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Articles in "All"

What do you want from your job? The answer may illuminate the source of your motivation--or demotivation.

Awareness of individual strengths and weaknesses is a first step toward developing team strategies for more handling inevitable conflicts. By effectively managing conflict we can tap conflict to energize ourselves and others in constructive directions.

You may find that some bosses tend to propose as their own your ideas that they rejected last week. It goes back to the old adage that the best way to persuade others is to let them think it was their idea in the first place. If it's the idea and not the credit that is important to you, you might be able to leverage this often predictable phenomena to allow someone with authority push your ideas that he rejected last week.

What do you want from your job? The answer may illuminate the source of your motivation--or demotivation.

Exploring strategies for building and leading high performance teams in resource-restricted environments.

Members of the 353d Special Operations Maintenance Group met today with Brent Duncan to explore strategies for managing changed-associated stress to foster adaptability, resilience, growth, and wellness in dynamic environments.

Despite a culture with cooperation as a core value, Japanese higher education generally uses rigid lecture-test teaching models that neither support nor condone small-group learning methods in the classroom. As a result, Japanese college students usually work outside the classroom to develop the collaborative skills necessary to contribute effectively at work and in society.To assess the viability of team learning methods foreign to Japanese higher education, a mixed methods action study project was conducted with remedial students in a Japanese college. 

OKINAWA, KADENA AFB, JANUARY 22, 2013 -- As part of the Kadena Air Base Medical Group Professional Development Series, Brent Duncan conducted a workshop on leading individual and organizational change in turbulent environments, and methods for fostering adaptability to enhance human performance and wellness in changing environments. 

 

OKINAWA, KADENA AFB, NOVEMBER 05, 2012 -- As part of the Kadena Air Base Professional Military Education program, Brent Duncan met with airmen on November 5, 2012 to discuss strategies for leading change in dynamic environments, and methods for fostering adaptability to enhance human performance and wellness in changing environments. 

Brent Duncan's slides and notes for "Leading successful transformation in turbulent environments", the first of two workshops presented to community leaders at the Family Readiness Center on the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan.

From a practical perspective, asking if an organization that fits its environment will perform better than an organization that does not seems to make as much sense as asking if an individual who is qualified for a job will perform better than a person who is not. However, in the world of organizational studies, structural contingency researchers give considerable thought to understanding the environmental factors that influence organizational effectiveness, while often failing to prove a connection between fit and performance (March & Sutton, 1997) and not adequately considering managerial choice as a factor driving organizational fit. Contingency theorists argue that an organization that adapts to its environment will perform better than an organization that does not (Donaldson, 1996) and that mismatched characteristics within organizational configurations will prevent an organization from achieving natural harmony with its environment that will lead to better performance (Mitzberg, 1981). 

Despite taking an academic tounge lashing for being ineffective, boring, and authoritarian, the  lecture remains the dominant teaching method in higher education. Is it time to retire the lecture for more dynamic methods that develop students for a turbulent environment or does the lecture still have a place in the contemporary classroom? 

For as long as we have been around, humans have organized to survive, accomplish goals, build societies, and win battles. Even though organizations played an increasingly definitive role in human activity as history advanced, organizational theory did not emerge as a field of inquiry until the mid twentieth century. Since then a confusing array of disparate perspectives have emerged to compete for attention in a fractious field. Some of these competing views seem to prove partially valid in some situations, but most have failed to meet the demands of empirical analysis and increasingly dynamic environments (David & Marquis, 2005). Today, organizational theorists attempt to provide people with ways to understand, predict, and influence behavior in organizations (McShane & Von Glinow, 2005) by adapting flexible frameworks that can explain dynamic organizations in dynamic environments. 

Beneath superficial signs of recovery are anxiety and frustration among survivors facing an uncertain future. They are growing increasingly impatient with a government they describe as too slow and without direction.

Decades of research into student attrition offers a bevy of conflicting causes and cures for dropouts. However, the consistent factor most research identifies as a key antecedent to student persistence is faculty.

Considering the faculty connection to student persistence, the University of Phoenix College of Undergraduate Business and Management (UBAM or college) conducted internal research to determine best practices for fostering adult-student goal commitment at its San Francisco Bay Area campus. This paper reviews key lessons and limitations the current attrition literature offers for meeting student persistence initiatives in adult higher education environments, summarizes results from focus group research into best practices for helping adult students to achieve academic goals, and proposes research projects for discovering antecedents to adult-student persistence.

