Byron's Babbles

The Leadership Bottleneck!

Posted in Coaching, Education, Educational Leadership, Leadership, Strategic Planning by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 29, 2015

  

“The bottleneck is at the head of the bottle,” so the old saying goes. In other words, no business or organization is likely to be better than, or perform better than, its top management and leadership. As a management innovator, Peter Drucker built off of the existing knowledge of others to create and integrate missing knowledge into the organization. He called this practice “integration” (Maciariello, 2014). Top management and leadership is responsible for creating and for maintaining the spirit of the organization, which includes values, standards of conduct, and standards of quality.

  

So, the first task in designing and assessing an organization is the presence of an effective top management and leadership team with a strong spirit of performance. Close behind in importance is a program for developing talent to fill open management positions. Most call this the building of a bench. This athletic team analogy is appropriate. Study any successful athletic team and you will find a strong bench of players ready to perform at a moments notice. This year’s NCAA Tournament has given us many examples. Not the least of which would be Kentucky who just had their 38th season win defeating Notre Dame last night. I had the opportunity to watch this Kentucky team play in person during the tournament and it doesn’t matter who is on the floor for them – they are all great. We can certainly learn from them as we build our teams.

  

This building of a bench is very important to employee engagement. One of the things I am working very hard on for the school I now serve is a leadership academy for building our talent bench. We are going to take a group of our talented teacher leaders each year and put them through a program that will be individualized for their specific needs and interests. We are in the planning stages of this and I am sure I will blog about this in the future. In the meantime I will share a picture of a screenshot of some notes from a meeting about this, just this week.

  

In any major institution, such as a school corporation, the finding, developing, and proving out of leaders of tomorrow is an essential job to which the best leaders must give fully of their time and attention. Maciariello (2014) asked some great questions in this week’s reading: 

  • Is your organization preparing future leaders by giving significant responsibility and authority to lower level executives?
  • What has been the organization’s track record of finding successors for key positions inside versus outside?

These are certainly questions I will want to use as guides as we develop our bench. How about you?

Reference

Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. 

Leading Beyond The Walls

Posted in Education, Education Reform, Educational Leadership, Strategic Planning by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 22, 2015



This 12th week reading in A Year With Peter Drucker (Maciariello, 2014) may have resonated with me more than any yet. Drucker was a fan and student of the Federalist Papers. As a student of Patrick Henry you all know I am a believer in state’s rights and the 10th Ammendment to our nation’s constitution which reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” I believe Drucker took the last part of that Ammendment very seriously. We as leaders have a responsibility to provide leadership and be involved in government and civic organizations.

Drucker argued that while each organization should fulfill its primary mission, it should seek to “lead beyond borders.” (Maciariello, 2014). We, as leaders are responsible for our institutions and be concentrated and focused on them, but Drucker believed we must be focused on the community as a whole. In his first year as governor of California, Ronald Reagan used 200 top CEOs, as volunteers on sabbaticals from their companies, to solve the budget crisis. Reagan said, “For every problem their are 10 people waiting to volunteer if someone could give them the lead and show them where they can be useful.” We, as leaders, need to also be seeking areas where we can provide insight and be useful.



Leadership and management of businesses was where Drucker began, but his first love, I believe, was the management of nonbusinesses like hospitals, churches, and schools. He was very involved with social sector management and leadership, particuarly with non-profits. He found these interesting because it is very difficult to define what the results should be. How do you define the results of a school, for instance? This is a very important question that I believe is yet to be answered. Drucker would have said it is my responsibility, as a school leader, to lead beyond the walls of my school and help to solve this question. I also believe it is very important to be involved civically and be an agent of social change. Drucker defined civic responsibility as: “giving to the community in the pursuit of one’s own interest or of one’s own task.” (Maciariello, 2014, p. 100)

Results are more difficult to define for social sector organizations, like schools, than for business organizations. This is because the social sector institutions are involved in changing lives of individuals for the better. Results must be more than merely good intentions, but must also be tailored to fit the organization. We must be acutely aware of the importance of defining results in terms of our own mission and effectively manage the fulfillment of that mission. This is why I believe schools should have a role in determining the accountability metrics of their individual school. Each school will be stronger the more clearly it defines its objectives. Organizations are more effective the more yardsticks and measurements there are against which the performance can be appraised. Our product we are producing in schools is a changed human being. We are human change agents. Our product is a child that learns. 



