Archive for year: 2011

A list of leadership lists for 2011

Its the end of the year and time for lists. The following is a list of lists concerning leadership for 2011:

  • The best leaders of 2011: Washington Post (here), Harvard/USNews (here), Time (here)
  • The best leaders in educational technology of 2011: EdNet (here)
  • The best leadership books of 2011: Washington Post (here), (here)
  • The best blogs for future leaders of 2011: (here)
  • The best leadership development programs of 2011: (here)
  • The ten big development goals for 2012: (here)

For those interested in broader coverage of 2011 lists of lists the list here may be of value (or maybe not).

Give the gift of coaching

Stacia Garr at Bersin & Associates has a nice blog post about the value of coaching to organizational culture:

Consider giving the gift of coaching.  In our 2011 High-Impact Performance Management research on coaching (click here for free webcast replay), we found that organizations with a coaching culture have much stronger employee engagement, employee productivity and customer satisfaction (see Figure 1).  We also found a strong relationship between the effectiveness of organizations at teaching coaching and business outcomes.  In short, coaching organizations are more effective organizations.

Read the full post here.

What coaching is not

Coaching as hot & what it is not. Executive or leadership coaching is hot according to a recent article in Forbes magazine (here), but what coaching is and is not is a topic of debate and confusion among coaches and clients, both. Some of the confusion stems from the number of practitioners who use the term “coach” in their service offerings without any training or study in coaching methods. ThreeJoy practices coaching according to the body of knowledge and ethical guidelines of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), and a consequence of that orientation is that a coach is not a mini-consultant or personal advice giver. Rather, in the ICF framing, a coach comes in service to a resourceful, creative, and whole client by engaging in a process of reflective inquiry to help the client uncover and strengthen the leader within.

Coaching as questions & listening. Practically, what this means is that clients come to coaching looking to the coach for answers or solutions to particular problems they face and the best coaches will not know–or even think they know–what the client should do in response to this or that problem or situation. Instead of answers or solutions, clients get questions, usually open-ended questions–that help sort out the problematic situation–the presenting issue–clearly and at an appropriate level of detail.  Moreover, instead of advice, clients get listened to in a very deep way, in a way that can be powerfully enabling in and of itself.  Feeling felt by the coach’s listening, to use a term used by Dan Siegel (here) and Mark Goulston (here), can be deeply satisfying in a way that builds a client’s confidence to be able to examine and address problems him- or herself.

Coaching as building meta-skill. And at the end of the coaching day, as an engagement progresses, the client finds that what he or she is learning is not solutions to particular problems or situations at work. Yes, the presenting issue gets solved (or resolved), and the other situations that were once so daunting no longer seem much like problems, but the reason this occurs is not so much that the coaching is addressing a series of challenges or issues.  What happens in the coaching process is deeper and more profound–and much longer lasting and effective.  Successful coaching engagements help clients build a certain kind of meta-skill, a skill about about building skill, that the client can use in their work lives, in their lives generally.  This meta-skill is composed of the heightened ability to

  1. notice their own thoughts, feelings, and stories and the thoughts, feelings, and stories of others,
  2. reflect and make sense of those thoughts, feelings, and stories,
  3. move forward based on those reflections,
  4. and learn from the overall experience.  

Of course, these deep skills are not built overnight, but in a certain sense a good coach is working hard to put him- or herself out of business by enabling the client to manage more frequently, effectively, and reliably without the coach’s aid.  For more information about coaching, contact Dave Goldberg at

ThreeJoy at Politecnico Milano

In the following video, ThreeJoy Associates President, Dave Goldberg, presents The Creativity Imperative and the Technology Professional of the Future.


The abstract of the presentation is as follows:

The world (1) is apparently flat, (2) is being given over to a rising creative class, and (3) requires a whole new mind, but a common conclusion drawn from authors such as Friedman, Florida, and Pink is that technology professionals in advanced economies must excel at creating new categories of product and service, as returns to routine engineering/technology labor are declining because of the ease with which these tasks may be outsourced. This talk starts by examining the setting after World War 2 that set the stage for engineering and technology education in modern times. It continues by discussing the techno-economic forces that have shaped the intervening period, and it considers recent work by Price and others to understand the essential characteristics and habits of tech visionaries (TVs), those who permit major companies to create value through the effective bootstrapping of entirely new product lines. These and other factors lead to the conclusion that our times demand a greater emphasis on the education and support of creative engineers and technologists, but existing higher educational programs seem unable to reform themselves for a variety of historical and systemic reasons. The talk concludes by discussing some of these difficulties and a number of the organizational, conceptual, and motivational changes that can enable smooth change to the education of more creative engineers and technologists.

