How to make a bad decision.

It started with a humour book (or humor book for those who don't spell correctly).

I've recently discovered A.J.Jacobs' new book - The Guinea Pig Diaries - My Life as an Experiment. In the book, the author performs some absolutely inane experiments on himself, and then writes about it.

Let me provide an excerpt from Amazon's description:
"In the Guinea Pig Diaries, Jacobs goes undercover as a beautiful woman. He outsources everything in his life to India, from answering his emails to arguing with his wife. He spends two months saying whatever is on his mind. He lives like George Washington. Plus several other life-changing experiments—one of which involves public nudity."
Now tell me honestly you aren't intrigued.

This man had me laughing out loud several times - until near the end of the book - where he got my brain spinning around the concept of cognitive biases.

According to Wikipedia, (the website we don't allow our students to reference):
"A cognitive bias describes a replicable pattern in perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality. They are the result of distortions in the human mind that always lead to the same pattern of poor judgment, often triggered by a particular situation."
I then scanned the long list of biases in the article and realized that I've applied a few of them over the years. I've even written about one of them in my post: We are Our Own Worst Enemy.

It became very apparent that every leader should be aware that these biases can (and likely do) affect their decision making. Being forewarned is forearmed, and as such let me present a few of your new enemies.


Homogeneous is Good for Milk, Bad for Schools

We want to be the best.

Who doesn't?

If we just wanted to be good, my organization doesn't need a strategic IT leader, it could get by with a manager.

Someone who delivers IT services at the lowest possible cost.

Nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing differentiating.



Easily managed.

(Sound like much of IT delivered now, doesn't it?)

And one of the key tools of Safe IT leadership, is the concept of standardization, or homogeneity.

Homogeneity is the state of conformity. Milk from various sources is mixed together to become homogeneous so that every sip will taste consistent.

Now before you jump down to the comment section and furiously type what's going through your mind right now, I'm not against standards... but the concept of universal application of technology to the lowest common denominator so that everyone gets the same level of service, or everyone has the same equipment.

This works well with milk because everyone who consumes milk has pretty much the same requirement from the stuff.  Not so with technology.


My Latest, Favourite Learning Technology

Image via: denablizzard.brinkster.net
Something happened recently at our school that thrilled me to no end.

We introduced some new technology into the classroom that supercharged the energy in the room, got the kids up out of their seats, and had them excited about the lesson - which happened to be economics.

I don't know about you, but when I was in high school, an economics lesson wasn't exactly where I'd go for excitement.  I would put it right up along licking the paint off a house in terms of the wow factor.

So what exactly was the new technology? And what does a picture of a toddler drawing on the wall have to do with this post?

Read on, dear reader to find out.