4 Reasons Universities Don’t Invest in Organizational Development & Why They Now Should

An Engineer in OD/HR Wonderland

When I took training as a leadership coach at Georgetown University, many of my colleagues in cohort 30 were in human resources (HR) or organizational development (OD).  As I had just resigned my tenure as an engineering professor at the University of Illinois, learning amidst these people was disorienting on at least two fronts.  First, engineering is more technology and thing oriented and HR/OD is more people and organization oriented, and routine discussion of social, emotional, and personal matters in a classroom setting seemed a bit weird.  Second, my colleagues all belonged to organizations that believed in the importance of investment, staff, and concerted effort to improve their organizations & I had belonged to an organization that invested almost nothing in its improvement as an organization.  I had expected the first of these going in, but the starkness of the significant investment that many if not most organizations make in themselves as organizations was bracing when compared to the almost non-existent expenditure of universities in this area.

And as I have continued to reflect on this contrast, I remain more than a bit puzzled.  Organizations in the private sector understandably grasp the importance of organizational excellence and think of it as an investment that delivers a reasonable return, and expenditures are calibrated accordingly on such things as leadership development, teamwork training and facilitation, executive coaching, and so forth.  Many of my Georgetown colleagues were attached to or consultants to organizations in the Federal government, and even there, substantial sums were expended to improve organizational effectiveness in the alphabet soup of Washington, DC.  Why was it that my university–for that matter, almost all universities–spend so little on developing their organizations qua organizations? 

4 Reasons Universities Don’t Invest in OD

As I thought about this point, I was puzzled, but in thinking about it, there are a number of reasons why universities have not invested in organizational development to this point:

University life has been stable for a long time. Universities go back to the University of Bologna founded in 1088.  Although universities have changed over the years, they have been quite stable, and traditional governance and structure have appeared to serve the institutions for a quite a long time.

The university has been viewed as an assembly of experts. Over that period of time, the university has been viewed largely as a loose assembly of  quasi-independent experts.  Yes, departmental specialization was a relatively recent invention of the 19th century, and specialization intensified around the time of World War 2, but professors have been hired for their academic excellence and expertise for nearly 10 centuries.  The primary tool of “development” of the university is sabbatical, and each of the experts is supposed to renew him or herself professional several times over the course of their academic career, but no team or institutional development takes place among faculty, by and large.

Faculty members would resist OD methods if they were introduced.  Elsewhere (here), I have written about how universities may actually retard faculty development, and if this is so, fairly early stage faculty would tend to resist OD methods if they were introduced.  In engineering, for example, hard-core “rigorous” engineering professors would reject methods coming from less technical fields as being too soft or “not rigorous” regardless how much they were needed or useful.  It is reasonable to imagine that other disciplinary experts would reject out-of-discipline expertise out of hand (except for HR/OD faculty members perhaps).  

Universities are not led and managed, they are administered and governed.  And the language that we use surrounding the university is interesting. Professors and the university require governance and administration, not management and leadership.  In coaching, we distinguish between administration, management, and leadership as a distinction between past, present, and future.  Those selected to take a place in the university hierarchy are called “administrators” and their job is to bring forth a somewhat smoother version of the past going forward. Faculty members expect to be involved in “governing” the university through committee work and quasi-democratic process.  To accept OD methods in the university is tacit admission that the university needs leadership and management and to risk diminishing faculty voice in governance. 

This helps us understand why organizational development is not being used in universities, and interestingly, the list also helps us understand why OD is needed, badly and now.

The Times They Are a Changin’

bob_dylan_by_daniel_kramer1Although universities have not used organizational development methods because of their stability, their nature as an assembly of experts, resistance from faculty members in early stages of adult development, and because of their leadership structure and culture, universities now face exogenous forces that flips the logic of previous times.  This blog has written about each of the matters, and so we simply summarize the counterpoint to each of the 4 points of the previous section:

  1. MOOCs & the democratization of research are destabilizing a 10-century consensus of the nature of the university.
  2. The notion of expertise is under attack in the classroom and the laboratory. Returns to expertise are diminishing rapidly.
  3. Faculty members need exactly the kinds of deep development and coaching that OD methods can bring to the organization and to individuals within it.
  4. If the notion of a residential university is to survive, it needs more leadership and management, less administration, and reforms to permit innovation and maintain faculty governance, both.

