Saturday, December 9, 2006

A work...

My significant other has just certified me a living example of a true blue workaholic! :) Not that it is any bad, but it certainly made me take stock of things in perspective. What really is a workaholic?

Is it someone who needs to be constantly be doing work, in order to, say, live! Just like how some people are in their eating habits, especially during buffets. But then again, is it any wrong for one to be doing work most of the time, not because they NEED to do work, but because they do enjoy it. :) Call me sick, but then again, I do sometimes enjoy the things that I am doing, like planning, looking and preparing for my lessons, brainstorming on how to make my lessons on design more interesting and engaging, resourcing for materials on the NET...I mean isn't this what MOE is paying me to do...although I do feel I'm a little underpaid! But that is another story altogether...

My point here is that as long as there is nothing wrong liking the things that you are doing, and doing it correctly, professionally, effectively, efficiently, and all the other ''s', I see no reason for one to be feeling wronged when they are labelled a 'workaholic'. I don't think it is a disease of will ONLY be one if the very reason for one' s living on this God-given earth is to work, work and work. My, my, I hope that I won't be like that.

And yeah, the good news is that I've submitted my application to be considered for the pioneer batch of students that are taking the A level D&T subject in 2009! Seems just a few years away, but if I am selected, I just can't seem to wait for the subject to be introduced. My head has been cramming with ideas, some untested, of course, some, well, lets just say, I'm just all for the key word here, which is 'experimentation'!

Which lead us to the topic on what I am planning to do for the hols, since I AM a certified workaholic! Well, firstly, unless I had a brain transplant, I think I really need to level up my IQ and catch up on my readings. I haven't been reading for the last 3-4 months, and thank goodness, I've managed to just finished the 'the 360 degrees leader' book thingy last week. It was a struggle trying to finish up the book, probably I have an overdose on the topic of leadership in my previous reading marathon sessions way back in June. But it was refreshing to revisit some of these ideas, and perhaps I'll try to post in the main geez of it all in my next post.

So what's next?

Well, for the longest time, I've been wanting to get a DVD cam and a Mac, to experiment with some photography, desktop publishing, video editing, and stuffs like that, though not necessarily in that order. I've also been wanting to write a book, in fact two books, one on the development of the department, some sort of an e-Coffeetable book of sorts, with a designer feel to it, say in a year or two. Which reminds me, I better start to sort out the materials that I want to put in. The other book that I am planning to write about is on prototyping, which perhaps is something that I wanted to experiment and try out, it is just that I simply don't have the time, and other resources. But perhaps, starting from scratch could be a blessing in disguise, as it certainly gives me an opportunity to learn and experiment, without being influenced by others. Hmmm...what others come to mind? Certainly, looking at acquiring some books will be a definite thing! I fell in love with the PageOne bookshop at Vivo, but then...Kino is offering 20% discount to members till end of the year...Choices, choices, choices...wonder whether PageOne has any membership or not! But then, Basheer at Bras Basah offers the widest of the sales guy do give good discounts! Hmmmm...maybe I do some book shopping next week. I'm just crazy about books, especially those on design and related areas. I remembered spending like $250 on books alone, that was half of my Progress package! Hmmm, maybe I would spend as much on books now...I can't help it, I'm hooked on books!

Friday, December 1, 2006

Some memories are made of these...

What a wonderful week this has been, or it could almost be! Well, firstly i really enjoyed myself tremendously in my school's prom nite last Wednesday. It was really a blast! Seeing my charges in their full regalia of formal/dinner/prom nite-wear...dresses, shirts, pants, ties, gothic, and many other styles, that will definitely put a smile on Heidi Klum's face when she sees their fashion sense. Wow, I didnt know that they can be soooo stylish! But some, espcially the ladies, well, let's just say that given more time, a couple more years perhaps, they will be able to free up their hands with their dinner, or their partner/s, or both, instead of having the need to constantly adjust...errr...things that are just slowly 'slipping' away!

