The #3Wedu Podcast No.7: Job Start Up in Higher Ed

This Wednesday, July 13, 6 PM ET we’ll bring up issues around getting started and establishing yourself in a new position in Higher ed. In previous podcasts we’ve discussed issues women face as they move through their career such as the double bind; importance of supporting one another, mentoring, the value of care work and organizational barriers. This month we thought we would take a step back and look at the issues women face when exploring and starting a new position. What are the things you should do just before and after you start a new job?

We’ll dig deeper into the topic of salary negotiations, discussing topics such as the long term financial impact your starting salary has and how to assess the whole package (i.e. value of benefits). The following article recently came through on the ITWOMEN EDUCAUSE LISTSERV suggesting it would be good information to share with women beginning their careers: To Seem Confident Women Have to be Seen as Warm. Their research study showed that the more competent a male engineer is the more confident they seem resulting in greater influence, regardless if they are seen as warm or not. For women to have influence they must also be seen as warm. The study suggests that women must therefore go out of their way to be seen as warm in order to be successful. What do you think? Is the answer for women to go out of their way to be seen as warm or to affect other change? Join us tonight and share your thoughts.

Wondering how best to spend your money and time on professional development in your new position? We’ll share our experiences in a range of professional development programs and leadership training. The conversation will center around the value of not just the training, but networking and how to assess what training aligns best with your goals. We were thrilled to have as our special guest Mary Niemiec

 

My Leadership Story

Recently I was asked to share my leadership story since graduating from Cornell MOR Associates ITELP. I was honored to be invited last week to share this story at the 2016 Cornell MOR Associates ITELP graduation. Below is my story.

Last year I stood on this stage as a current graduate and shared a personal story of how I helped my daughter navigate a difficult conversation. I shared this story as an example of the impact this program has not just on our professional lives, but our personal lives as well. Recently I attended my daughter’s end of year crew banquette. As a graduating senior each of the girls in her boat shared a story about her. As I listened to each of these young women share their story, I recalled the conversations my daughter and I had had about these situations. They shared stories of how she had motivated them; really listened to what they had to say; been inclusive; and helped them to build relationships of trust. They spoke of how she had led a somewhat fractured team to a gold medal in the state championship and the influence she had had on their belief in their ability to be successful. It was at that moment I realized just how wide our circle of influence really is.

The program impacted every aspect of how I view myself as a leader and my ability to develop relationships and get things done. The opportunity to have the time, space and coaching to work on myself has impacted every aspect of how I interact with others. The results of this can be supported by the feedback I received for my performance review. The MOR program is the best leadership development program I’ve ever participated in and I continue to meet with my peer triad and open my MOR book up at least once a week. If everyone could go through this program we would have an organization built on trust with an entirely re-imagined way of doing business. By working on myself I am better able to lead, coach those around me and understand how to develop relationships built on trust. I truly believe I can have an impact and lead from where I am.

Thanks to the competencies I gained in this program I was able to successfully lead a project that required me to reach across multiple units at Cornell and develop new relationships. It was the things I learned about myself; how to build relationships; and understanding how to delegate and run meetings that enabled me to successfully build a high functioning team where everyone had a voice, felt empowered, and worked collaboratively. This project had a number of setbacks and unexpected issues but thanks to the competencies and confidence I gained from ELP I was able to successfully lead this project and team.

While the above professional examples are important measurements of the outcomes and outputs of this program, I shared a personal story as an example of the human impact this program has on the lives of everyone here, our families, and the community. There are lots of different ways to be a leader and leadership transcends our professional lives. I believe there is no one, quantitative way of measuring it, that would provide evidence of success. Rather, each of our voices and our stories is evidence of greater trust, enhanced relationships and the ability to re-imagine the way we do business.

Thank you to MOR associates for shaping the narrative of our lives.

Around Education in 80 days

 

I was recently reading a story about a little girl who goes blind and it made me wonder how the journey from seeing to blindness is similar to a student or faculty journey from a face to face classroom to completely online. She talks about how drawers are never where they should be and a glass of water is always too near or too far. What is blindness? “Where there should be a wall her hands find nothing. Where there should be nothing a table leg gouges her shin” p. 27 .She goes through months of bruises and despair, but what keeps her going? The patience and support of her father. Instead of doing everything for her he creates the opportunities for her to figure things out. Her father is a locksmith who works in a museum. Every morning he quizzes her on types of keys. Her hands gather, probe and test. He has her guess how many pages in a book by the length of her fingernail. One day he says “take us home” and her response is “I can’t possibly do that” p.36. His response is, “I won’t let anything happen to you…you know where you are”. Time after time she fails and each time her father tells her you can do this until eventually she does. Isn’t that what it means to truly learning something?

In what ways can we, as faculty developers/educators, provide that patience and support and help learners get over the hurdle of, “I can’t possibly do that”?

