Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy

Bill Colwell shared this Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy video in a worship/inspiration today in our Leadership and Learning Group meeting. I thought you might find it interesting as well!

A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he’s doing is so simple, it’s almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!

Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow.

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Trickle-Up Leadership

Here’s an interesting article about leading up. I’m posting it here so I can find it again.

Trickle Up Leadership published in Fast Company

“If people are too intimidated or too reluctant to help their leaders lead, their leaders will fail,” says Michael Useem, the author of a new book about how you can take control — even when you’re not in command.

In a tough business climate — and even in boom times, for that matter — it’s only natural to want to trust the people in the executive suite. After all, they know what they’re doing, right? Not so fast, says Michael Useem in Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win, due out this month from Crown Business. Sometimes, even the people upstairs need help. “If people are afraid to help their leaders lead, their leaders will fail,” says Useem, a professor of management at the Wharton School and the director of its Center for Leadership and Change Management. In an interview with Fast Company, Useem talked about how to take control even when you’re not in command.

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Research Tips: What Worked for Me

In preparing to defend my dissertation in July, I collected several notes in case others asked me what went well, or what advice I might have for others. I thought I’d share them here in case they are useful to others.

  1. Read a dissertation in your intended field as soon as you can. A month before I started the Leadership PhD I found one of the key dissertations that I quoted throughout my study. It was very helpful to see how the dissertation was put together, to get a map for what was ahead.
  2. Create a research journal. My research journal at first contained my search methods for finding articles and dissertations on my topics. During my statistics classes I recorded questions and thoughts about my own research ideas. During the writing stage, I recorded notes, questions, learning from talking with my committee members, and lists of things to fix in my dissertation. It ended up about 30 pages long, full of notes & ideas.
  3. Email Summaries. Another useful practice was my email summaries. Soon after I talked to a committee member, usually within an hour, I wrote a list of things I learned and things to change. This helped me rephrase my learning, “catch it out of the air” and nail it down to words that I could re-read later. Some of the statistical procedures and knowledge I would have immediately forgotten if I hadn’t written it down. My committee members also found this habit very helpful as they also had a record of my understanding of what was said. They corrected me as needed.
  4. Adapt to your advisor. I thought at first that I wanted to work via email because I want to be able to read things over & over. Yet one committee member wanted to work via phone. I found that adapting to this method was wise because of the give & take that occurred in real time.
  5. Ask questions. If you don’t understand something, don’t just say “uh, huh.” Ask! Clarify. Check for understanding. It’s your own learning! Take control of it!
  6. Take the initiative. After getting feedback on one set of multiple regression analysis, I did all the rest of them. I didn’t wait to be told to do the next analysis. Playing with my data helped me know it better, even when I had to redo analyzes.
  7. Know your data well enough to find errors. Several times I found odd results that didn’t look right. Upon further examination they weren’t right! Understanding your data and the analysis makes it much easier to reflect on the results and implications.
  8. Psych yourself up to spend time on formatting. The formatting will take longer than you expect and can get annoying. Just psych yourself up to know it’s going to be a pain and slog through it! It’s part of the process and makes for a clean nice looking document when you’re done.

What tips do you have for doctoral students writing a dissertation? Feel free to comment and share!

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Stigmergic collaboration: A theoretical framework for mass collaboration

Continuing work on my 5th competency:  Servant Leadership in Technology Facilitation and Collaboration.

Elliott, M. A. (2007). Stigmergic collaboration: A theoretical framework for mass collaboration (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Melbourne, 2007). Retrieved from http://mark-elliott.net/blog/?page_id=24

Notes (instead of a summary)

This work is incredible, detailed, and presented in an attractive way. I feel that I can’t do it justice, but here are a few notes.

Definitions: “Collaboration is the process of two or more people collectively creating emergent, shared representations of a process and or outcome that reflects the input of the total body of contributors” (Elliott, 2007, p. 31).
“co-created emergent shared representation” (p. 45).
“Stigmergy is a class of behavior in which collective activity is coordinated through the individuals’ response to and modification of their local environment—one agent’s modification becomes another’s cue (p. 8). (swarm intelligence)

Some principles: Non zero sum outcome (i.e. win win)
Includes creative activity (not just cooperating together); must create (p. 40).
Generate multiple solutions to a problem and one is selected by the collective (p. 40)
Collaboration transcends and includes cooperation which transcends and includes coordination (p. 41)
The Internet is fundamentally a stigmergic system in that it supports mediated indirect communication and inspires users to respond to its encoding by further encoding it (p. 92).

