What are the big take-aways?
Design Thinking is a strategy for solving adaptive challenges by embracing the unknown through a structured five-step process. I have recently encountered Design Thinking in several contexts, including in the MiddCORE program sponsored by Middlebury College’s Center for Creativity, Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship – where I taught leadership development as an Alumni Mentor a couple of weeks ago – and by participating in a superb Vermont-ATD workshop that offered an introductory hands-on experience of the method’s five steps (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test). Also, Design Thinking was the centerpiece of Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, which I reviewed for this blog in December.
After a brief break to enjoy our short summer season, we kicked off our fall programs in September with a SIG on Effective Pre-Training activities. Facilitated by Melinda Friedlander and Talia Glesner from the Vermont ATD board, the session drew out great insights and helpful tips from an energetic and engaged group.
The session’s activities and discussion were based around an article the facilitators sent out as pre-work (see what they did there?) 6 Ways to Make Pre-Work Compelling by Danuta McCall and Julia Young of Facilitate.com. It outlines six essential considerations for when and how to assign pre-training activities, including: ensure pre-work adds value, create a sense of urgency, provide incentives, make it fun, implement accountability, and build a communication plan.
Welcome to summer!
It’s a perfect season to shift into a more relaxed gear, schedule in some fun, and catch up on reading a few good books.
It seems like everyone is promoting their new book these days. My 30-year-old son recently queried: what about reading the books that already exist?
I must admit, he has a good point.
The tricky part may be deciding what to read. Here are a few of my recent, renewed favorites:
Book review by Susan Palmer of "The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World" featuring his Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams (Avery, 2016)
“I’m so good that I’m replaceable……” – I must admit, this headline from a recently published blog on LinkedIn by a C-level executive named Rudolph Rosenberg, really caught my attention.
Mr. Rosenberg’s central question is whether you should “make yourself irreplaceable, center to key processes and sole holder of high value knowledge or should you do the exact opposite and make yourself as replaceable as possible by organizing processes, knowledge and power so that people could wonder if you’re actually needed for things to run smoothly?”
We are so excited to announce the launch of our new website and membership experience! This has been over a year in the making and we can’t thank you enough for your input and involvement.
In October 2014 I published a blog entitled Let’s Ban Multitasking. It was filled with advice (from high up on my soapbox) about how we should eliminate distractibility that inevitably arises when we multitask in favor of adopting a singular focus. The examples cited were all from the workplace – don’t multitask in meetings, don’t document multitasking as a required skill in job descriptions, etc. I still stand by these suggestions –and I make a conscious effort to apply this logic to increase my effectiveness as situations present themselves.
Appreciative Inquiry and The Positive Principle: The Fifth Core Principle and Last Brain Workout by Alexandra Arnold
As the summer comes to an end, so does our journey with Appreciative Inquiry. Let’s review what we have from our AI blog series:
Today, let’s delve deeper into the last of the core AI Principles: The Positive Principle.
This post could be enough of a brain workout if you only practiced pronouncing the word “simultaneity”! Try it: si-mul-ta-ne-ity, again, simul-tane-ity, simultaneity. Let’s consider that a sufficient warm up and delve deeper into the Simultaneity Principle, the third principle of Appreciative Inquiry (AI), following the Constructionist Principle, and the Poetic Principle (on which we've previously published blogs).
Welcome back to our Appreciative Inquiry (AI) journey. If you’ve missed it, our first blog introduced us to the Constructionist Principle, which reminds us that our reality is the one we create for ourselves, it is not one and the same for all of us. In this post, we discover the second principle of AI, the Poetic Principle, which takes this idea a step further.
Appreciative Inquiry and the Constructionist Principle: Give Your Brain a Workout by Alexandra Arnold
Just like we keep our bodies healthy with regular exercise, why not get our brain in shape? You may be familiar with self-fulling prophecies, the Placebo effect, or the Halo effect. All are well researched tricks that our brain plays on us such that our beliefs directly impact our reality. Appreciative Inquiry (AI) - a philosophy, a methodology, and truly, a way of life - builds on the plasticity of our brain to do just that: develop positive mind muscles. AI is made of 5 core principles: The Constructionist Principle, the Poetic Principle, the Simultaneity Principle, the Anticipatory Principle, and the Positive Principle. In this blog, we’ll delve into the fundamentals of The Constructionist Principle.
