  invention  administration  dissent  progress  richardbrody  authority  resistance  policy  opposition  stagnation 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Titles are Toxic – Rands in Repose
"A good way to explain this is to imagine the poor use of titles in Toxic Title Douchebag World. In this imaginary world, the first five hires after the founders have given themselves impressive sounding titles. VP of Business Development or Director of Advanced Technology. If you’re employee #34 and someone is walking around the building calling themselves the SVP of Platform Engineering, you might be in Toxic Title Douchebag World.

I’m not suggesting that this is not an accomplished person. I’m not saying that they don’t have a wealth of experience or fantastic ideas, but never in my life have I ever stared at a fancy title and immediately understood the person’s value. It took time. I spent time with those people — we debated, we discussed, we disagreed — and only then did I decide: “This guy… he really knows his stuff. I have much to learn.” In Toxic Title Douchebag World, titles are designed to document the value of an individual sans proof. They are designed to create an unnecessary social hierarchy based on ego.

When that first title shows up for your first leader, ask yourself: does this title reflect a job I consider to be real and of obvious value? If the answer is anything other than a resounding yes, your titles might be toxic.



"No no no no and no. To understand how this breaks down, let’s head back to Toxic Title Douchebag World.

In this world, our SVP of Talent looks at his 119 employes and 17 leads and thinks, “Well, the folks who are the most cranky are the engineers who have been here the longest, so I’ll do what I did at my former company — I’ll create titles: Associate Engineer, Engineer, Senior Engineer, Staff Engineer, and Architect.”

By themselves, these titles are not completely toxic. It’s the process by which the SVP of Talent assigns these titles. Here are a few samples of his increasingly flawed reasoning:

He creates a stack ranking of employees based on years of tenure and last year’s performance rating.
He draws lines on this list to create groups. Where does he draws these lines? Well, it’s based on his mood.
With this group done, he passes it on to the leads who he thinks will have good opinions about the groups, but in reality will mostly share his opinion without question.
If you don’t have blinding teeth-grinding rage after reading those three bullets, I’ll put you over the edge. This isn’t really Toxic Title Douchebag World: this is your world. This grim, poorly defined decision process has heralded the arrival of a lot of title systems that you’re living with right now.

Now, those who designed and deployed titles don’t intend to do harm. They are, hopefully, intending to build a rational system for growth, but what they don’t account for is that…"



Business cards are dead. Yes, I feel bad when I’m at a conference and someone hands me their gorgeous business card and looks expectantly for mine. Sorry, I don’t have one. Well, I do. You’re looking at it right now. It doesn’t fit in your wallet, but it saves a little bit of a tree and has vastly more information than a business card.

Resumes, in their current form, I hope, are not far behind. It’s convenient to have a brief overview of someone’s career when we sit down to interview, but more often than not, when I’m interviewing you, I’m searching Google for more substance. Do you have any sort of digital footprint? A weblog? A GitHub repository? It’s these types of artifacts that give me the beginning of insight into who you are. It’s by no means a complete picture, but it’s far more revealing than a bunch of tweets stitched together in a resume.

Titles, I believe, are an artifact of the same age that gave us business cards and resumes. They came from a time when information was scarce. When there was no other way to discover who you were other than what you shared via a resume. Where the title of Senior Software Engineer was intended to define your entire career to date.

This is one of those frustrating articles where I gnash my teeth furiously about a problem, but don’t offer a concrete solution because I haven’t solved for this problem and I’m wondering if anyone else has. I believe there is a glimmer of a good idea regarding gauging and annoucing ability in ideas like Open Badges but the burden of progress is a two-way street.

For a leader of humans, it’s your responsibility to push your folks into uncomfortable situations where they’ll learn, document, and recognize their accomplishments, and help them recover from the failures as quickly as possible.

For the individual, it’s about continually finding new jobs. In my career, I’ve been a student, a QA engineer, an engineer, a manager, and a writer. Each job is a path I’ve chosen. I’ve had much support along the way, but, more importantly, I’ve never been content to be complacent, nor ever believed there weren’t more jobs to be discovered, and always knowing that I’m more than a title."
business  management  titles  2013  via:litherland  administration  hierarchy  work  businesscards  resumes 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Microaggression and Management — about work — Medium
"Much of the pivotal early work on microaggression focused on its role in racism, and has been applied to other systems and their interrelations. These microaggressions have sexist, racist, and classist impact — it is useful to understand their common role across intersecting systems. I am purposefully adopting a broad definition “microaggression,” which has been examined in varying degrees of focus and granularity.

Here are five categories of microaggression in management and examples of how they play out.

Body Language and Touching…

Unequal Visibility and Accountability…

Derailing and Gaslighting…

Performances of Excessive Confidence…

Preferential Treatment as a Reward and Division System…

"In order to break the self-perpetuating cycle of microaggression in the workplace, we need to re-imagine and re-implement the concept of management. Management should be a job description that pertains to a particular type of work done on a team related to facilitating the team and enabling it to be as successful as possible. Management should NOT be an honorific, based in an unequal power dynamic, and associated with superiority, entitlement and hypermasculinity. When managers locate their value and contribution to the company in the latter system, microaggression against the very team they are supposed to be part of becomes the default mode."
culture  feminism  management  work  power  control  business  administration  leadership  abuse  superiority  2013  shanley  politics  aggression  microaggression  gender  patriarchy  paternalism  psychopathy  psychology  manipulation  authority  behavior  gaslighting  visibility  hierarchy  accountability  tcsnmy 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Margaret J. Wheatley: The Irresistible Future of Organizing
"Why do so many people in organizations feel discouraged and fearful about the future? Why does despair only increase as the fads fly by, shorter in duration, more costly in each attempt to improve? Why have the best efforts to create significant and enduring organizational change resulted in so many failures? We, and our organizations, exist in a world of constant evolutionary activity. Why is change so unnatural in human organizations?