As such, I predict that organizational development methods and coaching will increase in usage as these forces are faced.  Bringing OD to the university without provoking a faculty reaction requires sensitivity to the culture of the university, an understanding of the importance of faculty governance, and a respect for the traditions of the faculty and the university.  ThreeJoy Associates brings those things to its work.  Write me at deg@threejoy.com to understand ways in which these methods may be helpful in promoting innovation and effective change in your organization.  

5 Times in a Career When Academics Should Hire a Coach

The use of executive or leadership coaches has become an accepted and widespread practice in private corporations, non-profits, and government, and the reasons are becoming clearer (here). When individuals are coached, they become more effective at work and at home with notable improvements in both their task & relationship orientation; organizations become more productive with coaching returning $5-$7 for every $1 spent.  

By counter distinction, the use of coaches in academic life–for that matter, the use of any kind of systematic organizational development (OD)–is virtually unknown inside the university.  With the many pressures for change that universities are now facing, both economically and technologically, there are good reasons to believe that this is about to change.  While universities and colleges come to grips with changes enveloping them, individual staff, professors, and administrators may want to consider the why and when of hiring a personal coach to help advance their careers and their lives.

Coaching, It’s Not What You Think

Those unfamiliar with coaching sometimes think that coaching is a form of consulting, mentoring, or advice giving, but at it’s best, coaching is a form of one-on-one inquiry and reflection in which the client is aided by the coaches listening and asking questions in ways that help the client find and overcome obstacles and then identify and realize possibilities.  

The coach works to support only the client’s agenda, starting wherever he or she is; the coach comes to the engagement without judgment or any ideal sense of what the client should or should not be doing. In this way, the client can safely explore his or her own authentic path, style, and career in a safe, supportive environment.  

Compared to other kinds of OD interventions such as training and group facilitation, coaching is especially well suited to the highly competitive and  individualistic nature of the academy.  The confidentiality of the coaching relationship creates a safe haven for sharing hopes and concerns, successes and breakdowns, and possibilities and aspirations.

5 Times Coaching May Be Helpful in an Academic Career

There are at least five times in an academic career, when hiring a coach might be beneficial to an academic:

You’re thinking about becoming an academic.  Getting a PhD or other terminal graduate degree is a major commitment, and academic life is not for everyone. Consulting a career coach at the onset of the academic journey can both avoid a potentially costly and emotionally devastating decision and set sail with clear, aligned, and realistic expectations, intentions, and aspirations.

You’ve taken your first academic job.  Congratulations, you’re a newly minted assistant prof and you’re eager to get started on your teaching and research, but the road to tenure is filled with many difficulty decisions. Moreover, your dean, department head, and colleagues will offer you much well intentioned advice, but how do you maximize your chances of succeeding and still stay true to your original aspirations and intentions?  Consulting a coach at this stage in your career gives you a safe means of exploring your challenges and opportunities with someone who has only your interest at heart. 

You’ve been promoted or received tenure (or denied promotion or tenure).  The career ladder as a professor only has three rungs, and each promotion can be a major life transition.  The transition from assistant to associate prof is usually accompanied by tenure, and the moment of getting to tenure can be disorienting.  Should you continue on the same trajectory?  Is it time to think about an adminstrative role?  What’s next?  These are some of the questions that beg answers upon receiving tenure, and a coach can be helpful to asking those pertinent to your circumstances and to finding your own answers.  Denial of tenure is a difficult transition, and universities and colleagues provide little or no support.  A coach can help you put the event in proper perspective and find a path aligned with where you now are.  Denial of promotion to full professor is another difficult case, and a coach can be especially helpful in finding perspective and next steps.

