I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Anything I quote may have changed in the final version.
This was a very...moreI received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Anything I quote may have changed in the final version.
This was a very difficult book to read! I am never good at being criticized, and magnify that difficulty by taking everything as criticism. Ha. I'm also in the position of giving feedback to a crew of librarians and can always use ideas for how to do this in the best way!
What I really like about this book is that it examines what the problems are, focusing on the person reading, while also giving ideas for how to address both the problems that are internal and those that are relational, structural, or role-based. I got a lot out of even just breaking it down into these categories, because it helped me see how complicated these elements can make something like giving and receiving feedback. It made me think a lot about myself, more in the role of receiving feedback than in giving it, probably because that is where I need the greatest help!
A few of the practical concepts I marked for further pondering -
-Disentangle we from what -The speed at which we interpret data, sometimes making us miss the actual meaning or intention of feedback -Noticing different things despite having access to the same data (ask "Why do we see this differently? What data do you have that I don't?") -How much is role and how much is personality? -Pay attention to your own silent switchtracking reaction to others' feedback
The concept of "identity story" is something I've come across before, but I felt it was well-handled here. How some people see themselves as unchangeable and that makes feedback more difficult, and how sometimes figuring out what the story we are telling about ourselves can really help us wade through our reactions to feedback.
I loved the set of "forward-looking" questions that the authors recommend you take to any evaluation conversation: "What were the criteria you used? What did you consider to be the most important? Are there concerns I should know about? Are there skills or experience I am missing? Looking forward: What are the consequences? How will this effect me in the coming year? What should I be thinking about or working on? When might we reassess?
Since the authors are careful to distinguish evaluation from coaching, and at once point suggest interpreting some evaluation as coaching, I liked this idea of having a tangible way of turning feedback around into immediate useful, actionable directions. Excellent.
There was one scary suggestion of asking people around you "What do you see me doing, or failing to do, that is getting in my own way?" It is probably a clear indicator that this book did not save me from being terrified of this kind of conversation, but I'm mulling it over. Perhaps if I start with safer people. And the authors suggest always having someone safe on hand to bounce ideas off of.
"When we are under stress or in conflict we lose skills we normally have, impact others in ways we don't see, are at a loss for positive strategies. We need honest mirrors in these moments, and often that role is played best by those with whom we have the hardest time."
Hmm, interesting. Actually they are not suggesting a safe person to mirror you, but someone who you struggle with. I am not ready! I will need to start small, but that is an interesting question. And as someone who has been under too much stress in the last two years, I'm not sure I want to hear the answer. Ha.(less)
"The survivors stay on pills, waiting... We go on. You cannot choose whether you get depressed and you cannot choose when or how you get better, but you can choose what to do with the depression, especially when you come out of it."
This was an incredible book that took me months to read, a dense mighty tome about depression. It weaves together the author's personal experience of multiple breakdowns and decades of treatments with other narratives, scientific research, historical background, and social context (and sometimes- literature!). Rather than try to summarize depression, he lets it stay messy as it really is, different for each person, with no clear path for treatment. I learned a lot, and hopefully my increased understanding will make me a better boss, a better faculty advisor, and a better friend.
While the Australian Black Dog Institute doesn't seem to exist online anymore, and they were the force leading to the writing of this book, I still th...moreWhile the Australian Black Dog Institute doesn't seem to exist online anymore, and they were the force leading to the writing of this book, I still think it will be useful to people who want some specific strategies for dealing with depression in the workplace. I didn't find the personal anecdotes very useful and they take up half of the book, but every once in a while they would provide an idea. This also comes from Australia which has different government policies driving how workplaces can legally deal with depression, however I was more interested in improving work environment and understanding the possibilities than in what I was legally obligated to do.
Some of the suggestions are institutional, which are probably very helpful in a situation where someone would have the influence to make changes. I actually think one idea, of holding training for supervisors in dealing with mood disorders, would be something I could suggest. If mental health isn't a stigma, let's talk more about it, not just pretend it isn't creating challenges for people at work or in school. I think people know how to accommodate for physical issues but feel less empowered to do so for mental issues.
As a college advisor and supervisor of employees, what do I get out of this book? The need for greater flexibility for people struggling with mood disorders. Flexibility in time, for doctor's appointments, drug side effects, and just really bad mornings. In a perfect world, also finding more ways of not equating a depression-fueled dip in performance to general failure in performance. How can we be reasonable in our expectations and keep work a place that provides a reciprocal environment to all employees and not just those not struggling? I'm not sure I have the answers but I feel I have a tiny bit more understanding. Hopefully this will help me be more of an advocate and less of a straw to add to the camel, if you know what I mean. That is my entire reason for reading the book in the first place.
