Book Review – Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

If you are a leader, think you are a leader, or aspire to be a leader, then you need to read Simon Sinek’s book, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t*. I believe this book does a great job explaining why some teams excel and others fail. A lot of the success and failure can be closely tied to leadership. In his book, Sinek explained the science behind good and bad leadership and team performance in terms that I could easily understand. Having worked in two distinct cultures: military and higher education. I am aware of a difference in leadership. I certainly have my preferences and I am happy to report I believe they align with what Sinek shared. Read more

2013 has been a banner reading year

Repeatedly, I have stressed the importance of reading to your lifelong learning. In a blog post, I quoted the U.S. Labor Department, ”According to the U.S. Labor Department, business people who read at least seven business books per year earn over 230 percent more than people who read just one book per year.“ I have taken this to heart and increased the reading have done. In 2012, I wrote 12 book reviews; this year I am pleased to report that I wrote 21 book reviews.

Over the past year, I have written  book reviews spanning four major topics: Evernote, Google+, leadership, and learning. Read more

Have you been reading more?

In May 2011, I wrote a blog post that discussed the importance of reading. In it I quoted the U.S. Labor Department, ”According to the U.S. Labor Department, business people who read at least seven business books per year earn over 230 percent more than people who read just one book per year.“ Well, I have certainly done my share of reading in the past year. I have tried to support my reading habit with book reviews in this blog.

Over the past year, I have written 12 book reviews spanning four major topics: Evernote, game design and gamification, leadership, and learning in a digital age.

Evernote

Evernote is one of those power tools that I am relying more and more on. These couple of books have helped me develop a strategy for using Evernote.

Evernote: The unofficial guide to capturing everything and getting things done. 2nd Edition

Daniel Gold, the author of Evernote: The unofficial guide to capturing everything and getting things done. 2nd Edition*, has managed to write a book that ties Evernote and Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity* together.

Evernote for Lawyers: A Guide to Getting Organized & Increasing Productivity

Evernote is simple to use; there are countless ways to import information into Evernote but mastering its capabilities is keeping me occupied. Fortunately, I ran across a great book to help me tame this powerful tool. David Ward of The Attorney Marketing Center has written a book called Evernote for Lawyers: A Guide to Getting Organized & Increasing Productivity*.

Gamification and Gaming

These couple of books have helped peel another layer of the onion back in terms of understanding gamification and game design.

Theory of Fun for Game Design

Theory of Fun for Game Design*
 is a deceptively educational book on the topic of fun and game design. Less on game design and more on fun.

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education

Karl Kapp has just released his book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education*. Kapp explains the concept of gamification and why people play games, the research behind gamification, key gaming elements, how to apply game mechanics to problems and domains, and examples of games used in the real world.

Leadership

These two books have provided me with more insight into running an organization and getting things done while working with others.

Turn the Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level*

Marquet became the commander of one of the worst submarines in the Navy. By using some rather unorthodox methods of leadership, at least by Navy standards, he was able to lead his men from worst to first in two years.

Six Thinking Hats*

The book focuses on a different method for conducting meetings.

Learning in a Digital Age

Finally, these books discuss the important of learning and the use of technology to learn. The majority of them point to the future where learning is a mobile device away.

10 Ways to Be a Better Learner*

For a short quick read, this book provided a lot of great tips for being a better learner.

Mobile First*

Very simply, Wroblewski points out that mobile devices are being purchased at a staggering rate, outpacing computers and laptops, and users are increasingly using mobile devices to access the internet anytime and anywhere.

 The Mobile Academy: mLearning for Higher Education

If you are interested in background information on the next major wave to hit higher education, you may want to read The Mobile Academy: mLearning for Higher Education* by Clark Quinn. Quinn does a solid job of walking a reader through all the key points necessary to adequately address issues revolving around mobile learning (mlearning) in a academic environment.

Social Media for Trainers: Techniques for Enhancing and Extending Learning

Many trainers and educators are now examining or using social media tools to support their work in the classroom. When starting to learn about new tools, there is often a steep learning curve; you must not only learn how to use the features of the tool, but you must also figure out how to use it in an educational setting. Jane Bozarth’s book, Social Media for Trainers: Techniques for Enhancing and Extending Learning*, will help you get a jump start on the second problem… how to use the tools in an educational setting.

The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age*

This book really spoke to me because it reinforces my thoughts on learning and professional development. The authors were quick to point out that we have entered an age where we can learning virtually anything, anywhere, and anytime. They also actively supported the ideas presented by Dewey and Lindeman — learning is a social activity.

Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything*
The title is a little deceptive because I believe this book would be enlightening for everyone interested in how to get the most out of Google+.

What have you been reading? What recommendations do you have for me?


* In the spirit of full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, which means that if you purchase this item through my link I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.
Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff. 🙂 Thank you, in advance for your support!

