Thursday, April 16, 2015

Leadership Development: Leadership Begins with the Heart

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently participating in a Leadership Development Program (LDP) as part of my work at Franklin University. This week, I attended a presentation by Dr. Jim Mahoney, the Executive Director of Battelle for Kids. Dr. Mahoney spoke about the dynamics associated with being an effective leader. Below are my notes from the presentation.

Dr. Jim Mahoney speaking at Franklin University's Leadership Development Program.
I will begin by sharing Dr. Mahoney's concluding statement: "Leadership begins with the heart." It seems to me that many of the things he discussed throughout the presentation support that statement. 

Three Verbs to Describe Your Leadership
One of the first things Dr. Mahoney directed us to do was to write down three verbs that describe your leadership. It was a quick exercise, and some of the participants shared the following: verbs, which I thought were great: Listen, Organize, Dependable, Innovate, Maximize, Understand, Empower. For myself, I came up with the following (which I have edited a bit):
  • Clarify – Help bring clarity to what the goals are.
  • Demonstrate – Be an example of hard work and a positive attitude.
  • Collaborate – work with others and help them succeed.

Empowering Your People
Dr. Mahoney paused for a moment when someone mentioned empowerment and said that to empower people effectively, you really must do the following 4 things. 
  1. Identify the Problem (which is usually done by the employee)
  2. Assign the solution of the problem to the individual
  3. Devote Attention and Resources to help succeed
  4. Follow Up regularly until the problem is solved

The BFK Connect Framework
We spent some time discussing the BFK Connect framework. You can see the framework in the image below. The framework highlights some of the natural tensions that occur in a workplace and that leaders must always try to find the balance between. We focused on the tension between People and Goal Achievement, and the tension between Stability and Innovative Change. It is likely that any organization undergoing change will constantly struggle to maintain the proper balance between each of these four quadrants.
The BFK Connect Framework.

Four Outstanding Strategies
Dr. Mahoney outlined his four most important strategies for leading effectively. I really liked these and hope to be able to use them as a leader.
  1. Praise. This is the number one motivator to bring out the best. Perhaps write a note to someone and show your appreciation. Look for the unexpected and praise it!
  2. Involvement. "If you want them to be part of the deal, deal them in!" People want input, they want to feel like their opinion counts. Find ways to involve people in setting a direction and in doing the work.
  3. Expectation. Set clarity for what you expect as a supervisor. Then enable them to do it! "If you don’t feed the teachers, don’t eat the kids!"
  4. Standing Beside. Be there to support your people in a difficult meeting. Help your people with mundane tasks like writing reports. Do what you can to help people move forward.
Quotes and Anecdotes from the Training
Throughout the presentation, Dr. Mahoney gave several excellent one-liner quotes and anecdotes that are worth repeating. I have documented them here (to the best of my ability).

"Try to imagine you were a patient, and imagine what kind of doctor you would want. And be that doctor." 

“Nothing is impossible for those who don’t have to do the work.”

“Success is simple. Find out what your boss wants and give it to them.”

“How you see your job is how you do your job.”

“The grass isn’t green on the other side. The grass is green where you water it.”

“If you want one year of prosperity, grown grain, 10 years, trees, 100 years, grow people.”

“I know some people in leadership positions who couldn’t lead a group in silent prayer.”

30 Seconds of Reflection
We have been doing 30 seconds of reflection at the end of each leadership session. Here is what I wrote for this one: These are great ideas. I would love to be able to apply these in a meaningful way. When I am actually placed in a leadership position, I hope I can apply ideas such as these in an effective way. It seems like putting together a 1-page document of my leadership philosophy and practices might be useful.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Leadership Development Program: Ethical Leadership

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently participating in a Leadership Development Program (LDP) as part of my work at Franklin University. This week, I attended a presentation by Dr. Alex Heckman, the Chair of the Department of Public Administration in the College of Health and Public Administration at Franklin. Dr. Heckman's presentation was focused around the topic of ethics in leadership, and below are my notes from the presentation. These notes are mine, though much of what I write below is taken from his presentation.

Dr. Alex Heckman presented on Ethics in Leadership.
Ethics can be considered applicable to two entities: the individual, and the organization. From the individual perspective, the question is: Who are you and how will you act? From the organizational perspective: How are you and your organization acting? Policies and procedures that are ethical and create a “virtuous cycle” moving us toward good.

