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  • Firefly News Flash, January 2016, The Firefly Group
    the ordinary No matter your profession you probably are faced with the challenge of work that s necessary yet uninspiring It doesn t have to be that way though As the pictures above show there can be a lot of room for creativity challenge expression beauty and joy in necessary unglamorous work No matter what you are doing there is a way to do it artfully How do you start Here are some suggestions Be playful Imagine you are doing your task for the Queen of England Give yourself a point for each milestone you accomplish Invent a story about what you are doing with whom and why Add beauty If you are making something build it as artfully as you can If you are speaking or writing use your best diction and prose Be physically graceful and strong if even for an audience of one you Stay focused Instead of becoming distracted by something else you should be doing center your thoughts on one action at a time Complete each part of the task thoroughly mindfully with intention Aim high Give yourself a lofty goal Stack wood to provide a warm welcoming home for family and guests on the coldest day of winter Review the department budget to find savings that will fund innovative projects in the future Complete the inventory so sales associates can provide excellent service to valued customers who promote your company on social media Connect with others We often have a wood stacking party Guests pass logs along a human chain and the wood is piled up in no time Later everyone shares a hearty meal around a warm fire A traditional barn raising was a community event culminating in a celebration Food and friends beat the boring out of any dull task Work your craft Whatever skills you are using do them at your utmost best If you can find a way to incorporate your personally unique gifts into the quotidian task do it and do it great Prepare for success Like the 99 Word Story arrange the environment so that success becomes the natural outcome Gather the needed tools and supplies before you begin Modify your procedure mid task to take advantage of what you are learning and to gain efficiencies If you try one of these tactics please how it affected your ability to take control of the outcome of your efforts Activities Preparing for Success The more common a task the simpler it looks the less likely we are to prepare for doing it Whether for ourselves or for another person if the job appears easy we may not set up the environment for success Variations of the activity described below are often used to teach about better communication I suggest you use it to demonstrate the assumptions we make when we assign a simple task to another person and to practice preparing the environment for the success of everyone Success Materials An identical set six to eight pieces of building

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2016/January%202016.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • Firefly News Flash, December 2015, The Firefly Group
    important but you must look for it Resources The Poetry Foundation Ideas Living in the Fog Sometimes fog is an opportunity to be quiet and reflective After all it s not safe to move too quickly when you can t see anything It makes sense to sit Yet at other times it s just as unsafe to stay still I learned this while driving a twisted mountain road from Riobamba to Cuenca in Ecuador For two hours we inched along the steep mountain side somehow finding our way between a sheer cliff and a very deep ditch It would have made sense to stop except there was no place to pull over I was afraid of being hit if we didn t keep moving and it would soon be dark The best course was to keep an eye on the white line at the side of the road and watch for oncoming traffic You don t have to see fog to be surrounded by it The 99 Word Story gives one example of how we might obscure what could be in plain sight A desire for precision creeps on silent cat feet to envelop and confuse And this kind of fog takes other forms having so many choices that we are befuddled by indecision being distracted by crazy making and chaos balancing the stresses of over commitment lacking the will to change focusing on tiny details while avoiding the big picture Once enwrapped in the metaphorical mists it s easy to stay cloudy Here s why Information overload dulls the senses and fills all the quiet reflective spaces of our lives Interruptions especially from our electronics force our brains to reboot their complex thinking Unclear goals make our direction uncertain and our destination fuzzy Entropy and stagnation entrench us in conformity A profusion of choices leads to the fear of making the wrong choice Tackling a big problem alone strains our physical mental and emotional energy How can we stay clear headed and make our way through the fog Here are some strategies Recognize you are in the fog Don t let it creep in on cat feet See the danger Assess your risk Strain focus your senses Stay alert and vigilant Be still but be ready to move Find an anchor or safe location Look for guideposts and markers Increase communication Follow a guide Test by taking tentative steps Introduce a small change Fog It s in the forecast It s part of the climate Let s use it and learn from it but avoid creating it Activities Seeing Clearly The last month of the year offers a good excuse to be reflective to count up accomplishments and project into the year ahead Perhaps you do that every year or even more often than annually Do you have a favorite method for your year end review Here is one self reflection activity based on our foggy theme Try it by yourself or with a group of friends or teammates

