Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘community of purpose’

Why on Earth Do We Need Teacher Training?

In Adult Educators, Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 28/04/2015 at 5:52 am

Adams Quote (for Steve)

I have had intriguing tidings from some of my final year learners recently.  They are currently engaged in their second semester of “school experience,” where they spend one day a week under the tutelage of their mentor educators in local high schools.  In theory they are supposed to watch their mentors in the first term, and gradually be allowed to assume responsibility for teaching their classes in the second.  In the end they are asked to teach one, perhaps two entire classes on their own.

 Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

The idea sounds a practical one – it’s often best to learn the rudiments of teaching from a professional.  In practice what has happened is this:  learners spend most of their time sitting at the back of the classroom watching their mentors undertake a series of repetitive exercises involving little or no language practice – gap-filling, cloze procedure and the like.  They are easy to mark and require the educator to undertake little or no extra-curricular activity.  It’s an easy way to pass the time in class.

Consequently many learners have complained of wasting their time on “school experience.” Not only do they have little or no involvement in classroom activity, but they are introduced to the jobsworth mentality in which educators do the minimum amount necessary to keep their learners amused and collect their salaries at the end of the week.  When the learners are given the space to teach their own classes, they are told to do the same gap-filling activities, as their mentors cannot be bothered to think up anything new.

 21C LEARNing Culture (TG ver 02 upgrade)

I am not in any way suggesting that this state of affairs prevails at every high school; I have encountered many enthusiastic educators willing to challenge existing approaches to pedagogy.  But what proves particularly disconcerting is that this jobsworth mentality is allowed to prevail at any institution.  It suggests that all the teacher training initiatives spearheaded by the British Council, the book publishers and other institutions have little or no influence on the way in which educators handle the day-to-day business of working with their learners.  Resources are spent to little effect – except, perhaps, to encourage institutions to spend more money on glossy textbooks and thereby increase author royalties.

Is there any possibility for change, or at least create the conditions for change?  Institutionally speaking, the prospect is a pessimistic one: many educators are so imbued with the jobsworth mentality that they perceive little or no reason to change their methods.  Even if they wanted to change, there is little or no incentive to do so.  Personal development assumes less significance than the monthly pay-check.  Even if individuals want to change, they will have to negotiate with their superiors, who might disagree with their views entirely.  Why rock the boat when things are going fine?

 Hocam will this be on the test

Perhaps the only workable solution is to begin from the ground up: to find ways outside the institution to set up initiatives dedicated not to teacher training per se, but to investigate methods of learning, both virtual as well as face-to-face.  This might require us to rethink the way institutions work – perhaps technology needs to assume a more important role in facilitating communication between educators and learners.  Much of the teacher training I’ve encountered has been fundamentally top-down in approach; follow the example of the trainer (like the mentor educator), and you too can learn how to work in class.  I’d favor a flipped approach, in which educators tried to listen to their learners and reshaped their classroom strategies accordingly.  Undergraduate learners could be made part of the collaborative process; the insights they have acquired in the three years of their university curricula might prove invaluable in creating new learning strategies.  While jobsworth educators are difficult to shift, there are still opportunities available to create new generations of educators with a genuine and lasting commitment to listening to and learning from their learners.  Who knows – even the learners might want to become educators in the future.

 Creativity (Einstein Quote ver 03)

Yet time is running out: frustrations increase.  My fourth-year learners have a disillusioned view of their chosen profession.  For them it is not a matter of learning about the way people think and react, but simply a matter of rehearsing time-honored drills practiced by their mentors.  Perhaps the teacher training institutions and the publishers need to rethink their approach to working with institutions; rather than trying to foist their products on their so-called ‘customers,’ they might be better advised to take a lengthy time out and listen to what people want, especially those at the lowest end of the pedagogical scale.  Otherwise we are simply reinventing an educational wheel which will very soon come off the axle that drives it.

