Unlocking this testing thing

When we're in a Bad Place, tests get done unto us. We don't have a Power Game in play. We play the part of a victim in a persecution drama. We feel powerless because we don't have any say about when the test occurs or how much it covers. We suffer from test or performance anxiety which incapacitates our recall and resourcefulness under pressure. The test usually comes at a bad time and occasionally at the worst time possible. We think we are learning the material getting covered by showing up when it's gone over in class or reading assignments.

When we get to a Better Place, we own the tests. We've jump started our own Power Game. We either anxious or eager to find out how much we know, how well we know it and how we perform under pressure. We control how much and how well we prepare to get tested. The testing continues to be locked. We don't have a say about when the test occurs or how much it covers. We handle our anxiety by preparation, stress management and sufficient sleep. We think we're learning from our investment in comprehension and practice of the ideas and procedures getting delivered.

When we get to a Good Place, this testing thing gets unlocked. It's up to us whether we frame an exam as practice test or elimination round. It's our call whether we use the feedback from the test results to improve our strategy or assume we cannot do better. We enter the next level of our Power Game where we influence our context to appear on our side and in our corner. We see ways to help others do better than help ourselves reciprocally. We think we're learning from how we change before and after the test.

When we get to a Great Place, we test ourselves everyday. We pose challenges and discover how we respond to them. We continually explore what we're capable of, how good we seem to be initially and how we can improve over time. We realize our own shortcomings and assets as those challenges stretch us beyond our familiar routines and habits. We think we're learning from anything that tests us which gives us incentives to test ourselves often.

This has been an open-book, practice test of:

  1. your reading comprehension of all these words
  2. where you're at currently with tests and getting tested
  3. how you expect learning to happen for yourself
  4. what's next for you, your Power Game and progress toward unlocking this testing thing

How you'd do?


Scoreboards dashboards and game boards

When we're watching the scoreboard, we're merely keeping score of the points racked up, penalties accumulated and player stats that have been calculated. When we're watching a dashboard, we're also aware of contexts that give us perspectives about the scores. We're seeing trends and making comparisons. With dashboards, we've got the bigger picture in mind which sets us up to make better diagnoses, innovations and decisions.

When we're observing the game board, we see the spaces to explore. We become aware of numerous paths to take and turns to consider. We're assessing the proximity of adjacent components and the travel to reach distant ones. We make sense of relative positions and varying accessibility of places. We get a sense of inside and outside from spaces that contain other things.

When we've got all three in our game (scoreboard, dashboard and game board), we're in great shape to design our experience. We've set ourselves up to generate new alternatives by exploring possibility space, going down different paths and entering different places. We've contextualized our evaluations so we consider other interests, run through different scenarios and play out different combinations of incidents. We then decide which is best with accurate measures and balanced appraisals.

Playing the game this way, others will learn from the spaces we create. Learning will seem like what fills in the space between what we've provided. We leave it up to the learners to complete what is left open for them. We invite them to play around, explore freely and come to their own destinations, conclusions and outlooks.


Relocating our learning

In Level One of the Higher Ed Game, learning is located and scheduled for us. We get located by where the learning is located. We have no say in the matter. We're told which building, floor, wing, side of the hall and room to show up in for everything scheduled. When Level One feels like Higher Ed Hell, those locations have the effect of seeming mislocated on campus, dislocating us from our path and relocating our plans. This mismatch means that we may miss out on showing up, submitting on time, taking tests when they're administered and keeping appointments when they're scheduled.The best we can do is to imagine that learning happens by showing up.

In Level Two of the Game, we do better than "getting located" as if we're powerless pawns in some monstrous machine. We get where events are located and when they are scheduled. We organize our schedule and own locations to get ourselves to those locations at the right times. We think learning happens by investing hard work in how much we learn. The more we put in, the more we get out of what's offered. We take responsibility for making the effort require as if we're playing a Power Game inside the bigger game of Higher Ed. Rather than keeping learning to a minimum, we may take notes, diagram a mind map,  outline the key points, or create and use flashcards. We may do some supplemental reading to get more perspective, reread the assignment  to get more insights, or write out our own understanding to reveal flaws in our comprehension. We've got a lot more going on besides showing up. Almost all of the learning is located in the work we're doing, not in the information we're being given. We've begun to relocate learning away from the courses and into other resources.

