Blue Skies Thinking vs. Grey Skies Thinking

I attended a meeting today. It began as it meant to go on: it was assumed and then stated explicitly that we all wanted to be home ASAP and that there was some stuff that needed to be done so we’d better get on and do it to meet our obligations and get it out of the way. It’s what I would term a ‘Grey Skies Meeting’.

We’ve all been to Grey Skies Meetings. They’re the ones where:

  • Something needs to be done but no-one wants to do it.
  • Problems are raised.
  • There is a strict hierarchy and everyone ‘knows their place’.
  • Saying anything that entails lengthy discussion is frowned upon and there is immense peer pressure not to do so.
  • Internal politics are at the forefront, the actual purpose of the organization is put on the backburner.
  • Quick solutions that tick boxes are welcomed.

I came away from the meeting somewhat downhearted. There were a few in that meeting who genuinely wanted things to move forwards in the same way that I did. But, for some of the reasons given above, they only expressed these ideas and thoughts before and after the meeting had taken place.

I want to work in a Blue Skies environment that has meetings whereby:

  • Opportunities are identified.
  • The reason for the organization’s existence guides the process and progress of the meeting.
  • People feel confident at putting forward ideas and concepts that aren’t necessarily full-formed, but point in the right direction.
  • A meritocracy operates: people’s contributions are judged by their usefulness rather than the position that the contributor holds or the length of time they’ve spent within the organization.
  • Smaller plans feed into a bigger plan.
  • The talents of the whole of the individual are used rather than their utility being defined by their position within the organization.

This isn’t a blog post about my school. It isn’t really about education per se. It’s about how our society operates and defines people. I want to be where there’s a blue sky. In fact, just saying that has made me remember ELO’s feelgood anthem Mr Blue Sky, which has cheered me up no end… :-p

Want to improve your meetings? Take a look at lifehacker.com/tag/meetings!

7 Comments

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  1. Absolutely. Isn’t that why twitter is a breath of fresh air? Even though our hands are still being bound beneath the grey sky, our minds roam under the blue??

  2. Absolutely. Isn't that why twitter is a breath of fresh air? Even though our hands are still being bound beneath the grey sky, our minds roam under the blue??

  3. Yes, Twitter's great. So are our weekly FlashMeetings for EdTechRoundup.But, unfortunately, that doesn't change the situation inside ourinstitutions and businesses…

  4. Doug, excellent post. It’s always frustrating to hear people around me at meetings always talking about how they have better things to do or they would rather be “picking up dog %$#&” (heard that from a veteran teacher once.) I still have a fire, a passion to do great things for the kids in my school and when I hear this type of stuff, I just want to grab them, shake them up a little bit and ask, “then WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?” Thankfully, there are times when the grey sky opens up a bit, revealing that beautiful blue sky you talk about.

  5. Doug, excellent post. It's always frustrating to hear people around me at meetings always talking about how they have better things to do or they would rather be “picking up dog %$#&” (heard that from a veteran teacher once.) I still have a fire, a passion to do great things for the kids in my school and when I hear this type of stuff, I just want to grab them, shake them up a little bit and ask, “then WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?” Thankfully, there are times when the grey sky opens up a bit, revealing that beautiful blue sky you talk about.

  6. Thank you for this post, Doug. As cliche as it may sound, I feel better knowing im not alone in this crazy world of Gray skyers! I started to wonder if I am the one with a problem, questioning myself, Am I supposed to move on and forget we actually care? I now realize that every organization has their “Gray sky”. If you know of an organization that does more “Blue Sky”, Im ready to turn in my resignation and move.

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