Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious -- but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.

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Feb 28, 2005

A Cheer For The Lebanese

TODAY I'M CHEERING FOR THE LEBANESE as they created a citizen voice loud enough to dismantle their pro-Syrian government!  Organizing a new government will probably be messy, but at least they have friends and counsel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

UPDATE:  And now I am crying for the grieving families of potential recruits for the Iraqi Police.  The terrorists are backing ever nearer to the corner, I expect the incidents will only get bloodier for a while yet.

posted at 11:01 AM by Chris Chew in Politics | Comments (0)

Kid Rock...A Voice Where Authority Is Earned

LEVEL 5 FROM HOLLYWOOD:  Kid Rock.  No wonder such an unlikely character enjoys so much success and respect.

posted at 02:23 AM by Chris Chew in Entertainment | Comments (0)

And No Child Gets Ahead

A POST OVER AT EDWONKS has me thinking about the No Child Left Behind legislation.

EdWonks points out a funny article comparing Arizona's version of the standardized testing to a new football program.  The idea is that if no child gets ahead, then nobody is left behind.  And to an extent, it's very astute.  But it is very short-sighted and proves my point that school teachers have lost the ability to lead.

For the record, let me say that I partially support NCLB.  Not because it is going to end our problems, which it is NOT going to do, but because it is the first federal legislation that admits we have a problem in our schools and requires that we fix it.  Basically the act gives schools 12 years to get their acts together by laying out a list of proficiencies ("standards") that every student must have.

There wasn't much fuss over it until recently when the first round of assessments came due.  Now, it is the source of headache for every administrator who until recently has had a very cushy job.  Pile on top a stereotypical propensity for liberal politics, and you have a grade AA grievance!  A true conspiracy theorist might look for evidence that McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Motrin, has lobbied for NCLB in order to expand their market in the "educator" demographic.  Maybe McNeil determined in 1998 that 8 in 10 teachers use Bufferin for headaches -- clearly a market opportunity for Motrin!

Returning to my point, there is very little wrong with NCLB in itself.  It gives money for changes such as fewer students per teacher, English education, continued education for teachers, etc.  But, just like prescribing antibiotics to a regularly sick person who eats no vegetables, the program addresses the symptoms and not the disorder.

Take a look at Arizona's AIMS blueprints (pdf) (UPDATE 9/16/05:  new links here) for their NCLB math standards.  What a mess!  Can you imagine having to write a test that incorporates all of this crap?  And how do you relate that to little Jamie...has she learned math or not?  As a programmer, I spend most of my days looking at charts, databases and standards/requirements and am very good at gleaming a real-world perspective from them -- but I get very confused trying to relate the AIMS blueprints to a real person's level of knowledge.

Now consider the amount of money this will cost every state to implement similar standards, write similar tests, assess every student, and then report on the results.  And then consider all of the committees that will have to be formed to investigate the lying and cheating that districts do to avoid losing their funding come year 2012.

And don't tell me that superintendents and principals don't lie, cheat or steal.

Let me reiterate that more legislation will not improve our schools.  Only leadership at the deepest level will.

I would love to have the opportunity to take over a public high school with the responsibility of getting it "fit" by 2012.  Here's what I would do:

I would re-assign 11 of the 12 deans to classrooms and reduce their salaries to a normal teacher's wage.  I would remove all coaches from the classrooms unless they can indubitably demonstrate their qualifications as quality teachers.  The coaches can keep their salaries so long as they volunteer wherever they feel they're the most help.

I would dismiss the police, all but one security guard and the metal detectors.  I would double the number of trash cans, replacing the 50-gallon drums for bathroom-sized models.  I would invite all the parents and children over for breakfast and lunch every Saturday to do any handiwork to maintain the facility.  Volunteers can also come in during any school day to help.  My savings in administrative salaries should easily pay for any additional cost here, assuming that many of the parents can negotiate discounts or donations from their employers where relevant.  I could also partner with local service clubs like Rotary or the Optimists Club.  "Detention" would consist of custodial work.

Volunteer parents would cook the school lunches in the cafeteria.  I would get rid of the pop machines and replace the candy-peddling school store inventory with actual school supplies.  You can't improve at anything unless you eat right and have the proper equipment.

I would bring in interesting speakers every week, gathering the whole school to listen and participate.  There would be an open invitation to parents.