Laurence Raw

Ankara, Turkey – 27 Apr. 2015

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The “Art” of Sailing…and Collaborative LEARNing (from GUEST BLOGGER Laurence Raw)

In Adult Learners, Our Universities, The Paradigm Debate on 18/08/2013 at 2:51 pm
Creativity (Duras quote on seeing 01)
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I have just spent four days watching the conclusion of the Tall Ships race in Szczecin, Poland, as well as attending a conference dedicated to the metaphor of the sea in humanities learning.
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Watching the tall ships was a fascinating event, especially when one of them sailed into dry dock, accompanied by the crew singing Egyptian sea-shanties to the accompaniment of the bagpipes (an interesting transcultural experience there).
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Sailing and Teamwork (Slocum quote 01)
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As I watched, I could not help but admire the way the crew acted as a community of purpose – not only playing and singing their own music, but working with one another to ensure the ship’s safe passage into the dock.  I wondered why such communities could not be forged elsewhere – especially in the academy or educational institution.
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The next two days were spent listening to papers at the conference, and I soon understood why.  Although ostensibly dedicated to transcultural learning and teaching, the majority of pieces were dominated by what might be described as binary oppositions (black/ white, learner/ educator, west/east, America/Europe, Democrat/ Republican) that are necessarily exclusive in concept: one part of the binary is necessarily reinforced at the expense of the other.  Educators assume more importance in classes than learners; Mainstream American cultures are prioritized in curricula at the expense of locally produced cultures; the list is endless.
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Sailing and Teamwork (Pat Riley quote 01)
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I reflected a little, and wondered if we might find alternative ways of thinking by returning to the idea of tall ships and the sea.  To negotiate stormy waters, a crew must learn to act together; to take into account their differing strengths and abilities and use them to forge a prosperous community dedicated to the tasks in hand.  This should also be the basis of every learning experience; to negotiate the stormy waters of criticism, funding, syllabus or classroom issues, members of an academic community – whether at the school or university level – should take heed of the ship’s crew, and learn how to work inclusively rather than exclusively.
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To do this requires a fundamental shift in thinking.  It means that greater attention needs to be paid to “why” questions rather than “what” questions, especially where learning issues are concerned.  Everyone should acknowledge that learning is messy; it cannot be shoehorned into binary oppositions, as everyone (whether learners or educators) learns and reacts in different ways.  A community of purpose should give each of its members the time and space to think, as well as determine their roles within that community.
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Change (David Thoreau quote)
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Through this subtle shift of approach, I believe that a learning community can become like a ship’s crew, piloting themselves (as well as their institutions) through the Scylla and Charybdis of obstacles, so that they can land safely in dry dock.  Until the next voyage, that is.
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I wonder if it would work?
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Laurence Raw (aka @laurenceraw on Twitter)
Baskent University – Ankara, Turkey
Editor: Journal of American Studies of Turkey
http://baskent.academia.edu/LaurenceRaw
http://www.radiodramareviews.com

FIXing Hazırlık… (Pt 03 of 03)

In Adult Learners, Educational Leadership, ELT and ELL, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 25/05/2013 at 1:53 pm

But TONY

Come on, guys! Give me a break…for crying out loud!

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I had wanted to stick with Arthur – but my in-box overfloweth…and not with stuff that I can repeat on this blog (my daughter still reads the posts…from time to time…when I ‘bribe’ her or drop a subtle hint that I have been gossiping about her…again)!

I mean…what the Eternal Example tells us is just goldengolden advice from a golden bloke:

The ARTHUR TEST

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What Nikos Amca tells us about the need to create a ‘community of purpose‘ is ‘golden’:

Purpose 1 (Mourkogiannis quote)

…not to mention, a moral imperative, if we (really) want to do something about the ‘rust’ that has been building up on the hull of the ‘good ship hazırlık’ over the past few years…

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And, what about Peter Block? Those wonderful questions…of his…

YES (red exlam tilted)

…this is what WE need in OUR hazırlık…in ELL Prep Schools across the globe!

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Innit?

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What do you mean…

NO

…you want ‘what’…WHAT?

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Practical advice?

Tips n’ hintsyou can use on Monday morning?

Best practices?

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Al buna!

OK…that was a bit rude of me!

…guess I’ll be dining with Hannibal tonight!

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So, I sat down with some of me mates…and we came up with a few ideas…for you all.

Dummies (fixing hazırlık))

…NO, this does NOT mean you are ‘dummies’ – some of you are soooooo sensitive!

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OK – first off:

Improvement advice 01

Got that? Easy…yes?

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Then,

Improvement advice 02

All good…out there?

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Oh, yes…don’t forget:

Improvement advice 03

What? You want more…?

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OK – you asked for it:

Improvement advice 06

Now, there’s one that can go on everyone’s list!

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Next…and read this one carefully:

Improvement advice 05

I said…’carefully’!

