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Posts tagged ‘Julia Sloan’

What comes next

In South Central Kansas, we awoke to a winter wonderland this morning. The storm was forecasted for days in advance. Over the last two days, people were busy preparing, buying groceries, fueling vehicles, and dusting off snow shovels. We are all lured by the promise of certainty. We like to be prepared. We like maps, but a global positioning system that can pinpoint our location to within 15 feet is even better.

Yet the biggest myth we believe is that we know what comes next. Each event or performance is a moment in time. Measurements reflect the past. The challenge of leadership is to stimulate ourselves and our organizations to continually adapt, to move in new directions, to propel innovation. Julia Sloan suggests leaders can create an environment that supports change by developing five essential attributes. imagination, expanded perspective, ability to “juggle,” no control over, and desire to win.

Here are a few ideas that leaders can use to strengthen these attributes for themselves:

  • Instead of saying, “No,” ask a question.
  • Reflect on experiences and situations that evoke strong feelings like anger, sadness, or happiness.
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings as a way to identify patterns and understand assumptions.
  • Tell stories that illustrate your beliefs, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Suspend judgment, slow down, look for a “surprise” – then reflect on the surprise.

The power of informal learning

I’ve been re-reading Julia Sloan’s, Learning to Think Strategically. She begins by saying that “strategic thinking is a long-term informal development process, best learned from experiences outside the work environment and supported and processed inside the work environment.”

From this I take away the need to integrate broader life experiences and encountered environments into my work. What does drinking coffee at Mojos or walking through Longwood Gardens have to do with work? What does listening to music or creating art have to do with work?

Everything. Informal does not mean accidental. Spend time observing the processes going on around you, reflecting on how each experience creates emotions and thoughts, and considering the implications for your work. What can you learn? How could the processes, observations, and experiences inform your work? Your strategy? Informal learning may be non-routine or unstructured, but we can bring awareness and curiosity along with us everywhere we go.

What did you learn outside of the office today? How will you apply it when you return?

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