I would poll the students weekly, asking things like who their favorite and least favorite teachers are for each subject or where they feel they are weakest and strongest academically, etc.  Based on my findings, I would interview students to find out more about their input so that I could better address the core issues.  After all, who knows more about what goes on than students?  Besides, this whole thing is for them.  I would also do the same for the teachers.

I would promise to help every student afford continued education, no matter what.  There are a multitude of possibilities for accomplishing this.  Denver's mayor recently pledged to do it for a failing middle school (Link in MS Word here, HTML here).

I would take 6 or so random students out to a nice dinner and some cultural event every week.  I might not even ask them about school.

Kids 18 and older would be allowed to smoke outside so long as every butt was disposed of properly.  No, I do not smoke myself.

Classes would be re-arranged to employ as much discussion and self-discovery as possible.  This includes math, science labs, history and foreign language.  Desks would be arranged to form conference tables in every classroom.  Eventually real conference tables would replace the desks as the budget allows.

I would replace as many textbooks as possible with original texts: Euclid for Geometry, Descartes for algebra, Newton & Leibniz for Calculus, Livvy, Plutarch and Herodotus for Western History, Freud and Jung for psychology.  Etc.  I'll photocopy them if I have to.

Every student would write a blog and regularly discuss their ideas in groups.

Every student would participate in Olympics of the Mind or similar programs.

At the end of each semester, every student would meet with all of their teachers for 20 minutes while each teacher in turn reports their assessment of the student's performance.  Next, they would address trends or anomalies discovered from the reports and ask the student to answer any questions, make clarifications or disagree with an assessment.  I would encourage every teacher to perform the single-class version of this prior to the larger meeting.

Every year, each student would write or revise their life plan, consisting of steps and milestones for 1, 3, 5, 10, 20 and 30 years.

I would set up internship programs for as many professions as possible.  Students would earn pay for their work.  Yes, this would be difficult for a large school.  But schools always have resources proportional to their size and location.

I would make it clear that I expect everybody, including the teachers, to be excited about learning.  I would make it clear that everybody is expected to continue their education after graduation.

There would be as much reading out loud in the classroom as possible.  This improves every body's reading skills.

And I'm sure I would do more, but I am getting tired.  You probably are too.

Heeheh.  Can you imagine the uproar I would cause among the faculty?  I can't help but laugh whenever I think about this.

But I don't think I would get much uproar from the parents.  And if I did, I would put their student in a separate part of the school for the kids whose parent complained.  There, the student would go back to the boring 8 periods with lectures from unmotivated adults.  It wouldn't take long before the student told their parent to shut up and let them try the new ideas.

My ideas are not new ones.  They are all based on the premise that people live up to what is expected of them -- high or low, good or bad.  In fact, each piece is being successfully used in a private school somewhere in America, right now...  Scary, isn't it?  I suggest you call the police!

The truly unfortunate part about my ideas is that most of them would be impossible or illegal in a public school.  It is often illegal to demote a government employee.  You certainly can't fire a teacher that hasn't been indicted of a crime!  It is a ridiculous hassle to take students off-campus to learn.  In some cities it is illegal to dismiss the police or remove the metal detectors.  It can be illegal for non-custodial government employees to perform maintenance on the facilities.  Ugh, and here I am reminding us of this crap right before taxes are due.

This is all very sad to me because I am excited to learn and teach.  I expect great schools from a great nation.  Thanks for listening.

UPDATE 2/28/05 4PM:  Well, I have one parent and one teacher that would give me a school!  In return, I would put TwentySomethingMom in charge of the school lunches assign ASYB to the lead the math department (or any department she wants).

posted at 01:43 AM by Chris Chew in Education | Comments (0)

Feb 27, 2005

COLOR PIX FROM WWI

A LINK IS FLOATING AROUND to some color pictures taken during the First World War.  It feels very strange to look at them.

I had the same thoughts as the VodkaPundit regarding the color-ness of the photos, namely the realization that WWI was not very long ago and its wounds are not completely healed.

Yet since that time, Europe has added child-labor laws, space flight, a failed Nazi invasion, horribly failing communism experiments, countless human rights laws and an arguably viable shot at a united economic system.  It seems kind of like trying to re-varnish a table top without sanding and cleaning the original surface.  It's just not going to hold up.  And consequently, we still have the problem of European Islamists trying to conquer Europe.

posted at 01:29 PM by Chris Chew in Politics, Technology | Comments (0)

The Good Son Part III

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS is reporting (Via Captain's Quarters) that the Syrian government recently captured and returned 30 members of Saddam's former Baath party to the new Iraqi government, including Saddam's half-brother Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hasan al-Tikriti.  This is a big piece of news that supports my thoughts about the Democritization of Bashar Assad.

