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I have been busy teaching over this summer.
One of the things I noticed in terms of real learning is that the student or the learner must take learning seriously for it to take place. With ChatGPT and AI-generated content, students are being spoon-fed with information that is not curated, appropriate, and generalized to mean anything that could be suitable for their own use. The detection is simply a matter of finding if the language is sophisticated, the grammar is flawless, and the text sounds repetitive and when compared with other submissions, they all sounded the same. It is pathetic that we are producing a bunch of new graduates that relegated thinking to automation.
There are many wonderful things that ChatGPT can do to aid in learning but replacing critical thinking skills is the worst side effect of all. Universities, colleges, and academic institutions must have a company-wide policy as to what the students can't do with AI because it will harm their learning and because it is ubiquitous, it is easy to resort to this device. If students are ignorant as to the sources, limitations, and stupidity of automated content, they can easily use it not knowing that they are selling themselves short and becoming part of the automated herd.
Back in the 80s, learning was traditional and non-modern, but it worked for me. Computers came in the 90s and early 2000s donated from the US but we didn't bother learning more than what was expected. The Internet opened up a lot of doors in the early 2000s for learners but we were still pretty much into books and published materials. I can still recall some of the learning in the classroom during my first Masters when we would discuss issues in the class through the use of argumentation and debate.
Thinking about this for my daughter gives me concern for her future. As a society, while this technology is nascent and there are still imperfections yet, we should start building an ethical and governance policy for the use of this technology that will ensure the younger generation does not see it as an easy way out and not even an answer to their schooling/academic requirements and obligations. We should regulate the developers to the point that future developments do not create more risks for human consumption in areas where it can subvert or undermine human evolution. Risks assessments should be part and parcel of any policy pertaining to this technology.
We should own this technology and not own us. We should start delineating its boundaries and restricting its use for greater social benefit and not accelerate intellectual societal decay.
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I had a great time decluttering these past few weeks. First, I tackled that big box when I moved here in the province in 2015 containing all my files, Knick knacks, and mementos stored from my previous job and life for five years and more.
It was amazing to see that some of those stuff I have brought from the Philippines. Clearly, I'd like to keep a lot of stuff that for "some day" I might find useful. But that 'some day' didn't come. The old toothpaste, bottle of medicines, and broken eye glasses were never useful at all. The old files since 2010 didn't prove to be worth for anything except my files from old clients that I kept to document the work that I have done before. There were old books and magazines in French language that I thought I would be able to revisit when I had the time. That time didn't come even.
Decluttering frees up the space but also the mental space for which most precious real estate resides. If you focus and emphasize on the past, you will end up in a divided and distracted perspective. We can win some but we can also lose some. That's part of the trade-off. We leave behind what's to be left there so we have the energy for today, which is a gift in itself. Tomorrow has its own worries to be bothered by it now.
What's eating up your office space and organizational mental space? old politics and enmities that do not die down, grudges and personality clashes, petty squabbles and vain competition for recognition, one-upmanship, or perfectionism? As a leader, decide now to abandon these silly and toxic culture and just focus on getting things done well and pulling everyone together as a team.
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You can't fake this.
I have been in an non-profit Board where the Executive Director meets us every month with some flavor-of-the-month issue that we should be very excited about and yet failed to give us some progress on the most important thing.
For example, the bus that the donor is giving for free, the new technology software for payroll and client management, a new sexual harassment policy, the new grant we should be applying, an enrollment to a certification program and a membership to a municipal social planning committee. Well, these are all great additions but what's happening to the first 5 priority areas where she needed to focus on and deliver.
Diversions could be used to cover some underlying business problems that are not being addressed for many reasons. One of them is that because some people are part of the problem. First, the timing is suspect. The fact that the Board had clearly outlined some pressing issues that needed to be resolved and completely addressed is the order of the day. Adding new but non-pressing agenda does not create that level of trust. Second, the new additions will completely use up all the time, resources, and energy for which that could have been taken in at a later time. Third, the staff seemed to be deliberately treating these diversions as substitutes or proxies for priorities, for whatever reason.
