How To Become A Learning Machine: My Tips For Reading More

How To Become A Learning Machine: My Tips For Reading More by David Cancel

The one big takeaway for me is that I should probably look at being more purposeful both with my reading and with my note-taking. I have left a lot in those books, and forgotten a lot in my head, which could be useful going forward.

Giving the iPad a full-time job

Giving the iPad a full-time job by Justin Searls (Medium)

Here is the money quote from the beginning:

As a result, I’ve come around to a more nuanced view of productivity: that of a tenuous balance between friction and focus. “Friction” is the necessary turning of knobs on my tools in order to do work. “Focus” is the intentional ommission of knobs from tools to foster clear thinking. Any knowledge worker must balance their own creative action with thoughtful attention, and every software interface crystallizes an attempt at striking such a balance.

Everything else builds from there. iOS 11 is a really exciting update for iOS and I am very tempted to move it onto my iPad Pro even in its incomplete state. The iPad is my preferred computer in so many ways, and it is SO CLOSE to being my full-time mobile machine.

Maybe the time is now?

And just like that …

graduation imageI know this blog has been extremely quiet over the past two years, but I am hoping to get back into writing a little bit more going forward …

… and that is because I completed my Master of Arts in IT Leadership from The College of St. Scholastica this past week and graduated on Saturday.  With that is the rear view mirror I can turn some of my attention to other things (like a new daughter, house improvements, my family, etc.). For now, I have updated my Now page.

So, hang tight!

Communication During Change

The past eight weeks have included taking a course titled Change Leadership as part of my grad studies. During that time I have been able to read a book by John Kotter titled Leading Change. In the book Kotter lays out his eight-step process for leading change and dives into some other subjects around the future of organizations as well. It is a short and easy read but dense with information. I highly recommend it for any leader in any organization. It is well worth your time.

Communicating ChangeOne theme that ran through the text, or maybe it was through my head, was the importance of communication while leading the change process. This was not just a one-time thing, stuffed into a single chapter and then forgotten again, but a general theme woven throughout the book and an integral part of each and every chapter. Each step along the way involves communication in some way shape or form. It is the air that leaders breath during a change. It is the fuel for the fire of any change an organization undertakes. Kotter’s first step is Create Sense of Urgency. Take a look at that and think, what is the best way to do that than to communicate with anyone and everyone about what is going on and why it needs to change … now? How is anyone supposed to know both the what and why of a change than when they are told!? Even the last step, Institute Change, will require a concerted and focused effort to keep that change from fizzing out at the end. Communication, and its importance, is integral every step of the way!

So how does that communication happen? Well, the possibilities are endless! However, here is a helpful video which can give you some ideas to start with.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. For each and every organization, there is a unique blend of communication styles, mediums, and messages needed in order to make sure the change is getting through and that the communication being presented is having an impact. Talk with your people and figure out what will work best. Here is an excellent example of just talking to people and tailoring the change message to the audience. It is of Steve Jobs taking questions during the 1997 World Wide Developer Conference. Much of what he talks about here can be seen played out in Apple, through the changes he started, over the next 20 years.

One aspect of communication that I have really come around to over the past few years, and I think is vitally important for change in particular, is to be on the lookout for the dysfunctions of a team found in Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In his model, he presents the dysfunctions that he has seen railroad teams and organizations across decades consulting with businesses and non-profit organizations. You can find it reproduced here:

5 Dysfunctions of a Team

These same five dysfunctions can very easily sidetrack and sideline needed changes because some of those needed levels are not there. What is the first thing to go? Communication breaks down and becomes ineffective and when that happens, the downfall of the organization follows closely behind. Patrick is an entertaining speaker, so I will let him speak for himself.

Trust is the base, and it needs to be the base for change as well. When trust is there, it makes the work of the leadership that much easier and the way that trust is fed is through effective, true, useful communication. I cannot recommend Patrick Lencioni’s books enough as quick and easy reads with many useful tidbits about leading organizations. They are filled with humor and knowledge.

Here are some more resources to look at. Remember, communication is vital, but it is also a moving target and something that needs to be tailored to each and every organization and situation:

In closing, do not discount at all the importance of communication during change. When you think you have communicated enough, double the effort. When you think that everyone is onboard, triple the effort to pick up those people who are still on the fence and move those who are in opposition onto the fence so you can pull them over when you do it again! As Patrick Lencioni wrote in The Advantage:

… there is no such thing as too much communication.

Go forth and communicate … then communicate some more!

Old Things

St. Paul's Church 2015I like to work as a part of old things. Old buildings. Old industries. Old organizations. The farm that my family owns is already on its third generation, the church that I volunteer at and am a member of just celebrated its 150th anniversary last year, and my place of employment is not far behind. Farming, education, and religion are all “old industries” as well (in a sense).

Christmas at St. Paul's ChurchThis is almost anathema today. So often we are pulled to look outside of where we are and to find discontent … with the promise that we will be able to find contentment in the new things that world is offering us today. Sad? Buy a new car! Not feeling content with your job? Then you need to change your job to one of those new and up-and-coming companies! Feeling like you are not fulfilled where you are? Then move away to one of those hip areas in the country! Looking for Christ? Look to that new mega church down the road! Toss all of your past behind and leave those backwards places to your old self and try on this new self today!

MLC WCC 2016The old, the traditional, the stable are things to be cherished and embraced. Our culture tells us to toss out those old things in our lives and bring on the new things without taking into consideration what is being lost in the process. All of the combined decisions and knowledge and meaning of the past is then left behind when we decide that what has come is not worth out time. History is our collective understanding of who we are and where we came from, and tossing all of that history aside because “I know better” or “I don’t need that anymore” is a high form of hubris. How are we to know we know better? Don’t sit there unthinking and without a look toward what can be done better, but don’t sit there and believe that you somehow are able to have a higher understanding.

Now, none of these things are old when considering the entire span of history, but it does a person good to consider the institutions they are a part of and why they are there. Embrace history, embrace the old, embrace the opportunity to work within these established, stable, traditional places and to be a part of something greater than just the here, the now, the transient.