My weight loss secret: how I lost a gram in six months

True story:

I had a medical check-up about a year ago.

The doctor peered over my notes, checked the blood test results, the hearing test, the heart rate thingy … my weight … then he said:

You weigh 95 kilos …

Then, consulting a reference table …

Which means that …

… you’re obese!

Being a mature professional, my immediate response was …

Look who’s talking, you’re not so great-looking yourself pal

Really? Obese?

I looked like this:

John Tomlinson

Overweight maybe, but obese?

I am a man over 40 who has spent far too much time doing too little exercise, unless you count eating and drinking as exercise, so I fully accepted that I was over my ideal weight and a touch out of condition.

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Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges

Transitions: Making Sense of Life's ChangesTransitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a man blindly careering toward a midlife crisis, I was interested to read a book that sought to explain how people transition from one life phase to another.

I was particularly intrigued to learn how to do so in a healthy and reasonably normal way (not that I ever aspire to normality, but as I’m talking about territory that is personally uncharted, I’m happy to hold hands with someone who knows the best way through).

I wasn’t disappointed.

At least not initially.

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What is a flipped classroom, and can we use it to improve learning?

Traditional training is based on the model where an expert trainer stands at the front and tells people stuff.

This is known as “the sage on the stage” model, or, as Brazilian Philosopher and educator Paulo Freire calls it: the Banking Concept:

Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat.

(Source: The Banking Concept of Education by Paulo Freire)

To put it another way, an active all-knowing speaker educates groups of passive ignorant listeners.

Freire’s conclusion is that this approach doesn’t work because …

Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.

This conclusion is kind of what the stupidly-named “flipped classroom” idea is about: moving away from the “sage on the stage” approach of shoving facts into passive students’ memories, to a model where the trainer becomes “the guide on the side”, helping active learners to engage socially to enquire, discuss and discover in order to build genuine understanding and deep knowledge.

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Making performance objectives measurable

Probably the single biggest challenge in setting performance objectives is making them measurable.

This is important because …

Human beings adjust behavior based on the metrics they’re held against. Anything you measure will impel a person to optimize his score on that metric. What you measure is what you’ll get

Dan Ariely article “You are what you measure” in Harvard Business Review

And if we get it wrong, it can be dangerous and lead to the measure having an ineffective, or damaging, impact …

It[‘]s really easy to decide to measure something … and screw up a team beyond belief. For example, if I measure how productive individual programmers are, then it[‘]s to the advantage of individuals to focus on their own work and spend less (or no!) time helping others. Completely kills teamwork

Brian Button (Agile programmer and blogger) in “‘You get what you measure’ versus ‘what you measure you can manage'”)

So it’s worth getting it right … but it’s not so simple …

The most important things cannot be measured

W Edwards Deming

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Six ways to find great content for performance objectives

One of the worst things about being alive is having to write performance objectives.

As soul-destroying chores go, it’s right up there with ironing and DIY, but without the benefit of getting an ironed shirt or a wonky shelf at the end of it. All you get for your efforts is an “objective” which is usually just something measurable that no one else wants to do.

Indeed, most people’s objectives are about as demotivating to deliver as they were to write.

It needn’t be like this.

One problem (among many) is trying to find good content for objectives – this is especially true in repetitive jobs and after many years of trying to think of new things to do. It’s hard to keep coming up with anything remotely interesting or relevant, year after year, and Objectives Fatigue is likely to set in.

Objectives Fatigue (n) – having no ideas left for content to include in performance objectives

If this happens, objectives are then seen as a pointless nuisance, failing to add value to either the organization, the individual or the customer.

This post sets out six different ideas for getting good content for performance objectives.

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