Class notes - week three, Fall 2017

Week three broke my biking streak as there was one rainy day and another which involved a pre-work meeting that necessitated driving that morning.

Table of contents

I had a frustrating moment on Tuesday evening. Was cutting the schedule a bit close getting to class and parked the car in the ramp at the electric car charging station. As I had done before I called the number on the front of the station to get them to initiate a free charging session, but the hold time was longer than I had to spare. I left the call running in my pocket as I started walking to class in hopes that they would pick up and I could run back and plug the car in, but they didn’t pick up until ten minutes had elapsed and I was already in the Humphrey School building just a couple minutes before class start time. So, note to self, I should sign up for a Chargepoint account to get a card to initiate a session myself, and until that happens make sure there’s ample time to wait on the phone to start that charging session. On the bright side, I discovered that the cost of parking drops to $1 and hour when you enter the ramp after 5pm because the fee to exit came to just four bucks. That makes me feel like coming to campus in the winter is going to be more manageable, though I still hope to bike as often as I can before the snow flies.

At the end of Wednesday evening’s class I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was sitting at a computer in the learning center outside our classroom. We chatted a bit about being older students on campus and the challenge of having enough energy to keep up with it all. He told me about being retired from a civil service position where he was a liaison with NGOs in Africa and that he was intrigued by the nonprofit management program. It wasn’t clear whether he’s in the MPA program or on campus considering and preparing for it. I told him my name and shook his hand, he told me his and I said “nice to meet you Ed.” “Ahmed” he said, not I’m Ed. I was a little embarrassed but we both took it in stride. I’ve seen Ahmed around campus a couple times since then and have just kept thinking I need to remember to blog about that. Those types of chance encounters meeting new people from diverse cultures is something I hope to experience many times during this adventure, and is exactly the type of thing that I want to chronicle here to remember.

Notes from Strategic Planning

  • Reflections on last week’s PennDOT case:
    • Importance of keeping an open mind
    • Thinking about a lot of options up front
    • tackle things in such a way that you can build success and build on success - order you do things is important
    • Shocked at just how bad things can get, though the backlash led to a strong mandate for change
  • Always engage in strategic planning in a specific context. Be careful about how you generalize from one situation to another.
  • Design principles ideas .. you engage in strategic planning to engage in changing a situation.
  • Even more important than going step-by-step is thinking backward from where you need to be to where you are to figure out what it will take to succeed.
  • Need to have a process that’s flexible enough to be able to change based on what we learn along the way.
  • Strategic planning processes are divergent, convergent, partially-cumulative processes.
    • Divergent: what is our mission? Who are our stakeholders?
    • Convergent: converge on some of those ideas
    • Partially-cumulative: you take some of the ideas with you, but not everything. And you circle back to what you learn
  • SP is a diversified, shared-power process. Makes divergence easy but convergence difficult
  • Attention given to stakeholders is something that makes strategic planning unique
  • You need to think about who needs to say yes, and what they care about
  • The term stakeholder is intentionally broad, so you don’t leave out anyone who may be
  • Every organization is an arena for competition and control of resources and output. Stakeholder analysis is a way of understanding the political landscape of a situation
  • The key to success for a strategic planning process is satisfying the key stakeholders

Notes from Strategic Human Resources Management

  • Leaders really need to pursue who they’re about. Need to lead from who you are. Can’t try to be somebody else and be a leader. Need to start with yourself. And when you realize who you are you’ll be a better leader in your organization.
  • The point is not to become a leader, point is to become yourself in order to make your vision manifest. You must withhold nothing, become the person you started out to be and enjoy the process of becoming.
  • Think about leadership in lots of contexts. Everyone can be a leader with the characteristics you have within the right setting.
  • Ambition is a choice
  • Lead from your strengths and be who you are.
  • Need to modify for the internal & external environment, and for the group member characteristics.
  • You choose whether you’re going to have integrity as a leader. You choose the styles and values that define your leadership style.
  • Unlike Myers-Briggs types, leadership competencies can be changed and improved upon
  • Behavior is a by-product of the interplay of situation, responses, and innate preferences
  • To call up on the best from others, you need to understand them
  • “We all have biases. The challenge is to realize them and not turn them into prejudice.”
Written on September 25, 2017