Hmm, what else came across to me! Well definitely the fact that one mentioned about becoming a chef, and another wanting to become an interior designer...but no one mentioned about becoming a nanotechnoly scientist! Hmmm, I do wonder whether there is a need for some marketing there! ;) Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps!

The teachers definitely have more fun this time round, especially at my table! My, this must have been my most enjoyable prom man...for the past 3 years! I guess it helps that we have some crazy teachers who are attending their Unity's swansong prom nite! :( Sad that they have to leave, but I guess that is the way it is. Hmmm, my time will come, sooner perhaps, but it will! Once I can just get down to the final stage of what needs to be done!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An artistic renaisance...Part 2

Wow, what wonderful news. The D&T Curriculum and Planning Development Department (CPDD) of MOE have announce the news that the subject might be offered at A levels beginning from 2009. I AM definitely going to apply for it, and to be part of this new and exciting development. It will not be called D&T...I think it'll be known as Design and Applied Science. I think it is quite apt in itself. I can just imagine it, the exciting exchanges about design and how the concept of design must not work in silos and without the inlusive nature of other subject areas! How would you design for someone that is illiterate? How do you design for someone who lives in parts of the whole where a screw or screwdriver is not something that they would found in a HOmeFix store? Why do you want to design a table and chair for children who would not be able to value the tables and chairs, and who would prefer to sit on the ground? How do you sustain the products' life cyle? Why design for people who would only use the product, say...once a year? Questions, questions, questions! But what really interests me now is the whole idea that design, or rather the design process must work in unison, or must be inclusive in nature in adopting practices from the various subject areas, like geography, history, literature, sciences, and others, in order for it, and the eventual products or processes that comes out of it, to be THE solution or intended design. Not easy, considering the silo-like nature of our system, but nonetheless, it IS a good start! I do like to envision that design or, its intended study, can be among the unifying subject or subjects that educators and students alike, can use, as a model of what holistic education is all about. And when I mean holistic, it is in the fact that we are no longer working on the basis of subject-like thingy, if you know what I mean. In fact I have kind of propunded the idea that maybe, just maybe, if we can model a few schools to be run like corporations in certain aspects of it, say having the students do real projects, and where they are brokeb up into marketing, production, design, publishing, engineering, research, sales, customer and service support, finance, human resources, and many others, we might just have a school that is really preparing, and I mean, REAL preparation for the students to enter the workforce. Realistically, I can't remember the last time that I need to know what (a+b)^2 can be expanded into!? But hey, I guess this is just something that I am just floating around in my mind...perhaps when I am the Minister of Education (wishful thinking here :) ), then I can start realising this! Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps!

Monday, November 27, 2006

An artistic renaisance

For the past two weeks, I have given myself some exposure to the artistic side of me, the side that sadly, or otherwise, have remained hidden from me for the past 30 over years! I say the pinnacle of this artistic renaisannce in me is the Puteri Gunung Ledang musical (PGL) that I watched last Saturday afternoon. It was, for a lack of a better term, one hell of a performnace, 'satu pertunjukkan yang sungguh gah sekali', to put it across in Malay! To me, it was the best of what a Malay musical performance is supposed to be, and I presume it will definitely be a benchmark of sorts for future Malay-based musical performances of such a grand scale. But ironically, for my ramblings in my previous post, one thing that I do notice is the non-Malay talent that is rather pervasive in its production, something that I feel is rather encouraging, as the only way for one to get better, is for one to learn from the best, or if not THE best, amongst the best in the business!

I've also heard a piece of good news from the papers yesterday. SM Goh, visiting Italy as part of his working visit, has initiated some form of a partnership with the Domus Academy, the premier design institution. With partnership with NTU in a masters programme, I sure do hope that it will just be a matter of time before I get a chance to continue my intellectual pursuit in product design, or something to that effect. Alternatively, taking a Masters in Teaching and Learning will also be a consideration, with perhaps a special major or a project in the design education in Singapore. And yeah, I'm planning to write a book or two too while I am at it, perhaps a book on firstly, prototyping in design & technoology, and the second, maybe, a book on the running of a department, my shared experiences as a design and technology teacher! But who will read it...? Come to think of it, I don't really care whether it will make the bestseller's list of not, what is more imporatant is that I am able to share my experiences, good and bad, to those who really wants to, and bother to read! :) Or perhaps, I can do an e-coffee table book of sorts, a project that I was embarking on, or was trying to embark on, late last year, but was somehow, due to the exigencies of work and other commitments, just can't seem to finish. Perhaps I have a crack at it again, but perhaps NOT! :)