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A few more?…you guys are ‘good’…bloody good:

Improvement advice 04

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More?

Improvement advice 09

…gotta get us some of those ‘handbooks’! Now, how do I Google…

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What about…these three?

Improvement advice 10

This little lot should keep us busy…till Thursday!

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And…on Friday…we can have a stab at this one:

Improvement advice 07

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Whoopsie-daisies…I forgot this one – the ‘bestest practice’ of all:

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Improvement advice 08

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That’s how WE  fix OUR  hazırlık programmes, yes?

ID Card

Türküz…Doğruyuz……Çalışkanız…

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Me thunks…I need a post-script!

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FIXing Hazırlık… (Pt 02 of 03)

In Adult Learners, Educational Leadership, ELT and ELL, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 23/05/2013 at 7:48 pm

Change (Arthur Ashe quote)

Love this quote from Arthur Ashe… – go on, take another (closer) look at it…

  • Start where you ARE.
  • Use what you HAVE.
  • Do what you CAN.

If ever there was a recipe (or ‘magic bullet’…even) for ‘fixing’ something that would be it!

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In truthcos that’s what I’m doing a lot of these days…I did not know much about Arthur (we didn’t ‘do’ tennis where I was dragged up)!

It was this very quote, a few years back, that made me take note of his life, character and courageI soooo get (now) why he is referred to as the Eternal Example’ (and why some citizens of ‘my’ canım Türkiyem also hold him in such high regard).

 the PROBLEM (obs)

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It is just…such a pity so many educational institutions (and their ‘leaders’ or ‘in-house experts’), consultants (especially those so-called ‘quality consultants’) and ‘national educational bodies’ have not taken Arthur as their example. 

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Tony! Come on…we said we were ‘done with’:

Blame Game (TG ver)

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I know…I know!

I wasn’t planning to launch into another rantpromise! It’s just that the ideas of Arthur and Peter (whose questions we looked at in the last post) are most often ‘blocked’ by the blame game…or rather those that play the blame game (as well as those that are blamed) – people!

You see…many of the problems we have in our hazırlık schools basically come down to the people that ‘live’ in our universities…and the reason these problems have not been ‘fixed’ is because…these people ain’t fixed them.

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We all get that…

Most people can only SEE

…or their KNOWLEDGE, or their SKILL SET…or their EGO!

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Hazırlık schools form part of a wider university community (though you would never know this by the way many academics and lecturers ‘look down’ on hazırlik staff and their LEARNers)…and a much wider academic community (on a national level).

Ego plays a big role in such communities – and, sadly, these communities are (as a resultnot too good at all this LEARNing stuff…and working together!

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expletive bubble

I…$#*%…you not, Sherlock!

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The Academic Community (and its educators), for the most part, actually see LEARNing (the type they have to do…for themselves) as an ‘admission of ignorance’.

Being seen not to KNOW something about something is almost as bad as not being published in, say, the last 3 years!

This is why so many professors (despite being an ‘expert’ in a very narrow specialty that very few others really care about) suddenly become ‘accreditation experts’ when asked a little question about ‘quality in education’. Isn’t the internet a great ‘research tool’?

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When it comes to language LEARNing, everyone becomes an expert in a ‘flash’ (and an even better finger-pointer) – despite the fact that very few academics or lecturers have taken a methodology course, reflected on their own teaching methods with the help of a peer observer (or a video camera)…or even developed an outcomes-based curriculum model (let alone align this to a framework like the CEFR) – just take a look at all the cut n’ paste jobbies that pass as ‘Bologna compliant documents’ these days!

Just do not get me started on assessment in most of these faculty departments…

Bad ASSESSMENT (Boud QUOTE)

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Sure, we hear lots of lecturers and chairs talking about their own language LEARNing experiences…“when I was in the States” – but is really isn’t the same as teaching in a hazırlık school in big, bad İstanbul, is it now?

Context…matters!

Neither does it help when Rectors and their Deans explain that all language LEARNers (and their teachers) really need is a textbook from the 1970s (the one they used), a pencil and that vocabulary list from you-know-where (also from the 70s…or was it the mid-80s)!

Change (Deming quote)

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Many of the guys charged with running our hazırlık schools are not much better at all this ‘collaboration stuff’ either.