Book Review: Turn the Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level

I just had the pleasure of reading David Marquet’s book, Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders*, and I have been encouraging everyone I see to also read it. Marquet became the commander of one of the worst submarines in the Navy. By using some rather unorthodox methods of leadership, at least by Navy standards, he was able to lead his men from worst to first in two years. More importantly, his crew continued their success long after he left the ship. He transformed the organization from a leader-follower group to a leader-leader group. Instead of requiring constant direction, the crew became self-starters, and easily handled challenges regardless of nature. This is what you want from an organization. Read more

Layering game mechanics on top of a Civil Air Patrol summer encampment, Part 1

Over the past couple of years, there has been significant discussion about the impact of gamification on education and learning. I decided to layer game mechanics on top of a Civil Air Patrol summer encampment and see the results. Based on feedback from the participants, the majority were pleased with the experiment and the outcome. Before I explain what I did, I would like to explain what a summer encampment is and how it is typically run.

Summer Encampment

Summer encampments are week long camps conducted as quasi basic training for Civil Air Patrol cadets. Cadet typically vary in age from 12 to 20, and they must have completed their first achievement − earned their first stripe. Encampments “challenge cadets to develop self-discipline and teamwork while broadening their understanding of aerospace. Most encampments are conducted on a military installation.” A cadre of cadets who have previously attended at least one encampment lead new cadets through the encampment experience.

In this environment, cadets are held to a strict timeline. They get up at 6 am to the yells of their cadre and move directly to the parade field for physical training. The cadets then march to breakfast. Cadets will march from place to place while at the encampment. While waiting for breakfast, cadets are expected to memorize a number of quotations from their cadet handbook. At previous encampments, the cadre would be continuously chastising cadets and quizzing them relentlessly. This creates a highly stressful environment, one not necessarily suited to learning.  After breakfast, cadets moved to the dorms where they had to prepare their living areas to inspection standards. They typically had one hour to change uniforms and prepare their rooms. For the rest of the day, cadets would attend classes, eat meals, and participate in sporting activities all under the watchful eye of their cadre. In years past, cadre often felt they were there to be seasoned drill sergeants without really understanding the role. They often took the more undesirable aspects of what they believed to be correct role modeling.

Because I had extensive experience in military basic training environments, and because I also had been a cadet and worked with cadets for approximately 30 years, I felt their was a need to change how the Wyoming Wing conducted its encampment. The approach changed but the demands did not. We still got up and did physical fitness. Cadets still ate, attended classes, participated in sports, and even maintained their living areas. What we did remove was the drill sergeant mentality and introduced a coaching and mentoring mentality through the use of game mechanics. The cadre had a more direct role in the cadets’ success.

Game Changes

The Air Force provides Civil Air Patrol with a curriculum that they want used atencampments. They also send representatives to encampments to ensure the curriculum is followed. The curriculum has a tremendous amount of latitude for implementation. There are many elements of a typical encampment that are not specifically required by the curriculum but are implement regardless. For example, there is no specific requirement that cadet learn how to make a bed to Air Force standards but it is taught nonetheless. The Air Force will reteach bed making at basic training or at the Air Force Academy or ROTC field training. It was through most of these additional elements that we layered game mechanics onto the encampment system.

First time cadets, also known as in flight cadets, and their assigned flights were assessed based on a point system. The top cadet and top flight were ultimately selected based on this point system. It is important to note that cadets did not have to earn any points at all and still could graduate from the encampment as long as they successfully participated in 80% of the Air Force assigned curriculum. I am pleased to report that all cadets did participate in the game elements at varying levels.

Here is a break down of what was measured as part of the game:

  • Individual participation
    • Knowledge book memorization
    • Room Inspection
    • Uniform Inspections
    • Cadet physical fitness test
  • Flight participation
    • Knowledge book memorization
    • Room Inspection
    • Uniform Inspections
    • Cadet physical fitness test
    • Sports
    • Flight News
    • Flight Guidon
    • Flight Patch
    • Open Ranks Inspections
    • Aerospace Education quizzes

I will describe each of these items in more detail in the next post. First, I would like to describe the cadet cadre and how points were assessed.

The cadet cadre was divided into three distinct groups: cadet leadership, standardization evaluation and training (SET) team, and mission support. The cadet leadership were identified by yellow badges, the SET team by orange badges, and the mission support by green badges. The cadet leadership included the cadet commander, deputy commander, flight commanders, flight sergeants, and first sergeant. The SET team was comprised of members with the same role and one officer in charge. The mission support included logistics, administration, and public affairs. The cadet leadership were responsible to help cadets learn and carry out their tasks; they were the coaches and mentors. The SET team assessed whether or not results met standards and recorded the results on the spreadsheet built to track game results. The public affairs team produced a newsletter that reflected daily point earners. Additionally, daily high achievers were recognized in front of the corps of cadets.

In Layering game mechanics on top of a Civil Air Patrol summer encampment, Part 2, I will detail each of the game elements, how they were implemented, and how they were assessed.