What does it take to create the environment for it?

The individual must relinquish some control to the collective, including sole authorship (p. 49)

Collaborative output requires “constant attention and redevelopment” through out the process, and the purpose needs redefining daily, each moment (p. 50)

Procedures must be previously agreed upon (p. 51).

What are the participants like?

Multiple participants with varying social capacities, personalities, histories and relationships (p. 53)

An ideal prospective collaborator…
1. is enthustiastic about the subject of our collaboration
2. is open-minded and curious
3. speaks their mind even if it’s an unpopular viewpoint.
4. gets back to me and others in a timely way.
5. is willing to enter into difficult conversations
6. is a perceptive listener. (p. 54)

Communication happens through all types of mediums, and may not stay in the same medium. It also isn’t two-way, it has multiple paths and multiple participants.

What does it take for digital stigmergic collaboration to happen?

Someone has to:

“Define an objective for which collective creative contribution is required in order to build value through user contribution.

Define a set of procedures designed to provide the capacity for participants to make such contributions.

Develop an online environment which caters for these contributions and enables the emergence of collectively created shared representations, and cultivate a community which supports the objectives.

[Then]  “Compliant participants make creative contributions and benefit from collective efforts.” (p. 104)



Wow. This deserves much further thought! Preferably stigmergic collaborative thought.

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Thinking on the Web Book Review

Continuing work on my 5th competency:  Servant Leadership in Technology Facilitation and Collaboration.

Alesso, H. P., & Smith, C. F. (2009). Thinking on the Web : Berners-Lee, Gödel, and Turing. Hoboken, NJ: A. John Wiley & Sons.

This book is written for computer science students and web professionals, however even a casual reader can gain an understanding of a vision for the future of the web. The book intermingles philosophy and questions about intelligence with logic and programming languages. The book begins with a section on what is intelligence, including the big questions asked by Gödel (what is decidable), Turing (what is machine intelligence), and Berners-Lee (what is solvable). If you thought the web was just static HTML pages, think again!

The second section of the book looks at web ontology and logic. Ontology in this context is all about organizing information in a way that the machine can read it. People write “ontologies” to categorize and organize information so that software agents can use the information to make decisions. This section reviews the Resource Description Framework (RDF), Web Ontology Language (OWL), logic and inferences, and the Semantic Web Rule Language (SWRL).

The book ends with a description of how the semantic web could be used for search engines to search concepts instead of terms (p. 208), and for software to perform complex tasks for humans.

Throughout the book, the question keep arising: what is meaning and what is meaning-making? Can a machine “understand” or only follow rules? What does it mean to understand?

Interesting Concepts
The authors state that the web was designed for humans, but it should be designed for machines too (Alesso & Smith, 2009, p. 68). Does this mean rewriting all the pages on the Internet to include RDF, OWL or other semantics so the machine can read it? Or will something easier and faster be created? The limitations of the web today is that it’s not in a form that the machine can use it.

p. 178 Web services ought to be able to interact with each other and “call” each other. They can’t do it now because of interoperability issues and propiertary server technologies. They can’t do it now because the issue of trust is a huge problem.

p. 203-204 The semantic web is where software agents take on actions and perform complex tasks.

p. 232 Open standards are critical to make all this work.

p. 246 The goal is for computers to understand the web in order to do complete tasks.

Just when you think you have a good feel for what the web is and are keeping up with the tools, a radical concept such as the semantic web comes along. While most of the programming and logic in the book is over my head, I gained a glimpse of the vision for the next generation Internet. If we think the world is interconnected now, wait till the machines themselves interact with each other to do work/tasks for us!

What does this hold for e-learning online? What will be the effects for distance collaboration? How will it affect e-Ministry? The comments in the book suggest that the semantic web could “create the ability to work across distributed locations in communities of learning and enable content creation outside of the classroom” (p. 181). It could work well for “project discussion, remote working, and collaborative document creation” (p. 181). Interestingly, I see and use all these applications already with the current web. How would it change if I had my own personal software agent to do work for me? I’m not sure. Still, it’s interesting and intriguing to see what the web gurus are thinking about!

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Leading Through Collaboration Book Review

Continuing work on my 5th competency:  Servant Leadership in Technology Facilitation and Collaboration.