The accumulating failures at organizational change can be traced to a fundamental but mistaken assumption that organizations are machines. Organizations-as-machines is a 17th century notion, from a time when philosophers began to describe the universe as a great clock. Our modern belief in prediction and control originated in these clockwork images. Cause and effect were simple relationships.   Everything could be known.  Organizations and people could be engineered into efficient solutions. Three hundred years later, we still search for "tools and techniques" and "change levers"; we attempt to "drive" change through our organizations; we want to "build" solutions and "reengineer" for peak efficiencies.

But why would we want an organization to behave like a machine? Machines have no intelligence; they follow the instructions given to them. They only work in the specific conditions predicted by their engineers. Changes in their environment wreak havoc because they have no capacity to adapt.

These days, a different ideal for organizations is surfacing. We want organizations to be adaptive, flexible, self-renewing, resilient, learning, intelligent-attributes found only in living systems. The tension of our times is that we want our organizations to behave as living systems, but we only know how to treat them as machines.



This faith in the organization's ability and intelligence will be sorely tested. When there are failures, pressures from the outside, or employee problems, it is easy to retreat to more traditional structures and solutions. As one manager describes it: "When things aren't going well, we've had to resist the temptation to fall back to the perceived safety of our old, rigid structures. But we know that the growth, the creativity, the opening up, the energy improves only if we hold ourselves at the edge of chaos."

The path of self-organization offers ample tests for leaders to discover how much they really trust their employees. Can employees make wise decisions? Can they deal with sensitive information? Can they talk to the community or government regulators? Employees earn trust, but leaders create the circumstances in which such trust can be earned.

Because dependency runs so deep in most organizations these days, employees often have to be encouraged to exercise initiative and explore new areas of competence. Not only do leaders have to let go and watch as employees figure out their own solutions, they also have to shore up their self-confidence and encourage them to do more. And leaders need to refrain from taking credit for their employees' good work-not always an easy task.

While self-organization calls us to very different ideas and forms of organizing, how else can we create the resilient, intelligent, fast, and flexible organizations that we require? How else can we succeed in organizing in the accelerating pace of our times except by realizing that organizations are living systems? This is not an easy shift, changing one's model of the way the world organizes. It is work that will occupy most of us for the rest of our careers. But the future pulls us toward these new understandings with an insistent and compelling call."

[via: https://twitter.com/JosieHolford/status/394627503668461568 ]
systems  systemsthinking  margaretwheatley  myronkellner-rogers  1996  organzations  management  humans  humanism  machines  modernism  organizing  resistance  self-organization  administration  leadership  structure  dependency  initiative  competency  rigidity  livingsystems  life  rules 
october 2013 by robertogreco
russell davies: the web, the web, the web
"I'm Not Saying: the website is broken therefore the company must have stupid web people.

I Am Saying: the website is broken therefore the company must have stupid leadership.

I Am Further Saying: I bet the web people are brilliant and are struggling to cope with an organisation that thinks the web is for marketing and aftersales rather then realising that the web is the platform on which they should build their whole business.

I Am Further Acknowledging Again That This Is Hard: It's hard because you have thousands of skus and legacy systems tied into horrible service contracts in competing regions, divisions and cultures. Fair enough. That's what you have to solve. That's why it's not a technology problem.

If you have so many products that you can't build a website that can easily surface them - then you have too many products.

If you have a corporate structure that means customers can't find the stuff they want - then you have the wrong corporate structure."
russelldavies  sony  web  management  digital  tcsnmy  organization  administration  leadership  2013 
october 2013 by robertogreco
The neoliberal assault on academia - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"Something as apparently innocuous as an accreditation agency demanding that syllabi be written in a particular format, or majors justified in a particular way, can wind up empowering university management to intimately regulate teaching. A meaningless buzzword in the mouth of a dean, such as "new majority student", might in practice help legitimate the hiring of less qualified faculty. After all, if "teacher ownership of content" is old fashioned, why do you need to hire a professor who can create his or her own course?

The bottom line of the neoliberal assault on the universities is the increasing power of management and the undermining of faculty self-governance. The real story behind MOOCs may be the ways in which they assist management restructuring efforts of core university practices, under the smiley-faced banner of "open access" and assisted in some cases by their "superstar", camera-ready professors.