You’ve taken a new administrative post. Transitioning into administration can be quite a shock to the system, and even transitioning up the ranks from head or chair, to dean, to provost, and president can be challenging as each new post is quite different from the one vacated.  Administrative postings and promotions are opportune times to hire a coach to help with the challenges of the new position and to prepare for subsequent advancement by building skill and developing in ways that align with the new post and the next.

You’re preparing to leave the university.  Perhaps you’ve decided that it’s time to move on, start a company, become a consultant, take a position in the private sector, or retire.  These transitions are to get the good questions and listening of a coach to help draw out the best in what comes next.

These five times are good ones to think about finding and using the services of a coach.  The next section puts forward a number of open-ended questions to help in your quest for your coach.

Finding Your Coach

So perhaps you’re at an academic transition when a coach might be useful to you.  How do you find one aligned with your needs?  Here are some questions to consider in hiring a coach:

  1. What training and qualifications does the person bring to their coaching?
  2. To what extent does the person have academic experience and understand academic culture?
  3. To what extent is the potential coach curious about you, your obstacles, your opportunities & to what extent do they seem to have a method or an answer?
  4. To what extend do you feel comfortable with the potential coach, and to what extent is it easy or hard to share private information with him or her?
  5. To what extent does the coach ask questions that engage your reflection and are both hard and interesting to answer?
  6. To what extent does the coach seem to listen to you and “get you” through that listening?
  7. Given that universities do not yet pay for coaching, to what extent does the coach accommodate those who are paying out of their own pockets?

A good source of information about coaching and coaches is International Coach Federation, and these days there is much other information online.  If you’d like to learn more about coaching with ThreeJoy, write to Dave Goldberg at deg@threejoy.com

Expertise & the Beauty of Not Knowing

Since World War 2, we have lived in a world of experts and expertise, and for an expert, not knowing gets a bad rap. Actually, its worse than that.  For an expert, the very idea of not knowing challenges one’s self-image, one’s entire story of oneself.  After all experts are people who have learned and now know a lot about some particular subject, and experts are judged as good or bad depending on the extent of that knowledge and their ability to apply it.  

There are three parts to this. The first, is the idea of knowing everything (or quite a lot) about something.   The second, is how one comes to know, and the third, is the idea of judging and being judged.  Let’s examine each and also consider two practices that can serve us come to grips with these matters.

Expertise Mission Creep

Built into the idea of being an expert is the idea that one knows a lot about one’s domain of expertise.  This seems natural enough, and much of professional training is devoted to mastering what are generally considered to be the core competencies of the field, the so-called basics.  Of course, any discipline worth its salt requires development beyond entry level skill, and herein lies the rub.  

The notion of being an expert wouldn’t be so troubling if we could contain or bound the notion of sufficient knowing.  That is, if we could limit our appetites for knowing a reasonable amount at a reasonable stage in our development then we would be OK with what we know and our rate of increase in knowledge, both. But human beings being human beings, our conception of our own expertise often suffers from a kind of mission creep; we hold ourselves accountable for more and more until, for some, the idea not knowing anything becomes, itself, unacceptable.  

This unacceptability of what we don’t know can creep either within discipline (we don’t know enough in our domain of expertise) or to include areas of knowledge outside the boundaries of our expertise (what we now need to know goes beyond our declared expertise and we don’t know enough of that stuff, either).


Four Stages of Learning or Competence

Four stages of competence or skill learning were described by Gordon Training International in the 70s by Noel Burch (here) and these are listed below

  1. unconscious incompetence
  2. conscious incompetence
  3. conscious competence
  4. unconscious competence.  

These are often plotted on a 2×2 graphic like the one shown (original link here).