Glaser, J. (2005). Leading through collaboration: Guiding groups to productive solutions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Glaser (2005) sees a leader not as a head of an organization, but anyone who watns to help bring solutions to problems. His book is written to give leaders the tools to develop attitudes and skills to “align the organization around learning” (p. ix). In part 1 Glaser emphasizes attitudes. While some may be tempted to skip to the part 2 skills section, his writing on attitudes about coherence, the self, shared meaning, and groupthink lay an important foundation. From there, the skills section teaches the fundamentals of aligning the team, focusing on the vision, finding solutions, and agreeing to the solution. Filled with stories and real-life examples, this book will inspire you to improve collaboration skills beginning with the next problem you have to solve!

Initial Reaction
I didn’t get very far into this book before I was surprised at the focus on conflict, conflict management, and listening for agreement and disagreement. I’m not sure what I expected, since I collaborate with others daily. But I was not prepared for the focus on getting past disagreement and conflict. But on reflection, clearly you can’t have collaboration without strategies to address conflict and disagreement appropriately. After reading the book, I feel that I have very few, if any, of the skills listed, yet I do collaborate with others. I believe that as I am able to implement what I’ve learned, my collaborations will be stronger and more respectful of others’ views. Not just respect, but actually incorporating all the views and needs of others into the solution. I wonder if sometimes my Strategic strength jumps to a solution without full participation from the group.

What is Collaboration?
Glaser (2005) begins with a definition of collaboration: “to work together to solve a problem or create something new” (p. 3). In addition, he defines coherence as “the condition that exists when individuals are aligned on a given subject or task, and are ready to harness their collective energy to move forward on a common ground solution” (p. 3). As I consider these definitions, I am evaluating my own collaborations.  Just for reference, here are a few of them:

Glaser (2005) suggests that effective teams have the following qualities:

  • joint commitment to shared goals
  • trust of all members to understand their roles and get the job done
  • shifting leadership based on task and circumstances
  • excellent communications
  • understanding each other’s needs and perspectives
  • a sense of humor
  • willingness to set aside differences and to work together for the greater good (p. 4).

The Jazz workshop certainly has this. The one area where we have to work hard to make it happen is the communications, because of the physical and technical distance between us.

Things to Learn

  • The first and main lesson for me from this book is listening. Not just listening to understand, but listening to detect coherence. Glaser told a story of hearing a group discussing who thought they had disagreement, and he asked permission to summarize what he heard, and everyone agreed (p. 9). I want to fine tune my ear to hear like that! In addition, Glaser describes a teacher listening “openly and attentively” to a complaining parent, even when the complaint is presented emotionally (p. 114). I want to be able to listen openly and attentively instead of getting “riled up” along with the other person! “A power leader and problem solver should cultivate an ability to inquire deeply into the nature of what motivates people” (p. 118). This means being able to understand an issue as others see it. Again, later in the book, Glaser (2005) emphasizes listening for the common ground… listening carefully and constructively. “A powerful, consensus oriented leader will develop an ear for how different perspectives fit together, focusing on areas of agreement versus separateness” (p. 143).
  • Another important lesson is to pick up the phone and “call each other before small organizational rubs become huge conflicts” (p. 16). It’s too easy to write an email or Skype message when a phone or VC would resolve the issue and maintain the relationship.
  • Define the problem is another principle from the book. Information needs to be shared so that all understand the ramifications and have shared their perspectives. The work needs to be addressed against the problem, not against each other.
  • Aligning the team includes setting up the meeting to focus on the problem, not on fighting each other. The book includes several suggestions on chair placement, focus of the room, etc. to help with them.
  • Be firm and flexible at the same time! I need to learn to be firm in “articulating and identifying the nature of our interests, while remaining flexible about how those needs get met” (p. 112). This is an important key to true collaboration – meeting the needs/interests of everyone in a creative way. The book has several suggestions for clearly communicating interests, as it is so important to understand the “why” behind the person’s position.
  • Knowing when to push for agreement. Glaser describes several techniques and tools for bringing a group to a solution and/or closure on an issue. These helpful tips include asking each person to articulate that they can support the solution.

Leading by Consensus

Page 175 has a nice little chart with the checklist for what it takes to lead by consensus:

  • Demonstrate leadership commitment
  • Develop a vision and keep it in focus
  • Attend to relationships
  • Maintain open and collaborative communications and problem-solving mechanisms
  • Structure the organization to deliver what is promised
  • Remain mindful of the learning

The book ends with a detailed summary on how to accomplish each of these goals. I found this book very helpful and inspiring and will definitely refer to it as I continue to collaborate with others.

