Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sniffing and Dogma

The weather in New Jersey this week is absolutely California-ish.
I've spent most of my days sitting outside, reading and surfing (the net).

This is my parents dog Pumpkin.
I'm not a huge fan of that name, so I call her 'Punk' and she responds. It's a workable solution.

She's been training me all week.
She's taught me to throw the ball, to scratch her behind her ear, and to put all food out of her reach.
She's a very good teacher.

She's also taught me a good deal about being curious. 
Punk is the sniffinest dog I've ever met. 
She spends about 80% of her time sniffing the air, sniffing the ground, sniffing my food, and sniffing my leg.

I haven't detected any payoff to all this sniffing, but maybe I'm missing the point.
Perhaps the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single sniff.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Application of a Personal Vision

Clarence Eddy and Heather Hinrichs-Andersen

This past March, I was attending a DISC training class at Ken Blanchard Corporation, in San Diego. The course was led by Drea Zigarmi, a great teacher and a wise man. One day, Drea asked me what my life's vision or purpose was.
I attempted to laugh him off, but he challenged me to live my life with intention. He must have struck a nerve, because since then, I've kept working on this vision of mine.

About one month ago, these words came out of me, "My vision is to live in a world where every human interaction results in a positive learning moment for both parties".

I like it. It captures what I've been trying to do in my life, as I've been living through my life.
Whether as a songwriter, a photographer, a traveler, an engineer, a manager, or as a facilitator - all I've really wanted to in my life is learn and share learnings 24 x 7.

Last week, I was having lunch with my friend Heather Hinrichs-Andersen of Brilliance, Inc. Heather and I were discussing coaching. Heather is very passionate about coaching.
I'm not.

Don't get me wrong... I enjoy coaching.
I view it as an essential part of any development plan. I do a lot of it.
But I don't get the same thrill from it that I get from facilitating a group session.
There's a difference between the reflective energy of one coachee vs. the active energy of a group.
While I enjoy coaching at the moment I'm doing it, I don't wake up thinking, "How can I get more coaching on my plate?"

As we talked, I tried to make sense of this. The fact is, I don't learn as much when I'm coaching as I do when I'm facilitating a group.
Coaching is about the coachee learning. It isn't about the coach learning.
Facilitating on the other hand is a full-time learning experience for the facilitator.
There may not be a 'next session'.
The facilitator has to learn, adapt, and get results within the time allotted.

It was interesting. Heather immediately caught it, "Facilitating is aligned with your vision. Coaching isn't."
Maybe I'm selfish... but helping isn't enough for me. I need to learn while I help.

That's the kind of thing that's good to know!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If You Need to Text Message, I'll Just Walk. Okay?

I flew from San Jose to Philadelphia today to visit my parents for the next 10 days.
My sister and dad picked me up at the airport. Shortly thereafter, I had a bit of a fight with my sister over her text messaging while driving on a highway.

My recent reading of "Brain Rules" (go here - slide 7 to see) has persuaded me that cell phone usage is worse than drunk driving, so I asked her to stop.
That didn't go too well...

I suppose I should have facilitated a discussion instead of lecturing her, but getting home alive was my priority at that moment. 

Anyway, it's good to be here and great to see my parents.
As I'm relaxing in the back yard - piggybacking on an internet signal from the neighbors - I'm reminded of my dad's best line about my work ethic, "Hard work doesn't bother Glenn at all. He can lay down right next to it and sleep all day."

That's about as close as I hope to get to hard work over the next 10 days!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Interview as Learning Tool...

This is Martin Woodrow. He taught me much of what I know about teaching. Some of what he taught me was in words, but most of what he taught me came from watching him teach and facilitate.

It's a compliment to say that I've learned as much from his mistakes as from his successes. Martin takes chances, falls on his face, gets up, and is happy to discuss those mistakes. That's an admirable trait.

I had an assignment (for my Master's Program) to interview an adult educator, and Martin came immediately to mind.

I knew he would provide an interesting interview, but I was surprised how much I learned about him.

I've often seen interviewing exercises in books and on the web (Center for Digital Storytelling is one such place). There are suggestions to interview strangers, family members, etc.
I've never done that, but based on my experience with interviewing Martin, I just might take it up. And if Martin approves, I'll post the interview later.

So, today's learning tip? Interview someone.
You might learn something!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Learning, Unlearning, Re-learning

Angie and I were hiking yesterday at Alum Rock Park, in San Jose, and I had carried my camera for more than half the hike without taking a picture. This was annoying me, as I have a fairly heavy camera.

I justified that there was nothing to shoot, as we hadn't 'seen anything interesting'. When I say that, it usually means that I haven't spotted any wildlife - my primary objective when hiking.

