Archive | December, 2011

final reflection

5 Dec

This semester has been a string of learning experiences that have helped me grow as a leader and determine where my weaknesses are, as well as where my strengths are. I will focus on personal capability, especially on (1) technical and professional expertise, (2) solving problems and analyzing issues, (3) innovation, and (4) practicing self-development.

Professional and Technical Expertise
Professional and technical expertise is an interesting topic for me because I think it could be both a strength and a weakness, since it involves (1) performance, (2) training, and (3) group contribution.

I have felt very confident in my ability to direct others and help people with what I know about advertising. Most of the time, I know the answers to questions that I am faced with, and when I don’t, I know where to find them. I’ve definitely gained confidence in my own ability to lead and direct others because I have had enough exposure to all aspects of advertising that it’s finally starting to stick.

Training others has been a great experience, but most of the time I have realized that I didn’t do all that I could. I am generally afraid of overwhelming the volunteers at the beginning, so I establish a training schedule which is essentially just guiding them through their first project and explaining how each step in the process works and what their responsibilities entail. I think what I could improve on in this regard is holding formal training meetings, maybe even an advertising consultant retreat, because their position requires so much training that at one hour a day, it takes weeks to get them fully integrated into the organization. I want to make that transition smoother so I can more efficiently share my expertise with them.

Sharing skills and knowledge with the group is a challenge for me. I don’t think I share the right information at the right time. With our group in particular, I have found it difficult to share in a group setting, even though I would tell something to each person individually. Something about being in a formal group environment is intimidating, and I freeze. I want to work on recognizing the benefits of group brainstorming and sharing expertise with everyone, which includes recognizing the expertise of others and utilizing it to help my programs grow and flourish as well.

Shifting responsibility to Sarah helped me recognize what I have done to be successful with regard to professional expertise. She approached me and admitted that she had never really paid attention when it came to the details about my position, because they had never applied to her before. She needed to be trained on the entire process and get caught up to speed in a very short amount of time. I handed her my summer practicum, which was an AC manual, and over the weekend she essentially trained herself. Although that is almost completely due to the fact that Sarah is extremely intelligent and she worked very hard to learn what she had to know, I was glad that I had been able to help her because I took the time to learn everything as well. It allowed me to share that expertise with someone else, which I want to be able to do even better in the future. I want people to know how to advertise anything so easily that it scares them how simple it is.

Solves Problems & Analyzes Issues
I think that problem solving and analyzing issues are some of my strengths, in context. (1) Defining the problem and framing it as a learning and development opportunity, (2) analyzing issues and recognizing what is is important, (3) anticipating, developing, and evaluating possible solutions to unforeseen situations, and (4) implementing solutions in a timely manner.

Defining the problem is very simple for me, because people usually tell me upfront what it is. Anticipating the problem is another issue. I’ve learned to be able to do this with very careful planning and, more importantly, discussing progress with my ACs. I think that framing each problem as a learning and development opportunity was a weakness, but has become a strength. I can easily recognize all that I still have to learn, but how certain opportunities can help teach me to become a better leader and person. When Roger quit on me in October, I had no idea how I was going to pull everything together, but once I figured out exactly what the problem was (a lot of projects with no AC), it was easy to come up with a solution (distributing his projects among the other ACs).

I think that analyzing issues is probably one of my biggest strengths. My weakness is in knowing which perspective is best to run with. There are a lot of different outcomes of each situation analysis, and I am learning that the best outcome is always, always, always love. That is what it means to me to be a divine-centered leader. I can choose to believe that everyone is out to get me, or I can choose to believe that my leaders are acting in my best interest because they care about me, so I will respond by showing respect and doing my best to understand their reasoning. Recognizing that other people know a lot more than me is also critical to all analyses.

Solutions are interesting in advertising, because a lot of the time, all people want is an apology. I would much rather provide something tangible and deliver a product than say “I’m sorry” and explain how we will do better in the future. With Zombie Fest, I learned a lot about taking responsibility for my team and owning up to our mistakes without being condescending to the mistakes of others. When Logan approached me and asked me about the template, I was able to see things from his perspective and realize that the solution was simply to apologize and have a plan to do everything I could to improve their future product immediately. There are a lot of different solutions, and there is often more than one right choice. I want to learn better how I can determine what the best choice is, and I am working on that.

Implementing solutions in a timely manner is a weakness. I struggle with follow-through, but I am trying to overcome that using my other strengths, such as organization and asking for help. I have learned a lot from Sarah already about how to be more honest with people about what we need, and that has helped me to push projects forward in a more reliable way. My goal to have every project that occurs through February turned in to Campus Life Design before Christmas break was one example of how I am trying to overcome this shortcoming.

Innovation
Innovation is definitely a weakness of mine. I struggle with creativity, and that traditional correlation is a difficult barrier for me to break.

My goal next semester is to focus more on brainstorming rather than reflection in AC meetings. I think that will make it more fun for everyone, and our team will develop a more forward-thinking attitude rather than dwelling on past frustrations.