Meanwhile, all those adjunct faculty are far more subject to managerial control and regulation than are tenured professors. Aside from their low cost, that is one of the principal reasons why they are so attractive to university managers. "

[See also: “When Adjunct Faculty Are the Tenure-track's Untouchables”
http://utotherescue.blogspot.com/2013/05/when-adjunct-faculty-are-tenure-tracks.html
and “When Tenure-Track Faculty Take On the Problem of Adjunctification”
http://www.socialsciencespace.com/2013/07/when-tenure-track-faculty-take-on-the-problem-of-adjunctification/ ]
tarakbarkawi  2013  academia  neoliberalism  power  management  adjuncts  adjunctification  economics  policy  us  uk  administration  control  hierarchy  labor  highered  highereducation  class  austerity  crisis 
august 2013 by robertogreco
When Power Goes To Your Head, It May Shut Out Your Heart : NPR
"Even the smallest dose of power can change a person. You've probably seen it. Someone gets a promotion or a bit of fame and then, suddenly, they're a little less friendly to the people beneath them.

So here's a question that may seem too simple: Why?

If you ask a psychologist, he or she may tell you that the powerful are simply too busy. They don't have the time to fully attend to their less powerful counterparts.

But if you ask Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, he might give you another explanation: Power fundamentally changes how the brain operates.

Obhi and his colleagues, Jeremy Hogeveen and Michael Inzlicht, have a new study showing evidence to support that claim."



"It turns out, feeling powerless boosted the mirror system — people empathized highly. But, Obhi says, "when people were feeling powerful, the signal wasn't very high at all."

So when people felt power, they really did have more trouble getting inside another person's head.

"What we're finding is power diminishes all varieties of empathy," says Dacher Keltner, a social psychologist at University of California, Berkeley, not involved in the new study. He says these results fit a trend within psychological research.

"Whether you're with a team at work [or] your family dinner, all of that hinges on how we adapt our behaviors to the behaviors of other people," he says. "And power takes a bite out of that ability, which is too bad."

The good news, Keltner says, is an emerging field of research that suggests powerful people who begin to forget their subordinates can be coached back to their compassionate selves."
power  psychology  work  empathy  hierarchy  verticality  sukhvinderobhi  jeremyhogeveen  michaelinzlicht  dacherkeltner  compassion  powerdynamics  control  administration  leadership  via:nicolefenton 
august 2013 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - Lucy Kellaway's History of Office Life, The Invention of the Manager
"Writer and satirist Lucy Kellaway traces the origins of today's corporate culture.

Part 6 of 10: The Invention Of The Manager

Before the 20th century the manager had a rather shady reputation with writers like Adam Smith voicing their suspicions. At the turn of the 20th century, American engineer Frederick Taylor attempted to use science to systematize the principles of management. Taylorist ideas began to be applied to offices, making them 'factories of administration'.

Meanwhile the numbers of managers were increasing in large corporations. But by the fifties, there was dissatisfaction with the plight of the 'organisation man'. Lucy speaks to Alex Werner of the Museum of London and Chris Grey of Royal Holloway, University of London.

Readings by Richard Katz, Sasha Pick, Adam Rojko and Kerry Shale
Historical Consultant: Michael Heller

Producer: Russell Finch
A Somethin' Else production for Radio 4."
lucykellaway  managers  management  administration  corporateculture  corporatism  asamsmith  taylorism  organziationman  alexwerner  chrisgrey  richardkatz  sashapick  adamrojko  kerryshale  2013 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Jazz-Inspired Leadership: Change Observer: Design Observer
"Anticipated, Emergent, and Opportunistic Change

To understand why improvisation is important, consider the three types of organizational change.



Create a Learning Environment

A learning environment is a precondition for improvisation. One company I know of sends employees to visit its global locations, so they can learn from each others’ innovations and practices. “Steal with pride,” it tells them. People informally develop ways of working that could have great value if shared. When managers encourage employees to improve practices on their own, rather than mandate a strict flowchart of activities, they can nurture emergent change. And managers have to be on the lookout for emergent outcomes, and learn how and when to leverage them.

If improvisation is to be encouraged, then senior managers also need to allow some flexibility in budgeting and timetables. Again, small-scale experiments can help by reducing upfront commitments and by helping to define the costs and benefits of a larger-scale roll-out. Just as important, employees’ evaluation criteria should accommodate improvisation. Employees should not be penalized for experimenting — and possibly failing. And they should be rewarded for developing innovative emergent practices in the face of this change. When everyone recognizes that conditions are uncertain and the rules of the game are being created in the playing, plans become effective guidelines rather than rigid prescriptions for action.

The lessons in improvisation contained herein are relevant even when there is no internal ‘change project’ per se. eBay’s evolution from a marketplace for Pez dispensers is a perfect example. When Pierre Omidyar founded eBay in 1995, did his business plan map out how he would create a leading global enterprise in a decade? Hardly. Users of eBay have been improvising and leading the development of eBay ever since. The normal way of doing business at eBay is to seek out emergent change and turn it into new opportunities.

That type of improvisation makes an organization more adaptive when marketplaces shift, technologies develop, companies globalize or the landscape changes in other unexpected ways. And an improvisational approach is best facilitated by combining planning with ongoing experimentation and learning. Budgets, timetables and reward criteria should reinforce the ability of individuals to improvise in a way that allows the organization to keep right on playing amidst change, without missing a beat."
leadership  change  administration  jazz  improvisation  planning  adaptation  uncertainty  flexibility  learning  wandaorlikowski  experimentation  prototyping  risk  risktaking 
july 2013 by robertogreco
The Bossless Office Trend -- New York Magazine
"A nonhierarchical workplace may just be a more creative and happier one. But how would you feel if the whole office voted on whether to hire you—and when to give you a raise?"
hierarchy  horizontality  work  business  power  collaboration  cooperation  workplace  community  tcsnmy  lcproject  organizations  leadership  management  administration 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Hiut Denim - Our user manual
"12, Judge the business over the long-term. The early years are never easy.