Daylight savings time came to town this weekend, signaling a shift in the seasons and shining a light on new possibilities. Longer days and warmer temperatures are perfect for rethinking stale habits and rebuilding lost boundaries. Try one (or all) of these hacks for a week and watch yourself spring into wellbeing:
BOOK REVIEW: Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders, Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston (Standford, 2015)
To what do you attribute your professional success? (check all that apply)
A virtual instructor-led training (VILT) event can be a powerful and economical tool for supplementing the benefits of traditional learning for your employees. Yet doing it right requires a keen grasp of the technological underpinnings of VILT, adequate preparation on the part of both instructor and students, and the organization’s support — particularly in terms of available resources and encouragement to participate.
Star Trek: Next Generation fans remember episodes that included an alien race called the Borg in which their stock phrase was “Resistance is futile” where they would assimilate other cultures into their world forcing them to become part Borg. I think they were right in that generally resistance is futile. In my experience, there really isn’t a way to stop the sensation or feeling of not wanting to comply or accept something. When resistance (a force that opposes or slows down motion) arises, it is difficult to prevent the energy from taking over us and halting the ease and flow.
Is This Seat Taken?: It's Never Too Late To Find The Right Seat by Kristin S. Kaufman (Greenleaf, 2015)
What are the big take-aways?
My friend and classmate from Georgetown University’s Leadership Coaching Program, Kristin Kaufman, offers in her second book a collection of fifteen profiles of Americans whose greatest achievements came later in life. They include the painter Grandma Moses, McDonalds Restaurant co-founder Ray Kroc, Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson, and long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad. The overarching message is “it is never too late” to find your purpose and follow a dream. Most of the men and women, alive and dead, who Kristin profiles in this book made their major “legacy” contributions after age 50, and some in their 70s and 80s.
Many of us will have time off during the holidays, but will we really take a break? Despite being out of the office, 44% of us will be checking work email during vacation. Instead of that, be part of the 56% who unplug and take a real breather. Try one of these easy ways to take the first step:
After facilitating a change leadership and resilience workshop last week, I took a much-needed opportunity to stop and self-reflect. This got me thinking, “Wow, talk about change! This year, more than ever, was all about change for me, personally. I’ve got a new role, in a new location, and am living in a different city, in a different home, with a new look towards the future. Even beyond that, I noticed the changes that may not have directly been happening in my life or to me, but were happening all around me. The news, for example, was all about change: changing economics, changing climate, changes in pop culture, the Olympics and, of course, the election.
We have only to consult our experience to know that our leaders’ and co-workers’ moods and outlooks affect us. My colleague Cheryl radiates sunshine and hope; they “power” her life. During a year-long collaboration, I marveled at her earnest friendliness, genuine curiosity about others, and often-expressed appreciation. When we faced challenges, her hope buoyed me.
If you do a search for “ongoing performance management trend,” you’ll get roughly 1.5 million results going back quite a few years. It’s a theme that continues to catch on from small businesses to global powerhouse companies looking to revamp their approach to talent management, moving away from annual appraisals to something more in tune with the pace of the business.
And this trend towards ongoing performance management is catching on because it works. Consider this excerpt from Willis Towers Watson’s paper, The Power of Three:
I'm curious how many of you are familiar with the acronym V.U.C.A.? It stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. I've referenced it in a number of blog posts in the past couple of years, and I've even been prone to incorporate it into performance reviews to provide additional context when coaching employees where emotional intelligence is or should be a focus. When feeling nostalgic for "simpler" times, I've tended to recall the 90's version of my professional self as a "people person," as a "multi-tasker" in the 2000's, and currently a "change agent" on flight 63 to VUCA-land.
Within the last 6 weeks I was a first-time attendee at two industry conferences in the field of scholarly publishing. Relatively new to my employer, though with over a decade of experiences in operations and client services, I felt a sense of optimism for meeting new people and learning new things alongside the usual apprehension about long days in back-to-back-to-back sessions, doubts about relevant content, and the potential mishaps of travel.
In a variety of companies and industries, and in a range of roles involving direct reports, I have been responsible for decisions related to training and career pathing, Over the years, I have also learned the value of maintaining focus on my own professional development.
As you may have experienced, there is a palpable feeling of high stakes in many organizations – you work in an increasingly competitive industry, operating globally and therefore 24/7 (at least in terms of accessibility), and technology is rapidly changing the way you conduct business. Consequently, so much is needed to stay relevant, confident, and authentic amidst the stark realities of change management, process improvement and customer satisfaction against which you are measured.