4 General Approaches to Ethics
There are 4 general approaches to making decisions that are ethical. These include:
  1. Outcome based – “What will be the outcome of my action?” The difficulty is that the outcome might not be clear. The "butterfly effect" holds – one small action here might have a massive impact somewhere else.
  2. Rules based – “Follow the policies and procedures.” There is some perceived safety in this approach - however, the issue is that we might come up with rules for every single situation, which might have negative consequences overall. This also runs the risk of subduing an individual or organization’s creativity in making decisions that are meaningful. Dr. Heckman believes that Rules send the message that we don’t trust people. However, principles set guidelines for making decisions but don’t tell people exactly what to do. I tend to believe n the power of principles and think they can provide excellent guidance while empowering others.
  3. Character based – “Characteristics or virtues you are demonstrating.” These include courage, virtue, faith, etc. Setting a mission statement that outlines the values you espouse can give you a set of guiding principles
  4. Care based – “How will this affect the relationships in my life?” The goal here is to maintain positive relationships with others.
I find that people likely use more than one of these approaches, depending on the situation they are in. However, as I reflect, doesn't that really add up to being outcome based? I mean, if you select a "care-based" approach so that you can maintain a positive relationship, haven't you just employed an outcomes-based approach in the selection of the approach itself? Are we all using a meta-outcomes based approach?

What are Ethical Dilemmas?
An ethical dilemma is a situation in which any decision appears to conflict with moral or ethical standards. Dr. Heckman notes that to deal effectively with ethical dilemmas, you must first recognize that there is an ethical dilemma. Next, work to make the decision by talking with people, discussing alternative solutions, and working toward the most appropriate solution. There are often many more options than you first realize – you don’t necessarily only have two decisions to make. Dr. Heckman notes that talking with others lightens the load – if you get a sense of agreement with others, it can help you feel better about it.  The final step is to take action on the ethical dilemma based on the decision you have made.

Typical Ethical Dilemmas – “right vs. right”
Below are dilemmas that you might find yourself in.
  • Truth vs. Loyalty – this is the dilemma of truth-telling versus being loyal to your cohorts. Think of the question “Don’t you just love my gown?” As another example, the fighter pilot who is shot down and interrogated would likely be more loyal to his fellow-fighters (not sharing secrets to the enemy) than truthful. An example was given of a leader that often misrepresents and inflates the accomplishments and capacity of an organization to visitors. How should the individual respond to the leader? Tell the truth right there, or show loyalty by not interrupting? It is a dilemma!
  • Individual vs. Community – The good for the community might be bad for the individual, and the good for the individual might be bad for the community. Example -the old lady who can’t learn the computer but is dragging the organization down. Do you fire that lady, or do you keep her?
  • Short Term vs. long Term – Putting a child through college – it will have great long-term benefits, but in the short-term you need to pay the bills. If you always default to the short-term, there will be no long-term. If you always default to the long-term, you will starve.
  • Justice vs. Mercy – The expectation is what justice is based on. The exception is what mercy is based on. You cannot have all justice, and you cannot have all mercy. Example – excellent, effective workers who have been committing “time theft” by surfing the internet or running errands during the workday. 
"Should I address this issue?"
If you are confronted with an ethical dilemma and wonder whether you should act, you should consider the following:
  • Severity of the harm – how serious is the damage or danger? Will people or property be harmed? Is human life threatened? More severity means more responsibility in addressing the problem.
  • Certainty of the harm – what is the likelihood that this harm will happen? If the chance is high, I have a responsibility to act on the problem or danger.
  • Degree of involvement – did I cause or create the danger? Am I part of the community? Am I the only person who has the chance or power act on the danger?
  • Cost of acting to address problem – what will it cost me to take responsibility? What risks do I run in addressing the problem?
  • Certainty of the solution – how certain am I that my solution will actually address the danger?        

To be an effective leader, you must be strong ethically.

30 Seconds of Reflection
We have been doing 30 seconds of reflection at the end of each leadership session. Here is what I wrote for this one: I was surprised how much I enjoyed the discussion. When I saw the title of the discussion, I didn’t initially find interest in the topic. However, the presentation was interesting and helped me think about my own situations and helped me to start to think about how I make decisions. I hope that I am always ethical in my decisions, and I would like to continue to learn about these principles so that I can be more effective in my decision-making.