What a huge token of goodwill towards the new democratic Iraq and the Coalition of The Willing!  I would love to have been a fly on the wall in Syria while they discussed this...

posted at 12:52 PM by Chris Chew in Politics

Wheels: A Passion For Collecting Cars

I played an interesting gig on Friday evening for a friend's book-signing party.  The book was Wheels:  A Passion For Collecting Cars by Stuart Leuthner.  I didn't expect to get a lesson in life there, but it turns out I did.

Stuart is in his late fifties, I would guess, and seems to be having a lot of fun in life.  I know him because he frequents the Skylark Lounge, a bar in town where I often play that features live American roots music three nights a week.  He seems relatively affluent, not your typical bar-fly, and I understand that he was a pilot.  He likes the Skylark because it reminds him of his teenage years.

The book-signing party was held in the showroom and garage of one the largest vintage car collections in Colorado.  I'm telling you, this garage was beautiful -- the kind everybody dreams of owning.  The showroom contained more than thirty cars, ranging from a 1955 Austin Healey to a 2005 Lotus Elise.  Several cars I had seen featured in books or on television.  The collection also includes over 30 collectible motorcycles, which are always my favorite.

Stuart's book is also very beautiful.  Often collectible car books can be boring and offer very little more than the photos.  But Wheels is different and much more exciting.  It focuses on personalizing each collection by capturing the personalities and passions of the collectors.  It demonstrates that the collection cannot be separated from the collector without losing energy.

Too often people run out of gas in life.  60 hour work weeks, divorce, illness, politics and debt can really take a toll on us.  We lose touch and fail to pursue what makes us happy -- things like car collectibles, dancing, learning, drawing and writing.  It was refreshing to get to know somebody who hasn't let those things take their toll and is still learning, sharing and dancing.  For some reason, experiencing this in such an amazing room really drove the point home.

posted at 02:09 AM by Chris Chew in Books

Feb 25, 2005

Level 5 Leadership in The Carnival Of Education

I HAVE BEEN MEANING to post something about this week's Carnival of Education courtesy of EdWonks.  Educators and education bloggers are very interesting to listen to from the perspective of leadership.

You'd expect there to be a tremendous number of examples of Level 5 leadership by teachers in our schools.  After all, teachers are bright, caring people who have given up bigger salaries as physicians or attorneys simply because they want to continue learning and because they place great importance on the success of future generations.  These traits in essence define Level 5 leadership.

So then looking at education worldwide, why don't our schools perform "three-times better than the market for fifteen years" like Jim Collins' eleven "great" Level 5 companies?

The fact is, there are no Level 5 leaders in our schools.  If you do not yet see this, try attending your local school-board meeting and listen to the petty complaints coming from all sides of the table.

If there are no longer any level 5 leaders in our schools, where did they all go?  For we watched many level 5-quality teachers go in.  We even personally know some of them to take active rolls in furthering people's progress.  But they don't seem to make it back out of the system intact as level-5 leaders in a teaching capacity.  Witness aschoolyardblog's friend Ted or her neighbor.  Where is the trap door in this black-box school system that lets the Level 5 leadership escape?  The most obvious answer is that leadership drowns in the bureaucracy and office politics of a government system.  But there is better answer.

School Teachers do not truly have level-5-ness to begin with.  Leadership in its true form requires liability.  Otherwise, what does it matter which path you take or how far you get?  Without risk, there are no leaders.

And our school system has been cultured and legislated to be the epitome of a risk-free system.  Inside the school system, school teachers aren't decision makers, they are decision takers.  School-teacher qua decision-taker can never be a true leader of students since there is no risk or measure for failing.

How can we establish risk for a school teacher and help them become leaders again?  Financial liability, "pay for performance," is one way, but not a very good way.  School systems can learn from businesses, but they are not businesses themselves.  It is not desirable to have school teachers acting like salespeople hunting a commission.

Rather than a salesperson, a school teacher is more like a managing stock-holder.  They hold stock in the community, the city, the state, the country, and the World.  We all hold that stock, and designate teachers to manage it.  This is precisely what people like Jim Lileks have in mind when they say that a school should be "bonded with the neighborhood."  By educating ourselves, we are purchasing stock in an organization of juxtaposed communities that provide security-in and meaning-to Life.