Some questions for pondering from this week’s lesson are:

  • What needs are your organization meeting as a part of your primary mission?
  • How effective and efficient are you in carrying out your mission?
  • How effective are you at changing lives for good?
  • Are you leading beyond the borders of your organization/business?
  • Are you mentoring other leaders or managers?

Reference

Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. 

The Good Samaritan Marathon

Posted in Inspirational, Leadership, Spiritual by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 21, 2015

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to go with good friend, Kevin Eikenberry, to the NCAA tournament game where Purdue played Cincinnatti. The game was held in the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky. I was excited to be going because it was my first NCAA Tournament game. Kevin had been to many of these and got tired of me saying, “We are in the house!” Sorry Kevin! 



Obviously the outcome of the game was not what we wanted, but that really turned out to be a lesser story of the trip. Something astonishing happened and we were both reminded how important it is to help your fellow-man. Long-story-short, we hit something in the road and it literally punctured the tire and went through the rim on my friend’s BMW. We tried to change the tire along the interstate, but had some difficulty. That’s a whole other story that the two farm boys in the BMW are still figuring out how to tell! Anyway, we called AAA, and then (since the tire and rim were both already ruined) drove to the next exit – Exit 41 on I 65, the Uniontown/Crothersville, Indiana exit.

We then limped into the exit, pulled into the Marathon station, and began working on the car again. Remember, you have two farm boys here wanting to fix the tire. We then got a message back from AAA that it would be an hour before help arrived. This would have got us to the game late. Little did we know there were Good Samaritans at Exit 41.

An interesting thing happened at the gas station, Uniontown Marathon- RMD 64 (pictured here in the post) on the way to the tournament. Every single person that pulled into that gas station/mini mart while we were there attempted to help us. No lie – every single one. We were amazed! One lady knew BMWs and was explaining the wheel locks and another was googling BMWs for us. Then we had a car full of fellow Purdue Boilermaker fans wanting to make room in the car for us and get us to the game. I looked at Kevin and said, “I’ll see you at the game!” Really, I did say that, but I did not leave him. 

Then, along came a man that knew exactly what to do. Bottom line: he made it possible for us to change the tire and get on the road. We are both so appreciative of everyone who asked to help us. We are both also still astonished that every single person who pulled into that station asked to help. How many times have you pulled in somewhere and seen someone with a broken down car or some other need and thought you were too busy to help? I am ashamed to say I have. But, from the modeling and coaching of our friends at the Uniontown/Crothersville exit, I hope to be a better neighbor!

In reflecting on and deciding how to tell this story (there is quite a bit more and gets quite funny), I thought of the ultimate story/parable teller: Jesus. I believe it would be a good reminder for us to review the story of the Good Samaritan found in the book of Luke. Luke 10: 25-37.

“Jesus told many stories, or parables, to help people learn the truth. One day a leader of the Jews asked Jesus what he must do to have eternal life. The Savior asked him what the scriptures said. The leader said that a man should love God and also love his neighbor. Jesus said that he was right. Then the leader asked, “Who is my neighbour?”

Jesus answered by telling the man a story. One day a Jewish man was walking on the road to the city of Jericho. Thieves robbed and beat him. They left the man on the road, almost dead. Soon a Jewish priest came by and saw the man. The priest walked by on the other side of the road. He did not help the man. Another Jewish man who worked in the temple came by. He saw the injured man. But he did not help the man either and walked by on the other side of the road. 