Anyway, I am going to take a break from next week onwards, for perhaps two weeks or lesser, have a good rest, spend more time with my wifey, do a little shopping, a little reading, a little sketching and drawing, a little of this and that, maybe walk by the beach, go back to nature, hit the gym or treadmill, something that I've not been doing for fact a LONG while! Oooooh so many things, so little time. Let me mull it over, ok. :)

Monday, November 6, 2006

Culture of Talents or Cultural Talents

Looking at the corporate motto of Yayasan Mendaki, which is 'Towards a Community of Excellence', brought to mind a question that I raised to one of my Malay colleagues that is teaching Malay. The question is of whether the lack of, or the dearth of, Malay talents in the sciences are due to the fact that our language is not, for lack of a better term, 'scientifically rich' . I mean, I am still looking for the day whereby scientists in this parts of the world, can actually discover some scientific nuggets from days of yesteryears, that was actually propounded or discovered by a Malay scientist, and I am talking about history here!

I mean, the Chinese have their gunpowder, paper, and many more inventions that are scientific or technologically-advanced in nature, to the point that even the Prophet (pbuh) actually mentioned about encouraging his ummah to even go to China to seek knowledge! The Indians have their own flourishing civilisation and architectural wonders to be proud of, plus their excellent logistics and world-reknowned traditional healing methods! Plus many more ancient technological wonders that other cultures can be proud of. Which brings me to the title of my posting, on the differences of a 'Culture of Talents and Cultural Talents'. During the recent Teachers' Day performances by the students, one thing that I realise was the overly proportionate representation by the Malay students in ALL performances...hmmm which makes me wonder, do we as a community, are we culturally rich and perhaps maybe, just maybe, will always be so, i.e. in having a significantly larger pool of our community, whether young or old, to be involved in the cultural aspects, as opposed to nurturing a culture of talented individuals that need not be scientific or technological in nature, but certainly, to be non-culture at the very least! But hei in all this cynicism, I do feel proud, at the very least, that we do have a culture to be proud of, though I can't say that in years to come, what with the natural tendency for the young to be yearning to be more western in nature, and the old to be more 'religiously critical' But hei, this cultural dilemma, and the clash of cultural talents and a culture of talents might just be one precursor to even something bigger, though I don't think I would want to go into that tonight! But maybe, just maybe, I might just like to think about this a little deeper, and perhaps, give my two cents worth.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

...and life goes on

My school had our graduation assembly for the graduating students yesterday afternoon. It was a short yet poignant moment for almost all of us. The short clips of messages by most of the teachers teaching the graduating classes, the video clip showing their antics when they were much, MUCH youger (some say even CUTER!...rolls eyes), plus the sing along session, I must say not as deeply memorable as previous years, as we had it at night and together with the 'gown-wearing session', but I must say, it was just as good, if not better!

I must say it has been one hell of an experience teaching my students this year. What with their individual antics, Basil with his errr....blurry state of mind, Bessie with her coninuous quest for prettiness (I'm talking about her folio), the quiet Teng Ray's sense of meticulousness in her work (I swear she reminded me of my auditor friend a while back!), Jie Kai with his jumbled-up state of mind...doesn't seem to know what he want to do until the end, Daryl...with his so-cool nature...but hmmmm...let me just leave it at that and Wei Arng...a pleasant surprise indeed, coming out with one of the best folios ever done by a Unity student in my 3+years there...and many more gems that I should treasure and remember for the rest of my teaching career. It feels sad that I have to let them go, but rest assured, I think, or I think that I think, that I have given them a glimpse of what project work is all about, neverminding that half of them were below my expectations in terms of the quality of their work output! My only hope is that they'll learn their lessons of handling a project work...the troubles, shortcomings and other unexpected Murphys-law-type of incidences, and be better able to handle them in their next stage of their educational journey.

