Blending out and unmutual for years.

We're all allowed one mistake.

9 April 2021

Some years ago, I was at our institutional leadership retreat which was by invite only. The organizing committee for it started inviting a certain number of people and those that went to it would run next year's retreat and hence be able to invite someone for that coming year. The plan was to have all employees go through the retreat. It was a fun learning experience but people knew that there was no place to be a leader except for a select few favorites in administration. But, I digress.

Since I was invited and then on the committee for the following year I went to two sessions. One of the memories I have from all those years ago was our president saying, in front of everyone, that we're all allowed one mistake. Yes, one mistake. She didn't say what would happen after that one mistake.

I'm not sure if my jaw dropped or not but I couldn't believe that that was what our so-called leader of a whole organization actually said. The best response came after the retreat when I mentioned her phrase to one of my colleagues. He said that my first mistake was filling out the job application. He was right.

Remembrance

6 April 2021 (previously posted 3 March 2020)

Romanticizing about the past can be comforting and has both its pros and cons. Hearing from the past can give great comfort, flashbacks to what we think were simpler times, and that hit of nostalgia is pleasant. What's frustrating is not remembering clear enough whether it was a simpler time. The memories are clouded from that much detail. The sensations are there from what you are listening too, but the pain that must have been there during the same time period of life, not necessarily from the experience of the sound (or smell or visual), must have been too. Perhaps one should take it as it is, something happily remembered. And be thankful that the pain isn't remembered.

(Inspired by "The Radiant City" by Jóhann Jóhannsson.)

The Two Lungs of Making Websites

6 April 2021 (previously posted 4 March 2020)

There are two lungs to making websites: User Experience and Content.

If you take one away you still have a website, but like breathing with just one lung life is much more difficult. Everything stems from those two items. They both have many parts but both are needed for a great website.

The lists give an example of how it can be divided between groups. Many terms came from Jesse James Garrett's The Elements of User Experience.

Content

  • Content Requirements
  • Copy Writing
  • Site Objectives
  • User Needs

User Experience

  • Accessibility
  • Functional Specifications
  • Information Architecture
  • Information Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Interface Design
  • Navigation Design
  • Performance (which determines technology used)
  • Visual Design

We're not spoiled

26 March 2021

How many times have you been told you're spoiled because something is easier or done differently? The fact that you can instantly look up a song in Spotify or Apple Music or YouTube or wherever, it's because you're spoiled.

What about before recorded music? Were you spoiled when vinyl albums came out? You didn't need to travel to hear the singer or wait for them patiently to show up on the radio.

What about cassettes? You could now be portable, so you're spoiled. What about CDs? You don't have to listen to the crackling of vinyl or the hissing of tapes. Listening to what you wanted in a car, is that being spoiled?

We're not spoiled. The normal is just different. The normal changes, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Normal is what you are used to at the time you are in it. You're not spoiled because your normal is looking up information on the Web instead of going to the library. It just happens it's easier now, more convenient. Going to the library for an answer was the normal at some point in time but that normal has changed.

Nothing Wrong Here

18 February 2021

Organizations are obsessed with authority.
— Seth Godin

When people have a legitimate reason to be upset the way our institution does something we insist that there is nothing wrong here. We listen politely but hide in our bureaucracy of "that's how it's always been" or "that's the rules". We insist there is nothing wrong here. We lie to ourselves and the people we serve. It would mean change to do it differently and that change causes fear to the drone authority structure. Because authority is there to serve itself. And that's why your institution doesn't matter.

Thoughts from The Pursuit of Perfection

17 February 2021

The pursuit of perfection

Fighting perfection is a prefect thing to fight. Why seek perfection? Because we want it so that no one can criticize it. It's perfect, so what could be wrong with it? It's our fear that someone will say something negative, even if that comment is wrong. Maybe it just doesn't matter what is said because it's not for them. At some point you need to throw it out there and learn if there's real failure.

As one English instructor taught me, if I had more time I would have written a shorter paper.

Bait-and-Switch

16 February 2021

Imagine this: you find out the requirements for a college class, read the syllabus, get the details of how the college runs its classes, and decide to enroll. You pay for the class and the time to drop the class for a full refund comes and goes. Then before the test the instructor changes the syllabus for the class. The terms are now changed. If the terms were that way in the first place you wouldn't have taken the class. It's too late for a refund. You either continue the class or drop it.

Isn't that called bait-and-switch?

Webcam Theatre

12 February 2021

There are instructors that seem to think that using a webcam to watch you during a test stops you from cheating on online exams. Webcams don't stop people from cheating. Cheaters cheat and honest people don't. It's not hard to figure out. Webcam use is for security theatre so the instructor feels better not to mention an invasion of privacy for the student.

Happiness and Joy

11 February 2021

Looking at Phillipians 1, how great it is to see that there is a reason for suffering and to have trust in God. That's because of joy.

Seeking happiness and getting it can be great. Seeking joy is what bring life. Joy lasts, happiness doesn't. Happiness makes you feel better for a time. Joy is in your core and keeps you whole.

Clown Suits

11 February 2021

Avoid the clown suit

We all work with a few people in clown suits. It frustrating and demeaning, but it happens. We all work with people suffering from Dunning-Kruger issues. But let's remember, we have our limitations too and should know them.

Silo Seekers

10 February 2021

A culture of silo systems is an instiution killer. It doesn't matter if your for-profit or not-for-profit, if you'd co-operate working together by hiring the right people the sky isn't even the limit. If you want to move forward, management needs to become leaders or leave. There is no middle ground.

Stop pretending you know everything. You don't. That's why you hire people that know their field well. Let them do the job you hired them to do. Remove the obstacles, get out of their way, and stay out of their way. This isn't rocket surgery, it's incredibly easy, if you can stay hungry and humble.

It's difficult to find a boss that won't hold you down or put you down. You need one that looks out for you and brings you up. Someone who will take care of you and have your back. If you don't have that, there's no point in staying where you are. Find someplace where the people are great and what you do is greater than who you are.