When one is unconsciously incompetent, one doesn’t know–one isn’t even aware–that one doesn’t have the particular skill.  When one becomes consciously incompetent, one notices that the skill is lacking and useful.  As skill is built, one is conscious of the growing capability, and at some point, the skill is mastered to the point that one doesn’t notice the skill any longer.

2 Modes to Blocking Stage 2: Denial & Self-Judging

The key step in this process is stage 2, conscious incompetence.  Becoming and acknowledging the possibilities in new knowledge or practice are the starting gate of learning.  Anything that blocks awareness of the dividing line between knowing and not knowing can be an obstacle to learning, and herein lies one difficulty with expertise mission creep.  

As our expectations of what we should know grow, one way our mind deals with mission creep is to simply deny that we don’t know.  People ask us questions, we make up answers–theories based on what we already do know–and life goes on.  In this way we remain in stage 1, unconsciously competent, relatively blissful about our ignorance, but also not at the starting gate of learning.

A second way we deal with the enlargement of our expectations is to judge ourselves, sometimes harshly, about the things we don’t know (c.f., the choice map, here).  Unfortunately, when we are judging, we are not open–we are not learning–and although we are in the stage of conscious incompetence, being in harsh judgment of our incompetence again holds us away from the starting gate of new knowledge.  

2 Practices for Peace & Learning

So what’s an expert to do?  The very notion of “expert” seems to demand an insatiable appetite for knowing more and more, and yet this logic seems to leave us  (a) unpeaceful or (b) unready to learn.  Fortunately, there are two simple practices that can help:

  1. Practice “I don’t know.” The first practice is simple, yet elegant, and it was suggested to me by Coach Bev Jones (here).  When you are asked a question to which you don’t know the answer, simply say, “I don’t know.”   That’s it.  By doing this, you immediately become aware that you are in stage 2, and you sidestep the difficulty of denial with the very speech act of saying, “I don’t know.”  If said with a peaceful sense of detachment and calm, “I don’t know” makes it OK that you don’t know and leaves you in a place where expertise mission creep does not take place unless you consciously choose to increase the boundaries. Tip for improving: To help enforce the practice at first, give yourself a daily quota of 3 or 5 or 10 times of saying “I don’t know” during the day.  At first, this may be hard to do, but as you practice, it will be easier and easier to come to grips with not knowing.  
  2. Practice “I am curious.”  Of course, saying “I don’t know” and leaving it at that is not appropriate in all circumstances.  There are times when we don’t know something and we choose to learn it.  The key word is “choose.”  When faced with something we consciously don’t know, we can choose to learn it or not, and the trick when we would like to know something is to keep ourselves out of self-judgment and to get ourselves to take action to learn the thing we don’t know.  A practice that can help in these circumstances is to say, “I am curious.”  That’s it. Saying “I am curious” is powerful because it creates the intention of learning the thing, yet it does so without invoking the judgment, “I should have known” or “I am stupid for not having known.”   Tip for improving: To help enforce the habit of saying “I am curious,” self-observe the frequency with which you say the phrase day by day for two weeks.  A large number is not “good” and a small number is not “bad.”  The idea is not to give yourself a grade or to judge yourself; it is simply to help you become more aware of how often you are consciously curious.

Practicing these two practices together can be a powerful way to tame expertise mission creep and keep on learning.

The Beauty of Not Knowing

We live in an age that values expertise, yet expertise often brings with it certain side effects around not knowing and learning.  This post has discussed certain aspects of the logic of the story of expertise and considered two practices that can help short circuit some of the deleterious consequences of that logic.  The practices are straightforward and they can help bring more peace and learning to life.  They also can be a gateway to increased vulnerability and wholeheartedness (here) in ways that can also be beneficial. The practices are easy to try, and not difficult to sustain. Why not give them a whirl and see what they can do for you?

This blog post has been featured on the Huffington Post here.