To those of you who does read my blog, but chose not to admit it, :), do remember my 4 advice,
1) Never do anything purely for me, it will never EVER be enough
2) Never succumb to the herd mentality..if you need to, be an individual and create a path, instead of treading along a path that others have already set forth for you
3) Do anything that you think you would like to do, with PRIDE and PASSION, people CAN tell the difference
4) ...and lastly, that piece paper that you are going to get, or planning to get in years to come, will only determine how wide the doors are opened for you, what matters more is how well you fare and perform once you are beyond the door.

Here's wishing you all the very best in not only your O levels, but also in your future endeavours, whatever those may be. Maybe you will still see me at Unity in 2009/2010, or maybe you wouldn't, but whatever it is, the memories of teaching the class of LV45 2006 will forever be etched in my memories.

With deep sadness, and a little reflective...the cynical-idealist

Friday, October 6, 2006

It's been a while...and i'm not a racist!

It has been a while since the last time i last blogged. Things are moving at a lighting pace now, what with the end of the year highlights and other 'highs' drawing nearer, or to a close. Seems like everybody is rushing things and trying to get everybody off their backs, metaphorically speaking, of course!

And what have we here. A somewhat confused individual who is still trying to grasp some sense in all these chaos. Chaotic...ahh how i love the word sometimes. Seems so oxymoronic that there is such a thing called chaos engineering.

What's with the racist slant in my title you might think? I am sure i am NOT a racist, and i don't think i condone such acts, but it is just that recent incidences do bring up some issues that, maybe, just maybe, will enable me to put these 'racist' thoughts, off my chest and brain.

One thing that happens recently was when my wifey got herself in some sort of a 'i-don't-think-a-lady-in-tudung-can-teach-my-kid-properly' sort of moment. She is currently doing her Dip. in Early Childhood, and as part of her coursework, she needs to go for an attachment once a week. Her place of 'work' is one of the premier (not main!) provider of childcare and early childhood services, and in one of those awkward moments early on during her attachment, when the parents came down to pick up their kids, one of them actually walk up to my wife's mentor and told her that she wants to take her kid out from this particular class, and into another class. No prizes for guessing which class my wife was attached to (the kid's original class)...and this is after she notices a certain look in the know the look that you get when someone sort of like questions your judgements and/or abilities (hmmm...i seem to be getting a lot of that at times, but errr, that is another topic altogether!). But I guess that is just an aspect that most of us will have to live by...something that i just consider a 'job hazard'. That's the attitude that I have been adopting so far, and look at where it has gotten me into.

Another incident that i experiencd personally was when i was just about to end my NS and was looking for some part time tuition assignments near my house. I got hold of this tuition agency's no. and went down to meet with the owner for an interview. I'm assuming he is the owner because he got this 'i-am-the-boss-of-this-place-and-i-will-decide-whether-i-will-hire-
you-or-not' kind of look. After passing my result slips and other details for the interview, amongst the first few words that came out from his mouth was, "I didn't know that Malays can be soooo good in mathematics"(emphasis is not mine, he actually say it in that way!). And this was after he noted that I scored distinctions in ALL my mathematics-based subjects at O and A-level exams!. I was like errrr, dumbfounded, confused...but i don't know why, i didn't feel angry at all! I think I should have, but something inside me just sort of like was telling me to switch off my anger mode and just try to craft out a little smile (i can't remember whether i smiled or not!). Maybe to save me from getting into prison for assault or worse, manslaughter, somehow or rather, my anger mode just did not work on that day. surprisingly i didn't pummel him to pieces there and then, but rather just walk away! And of course i didn't hear from him ever again. Thinking back, yeah i was desperate for some assignemnts, but NOT that desperate to work for him! Good riddance! And just to be a little mean, i do hope that his agency is still surviving! ;)

These two major incidences in my life...there is more, but perhaps i should save them for another day and entry, do affect the way i see things later in my life! Perhaps that is the reason why i wanted to get my post-degree by 30, and why i wanted to be in the education line, among others. Perhaps while reinforcing that academic abilities should not be the domain of any one race, neither should it be a birth right of any one race for it to be equated to, i will try as far as possible to give my perspectives and educate my students on the importance of being 'colour-blind'. My mind shudders that a person in the academia (i'm assuming that the owner of the agency is one!) can have such an assumption ingrained in his mind!

