Last week was a bit exhausting – so much thinking between the REC Director meeting and the Ideation Workshop, not to mention other meetings and obligations. But I have to admit that it was quite fun though I wasn't under any of the pressure that the Ideation teams experienced. At one point there was a comment about making time to be creative 1 hour per week – teams exceeded it last week. And the ideas were fantastic! I can't wait to see all of them move towards implementation. My favorite statement of the week came from the ANR 3.0 team in reference to all of UC ANR personnel: "You can't buy a better collection of experts". My favorite formula was the change formula:
(Dissatisfaction × Vision × First Steps × Support) > Resistance
The mathletes amongst us were quick to point out that if any one of those factors is zero, resistance wins. Overall, the week seemed to exceed Resistance but time will tell.
Amidst the thinking was the entertainment, compliments of Jim Farrar and Scott Brayton. If you didn't catch the livestream, you really missed out. My favorite part was that Jim couldn't help himself but to infuse education throughout the Pest Fest (I stand corrected that it wasn't all about bugs!).
Today is CORO graduation. CORO is a UC leadership program. This year Jim Farrar completed the program. Admission is highly competitive. Fortunately, the many talented individuals throughout UC ANR are recognized. As a result, UC ANR does pretty well with CORO participation. Congratulations, Jim! It's great to see Jim's other talents highlighted this week.
The SI Leaders will meet this afternoon to continue discussions about planning structures. Also, plans are underway for an SI conference in spring 2019. The SI Leaders are thinking something a bit different from past events. Stay tuned for details. Finally, during today's meeting, the SI Leaders will finalize a soon-to-be-released RFA looking for projects that build online educational resources targeted at reaching non-English speaking clientele.
Wednesday I have a chance to catch up on some things, including follow up communications with the Ideation teams and a review of the REC rates for the upcoming year. Then it is off to Riverside on Thursday to visit with Eta, Chutima, and group and share our programs with the Global Food Initiative director to brainstorm about how we might leverage our efforts.
Friday is full of standing Zoom meetings. This week promises to be more traditional as far as creativity goes. But who knows, there could be a surprise around the corner.
I spent the day at the Ideation Workshop. The workshop is designed to get us to think differently. While that's not easy, illustrations of success certainly help. UC ANR definitely has that example. UC ANR raised over $110,000 this year on Giving Tuesday compared to last year's record-breaking total of $76,000. A huge congratulations is in order for the Development Services team, all of the Statewide Program Leaders, County Directors, the many, many donors and everyone else involved in making the day a success!
Last night after I heard that the group had exceeded their ‘stretch goal' of $100,000 I started to wonder what made the day so successful. I'm sure the Development Services team has far more, and better, information than I but here's what I have identified:
- Over the course of the year, the entire Development Services (DS) group have worked as a unified team focused a common goal, regardless of what their individual roles and responsibilities are;
- The DS group engaged others (unit and program directors) into the planning process to identify strategies that would resonate with prospective donors;
- The DS group created excitement throughout the building and division with gimmicks, costumes and other novel ideas; and
- The division was kept informed about the plans and progress as it all unfolded
We still have a day of ideating to go. My hope is that the process permeates throughout the division and great ideas emerge that the collective ‘we' can tackle. Imagine what we could accomplish as a focused group that is develops and gets behind a new approaches/strategies to a common activity or challenge!
One doesn't have to be in attendance to learn what we are learning, though the process would be different if you were working alone. During the workshop we have been exposed to the Doblin 10 types of innovation. Take a look. Plus each attendee will leave the event with the tools and know-how to use the process with their colleagues.
During the event I received a Creative Whack Pack. It's a deck of cards intended to stimulate creative thinking. I need to read through the cards and will share any I come across that are particularly interesting. If interested, I'm sure you can look this product up and learn more about it.
Stay tuned to see what I learn tomorrow!
I have trouble with long holidays. While I enjoy the time away, the longer I am away the harder it is to come back! As a result of unexpected closures last week, things were a bit less productive than anticipated making the time off seem a bit longer than planned. Nonetheless, we are all back to work now. However, it turned out to be something of a technology-challenged day. Nothing seemed to function properly (laptop, cell phone, landline phone, even the wall clock). Eventually everything straightened out and I'm ready for whatever the rest of the week holds.
Tomorrow starts early with Giving Tuesday. The REC directors are in town for a day-long meeting that begins at 8 AM. The intended outcome is a near-term financial plan for the REC system that will set the centers up for long-term success. There's much thinking and calculating to be done so it promises to be a bit of a brain drain day. Wednesday and Thursday are the Ideation Workshop – more brainstorming. I finished my homework and took some time to be creative over the long weekend so hopefully that leaves me prepared for the conversations (though technically I am an observer). In particular I am looking forward to the PitchFest at the end of the workshop. Part of the homework was watching (re-watching) a portion of a Simon Sinek TED talk. If you haven't watched it, I would recommend it. Despite the title, I think it really hits the mark on how we might all think about describing UC ANR and what we do – perfecting our elevator pitch.