The Joy of Vulnerability: Public, Personal & Otherwise

After finishing up a post over at Big Beacon on Educating Wholehearted Engineers & Educators (here), I was reflecting about the notion of vulnerability and the ways in which we are vulnerable both publicly and privately.  To summarize, the blogpost was a riff on Brene Brown’s Power of Vulnerability video (here) and the ways in which our willingness to be vulnerable–to be open & honest in the face of uncertain response–is a key to educational reform.   Here, I’d like to make a distinction between public vulnerability and private or personal vulnerability.

Public Vulnerability

One thing I’ve noticed in my work with faculty and students as well as in my coaching practice is the ways in which public steps of vulnerability appear to be relatively easy to take.  A key to such ease is given by Don Migel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements.  The second agreement is key in situations like this and it states, “Don’t Take Anything Personally.”  This agreement is useful in a number of ways, but the sense that it is helpful in being publicly vulnerable is captured by Ruiz in the following passage:

If you keep this agreement, you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you. You can say, “I love you,” without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need. You can say yes, or you can say no — whatever you choose — without guilt or self-judgment. You can choose to follow your heart always. Then you can be in the middle of hell and still experience inner peace and happiness. You can stay in your state of bliss, and hell will not affect you at all.

Ruiz, Don Miguel (2010-01-18). The Four Agreements (Toltec Wisdom Book) (Kindle Locations 622-625). Amber-Allen Publishing. Kindle Edition.

In this way, we can stand up, make public declarations straight from the heart, and be relatively free from fears of anonymous others and what they might think.

Personal Vulnerability

In personal relationships, a shift in language and growing willingness to be vulnerable with others also has an effect.  In the forming of new relationships, it seems as though vulnerability attracts those willing to be vulnerable.  Clients report that when they are willing to be more open that they attract those who are themselves willing to be vulnerable and this is, to them, a blessing undisguised.

Of course, existing relationships can pose additional complications, however, because a shift in language and vulnerability  can be discomfiting to old friends and loved ones.  Your willingness to “open up” is no guarantee that those close to you will be able to do so.  Moreover, this vulnerability gap can be quite irritating.  Your gremlin says “Don’t these people know how hard it is for me to be open like this?  Why can’t they just dig it; why can’t they reciprocate and dare to be vulnerable themselves.”   Our tendency to reciprocate is a fairly deep biologically based response (here), but this is not the whole or even most of this story. 

Attachment and the Personal

Our difficulty with newfound personal vulnerability with existing friends and loved ones stems, I think, from our personal connection with the person, and “not taking anything personally” with someone with whom we have a connection is harder than with someone we don’t know very well.  Both are difficult, but our attachment to the friend is the greater.  Clearly the choices we face with the friend are the same as those we face with an anonymous public.  We can be authentic and vulnerable–risking the vulnerability gab with the person–or we can vulnerability match with the person–be vulnerable unto them as they are able to be unto us.  

Personal Integrity & the Relationship 

The integrally aligned solution would suggest two thing: (1) being vulnerable yourself to the extent necessary to be authentic in context with the friend and (2) concern for the relationship as you make your way on your vulnerability journey.  Let’s look at each one of these.

As one moves from fear of openness to wholeheartedness and vulnerability, authenticity requires alignment between interior and exterior to the extent necessary in the context of the relationship.  This is not carte blanche to dump all the crazy new thoughts you are thinking or what we might call gratuitous vulnerability.  It suggests an intelligent approach to sharing and being vulnerable to those close to you in a manner they can accept and adjust to. This suggests concern for the other person and the relationship and not assuming the person understands the changes you are going through without communication. It also requires you to communicate your new, increased willingness to be vulnerable in ways the person can understand.  

Over time, this new way of being in the world becomes your new normal, and living wholeheartedly with greater joy and less fear the payoff for the risk you took by opening up.  In this sense, a willingness to be vulnerable is an investment in the universe, which returns to you and the others around you in surprising and sometimes beautiful ways. 

This blog post has been featured on the Huffington Post here.

