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FREE WEBINAR March 29th: 4 Reasons Why “Everybody Needs a Coach”

Big Beacon presents a FREE WEBINAR

Business leaders, Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates say that “everybody needs a coach”, and the C-suite, (CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, etc.) increasingly hire leadership coaches to help them navigate difficult business problems. This practice is now spreading to other leaders, educational leaders, faculty members, and even students. This short, interactive webinar gives 4 ways coaching can help you in your work.

You will come away learning:

1. Coaching is not what you think: It is not advice giving by a smarty pants know-it-all.

2. Coaching is remarkably cost-effective and webinar attendees can attend free monthly group coaching sessions.

3. Coaching is a form of humble inquiry in which the coach asks powerful questions and the client reflects deeply on possibilities, values, goals, and desirable results.

4. Learn the four ways coaching can help you in your work.Learn the 4 common mistakes of educational change efforts and how to overcome them.

Big Beacon is a 501c3, non-profit organization dedicated to the transformation of education. This webinar is free with no cost or obligation. but with plenty of opportunities for successful educational change.

Sign Up Now

Big Beacon Radio Ep. 8: Leadership Coaching in Higher Ed

BB Radio HeaderEp. 8 – The Leadership Coaching Revolution in Higher Education

The use of leadership coaches has exploded in corporations and other organizations. Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates say “everyone needs a coach,” and increasingly in the C-suite, almost everyone has one. And the reasons for this growth are becoming clearer. When individuals are coached, they become more effective with improvements in task & relationship orientation; and coaching is a good investment returning $5-$7 for every $1 spent. In this episode, Big Beacon Radio host (and coach) Dave Goldberg explores the growing usage of coaches in education with three other coaches. Dave is joined by Bev Jones, Kelly Lewis, and Daryl Nardick for a lively discussion to explore what coaching is (and isn’t), when it can be helpful for faculty and higher ed leaders, and the ways in which the ideas and practices of coaching can help transform higher education. Join Bev, Kelly, Daryl, and Dave for this important conversation on the future of coaching in the transformation of higher education.

Listen on VoiceAmerica or download on iTunes podcasts.

Learn more about Big Beacon Radio, here.

Big Beacon Radio Ep. 7: Learning How We Learn

BB Radio HeaderEp. 7 -An Interview with MOOC Pioneer Barb Oakley

Since the early days of the university in the 11th century, professors have lectured increasingly large numbers of passive and often bored students. With the advent of educational technology (EdTech) and massive open online courses (MOOCs), the possibility for scaling both the benefits and difficulties of higher education has been received by traditional higher educators as something of a mixed blessing. In this episode, Big Beacon Radio host Dave Goldberg interviews Barbara Oakley, bestselling author, researcher, professor, adventurer, and teacher of one of the most popular MOOCs on the planet, “Learning How to Learn.” In addition to drawing over a million students to her course (co-taught with Terry Sejnowski of the Salk Institute), Barb is author of the provocative and riveting book on how we learn, A Mind for Numbers. Join Barb and Dave for this important conversation on the future of MOOCs, the future of learning, and the transformation of higher education.

Listen on VoiceAmerica or download on iTunes podcasts.

Learn more about Big Beacon Radio, here.

5 Steps for Transforming Education

Universities, created as an assembly of experts in 1088, are as outdated as buggy whips.  The cost and rewards of a college education are increasingly under attack. To sustain great universities requires cultural transformation consisting of 5 Steps:

Big Boys Don’t Cry

The 21st century transformation of education is profoundly emotional, but why is “emotion” such an uncomfortable subject?:

The idea that we might acknowledge emotion directly in education runs up agains a taboo for men (in many cultures).  From an early age, men are urged to suppress their unhappiness, sadness, or other negative emotion that leads to the emotional display of crying.  Sometimes this is done with understanding and concern, but oftentimes boys are shamed if they do cry, and the shame continues until they stop.

Read more, here.

Jazz & 21st Century Learning

David Goldberg shares how learning jazz guitar has shown him new ways to best empower students to learn:

Whereas many music sites and teachers treat their students as largely unmotivated and incompetent, Jimmy trusts that students who come to his site are motivated and competent to take on substantial challenges on their own.

Find out more, here.

Self Judgment & Its Discontents

“What a jerk!”
“I’m an idiot”
“WTF?”
“Yes, but…”
“That’s not the correct way!”
“It ought to be like this.”
“How could I be so stupid?”