Which led me to the point, the best result- the Board terminated the Executive Director in a matter of few months on a very different reason. But the writing was on the wall with this behavior. You can't dance around important issues and pretend that non-performance and lack of due diligence is perfectly alright. The Board loses its grip when the Executive Director controls them rather that they control the conditions for which the Director should be accountable with.
The part of the problem is that this could be a seemingly innocent mistake until it becomes a behavioral pattern. You have to see it for what it is, diversionary tactics are meant to erode the focus and commitment of leadership.
Be ruthless with your meeting agenda and keep an eagle eye on your musts. Overachieving is not a problem in the purpose sector, it's the underachieving that seems to be tricky.
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Who in the world needs an objective outsider who can express and provide expert opinion that you won't need another second opinion for?
We all need one. In any stage of organizational life, an objective, impartial adviser provides a breath of fresh air. No compromises, no biases, no hidden agenda, no political dynamics. Just pure wisdom culled through experience, practice, and their own observations to serve your best interests.
Then why most Boards and Executive Committees do not anticipate and avail of an outsider perspective to help them make some of these most important decisions?
Fear of making the advisor privy to all the problems and turmoil they face which can be quickly mitigated through a confidentiality agreement and proper guarantees.
Fear of letting new ideas dominate that they haven't vetted or garnered buy-ins.
Fear of being threatened with a new person in the room.
Previous bad experience.
No experience whatsoever in this support.
Never cross their mind.
It could be a number of things. Whatever the reason, this is another missed opportunity for executives to remove themselves from the entrenched philosophies, mentalities, and positions in the organization and intentionally broaden their perspective. You have to bring in this element because amongst yourselves, the results could be a half-baked compromise which erodes any expected gains.
We all need it. You need an objective outsider regardless whether your going swimmingly well amidst turbulence or you are trying to survive. For one thing, the most value you can get from an objective outsider advisor is being truthful, identifying the 'it' that's sucking all other attempts to grow and improve to allow you to make the quickest resolution possible.
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A few months ago, a CEO told me that it seemed, 'everything is in order.' They are moving into a new building, operations have been reconfigured to accommodate an enlarged mandate, expanded personnel, and with secured funding, it is looking promising.
When everything is in order, is it not the best opportune time to plan your next steps?
Here are eight issues that CEOs of social purpose organizations spend their time on:
-Board Leadership and Governance
-Communications and Reputational Issues
-Innovations, Adaptation and Resilience
Which of these eight issues are focused on putting out fires and which are for innovation and building capacity for the future?
They are all areas to look for innovation, adaptation, and resilience. Let your managers and staff know that they can lead to innovate in their departments. These are systems and they all overlap for the organization. Wherever you are in the chart, change happens when people and systems change.
Anticipate that something will come up when you're putting things in order as a cause and consequences of those actions. Growth requires vigilance to outcomes and the resoluteness to continue in the direction of change. Ultimate, it's about minds, hearts, and systems in complete synergy and harmony.
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How many organizations have strategies that are unimplemented? You will never know unless you get inside the cubicle.
This is not just prevalent in the profit sector, not for profit organizations are as well not implementing their strategies.
I question this: if the strategies are not implemented, why are they expending their staff time and managerial attention on something that will not be used at all? There is simply no logic to this!
When I asked an Executive Director why not? The answer I got was: "We just make this because of our funders. We have to wait for the funding cycle to begin to really create a strategy that will restructure the way we work. For now, it will be just a transitional one."
Fair enough. I get the point of transitional strategy. Emergent design is what the current climate calls. Managers and executives must adapt to the rigors and demands of modern organizations where supply chain issues, financing and sustainability, climate and diversity challenges, impact day-to-day decisions.
But non-implementation is a totally different issue. I vehemently challenge the notion of doing something for something else's and not for the benefit of the creator.
What drives this performative action is a culture of obligation, 'looking good,' and conformity.
In my book Provocateurs, I discussed how the culture of conformity creates conditions for organizations to punish early-warning signs of problems and issues, which leads to you know, failures. The same culture of conformity outlaws innovation, creativity, and simply rebellious thinking that shifts control and power.
Your donors do not know you're doing this. Probably, I bet, that this practice is not something that is generally accepted and outwardly legitimized. But because this is what's happening, I also bet that this is not a one-off deal. More organizations are acting this way despite what management books are saying.