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2015/December%202015.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • Firefly News Flash, November 2015, The Firefly Group
    simplified became stupid In Geoff Colvin s book more intelligent computers can make us more stupid How shall we reconcile these opposing views Perhaps it really depends on how we use our computers Like any tool computers need to be matched to the task and the desired outcome You could possibly use a hammer to attach two pieces of wood with a screw but it would be difficult And you certainly wouldn t use a hammer to cut that piece of wood or to convince a colleague or your teenager of your point of view An important question which Colvin raises in his book is which functions do we really want computers doing Just because a computer can do something should it He points out that we probably will never want computers to make decisions for us We also won t want them to deliver bad news or invent a creative solution to an evolving problem These are the things that humans do really well We are most adept at bringing people together motivating them and building relationships that result in teams that are smarter than their individual members Unfortunately some of the uses of on line technology actually work against our development of these human skills For example my own ten minute research about Tinder a social app that people use to enhance their dating prospects confirms Colvin s assertion that technology can be a barrier to our most human abilities A Vanity Fair article titled Tinder and the Dawn of the Dating Apocalypse notes that millennials brought up on social media are acutely anxious about intimacy We don t know how to talk to each other face to face It s difficult to see how spending more time on line will make them any more adept at interpersonal relationships Just as computers are a tool that have their specific uses our social skills of empathy listening innovation creativity storytelling teambuilding co creativity brainstorming and cultural sensitivity might also be considered tools Does it make sense to use a social networking app instead of the social networking skills that have been developed over several thousand years of human evolution By highlighting what computers do so well Geoff Colvin s book challenges us to develop and refine what we do well as humans And that s the value we can add that machines will never match Activities Talk to Me One of the important points of Geoff Colvin s book Humans are Underrated is that the interpersonal skills that will stay of high value can be learned and improved He describes a group of sixth graders who clocked an average of four and a half hours of screen time every day This group scored low on empathy skills But with a week in the outdoors and the absence of electronic devices their empathy abilities improved Colvin says that we can improve our empathy and other executive functioning by getting to know another person or working with them to solve a

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2015/November%202015.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • Firefly News Flash, October 2015, The Firefly Group
    warnings or had no transportation Yet we are quick to assume everyone stubbornly refused to leave Human and Not Human We create enemies by viewing the world of others through our own narrow lens and expecting others to see the world the same way The less others share our perspective the less human we assume they are In contrast we routinely bestow human qualities on machines animals the weather and other objects that clearly do not share our emotions and thought processes Anthropomorphizing giving a mind to the unhuman enables us to explain unpredictable actions because a mind is what makes sense of action Using and Misusing Stereotypes We are good at extracting summarizing and averaging data about groups but make mistakes when applying that averaged data to individuals Stereotypes exaggerate the differences between groups that are defined by their differences a mistake enhanced by considering the other side s perspective You can put yourself in the shoes of another to see their perspective but you still don t know whether you are seeing their situation accurately Epley consistently talks about our mind reading ability as a sixth sense that can be useful but that can also trip us up Ultimately he concludes knowing another person s mind is a matter of asking and listening not just reading and guessing Resources Mindwise Why We Misunderstand What Others Think Believe Feel and Want By Nicholas Epley Vintage Books Random House New York 2014 ISBN 978 0 307 74356 5 Ideas Get Over Yourself A few weeks ago I decided to buy a bike for use when I visit my father in law in California Since I am never there more than 10 days at a time I didn t want to spend a lot Something used would be fine And I didn t care what it looked like until I saw it The only used bike in my size was a pale baby blue with a silly looking carry pouch on the handle bars adorned with a childish cartoon figure It did not say The rider of this bike is a serious manly athlete able to climb the hills of San Francisco But I still bought the bike sold on its quality mechanics and deciding I would ignore what people might say about the color I figured the cartoon character would keep me humble My sensory data about the bike was combined with my emotions history experience and sense of self to generate my negative evaluation of this bicycle That s my perceptual lens that I m not even fully aware of But here s the kicker that Epley s book brings to light I expect that everyone else will evaluate the bike and by extension me in exactly the same way I think baby blue is not very masculine so do you I think the lion is cartoonish and childish and so do you I would judge a person who rides this bike as unmanly and you would too Am

