Open Thinkering


Tag: dilbert

Productivity: the problem for me, summed up in two images.

I’m a sucker for gadgetry. There is not an area of my life that isn’t technology-enhanced in some way (Oi! stop that sniggering at the back…)

But seriously. If it’s shiny – no, scratch that, it doesn’t even have to be shiny – if it’s cool and useful in some way, I tend to want it. I’m not going to list everything as it would seem somewhat boastful and inappropriate in these times of economic woe, but I’m sure you get the picture. I always know what item of technological wizardry I’m going to buy next should some money come my way through the various side-projects I’m involved in.

The trouble is, of course, that gadgetry depreciates rapidly in value. Perhaps I should buy rare books. They don’t tend to go down in value. Anyway, all of this can have an impact on my productivity if I’m not careful. I have to set aside times to focus on the things like my Ed.D. and work for publishing companies that has to be done. I suppose as one of my official job titles is ‘E-Learning Staff Tutor’ I could claim it’s all just research for work… ๐Ÿ˜‰

My second major barrier to productivity stems from my youth. I can remember beingย  about 12 years of age and round at a friend-of-a-friend’s house. He had a computer (quite a novelty in those days) and had just purchased a game by the name of Championship Manager ’93. Oh. My. Goodness. How I loved that game. I bought it and every version of the game since then almost as soon as they came out. I didn’t do as well as I should have done in my GCSE‘s because of the legendary Championship Manager Italia. I played incarnations of the game less at uni, but with its successor, Football Manager has seen me succumb once again. I’m currently playing Football Manager 2009 with its great 3D match engine which looks great on my (shiny!) new Macbook Pro.

I go through phases with games such as this. The trouble is that they’ve recently released Football Manager Live, which is to the sporting genre what World of Warcraft is to the MMPORG. I just know for a fact that if I started playing that then even my semblance of a social life would disappear! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

What are YOUR barriers to productivity? Do you accept and work with them, or are you working to eliminate them?

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Why we should adopt the OA5 system in education

My friend Paul Lewis, he of the infrequent blogging, very kindly let me have his Dilbert omnibus last year. I’ve been reading it again recently and it’s got me thinking about conformity and creativity. The omnibus brings together 3 Dilbert books into one volume. Joy! ๐Ÿ˜€

In The Dilbert Principle, Scott Adams outlines the ‘Out At Five’ business model. Enshrined within it are not only some comic gems, but some great pieces of advice. If we stuck to some of these in education, we’d go a long way to reforming the whole system.

He divides his principles into two subcategories:

Staying out of the way

  1. Scott Adams advocates letting the ’employees dress any way they want, decorate their work spaces any way they want, format memos any way they want’. This is because that there is no proof that any of these impact productivity. Instead, they create a message that conformity is valued above efficiency or creativity. Whilst I would still advocate some form of school uniform to prevent undue focus on students’ clothes, I do think schools in general could be a bit more laid-back about the ways both students and staff express themselves. I’m certainly not saying profanity, drugs and alcohol should be imported to create some type of dystopian educational system. Instead, I’m saying that we should value difference and (that abused word) diversity over conformity and standardization.
  2. Eliminate artificial processes. In businesses these are obvious, but in education they can still be seen. For example ‘Every Child Matters‘ and ‘Personalising Learning’ agendas. They’ve got titles no-one can disagree with, but lead to bureaucracy and a loss of focus on the actual students themselves. It’s my belief that every educator has, at their core, the well-being and interests of students in their charge. As Scott Adams puts it:

If you have a good e-mail system, a stable organization chart, and an unstressed workplace the good ideas will get to the right person without any help The main thing is to let people know that creativity is okay and get out of the way.

What does an OA5 manager do?

  1. Eliminate the assholes. Quite blunt, but you know exactly what he means. There’s people who put a downer on the whole enterprise of education. They’re quick to blame students rather than themselves, they’re more interested in internal politics than student wellbeing and achievement, they like being controversial for the sake of it. Let’s get rid of them. In fact, I’m all for moves to make it easier to remove teachers from their posts. Why should we get, in effect, ‘immediate tenure’?
  2. The second is my favourite: make sure employees (i.e. teachers) learn something new every day. As Scott Adams remarks:

    The more you know, the more connections form in your brain, and the easier every task becomes. Learning creates job satisfaction and suports and person’s ego and energy level.

    But more than that, as teachers, we should be good role-models as everday and curious learners! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Cultivate all the little things that support curiosity and learning. Questions such as ‘What did you learn?’ when you make mistakes are more powerful than, ‘What the hell were you thinking?’
  4. Teach employees how to be efficient. Lead by example – keep meetings short, refuse to take part or go along with low-priority activities because it’s ‘polite’, and (my favourite) respectfully interrupt people who talk too long without getting to the point. I’d force everyone to read blogs such as Lifehacker, Zen Habits and Unclutterer every day. But that’s just me… ๐Ÿ˜‰

What do YOU think? Besides the name (Out At 5) is there anything with which you’d disagree?

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