Practice defines organizations. Tell me who's not implementing their strategy, and I will tell you there's more to the strategy than meets the eye.
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Leaders of on-purpose organizations are trying hard to diagnose their own problems. They may get to symptoms but it will be way off from the mark in terms of what's the cause of their miseries or wasting the opportunities they should be claiming. In short, value left on the table.
It's like trying to be a doctor and treating your own illness. Or doing your own surgery for which you're not trained or even qualified to do. They want to get the cheapest doctor or specialist. They think they can do it themselves. They look for commodities as against the right resource for the right kind of value-increasing proposition facing them.
This is not a question of money or the question of time or competency of staff, Board, or executive to undertake. This is about the political will and the right measure for risks.
This represents the overabundance of caution based on a fear-based leadership.
Are you leading based on fear by being afraid to expose your own truths to yourself? Change readiness is the attitude, motivation, and drive to change. It starts with you, now, and not tomorrow.
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I asked this question because many organizational executives are comfortably in a fear mode in these difficult times.
What's the next disruption that will derail, disrupt, disembowel your organization's market positioning? or for that matter, your reason for being? what is the most existential threat likely to happen in the next five years?
If it's the fear of the uncertain/unknown that drives your executives to grind down everyday, you better back up and check that the fear is a positive fear that you can control and manage.
If it's the fear of being left out/missing out in the trend-train, check the rational behind the impulse, and fall back to where you are actually generating sustainable outcomes.
If it's survival and modest growth, plan to pivot when you can transition comfortably in the next 3 years, until such a time when you have the golden opportunity to create this new future.
If it's growing and reclaiming lost ground, there is no better time, than now. Get consensus and act on what you have existing at the moment.
"What's driving you forward?" is a better question than "What drives your executives sleepless at night?"
You need to capitalize on the dynamics of forward-motion than the idealized notions of lessons learned. And I hope you're not running around a carousel.
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I heard from an executive recently that they are crawling into the changes. This is reference to the transformation they're undergoing in the whole organization.
To justify being slow and sure, that word seems like a good description. But because they have been into the process for more than 5 years, I beg to disagree.
May I submit to you all that if you're crawling into the changes, you might as well shoot yourself in the foot. Being too slow is inimical to the progress you're trying to create, let alone, complete. There are forces that will resist and blocks these changes. Before you know it, you missed lots of opportunities to showcase the results of those changes.
The pace of change is as important as the vision for the change. Maybe your process needs a revisit. Maybe you don't have the resources or insist that what you have is enough. Maybe your stakeholders do not have a buy-in to the specifics-how their jobs and current positions will be affected. Maybe the readiness for change isn't there yet or not cultivated at all. Or maybe executives believe that to be slow guarantees success!
Crawling sounds like a defeat to me. If you feel like the changes are way too slow, you have missed an important element-the people! The people will make and break your transition. If you can, work backwards, put more time and process to getting them onboard so you can speed through and not crawl into the enemy's lair!
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A lot of executives and managers in on-purpose organizations are too much of a care-taker to become real leaders in their organizations and networks. As Drucker said, too much fire-fighting and problem-solving will elide your impact as a leader to become more strategic and effective.
This care-taking habit stems from their personal and organizational ideation that to be a great leader is to be all at all costs. When pressure mounts. the care-taking role is inadequate, at best palliative. Great leaders are able to bring out diverse skills, competencies, and responses that correspond best to diverse situations.
How do you transfer all your talents, skills, and empathy from a care-taking role to successfully leading your team?
1. Delegate and empower your team to make effective judgement calls and be accountable for them.
2. Say no to being the fount of all knowledge pertaining to your organization and its day-to-day functioning. Share all the information and go home on time.
3. Elevate to leading by demonstrating effective management techniques and influencing and building a good company culture. Stay off from the mundane and other practical issues that's not worthy of your executive time nor energy.
You will never be regarded as a leader if you will remain in a care-taking capacity with all your steam lost in the labyrinth of everyday issues. Being a leader, is leading now and taking charge with the future with strategic thinking and managing. Don't be the superhero that's not needed at all!