In Level Three of the Higher Ed Game, we locate learning inside ourselves. We realize the learning happens when we do the constructing, construing, connecting and relating to what we take in. Learning depends on our internalizing what's outside of us by reflecting on it, playing around with it, comparing it to what we already know and testing it's validity against our prior comprehension. Those who claim to be in control of our learning located outside ourselves appear to be misleading and manipulating us. We've effectively unlocked the location readout in our inner dashboard. We're monitoring the location of learning as it unfolds within ourselves. We get to say where learning occurs and look after the processes that support its emergence within this internal location.

In Level Four of the Game, we change the location of learning one more time. We realize that it occurs in the spaces between things, not in things themselves. We observe our learning from the contrasting juxtaposition of two things, the comparable intersection of two things, and the distance or proximity in the space between two things. We transcend the prior levels in a way that now includes all of them. Every level of play in the Higher Ed Game offers spaces between an instructor and learner, idea and it's opposite, a question and possible answers, an assignment and its completion, or a challenge and a response. There's no place that learning does not happen. Sometimes we learn from bad examples and misleading frameworks to play at a higher level. Other times we learn from what comes to mind to join what came into our awareness on the outside. We've located ourselves to be instructive to others and learn from sharing, caring, responding and reciprocating.   Teaching isn't just for teachers anymore. We've joined the democratization of the obsolete, authoritarian governance of higher educations.


Power games in Higher Ed

Hulking administrative bureaucracies do not want students, faculty or staff members to be playing power games. It's presumed the system will run smoothly if everyone conforms to the dictates of policies, schedules, assignments and advancement protocols. Anyone who begins to play a power game becomes a target for scrutiny and get labeled a high maintenance troublemaker.

Even Level One players in the Higher Ed Game monitor the location and scheduled time of everything in their game. It all seems dictated by authorities or the hulking administrative system. In other words, it's out of their own control. The player is powerless. If asked, each student can tell us where and when:

  1. classes meet
  2. groups get together for class projects
  3. tutoring sessions occur
  4. meetings with the instructor can happen
  5. submittals may be dropped off
  6. tests are given
  7. grades can be picked up

Each of these are designed to convince the students to remain powerless, compliant and submissive. They entice the players to show more interest in their competing work, family and social games where they have more choices and control over locations and schedules. These seven dictates frame the challenge of becoming powerful as the futile quest to change the already scheduled time and/or location.

The Power Games within the in Higher Ed Game do not begin by taking on the system on its own terms. That's an inherently powerless maneuver which terminates this new game instantly. The Power Game begins by playing a bigger game than compliance without resorting to defiance of the system. Students pull off this amazing advance by:

  • changing their own location to realize more convenient access to the dictated locations of the system
  • arranging their personal schedule to accommodate many of these smaller schedules dictated by the system
  • creating blocks of time when they are nearby and/or unscheduled to respond to unforeseen opportunities
  • disrupting their old routines of unquestioned obedience, compliance and submissiveness
  • combining scheduled locations which save them time, shorten their travel or make showing up more convenient in other ways 
  • inventing other routes to take, means to get there and places to use time wisely between scheduled events
  • reducing how much control the dictates of the system have over one's personal freedom, discretion and maneuverability

None of these impressive maneuvers in a Power Game require the additional tracking of tests or grades on the inner dashboards of the students. These maneuvers increase a player's supply of personal power while simply facing the challenges of dictated locations and schedules. These plays abandon familiar commiseration about powerlessness which instantly terminates any Power Game in Higher Ed. They claim power in situations where the hulking system presumes it's participants can only be compliant or troublemakers. They set the stage for entering the third level of the Higher Ed Game while thoroughly exiting Higher Ed Hell.


Getting out of Higher Ed Hell

When we're stuck in Higher Ed Hell, it's all we can do to show up. We hope learning happens by exposure to expertise like some form of contagion we can catch infectiously. Unfortunately, what does rub off is incompetence, ineffectiveness and ineptitude. We learn from the example of instructors being preachy, hypocritical and incapable of inducing realizations. We experience the content being delivered as useless and boring. The big challenge becomes paying attention since that is so difficult.

