Happy December Colleagues,

As you know, the window for the Connecticut Center for School Change's first official Reading for Leading Book Club ended on November 22, 2018. The selected book for discussion, Annie Duke's Thinking in Bets seemed to provoke wide ranging interest and discussions both in and outside the Center's Book Group. As Richard Lemons previously wrote, many colleagues have mentioned that they were reading the book over the past few months. It appears to all three of the Center's "discussion facilitators" (Richard Lemons, Isobel Stevenson and Robert Villanova) that many more colleagues read the book than participated in the Book Club online discussion. Sixty four (64) folks "joined" the Book Club and seven (7) members participated in the online discussion. We appreciate and thank each of the Book Club active participants for your comments and reactions to the book and we hope that many others engaged in discussions of the provocative ideas presented in the book with colleagues outside of the Book Club structure.
We want to be sure that nothing in the structure or design of the Book Club itself presented anyone from more active online engagement. We also want to invite your feedback in general so we can make any improvements in how we organize the Center's Book Club going forward. Please visit the Book Club Google+ site and add any comments or feedback that you wish to share. If you prefer, please email any one of the three of us with your comments or feedback. (You might even want to suggest the next book for us to consider.)
We think the Center's Book Club has great potential to connect educational leaders, defined in the broadest way possible, through exposure, analysis and reflection on "big", relevant and leadership-related ideas and concepts. We also want to do all that we can to expand these leadership connections as we work to further the mission of the Connecticut Center for School Change. Thank you for your interest and please let us know how we can improve the Book Club as we consider the next book selection.
Best wishes from your colleagues at the Connecticut Center for School Change,
Robert Villanova
Isobel Stevenson
Richard Lemons

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OK, so I understand that this is beyond geeky, but in response to Rich’s earlier question, I went looking for examples of pre-mortems in my files and here’s one from March 2009. We were red-teaming a section of our SRBI plan, and here’s what a small group of first year APs came up with in about 5 minutes.

I'm just wondering if anybody has experimented with any of the strategies such as backcasting or pre-mortems?

I had a great Friday at the CABE/CAPSS convention. Throughout the say I heard several people mentioning “bets,” and it was clear they have been reading. Others asked how the bookclub was going. A couple even admitted they were reading along in Google+, but had yet to post. It is exciting to know people are reading and that it is filtering into our vocabularies and mental models.

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I know this has nothing to do with decision making or even poker per se, but it's still kinda cool.
Check out @PlinketyPlink’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/PlinketyPlink/status/1063592555563151360?s=09
Plink on Twitter
Plink on Twitter

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And what role to values play in making decisions, and how do values interact with cogntive biases?

This morning I'm considering the relationship between Dukes' work and this:

With all the conversations I've been having about the book lately, the ideas were getting a bit mushed together for me. So this evening I picked the book back up and started reading from the beginning. And right away I was struck all over again by the discussion of the Superbowl play. What I know about football you could write on the flap of a matchbook. But we watch the Superbowl because it's a thing and because we get to sit together and eat wings and nachos and pizza all at the same time. Anyway, for all my lack of schema, I remember that game, and how people talked about it afterwards. And as soon as she started writing about it I'm thinking of course, this is so obvious, why didn't I think of it this way?

So now I really want to know, why didn't I think of it this way?

Thanks for facilitating this discussion. I was particularly intrigued by the notion that we may not be “decision-fit” very close to an outcome because the recent past weighs disproportionately on our emotions and clouds our ability to make sound decisions/inferences. Instead of managing by “ticker-watching”, I appreciated the mental time-travel perspective. We need to remind ourselves to take the long view, and teach others around us to do the same. If we do this when the outcome is favorable, and we avoid the temptation to attribute the entire result to our decision quality, then we have a better chance of maintaining that long view and demonstrating our decision quality during times when the outcome is not so favorable. Yes, this is easier said than done, but is definitely a worthwhile endeavor so that evidence-based practices have a chance to take hold and flourish.

Page 33

"Decisions are bets on the future. They aren't 'right' or 'wrong' based on whether they turn out well on any particular iteration. An unwanted result doesn't make our decision wrong if we thought about the alternative and probabilities on advance and allocated our resources accordingly."

This is a very humane way at looking how decisions are made, knowing that sometimes decisions are made with the very best intentions and information available. Sometimes outcomes may be perceived as bad (here Duke uses "unwanted"), caused by an unforeseen event or some machination that is entirely unknown. If an educator has put in the research (perhaps some level of backcasting and pre mortem) and is 75% to 95% a decision will yield a positive outcome, and it doesn't, what is to say that the same decision would not work in a different circumstance? Accepting the "I'm not sure" stance before making decisions is more forgiving, and prevents the "irrational outcome fielding" she later mentions in the book. Making peace with uncertainty, and avoiding hindsight bias, forwards the learning community.

It all came together for me nearly at the end of the book (page 225):

"Because of that [expressing reservation without making something sound wrong], a planning process that includes a premortem creates a much healthier organization because it means that the people who do have dissenting opinions are represented in the planning."

(Thanks to +Isobel Stevenson for introducing me to the Red Book already :-) )

I continue to look for ways to incorporate this into my work and would welcome suggestions.
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