It takes time to build a business. The first couple of years are inevitably tricky. The basic systems and the infrastructure all have to be built up from scratch, the customer will have to be found, and the product refined. It is a time when the business is both time and cash hungry.

But we should not be quick to judge the business. It should be given time to grow slowly. Patience is what will be needed. Hard work takes time to show the fruits of all that labour.

We should view a young business as we would a young child. It needs love, time and a set of rules to adhere to. It will make mistakes, it will fall and it will need the parents to be there for it as it grows and becomes its own person. We should not make too many demands on it when it is young, let the child play for a while.

It will grow up before we know it.

[There is no #13?]

14, Lets not underestimate the importance of lady luck.

Luck matters. You can have a great product, a great team, and an idea how to change things, and still fail. All businesses need luck.

The best way to get luck on our side is to work hard at what we love doing, and have ideas that haven’t been done before. And be honest with people, keep our word, and sometimes do things for people without expecting anything in return.

The other aspect to luck is its close cousin called talent. To have a feel for what the customer wants, to imagine something that doesn’t exist, to come up with something that captures a zeitgeist, well, that has little to do with luck.

These two things are often confused with each other. But both are vital to success.

15, Stay independent. Stay in control. (See point 1&2)

It is important to be in control of your own destiny. William Blake said it best “you need to create your own system or be enslaved by another man’s”.

The reason our independence is important for us is that it allows us to shape the business by what we feel is right, it can grow at a pace that the company feels comfortable with, it can make decisions for the long term, it can do things that make no sense to the bottom line at the time, but may well do in the future.

This may mean that our company will not be the biggest, but it should ensure the company stays true, creative and loved. And, importantly, that it will keep making jeans in this town when there will always be cheaper places to make them.

I will settle for being great at this thing over being big at this thing."



"17, Make us all proud of the company we own.

We measure things mostly in numbers. But there are other important ways to measure how well a business is doing. These are things like ‘Are we proud of it?’, ‘Is it loved?, Is it insanely creative?

But these are just as important as ‘Are we growing?’ ‘Are the margins good?’ ‘Are the customers happy?’

If we build something we are incredibly proud of, that is loved, that is insanely creative, you can be sure that it will also be a great business too.

18, Work with great people. Go home early.

We are going to run a creative company. The good thing is we know how to work with creative people. If we work with great people, they will challenge us. They will push us. They will frighten us. But ultimately it will be a much easier life than working with average, mediocre, or middle of the road.

When we find great people, we will do the following: trust them, give them room that their talent deserves, and let them fly like they have never flown before.

19, Make it fun. Make it easy.

The wrong stress is not good for a business. Or, for the people running it.
But you can minimize the wrong stress by planning for less sales than you hope for and for keeping your costs lower than the business requires. And you can put in systems so that the business is easy to run. Systems that work almost without thinking.

Then we can get on with the serious stuff of making the business as creative and as fun as we possibly can. The ideas that will come out of that culture will make us stand out. They will increase sales. Help us get known. And define us.

In time, that will produce good stress of ‘how on earth are we going to get all these orders out of the door’. And ‘how do we come up with another idea as good as the last one’. That is good stress."



"23, Don’t be average.

Be great at what you do. Life is short."
hiut  via:ethanbodnar  business  slow  patience  tcsnmy  cv  small  luck  growth  manifestos  communitymanagement  inspiration  management  manifesto  administration  leadership  values  howwework  success  fulfillment  williamblake  independence  standingout  talent  time  control 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Social Business Needs Social Management | Harold Jarche
"Social business has the potential to change the way we work, but for the most part it has not. The social enterprise is not yet here, though many talk about it, and confuse it with using social tools. For that, we can blame management."



"The first elephant in the social room is compensation. As Gary Hamel describes:
… compensation has to be a correlate of value created wherever you are, rather than how well you fought that political battle, what you did a year or two or three years ago that made you an EVP or whatever.” — Leaders Everywhere: A Conversation with Gary Hamel


If compensation was really linked to value, then salaries, job models, and other ways of calculating worth would have to be jettisoned. As it stands, in almost all organizations, those higher up the hierarchy get paid more, whether they add more value or not. It is a foregone conclusion that a supervisor has more skills and knowledge than a subordinate. This has also resulted in the requirement for more formal education as one goes up the corporate ladder, whether it’s needed or not.

The other elephant in the room is democracy. For management to work in the network era, it needs to embrace democracy, but we are so accustomed to existing structures that many executives would say it is impossible to run a business as a democracy. But hierarchy is a prosthesis for trust, according to Warren Bennis, and trust is what enables networked people to share knowledge and innovate faster. A key benefit of social tools is to share knowledge quicker. Trust is essential for social business but management can easily kill trust. Democracy is the counterweight to hierarchical command and control."
haroldjarche  management  leadership  administration  2013  via:Taryn  compensation  value  valueadded  hierarchy  hierarchies  power  control  democracy  tcsnmy  wedwardsdeming  garhemel  salaries  labor  work  socialentrepreneurship  socialbusiness  business  trust  warrenbennis  sharing  economics  networks  decentralization  opennetworks  distributed  cv  learning  culture  workculture  ambiguity  transparency 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Leaders everywhere: A conversation with Gary Hamel | McKinsey & Company
"So, already, I think we’ve understood that value is created, more and more, out there on the periphery. But we still have these organizations where too much power and authority are reserved for people at the top of the pyramid. Ultimately, yes, I think the structures, the compensation, the decision making must catch up with this new reality.