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2015/October%202015.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • Firefly News Flash, September 2015, The Firefly Group
    and if you are not satisfied with all the femtoseconds you ve been accumulating while reading this article perhaps you d like to take one of those seconds shatter it into a quintillion fragments 10 to the 18 and use your new found attoseconds to make measurements in photon research Ideas How Do You Think About Change They say The only constant is change That s probably because change is constantly happening even in units of femtoseconds that seem too small to accomplish anything The discussion of femtoseconds presents a nice contrast to the 99 Word Story Both examples are about change sometimes it happens slowly other times quickly but in all cases it s a process Many intermediate steps occur between the desire for change and its completion And we can decide how precisely to record those steps Much of our dissatisfaction with change is with its pace It s either too fast or too slow But if we remember that change is a process of constant movement we can alter our perception about its pace Is change happening too quickly Slow it down by breaking activities into smaller femto units You can then be deliberate about execution Is change happening too slowly Start anywhere with a big bite to satisfy your hunger for movement Make an immediate reassessment to determine your next step This ability to parse the process of a change into distinct units raises other questions When does a change actually begin Does a project begin with an initial phase of analysis or does it begin with the concepts that grew out of a brainstorming session weeks earlier Does change begin with an initial desire before we even know what change to make When does a change end Does that happen with the final project deliverable or with a need to improve upon that deliverable a few months later Does the conclusion of one change lead to the beginning of the next If nothing else I hope these thought abou t change make your next transition easier to stomach and that you ll take at least a femtosecond and h ow Activities The Face of Change What are all the phases that must take place between the conception and completion of a project How many ways can or should we slice the steps of a project How much precision do we need to make an important change You can begin a discussion with your team using this activity Improvisational theater actors play with this activity to open lines of creativity and communication But you can use it to open a conversation about change and the challenges it presents Materials One marker for each person Several sheets of blank paper for each person Time 20 minutes Procedure Have people choose a partner and sit next to them with several sheets of paper centered between each other The goal is to cooperatively draw one face on the same sheet of paper Partners may not do any planning before

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2015/September%202015.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • Firefly News Flash, August 2015, The Firefly Group
    Besides this clarity about what an insight is and the various paths to achieve one Klein s book describes why organizations are not the best place to foster insights and he provides suggestions for increasing insights in oneself and others Many organizations say they value insights that lead to innovation Yet by their nature organizations strive for stability and predictability They create policies systems and hierarchies that maintain the status quo If insights lead to changes in how we understand act see feel and desire this presents a challenge for organizational life On an individual level Klein asked a basic question Why is it that two people with the same information and expertise do not both come up with the same insights Drawing examples from several fields but especially research science Klein identified four characteristics that primed some individuals for insight while leaving others floundering Those most likely to gain an insight were able to escape a fixation on flawed beliefs had sufficient experience took an active stance to problem solving and engaged in playful rather than concrete reasoning Seeing What Others Don t offers a fresh perspective on the basis for brilliant ideas It sharpens our understanding of what an insight is while expanding the ways we might gain new perceptions And while it doesn t guarantee instantaneous success at least it demystifies the process For more information Seeing What Others Don t The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights Gary Klein Public Affairs New York 2013 ISBN 978 1 61039 382 9 Ideas Spark Your Own Insights Insights are at the heart of what The Firefly Group is all about As a trainer facilitator and instructional designer I focus on creating an environment where people can gain insights and apply them to their work or personal lives Gary Klein devotes a chapter of his book Seeing What Others Don t to helping others gain insights For case examples Klein uses both teachers and therapists since both types of professionals have the goal of helping people change their thinking and ultimately their actions To create an environment for learning Klein s first step is to diagnose the flaw in the other person s thinking Then rather than bluntly telling the person that they are wrong and why it s important to help them discover the faulty aspects of their thinking on their own Skillful teachers and therapists ask probing questions to further understand the person s thinking they offer alternative explanations and information then they challenge the person to try something different than what they would ordinarily do By highlighting a contradiction the teacher or therapist challenges the person to square it with their old way of thinking In the process an insight occurs new beliefs are formulated and new actions result In my own work I use this same process to promote insights during meetings and training workshops I usually begin with a quick activity that has a surprise twist or that defies conventional thinking I ask probing questions

