Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Schools and universities are not businesses

Simon Sinek clearly articulates the power of purpose in his book Start With Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action . He explains that when you understand Why you do what you do, then you have more power to take actions that are consistent with living your purpose.

When you start with why, people follow leaders for themselves. They do not follow leaders for their leaders.

Question Mark SkyWhat is the purpose of our schools and universities? Do they exist to make money? Is that their purpose?
Or do they exist to help children and adults learn how to learn so that they can contribute to creating a better world to live in?

Imagine a school whose purpose was to make money. Business people would be invited on to the school board and no doubt astute business decisions would be made to make sure that the school did indeed make money. Intuitively, what do you think that school would be like to go to? 

Sure, there would be talented teachers there. But would a talented teacher be 100% engaged with the idea that what they were doing was first about making money? Yes they would receive a nice pay-cheque, but would that make that teacher fully engaged with why the school existed?
What is your intuitive response to this scenario?

Imagine, on the other hand, a school whose purpose was to help children to learn how to learn so that they could contribute to creating a better world. Imagine that same talented teacher working in that school. Intuitively, how engaged with the school do you imagine that teacher would be?

Which of these two teachers would be more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis because of the purpose of their school? The one whose actions will help the school make more money, or the one whose actions will help children learn how to learn so that they can contribute to creating a better world?

If you are reading that I am suggesting that business people should not be on school or university councils then that is not what I am suggesting. 

Schools and universities need to be rigorous in their financial practices and learn from the business community about how to make the best use of their money. But the reason for using business principles should always be in the context of serving the purpose of education. Education should not be used as the context for serving the purpose of making money. 

Schools and universities require soul and a sense of belonging. The purpose of education must always drive their use of business principles, else they risk serving the wrong purpose and will diminish the education experience of the children and adults they serve.

Based on your experience, what is the purpose of your school or university?
You can view Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk here.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Two Types of Errors

There are two types of errors that we make. The first type is public and can be easily reviewed.

The second type is not obvious and are not easily reviewed so they are nicely tucked away ‘under the carpet‘. 

Gary Ryan, Yes For SuccessThe first type is errors of ‘commission‘. These are errors when you do something that should not have been done. You plan poorly. You execute poorly. You review poorly.

Good operators review these errors and make adjustments so that they do not happen again. They learn.

The second type is errors of ‘omission‘.
These are errors when you don’t do something that you should do. You don’t call-out unacceptable behaviour. You don’t speak up at a meeting when you ‘know‘ that the decision that has just been made is going to fail. You see an opportunity to improve yourself but you let it slip by.

Please note that errors of omission are not errors that you judge in hindsight. They are errors caused by not taking action that you knew you could have taken at the time the error occurred.

Errors of omission are just as important as errors of commission to review. If you keep repeating the same errors of omission then you will reduce your capacity to learn and to become the very best that you can be.

Asking yourself, your team or your organisation to identify actions that you knew you had the opportunity to take but you didn’t take provides an opportunity to review the thinking that stopped you from taking the action when the time was ‘right’. 

Exploring these examples will provide you with real learning that will better position you the next time similar situations arise.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Control your development

On the surface it may seem a little odd that I am suggesting that you should maintain 100% control over your personal and professional development.
running person on white background. Isolated 3D image 
The reality is that too many people hand over the responsibility for their development to their employer. They have a parent-child view of their relationship. Their employer ‘the parent’, will look after them and make sure they are properly developed.

The problem here is two-fold.

1. What if the employer doesn’t develop you? and
2. What if they don’t develop you properly?

The answer to both of these questions is that you suffer. No doubt the organisation will suffer too, but the organisation can get rid of you and then you really suffer. The risks associated with handing over 100% of the responsibility for your development are far too high. Yet that is exactly what most employees do.

Even if your employer is a ‘good‘ employer and provides lots of opportunities for you to develop, be prepared to go outside your organisation to develop the things that you need to develop. Be prepared to invest in your development. Treat the opportunities that your ‘good’ employer provides as a bonus.

This way you’ll continue to develop your talents and you will continue to be the best that you can be. Your talent won’t be at risk of being reduced over time.
Not developing your talents is guaranteed to cut your employability and long-term security. Not an outcome you want!

What I find interesting is that I spend about 30% of my time working with talented undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD university students. These students give of their time to get access to the various development programs that I facilitate. They don’t have to attend these programs. They are in control of their development.

Yet when they get a job, these very same students then hand 100% of the responsibility for their development over to their employer. It sounds crazy because it is!

My message is simple. Maintain control over your development.  Forever. Period.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.