Then a Samaritan man came along. The Jews and the Samaritans did not get along. But when the Samaritan saw the man, he felt sorry for him. He took care of the man’s wounds and put clothes on him. The Samaritan took the man to an inn and cared for him until the next day. When the Samaritan had to leave, he gave money to the innkeeper and told him to take care of the man. 

After Jesus told this story, He asked the Jewish leader which of the three men was a neighbor to the injured man. The leader said that the Samaritan was because he had helped the man. Jesus told the Jewish leader to be like the Samaritan.”



So what do we learn from this story? We must be willing to get involved. Good intentions don’t cut it! None of the people at the Uniontown Marathon – RMD 64 were just saying they wanted to help; they all truly got involved in some way. They were “walking the talk.” We may quote scripture and recite platitudes on love and God, but unless we are willing to get involved in the lives of others, we are only blowing smoke. The Samaritan treated and bandaged the wounds. He set the injured man on his donkey. He took him to an inn and cared for him throughout the night. The Samaritan could have said to himself, “I give regularly to my church.  I donate to the Salvation Army every Christmas. I have done my part.” But he didn’t. As the scriptures say, he had compassion…and he acted on it.

So here are three things we need to do: 

    1.    Don’t refuse to help when you are able.

    2.    Never assume someone else will do it. Take personal responsibility.

    3.    You may suffer for doing well, but helping someone in need is truly         worth it.

Next time you have an opportunity to serve someone in need (a motorist in distress on the highway, a person under a cloud of depression, a friend in a financial bind, a single parent being overwhelmed by a rebellious child, a stressed-out coworker…) what will your reaction be? Will you be the religious law-speaking type or the proactive law-living type?

Thanks again to the folks in Uniontown and Crothersville last Thursday evening for giving us a modern day parable to live by.

Stretching The Vessel of the Mind

Posted in Education, Education Reform, Educational Leadership, Inspirational, science education by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 19, 2015



It is hard to think about the brain and learning without reflecting on Albert Einstein. Reading Walter Isaacson’s book, Einstein, causes one to think about whether every individual has the ability to develop and use his or her brain in the way Einstein did. From an educator’sperspective I found it amazing that Einstein always believed that he had no special talent – he was just as he said, “passionately curious.” This points to the important fact that we have atremendous obligation to help our students develop and find their curiosity. Einstein posited the brain was wired and set up as it was, but we all have the ability to develop the mind (Isaacson,2008). This reinforces the belief that every student can learn. It is important for us to develop and create minds that question. Individuals with intuition and imagination are crucial to our future.

So, how do we develop a student mind that is curious, questions, and has imagination? If learning was as simple as pouring the pitcher of knowledge into the empty vessel of a student’s brain then all education would require was a person to speak didactically on a subject, and students would listen and gain the knowledge themselves. Unfortunately, learning takes a lot more than merely listening to an authority speak, regardless of his expertise and reliability.

There are two types of learning: informational and transformational. The first type (informational) is that which we use as a lower level form of learning. We are just gaining new information. During the learning process this informational learning is placed in short term, or what is also known as immediate memory. Immediate memory acts as a temporary site whereinput is briefly stored until the brain decides whether to erase the memory as unimportant or toprocess the memory. To use the metaphor of the pitcher of knowledge filling the empty vessel used earlier, informational learning will only fill our vessels so full.

We then need the second type of learning, transformational, in order to stretch our learning (Mezirow, 2000). The unique quality of human beings is our ability to think flexibly about new situations, comparing them intelligently to all past experiences, and then to do something that is uniquely appropriate, bringing about desired objectives (Taylor, 2007). When educators facilitate this type of learning the brain is stimulated to put the information learned into working memory where processing of the information begins. In order to engage the working memory the students must begin to work with and actively use the information learned. By engaging the working memory by using the learned knowledge the long term memory then creates meaning enabling the student to make sense of the material. Ron Ritchhart promotes thinking through the use of “thinking routines” (Ritchhart, Church, & Morrison, 2011). These routines then help teachers to establish a classroom culture that supports thinking (Ritchhart, 2014). Relating lessons to real-life situations, and being enthusiastic creates meaning for the students. We must know our learners’ backgrounds so that we can relate to the student’s past learning and allow the learner to understand and make sense of the material being presented.

