Archive for month: May, 2012

The Making of a Whole New Linchpin Engineer

Linchpin book coverSeth Godin’s book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable argues that the worker of the 21st century needs to develop a unique skill set that will make him or her a must-have, go-to-guy-or-gal, johnnie-or-janie-on-the spot rather than a body that takes up time and space and does a rote job that many others can do.  ThreeJoy’s vision of the engineer of the future and engineering education is consistent with this vision in that the world needs indispensable category creator engineers, not just category enhancers.  

Read more about Linchpin here or go to Godin’s blog here.

Dweck Video on Mindset

Stanford prof Carol Dweck discusses the educational implications of her theories on growth mindset versus fixed mindset in the video below:


Students with a fixed mindset focus on results rather than learning and tend to respond negatively to adversity, whereas students with a growth mindset tend to focus on learning goals and are relatively resilient when faced with difficult challenges.  Read more about mindset in Dweck’s book (here).

Goldberg Named Olin Distinguished Academic Partner

ThreeJoy President and Founder, Dave Goldberg, was recently named a Distinguished Academic Partner of Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, MA.  Goldberg co-founded the Ilinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education (here) and the Olin-Illinois Partnership.  Together with Mark Somerville he is the co-founder of the Big Beacon, a global movement to collaboratively disrupt engineering education (here).  Goldberg joins MIT’s Woodie Flowers as the other person so designated (here).

Big Beacon – Sneak Preview for 3J Readers

First campaigns for The Big Beacon, a global movement for the transformation of engineering education, will start next week after Memorial Day.  Readers of ThreeJoy Associates’ blog can get a sneak preview of the Big Beacon website here. The minds, hearts, and hands campaign poster is reproduced below.

Small Mind, Heart, & Hands campaign poster

For more information go to the website (here) or read the Big Beacon Manifesto here.

Mindfulness Goes Mainstream (at Google and in Congress)

Search Inside YourselfOver the course of the last couple of weeks two books have popped up on the radar screen that suggest something interesting is afoot with respect to mindfulness practice.  Chade-Meng Tan’s book Search Inside Yourself (here) describes a course offered at Google to help managers and engineers  become more mindful at work.  Daniel Goleman of emotional intelligence fame writes a foreword to the book as does mindfulness guru, Jon Kabat-Zinn.  The first chapter title, Even an Engineer Can Thrive on Emotional Intelligence, gives a sense of the tone and tenor of the remaining chapters.

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan (D) has just completed A Mindful Nation (here) in which he talks about how mindfulness practice might help America recapture its spirit.  Chapter 4 is especially useful to those interested in education.

Taken alone, the two books are interesting additions to growing technical and spiritual literatures of mindfulness.  Taken together, it seems that they signal that something is afoot with respect to mindfulness and its moving to the mainstream.  The growing scientific support for mindfulness practice (for example, Dan Siegel’s Mindsight here) and the growing application of these ideas in practice in such mainstream organizations as Google and Congress suggest that it should soon become possible to discuss these topics at work and in the classroom more widely with less eye rolling and greater seriousness.

ThreeJoy’s mainline training programs in NLQ (noticing-listening-questioning), TASL (teaching as servant leadership), and POCA (personal and organizational change agency) emphasize noticing and awareness against a backdrop of established mindfulness practices.  For more information write

A Stroke of Insight for Engineering Education

When I attended Brian Bomeisler’s course (here) based on his mom’s book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, he showed us Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk Stroke of Insight.  Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroscientist who had a strong stroke that shut down the language centers on the left side of her brain.  In her video, she goes onto describe both scientifically and emotionally her unique experience in a very moving way.  ThreeJoy works with clients to find the joy, happiness, and peace in educational settings, and her description of the stroke has much in common with mindfulness practices that emphasize quieting the mind and feeling a larger connectedness to others.


ThreeJoy believes that these practices and an emphasis on noticing and mindfulness are important to the transformation of engineering education around the world (see earlier post here).  For more on Jill Bolte Taylor and her work go here.

ThreeJoy Discusses Future Engineering Education Challenges in Trieste

ThreeJoy president, Dave Goldberg, is in Trieste, Italy this morning as part of a panel on “Future educational challenges for scientific and technical professions.”

Along with the international prominent guest David Goldberg, co-founder and co-director of iFoundry, the round table will host a panel of italian speakers, representative of local academic institutions and professional associations.

The participants will present the general situation respect to their experience in the schools of engineering and associations they come from, discuss about the main obstacles encountered in implementing reforms and share the best practices and ideas of what has already been done around the world, as well as propose a possible course of action.

Earlier in the morning, Goldberg delivered a lecture entitled Innovation and Collaboration through the Eyes of a Longtime Genetic Algorithmist as part of the program of UM12, The modeFrontier Users Meeting (here) run by Esteco, a provider of computer-aided design software located in Trieste.

More information about the panel is available here.

Retooling Engineering Education Culture with the Keystone Habit of Listening

Cover page of Duhigg's book, The Power of HabitI’ve been reading Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit (here) and i was struck by a story about Alcoa Aluminum and Paul O’Neil’s installation turnaround of a dysfunctional culture one person at a time.  More detail is available in the book, but the short version is that O’Neil insisted on a focus on safety at a time when profitability was challenged.  Many thought O’Neil was deranged and expected him to spend time working more directly on cutting expenses and increasing margins, but O’Neil was crazy like a fox, and he knew that a focus on safety would act as a keystone habit to realign the culture with exactly those things that would make the company profitable.

Ever since reading these passages, I’ve been sitting in the question as follows: What keystone habit or habits would effect the same kind of foundational realignment of engineering education culture?  After some reflection, I’ve concluded that the answer is listening.  The reason the current state of engineering education affairs sustains itself is that teachers aren’t listening to students, students, increasingly, aren’t listening to teachers, and as a result, their is almost no feedback to drive change in the needed directions.  The creation of listening universities, listening colleges, and listening polytechnics around the world would create the possibility of real change without the usual pitched resistance or backsliding once change is in place.

Over the last 18 months, ThreeJoy has developed a new kind of short interactive training seminar called NLQ or noticing, listening, and questioning. NLQ can be used in a short standalone mode or in concert with other building blocks to create a very effective change enhancing program for a variety of educational transformation outcomes.  Contact for more information, and start creating the listening school of the future, today.

Engineering Education and the Power of Vulnerability

The more I’ve worked with schools around the globe for the transformation of engineering education, the more I’ve come to understand that all the important variables in that transformation and in the process of change itself are emotional ones.  In the following video, Brene Brown discusses her work on shame and how it led her to a greater understanding of the role of vulnerability in happiness.


The lessons of this video (here) resonate with successful change practices at Olin, at Illinois, in Asia, Europe, and South American, and part of the secret sauce to effective education change is to pay more attention to the compassion, connection, courage, and vulnerability as discussed by Dr. Brown.

Relaunching ThreeJoy Associates’ Blog

This week inaugurates the launch of ThreeJoy’s blogpost email syndication.  Subscribers will receive weekly updates of ThreeJoy blogposts delivered to their email address.

This new service also inaugurates a rechristening of this website with an attendant rejuvenation of editorial content. Over the coming weeks articles will appear on a variety of subjects, including favorite stories from engagements around the world, principles and case studies of effective academic change, articles of interest to those in work or personal transition, and books and other resources of interest to those interested in effective educational and personal transformation.

To sign up to receive these updates go to the home page (here) and enter your name and email address.  Feedback is always welcome and we’d love to hear from readers at