Our Blog

Chicago Public Schools: "That Used To Be Us"

Posted September 14, 2012 9:11 AM by Dylan Miyake

As has been widely reported, the teachers in Chicago are on strike. The teacher's union, some 25,000 strong, is demanding that laid-off teachers be given the first opportunity for new opening and for an evaluation system that does not rely as heavily upon student results. They're also upset about the calls for a longer school day and a longer school year. Of course, at the end of the day, neither the administration or the teacher's union will "win" this one. Only the students stand to lose, and here's why.

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Good Measurement Needs Good Leadership

Posted August 20, 2012 12:13 PM by Dylan Miyake

Every morning, I run through Emory University. The evolution of this institution over time has been incredible. From a small Methodist college in a small town in Georgia, Emory has emerged as a major international university in the largest city in the southeast. The undergraduate, law, medical, and business schools attract students from literally around the world, and speakers like the Dalai Lama and President Carter have spoken at the university.

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On Employee Performance Reviews

Posted July 8, 2012 11:58 AM by Dylan Miyake

Employee evaluations have always been a pet peeve of mine. I hate giving them, I hate getting them (part of the reason I started Ascendant was so that I would no longer have to get an annual review), and I find them to have little to no value. They're either used to document behavior that's well understood or to create a paper trail to eventually terminate someone. And everyone is above average. So what's the point?

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Education and Healthcare

Posted June 7, 2012 12:47 PM by Dylan Miyake

Here at Ascendant, we're measurement geeks. We like things that can be quantified, explained, and analyzed. We like to understand what's driving behavior, and we like to say "what gets measured gets managed." So it's really interesting when we do work in healthcare and education. Because, despite the massive amount of measurement in both of those sectors, there's truly a paucity of management. Why is that?

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The Ultimate Measure

Posted May 30, 2012 12:22 PM by Dylan Miyake

For private sector organizations, it's usually pretty easy to figure out the ultimate measure of success -- it's usually some proxy for profitability -- either earnings per share, revenue growth, or share of market. But for the clients we work with, it's often a bit harder. While we can usually define the strategic objective pretty clearly, it's harder to define the measure behind it.

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What Inspires Motivation in Educators ... a Daniel H. Pink Perspective

Posted March 12, 2012 8:28 PM by Mark Cutler

The following is a guest blog by Jennifer Peterson, a second-year doctoral student in Educational Administration and Policy Studies at The George Washington University. Jennifer is currently researching what motivates educators in schools and how that trickles down to the motivation of students.

I was fortunate to be present at the Mission-Driven Management Summit in Washington, D.C., to hear Daniel H. Pink share his views on motivation in the work place. He expounded on three elements that he writes about in his book "Drive", those elements are Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

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Inspiring work with nonprofits

Posted March 12, 2012 2:50 PM by Ted Jackson

When we started Ascendant more than 4 years ago, we imagined "taking our talents" to the mission-driven sector. The concept was simple. We had been helping organizations execute their strategy for more than 10 years and they were creating great results...or returns for their shareholders. With Ascendant, we wanted to do the same with mission-driven organizations, or nonprofits. We just held our fourth Annual Summit, and it confirmed that we are doing the right thing.

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Bell Labs, Dan Pink and Enabling Innovation Through Autonomy

Posted February 28, 2012 8:43 AM by Mark Cutler

The Sunday, February 26, 2012, New York Times had a great opinion piece about Bell Labs and how it was the 20th Century's hub of innovation with inventions such as the transistor, the laser, the silicon solar cell, and the first communications satellites. I think Dan Pink, a keynote speaker at our Mission-Driven Management Summit, would agree with a lot of the author's points. The article by Jon Gertner, titled "True Innovation," describes how Mervin Kelly, a physicist who rose to chairman of the board at Bell Labs, was most responsible for its culture of creativity.

This was interesting to me because many clients we work with to help build Balanced Scorecards and manage their strategies establish some kind of strategic objective for their organization to "foster innovation," yet they often do not know how to do this, never mind measure it. Gertner says that to foster innovation, Kelly consciously established "a 'critical mass' of talented people to foster a busy exchange of ideas." He also required "physical proximity," believing that "phone calls alone wouldn't do."

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Guest Blog from Dan Pink: How to understand regret — and 2 ways to avoid it

Posted February 23, 2012 7:36 AM by Ted Jackson

We are reposting another Dan Pink Blog to get you excited about his upcoming presentation at our Mission Driven Summit. The original post can be found on his website, here. Sometimes when I'm stuck on a course of action, I use two techniques to help me decide.

One is what I call the "90-year-old me Test." I imagine I'm 90 and looking back at the decision before. What will I want to have done in this situation? In most cases, the 90-year-old me wants today's me to take an intelligent risk rather than to avoid one -- and to act nobly rather than like an ass.

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Guest Blog from Dan Pink: Why progress matters: 6 questions for Harvard’s Teresa Amabile

Posted February 22, 2012 10:09 AM by Ted Jackson

What follows it a blog posted on Dan Pink's website and reposted here with permission. Dan is speaking at our upcoming Mission Driven Summit. Here is a link to the original post. Here's a tip for rounding out your summer reading. Pick up a copy of The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work. The book, which pubs today, is one of the best business books I've read in many years. (Buy it at Amazon, BN, or 8CR).

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