Transformational learning provides us with new ways of thinking (Taylor, 2007). This can actually change the form of the metaphorical vessel of the mind. In fact this new stretch, and.extending of thinking actually gives more room in the vessel of the mind for greater and more magnificent thinking. Creating lessons using real-world contexts that the student can beenthusiastic about and make sense of immediately can do this. Think about the student who says to their teacher: ”I was confused before you started…now I am confused at a higher level.” This is not to say that educators should teach by confusing students, but students do need to be appropriately confused. In order to achieve this stretching of the vessel of the brain, teachers must facilitate learning is such a way as to use all parts of the students brain by including reading, writing, verbal processing and images in lessons and other modes of learning. Because the mind is tethered to what our bodies are doing and the senses being used, educators must be cognizant of making sure that our students’ bodies and brains are in sync.

Many educators believe it is important to teach students to think. These same educators teach thinking (reasoning skills and problem solving skills) skills, which are important, but if we want students to use these skills we will need to do more than just teach the skills. Research shows that motivation, values, cultural context, and alertness to opportunity are factors important to developing intellectual behaviors (Boix-Mansilla & Jackson, 2011). These factors make up thinking dispositions, which are important characteristics of good thinkers. To become educated and worthwhile citizens, our students must learn a wide range of skills. Brain research must continue to be linked to facilitation of learning. We must use what we know about the brain to effectively engage students so they are motivated, creative, and understand the relevance to their personal lives.

References

Boix-Mansilla, V., & Jackson, A. (2011). Educating for global competency: Preparing our youth to engage the world. New York: Asia Society.

Fischer, K, & Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2008). he Jossey-Bass reader on the brain and learning. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Isaacson, W. (2008). instein: His life and universe. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Ritchhart, R. (2014). Creating Cutlures of Thinking: The 8 forces we must master to truly transform our schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Ritchhart, R., Church, M., & Morrison, K. (2011). Making thinking visible: How to promote engagement, understanding, and independence for all learners. San Francsico: Jossey-Bass.

Taylor, E. W. (2007). An update of transformative learning theory: a critical review of the empirical research (1999-2005). International Journal of Lifelong Education, 26 (2), 173-191.

Effective Leaders Make Effective Decisions

Posted in Education, Leadership, Education Reform, Strategic Planning, Educational Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 15, 2015



“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” ~ Peter Drucker

Drucker was confident that people could be taught to be effective executives (managers), but wasn’t as sure we could teach other to be leaders. Interesting, however, in the week 11 reading in Maciariello’s (2014) book he talked about how Drucker believed the climate in the organization needed to be right for leaders to develop and emerge. “Nothing better prepares the ground for such leadership than a spirit of management that confirms in the day-to-day practices of the organization strict principles of conduct and responsibility, high standards of performance, and respect for individuals and their work (Drucker in Maciariello, 2014, p. 79).” I wrote in the margin of the book, “So if the operations and processes are in place and being executed effectively, then leaders can grow and emerge.” I really do believe this is true. I have a saying I use in school turnaround and transformation and that is: “We need to become a REAL SCHOOL.” 



The question you will ask next is, “What is a REAL SCHOOL?” My answer is quite simple: “A real school is one that has its operations and processes in place and being managed by an effective individual and team to make sure that the normal day to day activities (eg. Safety procedures, student handbook components, discipline, financial processes in the case of a school) are being carried out efficiently and effectively. I was very blessed to have just such a person in my first turnaround school. Don Burton was our Assistant Principal of Operations. Let me tell you, without him the school would have never come off the “F” list. He was the operations manager dream of a lifetime. The great part about Don was he managed the operations flawlessly and implemented our processes with the best interest of our students and staff in mind. 