We also seek to keep learning to an absolute minimum in Higher Ed Hell.  We're functioning in survival mode. We aim to cut our losses, manage our damage and reduce our exposure to further abuse. We cannot handle learning more than the minimum while our plate is so extremely full with troubled locations and schedules for learning. It mostly seems like the good stuff happens in places we're not at times when we cannot show up.

In this place, we cannot be self-motivated to learn more, take on challenges or act more confident. Showing up is an act of desperation which makes getting value out of educational experiences seem like a luxury. We're extremely dependent on the imposed structure of authority figures to define what we have to do by when. We cannot judge whether the requirements are useful or beneficial as our own frame of reference lacks the prerequisite power and self confidence to choose wisely.

Our choice of  a college major in Higher Ed Hell offers no employment prospects in our "chosen field". Employers will show no interest in what we studied or where we went to school. All that matters is that we walked away with a diploma. College is regarded in the "real world" as an obstacle course to get through that proves the graduate has the ability to solve problems with showing up. We will end up in hierarchies where the work is routine and policy compliance gets rewarded.

We have no clue that there are higher levels to the game we're playing. We don't see that we're sabotaging our satisfaction, taking serious hits for no good reason or getting further damaged by playing at this level. We're coping with the adversity and hoping we hang in there long enough to get a degree. To get out of these hellish circumstances into a higher level of the Higher Ed Game, different gameplay needs to be executed. There are seven major accomplishments required in an effective exit strategy from Higher Ed Hell:

  1. Cultivating a positive self concept to replace feeling like "nobody significant" who was devoid of self respect. 
  2. Complicating the dashboard readouts of locations and schedules provided by the administration with one's own locations and schedules.
  3. Jump starting a Power Game within the Higher Ed Game which uses the accumulation of personal power to replace self-pity, victim stories and solicitations of commiseration.
  4. Exercising the newly acquired power to solve problems with one's own schedule and location in order to have bigger blocks of time, closer proximities and shorter travel to destinations.
  5. Adding two more locked readouts to one's internal dashboard which then monitors upcoming tests and resulting grades being given for machine-like performance.
  6. Getting caught up in the highly addictive extrinsic motivations and rewards of the "grade game" to improve one's GPA and college transcript.
  7. Choosing what to study in college to increase one's newly invested power supply and improve performance indicated by tests and grades.

These seven prerequisites empower any of us to play at the next level of the Higher Ed game. It rubs off on the faculty, administrators, parents and colleagues. It becomes obvious that some authentic learning is happening from playing the game well, if not from what is actually getting taught, tested and graded. Getting more out of the college experience and expense becomes attainable. The game has gone far beyond just showing up and hoping learning happens by exposure.


Welcome to Higher Ed Hell

Welcome to Higher Ed Hell. This is Level One of a four level game out here in the real world. As the game begins, you are only tracking two things on the dashboard in your mind: location and schedule. Both are given to you and your job is to show up in the right place at the right time. You have no control over where or when learning happens. Learning is supposed to occur by showing up where teaching is happening and cannot happen where no one is giving you assignments and covering the material in one way or another.

This is called Higher Ed Hell because of how much can go wrong, make you miserable and give you experiences of feeling powerless. The four key features of this first level of the game involve what you are tracking on your mental dashboard. The location and schedule of where you have to show up may be:

  • Extremely inconvenient: giving you a long commute, travel expenses, and difficulty with parking and finding a seat once you get there
  • Frustratingly inaccessible: offering only a short window when you're not available, requiring facilities that are closed at night, setting up appointments when you're somewhere else
  • Profoundly restrictive: dictating what is a late arrival, inexcusable delay, insufficient attendance or incorrect location for your learning by compliance
  • Excessively scattered: forcing you to scramble between distant buildings on campus, between a main and satellite campus or between physical classrooms and synchronous chats online

All this will have the following effects which make this level of play worthy of the title: Higher Ed Hell

  1. The stress of all this torment can induce many of the twelve negative effects on your brain function. 
  2. The pressures can seriously impair your ability to be helpful to others.  
  3. You will find you are incapable of getting creative in any but the primal sense
  4. The value you get from this so-called education will be minimal at best and completely useless more often
  5. Your self motivation will vanish leaving you dependent on imposed penalties to motivate you to show up
  6. Persistent problems with your attention, retention and commitment will get worse as you discover ways to escape the pain, indulge your urges and sabotage your education
  7. You will get mislabeled, stereotyped as incompetent and presumed to be incapable of success in higher ed
Getting out of this level involves several challenges I'll explore in a forthcoming post to this blog.


