Resources for Finding Community Pt 2

A couple weeks ago, I shared Resources for Finding Community Pt 1 with the hope that you could begin to find the connectors within your organization or team. Learning who the people are that have influence is the first step.

The next step is to begin to identify the characteristics of your community. Beginning with the premise of “when we are at our best….”, try using the questions below. These are a starting point for conversations that involve the senses. When I’ve used these in the past, I have found that small groups (mixed departments and roles on the campus/department/team) work best.

A community is always in transition – people come and go, priorities shift, and supplies can become scarce. Yet if members have reflected on who connects the pieces, what expectations they can have for their behavior, and how they can memorialize all they value, then the community has the best chance of surviving any disruption.

Try these out at your next opportunity and let me know what you learn.

What Are You Becoming?

The Boston Marathon was the other day, and I had two friends running it. They were excited to be back, especially for this 10th anniversary. And as I settled in to watch the TV coverage, and track them on the app, I kept hearing the announcers talk about individual runners. And they would refer to them by their best times. “That’s a 2:03 guy” & “She’s a 2:25 runner”. They were identified based on a static moment in their running history. As if that’s all there is to them. Hmm.

Nearly three months ago, I retired from public education. And my first day in this new adventure, I did what I thought most retired people do – I went to the mall and walked around. It’s amazing how much quieter it is on a Wednesday. I’m not sure what I expected to find that late morning, perhaps a sense of new purpose….or merely the best place to get frozen yogurt or a fresh cookie. Discovering the usual suspects slumped in chairs and across benches, I wondered if this was my new #squad. I’m far too spry for all this, right? And as I traversed the food court and circled back behind the carousel, a billboard sign caught my eye.

Eliud Kipchogee is the greatest marathoner of all time, and he often shares the notion that no human is limited. From that, I believe he is affirming that we are all on a journey forward; on a path toward more. When we slow down and consider that we are each in the dynamic state of becoming – that we are existing in the place between what has been and what will ultimately be – then maybe we can find the grace & patience that we all deserve. Whether a student in your class, a client for your firm, or a friend that may challenge the relationship, we are all still under development.

And thus it begs the question – What are you becoming?

Say Hello with Your New Summer Collaboration Tool

Each spring, campus leaders live in two worlds.  They are dually focused on all the annual testing amid the quickly approaching end of the semester and also building out the plans for the coming school year.  It’s terribly hectic while amazingly exciting.  And as schools head toward summer, I want to share a tool that I believe can help your team manage the next few months while avoiding the loss of momentum.

The most common questions from non-educators as June approaches are either (a) Do you have to work in the summer and/or (b) What do you do in the summer, just hang out? My polite reply is that summer is the off-season and that, similar to professional athletes, summer is spent both recovering from and preparing for the upcoming school year. Hiring of course is critical, yet planning is also paramount. Toss in the well-earned need for team members to simply vacation, and you can begin to see what can happen.  Finding time to gather and plan is tough. Yet I think there is a tool for you to consider.

Voxer has been described as a sort of walkie-talkie for teams of almost any size. While that is fair, I think it holds even more power in the hands of a user. Unlike most walkie-talkie experiences, the users aren’t tied to be next to each other or close to a receiver/repeater. You can be anywhere with access to data.

Now I understand that you may be thinking that it’s unnecessary since your people on campus are – well – they’re down the hall.  You can already text them, and, you know where to find them, right?

Group Planning

However, I recommend trying to use Voxer this summer so that, as you begin to scatter, you can still actively plan together. Yes, shared docs on a Google Drive can be products of this work, yet I think some of the best learning and ideas come from hearing each other’s voices and having time to process. You can add pictures, videos, comments, and more within the Voxer group. So as one person is on the beach, another cycling across Vancouver, and another hanging in their office, you can all stay connected.  Below is an image I found that offers some basic Voxer101 information.

Voxer 101

Full transparency, I have tried this before with mixed results.  The people that jumped in and tried to leverage the tool found some success.  With others, it was a mixed bag.  And that’s alright.  I know that if I didn’t make use of this then we would have hoped we were individually working on plans, and we would have spent time reading texts or emails or even sharing Google Docs.  All of that is in isolation, right?  My point is that there was no synthesis, no energy, and no excitement as an idea began to crystallize. How would we genuinely know we were sharing the best ideas and making them better? It would be a static experience right as we were seeking something dynamic.

I hope you’ll consider giving it a go.  The added touch of voice matters.

What kind of tools are you using to ensure your off-season is highly productive?  What other resources have you tried for collaboration?