Here is a list of modifications from page 96 that I found useful: -restructuring the job -flexible scheduling -flexible leave -supportive modifications to the work environment -providing a mentor -changes in training(less)
This was a great book for people looking to have a better understanding of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD, bi-polar disorder...moreThis was a great book for people looking to have a better understanding of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD, bi-polar disorders of multiple varieties, panic, and seasonal affective disorder. It covers issues varying from relationships to work to disclosure to disability, and the last section has personal stories from people who deal with varying disorders on a daily basis. It isn't medical advice and does not include a lot of documented research to support the claims (in other words please see your doctor) but I found it to be helpful for the outsider who has no idea what these things are like. The way it is written, it seems to oscillate between assuming the reader is an outsider to these things and thinking maybe the reader is suffering and looking for affirmation. I think this was a smart way to write the book, because it could easily go either way, and often people who suspect they might suffer from depression find information in a less threatening way, like a book.
I was just looking to understand all of these things more. I have seen myself get frustrated at work and with friends because of behavior I now understand to be related to dealing with depression. I guess I felt that learning more about it would help, not because I'm interested in treating anyone or giving medical advice, but to increase empathetic and compassionate reactions. I didn't want to fake it, I wanted to understand. I get that from my mother, reading a book to try to understand. :)
I particularly liked the section that distinguished "I'm feeling depressed," a word people mean when they are feeling down or sad, from actual depression. This has always confused me and it helped to have it spelled out a bit more.
Little bits I marked:
"Ironically many people do not seek help for depression because they are too depressed... Sleep deprivation and anxiety merely add fuel to the fire, stoking an already precarious situation."
How to help - realize that isolation is often a symptom of depression (but people need connection, so you need to reach out to them), persistence pays off, protect yourself while remaining present, you can only do what you can do, don't be afraid to ask. (All of these come with a lot more information, but I found them useful. I often feel like I don't know if I should try to be there, to ask, etc., and I'm seeing that it is at least possible that a person dealing with depression may need me to at leas try. Probably not every time, this isn't a formula. Tricky, but there it is.)
"One of the realities about depression and anxiety disorders is that there are good days and bad days. The nature of the beast is that its course is unpredictable."
From the personal stories:
"Most of the time I feel like I am not honest with my friends; therefore I am not really a true friend at all. I feel like a mere stranger with them, and that only compounds the problem."
"The fact is many of my anxiety attacks happen when I'm trying to be overly responsible, trying too hard to be perfect, to satisfy the desires of others in place of my own, to achieve everything on an unwavering schedule. So being responsible often makes the anxiety worse."(less)
This is a decent book exploring many aspects of teaching undergraduate research, assuming a partnership between faculty and librarians. Not all instit...moreThis is a decent book exploring many aspects of teaching undergraduate research, assuming a partnership between faculty and librarians. Not all institutions have this luxury, but as mine does, we are always looking for ways to enhance our collaboration.
Most of the chapters were very current and well researched. A few were not, and I wish they had been left out of the book. The best chapters combined theory with practical application.
"If [faculty] have been disappointed with student research in the past, then I would argue that they should require students to document and comment on their thought process, tools, search methods, and judgment criteria throughout all stages of their work, submitting a chronological research log (written "raw," not reconstructed) with their term paper or other project... This exercise in reflection is as important a learning moment as an outline or annotated bibliography, and, as such, it deserves serious assessment and some degree of feedback." (from intro by Mary George, pg. ix)
Most useful chapter for me: Sources Before Searching (chapter 8) by Stephanie N. Otis I think I'll get the librarians in my group to read and discuss it.(less)
This is a very comprehensive overview of digital storytelling, and I spent as much time digging around in the notes section as I did reading the book....moreThis is a very comprehensive overview of digital storytelling, and I spent as much time digging around in the notes section as I did reading the book. Gotta love a well-researched book! I read this because I'm teaching a storytelling class in May, although my class is more of a 1.0 (non-digital) focus. I do plan to incorporate stories others have told in forms of digital media, so I still got bits out of the middle that focused on the types of digital media used in storytelling. The end of the book lays out what a digital storytelling workshop could look like, which had good story prompts that I might be able to use. (less)
Organizations that are not centralized are powerful and almost impossible to kill. This is the message of this book. I was hoping it would be more pre...moreOrganizations that are not centralized are powerful and almost impossible to kill. This is the message of this book. I was hoping it would be more prescriptive, as I could benefit from learning how to adopt principles of a starfish in circumstances at work, with two librarians down in my group. How can we function better so that when someone leaves, or is on leave, we can fill in those gaps more fluidly?
The book is really more of a description of leaderless organizations, from the side of the startled, traditional organizations who lost something when coming up against them. Well known starfish and spiders are described, and methods to defeat them are suggested. This may be useful to some corporate types, but just wasn't what I was looking for.
