Getting the Most out of Mistakes: Radical Candour

Radical Candour is one of those new catchphrases in management. The technique is not new. We all have feelings and want to say what we are thinking to people we care about. However, in professional contexts we often refrain from saying what we truly think. We do this to avoid hurt feelings or avoid creating conflict. But this habit can lead to not providing critical feedback even when it is important.

The Radical Candour movement/catchphrase was popularized by Kim Scott. This video gives a great introduction to the framework of radical candour:

While many of the examples and advice is geared towards leaders, I think this applies to educators too, particularly in business or corporate environments.

As Scott discusses, there is an intersection between caring personally about another person and challenging them directly. Too much on any one side can lead to the avoidance or too much critical feedback.

I really like this framework. And it makes sense! Think of those times one of our best friends sits you down and offers you some hard life advice. Those can often be more meaningful and lead to more positive actions. This framework captures this with it’s emphasis on caring personally.

I can think of many times in my professional career where I have either been surprised by feedback I would have loved sooner or I myself have avoided giving this feedback. It is frustrating! And its UNFAIR. One of the things that Kim Scott points out that I LOVE is that it is our moral obligation to offer this feedback when we have it.

This is valuable to learning too. If we do not offer critical feedback, our students do not have the opportunity to improve. To do this we need to challenge them directly. Additionally, the critical feedback will be heard and digested better if we can demonstrate that we care personally about their success or failure. Together, this demonstrates that we are invested in their learning, which in turn ought to be mirrored on their learners end.


Getting the Most out of Mistakes: After Action Reviews

Have you ever been involved in a multi-departmental project that did not go as planned? In the days following, did you feel the frustration of fingers pointing? Did you also feel that this was a great learning experience except that there was no way to synthesize the lessons learned?

After Action Review look to solve this!

After Action Reviews were first introduced by the US army as a way to evaluate and learn from actions (successful or unsuccessful) to improve future actions. Since then, this methodology has found a home in many organizations as a way to integrate view of multiple stakeholders and improve organizational processes:

There area many different ways to perform an After Action Review. Some organizations develop their own structures, forms and paper work to guide users how to hold a review.

If you are new to this process and would like a few guiding principles, the following is a great article that offers a start:

This is a methodology I am looking to implement at work. In the past few years, we’ve had successful rollouts and implementations and some less successful. This can offer us a way to examine our successes to optimize this going forward.

Management and Learning

Coming from a management background, it never ceases to amaze me how much overlap there is between management and teaching. In some cases, the theories are even the same. For an example, expectancy theory is popular in both fields. Even beyond topics of motivation there is much link between learning and management. Empowerment, engagement, transformative methods are all common between the two fields. While some of the models and formulations are different, there is much overlap between the two fields.

Why might this be?

In one way, you could say the overlap exists because both fields are centred on cultivating certain behaviours to achieve an end. However, this would be applicable to any field that has a social dimension. Personally, I am more interested in whether there is some innate quality between the two fields that results in similar theories and practices. I definitely have not yet found an answer to this.

The role of learning within businesses and organizations has been discussed for decades. Indeed, there are interesting links between business leaders that promote learning and success of the organizations they lead.

This short article discusses the development of organizational learning, starting with Henry Ford in developing the Model T. When researching organizational learning, it is hard to not run into quotes from Henry Ford, as learning was central to his business philosophy.

Similarly, Dale Carnegie, author of the business/sales bible “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, started his career as a teacher. After a stint in sales, he went on to write and delivery world famous workshops on effective communication and leadership techniques. See

The business world is full of these stories. Indeed, one of the aims of education is to develop essential skills for employment. As skill development is a lifelong learning process this is probably why the links between education and management are so intertwined.




Preparing for Instruction 3: Motivation

Motivation just so happens to be one of my favourite topics. Through my leadership roles over the years, I’ve had the experience of working with different personalities and levels of motivation. Just like personalities, not two people are quite a like. Managing this in the workplace and classroom can be a bit of an art form.

Both in management and training, engagement is key. The lesson connections learners have to material, the less engaged they appear, and eventually that motivation will slowly seep away. Understanding what motivates individuals is important. You can tailor your content to make connections what motivates the learner. Understanding what is interesting and important is just as important, as this can allow you to create engaging material that keeps motivation high.

Extrinsic and intrinsic motivators are two key concepts within the field of motivation studies in psychology, education, and even management. Extrinsic motivators are those that are external to the learner. These are external rewards, such as better job prospects or financial rewards. Intrinsic motivators, on the other hand, are internal to the learner. These can be things like ‘learning for the sake of learning’. Social connections can be both extrinsic or intrinsic, as it could both be from an internal need to socialize or for the need of external status recognition.

There is much debate on whether intrinsic or extrinsic motivators are more important in education. Adult learners could certainly be motivated by both at any given time. Any group of adult learners could reveal a mixture of both extrinsic and intrinsically motivated learners. Getting to know your class and what motivates them on an individual level can help you enable the success of all learners.

However, teachers cannot control motivation of learners. They can create engaging environments and material, but this does not guarantee learner motivation. This is the core discussion of the following article:

This article explores the phenomena of low online learning completion rates among adult learners. In some circumstances, completion rates for online classes amongst adults is 30%, while traditional classroom is over 85%. The main reason for this is lack of interaction. In a traditional classroom environment, students interact with the teacher and students. However, there are few opportunities for interactions online. Course designers can attempt to create more engaging platforms—videos, rather than just series of pages, discussion boards—to increase interaction.

Even if course platforms were more engaging, this would not guarantee motivation. Learners will naturally compare their experiences with traditional classroom, so interactions will still come up short. This does not mean the online learning industry is doomed. Rather, more development is needed. In an earlier post, I discussed Coursera and the work they are doing with MOOCs. Engaging and interactive platforms are key and many progressive developments being released constantly.

I was actually really surprised to hear that adults have low completion rates online. I personally love this style of learning. I even find them more engaging. Discussions and blogs are common assignments and I find the discussion more thoughtful and productive than my experiences in some classroom environments. The flexibility of online fits my life and I would have assumed many adults feel the same way.

Anyways, to leave on a motivational note, here’s one of my favourite TED talks of all time. Dan Ariely discusses what motivates us about work. His examples and studies give a good demonstration of the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: