Monthly Archives: March 2010

Took longer than you thought? Again?! Some useful reflections on the “planning fallacy”

Every night as I set my alarm, I think about what time I need to be at work in the morning and back into the time I need to get up. It’s not an exact math problem as there are many variables: do we need to get the baby to daycare or is it a morning that his dad stays home with him? Which of my offices am I headed to? Is there something I want to get done before I head out the door?

But even when I think I have built in enough extra time, I nonetheless often find myself leaving later than I intended. I can’t seem to get a handle on the “how much time will it take?” equation.

According to social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson, I have fallen victim to my own version of the “planning fallacy,” the rather predictable human tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task–no matter how much experience we have with how long it really does take.

Yesterday’s post on Heidi Grant Halvorson’s blog, The Science of Success, reviews some interesting research on the planning fallacy and offers some useful tips on being more realistic in planning how much time something will take.

Are there certain tasks that you consistently underestimate how long it will take you to complete? What strategies can you recommend to make sure we really allow enough time to get something done?

Upcoming KC Event Will Explore Adaptive Leadership

The Kansas City chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) and the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) have teamed up to sponsor an April 19th program called “The Future of Local Government: Exploring Adaptive Leadership.”

The event will feature a presentation by Ed O’Malley, President and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center, followed by a panel of public sector leaders and educators. The panelists will include:

* Kay Barnes, Director, Center for Leadership, Park University
* Kirk Davis, City Administrator, Gladstone, Missouri
* Emmett Perry, Assistant Professor of Management, Helzberg School of Management, Rockhurst University
* Mike Scanlon, City Manager, Mission, Kansas

For more details or to register, visit the MARC website.

Inconceivable! A handy guide to commonly misused words

As I recently told the participants in our Emerging Leaders Academy, grammar, punctuation, and word use issues may not be a big deal to you. But for many of the people who read what you write, they are. The people who pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and wording issues can’t not pay attention, and they cringe a little when they see writing errors.

The goal of this post is not to make you self-conscious about your writing. It’s to suggest that it’s worth brushing up on some of the basics to make sure that you’re creating a positive impression of your abilities with what you write.

With that in mind, I direct you to a practical and entertaining post on the Copyblogger site: The Inigo Montoya Guide to 27 Commonly Misused Words. Did you know you might be using “less” when you should be using “fewer”? Afterward or afterwards? Compliment or complement? (This one gets me every time.) The Inigo Montoya Guide offers direction on these and 24 other word use issues.

Are there words not on the list that you commonly see misused? What words have you had to correct your own use of?

The 100 Best Business Books of All Time

If your “to-read” stack looks anything like mine, it’s piled high and always getting higher as I add books to it far faster than I manage to actually read them. When I do finally get a chance to spend some time with one, it’s very disappointing when the book turns out to offer little substance.

Thus, I was delighted to see information about a new book by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten called The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. In his review, Kevin Kelly writes that the authors “seem to have read all of the ones in print, and they have done the world a favor by selecting the 100 best business books ever, and then packing summaries of them all into one meta-book” that is “much better than a simple list. The two have reviewed, abstracted, and compared all the best 100 in the context of thousands of similar books…You get context instead of content.”

Read Kelly’s review here, and/or visit the book’s website here to check out the list.

What business books make your “best of” list? Anything they left off that you think deserves a read?

Preparing Councils for Their Work – a key element in effective city management

The idea of council-manager government is that political and administrative realms can be in partnership and not dependent on the system of checks and balances that characterizes our state and federal governments, where separation of legislative and executive powers is valued.

In a recent article in Public Management, KU Public Administration Professor John Nalbandian and KU MPA graduate Julia Novak outline strategies for city managers to facilitate the building of council capacity to help establish this crucial partnership between the council and professional staff.

Join Julia Novak, President of The Novak Consulting Group, for a roundtable discussion on this topic at the upcoming Kansas City County Management Conference, April 22-23, in Lawrence.

Kansas CPM student wins national award for Olathe recycling project

Kent Seyfried, City of Olathe Solid Waste Manager, developed a recycling plan for the City as his capstone project for the Certified Public Manager program. The plan will save Olathe $500,000 in dumping fees and it won Seyfried the 2009 national Askew award from the American Academy of Certified Public Managers. Read more.

See what past participants have said about the Kansas Certified Public Manager Program.

Collaboration – a way to stretch finite resources and the theme of this year’s City County Management Conference

A quick review of the word’s definition provides some insight on why collaboration is so powerful: Collaboration is a process where two or more people or organizations work together because of their shared goals, especially around an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature, by sharing knowledge, learning, and building consensus.

As we all struggle to do more with less–both lower budgets and fewer staff–working together can capitalize on everyone’s strengths and keep us from reinventing wheels that are already successfully rolling along elsewhere. This year’s Kansas City County Management Conference highlights Collaboration, Governance and Leadership in the keynotes and concurrent sessions. The focus will be on tools and ideas from experienced practitioners who have worked creatively and collaboratively toward goals in their communities.

Review the conference agenda and registration info here. We hope you can join us for a few spring days in Lawrence on April 22 & 23!

Do bigger effects come from smaller changes?

By now all but the most diligent among us have given up on or simply forgotten our New Year’s resolutions-our plans for making changes in our lives prove remarkably difficult to stick with.

Since this is the case for each of us as individuals, it shouldn’t be surprising how often plans for affecting changes in groups of people-whether teams, departments or whole organizations-fall by the wayside. There can be a vast distance between the way things are and the way we want them to be, and the temptation is to make big changes all at once. Do major overhauls. Out with the old, in with the new. Sometimes this works.

Yet most of us resist change, and we are often better able to deal with it and more likely to stick with it when it happens incrementally. Here’s a great post by Peter Bergman on the Harvard Business Review blog reflecting on the very significant effects that can flow from smaller changes. He offers both personal and professional examples to illustrate his point.

What’s your experience with small changes? Have you ever made a big change by making small adjustments?

Marilu Goodyear’s work on mentoring highlighted in Edwards Campus newsletter

We were delighted to see our colleague, Public Administration Department chair Dr. Marilu Goodyear, featured in the spring 2010 Edwards Campus newsletter. The article features her work on mentorship research.

“The research on mentoring pretty much proves that if you have one or more mentors you develop relationships with, it leads to an increase in compensation and career satisfaction,” Goodyear said. “For the organization, there is a decrease in turnover rates if there are more employees with mentors.” Read more.