I'm not sure a book on how to build a leadership organization can exist anyway. It might violate a rule of quantum mechanics or something, to attempt to organize anarchy.
I did like the bit that contrasted the CEO with the "catalyst," and thought aspiring change agents could learn from it. ("In a starfish, the catalyst has the power.")
I also loved this quotation and it will be going on my bulletin board: "Starfish systems are wonderful incubators for creative, destructive, innovative, or crazy ideas. Anything goes. Good ideas will attract more people, and in a circle they'll execute the plan. Institute order and rigid structure, and while you may achieve standardization, you'll also squelch creativity. Where creativity is valuable, learning to accept chaos is a must."(less)
When I attended the LOEX Conference in Nashville in May 2013, David A. Owens was one of the keynote speakers. It was nice to have someone outside of l...moreWhen I attended the LOEX Conference in Nashville in May 2013, David A. Owens was one of the keynote speakers. It was nice to have someone outside of librarianship speaking, and he focused on the process of innovation and what blocks there are in creativity. I thought it was useful information and ordered the book for my library too.
The contents are similar to what he presented on, just more in depth, and I see he also teaches a Coursera MOOC using the same framework. His emphasis is definitely on corporate environments, and although I found his concepts to apply easily to an academic environment, he does not do that for the reader.
My only disappointment is that the chapter on organizational constraints didn't give me more ideas I could use to overcome a constraint I've identified within my own organization. He makes the wrong assumption that changes to structure and process can always be made, and I would have liked to see creative ways of overcoming organizational constraints beyond these.
Although the one magical answer I was hoping for wasn't within these pages, instead I found it more thought-provoking from the perspective of being an assistant director in the library. Within my group, we have explicitly held creativity as one of our core values from the very beginning. I'm always learning more about my role, but I'm even more convinced that the most important thing I can do is protect ideas and efforts when they may not be the status quo, the norm, or what everyone else is doing.
We are coming up on self-evaluation time, and I'm thinking of asking everyone to ponder two things directly from this book: 1. What environment helps you think and create the best? 2. What has been your most spectacular failure?
David A. Owens emphasizes the need to celebrate failures as well as accomplishments, because then you are valuing the ideas, the attempts, and not just the products. I already have my answer for the year - search techniques performance art with 77 freshmen music majors!
A few other moments I was nodding along with: "Sometimes we think it is too costly to invest time generating and critiquing so many ideas early in the process. What we forget is how much more expensive it is to try to implement ideas that aren't the best we could possibly have generated."
"Blindly adopting standards means you may be giving up critical features that are essential to your function."
"...These people may have very little invested in the innovation you intend, but they do have a great deal invested in their current way of doing things, a way that they know works. It makes sense that they would want some form of proof that the world will, in fact, be a better place for them if they believe you and adopt your ideas." This page is followed by a list of questions (pg. 228-229) to help you build a better proposal. I'm going to use this on a current tech request I'm going to make for the third time. Page 235 also has phases of leading innovation, that would also be helpful.
"...There are also occasions where creative people must be stopped. For example, they must be stopped when they sabotage their own creativity by staying stuck in ruts of seeing and thinking. They must be stopped from fearing the consequences of standing up for their ideas, especially ideas that cut against the grain of a group's conventional mind-set."(less)
This book says it is about museums, but it has been popular amongst the ALA Think Tank Facebook group, full of public and academic librarians. It has...moreThis book says it is about museums, but it has been popular amongst the ALA Think Tank Facebook group, full of public and academic librarians. It has some great advice for designing participatory exhibits and spaces, and I got a lot out of it from a library perspective too.
"The best participatory experiences are not wide open. They are scaffolded to help people feel comfortable engaging in the activity. There are many ways to scaffold experiences without prescribing the result." - She gives an example of a poster making activity that wasn't wide open but started with artifacts from the show that people could use, more of a remix than full-fledge creation.
"Visitors come in the door knowing who they are, but they may not know what content is of greatest interest to them." - She talks about designing themed guides for museum exhibits (I like... souvenirs, I like... to be inspired, I like... to wallow in angst, etc.), but I know we can improve our website at least in this way. Can we also overhaul some of our physical space?
Staff picks... not a new idea but would be easy to implement, although I feel like we tried this before.
The Human Library - brilliant idea, we could use this to teach the idea of libraries and librarians.
Interactive tree collage! With questions! I could use this in the first month of classes, asking upperclassmen to share one tip about the library or research. I saw tree collages at ACRL, with clothespins... must investigate. (less)
Don't get this book from the library if you haven't taken the StrengthsFinder test, because each book only comes with one code. I had taken the test a...moreDon't get this book from the library if you haven't taken the StrengthsFinder test, because each book only comes with one code. I had taken the test already and been provided with the supplementary material, so this doesn't have a lot to add except for advice on how to work with people with the strengths you don't have. I read the suggestions for my boss's strength, and I was like, "Preach!"