Our stock values increase as our fellow communities respect us more.  Our responsibility as stock-holders is to leverage a teacher's respect to create risk and establish more value.  We do not need to threaten to take away their food or shelter lest they act like salespeople.  The only real risk a teacher can have is losing his or her Credibility -- losing hard-earned respect from students, administrators, parents, citizens and nations.

There will be no change in the quality of public education until school teachers teach like they will lose the World's respect should they fail, and have nobody else to blame but themselves.  We can write legislation, standards, metrics, paradigms, programs, tests, anything you want.  But we will see no change until our teachers lead, until they lead as well as they know they can and perhaps at one time did.  If we want to improve our schools, we need teachers to teach Level-5 leadership by example, and be greatly rewarded for doing so.

So go now, read the Carnival of Education and look for school teachers who are struggling to spring from the administrative muck of honor-less unaccountability.  Do not lament them or the immutable mandatory referendums that keep them in a risk-free government system.  Pull them out, rinse them off, and help them teach more effectively in another capacity!

posted at 01:48 AM by Chris Chew in Education

Feb 24, 2005

A Congratulatory Phone Call From Saddam To Bashar

SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR ASSAD is still on my mind, although I haven't been able to find much more information than what is already being shared around the blogosphere.

I was, however, able to discover another possible phone conversation between Bashar and Saddam Hussein.  This one occurred on the night of July 12, 2000 when Saddam called Bashar to congratulate him on being sworn-in as the new President of Syria.  Nobody is sure what exactly was said, but as near as I can tell it was something like this:

Saddam:  Bashar, this is your Uncle Saddam.

Bashar:  Hi Sadie.  How are things in Iraq?

Saddam: Couldn't be better!  My sons are really starting to understand how things work around here. Just the other Uday made me so proud.  We were having a party celebrating the grand opening of my new palace-

Bashar:  You built another palace?

Saddam:  Oh yeah. Didn't your father tell you?  Things are picking up now that the Oil For Food Program is running at full steam.  Anyways, as I was saying, we were at the party when Uday brought up a football player who was about to retire.  Uday put on his cowboy hat and commanded the player to dance.  Next, Uday pulled out a pearl-handled Colt .45 -- the one your father gave him for his 7th birthday -- and started shooting the floor under the player's feet.  The player started hopping around just like the river dancer, uh what's his name...Mak'hel...

Bashar:  Michael Flatley?

Saddam:  Yeah! Yeah!  Mich-ael Flat-ley!  Say, did you ever meet him when you were studying in the U.K.?

Bashar:  No.

Saddam:  Too bad.  Anyways, so then Uday said the funniest thing before he shot him!  He said, “You are Sundance Kid, and I am Butch Cassidy!”

Saddam laughs hysterically.  Bashar chuckles awkwardly.

Bashar:  Saddam, I'm sorry to have to cut this call short.  Is there something I can do for you?

Saddam:  No, no.  Not yet anyways.  I just wanted to congratulate you on your new position.  As a token of my love and friendship, I am sending you a couple of women.  These two are Western journalists that we arrested last week for taking pictures.  You will love these two, I promise!  They are very kind on the eyes if you know what I mean...

Bashar:  Umm...

Saddam: Oh yeah!  Wait 'till you see the legs on the tall one!  And don't worry, they are clean.  Well, the one is very very dirty...heeheh...but they are healthy.  And fit!

Bashar: Umm.  Thanks, Saddam?  I, um, am really looking forward to receiving your...gift.  Thank you.  Listen, I've got to go now.  Don't call here again, uh, for... security reasons.  Just send postcards if you need to say anything.

Saddam: Sounds good, Bashar.  May God watch over you.

Bashar:  What?

Saddam: Just kidding!  Jeez, loosen up already!  Ha!  Have a good night and again: congratulations!

posted at 10:52 PM by Chris Chew in Funny

Feb 23, 2005

The Good Son Part II

Earlier today I wondered about Bashar Assad.  Chris Suellentrop over at Slate also wondered about Bashar Assad in 2003 and determined that he is an evil moron.  I'm still not convinced.

Bashar's recent key strategy seems to have been allying Syria with Iraq going into the Second Gulf War.  Everybody wants to know why he made such an obviously dumb move.  The common belief is that Bashar wanted to be sitting pretty to help rule the World once Saddam triumphed.  Saddam likely talked himself up before the war to help solidify this line of thinking for Syria, not to mention the fact that Syria's premiere party is apparently Baathist and was obligated if not eager to help.