Previous Leadership Development Program presentations:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Research Finds Correlation Between Depression and Time in Meetings

Recent research (Gardner, 2015)* has found a strong correlation between depression and time in meetings. I have found through this research that this correlation is causal - the length of time in meetings directly influences and increases levels of depression while simultaneously decreasing happiness levels. The reverse is not necessarily true - increased depression does not necessarily increase the length of the meeting, though it will likely increase the perceived length of the meeting. See Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Increases in meeting length have been shown to decrease happiness levels.

I will likely continue to conduct this experiential research, unfortunately.

References and Notes
Gardner, J. (2015). My experiential/observational meeting research.*

* Note that this is really just based on my own experiences and is not an actual research article. However, it is based on several thousands of hours of meetings and is rather conclusive.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Industrialist and the Craftsman - Differing Views of Instructional Design

There are two fundamental metaphorical views of instructional design that seem to compete with one another: the Industrial View and the Craftsman View. While each of these viewpoints has great merit, they are based on assumptions that are often at odds with one another. In this post, I will share what these two views are and will describe the conflict that inherently comes about when these two views clash.

The Industrial and the Craftsman Views of Instructional

In the "Industrial View" of instruction the goal is efficiency in design and delivery and consistency in quality. It might be characterized as "cranking out courses." This approach is most often favored by the administrator. This standardization yields a sort of baseline quality, but raises the quality to an acceptable level. Unfortunately, it can often inadvertently places restrictions on those who excel and perhaps brings them down to a lower level. This is the the result of the shift to industrialization.

In the "Craftsman View" of instruction, the goal is quality of a higher standard. The value is autonomy. This view is usually taken by the instructional designer. The goal is to exceed expectations of effectiveness, to achieve something above the norm - excellence. The instructional design faculty I work with at Franklin University's i4 strive for this kind of excellence, some of the work I have done with them has produced outstanding instruction. Note: For an incredibly insightful essay on the clash between these two views, I highly recommend reading the classic essay "Quality" by John Galsworthy - an outstanding illustration of the shift from the Craftsman to the Industrial view.

An Illustrative Analogy

We might use the ax as an illustrative analogy. Prior to the industrial age and  mass production of goods, an ax made by a master blacksmith was durable, strong, held a sharp edge, and cut wood in extremely well. However, the work done by the blacksmith was relatively slow and labor-intense. When large manufacturers began mass-producing axes, they produced a very high number of axes at a consistent level of quality, and the work was accomplished quickly. However, the quality of the ax was mediocre when compared to that produced by the skilled craftsman. To the naked eye, these tools look the same but both possessed benefits and disadvantages that the other perhaps did not. In the final analysis, too much emphasis on efficiency will inevitably require a sacrifice of quality.

Tension in Instructional Design and Education

In the related field of instructional design and education, we seem to hold a tension between each of these views. As a field, we have adopted systematic processes in our work, which seem to reflect an industrial view. Yet we still want to hold tight to our autonomy and freedom to design with creativity, carefully crafting instruction as the craftsmen we are. This is likely reflected in many fields today - the competitive environment places great pressure on organizations and employees to produce more, and the priority of quality is potentially placed on the altar of efficiency.

Can this tension be resolved? Is it possible for both efficiency and high quality to exist in the same organization and function? It seems that moving toward this ideal of efficiency while maintaining quality will be a major priority in the field of instructional design and education at large. What is being done in this area?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

5 Models of Course Development Responsibility in Higher Education

As more and more online courses are developed and taught, instructional design in higher education is becoming more prevalent. However, the way that instructional design is implemented is done very differently depending on the university. Specifically, there are several different ways that university leadership assigns responsibility and control in the design function, and I describe what I see as the 5 most common. But which of these can provide the greatest level of quality so that students can indeed achieve success? I describe my thoughts below.
  1. Faculty Only - In the faculty only approach, faculty members do all of the course design and development work. Under this approach, they may have some level of technology support but make all design decisions based on their own experiences and expertise. 
  2. Faculty Responsible with Optional Design Support - In this approach, faculty members still have primary responsibility but may have instructional designer(s) available to support the faculty member in his or her work. In this case, the support of the instructional designer is not required.
  3. Faculty Responsible with Required Design Support - In this approach, the faculty member still has primary responsibility for the course but are required to work with an instructional designer. In this case, the instructional designer may assist in organizing and building the course and typically has a set of standards to ensure course quality.
  4. Designer Responsible with Active Faculty Participation- In this approach, the instructional designer bears the responsibility for course design and development and relies on a faculty member for support and content expertise. 
  5. Third Party Responsible with Faculty Support - In this approach, a third party developer takes full responsibility for the work that is done and may work with a faculty member to gather content. This third party might be a separate university or a for-profit entity. I have heard and observed some pretty poor results when using the for-profit groups, though there are likely some that do good work and yield great success.
Which is Best?
So, which approach will produce courses of the highest quality possible? In my opinion, it must be an approach that requires the active participation of both faculty and instructional designers. I have worked with faculty under approach number 3 and 4, and I have found them to both be effective. My belief, though, is that number 4, Designer Responsible with Active Faculty Participation, is most likely to produce the highest quality course. My friend and colleague Lewis Chongwony wrote a great blog post about how design faculty at the International Institute for Innovative Instruction use this approach in greater detail.