I hope my flight towards the above ideals will be fruitful, as pilots can't afford to be 'COLOUR BLIND' :)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A real looooooong hiatus

Ahhhh, finally I can settle down a little to squeeze in some time to pen down (or is it keyboard in) some of my thoughts on this page of mine.

It has been a long while and I guess work has really consume me and my time. My graduating D&T classes have just finished and submitted their folios and artefacts, and my Under 14 Ruggers are just done with their season! Phew, I can finally spare some time to catch up on my work, not that I am neglecting any. I do feel that this site of mine could do with a little minor upgrading and the addition of some more of my resources and materials! Hmm I do like to share my stuffs, probably need some time to organise all those that I've collected over the past few months. I see what I can do to put up the relevant stuffs here once I am more settled in.

Personal thoughts?

Ahhhh, my Under 14 ruggers did me proud on Wednesday when they put up their best match ever, to make ACS Barker sweat for every single point that they score. Kudos to the entire team. Frankly, to me, every single one of them are winners. I could see their the entire team bond and mature right there in front of my eyes. What kind of job will give you that kind of satisfaction! :)
I could see Aidil developing from a playful 'toddler' to a more responsible and focused individual, Sufyan and Hanafy taking greater responsibility and being more vocal in their dealings with the other team members and even the referee; Ismail, who according to his form teacher is dissappointed at not being part of the first 15, but he still stuck by with the team, going with the others for every single match, day in day out, and people like Hidayat who was a little problematic last time, but who grew to use his body (literally), and brains, to put the team ahead and push the forwards, when they so needed that push; Hazim and Haiman, who like the Wonder Twins, stand guard faithfully at either sides of the field as wingers or as part of the back line, running, kicking, tackling and being tackled; Homaidi, for his sure footedness, or is it 'fingeredness', catching every single ball that comes his way in the finals, when it matters most, and to think that he was sooo nervous in the earlier matches...and wow...the list of things that I see and feel are so many! I do hope, and am confident, that the team will grow with every single day. But alas, all these things might just come to an end since I have already put forth an official request to be taken out of rugby due to my other duties as a Subject Head and covering HOD! But I do hope the team will grow, and mature, and allow the person taking over me to experience all these, and maybe more.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A really long April...

It's been a long while since my last has been a busy April month for me. Doesn't help that it started with me getting promoted and celebrating my birthday. But hei, suddenly I realised that my zest is coming back up again, slowly and fact getting more momentum now.

Finished two books during the course of these month, both by John C. Maxwell...'The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership' and 'Developing the Leader Within You'...and now reading 'The 360 degrees Leader'. Wow I amaze myself on how I can find the time to read, when I have been trying to ask my staff to do likewise! I guess it is all a matter of wanting and being hungry for 'wanting to know'. I kind of like his books, his writings, the style and the way he presents his ideas on 'Leadership', totally no bull and right on the spot. Introduced his books to my wifey...hmm she seems to like it, but the same problem with her is 'time' too! But she's planning to quit her current job and a great hurrah to that...maybe she can dedicate a little time to reading too!