But could this really have continued to be Bashar's end-game after Saddam began jettisoning weapons and money into Syria?  I can imagine the Phone call Saddam made:  "Bashar, Saddam here.  Listen, I'm going to hide my nukes and chems in your backyard so that the Americans don't find them when they arrest...err, uh...so that you can have them at your disposal as my partner in World domination after we kill those dog men."

Bashar would truly have to be a moron to buy this.  I'm not sly enough to rule a country and I can see through it, so I have to assume that Bashar did as well. Politicians are killed all the time because they weren't smart enough.  Do we honestly think a moron would last very long as a dictator in a place like Syria?  Saddam is an idiot, but he is no moron, and he didn't end well.  Even Mubarak in Egypt seems very sly, and he's losing grasp.

I also have to assume that Bashar had little or no choice in the matter.  After all, he is working with men who for thirty years served his predecessor, a ruthless Baathist dictator and conqueror - his father.

So, for the sake of argument, let's agree that Bashar is not a moron and personally saw through Saddam but nevertheless agreed to support him.  We still have the same question, but this time from a different perspective. Why help Saddam? ...becomes... What does Bashar have to gain by faking allegiance with Saddam?

First and foremost, he might stay alive for another few years lest the Baathists employ another highway bomb. He also becomes the proud new owner of a hand-me-down nuclear and chemical weapons program.  Naturally these are no good to him unless he is alive to use or sell them.  And not only is he still alive, he is now in the perfect position no matter how well Democracy thrives in Iraq and spreads through the region.

For should Democracy fail in Iraq, he gets the benefit of having aided Saddam as well as acquiring a big stash of weapons.  Should Democracy do well, Bashar can proceed to publicly or slyly dismantle his father's regime with a dual face.  Publicly as a "Western-educated eye doctor hoping to share the gift of Freedom with his people," or slyly as a "Dictator's most loyal son who can't stop the overwhelming force of Democracy."  This is a position that a moron would not find himself in, that is, sitting pretty with lots of big guns.

To dismiss Bashar as a moron gives too little respect for a Western, scientific education and a marriage with an English-born wife.  It also undermines the difficulty of navigating some of the most treacherous political waters today, if not ever.  The big test will be how he handles the people's current uproar for civil liberty.

I still have a lot to learn about Bashar and the Syrian Government, and welcome all comments, opinions and information.  You can be sure that I will be following this story.

UPDATE:  Another phone call from Saddam.


posted at 06:51 PM by Chris Chew in Politics

Who The Hell Do I Think I Am

HERE ARE MY ANSWERS to the "Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?" blogger quiz offered by IMAO...

1. Who the hell do you think you are?

I'm a guy who almost always works in his a pajamas. I have translated Homer's Iliad and Odyssey from the original Greek.  I know very little about Politics of Journalism.

2. So, other than blogging, what's your job?  Do you work at some fast food joint, dumbass?

I help companies put business processes on-line.

3. Do you have like any experience in journalism, idiot?

No!

4. Do you even read newspapers?

No!  I've never even owned a subscription.

5. Do you watch any other news than FOX News propaganda, you ignorant fool?

No.  I have a television that is only connected to my x-box/dvd player.

6. I bet you're some moron talk radio listener too, huh?

Not really.

7. So, do you get a fax from the GOP each day for what to say, you @#$% Republican parrot?

Fortunately I do not own a fax machine.

8. Why do you and your blogger friends want to silence and fire everyone who disagrees with you, fascist?

This is a well-put question that is difficult to answer.

9. Are you completely ignorant of other countries, or do you actually own a passport?

I am extremely ignorant of any world events that occurred after 1947.  For this, I blame my Social Studies teachers and the Mainstream Media.  I am extremely knowledgeable about any events that occurred prior to 1700.

10. Have you even been to another country, you dumb hick?

England and Mexico, but not since high school.

11. If you're so keen on the war, why haven't you signed up, chickenhawk?

I'm already a little too old for the military to make good use of me.  Believe me, I even called and asked.

12. Do you have any idea of the horrors of war?  Have you ever reached into a pile of goo that was your best friend's face?

Is it like the pumpkin goo at the neighborhood Halloween haunted house?

13. Have you ever reached into any pile of goo?

I refer you to question 12.

14. Once again, who the hell do you think you are?!

Thanks for wasting every-body's time...Now please apologize to the poor people who you made read this.

posted at 03:41 PM by Chris Chew in Politics