Cross References

  • Learning from this book can be used in my reflection paper for the Communication competency, as well as the Ethics competency.

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eMinistry Book Review

Continuing work on my 5th competency:  Servant Leadership in Technology Facilitation and Collaboration. My commentary includes reflections on the web ministry of Pioneer Memorial Church, of which I am a team member.

Careaga, A. (2001). E-ministry : connecting with the net generation. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

E-ministry is written by volunteer youth pastor and journalist. His book begins with a description of today’s youth online, including the differences between generations and an exploration of post modernism. He describes in detail the experiences of youth online looking for and participating in religious activities such as searching the net and online chat rooms. This book has a detailed description of the perils of the Internet contrasted with the positive possibilities. Finally, he describes “digital discipleship” including online communities, using the Bible online, and addressing the felt needs of the youth online.

This book didn’t have the strong Biblical foundation and rationale that Church Next included. In addition, since it’s from 2001, the focus was on some more primitive bulletin boards and chat rooms  and is of course missing any commentary on the Web 2.0 phenomenon. There are quotes of interactions in chat rooms that could make traditional Christians uncomfortable; including interacting with a “BibleBot” called JesusFrk that spits out verses on demand. The book is much more anti-post-modernism than Church Next. It compares post-modernism to the tower of Babel and emphasizes the post-modern ideas of no absolute truth.  It does suggest that postmoderns may be more open to Jesus that the reason-emphasizing moderns (p. 76). I believe that all worldviews have some truthand some error, and that as Christians our goal is to find the positive to make a connection and lead others to a clearer understanding of truth and a closer relationship with Jesus.  Church Next has a better foundation for the theology of change; where this book has some warnings and concerns about online ministry, it’s more “free flowing” and open. I found this book more disturbing and challenging than Church Next.

Interesting Ideas

  • In the first page, Careaga (2001) calls the “global hive of interconnected computers known as the Internet” the “‘Roman Road’ network of our day” (p. 15). This reminded me of the following quote from Desire of Ages :

“When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son.” Providence had directed the movements of nations, and the tide of human impulse and influence, until the world was ripe for the coming of the Deliverer. The nations were united under one government. One language was widely spoken, and was everywhere recognized as the language of literature. From all lands the Jews of the dispersion gathered to Jerusalem to the annual feasts. As these returned to the places of their sojourn, they could spread throughout the world the tidings of the Messiah’s coming” (White, 1898, p. 32).

  • The book describes a conversation on faith between a boomer, an Xer, and an N-Gener. The author asks “Could such a discussion happen anywhere besides cyberspace?” (p. 64). How often do these generations even worship together, let alone have a discussion. How can generations be brought together online? Later in the book (p. 92), the author mentions a chat room is staffed by a retired chaplain. This model is working well for the prayer requests from the PMC website, and could be used for online communities/small groups/seminars online as well.
  • The author describes the online Christian gatherings as being much more like the “primitive church’s house meetings than to the regimented weekly services of most Protestant denominations” (p. 123). These gatherings are focused on experiential faith. Hmm. Conversation and fellowship can happen with believers online, but can online groups/faith communities challenge people to service in their daily life to those immediately around them?
  • Along with the Church Next book, Careage (2001) also suggests that the church should use stories to tell the stories of the Christian faith (p. 139). Narrative evangelism (p. 142) is telling our story with God’s story and sharing it with others.
  • An idea that I’d never thought of before was that of going “door-to-door” in chat rooms, inviting web surfers to tune into a cybercast (p. 149).
  • Careaga suggests also that you can’t win others to Christ if you spend all your time in a Christian community, online, face to face, and never meeting anyone outside your faith. This includes online experiences too (p. 152-153).
  • Careage quotes Jimmy Long that postmoderns have a two step conversion – they are “converted” to a community – small group or larger community; and then they commit to Christ (p. 154). Careage suggests that we should first invest time in a community online. What would/could that look like? He suggests that online evangelists should do the same as any missionary – planting by cultivating relationships, sowing the seed of the gospel, and then reparing the fruit.

