Thursday, November 22, 2012

EdTechTeam Values... And Thanks

Cross-posted from edtechlife.com.

This is an excerpt from something I wrote for the team back in February. It has stood the test of time well, and I'm excited to finally share it here. I look forward to any comments, feedback, or pushback from others. :)

Over the past few years I’ve found that my personal and professional values have more or less converged, so I’m particularly passionate about my commitment to these values... and I think they’re a good fit for this team.

Passion

We do only work that we are passionate about. Don’t accept a job from the team that you aren’t passionate about. Do feel free to send us leads you’re not passionate about, but know that I won’t move on a lead unless I am passionate about it... or unless I know someone else on the team that is. It follows that we also don’t provide or recommend products or services that we are not passionate about. Sticking to your passions is also a very positive way to ensure you never threaten your own integrity.

Flexibility

We are a flexible team. This is probably the essence of the EdTechTeam, and I often pitch this benefit to clients: “We are a nimble organization, able to be flexible and responsive to your needs... Our services can be scaled up or back as necessary, and we are experienced in developing custom services based on client requests. Because we always work on a contract basis, few of the commitments required to hire an employee are necessary for your organization to tap into our expertise.” I value flexibility over systems, rules, and precedents - and I value flexibility over checklists, goals, and plans. Flexibility is critical to the philosophy of the “lean startup” and that philosophy is key to our success and future growth. If I say “thank you for your flexibility” it is high praise coming from me.

Openness

We are an open team. I mean this in many ways. Most importantly, we are open with each other. Hopefully this message is a good step toward making that even more of a reality. If you have questions, concerns, or potential conflicts... let me (and anyone else involved) know. We are also open with the clients, educators, and students that we serve; we always share our opinions (and identify them as such); we always disclose potential conflicts of interest; and we always disclose any additional funding or support we might be receiving. And, of course, we always thank the people and organizations that have contributed to successful events and projects. Also, we share as much of our resources as we can. That is why all of our workshop resources and publicly posted materials (including blog posts and wikis) are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. We’re paying it forward to other educators and learners.

Creativity

We are a creative team. Creativity is a cornerstone of my educational philosophy. I believe that encouraging creativity is both a means for learning other things, and a valuable end for education to aspire to. I value working with creative people (like all of you), and our creative solutions to others’ problems are in a very real way what we are selling. We find creative ways to help people learn.

Simplicity

Simplicity is good. All things being equal, simplicity is better than complexity. Simple solutions are better than complex solutions. Simple tools are better than complex tools. Simple rules of thumb are better than complex manuals, and simple values are better than complex contracts. If in any case, a simpler tool can be used, simpler words will suffice, or a simpler route can be taken... we should always choose the most simple path to the solution we want. I feel my language in this message is simple, but I know it is still unnecessarily long and complex. I look forward to the day I’ll be able to express these things in only a few lines.

Health, Balance, and Authenticity

We live healthy, balanced, and authentic lives. I mentioned that my personal and professional values have converged over the years. These are three values (collected for simplicity’s sake) that I aspire to in my personal life, that I admire in many of you, and that we should look to for guidance as a team. We should not suggest things to clients, educators, and learners that would not be healthy or that would lead them to lead an unbalanced or inauthentic life; rather, we should encourage healthy choices, balanced behaviors, and authentic communication. I’m a fan of teaching “the whole child” (regardless of the political baggage this term may have acquired), and I think it is critically important to always deal with everyone, educators and students included, first as people. Discover their passions and their challenges if you truly want to help. The technology in our name and mission does not outweigh the health and happiness of the people we serve.

Giving

We donate 5% of our net income to put devices in the hands of students. As I’ve worked to reboot this business in 2012, I’ve wanted to ensure that giving is baked right into the business model. (Among other things, I was inspired by Blake Mycoskie’s Start Something That Matters.) When I asked myself what we could do, I kept coming back to the importance of putting devices in the hands of kids... to creating as many 1:1 situations as we can (even on an individual scale). We can’t offer any sort of 1-for-1 deal similar to Mycoskie’s TOMS shoes (it would be too expense to include the price of a mobile device with every workshop ticket... or to give away a workshop for each one sold), but we can dedicate  5% of our net profit to putting devices in kids hands. Inspired by Warren Dale, who provides some very convincing arguments for giving kids iPod Touches (which they will carry and use everywhere) I am giving iPod Touches to kids in schools with teachers (and visionary educational technologists) who will provide the best chance for the devices to be put to good use. UPDATE: The entire core team for the Google Apps for Education Summits has committed to giving away Nexus 7 devices... and I just shipped our second class set yesterday!


Synchronicity

We embrace synchronicity. Whatever cause or causes have brought all of us together, there is no doubt in my mind that this team is greater than the sum of it’s parts - that I am better working with you than I am working alone. Similarly, I trust my intuition... and I trust yours; your opinions and insights are extremely valuable to me. As a team, we should continue to embrace the happy accidents and meaningful connections that our work presents us with. I look forward to seeing how our efforts will be shaped in the months and years to come.

I feel the same way about this (sometimes dormant) blog. And on this particular day I'm Thankful for all of the happy accidents and meaningful connections I've found here with all of you as well. :)

See also a flashback "Thank You" post that still resonates with me 9 months later: http://edtechlife.com/?p=2942

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