Prescribing Vs. Discovering

Is it better to prescribe the steps for organizational change or allow employees to discover a path to the desired change? Research has a lot to say about change management (favoring the prescriptive approach) vs. organizational develop (favoring inquiry and discovery).

Prescribing steps with a resistant group may result in compliance to a process without the vision for how to benefit from the new systems. Alternatively, a willing group who discovers a path for change can be led astray by processes that are not proven.

Leading change within organizations is based on influence which is based on trust which is based on relationship. Therefore, whichever model we favor, it makes sense to factor in the judgement of the stakeholders who are “being changed.”  Is it possible that discovery and prescribed (research-based) processes are mutually dependent for effective change?

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Collaborating With Colleagues

Co-laboring with colleagues is mission critical for most people in this century.
How do we respond to ideas and methods that conflict with our own?

That doesn’t work for me.
Wait, what?
Here’s what I’d rather do.
That might work for you but not for me.


How has that helped you solve this problem?
Can you give me an example?
Mind if I share some thoughts?
I wonder if… I wonder, that might just work if we….

Moving conversation to a place of possibility creates new alternatives.
New alternatives create new conversation. Not belaboring. Co-laboring.

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Work That’s Worth Doing

Each job assignment, career, or vocation has these three components: the craft, the personal, and the interpersonal.

The craft component is what we were hired to do: teach, weld, sell…

The personal component includes our ability to be effective in managing our commitments, our time, our focus.

The interpersonal component includes our ability to network and to be a team player in order to achieve the mission of our enterprise.

Each of these three components includes emotional labor. Depending on why we agreed to our current assignment, it can be tempting to expend emotional labor on one or two components at the expense of the other.

Work that’s worth doing is always worthy of emotional labor in all three facets. HT @sethgodin

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Pick Your Complaint

“Project management would be a breeze if it weren’t for all of these last minute changes to the scope.”

“If clients would just follow the protocal for filling out the technology request-for-help form, I could solve their problems quicker.”

“If my students would just make good choices, I could get on with teaching.”

If it weren’t for (you fill in the blank): I’d be able to do what I was hired for; I’d be great at my job; I could get on with my work.

If it were possible to cherry-pick problems and magically remove them from the job description…do that too many times and soon anyone could do what you do.

Part of what makes work, projects, and teaching an art, is the approach we bring to bear upon solving challenges.

Consider the constraints that make a job into “work.” Is it possible to think of these constraints as a canvas for your art?

Two fantastic books about constraints, art, and business are Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon Mackenzie and A Beautiful Constraint by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden.

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That’s A Wrap

The 2016/17 school year ended about 18 hours ago for Orchard Elementary in Modesto, CA. First year down, many more to go, God willing.

Students learn best when they believe they can learn or believe they will be supported as they take risks to learn.
Students become more effective when they connect their effort to their performance.
The best professional learning experiences came from other teachers and my students, many of whom taught me how their previous teachers implemented things (shout out to Nikki Whorton).

Goals for 2017/18 and beyond:
Teaching growth mindset and social emotional skills (especially empathy) will play a central role in our class routines and conversations.
Hustle can be taught! Hustle will be valued and celebrated!
I will actively share and connect with other educators.


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