23 January 2011

TED Talk: The child-driven education

Can non-English speaking children in a village in India learn by themselves using a pc and only English instructions?

Via Sokanu

19 January 2011

My team management book – what do you think?

During a the new year’s eve collective delusion, I decided it would be fun to write a short ebook to help people to manage teams better. The idea come from the amount of people that came to me to get advice on how to run a team like I ran mine when I was AIESEC Norway’s President.

I set a deadline to finish the book by end May (geez…) and that before my birthday (21st of January) I would have the basic structure in place. And this post is exactly about this last bit, the structure. I will post it here and I would appreciate if you could feedback or give some insights that could help me to improve it. Ah, and if you have ideas for the name of the book, please let me know also.

What I want the book to be:
-          - It’s a funny and easy to read book only about managing/leading a team
-          - If the readers put the tools/advices in the book in practice, it will help them to manage better their teams
-          - Examples to illustrate

What I don’t want the book to be:
-          - Full of theory or impractical
-          - Talk about other aspects of my leadership experience (Organization management/development, change management, strategy, recruitment, finance…)
-          - Personal leadership (I am unsure about this in fact, since there is a component that impacts quite a lot on the management of the team – so I think I will have to touch it a bit)

-          Introduction
o   This is not about theory, it’s based on nothing else than my experience and observations.
o   Read and do it. If you don’t want to try anything or don’t have enough discipline to do it, this book will be useless.
o   Adapt and feel what is right for your leadership style as well as your team needs. There are no 100% formulas for team management, because in the end it is about people

-          Building and starting a new team
o   Build the team or it will build itself
o   What is the foundation of building a team?
§  Team purpose (team mission / vision -> what is success for this team?)
§  Individual roles and responsibilities
§  How we work (How we deal with each other in the team, outside the team and with work/challenges, team values, ground rules, expectations)
§  How we make the team work (team operating processes)
§  When dealing with humans, don’t forget the social stuff
§  Role modeling
o   When a newcomer joins a team that already exists
o   After it is built, it needs more building (Every day is team building day, even if you don’t realize it)

-          Team purpose
o   What is it?
o   How to do it? (both fluffy and hard core)
o   How to use it?
§  Visible
§  Take decisions / get directions
§  Assess current situation
§  Celebrate or change and tweak it

-          Individual roles and responsibilities
o   Breaking down the purpose into the individual (both responsibility and goals)
o   Adapt the job to the people, not the other way around
o   Don’t allow “support” roles to sprawl
o   Don’t allow silos, but don’t allow “everyone is responsible” also
o   Change roles as purpose evolves

-          How we work
o   Team values (building and using)
o   Expectations and Ground rules (building and using)

-          Team operational processes
o   Prioritizing what to do and what not to do (planning and stuff)
o   Decision making (who and when)
o   Team learning
o   Team Meetings
§  What to use it for? When not to use it?
§  How often
§  Calling
§  Preparing
§  Conducting
§  After the meeting and follow up
§  Tools for idea generation
§  Tools for decision making
o   Individual meetings
§  What to use it for? When not to use it?
·         Team member oriented
·         Professional oriented
·         Maximizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses
·         They really want your honest assessment
·         Don’t give all the answers, but don’t play riddles in the dark
§  How often
§  (ask, don’t assume)
§  Tools

-         Team members’ relationships
o   GTKEO (constantly)
o   Building trust in the team
o   Feedback
o   Social agenda

 -         The team is a reflex of the leader
o   As a leader, everything is your fault (seriously) -> consistency role model
o   Feel it and speak up (ask, don’t assume), even if you are unsure, test and listen
o   Doggie style: reinforce good behavior, call out bad behavior
o   Give honest feedback and ask for it (and then listen carefully!)
o   “I was wrong” and “I don’t know” are source of power, not weakness
o   Incentivizing mistakes, but not sloppiness
o   Solution oriented approach

 -         The easy team management checklist

13 January 2011

Will the middle manager job disappear?

At least Lynda Gratton, from the Future of Work, think so. She thinks there are 4 reasons why the disappearance of the middle manager is on the cards: 
  • Technology has become the great general manager. It can monitor performance closely, provide instant feedback, even create reports and presentations. When technology can play much of the role of the manager – why have one?
  • Skilled team members are increasingly self-managed. That’s not to say they need a team leader – but this is likely to be taken from a member of the team who is highly skilled and it could well be a rotating role. So when teams can manage themselves – what can a general manager add? 
  • Attitudes toward management have also changed. As my research makes clear, Gen Y workers see no value in reporting to someone who simply keeps track of what they do, when much of that can be done by themselves, their peers, or a machine. What they do value is mentoring and coaching from someone they respect. Someone, in other words, who is a master—not a general manager.
  • It was possible in the past to manage ‘intuitively’ and for good management skills to come as part of the whole ‘decent person’ angle. Now management is fiendishly difficult – particularly if people are located virtually across the globe. These situations take extreme specialist skills to lead.
I couldn't agree more. But I also have another reflection on it: while the classic middle manager is subject to extinction from all the above, the job of the "middle leader" (?) will always be necessary. The leader, capable of shaking the status quo, driving change, inspiring, bring a strong team together like glue, pointing to the right direction and making people lose sight of distractions, will always be necessary. The difference might be that MAYBE we will evolve so much that anyone and everyone will be expected, capable and responsible for playing this role (which I think we still have a loooong way to go to get there).

For now, no machine can beat the gift of the linchpin.

02 January 2011

I Scientist - What education should be? What about work?

This is around 30min documentary about kids spending 5 days doing real science how it should be done: in practice and having fun. It's absolutely brilliant to see the kids coming in as students and then evolving into scientists to the point that they run the experiments while the adults become the "lab rats". So moments are so sublime that almost brought me a few tears, like for example one little girl that says it's the happiest thing on her life. If you are interested in education, you certainly will find it fascinating.

I Scientist film from Storymakers TV on Vimeo.

But to be sincere, if you are minimally interested in the subject of education, at this point of time you probably already realized that practical education, experimentation, facilitation, engagement, etc are the way to go to improve the education system. So, for me, for sure education should be like the video - no doubt about it. But what about work? In our knowledge society, shouldn't work be more like the video? If it should, more importantly, could it be done? How? Have you seen anything like this in any company?

(via Sokanu)