Mr. Burton’s awesome abilities and work ethic then allowed the teachers to teach and me to do the numerous activities as a building leader: establishing a vision, defining the mission, making sure that resources are applied to the right tasks, making effective decisions, implementing and following up on these decisions, taking criticism, keeping track of and navigating the legislative and governmental affairs, and working diligently to maintain a functioning board of directors. Imagine trying to do this in a disfuctional organization. Believe me this is not an easy task, nor did we have it perfect, but Don had us in a great place. There is a reason why schools fail, and one of the commonalities of the schools that need to be turned around is the disfuctionality and lack of the right operational practices to make it a “real school.” I’m sure you could tie common operations and practices that would make businesses and organizations “real businesses” and “real organizations.” I am positive education is not alone in this.

Again, I cannot say enough how much credit for our success goes to Don Burton. He enabled the day to day operations to go smoothly which then allowed me, and him, to grow as leaders. This truly allowed the environment to be right for leadership growth. Don certainly grew, as he now is leading a middle school in Arizona as a principal. I consider Don a dear friend and I always said we never had to schedule time, we were always catching up before or after school or on the weekends. It was just such a natural relationship. Therefore, I really think Peter Drucker’s belief that teaching someone to be a leader is very hard, if possible at all, is warranted. More importantly, however, is the lesson he has taught us that if the operations, processes, and day to day activities of the organization are highly functioning, the leader has the chance to learn and grow.  In other words, the conditions must be right for growth.

I believe this point is even driven home further when we look at one of the most important attributes of leading effectively – effective decision making. Making effective decisions depends on the definition of the problem being faced and thus the appropriate conditions that have to be met for the decision to be effective. Drucker taught us that these are always the two critical issues in decision making (Maciariello, 2014). It would very hard to define or know the appropriate conditions for a decision to be effective in a disfunctional organization, operationally. I know that without the sound operational practices Don instilled in our school that I would not have been able to make the decisions I was able to, of which many turned out to be the right and effective decision.

So, as you look at growing leaders and great schools, businesses, and organizations, look first to what your definition of a “REAL” school, business, or organization is. Then make sure you’ve got the right team to manage the operations effectively.

Reference

Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers

Why Pi?

Posted in Education, Educational Leadership, Inspirational, science education by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 14, 2015

On this special Pi Day, 3.14.15, I thought it would be appropriate to ask the question I always love to ask, Why? Why Pi? Why Pi Day? Why all the fuss? No number is more famous than pi. But why, exactly?

Defined as the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, pi, or in symbol form, π, seems a simple enough concept. But it turns out to be an “irrational number,” meaning its exact value is inherently unknowable. Ancient mathematicians apparently found the concept of irrationality completely maddening. It struck them as an affront to the omniscience of God, for how could the Almighty know everything if numbers exist that are inherently unknowable? Pi (π) is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It doesn’t matter how big or small the circle is – the ratio stays the same. Properties like this that stay the same when you change other attributes are called constants. 

The symbol pi has only been used in a mathematical sense since the mid-18th century. For those of you who weren’t in Greek life in college, π is the Greek symbol for the letter “p.” Oh, to go back to fraternity life!!! It was taken from the Greek word for “perimeter.”

Historically, Pi Day was started by Larry Shaw, a physicist who started celebrating Pi Day at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988. It was his idea to celebrate the day by eating pies and marching around circular spaces. In 2009 House Resolution 224 of the first session of the U.S. 111th Congress was passed, designating every March 14 as a day to encourage “schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about Pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.” Wouldn’t Albert Einstein be proud? 

Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. — Albert Einstein

Speaking of Albert Einstein. March 14 is not only easy to remember, it has the added bonus of being the birthday of Albert Einstein, born in 1879 in Ulm, Germany. Happy 136th birthday, Albert! Einstein did not discover Pi, but he shares his birthday with Pi Day. Einstein’s life in science and mathematics started early, with him writing his first scientific paper when he was only a teenager. In 1905, Einstein published several influential works, tackling such topics as relativity and introducing his most famous equation on mass and energy  E=mc2. And, in 1921, he earned the Nobel Prize in physics.



No one is really sure who should be credited with discovering Pi. The Babylonians estimated pi to be about 25/8 (3.125), while the Egyptians estimated it to be about 256/81 (roughly 3.16). The Ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes of Syracuse (287-212 BC) is largely considered to be the first to calculate an accurate estimation of the value of Pi. It is also interesting that an approximation of Pi is used in the Bible. The approximate ratio for Pi appears in the Bible in 1 Kings 7:23:

“And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.”

The Knowledge Organization: Acting On Information

Posted in Leadership, Learning Organization, Strategic Planning, Educational Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 9, 2015



The “knowledge organization” is structured around information, not hierarchy. This week’s lesson from Maciariello (2014) really affirms the case for distributed leadership. Drucker believed that knowledge organizations were best made up of specialists who direct their own and the organizations work with the feedback of colleagues, customers, and headquarters (2014). Drucker called this an “information-based organization.” This means that the proper people in the organization must be able to transfer data into information. 

This converting of data into information is a crucial step that many organizations leave out or don’t figure out how to do well. This is especially true in education. I think about all of the data we have, but it is only important if we can turnip into actionable information. Maciariello (2014) used Brad Stevens, former Butler University and present Boston Celtics, basketball coach as an example. He breaks down all of the available data and then looks for trends. For example, how many three point attempts per field goal attempt. Again, he is turning the data into information. It is then the coaches jobs to make sure the players understand the information. Then the players must act on the information. If the players do not understand the information, or don’t act on it then the data/information is worthless. This is the flow of information to information literacy to information responsibility.



I really like the idea presented this week of moving from data literacy to information literacy. This really involves the asking of two questions: What information does my organization need? And What information do I need? This really places the emphasis on creating useful information, not just showing a bunch of data. A major problem in education. So, for example, in education everyone always wants to look at growth data. I contend the more valuable information is the benchmark data of where the student is performing right now. Isn’t that what I really need (information), if I am a teacher, right now to create a plan to get that student where she needs to be academically. If we are doing that properly, the growth will take care of itself. Trust me, it works! Remember, you must convert raw data to true information. 

True information is those data that are important to the solution of specific problems faced by the organization. The question is not “Are the data interesting?” but rather “Are the data important and useful for making decisions to solve problems and seize new opportunities?” This truly makes the conversion from data to information. Therefore we must focus data on the information needed for decision making. 



I also really like thinking about sabermetrics here, too. This was the precursor of Billy Beane’s Statcast, developed by Bill James. Billy Beane’s system took data generated by sabermetrics and turned it into useful information. His Statcast enabled him to assemble players so that their individual abilities were able to complement one another. This enabled them to “measure a player’s value in the context of the rest of the team (Macariello, 2014, p. 76).” 

Eliminate data you do not need for decision making. Eliminate data that do not pertain to the information you need. Organize, analyze, and interpret the data you need so that they become true information.

Reference

Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers

Resist Multitasking: Cut The Pattern To Fit The Cloth

Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Strategic Planning, Educational Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 7, 2015



I am almost a week behind on my reflection of week nine in A Year With Peter Drucker: 52 Weeks of  Coaching for Leadership Effectiveness (Maciarello, 2014). I usually read the week’s lesson and write the post on Sunday mornings. Last week, however, I had to fly out to be at Harvard University early Sunday morning so I packed my book and was going to do the work Sunday night. Well, long story short, the airline lost my bag and I just had it returned last night – a full day after returning home. That entire experience and adventure may be the topic of another post.