Acting “As If” and Speaking “As If” Helps Make It Happen

My Georgetown colleague Ann Oliveri (here) posted this lovely short video the other day.


The philosopher and early psychologist William James said that if we act as if something were already true that doing so immediately has an effect in reality.  The video says this quite nicely with a number of different examples.

I believe an important corollary to the examples given in the video is in the special case of speech acts.  Speaking about things as though they have come to pass also has this kind of magic.  In iFoundry we talked to students about the 3 joys, the joy of engineering, the joy of community, and the joy of learning, and the cohort was more joyful, more interested in engineering, a tighter knit community of engaged learners than they otherwise would have been.  

When clients change their story (and believe the new story), the feel better, act better, and get better results almost immediately.

This sounds too good to be true, but it is a part of a number of ancient traditions. The Buddhist practice of samma vaca or right speech points in this direction as well as the Toltec practice of impeccability with your word.    To engineering ears, it sounds like a violation of some unstated law of nature, conservation of hardship, or some such thing, but I bear witness as a hard-nosed engineer who has seen it in action to often to doubt it any longer.

Try it.  You’ll like it.  Act as if and speak as if, and immediately start reaping the benefits of the way you would like things to be.

Don’t Cry for Me Argentinian Engineering Education

María Teresa Morresi from AGIBTA Magazine (here) sent me a list of interview questions regarding engineering education.  I shot back a quick reply, and I thought the spontaneity of my answers gave them a force that was worth sharing.  Here is a somewhat edited version of her questions and what I wrote:

AGIBTA: I became aware of your work in engineering education through the 2nd Engineer of the Future meeting (EotF2.0) at Olin College in 2009 (here). Tell me a little more about your involvement in engineering ed transformation before and since that time. 

Dave G: Prior to my work on EotF2.o I was involved in starting and running the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education (here) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The success of the work on iFoundry and with my colleagues at Olin College on Engineer of the Future and other activities led me to resign my tenure from the University of Illinois to (1) take training as a leadership coach, (2) start ThreeJoy Associates, Inc. as a coaching, training, and consulting/facilitating firm to transform engineering education and (3) to start the Big Beacon, a global movement to transform engineering education as a non-profit corporation.  For more information on these and other things, see the website, manifesto, and blog (www.bigbeacon.org), the ThreeJoy blog (www.threejoy.com), and an informative series of Huffington Post articles  (here).

AGIBTA: Which are the innovations to improve engineering education and transform classrooms? 

Dave G: Most change programs concentrate on curriculum and content.  This is largely misplaced emphasis, in my view. The key innovations are emotional and cultural.  We have a culture of distrust.  We need a culture of trust.  We have a culture of individual effort.  We need a culture of connection and openness.  We need a culture of courage.  We have a culture of fear
AGIBTA: Could you please let as know a bit more about the relationship between self-efficacy and project-based learning among engineering students?
Dave G: The question assumes that project-based learning is a solution to achieve self-efficacy, but I remember going to a school in Brazil once and being shown a project-based course as an exemplar of “new pedagogy.”  I went to class and the students were presenting a project, and the prof was correcting each and every sentence that came out of the students’ mouths.  
We need self-efficacy, and to achieve it we need what I call unleashing experiences.  Unleashing experiences begin where a faculty member (or the student themselves) trusts the student.  The student believes they are trusted.  Finally, the student has the courage to take a risk and do something that leads to their mastery of something new.  Diagrammatically this is shown below:
This unleashing is the key.  I think we need to stop speaking in code words like “project-based learning” or “active learning” and starting getting at root emotional and cultural variables that really unleash our kids.

AGIBTA: Which are the best e-learning strategies?