I’ve found it kind of interesting. Most companies are now quite comfortable with 360-degree review, where your peers, your subordinates, and so on review your performance. In the best cases, that’s all online, and everybody can see it. But I would argue that the next important step is going to be 360-degree compensation because if you show me an organization where compensation is largely correlated with hierarchy, I can tell you that’s not going to be a very innovative or adaptable organization. People are going to spend a lot of their time managing up rather than collaborating. There will be a lot of competition that goes into promotion up that formal ladder rather than competing, really, to add value. So, increasingly, compensation has to be a correlate of value created wherever you are, rather than how well you fought that political battle, what you did a year or two or three years ago that made you an EVP or whatever."

[via: http://www.jarche.com/2013/06/social-business-needs-social-management/ via Taryn]
leadership  administration  compensation  conversation  collaboration  hierarchy  hierarchies  management  value  power  labor  organization  organizations  authority  garyhamel 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Updated: My speech at The Economist (on innovation)
"First, most teams don’t work. They don’t trust each other. They are not led in a way that creates a culture where people feel trust. Think of most of your peers  – how many do you trust? How many would you trust with a special, dangerous, or brilliant idea?  I’d say, based on my experiences at many organizations, only one of every three teams, in all of the universe, has a culture of trust. Without trust, there is no collaboration. Without trust, ideas do not go anywhere even if someone finds the courage to mention them at all."



"Without teams of trust and good leaders who take risks innovation rarely happens. You can have all the budget in the world, and resources, and gadgets, and theories and S-curves and it won’t matter at all. Occam’s razor suggests the main barrier to innovation are simple cultural things we overlook because we like to believe we’re so advanced. But mostly, we’re not."



"Next, we need to get past our obsession with epiphany. You won’t find any flash of insight in history that wasn’t followed, or proceeded, by years of hard work. Ideas are easy. They are cheap. Any creativity book or course will help you find more ideas. What’s rare is the willingness to bet you reputation, career, or finances on your ideas. To commit fully to pursuing them. Ideas are abstractions. Executing and manifesting an idea in the world is something else entirely as there are constraints, political, financial, and technical that the ideas we keep locked up in our minds never have to wrestle with. And this distinction is something no theory or book or degree can ever grant you. Conviction, like trust and willingness to take risks, is exceptionally rare. Part of the reason so much of innovation is driven by entrepreneurs and independents is that they are fully committed to their own ideas in ways most working people, including executives, are not.

Lastly, I need to talk about words. I’m a writer and a speaker, so words are my trade. But words are important, and possibly dangerous, for everyone. A fancy word I want to share is the word reification. Reification is the confusion between the word for something and the thing itself. The word innovation is not itself an innovation. Words are cheap. You can put the word innovation on the back of a box, or in an advertisement, or even in the name of your company, but that does not make it so. Words like radical, game-changing, breakthrough, and disruptive are similarly used to suggest something in lieu of actually being it. You can say innovative as many times as you want, but it won’t make you an innovator, nor make inventions, patents or profits magically appear in your hands."
words  innovation  trust  teams  teamwork  leadership  administration  tcsnmy  ideas  howwework  howwelearn  risktaking  culture  conviction  gamechanging  disruption  invention  epiphanies  2010 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Why Valve? Or, what do we need corporations for and how does Valve’s management structure fit into today’s corporate world? | Valve
"Whatever the future of Valve turns out like, one thing is for certain – and it so happens that it constitutes the reason why I am personally excited to be part of Valve: The current system of corporate governance is bunk. Capitalist corporations are on the way to certain extinction. Replete with hierarchies that are exceedingly wasteful of human talent and energies, intertwined with toxic finance, co-dependent with political structures that are losing democratic legitimacy fast, a form of post-capitalist, decentralised corporation will, sooner or later, emerge. The eradication of distribution and marginal costs, the capacity of producers to have direct access to billions of customers instantaneously, the advances of open source communities and mentalities, all these fascinating developments are bound to turn the autocratic Soviet-like megaliths of today into curiosities that students of political economy, business studies et al will marvel at in the future, just like school children marvel at dinosaur skeletons at the Natural History museum. I trust that Valve’s organisation will become, if not a central chapter, at the very least an important footnote in this historical turn."
business  capitalism  economics  valve  management  administration  leadership  2012  via:caseygollan  yanisvaroufakis  hierarchies  hierarchy  horizontality  verticality  corporatism  waste  watefulness  finance  democracy  unschooling  deschooling  postcapitalism 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Dump the Annual Fund?
"In Part II, he makes the case for the importance — and possibility — of operating independent schools without an annual fund. His school, by way of example, offers highly competitive faculty and administrator compensation; this academic year, the beginning teacher salary is $70,000 with full benefits. Using a lean administration and streamlined structure for efficient and effective operation, the school avoids layers of bureaucracy and is able to compensate the administration well. Soghoian accomplishes this without an “annual fund,” operating on tuition income alone, without incurring any operating deficit. On the other hand, all capital improvements in his school — facility renovation and new building construction — have been realized through fund-raising targeted to specific projects."
richardsohgoian  independentschools  annualfunds  fundraising  hierarchy  administration  leadership  administrativebloat  budgeting  money  2013  toldyaso  cv  tuition  finance  management 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Why Standardization Efforts Fail
"Standardization is a poorly understood discipline in practice. While there are excellent studies of standardization as an economic phenomenon, or as technical a phenomenon, or as a policy initiative, most of these are ex post facto and written from a dispassionate academic view. They are of little help to practitioners who actually are using and creating standards. The person actually creating the standards is working in an area of imperfect knowledge, high economic incentives, changing relationships, and often, short-range planning. The ostensible failure of a standard has to be examined not so much from the focus of whether the standard or specification was written or even implemented (the usual metric), but rather from the viewpoint of whether the participants achieved their goals from their participation in the standardization process. To achieve this, various examples are used to illustrate how expectations from a standardization process may vary, so that what is perceived as a market failure may very well be a signal success for some of the participants. The paper is experientially, not empirically based, and relies on my observations as an empowered, embedded, and occasionally neutral observer in the Information Technology standardization arena. Because of my background, the paper does have a focus on computing standards, rather than publishing standards. However, from what I have observed, the lessons learned apply equally to all standardization activities, from heavy machinery to quality to publishing. Standards names may vary; human nature doesn’t."
standards  standardization  management  administration  policy  2011  carlcargill  economics  informationtechnology  humans  human 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Reinventing Administration - Notes + Links / Casey A. Gollan
"For months-and-months I’ve been sitting on a slowly-changing monster of an essay draft titled Reinventing Administration, borne out of my experiences in the last couple of years working with and fighting against the people in charge of Cooper Union. Inspired by Heather Marsh’s awesome serialized blog posts on collaboration, today I’m going to start noodling-in-public on different thoughts until this topic is out of my system and my drafts folder. While Cooper is the subject of these writings, it’s kind of interchangeable: an object through which I hope to address the challenge of reforming institutions who seem to have…gotten away from themselves. The problems here are not unique, and the questions we (the community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and neighbors) have had to ask form a kind of rubric against which to check out-of-whack leadership at schools everywhere.