A game of seeing

The game I'm envisioning for gamifying Higher Ed has four levels in it. This game differs from most ARG's (Alternate Reality Games) that dwell entirely in the physical world. Conventional ARG's only gamify levels of attainment and cultivated attributes, not levels of spaces and places. Thus most ARG's focus on missions to discover, narratives to piece together and puzzles to solve collaboratively.

There is a place you go to change how you're seeing your situation. It does not change what physical evidence you are seeing objectively. In this place, you change how you see the objective evidence subjectively. You alter your selective perceptions and construed attributions. You reframe what you're seeing with a different outlook, perspective or lens.

This is the place where any game of seeing gets played. This place has been called your inner world or your mind. It's a place for all your daydreaming, fantasizing and imagining. It's also a place for replaying and reconsidering what happened in light of new insights, perspectives and possibilities. It's a place to run through a scenario or mentally practice what you will soon say or do. Sometimes this is a place to experience being haunted by horrific memories, dreadful forecasts or paranoid interpretations of interactions with others.

When we go to this place, we can see opportunities to explore that previously appeared as dangerous threats too be avoided. We can see ways out of our comfort zone of habitual seeing out onto skinny branches of unfamiliar perspectives. We can adopt an optimistic outlook that welcomes challenges, new experiences and games to play well. In this place, we can change how we keep score, what we monitor continually and what facets we regard as "mission critical". It's as if we have a dashboard in this inner place we can update in a level of play and upgrade as we change levels.


Competing with the Higher Ed Game

The Higher Ed Game is one of four. Each game demands investments which take away from the other games. To advance in the Higher Ed Game, it's necessary to cut back or avoid investments in the other games. Here are the competing games which interfere with advancing in the Higher Ed Game for most players:

  1. The Family Game demands time, energy and attention from players. There may be much younger or older family members in need. There may be a spouse or siblings who maintain high-maintenance relationships. Family members may schedule lots of activities. A well-meaning parent may start flying around like a helicopter parent. The player may be a single parent while attending college. Any of these facets of the Family Game can undermine advancing to advanced levels in the Higher Ed Game.
  2. The Work Game also consumes the time, energy and attention from players. Work may demand large blocks of time, lots of stamina or massive amounts of concentration. Work may be the opposite of a no-brainer that can get done on very little sleep which means time away from work needs to be spent getting rested. The size of paychecks may vary with how many hours get worked which rewards time away from the other games that don't pay monetarily. 
  3. The Social Game is usually high maintenance. Friends make it known when they feel neglected, ignored or abandoned. Romantic interests don't take kindly to excuses involving work, school work or family obligations. Relationships with people who feel clingy, needy or lonely result in spending lots of hang time with them. Social activities usually involve lots of advance planning to agree on a time, place and roster of people involved. Conversations go on endlessly about who just said what to whom regarding which issue. When socializing includes lots of partying into late hours and alcohol, the next day is eliminated from advancing in any of the four games.

Each game has four levels of play as I'm envisioning all this. We only have eight potential investments we can make in those sixteen levels. We can play at the top of our game in two by totally neglecting the other two. It's far more likely we'll play at level one or two in three games and break into a higher level in only one game. There's no escaping the other three games when playing the Higher Ed Game. Managing those investments comprise the meta-game for advancing beyond Higher Ed Hell by devoting more resources to learning from college experiences.


Gamifying higher ed

Higher ed can currently be viewed as an alternate reality game. It offers every student, faculty member and administrator ways to play, upgrade their dashboards and level up in the game. I've been messing around with ways to make this game more fun, immersive and valuable. I'll be sharing what I've come up with in this next series of blog posts.