The basic premise of last week’s lesson was to organize our personal work and the work we delegate to others effectively. We should attempt to plan our time, making sure that our most important tasks are done first, and, as much as is possible, resist pressures to engage in multitasking (Maciariello, 2014). Both empirical evidence and common practice confirm that multitasking really isn’t possible. In other words, we should fit our most important tasks into our available time. Or, “Cut the pattern to fit the cloth.”



Andy Grove, one of the three founders of Intel, put it this way: “What am I doing that I shouldn’t be doing (Maciariello, 2014, p. 66)?” Grove also offered four other great questions to help guide us in resisting multitasking: 

  • Should I still be doing it?
  • Am I doing it well?
  • Am I adding enough value to what I am doing?
  • Is it more worthwhile or less worthwhile than anything else?

Grove shared that after answering these questions he then negotiates with himself.



So how do we make this all happen? We must learn to delegate certain activities, abandon other activities, or relax the frequency of the performance of repetitive duties. To do this we must have the strongest followers. Successful leaders are not afraid of strong subordinates. We must assemble the most talented team available develop their competency and capacity, and then, get out of their way. When we develop others we simultaneously develop ourselves because we have to figure out how to raise the capacity of the people we are trying to develop. This will serve as a stretching activity for us, too.

Therefore, resist multitasking, develop your team with “A” players, and determine what are the most important tasks for you. As Peter Drucker said, “Effective leaders delegate, but they do not delegate the one thing that will set the standard. They do it (Maciariello, 2014, p. 70)!” 

Reference

Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Until Every Child Is Well

I was struck this week while at Harvard University by the story of Boston Children’s Hospital’s vision/mission: Until Every Child Is Well. Really, I guess it would be more of an anthem, as Sally Hogshead would call it. What an anthem it is, though! Think about how simple and abstract “Until Every Child Is Well” is. In my studies this week I was reminded how important it is to make sure that our vision, or anthem, is broad enough to enable us to change as the world changes. What a simple, yet powerful statement  Boston Children’s Hospital has made. Who could argue with, “Until Every Child Is Well?” 

If we were to write it the way Joseph Michelli taught me, using the word “Wowful,” it would be “Wowful Child Wellness.” Regardless, both statements allow for cutting edge theories of action and strategery. I was also reminded this week of the 1942 Harvard MBA graduate, John Fisher, who was the CEO of Muncie, Indiana company Ball Corporation (you probably know them for Ball Jars). He worked for the company starting in 1941 and was CEO from 1970 to 1981. After World War II the glass jar business was booming, but later Fisher purchased and developed an aerospace business. Everyone thought he was crazy, but it led to the development of the plastic water bottle. I’ll bet you would agree that was a pretty savvy move. When asked about the shift from glass at a Harvard reunion, he stated that their vision had nothing to do with just glass, it was, “we want to be the best container company.” Again, simple, broad, abstract, and agnostic. John Fisher had learned well from his Harvard MBA. He learned you must exploit your present capabilities, but you must at the same time explore. We must learn about the future quicker than anyone else.



So, since my personal wow statement is “Delivering Wowful Educational Leadership” and my anthem is “Energetic Change Agent,” I set out reflect on what these two statements should be for my school; given my learning this week. Remember the goal is to be simple, broad, abstract, and agnostic. Let’s define agnostic. The dictionary defines agnostic as: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly one who is not committed to believing in anything being for sure. Think about that for removing all barriers of thinking things will stay status quo or need to be done the same way.

Here’s what I came up with:

Delivering Wowful Learning

Until Every Child Graduates

I would welcome your feedback on these two statements. It would be great to here how you would change them. These statements allow us to change as the world changes to do what the Indiana State Constitution says in Section 8 where it states: Section 1. Knowledge and learning, general diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it should be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual scientific, and agricultural improvement; and provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall without charge, and equally open to all.  It is important to pay particular attention to the statement, “by all suitable means.” We have a constitutional obligation to make our delivery of knowledge and learning to our students distinct and effective. I love the statement, “by all suitable means.” That is simple, broad, and abstract. 