I continued walking, and for some reason started thinking about how photography = 'light writing' in latin. I always tell beginners that the lesson in the word photography is that there is no 'writing' - or photography - without light.

That reminded me to look for interesting light for the rest of the hike. I took the above photo about 30 minutes later.

The lesson this photo taught me wasn't about photography. It was about the value of reflection and re-learning the lessons that we've learned before.

There's no 'I' in team...

But as Michael Jordon pointed out, "There is in WIN"...

I stayed up late last night for the exciting (too much so, in fact) gold medal basketball game between Team USA and Spain. The closing of the game reminded me of Jordon's quote.

With the USA clinging to a late two-point lead, the Spanish team increasing in confidence and energy, and Team USA's supposed dominance on the verge of collapse, Kobe Bryant - the 'me first' NBA star who had suppressed his ego to become the defensive specialist on this team -
imposed his will and talent on the Spanish to almost single-handedly win the game.

There had been many questions about how Team USA would handle pressure, if and when it arrived. Could they handle it? Who would stand up and be the leader on this 'team of equals'? No one? Anyone?

Kobe stood up, willing to shoulder the weight of 'hero' or 'goat'. And won the game... for the team.

Who on your team is willing to take the toughest shots?

Friday, August 22, 2008

What I'll soon be reading... well, someday...

Okay... I'm officially a bookaholic.
I knew that, but the stack of books that make it impossible for Angie to see me has confirmed it.

This week, between Monday and Friday, I've bought the following books:

On Monday, from Bookman's Used Books in Phoenix, Arizona
  • The Craft of Research by Booth, Colomb, and Williams
  • Love 'em or Lose 'em by Kay & Jordan-Evans
  • Wonder Woman - The Complete History by Les Daniels
  • Picture This - How Pictures Work by Molly Bang

Arriving all week from Amazon

  • The Breakthrough Company by Keith R. McFarland
  • slide:ology by Nancy Duarte
  • E-Learning by Design by William Horton
  • the Online Learning idea book by Patti Shank
  • Better Than Bullet Points by Jan Bozarth
  • Plato and a Playtypus Walk into a Bar... by Cathcart and Klein
  • Lads before the Wind by Pryor
  • The Five Most Important Questions by Peter Drucker
  • The Extreme Future by James Canton
  • Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched by Amy Sutherland
  • The Change Handbook by Holman, Devane, and Cady
  • How to Think Like a Behavioral Analyst by Bailey and Burch

On Friday, from Stanford Bookstore in Palo Alto, California

  • The Science & Psychology of Doodles by Emma Steiger
  • John Dewey on Education
  • Hard Optimism by Price Pritchett
  • The Plenitude by Gold

On Friday, from Borders in Palo Alto, California

  • Anthropology for Dummies

On Friday, from Bookbuyers Used Books in Mountain View, California

  • Field Guide to Gestures by Armstrong & Wagner
  • No One Cares What You Had for Lunch - 100 Ideas for Your Blog - Margaret Mason
  • The Leadership Challenge (1st Edition) by Kouzes and Posner
  • Doing Psychology Experiments by David W. Martin
  • The Clustered World by Michael J. Weiss
  • Sway by Brafman and Brafman

It's a safe bet that I won't get through these books in the next week or so.
I haven't even finished Authenticity yet!

Any recommendations where I start?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Top Ten Sports Events

Sports and learning...
Yesterday, I mentioned that Michael Phelps' 7th gold was one of the 10 most thrilling sporting events I've ever witnessed (on TV).

That got me thinking. What are my top ten?
And what did I learn from them?
In no particular order, let's see...
  • 2008 - Michael Phelps' 7th gold
    Lesson? Never, ever, ever, ever give up! And never ever, ever, ever coast that last meter...
  • 2008 - Super Bowl, NY Giants over NE Patriots
    Lessons? Addition by subtraction... the loss of Tiki Barber and then Jeremy Shockey produces a champion. And... you can teach an old dog (Coach Tom Coughlin) new tricks.
  • 1988 - Kirk Gibson's World Series pinch hit, walk-off home run 
    Lesson? One flap of a butterfly's wings can lead to an improbable victory.
  • 1980 - Miracle on Ice, USA over Russia in Olympic Hockey 
    Lesson? Team... team... team.
  • 1990 - Super Bowl XXV, NY Giants over Buffalo Bills 
    Lesson? Trust your players. In order to counter the Bills 'no-huddle' offense, Bill Belichick let Everson Walls call all the defensive plays. Delegation to the max!
  • 2001 - Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, and Derek Jeter hit late home runs to win games 4 and 5 for the NY Yankees against the Arizona Diamondbacks 
    Lesson? Never underestimate the power of environment. There is/was magic in Yankee Stadium. Will the Yankees suffer a move to a new stadium? We'll see...
  • 1976 - Nadia Comaneci, Gold Medal Olympic Gymnast 
    Lesson? Sometimes you tip your hat to the enemy. Grace and beauty is grace and beauty... no matter what flag it wears. (see also, Olga Korbut)
  • 1979 - NY Yankee Bobby Murcer buries teammate Thurman Munson, then drives in 5 runs to win the game that night, collapsing in the arms of Lou Pinella -Lesson? There are vast, untapped reseviors of energy in all of us that surface when least expected - and most needed.
  • 2003 - The 'flip' from Derek Jeter to Jorge Posada of the NY Yankees to win Game 3 of the American League Playoffs 
    Lesson? Luck is the residue of talent and effort.
  • 1972 - Not exactly thrilling, but I'll never forget the 1972 Munich Olympics and Jim McKay.
    Lesson? George Bernard Shaw wrote, "Life does not cease to be funny when someone dies, as it does not cease to be serious when people laugh." Sports is just sports, but it shows us much more. And life continues, win or lose...