The game begins in Higher Ed Hell. It's living hell for the students, faculty and administrators. Each player has the side effect of making the others miserable as a result of what's missing in the gameplay. I'm imagining the students start the game with only two readouts on their dashboards: Locating and Scheduling. Both are locked and cannot yet be upgraded or revised. In order to move out of this entry level, the player needs to acquire two more readouts on their dashboards: Testing and Grading.

In order to level up beyond the second level, these four readouts must be unlocked. This will empower substantial innovations to where learning is located, how it's scheduled, tested and graded. Two other readouts must be added to a student player's dashboard: Credentialing and Advising.

The highest level gets accessed by adding a seventh readout to the dashboard: Staffing. Once unlocked at the top of this game, who the player learns from gets thoroughly reinvented.

In each level, an experience of making changes to one's own location, schedule, etc. -- precedes changing what the readout monitors. The initial process of making personal changes cultivates the prerequisite power, confidence and efficacy to make changes in a dashboard readout. When first entering each level, the player experiences getting gamed by the system. This sets up getting how the game thinks, challenges and rewards the players. Learning how to succeed serves game play as well as generalizing to other social and economic contexts.

Each level is an experience design which delivers a spectrum of consequences for conduct in that level. Learning from those consequences to move forward and play better eventually puts higher ed in its proper place. The big institution morphs from an imposing police state to a set of useful tools and resources for personal and collaborative advancement.

to be continued ...


College for a healthy economy

As I've explored before, attending college is bad for our brains. So what?

  • Isn't high school bad for our brains too? Yes!
  • Won't the employment for college graduates be as bad for their brains as college courses and college prep was for them? Yes!
  • Isn't college as bad for the brains of faculty and administrators as for the students? Yes!
  • Isn't it good to get adapted to environments that are bad for our brains in order to benefit from steady employment and high incomes? That depends!

As I've pondered this "bad for our brains" issue further, it seems it's inevitable for a toxic portion of our economy that machines high volumes of consistent outcomes. The pressure to deliver reliable results on a committed schedule creates employment that is bad for our brains. Anyone who plans on a career machining these results needs to get adapted to all that debilitating adversity in college.

There are other facets of our economy that can be good for our brains. I expect these sectors to grow in the near future while those which crank out consistent products, services and programming fade from their preeminent position. These healthy facets of the economy:

  • provide individualized attention to each beneficiary
  • employ self structuring talent to fill continually changing roles
  • solve problems as they arise in the context of that beneficiary
  • rely on the intrinsic motivation and good judgement of each caregiver
  • work with the beneficiaries in collaborative, peer2peer arrangements
  • produce new innovations that happily vary from previous ones
  • involve continual growth, learning and personal development for each participant

Preparation for contributing to this economy requires college experiences that are good for brains. They need as much preliminary adaptation to prepare for future healthy employment as those getting inured to debilitating adversity. This sector will redefine what is meant by the term "healthy economy" from capital flows, trade balances and employment levels to economic activities that are equally good for our brains as for our financial measures.


Becoming well rounded

There's an entire industry of conventional content delivery that imagines we are not even slightly well rounded. This industry includes textbook and every other kind of print and educational media publisher. Preachy professors and pedantic academics of every stripe count among the members of this industry. Content delivery includes anyone else in a position to tell us what we need to know and how to think about it.

I imagine everyone is already well rounded even if we're not all "well educated". We all have wide and varied experiences with different food, music, locations, people and more. We've got tons of experience with caring for other people, pets, plants and other living things. We've been on the receiving end of lots of attention from others and engaged in changing how we get treated. We've started many and completed some projects, creative endeavors and social pursuits. We received boatloads of feedback from people, results of our efforts and our own self-assessments. We've all tried many things that did not work out as we expected, hoped or intended. We've all learned from our failures, setbacks and surprising successes. We've taken the time to upgrade our explanations of how the world works and our predictions for what happens as a result of our actions. We've learned to keep secrets, earn others' respect, maintain trust levels, use honesty and much more of the complexity of relating to other people. We've all got more facets than anyone can count.

In a world that works for us, we would bring all these well-rounded experiences to bear when we are learning something new. We would not be learning something to become well rounded. We would presume we already are and use that as the basis to assimilate new information and experiences. We would naturally compare what we've just received to what we already know and recall the new stuff by its tie ins to our well roundedness.