Schools have growing alternatives for delivering education. Choices range from presentations and discussions in the classroom to online, blended, and hybrid courses. As facilitators of learning, teachers will increasingly turn the process of teaching and learning into a partnership, with students and teachers constantly learning from each other. Self- learning will be seen as a bonus— and encouraged. Also, think about the online world where the greatest minds are just a click away and readily available. This open access has tremendous possibilities for many of our US underserved populations as well as third world countries. Pretty exciting, don’t you think?

I encourage you to take some time and think about your school or organization vision, mission, and anthem. Does it allow you to be nimble and change as the world changes? Remember: Leaders need to consistently inconsistent. We have to constantly explore who we are and what we do! 



Am I Mr. Spock Or Not?

Posted in Uncategorized by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on February 28, 2015

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“I think it’s my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may.” ~Leonard Nimoy

I love this quote from Leonard Nimoy, who we all know better as Mr. Spock from Star Trek. It was not always easy being more Mr. Spock than Leonard Nimoy. In fact he wrote two great books about it: the first book was titled “I Am Not Spock.” Then about twenty years later he wrote a second memoir, titled “I Am Spock.” The first book was published in 1977 and the second in 1995. I have to admit I loved watching Star Trek. I wouldn’t say I was a member of “Trekdom,” but I did love the idea of going where no one has gone before. So, on the day after the death of Leonard Nimoy, I would like to celebrate his life and honor him by reflecting on the idea of: does our career define us? Was Nimoy defined by the character of Mr. Spock?

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Nimoy was very proud to be connected with Star Trek. He believed the show dealt with morality and philosophical questions in a way many of us aspire to in our everyday lives. Remember, the solutions were always logical and morally the right thing to do! Oh, to be able to do that every time as a leader. In his first book, he wrote, “In Spock, I finally found the best of both worlds: to be widely accepted in public approval and yet be able to continue to play the insulated alien through the Vulcan character.” Nimoy believed the show gave him a constant guideline for a dignified approach as a human being.

Nimoy had always enjoyed playing the character but was also using the book to talk about other aspects of his life. The book features dialogue between the thesp and Spock and touched on a self-proclaimed identity crisis because he became so associated with his character. In his second autobiography, “I Am Spock” (1995), he embraced that association. So, I guess, it is ok for our career to define us. I guess I would ask, How can it not?

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’” ~Maya Angelou

I agree with this great quote, but that also means it is important for us to develop our life’s work in a way that is meaningful. “I realized that what I did as a job wasn’t what mattered. What mattered was the fact that I was happy, that my purpose went a lot deeper than sitting behind a desk, with my head in my hands wondering what the hell I was doing and why.” This is a great quote from Paula Lawes and to me speaks to the opposite of what she was really saying. We all have days when we put our face in our hands and wonder what we are doing. When I do that, however, I have the solace that I am making a difference of trying to lead a school to greatness to serve all students in the state of Indiana. And, as a believer that all students can learn and deserve a great school, my career does define me.

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Just so, we can learn from Nimoy there is power in your career. It defines you, whether you want it to or not. But for every one of me, it seems like there are dozens of others who are quick to brand people as failures if they aren’t rich or work at a prestigious company. This is not the type of defining I am referring to. I’m talking about doing something that reinforces your personal values, mission, and vision. In other words, are you using whatever your life’s work is to make a difference? Sadly or gladly, people will always judge you based on your career. Your career does define you.

Don’t forget, however, there are many parts to our live’s definition. We play so many roles in our lives- teacher, school leader, CEO, parent, partner, child- and it is the incorporation of each of them that strikes that balance. Putting too much weight into any one of those roles causes a crisis of identity that will not help us in our career or our lives. Don’t forget you are more than your career and so much more than just one job title will allow. I believe this is what tug between Leonard Nimoy and Mr. Spock can teach us. As we remember a great life today, we say thank you, Mr. Nimoy.

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