What Does it Mean to be Human in the Digital Age?

Over the last two weeks I’ve facilitated three design thinking workshops around “what does it mean to be human in the digital age? (I would like to thank Kristen Eshleman for her time, guidance and expertise on this topic and the design thinking process). In each case the group seemed somewhat apprehensive. What is this design thinking anyway? What could we possibly learn from a question like that?

The question of “what does it mean to be human” is not a new question. A very natural part of being human is wanting to fit in, have relationships and feel connected. We try to make sense of our role within the social hierarchy, understand stereotypes and for some struggle to have our voice heard. To be human means to struggle with inequality, have a never ending desire to love and be loved, and to be recognized and valued for who we are.

PBS posed the question and collected stories back in 2010. In 2010 what were the questions posed? Concerns about texting and driving and spying on your children’s social media (sound familiar?). Read the stories here http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/participate/ . More recently Yann Arthus-Bertrand created a movie called HUMAN based on the stories of 2,000 people across 60 countries. His goal was to understand “What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery? “

The workshops I led were one hour “crash course” sessions so we moved through each stage at a rapid pace.I spent a short amount of time going over what the Design Thinking process is, instead placing most of my emphasis on the importance of listening to the story and gaining empathy.  Empathy is “…not just sympathy for someone else’s circumstances, but the deep intuition for what it feels like to live their lives”. What is the person feeling? What scares them? Frustrates them? Brings them joy? I advised people to ask “why?” a lot and think of it as a conversation. The energy in the room once people got talking was amazing. They were deeply engaged in the conversation and truly interested in the other person’s story. Yet, there were still questions and reservations as participants asked, “I don’t understand the purpose of this.” “We’re having a great conversation but what am I really learning?” Be patient, you’ll see, is all I said. When we got to the POV (point of view) step it all started to come together for people. They began to “break down their findings” and “unpack the juicy parts” of the story. What does this person need? What surprised you? What are your hunches? Crayons and pencils filled sticky notes as people made meaning of what they heard, thought about what it feels like to live this person’s life and created radical prototypes.

During the entire hour the room was filled with positive energy and you could feel how excited people were to have been given “permission” to break “the rules”. That is, space, place and time to ideate in a world with no budgets, no policies, no limitations and most importantly the lack of the word no. The majority of these people were in the technical field and problem solvers. It was initially hard to get them to shift their mindset from problem solver to explorer.  By the end of the hour they were amazed at how much they not only learned about the person next to them, but how quickly they could gain empathy and develop prototypes (four in four minutes!). In listening to their partner’s story they had gotten to know this person in a way they would not have otherwise.

It turns out what it means to be human in the digital age is, in many ways, no different than what it means to be human in any age. People value meaningful relationships, feeling connected to other people, and having opportunities to learn and share from others. What do people need?

A way to sort through all the information and find what is most important to them in an efficient and easy way (some great prototypes were developed as solutions to this).

To feel safe when sharing their opinions and ideas.

What surprised people?

That the world of social media closely replicates the face to face world:

“There are cliques online, it is just like being in high school”

The fear in having what you say be out there forever:

“How can I be sure that what I say won’t offend anyone or come out the wrong way, there are no do overs.”

How can we make the idea of design thinking a part of our daily life? Taking the time to have a conversation, truly listening to another person’s story and gaining a deeper understanding of who they are and what they value, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and sharing our story, and feeling we have a safe space to to plant our ideas, fertilize them and watch them grow.

What impact might a day of empathy have where you work? If school leaders or professors at your university walked alongside a student for the day or those in support staff positions walked alongside those who we support?

How might we reimagine a digital age where to be human means to strive to eliminate inequality; value care work, and be vulnerable without fear?

#OLCinnovate Reflections

As I was leaving for #OLCinnovate I was feeling a bit overwhelmed as I looked at my calendar. It felt more like my work week than a conference. Almost every hour was booked and in several cases double booked.  As I reflect back on the week however, rather than feeling drained, I feel “filled up”.

The themes for me were feminism and space. As a member of the first ever SDS (solution design summit) we (Laura Pasquini, Mike Goudzwaard, Kyle Johnson, Adam Croom, Michael Atkisson) created a space for interdisciplinary teams of people to brainstorm with stakeholders  and work through the process of defining their problem and ideating a solution. The energy, engagement and enthusiasm in the room exceeded any conference space I’ve been. Beyond the SDS I attended and participated in three days of thoughtful and meaningful conversations. Finally a conference where we practiced what we preach-rather than talking at us, presenters were our guides. Why is it we can’t create that time and space in our offices? Stay tuned for the announcement of the winning #OLCinnovateSDS winning team!