Convention content deliverers cannot adopt this outlook of mine. Each member is too focused on his/her particular expertise and the material to be covered. None of our well-roundedness counts in their world. It's does not deal with the subject matter. It's not in the form of respected expertise. It appears unrelated to the content they deliver. In the world of well-roundedness, conventional content deliverers seem to be flat as pancakes and as shallow as puddles.

I know from my own experiences that preparing content to deliver is hard work. My mind goes into task mode tin order to maintain intense focus and shut out distractions. On this basis, I presume that conventional content deliverers are consumed by binary thinking. They rule out the possibility of everyone already being well rounded in terms of the clear contrast between work and play, experts and amateurs, or knowledge and ignorance.

Thus it is very unlikely that anyone could become well-rounded by consuming the content delivered by experts. Getting seen as "not already well rounded" cannot help this endeavor. Getting treated as uninformed and lacking expertise creates labels, profiling and stereotypes that work against well-roundedness. Getting the content deliverers' own "flat and shallow" condition projected onto us consumers of their content can only undermine well roundedness.

With that preface said, my advice for becoming well-rounded is to realize everyone already is exactly that. When we accept that and let that serve us, we will become even more well rounded, resourceful and responsive. Imagine that!


When do we help others?

In order to realize a much lower cost to higher ed which producing much higher quality educations, those formerly known as students will need to be very helpful to each other on countless occasions. These slides look at twenty different occasions for us to be help to others.


Locating where you're at

When reinventing higher ed to provide higher quality at a lower cost, each participant will be interested in where others are at right now. Here's a look at that.


Considering people problems

When people are behaving badly, there are four major ways we can see what's occurring. Each offers some benefits at a cost. There are no easy answers when it comes to resolving people problems. Here's a quick review of the four outlooks we typically deploy when facing people problems:

Preoccupied outlook: When we've already got a full plate, another problem seems like too much to ask of us. We run the risk of getting blamed for failing to get involved, taking charge or insisting on finding a solution. On the other hand, we can hope our benign neglect will serve the situation well. There's always the chance that:

  • the problem will work itself out over time as participants become more resourceful
  • the people involved with get tired of the problem and change their conduct
  • the problem will get worse and force others to fix it
  • the problem is a passing phase of development the people will outgrow

Pre-emptive outlook: When the problem cannot be ignored it becomes our problem to solve. It's becoming increasingly difficult to separate the people from the problems they're causing and enduring. We may pay a price for procrastinating out of fear or taking too little action too late out of hesitation. We take pre-emptive action before the people problem:

  • gets worse from neglect or letting it get further out of control
  • becomes more widespread as others imitate the instigator or join in the antics 
  • gets more firmly rooted in the cultural norms or habitual reaction patterns
  • becomes endured with resignation, cynicism or despair

Perceptive outlook: When a people problem persists, it becomes inviting to look at it more deeply. The surface evidence must be symptomatic of a deeper set of intertwined problems. Dealing directly with the obvious problem can become part of the problem, make it worse on the surface or even feed it's hidden dynamics. The perceptive outlook changes the definition of the problem to be addressed:

  • as if the people are in pain and acting out their frustrations
  • as if the problem is sending unspoken signals, crying for help or calling attention to an overlooked situation
  • as if the problem is compensating for another extreme condition that needs to be brought into balance
  • as if the problem functions as a way to escape a history of failure, abuse or chronic misfortune

Process outlook: When a people problem thrives on any attention, it's time to foil it's plot with non-resistence. We run the risk of well-intnetioned actions blowing up in our face. The situation presents unusual opportunities to give the participants in the problem:

  • permission to persist with their efforts until something better comes to mind
  • portraits of their good intentions, desire to make a difference and history of successful accomplishments
  • protection from others who book them on guilt trips, label them as bad people or frame them as enemies
  • pressure to choose wisely among additional options, criteria or agendas

Whichever outlook we choose, the people problem will become our teacher. We will learn from the problem what works with it in particular. We will find errors in our habitual outlook and reasons to explore some of the others. We will get graded on our outlook by the people problem giving us high or low marks for our intervention. We will experience the freedom of taking a practice test to prepare us to try a different outlook the next time around.