Questions Raised

  • Is an online church a gathering or assembling together? Is a physical gathering critical for an ekklesia?  Is an online church “the congregation of the disembodied” (Careage, 2001, p. 19). How important is physical presence? Does watching a streaming service constitute “assembly”? What does it mean to “meet together” (Hebrews 10:25)? It seems that whether in physical presence or online, merely “listening or watching” is not enough. We must interact with each other. Interactivity is the medium online, not just passivity (p. 37). How can we incorporate interactivity both in face to face church and online? Small groups seem to be key.
  • Can the Internet be used to disciple young people (as suggested in the third section of the book?). What does it mean to disciple someone no matter their age?
  • Denomination distinctions fall down online and successful cyberchurches collaborate with other online ministries (p. 40). How does this reality fit with Adventist understanding of our unique mission to the world?
  • What questions are young people asking? A illustration from the book is Christian teens trying to learn about tatoos and body piercing. Not much (was) available when searching “Christian” with these terms. The author suggests that many religious answers online are not answering the questions that young people are asking (p. 108). In our media ministry, we have the benefit of a campus of college students, who are often surveyed to understand what they want/need to learn. The Chosen series is an example of addressing questions by students.

Thoughts on People Today

  • James Emery White (Careaga, 2001, p. 23): “People are very interested in spiritual things, are asking spiritual questions, and are on spiritual quests as seekers, yet they have no interest in the church.” How do we connect to these seekers? How are we noticing and responding to the spiritual hunger around us?
  • Quoting a young person (Careaga, 2001, p. 30). “The Internet is the way to reach my generation. It is a way for cowards like me to grow in faith privately until we get the strength to say our beliefs out loud.”
  • Even young people who like the online cyberchurch idea are still skeptical about cyberchurch as the only means of connecting to God’s people (p. 31).
  • “N-Geners are very God-conscious” but not grounded in the Christian faith”. Later in the book, Careaga describes churchgoing kids with an eclectic mix of faith. “I’m a born again Christian. Yeah I believe that Jesus was the Son of God. But I’m also a practicing Buddhist” (p. 72). This is a warning and a call to ministry that gives the young a foundation in truth. Recent series from PMC are definitely addressing the need for a foundation, i.e. The Sabbath, The Truth about Death, The Truth about Hell.
  • Teens want to be engaged in a cause bigger than themselves (p. 52). Are we calling the youth to serve Jesus? The Primetime series certainly does. How are we connecting and mentoring them for ministry?

Potential Challenges

  • One of the recurring themes of this book is young people saying whatever they think online. Careaga (2001) suggests that “if one is to participate in the rough-and-tumble community of Usenet newsgroups, one must be willing to put up with such harsh criticism online” (p. 83). Is it possible to have an online community where other views are respected and still be a community that is committed to leading others to a closer walk with Jesus? I think it is… in an online community where people have committed to learn from each other and respect those in the community. A wide open space may be harder to manage, but short time-limited communities (seminars? classes?) should be more manageable.
  • The author suggests that when setting up an online ministry, it’s important to find out what other ministries are already out there and how the new ministry fits with the other online ministries (p. 88). An analysis of within-denomination and inter-denomination online ministries is probably helpful before venturing into a new experience online. For example, 360Hubs has an online networking tool for church members. Here’s a church that has a women’s group online; and another; and “can you do small groups online?” I want to think about this more because I believe that my local church could be doing more for our online/web/podcast listeners, especially those from “creative access countries.”
  • Careaga (2001) suggests that Christians should use the Net to “introduce the Net Generation” to the Bible. That the Word should be “released from the tyranny of the printed page to read a wired, digitized, hyper-connected world” (p. 114). Careage reminds us that the Word was mostly “heard” by early Christians. The oral tradition may be returning in today’s age, and can be met with audio and video podcasts.
  • Is there a way to use the Net to “connect” young people and other online seekers to a physical church community? “Net savvy teens … are suspicious of highly structured institutions” (p. 134). It seems that only with a supportive relationship built online could someone be convinced to jump from “online” church to joining a physical church community. (BTW, I reject the use of the terms virtual and real because online communication is just as real as print which is how we receive the Bible!)
  • Careage quotes Jimmy Long as suggesting that instead of the Great Commission, Christians should emphasize the Great Commandment. This concerns me a bit, because I think the Great Commission is at the core of who we are as Adventist Christians. Maybe instead, one could try to meet the command of the Great Commission through the method of the Great Commandment. This way it is “both” instead of “or”.

Again, while I was familiar with most of the technology tools explained in this book, I found it a challenging and interesting read to consider the ways to minister online. I want to think more about how our church web ministry could add an online community component of some form.

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