In between the meetings this week is the BugFest on Wednesday. It sounds like Chris has accepted the challenge though I'm unclear if he will be in Davis to publically consume a pest. A clear videotape could serve as a suitable proxy.
It sounds like the UC ANR Advisory Committee will submit its report to the President soon. For those who have tuned into the Zoom-based monthly staff meetings, you are pretty much current on what we anticipate as the content of the report – no major changes to UC ANR structure or operations but some good ideas how to strengthen our workings across the UC system and, therefore, recognition and achievement of the UC ANR mission. No doubt there will be work to do as a result of the report, but there's always work to do and that's not a bad thing. Also out soon will be an update on the position call process. Stay tuned. Now that the smoke has cleared, at least in Davis things are getting back on schedule. In the meantime, take a listen to Lenya Quinn-Davidson on NPR. Great job, Lenya!/span>
I know we are all grateful that the Woolsey Fire is nearly contained and are anxious to hear that the Camp Fire has been fully contained as well. Campus and building closings haven't slowed things down much, though the fires have certainly been the focus for many in UC ANR, including those keeping us informed about who has been directly impacted, those who are responding with answers and programming, and others who are compiling lists of UC ANR responses to fire activity throughout the state to be shared with the President's office. Yana took some time to think about forest raking and was recognized for her expertise by national reports.
Glenn McGourty and colleagues held a successful UCCE Lake Mendo IPM Seminar on Friday with 90+ attendees. Glenn attributes the success to a wide range of topics including weeds, insect biocontrol, pheromone confusion, viruses, plant bacteria, and nematodes with much of the information shared representing research conducted by the speakers. It sounds like the highlight for Glenn was a chance to get to better know some of his new colleagues: Gabriel, Kari and Houston. It sounds like it was a worthwhile trip up north!
Even UC Merced was closed due to the Camp Fire smoke. What really surprises me is that Lake Almanor was as clear as it was over the weekend. I was looking forward to a visit to UC Merced today. The trip represented an opportunity to meet with some of the leaders at UC Merced and better understand their goals/plans and how we might partner to achieve common goals. Rescheduling is never fun but hopefully we will find a new date soon. I think that one was a month or so in the making.
Tomorrow promises to be a busy day, irrespective of what's open or closed. Fortunately we can remain productive thanks to Zoom! I had hoped to attend a webinar entitled “Evaluation Strategies for Documenting the Dollar Value of Extension Programs” however I have another commitment during that time (11 am). If anyone happens to have a chance to listen, please let me know your key takeaways from the discussion. Next week, also, looks busy. In preparation for a 2-day workshop on Ideation, I had to think through a Zen statement over the weekend. Definitely a bit out of my comfort zone so we'll see where that ends up.
The upside of a change in plans is that I think I am close to being caught up on things – at least those items that had a looming deadline. Granted I may feel differently tomorrow but I'll take what I can get today. Perhaps I will have more time than anticipated over the upcoming long weekend to be creative and carry that mindset into next week!
To clarify, it was not that I did not have anything to do last week; I just didn't have many meetings scheduled. The week of few meetings is clearly over. It was actually over by Friday when the day was very much focused on doing things differently in order to gain better position going forward.
One of the remarks I heard on Friday was “if you only aim for the moon, you'll never get out of the atmosphere”. Normally, I consider myself as one who is open to change and able to think big. But I had sat with a group of entrepreneurs the evening before who had me wondering if I might be stuck a bit and with limited imagination. The individual immediately next to me talked about some of his plans for development in his home country of Grenada and he clearly aimed well past the moon. During his week in CA alone, he was beginning to think about how to develop a university-based Extension system in Grenada, convincing the government to redirect the funds from federal agencies to the university.
When I was in Des Moines a couple of weeks ago Chavondra Jacobs-Young, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, talked about the need to move beyond incremental change in productivity research in order to meet the food needs of a growing population. This reminded me of the TedTalk by Guy Kawasaki I listened to not long ago. I suspect Dr. Jacobs-Young had many of the technologies identified by Standford Business in mind (thanks to Andrea Ambrose for sharing the article). I suppose that if you don't dream it, you'll surely never live it. Admittedly, I'm not quite sure how one really gets to a place where they can imagine what, to most, seems impossible. We need to get to that place with food production and even in how we think about delivering our programs and services in UC ANR. We need to make that jump from thinking about building a better horse for transport to building a car.
Mark Twain is credited with stating that “you can't trust your judgement if your imagination is out of focus”. Perhaps that's where the challenges lie. Our imagination isn't focused on transformational change but rather on the incremental change that won't push us far enough, fast enough.
It is interesting that all of these things came up just in the last week or so, alone, for me irrespective of the actual topic of conversation. Perhaps this suggests that the need to that next ‘car' is more urgent that I had previously thought. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.
Looks like I have homework tonight; I didn't cross enough things off my list today. VP Council meets later this week and I need to get some things pulled together. Then I need to line up some things for the upcoming Ideation workshop and make sure I am caught up on my commitments to the new agreement with CDFA. No doubt I've forgotten an item or two. Who knows, maybe one of these items will lead to something bigger than an incremental change.