My students have been a godsend so far, almost, and I mean almost everyone of them knows what I want out of them, as in my targets for them, and hopefully they'll work hard towards it. It has been a real pleasure teaching and facilitating their design thinking and processes, and I amazed myself too at how much spare energy I can squeeze out of myself when I talk about their work and 'design' to them. Truly, I've been in this job, for what, almost 3 years now, and never have I lost the zest to carry on, unlike my previous jobs! Hmmm, I just hope that God will give me the strength to carry on further, especially in light of my promotion and my 'new' but official assignment in June/July later! ;)

Ideas have been flowing rather freely, just like the work has been coming in too. Went to Daiso @ IMM a couple of days back and guess what, I blew 36 bucks on buying items that I think has a 'designer-ly' feel to it, or have a certain teaching value in them. Wow I didn't realise that such things come cheaply too. Couldn't wait for the week to be over to show to all my staff these jewels that I just got. I am planning to equip all of them with these 'jewels', hopefully it will make their teaching experiences more dynamic, creative and more 'TLLM-ly' :)

The Progress Package is already in as I am writing this, but guess what, I've already kinda spend half it in advance, but not shopping in the typical sense of the word, but more so to beef up my personal/professional collection of books on 'Design' and 'Leadership'. To me it is money well-spent, in fact I consider this as an investment. I don't think I am expecting any form of monetary rewards to come out of this 'investment', it is just so that I'll be able to enrich my teaching experiences and abilities, and eventually enhance my students learning experiences on what design and 'design & technology' is all about!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Is failure NEVER an option?

A tagline on a tee shirt shop that I went to in JB yesterday proclaimed the above caption. It just made my brain juices think, can't we just tolerate failure? Are we becoming a society of 'no-failure acceptors' to the point that failure is seen as an indication of one's inability to plan or pre-empt well. Once there is a failure, you'll be doomed!

I went for a brain-based workshop on how to teach very effectively in a classroom two days back. I must say, it must be one of the MOST, if not THE most fantastic training workshop that I've been to so far...really inspiring methods and ways to engage my young learners. Hope that I'm able to 'practicalise' them in my classes. Try I will, and failures I will make and hope to learn from. The question will be, will others be willing to accept my failures even though I've tried.

Which brings me back to the need on accepting failures in the classroom, specifically. The thing is, are we as educators, engaging ourselves in activities that does have a certain probability of failure? Or have we become a bunch of wussies (no disrespect intended here) to the point that we will only be involved in something that will be a definite 'non-failure'? On the other hand, do we need to have failures in our lives, or as part of our experieces, in order to 'qualify' ourselves as 'successful coaches' to our students and others? Hmmmmm.

During my recent volunteer training to my 3M parents, I did mention about the concept of a "successful failure". A term coined by NASA engineers after their infamous incident in the Apollo 13 programme, this term I believe, do aptly capture the kind of failure that all of us should be afraid to accept, i.e. making a real and honest failure, learning from them, and then not to repeat these same faiures, or prescibed to the conditions that will result in the same failures again. I quoted the story of Sir Thomas Edison, and his tedious, untiring efforts to pick the most suitable material for his filament. After about 3000++ materials and over several years, he finally found the one that he was looking for. Interviewed later on why doesn't he give up even after 2000 materials, his reply was that, "Now I know that these 2000 materials will not work." Can we as educators do that? I am aware on the little or almost no-margin of error that most of us will have to live with in our job capacity, but should the fear of failure always restrict us to the 'prescribed or time-and-tested' methods and archaic didactic approaches, that we have been so accustomed to. How can we ask our charges to think beyond or even outside the box, when our mental models are still within our own pathetic boxes?

My personal take on this is that the failure of failure is when we are NOT able to transform our failures into a successful failure, and thus eventually, into a successful success!

So what have you learnt today...?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Learning Applied : Applied Learning

My caption aptly captures the feeling that I have after being one of the facilitator for the Design & Technology Forum yesterday @ SAS. It somehow captures the essence of what I personally feel, that is, in our, or rather, my search to find the true essence of what d&t education is all about. I guess it is all about 'engaging', rather than 'educating' (borrowed terms from the guest speaker! ;)) the students, to open up their minds, to enable them to 'see' things, to be able to appreciate, and henceforth be able to apply their learning. So smitten am I on the caption that I think I would like to use it as my department's mantra, as part of my vision towards a 'department of excellence'.