The presentation was recorded at Politecnico Milano earlier in the year 12 April 2011 (announcement here).

Bev Jones on art and innovation

Bev Jones has a nice E-zine post on Art and Innovation over at Clearways Consulting.  Here’s an excerpt:

According to art historian Merry Foresta, this isn’t surprising. Until the 20th Century, she says, studying art was one of the ways that leaders were educated and encouraged to develop critical thinking. And now we are rediscovering the view that Art inspires progress and offers paths to achieving more in a satisfying way.

“Creative Culture,” says Merry, is a term used to indicate a workplace or other environment “where creative ideas are encouraged, supported, protected and nurtured for further development, until their true value can be understood and appreciated. Creativity brings imagination, curiosity, experimentation and idea-sharing into all manner of daily activities. And Creative Culture can bring imagination, diversity, curiosity, experimenting and idea-sharing into our work.”

Read the full article here, follow Bev Jones at, or on Twitter @beverlyejones.

Lessons from David working with Goliath

A key factor in the success of the iFoundry initiative has been working with Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in the Olin-Illinois Partnership (OIP).  In the video below, ThreeJoy President and OIP co-founder Dave Goldberg talks about the ways this experience was especially beneficial.


More is available about the OIP here and Olin College here.

So you want to be an education change agent

Education is embedded in some of the most change resistant bureaucracies around, and trying to change the why, what, how, and way in which education is delivered can be a challenging undertaking.  ThreeJoy Associates was founded on the learning of iFoundry initiative ( or Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education, which fostered effective change at a large public research university.  The following set of rules captures key elements of that learning in succinct form:

To change an organization, prepare yourself for change. Transformation of an organization, with or without authority, requires the change agent to adopt a new role, think differently, and generally show up in a way that makes others comfortable with the idea of change.  Helpful resources: Watkins, The first 90 days and hire an executive coach.

Become a broad learning machine. Most educators come to their role with specialized knowledge in a particular discipline.  Educational change agents need to draw on knowledge across many disciplines depending on the needs of the educational transformation process at any given time.  Helpful resources: Courses in the Teaching Company.  Good starting point is Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition.

Notice and reflect to promote deeper change. Organizations and individuals get stuck in stories about themselves, and the key trick to getting out of those deep ruts is to, first, notice and be aware that you or your organization is stuck and then reflect on what misalignments exist because the story is a remnant of a bygone era. Helpful resource: Chalmers, Language and the pursuit of happiness.

Avoid the bright shiny objects of education reform. In educational reform, the bright shiny objects are pedagogy, content, and curriculum and many efforts start with these.  This is generally a mistake.  Successful change efforts change the shiny objects, but only as a response to a larger cultural, organizational, and personal developmental process that you intentionality bring to fruition through a different set of opening moves.  Helpful resource: Heath brothers, Switch: How to change when change is hard.

Start with language and story. Cultural change occurs when different stories are told and different distinctions are made.  An early step in successful change efforts is the critical examination of extant stories and terms and the repetitious use of alternatives that foreshadow the coming of a culture consistent with the changes you have in mind.  Helpful resource: Heath brothers: Made to Stick. Missing basics video (here) and Creativity imperative video (here).

Provoke collective learning, then targeted doing. Your organization has been screwed up for a long time, and hoping to change it overnight is a prescription for disappointment.  Your first steps should be to engage in what Watkins calls collective learning. Plan activities that promote learning in others.  Speaking, posting to the web, creating videos about where you’re going, organizing events and meetings that galvanize support for what you’re doing are the opening moves of a successful change effort.  Helpful resource: Watkins, First 90 days.

Don’t plan, smallify & effectuate. Bureaucracies refine old routines to reduce error and variance in outcomes.  Entrepreneurs smallify and effectuate.  Effectuation is the process of taking your best shot at a course of action and then being paying attention to what actually happens, thereafter designing next steps with emphasis on what happened, not what didn’t.  Smallifying is the process of starting small and increasing the size after sufficient success has been achieved. .  Helpful resources: Sarasvathy, Effecuation: Elements of entrepreneurial expertise. Sims, Little bets: How breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries.

