Wednesday, November 28, 2012

If This Moment Had a Soundtrack


This moment tells the tale of a mismatched pair...featuring some tight jeans.


This moment is changing gears and changing attitudes.


This moment of joy-inspired choreography (and Joseph Gordon Levitt) should happen every damn day.


This moment marvels at the audacity of the entitled.


This moment is scandalous and powerful.


This moment is all about a low key rhythm and a surprising sound.


This moment feels like Sunday.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Illogical Logic

A logic model (also known as a logical framework, theory of change, or program matrix) is a tool used most often by managers and evaluators of programs to evaluate the effectiveness of a program . Logic models are usually a graphical depiction of the logical relationships between the resources, activities, outputs and outcomes of a program.   

~ McCawley, Paul. "The logic model for program planning and evaluation". University of Idaho.

I like this definition; it is clear, concise considering its subject, and Wikipedia gave it to me. And I love 96% of the things on Wikipedia. Mostly because it is a fun to say..."Wicc*a*pe*de-ah" Melodius.

But, despite the inherent singularity of the word "model", there is no such thing as the standard logic model. Why? Well, for all of my work in this field, I still cannot answer that. 

Perhaps it is because funders and program evaluators want to ensure that a model reflects the unique circumstances of a program's design; perhaps it is because the program has unique funding considerations; perhaps it is due to the subject matter--a plan for implementing an online training is quite different than one outlining a plan to feed the hungry in Kenya; or perhaps, it is because logic itself is fluid and not easily contained by "structures."

All valid considerations. 

But every now and then, I think the variations exist just to spite me. Variations are creative, artistic, phenomenal! I love them! Poetry in table form! (Go with it.) That is, until you have to rewrite an evaluation plan in non-evaluation terms. And then, my dear friends, you begin to lose your hair. Slowly, and with sweet agony. Because at some point, describing your "plan" for evaluation and measurement of a program--whether non profit or profit oriented--requires several formats: there is the "donor" or customer format, which puts things into simple terms; there is the "Board member" or investor format, which requires that you overlay sustainability planning (translation: funding or profit) over the program design (sometimes a logic model is so impossible to decipher, this becomes sheer wizardry); there is the staff format, which includes internal goals such as the number of service recipients, or total products delivered; and then there is the public health format. Otherwise known as the "completely logical, always inconsistent, and ultimately fluid universe".

I live here now.

For those of you not working in program delivery, Non Government Organizations (NGOs), or domestic nonprofits, the logic model is your "guide to action". It doesn't replace a strategic/business plan, nor does it serve as the action plan (or "how to and when"); the logic model allows you a framework to follow around measurement and evaluation. If properly designed and consistently executed, the logic model will tell you exactly where your program's strengths and weaknesses are. And it will set the stage for analyzing your program's impact and determining where you will go next. It is program efficiency in the making.

And it can be convoluted. Examples:

Fairly typical.
Courtesy of the University of Wisconsin.

Typical...except for that triangle Venn Diagram thing. I mean, sheesh.
Courtesy of the Education Model Program Design.

When your program needs "flying geese."
Actually, I really do appreciate The Performance Institute's approach
And then there is the Public Health Model on Obesity for the state of New York.
You see where things get...expansive. I do not work on things such as this daily--
I simply go by it to create the local versions as a "sub program" component (or some such nonsense).

Do share: how would you find a consistent way of describing these visual variations? Two such innocuous words: logic and model. Until you pair them with concepts like measurement. Or evaluation. Or B-Verbose's brain. Like all things that are mind-boggling, this too will make me a better a writer. Maybe?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

If This Moment Had a Soundtrack


This moment is infectious. Dance-around-your-living-room-sweet? Oh yes.


"Run the world? Darling, didn't you know that I already am?"


This moment is inexplicably fun.


This moment pays homage to one of the greatest improvisational vocalists of our time.


This moment is for your inner rock star.


 This moment is...unexpected.


This moment transports you to foreign shores (even if the video is less than pleasing).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Working Woman's Woes: A Bit of a Wild Hair

"Can’t someone who can conjugate French verbs, write statistically dense research papers and explicate the poetry of William Blake be trained in computer programming, supply-chain management and other skills valued by hiring managers? An entire generation hopes that C.E.O.’s somewhere believe that giving them an opportunity is the right — and the smart — thing to do."