If this list seems a little New York-centric, well, I'm from New York...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Learning to Trust my Instincts in Sedona

This is Bell Rock in Sedona.
What did I learn here? To trust my instincts.
Actually, I learned this lesson the day before, and got the chance to practice it here.

In Singapore, I learned that I could feel a sudden drop in barometric pressure. I also learned that when I felt it, I should run for cover, because a big rain was coming.

This past Saturday, hiking through a manzanita grove, I felt that change in barometric pressure for the first time in a few years. When we came out of the grove and saw thunder clouds in the distance, we decided to turn around.
Twenty minutes later, just as we started the car, raindrops pelted the windshield. Suddenly, a thunder and lightning storm accompanied the downpour.

Cool, I thought. My senses still work!

Here at Bell Rock on Sunday - right here... in this very spot - I felt the drop in pressure again. We turned around and, twenty minutes later, the rain started.

It's one of my favorite feelings... the one I get when I state a thesis, propose a model, or just trust my instinct... and then see the results validate that theory.

It creates a completely unreasonable belief that there might be some order in this universe!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sedona, Michael Phelps, and Authenticity

We're back from a long weekend in Sedona, where I learned (or remembered) a few things.
  1. It's great to hike with friends. I need to do more of that. Our friends Steve and Anna hiked up Cathedral with us, where we enjoyed the breeze and the views.
  2. Radio Dogma is a rockin band...
  3. There's nothing like watching sports in a group. Phelps' win in the 100M Butterfly is one of the 10 greatest sports moments I've ever witnessed. Seeing it in a bar with 50 or so other people amplified the experience. I'll have to think about the other 9 moments and get back to you.
  4. Bookman's is an awesome used book store chain.
  5. They call it Prickly Pear for a reason!

I've been reading "Authenticity" by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II over the weekend. It's an excellent book that explores what consumers expect from companies and products, in terms of authenticity.

I enjoy the 'progression of economic value' model and the relationship between economic offerings and authenticity.
  1. Commodities - which require Natural authenticity: 'is it natural?'
  2. Goods - which require Original authenticity: 'is it first of it's kind?'
  3. Services - which require Exceptional authenticity: 'is it exceptional?'
  4. Experiences - Referential authenticity: 'does it draw on shared memories or some other context?'
  5. Transformations - Influential authenticity: 'does it call me to a higher goal?'

I'll work on making this blog meet those standards!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Coaching Tips from Lucius Fox

I saw Batman: The Dark Knight a couple of weeks ago and, of course, loved it.
I have trouble to imagining a better Batman film.

One particular scene made me chuckle.
It's when Bruce Wayne's accountant (I think he's the accountant) threatens to unveil Batman's true identity. He wants a bribe from Lucius Fox - portrayed wonderfully by Morgan Freeman.

The 6th Mastery of Coaching, according to the International Association of Coaching, is "Clarifying - Reduce/eliminate confusion or uncertainty; increase understanding and the confidence of the client".
One measure of success is "The client has increased self-awareness, or can see himself or herself from a new perspective".

A great tool for clarifying is the paraphrase, "Let me repeat what I'm hearing to see if I understand...".
Often, when a client hears his or her words, it creates a sort of 'out of body experience' for him or her .

So, when the accountant threatens to blackmail Bruce Wayne, Lucius Fox says,
"Let me get this straight: You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who beats criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And your plan is to blackmail this person?"
It's a funny moment in the film, but it's a perfect example of 'reducing/eliminating confusion' and helping a client 'see himself from a new perspective'.
So, coach like Lucius Fox and you'll be doing just fine!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

People Need Tools

I've said it before. I'll say it again a thousand times in the next year, I suspect.

People need tools.
Now, I'm an engineer, so I'm sure I have a bias here... but... we are a tool-using species.