We tell these things to ourselves and others on an all too regular basis, to the point where it affects our productivity at work and in everyday life. How can we make our self-talk healthier? David Goldberg leads us to question the source of our discontent:

What is the judgment about? Whom is the judgment about? To what extent is judgment of others mixed with judgment of self. What is the balance between positive and negative judgment? To what extent does the judgment serve the client? To what extent does the judgment lead to useful action? To unproductive action? A key in bringing it to light is to not judge the judging, but to be curious about it, wonder about its purpose, consider its sources, and the degree to which it serves the client. 

Read here for more ways to handle critical self-talk.

 

Lost in translation: 3 lessons from the term “assessment”

I am writing this from Atlanta Hartsfield Airport (ATL), returning from a delightful session with approximately 40 faculty members at Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (UTFSM) in Valparaiso, Chile on “From I Know to We Trust & Beyond: Deep Faculty Development in an Uncertain & Creative Era.”  The program was sponsored by LASPAU at Harvard, and this was the second time I had worked in this program at UTFSM. One of the nice things about working in another country is it helps you notice the assumptions built into your own culture and language.  The session was translated simultaneously from English to Spanish (and vice versa), and an issue came up around the Spanish term for assessment

Assessment was being translated as evaluación (or evaluation), and the distinction that I was trying to make was the usual coaching and speech acts distinction between an assertion, a speech act committed to expression of truth, and an a assessment, a speech act expressing an opinion, interpretation.  There was a trained coach among the faculty attending the course and he wondered whether a better translation wouldn’t have juicio (judgment).  This led to a fairly lengthy clarification of the intended usage of the terms, which was helpful to the group in pursuing our work together.

In reflecting on the episode, I think there are three lessons to be learned, and here I move from particular to general.

Lesson 1: Separating assertions and assessments is critical to improving communication.  The main intent of the session was to help the group understand how assessment-laden our speech and stories are and that understanding that others may have other interpretations of what’s going on is an early awareness that can help improve communication, fairly immediately.  The session reinforced this lesson, and the additional emphasis brought about by being slightly “lost in translation” for a time was helpful to increasing understanding, I believe.

Lesson 2: Distinguishing between assessments and judgments is also a communication-improving move.  Discussing the translation of “assessment” as juicio was also useful part of the episode.  All judgments are assessments, but not all assessments are judgments.  Judgments contain a sense of correctness (right/wrong) and prescription that ordinary assessments need not have.  As Marilee Adams points out in her choice map, once we are in judgment it is difficult to be open enough to learn or gain additional perspective.  This doesn’t make judgment a bad thing; it simply suggests judging is a choice, and if has become a reflex, it may not be serving us as well as a more judicious spectrum of assessment.

Lesson 3: We attach our normal sense of term to others’ usage at our peril.  As this episode unfolded, I was a bit puzzled at first.  I had been fairly careful to define my terms fairly carefully and give the sense of the terms assessment and assertion that I intended.  Nonetheless, language is loaded, and we all use and interpret terms according to our own sense of them.  Within a particular discipline this can be a useful shortcut to mutual understanding, but if we are learning something new outside of the boundaries of our usual experience and knowledge, assuming that our private sense of a term can be a prescription for misunderstanding.  In a coaching setting, a coach will almost always ask a client what they mean by the particular usage of a term, rather than assuming the coach understands the sense of a term.  In a multidisciplinary setting or in a learning setting, being curious about how language is being used is an important step toward accelerating understanding and achieving shared meaning with others.

As the methodology of coaching migrates from corporate practice to the university and the classroom, these three lessons will become increasingly salient and important as ways for students and faculty to understand each other.

Top 5 regrets of the dying

I was doing my morning tweet practice of inspirational quotes, and I came across a quote, which I posted:

“The same view you look at every day, the same life, can become something brand new by focusing on its gifts rather than the negative aspects. Perspective is your own choice and the best way to shift that perspective is through gratitude, by acknowledging and appreciating the positives.” 
― Bronnie Ware @goodreads

I noticed that the quote was from a book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departed (book here), and I quickly found a summary HuffPo piece here.  The insights come from Bronnie Ware’s work with the terminally ill.  The five regrets are expressed as wishes, and I reproduce them in capsule form below:

  1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
  2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”
  3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
  4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
  5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

Many of these regrets or wishes are part and parcel of coaching work.  Authenticity, work-life balance, emotional awareness & expression, connection, and the realization that happiness is a choice of guided by the quality of our awareness and framing of our thoughts and feelings about what happens are the text or sub-text of many, if not most, coaching conversations.  

Seeing the five in such stark relief has me wanting me to go grab my journal and reflect on the five wishes and my own life.  Which of the five regrets would be yours if you were suddenly to find yourself at death’s door?

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.