Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hide-and-earth bound but there's no tether, on a zephyr (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

I'm reading an amazing book at the moment: Velocity by a couple of young whipper snappers - Ajaz Ahmed and Stefan Olander.

It's subtitled The seven new laws for a world gone digital. Don't let that put you off; the seven, the new and digital are tags to get you hooked.

I'm not sure where the idea that seven was the desired standard for these things. I'm pretty sure the seven deadly sins came before the dwarves but I'm a little hazy on these things.

Whatever, everybody's at it these days. I mentioned in my last posting that I'd finished reading Deepak Chopra's The 7 Spiritual Laws of Superheroes and of course there are Seven:11's; seven days in a week; seven notes on a musical scale; seven wonders of the world; the Buddha first walked seven steps; the magnificent seven; highly effective people have seven habits according to Stephen Covey; and, of course, there is that enigma wrapped in a riddle that is Seven Sharp

But I digress.

Velocity is written by two whizz kids. Ajaz Ahmed founded AKQA ( Have a look if you get a chance - their business is future innovation so it's interesting to see what their website looks like - big on graphics, high on mystery.

Stefan Olander has one of those what-the-hell-does-that-actually-mean job titles at Nike - Vice president of digital sport.

Together they talk about stuff in Velocity and it's terrific.

Lesson one/Law One (in a chapter called a Smith and Weston beats four aces) - trying to protect what you've already got is a mistake.

They obviously mean in a business context but I think this applies to other things like schools. School's have a brand association whether they like it or not.

I was filling up the car's petrol t'other day and the shop lady knows I teach at Woodford House. She was chatting about schools in general. When I asked her where she went to school she said 'Colenso College', followed by it was good then but it's not now.

And right there the brand suffered. Who knows the truth. Anyone coming in contact with this lady is going to get one version only.

Schools go through ups and downs. Public perception is fickle. Schools want to protect their brand if it's a good one but Ahmed/Olander say that's a mistake. Innovation/ continual improvement is a must.

I'm lucky to be at Woodford House. We are currently involved in some potentially major change to the brand but we appear to be quite fearless about it right now. Fantastic!! Long may that continue.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I've lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons. The door opens: I've been knocking from the inside (Rumi)

I've been reading a book by Deepak Chopra called The 7 Spiritual Laws of Superheroes during my holidays

Well with a title like that how could I ever resist - spiritual laws AND superheroes?? A perfect fit!

Deepak Chopra is a name synonymous with new age wisdom and you either are open to that or not really. 

I'm not usually. I prefer my wisdom of the gnarly old aged variety (trust you're well PJ) but I bought the book on sale at Poppies in Havelock North when I saw Chopra had used The Silver Surfer as a subject in his analysis.

Now, I LOVE The Silver Surfer. He first came to my attention in The Fantastic Four comics that I collected when I was much much younger.

The Silver Surfer, for the uninitiated, started off as a young astronomer named Norrin Radd on the planet Zenn-La. Wikipedia tells us that "he saved his homeworld from the planet devourer, Galactus, by serving as his herald. Imbued in return with a tiny portion of Galactus's Power Cosmic, Radd acquired vast power, a new body and a surfboard-like craft on which he could travel faster than light. Now known as the Silver Surfer, he roamed the cosmos searching for planets for Galactus to consume. When his travels took him to Earth, he met the Fantastic Four, a team of powerful superheroes who helped him rediscover his humanity and nobility of spirit. Betraying Galactus, the Surfer saved Earth but was exiled there as punishment". 

It's the rediscovery of humanity that Chopra is interested in.

As I read through the book I became aware of how a lot of what Chopra was talking about related to change philosophy.

The Silver Surfer starts out as one thing, for altruistic reasons he becomes aligned with evil and destruction but then ultimately changes to become a 'warrior for good'.

Chopra outlines a nine step process to change that I like (it dovetails at points with the inquiry method that I've been engaged with during the last couple of months at school):
  • Intended outcome (a clear vision of the intended outcome)
  • Information gathering
  • Information analysis (the pros and cons)
  • Incubation (time spent processing information)
  • Insight
  • Inspiration
  • Implementation (action)
  • Integration (a new context and meaning)
  • Incarnation (integration leads to a new incarnation)
This is a tad more complicated than the simple NIssan model of steep slope improvement (>Plan>Do>Check>Action>Plan>Do...) and although there doesn't appear to be a cyclic nature to Chopra's model, the concept is very similar.

My school has set up a Change Action Group (CAG) and I've volunteered to be a part of it which is slightly against Groucho's maxim (don't belong to a club that would have me as a member) but it could be an exciting way forward. 

I like the way change and action are aligned in the group title. That gives me a degree of confidence. I keep thinking about those bananas!

Rest assured - I'll keep you posted.