Category Archives: ron friedman

“When your attempt rate is high, each individual failure becomes a lot less significant.”

“When your attempt rate is high, each individual failure
becomes a lot less significant.”
Ron Friedman

For all of the people reading this blog post right now, there are exponentially more that aren’t.  And for every blog post that I write, only a very few seem to stick.  I can’t say that any of them have ever gone “viral”, although many have been shared a lot more than what I have ever expected.  Yet if I don’t share my thinking, the answer to how many times posts have been shared is constant; zero.

First of all, I do my best to write for me and my own thinking, not anyone else.  It helps me to clarify my thoughts and deepen my thinking.  Out of anything that I have done in the last few years, I feel that the consistent practice of blogging has done more for my growth than anything.

I do believe that my thinking helps to push that of others.  Sometimes in the way they agree, and sometimes when people disagree.  Opinions and ideas are often formed in what people read and how they connect to it.

But a lot of people are scared to share their thinking because they don’t know if it is going to make an impact on others.  Some others find it very hard to share after something has really resonated.  How in the world will they follow it up?  Is it possible to follow a grand slam with a single hit? Or even worse, following it up by striking out?

The one thing that I tell about people who want to become better writers, is to write more.  You never know what will stick and  we can often be a bad judge of our own work. 

Not everything is going to work out the way you hope, but the more you do it, the better you become, and the more likely you will find success.

Keep going.

Undertake something that is difficult; it will do you good. Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.—Ronald E. Osborn.

Compliance does not foster innovation.

Attachment-1 (2)

I’ve been reading the book, “The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace”, by Ron Friedman, and was struck by this part on Google’s 20% time.

“With 20 percent time, there’s always another product in development. For Google the gambit has clearly been paying off: Gmail, Google News, Google Earth, and AdSense—an advertising vehicle that nets Google $10 billion in revenue a year—are just some of the products that were developed during 20 percent time.

Which raises the question:

Would Google be nearly as profitable if its employees sat around waiting for Larry Page and Sergey Brin to tell them what to do?” – Ron Friedman



I thought about this statement in regards to a moment I had in a session I was leading at a conference. A long time friend of mine, Beth Still, had sat down in the session (although it was not necessary for her to be there as she could have easily led the session), as I shared some ideas for empowering use of social media for both teachers and students.  In my workshops, I always encourage people that if the session doesn’t work for them, they are more than welcome to leave (but not in a threatening way, more in the idea of the Edcamp model of “voting with your feet”), or they can work on things that they are interested in learning.  With the world at their fingertips, and time being a very precious resource, I want people to make the best of their time that works for them, not just what I want them to learn.  The only thing that I expect is that they do not infringe on the learning of others.

As I am sharing ideas, Beth is totally immersed in working with another teacher sharing and helping her through the process. They were creating a new Twitter account, a blog site, and she was fully immersed in working with someone who was extremely committed to learning. Neither of them were listening to me, and to be honest, I didn’t really care.  They were getting a ton out of their time, not just the session.

The power of this was not only for the person learning from the wisdom of Beth, but Beth as will. As she gave me a ride home, she was invigorated about the experience for herself and the contagious excitement of the teacher for learning something new, and feeling empowered to go on with the learning after the fact.

Can you imagine if I asked them to “pay attention”, or even asked them to take their learning outside?  I fear I would have caused deflation in both of them, for the sake of my ego, over their learning.  The impact they had on one another was great to watch and I was proud of not only my friend, but also that it happened in the space that we were all working.  It was great to see the after-effects of their time together.

This is something that I truly believe and shared in the book, “The Innovator’s Mindset“, when I talked about moving from a culture of compliance to empowerment (engagement is not a high enough bar in my opinion):

“Compliance does not foster innovation. In fact, demanding conformity does quite the opposite.”

People learn to wait for people to tell them what to do, because the culture dictates it, not because it is innate.  Does your culture promote innovation or creativity (with actions) or does it promote compliance?  If it is the latter, this will eventually trickle down to kids.  We should not only prepare kids for the real world, but hopefully develop them as the leaders of today that make a better world.  They won’t do this by waiting and being told what to do.

“Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning.”

Attachment-1 (5)

Dean Shareski writes and talks a lot about the idea of “Joy” in education, and he argues that it is not only a “nice to have”, but a necessity in education. I would agree.

But it is not only because it makes learning more enjoyable, but the notion of “play”, which hopefully is synonymous with “joy”, can inspire creativity.

In the book, “The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace“, by Ron Friedman, he discusses that sometimes when we take time to “play”, some of our best ideas can come out of this process:

Frequently our most brilliant insights come in the gaps between hard work, when we let our guard down and allow disparate ideas to emerge. In those moments when we distract ourselves with a walk to the restroom, the commute home, or the in-flight movie on a business trip.

Think back to your last truly great work-related idea. Now ask yourself: Where were you? Chances are that you weren’t sitting behind your desk.

In many ways, problem solvers are like artists. Taking a few steps back provides painters with a fresh perspective on their subject, lending them a new angle for approaching their work. Problem solving follows a similar recipe, but it’s not always the physical distance that we need as much as the psychological distance—mental space for new insights to bloom. Walking away doesn’t just put our unconscious to work: It helps us see our problem with a new perspective. We become less emotionally attached and free ourselves from the influence of those in our immediate surroundings.

One way many organizations—particularly those whose employees are engaged in high-level thinking, like Google and 3M—leverage this insight is by deliberately scheduling play into the workday. Play may seem like the domain of children, and in some ways that’s the point. We are naturally creative when we’re young, in part because our brains have not quite developed the capacity to prejudge and censor our ideas.

Putting ourselves in a childlike mind-set opens us up to alternative ways of thinking.

I have found this in my own experience as well.  Some of my best ideas have come from running, or watching ridiculous YouTube videos that sometimes are solely for the purpose of stepping back. It is not that I am avoiding work when I am doing that; in fact, it is sometimes the opposite.  I need some inspiration from a different source than the one I am focused on. I find sometimes that focusing too hard on one thing, only makes ideas blurrier while also becoming less efficient.

Yet are we purposeful with this in schools?  This it not only having time for art and physical education classes, but sometimes taking time even within core subjects to just have a laugh and create an environment where some of the most creative ideas might come your way.

In my presentations or sessions, I will sometimes show a video that is more for a laugh than for the content.  It creates a different environment that makes the room more comfortable, and also that although I am serious about my work, I do not take myself too seriously.  Hopefully it sets a tone from the room.

Joy can not only create an environment that is more welcoming, but can also tap into our own creativity, as well as our students.