Here are some topics that come to mind, which I’ll link up like a table of contents if they come into existence, and add to as I go:

• How did Cooper Union get into a death spiral?
• Is all money dirty? Or, how can anybody sleep at night knowing that an egalitarian institution is funded by businessmen who’re widening inequalities elsewhere?
• Legacy, as in cobwebs.
• Preservation vs. building a new city.
• Transparency, accountability, and other cans of worms.
• Asynchronous collaboration walks into a meeting an falls over laughing.
• Community theater (as in appeasement and “fake consensus” not showtunes. Okay, well, maybe showtunes.)
• Bottlenecks. (Hierarchies vs. networks)
• Who are administrators? Where did they come from? And could we do this without them?
• Who does a bland Public Relations department serve?
• A look at work by others on “Open Government” and “Open Society”
• Git and Github as a metaphor and possibly a working toolkit for Open Government
• Where to stop the technological steamroller
• Pushing the right leverage point — growth — in the wrong direction. Or, growing down and replicating as an alternative to fattening up.
• Does everything inevitably get away from you in the worst possible way, Peter Cooper? Or can you design a non-stifling system that supports its original intention.
• Do we need classroom teaching? An imagined debate between John Taylor Gatto, who learned everything he needed to know smoking cigarettes by the river, and Margaret Edson, whose experiences with schooling are heartwarming rather than traumatic.
• Can classroom teaching be saved? (Picking IRL education up where Clay Shirky left off…and kicked it while it’s down.)"
caseygollan  cooperunion  2013  administration  education  highered  teaching  learning  schools  schooling  deschooling  unschooling  clayshirky  hierarchy  hierarchies  leadership  management  bottlenecks  communitytheater  collaboration  asynchronous  legacy  egalitarianism  inequality  technology  git  github  opengovernment  transparency  johntaylorgatto  petercooper  systems  systemsthinking  opensociety  adminstrativebloat  questions  anarchism  governance  heathermarsh 
april 2013 by robertogreco
About A Crisis of Enclosure
"The title of the site comes from a short essay by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, the English translation of which was published in the journal October shortly before his death. This piece offers a prescient description of how technologies, networks, and media savvy have all contributed to the changing spatiality of power due to the collapse of more traditional “enclosed” institutions. He writes:

Deleuze, G. 1992. “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” October. Vol 59 (Winter); p. 3-7.
We are in a generalized crisis in relation to all the environments of enclosure--prison, hospital, factory, school, family. The family is an "interior," in crisis like all other interiors-- scholarly, professional, etc. The administrations in charge never cease announcing supposedly necessary reforms: to reform schools, to reform industries, hospitals, the armed forces, prisons. But everyone knows that these institutions are finished, whatever the length of their expiration periods. It's only a matter of administering their last rites and of keeping people employed until the installation of the new forces knocking at the door. These are the societies of control… (p.3-4)

We are all-too familiar with this collapse. With increasing regularity, public schools announce budget deficits, academic performance shortfalls, and bureaucratic chaos. Hospitals are often dangerously overcrowded, lacking in necessary funding, and have a number of practices politicized and services cut. Even the most well funded interior institutions—state militaries—have in the last twenty years seen the influx of private contractors and corporate service-providers: the military industrial complex run roughshod over the limits of the war machine. Deleuze points out that these changes increased dramatically in frequency following World War II. As rigid structures began their descent into perpetual reformation, a new mode of control—a society of control—began to take their place. Control, as a diagram of power, is decentralized, lightweight and mobile. If institutional enclosures are solid molds, Deleuze argues, than controls are modulations, self-deforming casts that can change to fulfill the needs of power.