Sorry, guys…just:

Truth (mini ver 02)

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I mean forget not having a curriculum for a minute (just a minute mind)…many have not even bothered to find out what their LEARNers actually need to do with what they LEARN about English when they get to faculty (let alone ‘sit’ through a lecture or tutorial session).

It’s almost as if they do not know that most of their students are there to do departmental studies in English (!) – not LEARN about what Mr and Mrs Brown ‘used to do’ before retirement …besides, who needs to conduct a ‘needs analysis’ we bloody well know what they need, don’t we Raymond?

CEFR Vs Raymond Murphy

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It’s really OK…not to KNOW something.

LEARNing…real LEARNing…within a community (as an active decision-maker in that community) is one of the best ways to ‘fix’ anything! We can move mountains…together!

It’s not OK…to not LEARN…especially when that LEARNing can help the institution and its LEARNers – and (instead) ‘choose’ to play the blame game.

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Many members of the academic or ‘higher LEARNing’ community (and the hazırlık sub-community) in canım Türkiyem just need to recognise that…

You are HERE

…the same as most academic communities all over the globe!

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Bearing that little thunk in mind…it becomes eminently clear that no single person (even if she is the ‘Director-from-heaven’) can ‘fix’ all of the problems we have been looking at in the last few posts. A hazırlık school cannot solve its problems in isolation from the rest of a university – and it should not be expected to!

…or be expected to ‘fix’ stuff…while there is so much dumb, uninformed, cookie-cutter decision-making going on around the Mütevelli Heyeti meeting room table! Yes, I am still talking about increasing contact hours…as a means to improve the quality of student LEARNing!

Ass Backwards (badge)

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Just as it ‘takes a village to raise a child’, it takes every single member of a university community to produce a successful graduate (especially from a school that markets itself as an English-medium university)! These graduates (regardless of which ‘stage’ of their ‘university career’ they are at) ‘belong’ to all of us – their LEARNing is what should guide our decision-making.

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Do you see where I am going with this?

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What Peter (and Arthur, too – even though he did not play a ‘team sport’ either) was basically saying was that the questions he proposes…have to be answered by all those involved in a given community…and that all members of that community play whatever role they can in getting things back on track!

YES (red exlam tilted)

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The hazırlık ‘community’ is a pretty complex one – made up of people who ‘do’ the day-to-day ‘work’ of the community and others that either impact how it ‘does business’ or have an interest is how that business is ‘done’:

Hazırlık COMMUNITY

…and, yes…I know I have probably missed a few!

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The questions Peter proposed:

Peter's QUESTIONS

…can only be effectively addressed when all members of the community speak the same languageare on the same page – (and) speaking (and listening) to eachother might be a good way to start!

Tony Wagner QUOTATION (isolation)

Dream much, Tony?

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And, that’s because a community-that-is-not-really-a-community ain’t gonna be able to do much ‘fixing’ at all!

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We all know that a…

Band aid

…just ain’t gonna do it for our hazırlık woes, don’t we?

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To do that (and you are all gonna hate me for this)…we need a ‘Community of Purpose‘ (or even a community with a ‘common’ purpose…esp. with English-medium, university LEARNing).

Purpose 2 (Mourkogiannis quote)

I have a dream…a dream that involves sitting these guys:

Hazırlık COMMUNITY

…around a table (yes, the SAME table)!

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For starters, they all agree that…

Questions (Marilee Adams quote - NEW)

…and accept that:

Lunacy (Einstein quote - NEW)

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The questions they start to ask themselves are not ‘rocket science’:

3 FQs (purpose)

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but they are ‘important’:

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What is SUCCESS and OUR BUSINESS

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…so much more important than mere ‘prestige’ or ‘status’ …or ‘wall decoration’:

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What are we here to DO (2 FQs)

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These are real questions that ‘matter’ – that show a true understanding of what quality education is all about:

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Broken Quality (TG definition)

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…and that the journey is best undertaken by a ‘true’ communitya community of purpose! This community listens to eachother…LEARNs from eachother…and recognises that:

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Block (fingerprint quote)

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FIXing stuff in this kinda environment would be so much easier…don’t you thunk?

The ARTHUR TEST

What’s Your PURPOSE?

In Book Reviews, Educational Leadership, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 11/10/2011 at 5:29 pm


Here’s a quick “brain-teaser”…

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Take pen and scrap of paper (or open up a word doc)…I’ll give you a minute…OK?

Now, and without looking at any webpages…write down…word for word

…the “mission statement” of the place where you work!

