Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: Whale Done by Ken Blanchard

          Ken Blanchard has written a number of best sellers.  Perhaps you have read his One Minute Manager series, or Raving Fans (how to make your customer a raving fan), or Gung Ho! which encourages your pursuit of excellence.  If you’ve read a Blanchard book you know that he is a master storyteller who makes his points by telling a story that is easy to read, entertaining, interesting, and most important of all, drives to the point he is making.

          Whale Done is no exception.  The book jacket explains that “both whales and people perform better when you accentuate the positive” and of course give people the much deserved, “Great job!”  The book follows a business manager/family man names Wes Kingsley.  As Wes reflects on his life—both personally and professionally, he realizes that things are not going well.  There is a great deal of tension in both arenas and while on a business trip he escapes to Sea world and watches the killer whale show.  As he goes backstage he learns that the trainer’s techniques of building trust, accentuating the positive, and redirecting negative behavior work together to create the extraordinary performances that we all witness.  

          The book’s story continues as Wes learns to apply these skills in his personal and professional life.  He, and his family, learn how to apply these technique and ultimately live a much happier and more fulfilling life.

          At C4K we promote the Big 3—building relationships, communicating formally and informally, and recognition for exemplary performance.  Working on the Big 3 will help you to build trust, focus on the positive and redirect negative behavior as you acknowledge good work. 

          Consider reading Whale Done! and also consider checking out the C4K videos on the Big 3.  Both are user friendly and insightful. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner

This article is written by a member of our expert blogging community.

     Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap, recently published Creating Innovators.  In my opinion, this book picks up where The Global Achievement Gap left off.  The Global Achievement Gap identified the current state we find ourselves in.  He shares sobering statistics about how even our AP students have fallen seriously behind their counterparts in other counties.  He identifies 7 skills that he believes we must develop in young people to ensure their success in college and career.  These 7 include:  collaboration across networks and leading by influence, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurship, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, and curiosity and imagination.  You can view Wagner speaking about these 7 skills by tuning in to  I think it should not be lost on us that he has identified these as “skills”.  Skills are different than talents and interests.  They can be learned and honed.  In other words, these skills can help the masses, and are not housed in a few core people.
     In Creating Innovators, Wagner does several case studies of young people who demonstrate innovation both in social enterprises and more traditional business arenas.  What he has found is that they each had parents or caregivers that supported them and did not over-schedule time, allowing them to explore and play.  They had a mentor who did not subscribe to conventional and traditional educational lectures and papers, but rather more authentic learning.  Wagner goes on to say that if you overlap expertise, motivation, and creative thinking skills, at the center you will find innovation, and that when you input the 7 survival skills into that innovation, you have a “revised framework for developing the capacities of young people to become innovators.” 
     Wagner’s book is well worth the read.  It gives you a great deal to think about.  In afterschool we are well-positioned to support authentic learning, hands-on explorations, and collaboration among learners. 
What strategies are you using in your program to encourage innovation?  How are you using an understanding of the 7 Survival Skills to make your program more relevant?  Let us know by weighing in at