Move quickly, boldly, broadly, and well enough. The cadence of educational institutions is slow, cautious, narrow, and risk averse. Educational initiatives move quickly, boldly, broadly, and well enough.  This meeting of opposites continually risks turning the change initiative into an element of the bureaucratic blob and the change agent must guard against increasing sloth, caution, narrowness, and risk aversion, especially as time goes on.  Many of the activities of a change initiative are one-off pilots or events and are managed on a project basis.  Good project management procedures should be established with clear goals, authority, scheduling, and reporting.  Helpful resources: Allen, Getting things done. Sims, Little bets. Fields, Uncertainty: Turning fear and doubt into fuel for brilliance.

Scale up & ladder up. As initiatives are introduced at small scale, the change agent needs to increase them in size.  Also, as initiatives are introduced in lower grades, the students from those initiatives will move on, and it is important to innovate ahead of them just in time as they move through the pipeline.  Helpful resources: iFoundry papers hereherehere, and here.

Find friends up, down, and around.  Avoid boo birds. First, as a change agent you will face lots of resistance in almost everything you do.  Do not take it personally, and avoid working with or trying to persuade those who disagree with.  Thank them for their feedback and move on to others. Also, educational change does not require support, funding, or permission up the chain of command. You want friends everywhere, but boo birds in your chain of command, up and down, should be treated like boo birds elsewhere: thanked and ignored.  Network with people who like what you’re talking through one-on-one networking, group lunches and meetings, seminar series or talks.  Credible friends outside your organization who will say nice things about your efforts are especially helpful. Helpful resource: Goldman, What got you here, won’t get you there.

Create a dynamic dot-connecting hub. To change your organization you need to rewire to get different results, but many change efforts fail by imitating existing organizational forms.  Success in educational reform is the result of lateral alignment of individuals across the organization, and isolated departments or centers do this poorly or not at all.  From the beginning, you should create a hub that seeks to connect dots across campus.  Helpful resources: iFoundry papers.

Incubate, translate, and disseminate. Existing departments and units naturally resist change as threatening.  Effective transformation initiatives require a safe haven for piloting change, an incubator or pilot unit.  The key bargain for an academic incubator is permission to conduct pilot changes with volunteer students and faculty in exchange for the promise to return to regular units for regular curriculum approval.  Incubators should create new things and then translate them into practice and then disseminate the changes, both in- and outside the institution.  Helpful resource: iFoundry papers.

Unleash students and discover the power and light of scalable educational reform. Educational reform assumes that the primary actor is the faculty member and that students are relatively passive vessels into whom static buckets of knowledge are poured (and retained).  All current educational transformation efforts work, in part, because they unleash student motivation toward intrinsically motivated learning.  Many of these efforts are outside the curriculum and one of the tricks of educational transformation is to bring them inside.  Helpful resource: Pink, Drive: The surprising truth of what motivates us.

Balance change among heart, head, and organization. Education is understanding dominated in the sense that cognitive understanding is given priority over other ways of knowing.  Unfortunately change is driven emotionally and enabled by effective organizational modification.  As a result. head-based change efforts fail for lack of motivational underpinning and inattention to changing the path.  Effective change is a balance of elephant (emotion), rider (rational), and path (institutional).  Helpful resource: Heath brothers, Switch: How to change when change is hard.

Seek experienced guidance in complex change efforts. The foregoing discussion gives some hint of the complexity of almost all educational change efforts.  Administration of routine activities is very different than leading an educational change initiative.  Pushing an educational change initiative forward is a complex undertaking, intellectually, emotionally, and organizationally, requiring persistent and pervasive innovation, connection, communication, and learning.  ThreeJoy Associates, Inc. was founded on the basis of experience in bringing a change initiative to fruition at a major research university.  It is carrying that learning over to educational organizations around the globe, providing, training, coaching, and consulting services appropriate to different change initiatives in different schools, cultures, and countries. Helpful resource: or contact ThreeJoy at

Contact ThreeJoy Associates, Inc. for information about effective change initiatives and management in education.

Do more great work

We spend a large portion of our lives at work, and the perceived quality of that work affects the quality of our lives.  I’ve been using the book Do More Great Work (here) by Michael B. Stanier to reflect on the work ThreeJoy does, and I’ve found the questions Stanier asks the 16 great work maps he has created to be a helpful guide in these reflections.  The great work maps are in 4 categories:

Maps 1-3: Greatness -> You already know more about your Great Work than you might think

Maps 4-6: Choices -> Doing Great Work requires you to make some choices. Where will you focus?

Maps 7-9: Possibilities -> Expand your sense of what your Great Work might be

Maps 10-16: Action -> It’s time to take a step towards your Great Work

If a useful combination of solid open-ended questions for reflection and some visual tools to help bring those reflections to fruition would be helpful to you, take a look at Do More Great Work.