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I’ll give you a couple of minutes…OK?

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Now, I’m guessing most of you did not do the little exercise I suggested (yes, I have hacked into your camera – and see everything you do)…not because you do not know your mission statement off-by-heartbut because you do not really “care” about it very much!

…or perhaps you just wanted to respond in a similar way to my dear, dear friend House!

I’m sorry (and House would agree) – “mission statements” are NOT very sexy!

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Especially, as far as teachers and educators are concerned – thousands of whom have been subjected to “mission retreats” staged to help them “wordsmith” a more articulate version of the “wall art” that these statements inevitably become.

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Wall art that just ends up collecting dust…and, more often than not, is never truly “walked”, “lived” or “enacted”. If only more educational consultants or so-called “quality gurus” would commit a revolutionary act or two

What I’m saying must be true … it’s on the web!

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If I’d asked you to jot down a few thoughts about the things you are really “passionate” about, you’d probably be still scribbling away…

The difference is that you’d be scribbling about “purpose” – the “ideas” that drive you, the “beliefs” you’d be prepared to get into a fight for (well, at least miss breakfast for)…in short, what is “right” and what is “worthwhile”.

House has a purpose…(over and above annoying Cuddy – what will he do now she has “left”)

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Steve Jobs (still) has a purpose…

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Do youDoes your institution?

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Dictionary.com defines purpose as:

“…the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc”.

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OK, this definition might suggest some form of cognitive awareness of the linkage between “cause and effect” or perhaps some form of anticipated result that “guides action”. But, seriously…it sucks at conveying the “power” the word carries for most human beings.

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PASSION….

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Remember that piece of music that brought you tears last week, that movie that made you think about trying to be a better “father” (or mother), the “act of kindness” you saw in the mall that reminded you “not all people are assholes“…that episode of so-and-s0 “dizi” that made you want to get up and “make a real difference

…or just that lesson that they all seemed to “get” (and said “thank you” for).

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Are we all, as individuals and a species, not looking for “purpose” in our lives? Do we all, perhaps at some primal level, not wish to be inspired and motivated by ideas or schemes bigger than ourselves? Are we all, as employees or leaders, not looking for some form of meaning to give us the motivation to complete our own work and signal to us that this work is moving us all towards a better, brighter future?

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Purpose, as a concept, has been a buzz-worthy word for some time. However, it is only recently that business and management gurus have begun to take note of the potential of this seemingly simple notion – the smartest of which have all “trashed” their mission statements, in favour of a focus on purpose.

Mourkogiannis (2006) made the case that all great companies need a purpose and that purpose is critical to an organisation’s success. Concerned primarily with business success, his central argument was that it is not organisation and structure, but rather ideas that drive organisations, and it is these ideas that determine the success of a business. And, he knows how to define the word:

“…the reason for doing something that appeals to our ideas about what is right and what is worthwhile

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This type of conceptualisation conveys how critical purpose is for individuals – and institutions.

Purpose is about engagement, involvement and “passion” – and it’s a choice.

A choice we can make in our lives…and “at work”.

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“Nikos Amca”  also argued that successful institutions are more influenced by the strength of their purpose (and moral ideas) than the strength of their leaders. He maintained that it is purpose that becomes the “engine” of a successful institution and the “source of its energy” – because it is also purpose that most of us want from work, even over money and status.

Again…you are reading this on the web…must be true!

Hear me out…hear me out!

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Purposenot “wall art” – that is “living” and “lived”:

  • makes people feel their “work” is worthwhile
  • fosters more “care” and consideration of others
  • helps to build “better” relationships
  • maintains morale and energy levels
  • reduces risk aversion and “fear”
  • helps innovators move from current convention to next practices
  • inspires everyone to be the best version of themselves they can be

So, the next time someone asks you to update the “mission statement”just say “NO”!

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Instead, invite that person for a coffee and, together, consider:

  • What do we do? What is our purpose?
  • Who are we doing this for?
  • What do we want to create – together?
  • Where are we right now? What is today’s situation? How do we know?
  • How can we excel? How can we be the best version of ourselves? 

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Afterall, and as Mourkogiannis reminds us, the role of “real leaders” is to “discover” (not simply “invent”) a purpose – and then build a “community of purpose” that truly “walks-its-talk”…

…and “lives” its “purpose statement“.

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The BOOK (if you want to have a gander)…

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