Dave G: E-learning properly conceived, supports emotionally and cutlurally engaged education.  Unfortunately, the current excitement about MOOCs puts the cart before the horse.  Once we get our heads straight about what’s important in the class and why, we can adopt effective E-learning techniques.  Until then, we are mistaking tools for solutions.
AGIBTA: Students are a powerful force in transforming engineering educationHow to include them in new educational strategies implementation?
Dave G: I love this question.  Students are the only powerful force in transforming engineering education.  Unfortunately, they are rarely consulted in change efforts and usually only subjected to whatever the administration and faculty think is necessary after the design is in place.  Then we wonder how to get student “buy-in” which suggests our wonder about why they don’t think much of the new design.
How do we include them?  We start by noticing them.  We continue by listening to them deeply with empathy.  We continue by asking them open ended questions and listening some more.  We also trust them to be full members of the redesign effort.  
If we could do one thing that would transform our schools, it would be to create a culture of listening. 
AGIBTA: How you prepare students to become innovative?
Dave G: You challenge them, trust them, let them fail. coach them to success, and repeat.
AGIBTA: Which are the current challenges for Engineering Universities?
Dave G:  The problem is that universities are victims of their success. Universities are ancient institutions. The University of Bologna was founded in 1088.  Since then, there has been a 10-century consensus about the role of professors as experts. Unfortunately, since World War 2, the quality revolution, entrepreneurial revolution, and the information technology revolution, what I have called the missed revolutions–missed in the sense that universities teach but don’t practice their lessons–have changed the world we live in.
As a result, returns to expertise are diminished.  In turn, this diminuition of expertise challenges the role of the professor in both the lab and the classroom. Unfortunately, professors are one trick ponies. They only know how to be experts. The brave new world of the 21st century and our creative era demands a combination of expertise with an ability to trust and develop others. In other words, the world today requires an academy full of Experts/Coaches, not just pure experts. 
This is a terrific challenge, one that can be overcome, but most of the noises coming from our research universities suggest business as usual, a doubling down on WW2-based strategies of research and expertise, and a lack of recognition how a 9 or 10 century consensus toward the role of the university and the role of the professor is being undermined before our very eyes.  
Given the very slow decision making apparatus of a university, it is not clear whether these ancient and venerable institutions have what it takes to transform themselves. The current fumbling is sad to watch. It is also exciting to be a part of a growing number of efforts to try to change it, and I think there are effective tactics and strategies to follow in those institutions that are aware of the challenges they face.
AGIBTA: What conclusions can be drawn from the Summits on the Engineer of the Future?
Dave G: The first engineer of the future event was held in 2007 at the University of Illinois. The one in 2009 was the 2nd. There was a 3rd and we are hoping for a fourth. These events set into motion a number of activities at Olin, at Illinois, and elsewhere to practically address many of the questions and answers presented here. There is still much to learn, but it is clear that by (1)  focusing on change management itself, (2) by viewing change as a cultural and emotional process, and (3) by working to inject a new kind of actor, an actor with both expertise and an ability to listen and coach, that real change can be made.  How quickly this can work and whether it can work quickly and broadly enough remain open questions.
AGIBTA: Thank you for your thoughtful responses.
Dave G: Thank you for your thoughtful questions, and I wish all my colleagues in Argentina and elsewhere in South America the space and openness to reflect on these challenges and the wisdom and courage to move ahead with effective, in-context solutions.

Are You Ready to Flip?

I gave a talk at NUS on Thursday entitled Are You Ready to Flip? Responding to Deep Faculty Challenges in an Era of MOOCs & Pervasive Online Expertise. Here’s the abstract:

The blogosphere is abuzz with MOOCs, massive, open, online courses, in which lectures are conveyed to thousands or tens of thousands of students around the globe, and the possibility of the flipped classroom, where such widely available online content is assigned outside the classroom, and classroom time is used for active learning and reflective activity.   These most recent changes come at a time when the role of the professor as research authority is challenged 24/7 by ubiquitous online resources and expertise available to graduate students at the push of an internet button

Though much has been written about the technological side of these changes, the human challenges these developments pose for successful professors and lecturers are less frequently addressed.  This talk begins by considering how all these challenges stem from a reduction in information asymmetry and how this reduction challenges the very notion of the faculty member’s privileged position as expert.  