Understanding leadership is no longer a matter of isolating elements, behaviors, traits, or situations. In the new science, building blocks disappear and the unseen connections among separate entities become the “fundamental ingredient of creation” 

A functionally diverse student population has joined the self-directed management-track learners who once dominated adult-oriented universities. Facing classrooms of students with a broadening range of experience, ability and motivation, how can adult educators meet the dynamic needs of individual learners? Integrating contingency leadership models with collaborative learning processes may provide a partial answer that can help adult educators to build dynamic strategies for supporting student performance, satisfaction, and persistence.

In spite of living in a society that holds cooperation as a core value, students in the Japanese higher education system typically study in a rigid lecture-test environment that neither supports nor condones collaboration in the classroom. I addressed this cultural cognitive dissonance during a lecture to Hachinohe University faculty about how to use group-learning methods to invigorate student development in traditional higher education.

This article provides the English and Japanese language resources from "Transforming the traditional classroom with team learning: The teacher’s shifting leadership role in collaborative learning environments," a lecture presented by Brent Duncan to the faculty and adminstration of Hachinohe University, Japan on July 13, 2011.

Although academic and leadership literature tends to use “team” and “group” synonymously to describe a group of two or more interacting people, proponents of work teams and learning teams generally recognize important differences between groups and teams that can influence how leaders design, implement, and interact with teams. Distinguishing between a team and a group can help teachers to understand the proper leadership for the context.

Organizational development practitioners are shifting from episodic change to continuous change process to enhance adaptability in increasingly turbulent environments. Although some researchers tend to present episodic and continuous change processes as mutually exclusive, both appear to be different perspectives on the same phenomena. Episodic change processes provide a macro level perspective on planned processes leaders implement to address failings, threats, or opportunities. Continuous change provides a micro level perspective on the unplanned changed processes that naturally occur through the dynamic interaction of people, process, technology, and environment. This paper compares analyzes episodic and continuous perspectives on change, concluding that understanding the definition, theoretical foundations, and practical applications of both provides leaders with a more complete picture of change that helps them to more effectively manage adaptability in turbulent environments.

Historical approaches to planned change typically offer prepackaged processes for driving changes to achieve organizational goals. However, the complexity of dynamically interacting and divergent forces at work in and around organizations limit the possibility of selecting one single approach for a change intervention. Seo, Putnam, and Bartunek (2004) offer the concepts of duality and tension to explain the dynamics of change and the implications of divergent approaches to change. A dichotomous perspective does not adequately represent reality, but dualities serve a valuable function for helping change practitioners to understand that managing duality is a key to “grasping the complexities and dynamics of planned change” (p. 102). To understand the key perspectives that have guided OD, I will consider key OD perspectives through the concept of dualities. I will then consider central debates and assumptions of OD change approaches against the duality and tension framework suggested by Seo, et al, and will conclude by suggesting that a dichotomous perspective can be limiting, but offers a way to understand how to balance multiple dualities that underlie complex change dynamics.

Part 1 of "Perspectives in human development" considers the mechanistic philosophy, which explores questions about what makes people the way they are (Goldhaber, 2000). Those who see through the mechanistic lens see humans as machines (Pepper, 1970) that passively react to internal and external forces over which they have no control (Goldhaber, 2000). Literally, Hunt and Ellis (2004) describe mechanism as "the physics of motion or the study of mechanics", that describes how parts of a system work together to produce phenomena (p. 23). This leads to the assumption that that universal laws of nature govern all natural events, including human development and behavior.  In other words, "We can't help ourselves, it's just the way we are."

In "Organizational design: fashion or fit," Henry Mintzberg (1981) explores the natural configurations of organizations that result from elements of structure and situation to discover that consistency, coherence, and fit are the keys to successful organizational design. Mintzberg asserts that problems in organizational design come from two mistaken assumptions: 1) that organizations are alike, and 2) that effective organizations have coherent component parts. Rather, organizational characteristics fall into natural configurations, which are simple structure, machine bureaucracy, professional bureaucracy, divisionalized form, and adhocracy. Mismatched characteristics within these configurations will prevent an organization from achieving a natural harmony. To design effective organizations, managers must achieve a proper fit of organizational characteristics. This précis  will summarize Mintzberg’s article to find how harmonizing organizational parts may lead to organizational success.