I love the status quo. If I could, I would marry the status quo. Challenging that is hard for me because to me, it works. If it isn’t broken, why fix it? Early on this semester, I was having an especially hard time figuring out why I needed to change, because I’d been doing just fine for 20 years, and I didn’t see why it was so important. Finally accepting that there is always success in positive personal change and realizing that if I changed I could help a lot more people allowed me to ignore parameters that I inflict on myself and my relationships with others and move forward, essentially “innovating” a new type of leader. I understand the importance of innovation, but I think that I will not be able to make true progress unless I focus on other weaknesses first, and allow an innovative attitude to flow freely from that progress.

Practices Self Development
I was honestly surprised that I got negative feedback about practicing self development on my 360 report, because I have found this to be one of the most rewarding outcomes of my experience with BYUSA. I think that building relationships with people is a strength of mine because I am open about how I am doing. Even when something goes wrong with advertising, I am able to maintain a strong relationship with the person I was working with, which allows me to patch most things up while being empathetic and understanding.

The companion behaviors of practicing self development are listening, being open to the ideas of others, respecting others, having integrity with others, not taking credit for the success of others, desiring to develop and give feedback to others, taking initiative, and being willing to take on challenges. For the most part, I feel like those are strengths that I can work with. Challenges that would have terrified me in May are actually exciting to me now. Because I made the initial choice to take on the challenge of advertising executive director, everything else seems so tiny in comparison with that initial challenge, even though I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Most of my frustrations have come not from finding out what people think I am doing wrong, but from learning long after the fact that they had a problem. I want to do my best, and I am trying to be more inviting of constructive criticism. On the other hand, I know that I have done good things as well, and hearing about those experiences from others has helped me figure out what works best for the organization. Brandon once told me that Logan was very pleased with how hard my team worked on Battle of the Bands, and that helped me understand what he was looking for out of his experience working with advertising.

This semester I have become much more open to other people’s opinions of me and what I am doing. I have definitely come to terms with it and can recognize it for what it is. I am really excited about this because it has helped me actually recognize my strengths and my weaknesses, and now I can build on them and move forward with an understanding of how I can contribute.

Conclusion
Overall, this semester has been incredible. It’s been probably the most difficult semester of college I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of experiences that have pushed me further than I ever wanted to go. But for two hours a day filling out paperwork and checking up on people and writing down quotes, I definitely have gotten more than I bargained for. Mallory, Sarah, Olivia and Brandon are some of my best friends and I can truly say that I love each one of them. Tamara has been one of the greatest leaders I could ever have asked for and has helped me through some really really stupid problems without judging me (out loud) for struggling so much with them. Truly, though, the greatest advantage to BYUSA for me has been the experience of growing closer to everyone, not because we are all so similar and we get along 100% of the time, but because we are all serving the Lord and doing our best to give back to BYU. We are all so incredibly different, all of the officers and the presidency, but I look forward to seeing each of their faces every single day because they are bringing me closer to Christ, and that is what makes all of the 11x17s & outdoor banners & pencils & flyers & magnets & t-shirts absolutely worth it.

advertising vision

4 Dec

The vision of BYUSA Advertising is to provide a professional and reliable service that will improve campus awareness of and desire to participate in events and programs through uniting the organization, increasing focus on advertising, and utilizing the expertise of student volunteers.

thoughts?

leading change

4 Dec

Please describe a situation where you have watched a someone successfully lead an organization through a change. Identify what went well and how they helped the process succeed.
Last July, my MTC supervisor Dave was working on a language guide that was time-consuming and and told his boss, “there must be a better way to do this.” He started working on a new version and thought it would be completed in August 2010. In August 2011, the new version was completed for all 52 languages. It took a year longer than he originally anticipated, but he was able to build a team that shared his vision, and ultimately deliver a product that will improve missionary work worldwide.
He had a vision, shared it with everyone involved, and then went forward to develop the process, train everyone on how to use it, and effectively implement a system that is a great improvement. I think what he did especially well was be flexible with changes that needed to be made along the way. There were a lot of opportunities for him to quit and go back, but he held to his vision for a better learning experience and stuck it out even when he hit roadblocks. I also watched him own up to mistakes when he was confronted, and then immediately provide suggestions for how to fix them. He was humble in his dealings with others, and that made them trust him.

Please share the three discovery statements that you wrote down as you completed each of the challenges. What do those statements help you understand about your abilities to lead change and what insights do they give you on how you can be effective as a leader in a changing environment.
Discovery statements:
1) When I changed hands, I was hesitant to continue writing even though I knew I was capable & I knew what would happen. It made me frustrated that I couldn’t do my best though.
2) When I closed my eyes, I had to believe that what I was doing was right, even though I had no way of knowing. I felt unsure & unconfident.
3) Walking backwards, I was kind of scared because I didn’t know what was coming & I wasn’t close to anyone so I had no way to anticipate the changes.
I was definitely more surprised than I was frustrated with each of the challenges. They weren’t particularly difficult, they were just something I had never done before or couldn’t do well. I learned that what I need to overcome in my experience dealing with change is not being confident and not being very innovative. I’m definitely learning to not be afraid of what’s ahead, but that’s not all that it takes. It also requires an active confidence in the outcome, and that is where vision comes in.
I don’t think I’ve been acting with a specific vision in mind for advertising this year. I didn’t create my own vision, I just went with the BYUSA vision. Which is fine, but it’s made me focus less on results. But that’s what I need to do now.