In the context of my work, this shift has produced a distinct set of spatial practices that challenge the prevailing logics of detention, placing an emphasis on mobile and open performances of detainment rather than a fixed institutional isolation. Ultimately, post-Cold War detention practices have endured a substantial reorientation, today representing not only the successful completion of counterinsurgency strategy, but increasingly emerging as a vital means of contemporary security practice. Detention is no longer spatially or temporally fixed. Successful detention is not only a question of designing and constructing a secure edifice, but something much more complex. The crisis of enclosure points towards an understanding of how institutional power has leaked out of its interior and is veering towards the total decentralization and free-floating dynamism of control."
enclosure  collapse  institutions  2010  richardnisa  decentralization  organizations  schools  gillesdeleuze  detention  mobile  mobility  open  openness  military  society  control  agility  agile  enclosures  power  anarchism  administration  management  change  hierarchy  hierarchies  societiesofcontrol  deleuze 
march 2013 by robertogreco
ParkDayTom: Mission Hill - Jamaica Plain, MA
"Always deflecting the attention to teachers and students, Ayla holds a prodigious set of responsibilities, beyond the reach of most mere mortal school administrators. Since its founding in 1997, the school has been committed to directing its resources as directly as possible to the students, and consequently the layer of administrative support found in most public or private schools does not exist. Funding normally channelled to administration has been redirected for the purpose of hiring teachers and keeping class size as small as possible. Most of the classes I visited had 16 students."

"Ayla defines progressive education as the natural enhancement of that which humans bring to learning. Progressive educators consider all things about the child in developing around him or her a learning experience. In a progressive school, each child's individual experience is considered in the context of the whole; this does not mean that each learning experience is unique- indeed, schools create learning experiences for groups - however, each child is deeply understood as a learner and as a full human being."

"The mission of the school tethers all adults to the interests and well-being of the children; all decision and actions must flow from this covenant."

"Five "habits of mind" bring ballast to the curriculum and learning program at Mission Hill. Evidence (How do you know?): Conjecture (What if things were different?); Connections (What does it remind you of?); Relevance (Is it important? Why does it matter?); Viewpoint (What would someone else say? What would someone else feel?). These essential framing questions are prominent throughout the school and very alive in the classrooms. The teachers are scrupulous in their work to make these questions underpin the activities and lessons they construct with the students."

"True to form, Ayla's take on this question was unique - she'd not have it any other way. The relatively high number of male teachers and teachers of color at Mission Hill can be directly tied to the phenomenon of teacher autonomy at the school. Because each member of the Mission Hill faculty must assume a leadership role in the school, a top-down administrative structure would never work. Ayla relies on the teacher autonomy factor to bring a work ethic to the school that would not be possible if teachers were always seeking direction. That said, Ayla is quick to point out that autonomy comes with accountability and responsibility. To be sure, it is a teacher's privilege to have the autonomy to build his/her program, but it is also his/her responsibility to be accountable to the cohort of teachers and the mission of the school. A rogue teacher would stand out like a sore thumb and never be successful; the faculty is far too collaborative.

Misson Hill answers the question, "Can progressive education work for all children?" As an inclusion school, not only do the classrooms include children from disadvantaged backgrounds, they also include the widest range of learning and behavioral profiles."
missionhillschool  2013  boston  progressive  schools  education  habitsofmind  aylagavins  teaching  learning  deborahmeier  classsize  administration  leadership  management  administrativebloat  burnout  tomlittle  autonomy  collaboration  responsibility  accountability 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Lean Production | Jacobin
"School managers promote teams as empowering for teachers; according to management, they give teachers a say in how their schools are run. In reality, these meetings highlight how little control teachers have over their time and workload at lean schools… In fact, the apparent purpose of teacher teams is to shift administrative workload onto teachers."

"The goal of lean education isn’t teaching or learning; it’s creating lean workplaces where teachers are stretched to their limits so that students can receive the minimum support necessary to produce satisfactory test scores. It is critical for teachers to see this clearly because lean production is indeed “continuous”: in other words, it’s insatiable. The harder teachers work to satisfy the demands of lean managers, the harder we will be pushed, until we break down. There is no end to this process."
leadership  administration  teamleadership  tfa  schoolsasbusiness  business  teamwork  criticalfriends  mikeparker  janeslaughter  michaelbloomberg  wendykopp  valueadded  assessment  charleyrichardson  2012  danieljones  jameswomack  tcsnmy  efficiency  production  schools  teaching  leanproduction  capitalism  publiceducation  taylorism  labor  teachforamerica  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Alphonso Lingis | Figure/Ground Communication™
[Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20131102040148/http://figureground.ca/interviews/alphonso-lingis/ ]

"…being a university professor is not even work. All you do is go to the campus maybe 6-8 hours a week and talk about books that you chose and that you love. I was never interested in administration or professional arguments and quarrels. I found that if you do your job, people leave you alone.