But really, I did mention about the fact that though there was a resurgence of sorts towards a more design-biased approach in the subject matter, there are indeed some issues that we, d&t educators, do grapple with. I guess one point that still bugs me is the consistent and constant voices by others on the need to have some form of a 'structured' approach to design activities, and about some form of a 'regular, standardised guideline' on the subject area and its eventual evaluation and assessment criterion. But then again, isn't this whole episode of 'convergently divergent' wonderful? I don't really feel that there is this dire need to 'standardise', nor a need to have only one 'straight-jacketed' approach towards the teaching of d& fact it is THIS whole multitude of approaches that I think will add to the richness of our teaching and engaging experiences, and it is THIS very 'flexibility' that will give our subject area its particular uniqueness! Hmmm.....

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

17 Laws of Teamwork-Part 2

Some comments and learning points; the first THREE laws:

1. The Law of Significance
I just realised that the number ONE is indeed a lonely number, and so insignificant to achieve a great deal. But then again, looking back and rereading 'The Tipping Point' by Malcolm Gladwell, it does make me realise that even though a single person could NOT make the necessary significant change, but then it also take just one person to act as THE catalyst to make that change happen. I hope to be able to be that changing agent, and to get the desired outcomes later on.

2. The Law of the Big Picture
This is another envisioning exercise typical of books like the Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. I do subscribe to the belief that only by aligning your vision with the rest of the team, and making this vision a shared one, will the rest of the team be able to get on board and make things work to realise that vision. I guess the power of shared ownership, something that I've not come across yet, is something very powerful that teams should never ever underestimate!

3. The Law of the Niche
Using the right tools for the right job - basically assigning each team member to his assigned duties based on his level of experience, expertise, and his passion; this is something that I also truly belief will make or break a team. But how do you ensure that the assignment is optimum? Well the only way is for the team leader to REALLY know his team mates well, to the point that he can make that wise decision (though not 100% fool-proof), that his hunch and objective assessment is correct, right and optimal for the future growth of the team.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

17 Laws of Teamwork-Part 1

I'm currently reading "The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork" by John C. Maxwell, and will like to record it in my blog for future references. The following is taken from the following URL:!bsteamwork.html

The 17 Laws are:
1. The Law of Significance

People try to achieve great things by themselves mainly because of the size of their ego, their level of insecurity, or simple naiveté and temperament. One is too small a number to achieve greatness.

2. The Law of the Big Picture

The goal is more important than the role. Members must be willing to subordinate their roles and personal agendas to support the team vision. By seeing the big picture, effectively communicating the vision to the team, providing the needed resources, and hiring the right players, leaders can create a more unified team.

3. The Law of the Niche

All players have a place where they add the most value. Essentially, when the right team member is in the right place, everyone benefits. To be able to put people in their proper places and fully utilize their talents and maximize potential, you need to know your players and the team situation. Evaluate each person's skills, discipline, strengths, emotions, and potential.

4. The Law of Mount Everest

As the challenge escalates, the need for teamwork elevates. Focus on the team and the dream should take care of itself. The type of challenge determines the type of team you require: A new challenge requires a creative team. An ever-changing challenge requires a fast, flexible team. An Everest-sized challenge requires an experienced team. See who needs direction, support, coaching, or more responsibility. Add members, change leaders to suit the challenge of the moment, and remove ineffective members.

5. The Law of the Chain

The strength of the team is impacted by its weakest link. When a weak link remains on the team the stronger members identify the weak one, end up having to help him, come to resent him, become less effective, and ultimately question their leader's ability.

6. The Law of the Catalyst

Winning teams have players who make things happen. These are the catalysts, or the get-it-done-and-then-some people who are naturally intuitive, communicative, passionate, talented, creative people who take the initiative, are responsible, generous, and influential.

7. The Law of the Compass

A team that embraces a vision becomes focused, energized, and confident. It knows where it's headed and why it's going there. A team should examine its Moral, Intuitive, Historical, Directional, Strategic, and Visionary Compasses. Does the business practice with integrity? Do members stay? Does the team make positive use of anything contributed by previous teams in the organization? Does the strategy serve the vision? Is there a long-range vision to keep the team from being frustrated by short-range failures?