I was invited to speak at the Women Leaders in Ed-tech dinner and share my story of a challenge or barrier I faced. I spent a great deal of time reflecting on what story to share. The question was not really about the story, rather how vulnerable was I willing to be? How much of myself should I share? Whenever I’m having a difficult time, when it just seems too hard and I begin to have that suffocating feeling, the story I go back to is my dissertation journey. I thought if those words inspire me and get me through a difficult time then let me share that piece of me. The reaction I received was and continues to be overwhelming. Person after person thanked me for sharing my story and letting them know they are not alone; that I restored their belief in their ability to overcome a challenge they were currently facing. Women I’ve known for years-told me that I had been their inspiration.  We frequently don’t realize the impact our actions and words can have on another and the importance of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.

olcinnovate

The next day in our “Women Who Innovate” session (Tanya Joosten, Amy Collier, Laura Pasquini, Jess Knott, Nori Barajas-Murphy) several women shared stories of the impact words of encouragement had had on them. Similar to my story, a person had “planted the seed of an idea” by suggesting they go back for their PhD. There was no pressure just every so often a hint was dropped. I spoke of how my brother was the tipping point for me. While so many people had encouraged me to go back to school I just didn’t believe I could be successful. It was his words that were the tipping point for me. Who will you be the tipping point for?

Here’s my story:

It is hard for me to comprehend that I am at this place already and that the end of my journey is actually here (little did I know it had only begun). In the Spring of 2007 I unexpectedly found myself in a position where I was about to be a single mother of 3 children. During the next several months numerous co-workers encouraged me to get started on my PhD, yet I was not ready to make that commitment. I had heard so many stories about people not finishing and I did not want to be one of them. I questioned how I would ever be able to find the time to do my school work, whether the added pressure and time spent away would have a negative impact on my family and whether I had the intellectual capacity to be successful (I now know this is Imposter Syndrome). My children and I spent that Thanksgiving with my brother and his family. While at his house I mentioned to him I was thinking about going back to school and tried to justify why I was holding back. His response was “Just do it. I will support you and help you with whatever you need. Just take the plunge and register for classes”. This statement was the tipping point for me. I went home that night and began the process.

This was not a journey traveled alone. Without the immense encouragement and support of my children Nicholas, Anjelica and Rosalina I would not be sitting here writing this today (without the immense support of so many of you I would not be standing in front of this room today). They were and continue to be my inspiration and, on the days when it all seemed too much, what drove me to not give up. Thank you to my bother Jim, my sister-in-law Jean, my parents and my closest and dearest friends who told me “just breathe” and helped to lighten my load when I needed it the most.  

What is the Value of Care Work?

In preparation for this week’s #3Wedu I read about the double bind, emotional work and other issues women face at work. The thing that rose to the top for me is the lack of respect “care” gets. As soon as we label something it creates an “us” and “them”. If “they” (women with children) get to take maternity leave, then the rest of “us” have to fill in for them. If “they” (women with children) get to leave work early because their child has an appointment or play, or can’t travel, the rest of “us” have to be flexible with our schedules. Tracy posits that companies should have care leave rather than maternity or paternity leave. There are many things in our world that need care. Surely, caring for our own children, who are future citizens is a priority. What about encouraging workers to care for the environment, or children in a foster home, or the elderly? What if you could take care leave to do something that was deeply meaningful to you?

While on the surface this may seem like it would decrease productivity, studies show that allowing people time to do personally meaningful work increases motivation and productivity. How would the culture where you work change if your organization valued care work?

Tracy, S. J. (2008) Care as a common good. Women’s Studies in Communications, V31(2). http://www.sarahjtracy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Tracy-Care-as-a-common-good.pdf

Design Thinking as a Competency

I recently had a thoughtful and engaging discussion with Wade Pickren around design thinking where he posed the question: What would the competency for design thinking be? I hadn’t thought about design thinking in this way before. What does it mean to be competent in design thinking? What would an organization that is competent in design thinking look like? After some reflection I came up with the following:

  • Interact with users from diverse cultural, socioeconomic, educational, racial and ethnic backgrounds in a way that increases understanding of user needs, challenges and barriers
  • Create a design thinking environment that incorporates all steps in the design thinking process in a way that is safe and conducive for failing
  • Utilize knowledge of design thinking framework to ideate, prototype and test as a way to learn more about the user, refine point of view and find a solution for the users real problem
  • Incorporate a range of design thinking strategies to effectively integrate solutions into the user experience in ways that users with range of backgrounds become excited
  • Integrate a safe, creative space that allows for observation, ideation, reflection, building and rebuilding of prototype throughout the design thinking process, build increased understanding of users and allow the design thinking team and user to understand potential barriers and challenges
  • Develop network of collaboration with other design thinkers within own community of practice and across the globe to continually share, learn and grow
  • Grow a passion for design thinking, and understand importance of empathy, needfinding, understanding, creating and doing by engaging with users through observation of practice, and increase belief in ability to think divergently

What do you think? What would you add or change?

How does an organizational competence in design thinking emerge?