Anyway, I love sharing tools with people and seeing them do cool things with these new found toys.

Last week and this week, for example, I'm running a two-week 'summer workshop series' with my training peers and the HR team. We've covered Six Thinking Hats, Language Processing, SMART goals, Vision statements and a bunch more.
Today, we covered Innovation. I shared a number of exercises and activities (TOOLS, I prefer TOOLS!!) from the book Thinkertoys, by Michael Michalko. Great book - go buy it now!

What I loved about the session today was hearing a participant say, "I'm not creative at all", and then, through the use of these tools, come up with one brilliant, cool, innovative idea after another.

And then, with all that output in front of her, insist, "No - really! I'm not creative!".
Well, people aren't creative... output is creative.
So if you end up with creative output, that's good enough for me!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

What is the Most Effective Educational Situation?

I'm reading The Adult Learner by Knowles, Holton and Swanson for my Masters degree class, and I came across psychologist Carl R. Rogers' five "basic hypotheses" of learning.

Number 5 is the one that resonated with me today:

"The educational situation which most effectively promotes significant learning is one in which threat to the self of the learner is reduced to a minimum, and differentiated perception of the field is facilitated."

If "threat to the self of the learner is reduced" equals creating a safe environment and "differentiated perception of the field is facilitated" equals enabling a shift, then Carl R. Rogers suggested that coaching would be the most effective educational situation.

As much as I love classrooms, I agree that they are not optimal for creating a safe environment. Many people will not open up in a group setting, no matter what you do.
And it's hard to 'create the shift' in a room full of people, as well.

I'll be honest - I enjoy teaching and facilitating groups a lot more than I enjoy coaching. 
Coaching is fun, but I learn more in group settings. I also feel that I make a bigger impact in groups.

I'll have to think about this quote and observe the dynamics in both settings before I decide whether I agree or not... 

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Big Five Personality Test

This morning, as part of our summer training series, we spent time discussing DiSC profiling - our preferred tool for discussing types of people.
We like DiSC because we're more interested in behavior than personality, and also because it's easy to understand and use.

There are times, however, when you need a personality test. In coaching, for example, it helps to explore the differences between behavior and personality.
We've used Meyers-Briggs for personality in the past, but last week (courtesy of SNOOP, a book I discussed in another post) I took a 'Big Five' personality test.
You can find the test here.

The Big Five explores five dimensions (of course).
They are:

  • Openness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

Angie and I both took the test and it seems to be pretty accurate. You can see my results above.

I score high for openness, extraversion, and agreeableness. On the other hand, I'm low for conscientiousness and neuroticism.
I'm going to try this in some of my coaching and see how it compares to Meyers-Briggs.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What are the Six Thinking Hats?

Today marked the start of our summer workshops for the learning center and human resource departments.

I've organized two weeks of teaching new tools and practicing old ones. We kicked off today with Six Thinking Hats.

If you're not familiar with this thinking framework, you should check it out immediately. I never get tired of singing its' praises.

Here's a google search for 'six thinking hats pdf'. This will give you plenty of info to choose from. Or you can order Edward de Bono's book from Amazon.

The class is excellent. I enjoy putting strong tools into the hands of people who need them.

We had a good session today, with a lot of practice exercises. I'm looking forward to seeing it rolled out. It's amazing to see the shift from an exercise done without the Six Thinking Hats, to one done with them.

The basic concept is that debate results in an 'arm-wrestling' mentality that reduces any possibility of finding the best answer through synthesis. Any election shows how true this proposition is.

Instead, Six Thinking Hats proposes that we work through the six types of thinking together. The six types are:

  • Blue/Process, 
  • White/Information, 
  • Red/Emotion, 
  • Yellow/Positive, 
  • Red/Negative, 
  • Green/Creative
This way, we can leverage the intelligence of all participants. Sounds a little Utopian, I know, but it works!

If you think your group would benefit from reduced debate, better ideas, and more engaged participation, then take a look at Six Thinking Hats.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Testing... Testing... for Coaching Certification

I spent a couple of hours this morning taking my test for IAC certification.
Not an easy test, by any stretch, so I relieved to find that passed, with room to spare.

The second part of certification will be to tape my coaching sessions and submit them for review.
I think that will be easier than the test... at least I hope so!

If you're serious about coaching, I would recommend looking at the IAC. The "IAC Coaching Masteries Workbook" provides an excellent framework for effective coaching.
  1. Establishing and maintaining a relationship of trust
  2. Perceiving, affirming and expanding the client’s potential
  3. Engaged listening
  4. Processing in the present
  5. Expressing
  6. Clarifying
  7. Helping the client set and keep clear intentions
  8. Inviting possibility
  9. Helping the client create and use supportive systems and structures

You don't have to join to buy the workbook, but you'll probably want to.