Friday Letter, 3-4-16

Thanks for staying tuned into the Friday Letters. Today I want to give a short system update as well as report on a study completed by Google regarding teams.

I spent last week in Olympia and came back deflated. Why?  We have been hit hard on several fronts and I see many of our system initiatives having a bleak outcome.  Here’s what I know:

  • We do not think the system will receive funding for two new buildings in our construction pipeline as hoped.  We needed authority to use Building Fees to construct a building at Edmonds and at Whatcom. They are the next two buildings in a list of 14. (We are #14). The HOUSE wants to give us the authority and the SENATE does not. We are not hopeful this will happen given they disagree.
  • We do not think we will see the promised tuition-backfill as hoped.  The SENATE wants to give us this money but the HOUSE does not. When the two are opposed we have usually ended up with nothing. Not hopeful here.
  • The ctcLink ($100M computer conversion program) is behind schedule and costing more than anyone hoped.  By the way…Terence is doing a tremendous job at helping the system right the course on this and I applaud him. If I were not so selfish, I’d offer him up to the system to correct the problem…but I would rather keep his talents here. He’ll also give much credit to Sharon Waymire for helping to fix the issues and she’s a keeper too.
  • The system did not get approval to offer general Bachelor’s programs as hoped. We were attempting to pilot this and were turned down.
  • AND…to top it all off…we just found out that a class action lawsuit against the Health Care Authority was lost and the legislature has decided to push the costs off to the individual agencies (i.e., the CTC’s and Universities) rather than cover the cost from reserves or some other source.  It will be a significant cost to our campus and all the other campuses.

We have a solid ship, just diminishing winds.  We’re not sure of the solution unless the state has more money.  That is probably not likely any time soon.

On a slightly more upbeat note, Google completed one of the most comprehensive studies about team dynamics that has ever been published. Granted, it might be biased by the type of employees Google attracts, but they had some significant findings that effective teams share in common.

  • Strong teams have an opportunity to build rapport and develop group safety. These can be subtle, implied or stated group norms about honoring each member’s participation and getting to know those people.
  • Teams have empathy. This means they care about the contributions of others, watch body language, and adjust to think about others.
  • And strong teams usually demonstrate that each member has equal air time or contributes at the same rate as the rest of the team members.

I refer you to the article if you want more detail. (http://nyti.ms/20WG1yY).  I hope we might reflect on these groups aspects and think about our own roles in Cascadia teams. Our teams often change rapidly and can’t be constructed from like-minded intra- or extraverts…but we can certainly work to make sure all felt heard, are a part of the team, and have a sense of personal investment.

Have a great weekend.

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