Dashboards for power games

Imagine we live in a world of intertwined power games. Every player with accumulated power has a dashboard for monitoring their play action and outcomes of their maneuvers. As each player's power evolves, his/her dashboard upgrades as well. As I've pondered the shifting power balances in the Middle East this week, here's how I've envisioned the changing dashboards for the entrenched leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. There are obvious parallels to corporate moguls, political titans and the top positions within institutional hierarchies:

When power has been entrenched for decades, the readout on the dashboard can simply monitor the player's power supply. There may be slight, occasional fluctuations of supply of power which is to be expected. There is no cause for alarm. The entrenched power is neither questioned, challenged or exposed as abusive. There would be no need to watch the dashboard closely as the readout shows the same indication for decades. This dashboard could create mayhem due to its profound disconnection from changing situations.

When a power struggle ensues, the dashboard for the power game needs an immediate upgrade. The player needs to monitor his/her exercise of power as well as the prior supply of power. Situations call for reminding others who's the boss by pulling their chain with intimidation tactics, implied threats and manipulations of evidence. A readout would show how successfully those maneuvers fortified entrenched power, restored others' powerlessness, shot the messenger and convinced others to back off.

When entrenched power has been lost to constituencies, citizenry, customers or marketplaces, the dashboard needs to monitor the player's influence. The exercise of power would show a loss of influence on this new addition to the dashboard. The practice of transparency, empathy and acknowledgement would all move the needle toward the plus side on the influence monitor. Unilateral concessions or obvious sacrifices of unilateral power over others would make the needle jump in the desired direction.

When power sharing emerged from the engagement with others, the dashboard needs a final upgrade. The voters, problem solvers and citizen activists would see the same readout on their personal dashboards as well. Everyone would be tracking mutual empowerment. Interactions that yielded mutual respect, benefit and reciprocation would show up favorably on this readout. It would be clear to everyone how to move toward greater democratization and synchronous innovation by watching this dial on shared dashboards.

As I'm envisioning these power games, the changing of the dashboard would be part of the game. The dashboard would be more than a readout of the play action. Achieving a dashboard upgrade would outrank mere advances in the metrics monitored by the current indicators. The condition of the dashboard becomes fair game in the games played with entrenched power.


Self-reinforcing cycles

There are two kinds of self-reinforcing cycles. The more common in human endeavors are self-destructive while those in nature are robust, resilient and sustainable. The future of higher ed depends on the migration out of human patterns to biomimicry of those natural self-reinforcing cycles. We cannot develop sustainable strategy drivers when we lack awareness of what Peter Senge called The Fifth Discipline and Gregory Bateson called our Mind in Nature. We've got to learn to take our models based on causal arrows and close the loop to include the feedback, side effects and hidden consequences of taking action.

When we tell people what to say, do or think, they will either comply or defy our domineering advice. We do the telling as if it does not come back to haunt us or have lasting effects on others. Our model includes a causal arrow of making others do what they're told to do. The others will become dependent or counter-dependent on getting told by us, contrary to our predictive model. They will discount or dismiss their inherent abilities to say what's on their minds, do what situations call for and think for themselves. They will wait to be told rather than take initiative and responsibility. Then when the cat is away, the mice will play games of retaliation. The domineering one will find the others have become "high maintenance" and in need of being told everything. There seems to be no escape to this self-reinforicng cycle. There are no sustainable dynamics amidst this considerable destruction of all the participants' flexibility and effective contributions to the whole.

When we ask people what are they trying to accomplish, what options are they considering and what considerations are on their minds, they will respond to our queries.  Our model includes enduring effects on others. They will become more reflective, self aware and resourceful. They will use their timeouts to challenge their assumptions, process their previous attempts and rethink their strategies. They will take ownership and look after the common interests with their big picture. This system is becoming more resilient and sustainable as power is shared, processes work with the participants and collaborations become productive.

When we "make like a tree and leave" human endeavors, we function within a forest of reciprocities. Our model contains countless loops. We respond to what's needed, requested, missing and changed. We enjoy others doing the same for us. We find each is contributing in their unique ways to their locality in the whole system. Everyone's innovations are synchronous with the local and systemic dynamics. The effects of all these reciprocities creates a highly resilient and sustainable self-reinforcing system.