The fundamental issue here is course quality. Does the course help students learn? Does the course employ research-based practices? Is it founded on validated principles of instruction? Does it target the needs of the learners and present knowledge in efficient, effective, engaging ways? As higher education continues to evolve, and these questions become more and relevant, the effective implementation of instructional design will become more crucial to student and institutional success.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Video Interview with Dean Barb Fennema

I recently interviewed Dr. Barb Fennema, the Dean of the International Institute for Innovative Instruction (i4). She describes some of her own work as an instructional designer, the history of instructional design at Franklin University, and some of the great things that i4 is doing for higher education.

Friday, March 13, 2015

How to Create Personal Change

We all want to change ourselves and our lives, but change can be very difficult. How can we gain the motivation and drive necessary to sustain lasting change? Based on my readings and experiences, I've put together a set of activities that will drive powerful change in your life. These activities will take you around 90 minutes to complete, and you will be astounded by the empowering long-term benefits of this investment of your time.

Steps for Creating Personal Change
Here are the major steps for creating personal change are. I will explain how to accomplish each of these steps throughout the rest of this blog post.

1. Build clarity and motivation
2. Neutralize Negative Beliefs
3. Envision and Plan for Change
4. Create Change

The Power of Questions
One of the most powerful ways to motivate yourself to a change is to ask yourself empowering questions. The kinds of questions we ask shift our focus in fundamental ways, and the right questions can funnel us toward power and strength. Based on my experience, the activities below can be used to build powerful motivation and drive for change.

Build Clarity and Motivation to Change
On a sheet of paper, write down the following questions. For each question, write at least 15 responses. Make sure you write about the things that are really important to you. Stay focused and maintain a positive mental state as you write your responses. I have found that a clean, quiet room free from distractions allows me the time and space I need to really focus on what I am doing. Here are the questions:
  • What important changes do I really want to make in my life? (After listing out the 15 or more responses, carefully select the one that is most important to you at this time). 
  • How will I know that I have made the change? 
  • If I do not make this change, what will be the negative, unpleasant, or disastrous consequences?
  • Why do I really want to make this change? Put another way, what positive, inspiring, good things will happen as a result of me making this change?
  • What successes have I had in the past that demonstrate my ability to achieve this success now?
If you take these questions seriously and write at least 15 responses for each question, you will already begin to feel a sense of motivation toward the change you wish to make. You will begin to draw upon the power of your mind and the strength of your past to build an empowered future of positive change. Your next step toward change will be to identify and neutralize the negative beliefs that may have stopped you in the past.

Neutralize Negative Beliefs
What we believe about ourselves has a deep impact on our behavior and habits. Our habits are a direct result of our beliefs about ourselves and the world. On a new sheet of paper, answer the following questions to identify and negate unhealthy, limiting, disempowering beliefs:
  • What do I believe about myself that has stopped me from making this change in the past?
  • What do others believe or say about me that makes me feel like I cannot make this change?
  • How are these beliefs untrue? (For every one of the beliefs identified above, write at least 2-3 reasons why those beliefs are untrue).
If you take these exercises seriously, your sense of empowerment, strength, and positive energy will begin to skyrocket. You will feel a sense of personal power welling up within you. You are then ready to chart your course for making the change. 

Envision and Plan for Change
You are now ready to plan and execute your change. On a new sheet of paper, answer the following question. For this assignment, you must write at least 20 responses to each question. You will find that the last few are very difficult, but they are very often the most useful ideas you come up with.
  • What actions should I take to make this change in my life?
  • Who could I rely on to help me achieve this goal and make this change?
  • What obstacles or pitfalls can I expect to undermine my success? How can I overcome them?
  • What steps should I plan to take (a) today, (b), this week, (c) this month, and (d) in the next 3 months to make this change?