8. The Law of The Bad Apple

Rotten attitudes ruin a team. The first place to start is with your self. Do you think the team wouldn't be able to get along without you? Do you secretly believe that recent team successes are attributable to your personal efforts, not the work of the whole team? Do you keep score when it comes to the praise and perks handed out to other team members? Do you have a hard time admitting you made a mistake? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to keep your attitude in check.

9. The Law of Countability

Teammates must be able to count on each other when it counts. Is your integrity unquestionable? Do you perform your work with excellence? Are you dedicated to the team's success? Can people depend on you? Do your actions bring the team together or rip it apart?

10. The Law of the Price Tag

The team fails to reach its potential when it fails to pay the price. Sacrifice, time commitment, personal development, and unselfishness are part of the price we pay for team success.

11. The Law of the Scoreboard

The team can make adjustments when it knows where it stands. The scoreboard is essential to evaluating performance at any given time, and is vital to decision-making.

12. The Law of the Bench

Great teams have great depth. Any team that wants to excel must have good substitutes as well as starters. The key to making the most of the law of the bench is to continually improve the team.

13. The Law of Identity

Shared values define the team. The type of values you choose for the team will attract the type of members you need. Values give the team a unique identity to its members, potential recruits, clients, and the public. Values must be constantly stated and restated, practiced, and institutionalized.

14. The Law of Communication

Interaction fuels action. Effective teams have teammates who are constantly talking, and listening to each other. From leader to teammates, teammates to leader, and among teammates, there should be consistency, clarity and courtesy. People should be able to disagree openly but with respect. Between the team and the public, responsiveness and openness is key.

15. The Law of the Edge

The difference between two equally talented teams is leadership. A good leader can bring a team to success, provided values, work ethic and vision are in place. The Myth of the Head Table is the belief that on a team, one person is always in charge in every situation. Understand that in particular situations, maybe another person would be best suited for leading the team. The Myth of the Round Table is the belief that everyone is equal, which is not true. The person with greater skill, experience, and productivity in a given area is more important to the team in that area. Compensate where it is due.

16. The Law of High Morale

When you're winning, nothing hurts. When a team has high morale, it can deal with whatever circumstances are thrown at it.

17. The Law of Dividends

Investing in the team compounds over time. Make the decision to build a team, and decide who among the team are worth developing. Gather the best team possible, pay the price to develop the team, do things together, delegate responsibility and authority, and give credit for success.

I'll be sharing some of the key learning points of this book and hopefully I can draw some personal reflections based on my continued exposure to my working teams.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A day of humility...

What do you know? It has been a bitter sweet day for me yesterday! My students' results were out, and I just discovered that I AM not a good actor after all. I guess some people can just see the dissapointment in my face. No doubt that I did NOT promise that the results will be good this year, but nevertheless, there is indeed this NOT-SO-SECRET a desire that at least my charges and dept's results will at least be on par, if not better, than last year's. But then again, it will remain wishful thinking...for this year that is! :)

On the other side of the coin, my ruggers did well, winning their second match in as many weeks. One of the boys was pretty pissed that he got sin-binned for an infringement! That actually do not really touch my raw nerves, in as much as how the referee decieded to give his justification of that infringement after the match. And guess what he said: "Oh there were a lot of high tackles coming from your team and since you were the last one that I observe to do that, I just have to pick you for the infringement!" Errrr, I leave it up to you to draw conclusions from that 'short and sweet' statement!

So what would I have in mind to turn my dept around. Like in my initial 'shared-vision' practices that I did before taking over the dept, I do believe in the power of looking at the process, as opposed to just the end results. I subscribe to the belief that the results are just the mere output of a good process and systems in place...and I am still tweaking the process, taking into account considerable constraints, human dynamics, and perceptions and expectations. And you know the warped thing about this whole entire 'process & systems thinking' episode, i kinda love it! Hahaha. Getting a little warped huh! Nah, just enjoying in the idea that there can never be a worst result than this...NEVER EVER! Now time to read that little book of mine, 'If at First...' by Laura Fitzgerald for some sweet motivation...and some self-reflections