I went to other countries every year in the summer simply because I was interested in the world, and I still am. I don’t plan where I go and I don’t want to know anything about the country before I go. I prize that first impression. When I get there, I go to a book store and I buy all the books in languages I can read–guidebooks, history books and so on. But I don’t want to know anything before I go."

"the attitude coming from the administration. They want what they call “accountability”. They want empirical, quantitative ways to judge."

"I have a strong personal need to admire; I’m always looking for people to admire and places and cultures and political systems I admire."
ethics  art  performanceart  presentations  performance  technology  onlineeducation  education  howweteach  quantification  accountability  philosophy  travel  learning  teaching  administration  highereducation  highered  nelsonmandela  gandhi  interestedness  listenting  noticing  culture  admiration  interviews  2012  mashallmcluhan  alphonsolingis  interested  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
FREE COOPER UNION! A COMMUNITY SUMMIT part 6: COMMUNICATION AND TRANSPARENCY - YouTube
[Transcript is here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MrB31AqKM2u0Y0NXAcLx2RHRV1d3aPDMJ-1wwadN6ZY/edit ]

"The question, then, is: what makes Cooper Union sustainable?

It means using a resource that’s producing more than it’s consumed.

And the mistake that’s been made, systemically, is believing that the resource at the bottom of all this, the resource that must be sustained, is money.

It’s not money. Money is a derivative. The resource it’s derived from, the resource it maps to, the resource it measures, is trust.

We have all suffered from thinking that it’s the other way around. We have trusted things because they make money. That’s how Enron happens. That’s how Madoff happens. … Collaterized Debt Obligations…"

" challenge you to find the real and sustainable resources -- transparency, communication, trust, and integrity -- resources that can be renewed endlessly. I'll break my back to build on those and I know that's true of everyone here."
resources  highereducation  highered  education  integrity  organizations  accountability  administration  money  sustainability  leadership  tcsnmy  transparency  trust  cooperunion  2011  kevinslavin  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Harvard Education Letter: “I Used to Think . . . and Now I Think . . .” Reflections on the work of school reform, by Richard Elmore
1. I used to think that policy was the solution. And now I think that policy is the problem. [elaborates]…

2. I used to think that people’s beliefs determined their practices. And now I think that people’s practices determine their beliefs. [elaborates, inlcuding]… The largest determinant of how people practice is how they have practiced in the past, and people demonstrate an amazingly resilient capacity to relabel their existing practices with whatever ideas are currently in vogue. …

3. I used to think that public institutions embodied the collective values of society. And now I think that they embody the interests of the people who work in them. [elaborates, including]…School administrators and teachers engage in practices that deliberately exclude students from access to learning in order to make their work more manageable and make their schools look good."
professionaldevelopment  pd  hierarchy  hierarchies  bureaucracy  organizations  stasis  radicalism  radicals  cv  2010  mindchanging  mindchanges  schools  tcsnmy  administration  policy  institutions  institutionalization  self-preservation  deschooling  unschooling  nelsonmandela  martinlutherkingjr  gandhi  leadership  change  learning  education  richardelmore  mlk  canon  schooling  unlearning 
november 2012 by robertogreco
P2P Foundation » On the right use of visions and visioning
[An excerpt of a longer excerpt from a 1994 talk by Donnella Meadows]

"Remember, when you envision, that you are trying to state, articulate, or see what you really want, not what you think you can get. It’s very quick for most of us rationally trained people to go out to the farthest envelope of what we think is possible. We are putting all kinds of analysis and models in there of what is possible. I never would have said that it was possible for apartheid to end in South Africa, or for the whole of the Eastern world to come back towards democracy. And yet it happened. So that tells you something about our model of possibilities. You have to throw them away. You have to think about what you want. That’s the essence of vision. What is a sustainable world that you would like to live in? That would satisfy your deepest dreams and longings?"

[via: http://bettyann.tumblr.com/post/33634219548 ]

[See also: http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/1161 ]
sustainability  visioning  1994  systemschange  wants  democracy  southafrica  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  lcproject  administration  purpose  change  apartheid  vision  donellameadows  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
What I Learned Building A Startup like Dogster, Inc. — What I Learned Building… — Medium
"If doing what you love…allows you to make a business out of it, you’ll end up hating what you created because all you get to do is manage a very complex, challenging business.

Once I created a successful service and business out of nothing I became a lot more scared of blowing it than anything else, when really I should have just been content that I succeeded at all. It’s important to yell to no one in particular “I did it!”

If you do not prioritize friends, family, loved ones, pets, plants, hobbies while working on a start-up they will all decay and all you will be left with is a startup. …

If you have enough courage to run your own business, it is roughly 1,000,000 more rewarding than any job available, assuming you can make enough money and value out of it. …

Don’t believe anything you whiteboard. Ever. Only believe what you see customers enjoying.

Treat your employees as you wanted to be treated at your first jobs. …"
2012  tedrheingold  scaling  scale  observation  empathy  administration  management  entrepreneurship  relationships  priorities  business  dogster  life  work  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
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