This article showed up in my Twitter feed:
I like a bunch of it. Bezos' success in business shows that he's likely set up some good practices over at Amazon. Most of the article seems to work for the Amazon context. I like it. I'd love to work in an environment that moved that quickly.
As an English teacher, I appreciated his logic behind the 6-page narrative memo: it adds clarity, far more than bullet-point Powerpoint presentations. The article explains,
"The narrative structure of a good memo forces better thought and better understanding of what's more important than what, and how, things are related," Bezos wrote. "PowerPoint-style presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of relative importance, and ignore the interconnectedness of ideas."
Sounds good to me. Over the years, I've moved away from Power point presentations and the like because I feel I have no evidence that they're effective. I can sympathize with 6 pages of memo that help put something in context and clarify vision. When students ask, "can I write in notes form?" I tend to say "No." Notes need too much context. Just use full sentences whenever possible so your ideas are as clear as possible.
Later in the article, the writer describes Bezos' "Disagree and commit" style of decision-making:
Bezos understands the common desire to get more data but says there is an obvious problem with that approach. "If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you're probably being slow," he wrote in his 2016 letter to shareholders.
Not bad. I like that way of working through things too, of being willing to change course as you go in order to maximize the possibilities available to you.
This works in the big-ol' orporate world, but I don't think this way-of-thinking works in politics. Reading the article reminded me of this excellent episode of BBC4's Seriously podcast. In it, they interview politicians as they consider the decisions they've made, the ones they've made in a rush and the ones they've taken their time with.
One of the tensions we're feeling in the world right now stems from Donald Trump's corporate background. He's used to being making rash decisions and keeping things mercurial. But in politics, that sort of corporate innovation thinking doesn't necessarily lead to good outcomes.
Of course, we'll have to wait and see what some of Trump's outcomes are. But for the time being his rash decisions don't seem to be working effectively in the political market, no matter what he tells us.
Self-help, leadership, and motivational literature is all about getting out of ruts and expressing yourself authentically. Much like religious devotional literature, they all riff off of the same sorts of human truths. Also like devotional literature, what you connect with is often more a matter of tone than content.
I like these pithy outlines that I found on Pinterest today. They appear to be outlines from a "Crucial Conversations" workshop that Jami Breese put together in a creative and accessible manner. These notes have piqued my interest in Crucial Conversations, so I'll be keeping an eye out for potential future workshops.
I'm going to go through a couple of the ideas that I like here. Since it seems like the outlines are each in a specific order, I'll follow that order myself.
Sketch 1: #crucialconversations steps 1 & 2
This sketch makes me think of the following:
Sketch 2: #crucialconverations steps 3 & 4
Sketch 3: #crucialconversations steps 5 & 6
Sketch 4: #crucialconversations steps 7, 8, & 9
I've printed off a few copies of these for my classroom so I can keep them on hand. Perhaps I'll post them to my filing cabinet with all my other resources. And then, once I get this apartment fully set-up, once the girls are settled in their new place, I'll be able to pick up the book and possibly try to adopt some of this. Maybe just one of them. Maybe just one.
Because I'm a dork and I have two whiteboards to put up in my home so I can lay out these ideas and try to get my life back on track. Because, as much as I'd like to deny it, I'm likely a teacher through and through.
I just finished a Master's in Education degree with an emphasis on "Leadership Studies."
So I should probably reflect on leadership for a minute.
I don't have much leadership experience. In churches and church functions, I lead music for a few years and sat on a few boards. Since I got married in 2006, however, I've generally stayed out of volunteering and leadership roles. My home life has been too tumultuous to take any more time out than necessary. Even with my experience in churches and teaching, my leadership practice, per se, is out of shape.
And I'm OK with that. I've always preferred to jump into the fire of assignments and roles. When I did my teaching practicum in 2005, I didn't jump on opportunities to teach in front of the class before I needed to; I saw no need to put on airs in a space where I had no authority. And when I stepped in front of the class on the first day, I knew I didn't know what I was doing, but I didn't regret refraining from jumping in front of a class before my time. I prefer the baptism-by-fire, learn-as-you-go approach.
Since 2012, I have been studying Leadership at UVic, and I just received my credential to show that my degree is finished. Throughout the degree, I've read a lot of literature about leadership in schools and businesses and had a lot of organization-based discussions. I've heard quite a few leadership buzzwords: "transformative leadership," "instructional leadership," "vision," etc.. And, to be honest, I haven't cared for much of it. Jargon annoys me.
Because I don't think successful leadership depends on a particular, singular, identifiable "style." I think successful leadership depends on making sure you, as a leader, can empathically thrive in your position in an organization. If people see you thriving, they will likely follow you.
I am reminded of reading Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Blackberry a few months ago. That book highlighted an organization whose leaders could not empathize with their organization or market and simultaneously thrive. When they empathized, they felt blocked; when they thrived, the organization suffered.
On the other hand, Arthur Nash found a way to thrive himself and empathize with his employees. He was a leader who garnered followers and loyalty and kept sight of his goals and market. He found a way to simultaneously maintain empathy and thrive in his position.
I'd like to find a place where I can both empathize with people and thrive myself. I can't say I'm doing that right now. However, I am not a person "driven" by any singular ambition. I like to cast a wide net of interests and goals, and it's with that wide net that I thrive.
I just need to find something to step into, something to be baptized-in by fire. For now, I'm at peace with austere self-improvement.
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