Solving problems together

2/27/2013 12:00:00 AM

Any CTO will tell you it’s important to have handy answers when others ask questions. The question is, where do you go to find those answers? How do you keep the ideas front and center in everyone’s mind, and how do you ensure that they don’t become your crusade alone?

Here is one imperfect approach, as well as some pitfalls and how to avoid them.

1. Gather together stakeholders who agree that a problem exists that needs resolution.

2. State that the goal of the meeting is to define the problem as clearly as possible, and seek input from as many stakeholders as possible ahead of time.

3. Clarify the problem, forestalling any rush to solutions. Any solutions offered should serve to help clarify the desired features in the solution that will be identified later—not as the end all. The goal is to get everyone to flesh out the issues.

4. Your role as meeting facilitator is not to run the process or be the leader or expert. Allow yourself to be the learner, asking questions and honestly seeking perspectives from others.

5. Decide who will facilitate the meetings, set the schedule, and keep track of who-will do- what-by-when, etc. This is more important than you might imagine. No meeting is effective unless the who-will-do-what-by when is properly addressed.

6. Encourage people to voice their fears and concerns about the process, the problem, and how it’s been framed or set up, as well as the solution finding and implementation process. This is about dialogue and keeping everyone being honest with each other.

7. Always ask, “What is best for the organization, the people who will be affected by this decision?” I have found that this helps keep the focus on the greater good, rather than getting caught up in the small stuff.

Pitfalls to avoid

• Pitfall #1 - Having “side” conversations where team members interpret your listening to them as agreement with their solution. How to avoid this pitfall: Unequivocally state that while this has been a conversation worth having, it will need to occur again with the entire team present. Be sure to point out that you have not made any decisions about the individual’s proposed solution at this time.

• Pitfall #2 - Picking a side or solution in advance of the team meeting. This is such an easy one to fall into, I’m not surprised when organizations are already well into implementation before they realize they didn’t go through a process to solve a problem. How to avoid this pitfall: Go through the problem definition process and get as much input as possible, especially from those who will have to implement it.

I don’t claim to be perfect. In fact, the reason I have to spend time reflecting on how I communicate is because I’m not very good at it. To me, that kind of transparency and focus on being a learner pays off because it re-acquaints me with humility of my imperfection.

Miguel Guhlin is director of technology for a 5A school district in Texas and past president of the statewide TCEA Technology Education Coordinators group.

comments powered by Disqus
Tweets
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...

ClassFlow

(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...

DeskBoard

(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...

LightSail

(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...

myON

(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...

MathBall

(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...

MobileAsset.EDU

(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...

PresentationPro

(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...

TabChargeCT2

(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...

Camtasia

(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...