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2015/August%202015.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • Firefly News Flash, July 2015, The Firefly Group
    tough sell because we are often working in a culture where the fear of failure prevents offering opportunities for what I call risky learning Consequently meeting organizers fall back on the safe one teacher many learners model that we all were indoctrinated in at school However an increasing number of conference planners realize that their attendees collectively possess far more experience and expertise than any single speaker My work then is to convince them that peer conference formats are a far more effective way to tap into group knowledge and match it to participant needs than having a few people talk at an audience It s still true however that the most effective way to convince a conference planner of the value of peer conferences is to have them participate in one as afterwards the vast majority of participants report that they don t want to attend traditional conferences any more Remer When I ve been a conference presenter I always come prepared to facilitate a highly interactive session How would I do the same in a peer conference if I wouldn t know what sessions people will want to create and attend Segar Before a peer conference starts no one knows what topics will be chosen what formats will be used or who will facilitate or lead sessions If you have something you think may be of value to your peers you should bring it to the conference and offer it and it s quite possible people will want it though there is no certainty But the skills of a good facilitator are highly valued at peer conferences because effective facilitation of sessions invariably improves their quality and usefulness to participants Remer You ve just written a new book How is it different from your previous book Conferences that Work Segar My first book Conferences That Work Creating Events That People Love covered the why and how of participant driven events conferences and professional meetings that become what the participants want and need them to be It shared the rationale of the peer conference format I d developed over the years and comprehensively described how to organize and hold one Once the book was published I thought I had finished writing books Yet as word of the book spread and increasing numbers of clients asked me to consult on event design it became clear that there was a need for a book that concentrated on a finer level of detail the meeting session itself Over and over again clients wanted to know how to improve their sessions and by extension their events as measured ultimately by increased attendee satisfaction and retention The Conferences That Work meeting format improves conferences immensely by providing structure and support for powerful participant connection and learning But it does not directly address the design of individual conference sessions the heart of any conference whether traditional or participant driven Unfortunately we have all spent far too much time sitting through boring and ineffective sessions listening

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2015/July%202015.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • Firefly News Flash, June 2015, The Firefly Group
    pounds of corn per person Reclaiming these valuable nutrients at their source also makes sense By the time your flush reaches the municipal processing plant nutrient rich urine has been diluted by hundreds of gallons of water and mixed with household cleaners industrial chemicals and dirt and debris from storm sewers Separating the good stuff from the gunk and sludge is extremely expensive and not very effective With seven billion mouths to feed a popular movement poised to go green and many regions facing serious water shortages it makes sense to look at what we throw away and why As the 99 Word Story suggests we need to make better use of cracks in the system to catch what s valuable For more information about Rich Earth Institute visit http richearthinstitute org Ideas The Ick Factor I dithered for months trying to decide whether the Rich Earth Institute was an appropriate Discovery for the Firefly News Flash Would some people find it off putting Was I promoting someone else s agenda Did it have a strong enough connection to leadership and learning But then I realized that my hesitancy pointed to an interesting aspect of change one that is not often explicitly discussed among those who champion a new initiative Emotion We resist change for many reasons lack of trust fear of losing our job or status poor timing loss of control and more Though we may address specific feelings such as fear the swamp of mixed and unarticulated emotions that are not identified pose a huge problem These un named emotions form the basis of our taboos and social norms which are probably the most difficult forms of resistance in a change process Look at the work of the Rich Earth Institute again Humans have been enriching their farm land with animal manure for centuries Why should it be such a leap to use our own manure for the same purpose It s not that difficult to sanitize human waste especially when separated at its source Yet across the planet and through the centuries our emotions have generated an ick factor that prevents us from using waste as a resource For your next change initiative spend some time exploring the emotions that surround the conversation Look for the ick factor and try to describe how it came about the taboos and social norms that support it Use your exploration like the decking of the 99 Word Story to sift away what s truly insignificant Then address the important stuff that remains Activities Lessons from Dirty Water Even if you don t have the means or interest to support the work of the Rich Earth Institute you can still use their cause as a springboard for learning in your organization no matter what your business Here s how Share the story of the Rich Earth Institute and its goals with your team Choose a topic area from those below and lead a discussion along the lines of the questions that

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2015/June%202015.htm (2016-02-15)
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