ILD 831 WEEK 8 POST – RAY R.

The Birth of Artificial Intelligence
Robot and human hands almost touching – 3D render. A modern take on the famous Michelangelo painting in the Sistine Chapel; titled, “The Creation of Adam”.

 

As I read Michele Martin’s blog, A Deep Dive Into Thinking About 21st Century Leadership, the first paragraph immediately caught my attention. She is creating something called a “Leadership Lab” that she plans on launching in January. Back in 1987-1990 I participated in Air Force ROTC in college, and once per week we had “Leadership Lab.” It was designed to teach us, as future Air Force Officers, what leadership was all about. I sometimes laugh because a decent amount of the time was spent teaching us to march in formation, which is an activity that I’ve only done 3 or 4 times since being on active duty. But it did allow each one of us to learn a bit about leadership. When I think about how much leadership has changed in those short 25 years, it amazes me. The Air Force has changed and the world has changed.

When I worked as an I.T. manager, I was enveloped in technology. As a manager, I would quickly be left behind if I didn’t embrace technology. I had that job for about 6 years and saw a huge change in technology over the course of that time. When I started, we were mainly using Windows 95, but had a number of machines running Windows for Workgroups 3.11. By the time I left, we were running Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003. The operating systems we used didn’t present many management challenges except that we had a continual change in different applications that the company needed in order to run. Keeping up with versions that would run on our changing operating system was a challenge. Also, working with individuals and departments to sift through their “needs” vs. “desires” on software and hardware was a difficult task. It was often my responsibility to decide whether or not a software package was needed out in the field, as well as manage the expectations of the employees in regards to software and hardware.

One of the first things I was exposed to in this course was Nick Bostrom’s talk while at TED in 2015. One thing he talked about was that we need to get a handle on creations such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). He mentioned that there is no OFF switch to the Internet. He believes this could also be the case with Artificial Intelligence. His viewpoint is that we may not be able to turn off an AI entity if it got out of control. He also brought up the point that machine intelligence is the last thing we need to invent. Once machines get more intelligent than the human brain, they will become better at inventing than we are. That is a profound and scary thought. That statement really makes me wonder how much Artificial Intelligence will change our landscape beyond what we currently know.

I was amazed at the statistics Dr. Watwood showed about his blog posts in 2013. Although he only posted 41 times on his blog, he had over 6,600 hits that year from 4,675 unique visitors. That underscores what I tell my students, subordinates, and children, that what you post online can go a lot farther than a person expects it to. I was really glad that we were required to create our own blog and how easy it was to make it look nice. I feel that this could be a useful leadership tool in the future. If nothing else, it is a good way to share information with employees.

During the course I not only had to research a tool on my own, called Padlet, but I was able to see quite a few other Web 2.0 tools that others had researched. Without a doubt this gave me a great overview of some tools that I will be able to implement in classes I teach. I had heard of about 75% of these tools, but had never taken the time to learn about them. So being able to read others’ reports on these tools was great. In addition, I learned about several tools I had never heard of.

Knowledge management (KM) was a topic that came up and it reminded me of the leadership nightmare of how much information is really out there. Just because an organization may have a nice looking knowledge management system in place does not mean that it is used correctly. As I researched the knowledge management systems in the military, I was reminded that there are quite a few disparate systems out there. Each one is used to a different extent, and there is no standard way to organize the data. I may easily be able to access the different KM sites within my organization, but if I can’t think along the same lines as the person who organized it, I’m stuck trying to navigate around to different sections of the page in order to find what I’m looking for. I’ve often found that it’s often easier just to walk to that office and ask them to provide me with what I’m looking for, which is opposite of what a KM system should be.

The last half of the class dealt more with new and emerging technology. Although I keep up with technology fairly well, I have to say that it was still overwhelming. Just the Internet Trends slide show alone boggled my mind that somebody put all of these technological ideas into one presentation. I imagine multiple people were responsible for it, but it still amazed me. Part of the information presented showed me how much technology has changed over the years and how much and how quickly it is predicted to further change. This really underscores how much a leader must stay on top of technology. Some may argue that this is the reason that a leader hires technical experts. I agree that leaders need to surround themselves with people who are the experts in technology. But I also am a firm believer that a leader needs to embrace this technology as well and have a certain level of understanding of it.

I really liked the article entitled, 6 ways work will change in 2016.  The discussion on how some companies will be built to be mobile from inception is a fascinating concept. Most companies nowadays that allow people to work remotely have had to do it as an afterthought. I was really excited to read the prediction that we will see more video and less PowerPoint. Although I really think PowerPoint has been and is a great tool, it is often overused. I can barely work a day in the Air Force without seeing some type of PowerPoint presentation. It has gotten a bit stale and is in need of something different, in my opinion. I do worry about the discussion about work-life balance, as I have already seen that many people, including me, are expected or required to be always on, always responsive, and always available. Gone are the good old days when a person could leave work at 4:30 and not have to think about work again until 8:00 the next morning.

Being a leader has always been a tough task. Since the first time people got together to work towards a common goal, there have been issues. Some people work harder than others, some are smarter than others, some work well with coworkers, some don’t work well at all with others, some are easy to lead, and some are tough to lead. Besides the people aspect, the environment has changed as well. Technology is something that facilitates being a leader, but also can make leadership more difficult. Being a leader means keeping abreast of new developments and everything else happening in the work environment, and that includes technology. In the article, 7 Requirements to Be a Leader Today, Ron Edmundson covers what he believes to be the attributes that leaders should have today. They provide a great summary of what we have covered in this class and I believe a leader will be very effective if these 7 items are embraced.