The talk then turns to work in deep faculty development (DFD) pioneered at NUS over the last 2 and a half years.  Since its inception, this approach has spread to the US through work at iFoundry & Olin College (i2e2.olin.edu) to South America at UFMG and with the aid of Harvard-affiliated LASPAU (www.laspau.havard.edu) and to Europe through work at TUDelft and Politecnico Milano.  Using an amalgam of results from leadership studies, executive coaching, neuroscience, and mindfulness research, the approach helps faculty members develop deep noticing, listening, questioning (NLQ), and narrative design skills necessary in these fluid and creative times.  

The talk highlights the concrete benefits of this approach to faculty career development, success, and happiness and concludes with an invitation to attend a short series of deep faculty development workshops open to NUS faculty this semester (semester 2).

I have written and spoken about the need for engineering education change, but this is the first time I directed similar arguments at an individual faculty member’s expertise in teaching and research.  

The powerpoint slides from the talk are available in the viewer below:

[slideshare id=16414270&doc=ready-to-flip-2-7-2013-v2-130207225809-phpapp02]

Those interested in workshops like those described should consider the I2E2 workshop, Change that Sticks, this summer (here) or write to me at deg@threejoy.com


4 Steps to Improving Your Leadership Presence

I was working with a client on confidence in public speaking and other stressful public situations, and the conversation turned to leaders with great presence.  Presence is an interesting quality in that it is difficult to articulate in words, yet we know it when we see it.

Oftentimes coaching deals in words, but some of the most beneficial coaching is somatic coaching or coaching for physical presence in body, and one of the most beneficial resources for leadership presence is Halpern and Lubar’s book Leadership Presence based on work at the Ariel Group that uses experience from acting and theatre training to help leaders show up authentically and well.

The basic model of the book goes by the acronym PRES or

  • P – Being Present
  • R – Reaching Out
  • E – Expressiveness
  • S – Self-knowing
The text is filled with a variety of exercises and experiences that get readers to feel presence in action. If you are interested in your leadership presence or in working with others, you can do worse than to dip into this useful book.

It’s 2013. Everyone Needs a Coach!

Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google explains why everyone needs a coach (via the ICF Singapore FB page here).


If Eric Schmidt of Google needs one, so do you.  ThreeJoy Associates can recommend a number of ICF-trained coaches with experience matching your needs.  Write to Dave Goldberg at deg@threejoy.com to line up a complementary session to help make 2013 as successful as you want it to be.

For Men Only: Stories from Our Fathers

I was watching the 1972 movie Young Winston with Robert Shaw, Anne Bancroft, and Simon Ward, and a number of the most powerful scenes were those when young Winston faced the criticism (and approval) of his father Lord Randolph Churchill, played by Robert Shaw.  Watching these scenes reminded me that when working with male clients, one key to progress is sometimes to listen to stories about the client’s relationship to his father.   Chapter 3, Live As If Your Father were Dead, in David Deida’s book The Way of the Superior Man succinctly captures why this is so:

A man must love his father and yet be free of his father’s expectations and criticisms in order to be a free man.

Imagine that your father has died, or remember when he did die. Are there any feelings of relief associated with his death? Now that he is dead, is any part of you happy that you need not live up to his expectations or suffer his criticisms?

How would you have lived your life differently if you had never tried to please your father? If you never tried to show your father that you were worthy? If you never felt burdened by your father’s critical eye?

For the next three days, do at least one activity a day that you have avoided or suppressed because of the influence of your father. In this way, practice being free of his subtle expectations, which may now reside within your own self-judgment. Practice being free in this way, once each day for three days, even if you still feel fearful, limited, unworthy, or burdened by your father’s expectations.

Rewriting and reframing stories is an important way to a more peaceful and productive life, and for men, some of the key stories that need revisiting, reframing, and/or rewriting are the stories from our fathers.