Fight it or capitalize on it — that is the question that school districts face when it comes to cell phone use in the classroom. Many schools prohibit use of cell phones and other technological devices, but recently others have realized the computing power that students have in their backpacks and made the decision to take advantage of it. The growing number of applications with educational value is also influencing teachers’ use of portable devices. Access to smart phones is not the problem. USA Today reports that even in poorer school districts, the students have phones. Where challenges come in is with the infrastructure to support the smart phone use. According to the US Department of Education, only 20 percent of the country has the infrastructure to support digital learning. What a sad statistic! Wouldn’t it make more sense for the learning environments to be the first ones to have the equipment needed to teach the language of the future? Educators and school districts also face the balance of being cutting edge vs. playing catch up. Our education department wanted iPads when they first were being used in the schools. At the time it was seen as frivolous, like they wanted the ‘new toys’ vs. serious equipment. Yet already students in our elementary schools are using tablets and prospective teachers need to know how to teach with them. There is greater expectation for people to have mobile technology. Instead of fighting it, we should embrace the fact that the majority of people own more computing power than the first rocket. Students like those below are going to expect it.
— beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com
Source: BYOT: Bring your own tech to school by Josh Higgins, USA Today, August 8, 2013
My two dogs bark like crazy fools when they are out in the yard and someone walks within six houses of mine. It doesn’t matter if the walker is alone or walking dogs of their own, the response is always resounding. But when I take my dogs for a walk and I am the passerby, they never utter a sound. Every other dog that we pass either barks, howls or yipes loudly, but my two just stroll on their merry way in silence. It seems to be an apt metaphor for change. If you are cozy in your own yard, going through your routine with pleasure, you bark like crazy when change approaches from the outside. You are adamant that your happy equilibrium not be disturbed and you are quite vocal that you want nothing to do with it. But if you are on the outside, there seems to be nothing to fear. You are going about your business without thought of the impact you have on others, even if those others have four legs. Employees often “bark” when change from the outside approaches. Managers often are puzzled as to why there is so much fear or resentment. The next time you are on either side of the change effort, think about my dogs. Sniffing each other before barking may be a good strategy.
I was backing out of a parking space at the grocery store and saw that a man in a pickup truck was waiting for my space so I backed out further. The woman across from me also saw that the pickup was waiting, but she did not see me (or vice versa). You can guess what happened next. After the impact, we both pulled back into our spots and got out to assess the damage (which fortunately was minimal). Yet the man in the truck pulled by without so much as a second glance. Another witness came up the aisle and was ranting about the man in the truck: “Why didn’t he honk? Why did he just sit there and watch you two hit each other? What was he thinking?!” I wondered that myself. In many ways, the man who watched and did nothing was as much at fault as the woman who backed into me. He had a birds eye view of impending trouble and did nothing. I guess he was thinking that it was not his problem. Do you find yourself in situations where you act like the man in the truck — staying out of situations where you could be of assistance because you aren’t really involved? The thing is that you are involved, because you are seeing the situation and you are a member of the community where it is happening. You have an obligation to “honk” — either literally or in a more formal or verbal way — when something wrong is taking place. Don’t just sit there and watch a wreck happen — in a parking lot or in your organization.
Over the weekend, I also had the opportunity to make a brief stop at my alma mater, Western Illinois University. The University Union there is anchored by a huge lounge, adorned by two walls of plaques on either side of it. The West wall is named the Wall of Honor and houses plaques full of student leader recognition for various organizations. Union Board leaders since 1966 are listed. There are special leadership awards, Blue Key, Mortar Board, Order of Omega, Student Government and the like. It is a perpetual tribute to those students who contributed their time and talent through the Office of Student Activities. On the opposite wall is the Wall of Thanks which contains plaques listing the major donors to the university. There are recognitions for the different donor levels and for special campaigns, and this wall is also full. What Western realizes better than many schools is that the same names on the West wall are eventually listed on the East wall. Student involvement engenders loyalty and dedication that often manifests itself into significant alumni contributions. Those who receive later give. Can you learn lessons from these two walls and think of how to foster connections in your organization. Who benefited most from their work for you or was the recipient of your service? Have you recognized them in lasting and appropriate ways? And then can you facilitate a reciprocal relationship where they are asked to transcend generations with a meaningful gift? Spend some time thinking about how you can create, then bridge, the two walls in your organization.
One more observation from the weekend, but this one is not about the inauguration itself, rather the journey there. Twice we stopped at McDonald’s to partake in their $1 any size beverage promotions. Twice, at two different McDonald’s, we had to weave our way through a construction zone to reach the counter. Both restaurants were under renovation down to the studs. The seating areas were entirely temporary tables and folding chairs. The bathrooms had signs taped to the door and makeshift facilities. The parking lots were full of cones. Half of the counter was removed. It was a serious rehabilitation in progress. Some of you may know that McDonald’s has been struggling with sales recently. The firm reported its first sales decline in a decade and the worst quarterly sales growth performance in nine years. It seems that they are responding by renovating their restaurants. You don’t have to have an MBA to do the quick math and realize that when sales are down it is a bad time to have capital expenses increase. But beyond the cash flow challenges, there is added risk to the timing. It is much smarter to innovate and remain current to keep your advantage rather than reacting to try and reclaim it. Take a lesson from McDonald’s and avoid becoming complacent with any lead you may have amassed. The time to invest and invent is when things are good, not when you are playing catch up.
— beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com
Source: Huffington Post Business, McDonald’s Sales Fall For First Time in Nearly a Decade, 11/8/12
Yesterday I wrote about attending the presidential inauguration at Illinois College. Among the many impressive things about the weekend, the one that was most surprising to me was the proliferation of the royal blue color on campus. Their slogan is “Be True Blue” and let me tell you: they take it seriously. I will bet that a full 90% of IC staff had some element of royal blue as part of their ensemble on Saturday. Cardigans, ties, necklaces, suits, blouses, shirts, dresses — you name it, and they had it. Even the vast majority of students wore blue t-shirts to the ceremony so both sets of bleachers were a sea of royal during the event. I have not seen this much of one color attire since my last St. Louis Cardinals game that is known for its inundation of red. The Illinois College folks didn’t stop with attire. The microphone cover, liners for the coffee urns, flowers on the table, stairwells, bulletin boards and even the stamp on the inauguration invitation were IC Blue. It was an overt testimonial to school spirit and buy in. Not all of us are fortunate enough to have a tag line or mantra that so readily lends itself to a specific color, but most do have some organizational color palette in place. Think of how you can extend that level of branding beyond the corporate stationery or signage. Can you take a lesson from Illinois College and really make a statement with your use of a limited color range? Maybe it won’t work for everyday, but if you need to impress outsiders for a special event, I can vouch for the fact that this is one way to do it!
Over the weekend, I went to a colleague’s presidential inauguration. For those not familiar with the rituals of higher education, the appointment of a new college president is a cause for joyous celebration for the entire campus community. There is a whole series of events, culminating with an inauguration ceremony full of pomp and circumstance. Faculty and delegates from dozens of colleges march in a processional; there is music, a litany of speeches and presentation of symbolic gifts to the new leader. I liken an inauguration to a professional wedding. In some ways, the new president is agreeing to stand by the institution in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, etc. so the analogy is appropriate. But the rituals and symbolism also remind me of a wedding — only instead of exchanging rings, the chair of the board places the presidential medallion over the head of the new leader and the marriage begins. Prior to the ceremony, the president hosted a luncheon for about 100 guests. Many of those in attendance were former colleagues of hers. Again, like a wedding, it was an occasion to mix together in one place people from all the parts of her life. Her first boss did the invocation. Her most recent boss did her introduction. Someone from her alma mater spoke. Family and friends were there in addition to members of her current college community. Even if you aren’t in higher education, think about who would be on your “guest list” for a similar type of affair were you to host one. Who has been significant in your life on your professional path? Who has remained in touch as you have changed jobs and cities? Who knows you best? Whose mentoring shaped you and helped you become who you are today? And then, instead of calling them up with an invitation to lunch or asking them to speak on your behalf, call them today and share a word of thanks. None of us has succeeded on our professional journey alone. Vow to take a moment and acknowledge those who have helped walk you down the career “aisle” and taught you along the way.
As American as apple pie? Maybe we need to change our lingo. At the local Village Inn restaurant, they boast that they sell the best pies in America. But their #1 best seller is not good old apple, rather it is French Silk — a chocolate mousse with a cream topping and chocolate shavings. (Country apple comes in #2, followed by cherry, lemon supreme and then a tie with coconut and banana cream.) When did chocolate become America’s favorite flavor? Whereas yesterday I wrote about a product with brand extensions to the extreme, the pie seems to be on the opposite end of the spectrum. A pie is an inherently old fashioned dessert. Cupcakes have taken on a whole new life, but not much has changed about the recipes, shape or size of the pie. The leading flavors are even pretty traditional. Unlike many foods today, pies are usually eaten slowly — on a plate vs. on the run. Village Inn not withstanding, most pies are homemade, often with Grandma’s original recipe. They still win blue ribbons at the fair.
How can your organization anchor some of its values to the symbolism of a pie…something that has the stability over generations. The pie can be your values and the ice cream the new innovation that you add to enhance it. Every organization needs to have both. Bon appetit!
I am a fan of choice, but I think that Lays has taken it a bit too far. Recently they introduced Chicken and Waffle potato chips — what? I wonder if when BBQ and cheddar first came out if they were seen as outlandish. Now it seems that the goal is to be different to the extreme so as to capture the attention of consumers. When does the brand expansion stop? Apparently no time soon. In addition to chicken and waffle, there are now jalapeno and Sriracha Lays. Maybe if the Sriracha chips are hot enough, you could eat just one!!!! I think that Lays illustrates the continual challenge that companies and organizations face today as the demand for innovation grows. It’s not enough to stop with one new variety; now new flavors are introduced multiple times/year. It’s not enough to have a new version of a traditional flavor, or even a combination that occurs elsewhere in a normal pairing. To stand out, apparently Lays believes that you need to go way outside the box. Is there something in your organization that lends itself to an extreme makeover or radical innovation like waffles and chicken chips? Lays still has their Original version and I suspect that it is still their sales leader, but a little experimentation may be what you need to draw attention from a new crowd.