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8 thoughts on “ILD 831 WEEK 8 POST – RAY R.

  1. Ray,

    Your post provides a well-rounded overview of our time here in the course. This is a very good reflection piece and it reveals a few subjects that I remember while finding others to embrace. Knowledge management was a topic that left me uncertain about its place in the world during the age of constant updates. It is true, there is so much information that is out there on the web until one would not know where to begin when trying to structure or filter the data before it is available on the web. Another topic that has become an interest of mine is the blog. Creating posts each week proved that, like knowledge management, I can produce information that can be available on the web. Using Blogger and Word Press during this course was good because I did have accounts for these services, but like many, I never utilized them until there was a need. Periodically, I will post blog entries while checking the entries from our class to see who in the world has read our discussions. I hope all goes well with you in the program. Great post.

    Jimmy

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  2. Ray,
    Great article! You provided a detailed breakdown of the various topics we discussed throughout the course. Like most, I have a bevy of favorites; however, one of your excerpts in particular, really spoke to me. When you discussed the challenges of leadership, your comments rang true. Moreover, your conversation on the many advantages and disadvantages of leadership—especially as it relates to technology—appeared well grounded, but realistic. Today’s leaders and employees have a chance to employ technology like never before. In the future, the keys to a healthy organization will involve technology adoption, teamwork, and collaboration.

    Conversely, both employees and leaders will have a lot to contend with in the near future. Technological features and software platforms continue to proliferate with no end in sight. For instance, there are as many desktop software programs as there are software companies to contend with for the average worker. Having learned a particular program at one organization and having to learn another from another agency appears tedious over a professional lifetime. As for 2.0 web platforms, other alternative programs will replace those, without question. So how does the average employee to respond when having to learn multiple office programs? This is where the organizational leaders and supporting cast offer strategic direction. Again, future leaders will certainly have to practice flexibility, adaption, and other positive characteristics to lead in this new, technological age.
    Kevin

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  3. Ray,
    Nice post, I was struck by the fact that you worked in IT and all the changes that you saw over a short period of time beginning in the 80’s, talk about innovation, you saw it first hand. I also did like Bostrom’s TED Talk presentation on Artificial Intelligence, however, I was concerned with the over-reliance on AI and the disregard for the intelligence of Man, although even that can go awry, I still think there is a happy medium between the two. I did my presentation on Survey Monkey, it was interesting learning more about this tool and how useful it is to get a vast amount of information in a short period of time. In addition, enjoyed reading our colleague’s posts on their technologies and how these could possibly fit in my work place, that is what I really took away from that week. Lastly, the information on Knowledge Management clearly conveyed that we are exposed to an abundance of information, however, as we learned this information is not always reliable and quite often not from experts in the field. This I find interesting as I teach 7th graders to navigate to find sources that are pertinent to the topics that we write about. For example, we are starting a unit on Natural Disasters tomorrow and there is no shortage of sites to use when finding information on this topic. Great job and have a Merry Christmas and good luck the rest of the way! This is my final course:)

    Chris Brown

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  4. Ray, I enjoyed our interactions this term. Nice post, and I liked the link you provided at the end. In some ways, “leaders require more than knowledge” hearkens back to Weinberger and TOO BIG TO KNOW!

    Best of luck in your academic journey!

    Britt

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  5. Ray,

    This is an excellent summary of the past 8 weeks, and the myriad of topics we have covered. It’s hard to believe this class passed so quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction of blogging, perhaps even more so than that standard discussion boards in other courses. Part of my dissertation research is going to be examining the idea of leadership at the high school level, and how we can work with students to try to incorporate a leadership curriculum to help them develop, each in their own ways. It is not only a benefit a school can provide, but a growing necessity, in my opinion. Something like the Martin’s leadership lab, or what you have discussed from your time in the Air Force, could be easily adapted to be appropriate for younger ages. This generation is going to be more adaptable than any thus far when it comes to changing technology, and how it integrates into our everyday lives and the workplace. If we can begin to educate children from a younger age on leadership in this ever-changing world, I think we can expect to see some great results by the time they are part of the working world themselves. I am not sure yet what this might look like, but in working closely with high school students, I know there is potential.
    I wish you the best of luck in future courses, and it has been a pleasure reading your blog!
    – Katie T.

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  6. Ray,
    Nice summary and end hyperlink to what leaders need today. I recently received an EdCal Newsletter where an educator from ACSA, which is a California Association for School Leaders stated that it is time to take “an authoritarian apporach” to our schools. I wanted to hit my hand on my forehead and say no wonder we are having problems in my state. The political school leaders are so disconnected to the reality of technology and leadership. I mostly feel bad for the students sitting in our traditional classrooms where folks are afraid to take risks. This was a great class that makes me patiently wait for a team where I can thrive and help students access the skills they need to be succesful.

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  7. Interesting post this week. I have similarly experienced the challenge of adapting my leadership as a result of technology within my sector evolving. I am both far more reliant on technology as well as for more free as a result of the technological advancements in higher education. Yet despite the constant changes in technology, it is interesting to note that the same principles of leadership that inspire individuals have remained constant. I have observed that among my peers, I will find in their offices books on leading in today’s modern world from authors such as Reis and Sonman right next to the old standards from Carnegie, Covey and Hill. In other words, technology may require that our operational approach change, however our approach to inspiring and motiving others must remain constant and will always require a very human touch.

    Great insights!

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