Other than that, I found StrengthsFinder to be far more useful and practical than older tests like the Myers-Briggs, in fact it helped me see a change I needed to make in my own career, just gave me clarity I really needed. It also pointed out what I could/should be contributing at work based on the strengths, making me want more time for reflection and reading at work. I do these things at home, but not at work!
So basically, DO buy yourself this book or talk your workplace into doing StrengthsFinder. (less)
We read this for a library leadership council retreat, and I would give it 2 and 1/3 stars. Overall it isn't well researched, Bennis throws in random...moreWe read this for a library leadership council retreat, and I would give it 2 and 1/3 stars. Overall it isn't well researched, Bennis throws in random political opinions that are so far on the opinion spectrum (as opposed to fact) that they fail to prove his point, and sexism is built-in to the text. It is also very focused on a corporate environment, and for our purposes, something more academia-specific would have been more useful. Yes, I suppose I am punishing this book for not being good for our purposes. I'm surprised to see this is still a standard text for MBA programs; surely there must be better books on leadership out there!
Throughout the book, Bennis tells the reader that you actually can't become a leader on purpose. So why read the book? Why, to hear advice like this:
"Unless you know where you're going, and why, you cannot possibly get there."
"Leaders have nothing but themselves to work with."
"What you are speaks loudly."
I hate those reviews that are full of animated gifs, but I kinda wish I had some eye rolling ones for this book. The entire thing is full of obvious statements that he then feels the need to support with anecdotes from Wall Street, often stories that could be interpreted differently than how he does, and seem to have to do more with luck than intentional growth.
Other ingredients of leadership (except you can't learn them) are passion! Candor! Curiosity! Daring! Reinvention! Look, I don't disagree, but he lists these all in two pages. Write me a book that focuses on how to develop these areas in yourself and in your business. That would be a book to read.
There were a few things I highlighted that I agreed with, so for fairness I should include them here as well:
"If one can look at life as being successful on a moment-by-moment basis, one might find that most of it is successful." That and the need for reflection is something I resonate with. I used to be better at this. I used to spend more time on it.
"To become a leader, then, you must become yourself, become the maker of your own life."
"Unless you are willing to take risks, you will suffer paralyzing inhibitions, and you will never do what you are capable of doing. Mistakes - missteps - are necessary for actualizing your vision, and necessary steps toward success." Risk taking and creativity and venturing out beyond our peer institutions is one of my big goals for where we're headed. I will repeat this one until it is heard.
"In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future." - Eric Hoffer
This is a good overview of current practices for assessing student learning, one of the few books that focuses on higher education and remains practic...moreThis is a good overview of current practices for assessing student learning, one of the few books that focuses on higher education and remains practical in nature. I found the analyzing and communicating chapters the most useful, because I had already chosen a tool and completed the assessment part of a project.(less)
This is a solid overview of information literacy assessment for academic librarians, including detailed descriptions of specific tools with pros/cons...moreThis is a solid overview of information literacy assessment for academic librarians, including detailed descriptions of specific tools with pros/cons of each. There are brief bibliographies but I kept wishing there were lists of good case studies for each type of assessment. There is a lot of great literature out there, and this book would have been more helpful with a more in-depth overview.
I also felt like it was missing connection to wider educational theory, and started with the assumption that there is information literacy that needs to be assessed. I guess it can't do everything.
I got this through interlibrary loan but will be ordering a copy for my library, because I can see referencing it multiple times.(less)
This is a brief overview of how to apply formative assessment to teaching. I felt like in trying to do an overview, Popham sells a few areas short. He...moreThis is a brief overview of how to apply formative assessment to teaching. I felt like in trying to do an overview, Popham sells a few areas short. He devotes a brief chapter to tweaking instruction based on formative assessment, and I would have liked this to be more significant, with more examples, and maybe some better models and case studies.
This is highly classroom-focused, assuming long-term instruction. I can still apply a few bits to the library instruction that I do, but it is less applicable. (To be fair, it wasn't written for librarians!)
I did appreciate the way this overview was couched within the wider world of assessment and learning theory. That helped to also understand when formative assessment may not be the best choice.(less)
Good parts - application of very recent studies by neuroscientists and business scholars to interpersonal communication, using personal values and str...moreGood parts - application of very recent studies by neuroscientists and business scholars to interpersonal communication, using personal values and strengths to make job decisions and cut down on stress,
Not anything new parts - active listening repackaged as 'compassionate communication,' progressive relaxation repackaged as 'compassionate communication,' and meditation repackaged as 'compassionate communication.'
That said, it wasn't a bad read, and it never hurts to be reminded of these core concepts. There were a few studies mentioned that I will read more closely, and I directed some colleagues to the section on values reflection, because I found it personally useful.