 Robert W. Goldfarb, Management Consultant, Author
Read the full article HERE

On my recent wanderings on the New York Times Website--a special note of appreciation to RoroBird for turning me on to daily visits--I discovered an Op-Ed targeting the education vs workplace divide. Well, what better fodder for the "Working Woman's Woes" serial?! And from such a recognized source!

I must say, for all the great and relevant points the author makes, and there are many, Mr. Goldfard paints a bleak picture of the job marketplace. I found the entire piece a bit resigned in tone. And that, my good friends, I refuse to accept. The job marketplace has changed, but that doesn't mean the tide hasn't turned in some positive ways. A diploma is less impressive these days than a varied and tiered resume (at an impossibly young professional age). Employers DO want to see discipline, experience, and some level of improving performance before taking a risk on an employee. All points, by the way, that Mr. Goldfard cites. He even appeals (almost without any hope) to CEOs to see beyond the "hard skills" that many Liberal Arts graduates may be lacking initially, and value their learned appreciation for working in dynamic, multi- fields and systems. As a Liberal Arts degree holder, I couldn't agree more.

EVEN the most technologically innovative companies benefit from having a balance of employees — most with technical degrees, others with broader educations. Valuable products and services emerge from the clash of ideas between analytical professionals and managers whose greatest strength is their intuitiveness. ~Goldfarb
But, despite all of the obstacles, there is a shifting tide. A new breed of very interesting professionals has developed: the A La Carte Employee. Please do not immediately interpret this phrase negatively; I use "a la carte" in this context to describe a generation of professionals who have become quite creative in their quest to build a varied resume, and still circumvent the "entry level" employment race.

Many friends, myself included, have walked circuitous paths toward developing a career.  Some people do still head straight to the top, and I am proud of them. Some professionals still practice the "foot in the door" tradition: hold a full time job in administrative role, and wait to climb your way up in a company. This works sometimes--but often, the wait can be long. Or, these folks use the buffer of being gainfully employed to job hop into another company. The way I see it, that is not indicative of a lack of employee dedication. It frustrates me to hear employers complain about "unmotivated" professionals. Yes, I know some members of my age bracket have confused the instant-gratification expectation of Twitter with the real world. But the majority of us are not that dense. We know we must work hard to achieve something at a young age. Or at all. Talented, young employees are jumping ship because businesses are afraid to resume the old practice of laying out an attractive promotional path. To build talent, you need diverse workers: to keep talent, you need encourage their development (and consequently, their dedication to your company). It doesn't need to be a fast track, but there needs to be a track. Anyone hearing me out there?

Back to my main point--the "a la carte" professional. A few years ago, I worked retail part time in order to bridge an employment gap. During that time, I met graduate students, engineers, and recent graduates all in the same boat. The inspiring thing about that environment (when we weren't singing the "full time pay, where are you!?" song), was the creativity used by young professionals to change their situation. One was working part time retail, while moonlighting his graphic skills to a non profit, building a solid portfolio and networking; another was working on a vocational degree by evenings to pair with his liberal arts education; another launched a low cost enterprise based on cleaning houses, and organizing wealthy ladies' closets (not kidding). Others, myself included, continued honing our previously employed skills with contracted work, spending our evenings researching new markets, and looking for innovative ways to interpret old industry needs. Or fields to which we might need to transition. Others volunteered, or made great contacts with their regular customers, and thus landed them a job. But the entire group had one thing in common--and this is true no matter what "bridge" field a person is working (or volunteering) in--they used innate skill sets in a wide range of activities, relying on their resiliency and intuition to tackle completely foreign problems. I mean, how many engineers are public speakers? Or how many finance educated professionals do you know who can plan a staff event? But, those incidences showed flexibility, and an "a la carte" approach to professional training. Basically, they volunteered to be stressed out just to have an opportunity to learn. Amazing how those old sayings, like "life is the best teacher", always turn back up, isn't it?

This "a la carte" group came away with what exactly? Well, experience in customer service, problem resolution, team environments, a newly sharpened ability to self-motivate, and the oh-so-valuable experience of trail and error. The "a la carte" group could quite effectively demonstrate that "hard skills"--or those particular to one type of employment position--weren't the wheels that kept the cart moving: the individual talent was the key. Many employers are beginning to see the benefits of hiring young professionals with competence over traditional experience. But I never claimed the wave is fast moving. So, take advantage of whatever employment situation you find yourself in. If you are unhappily employed, keep on finding new things to try on the side. If you are unemployed, pair your traditional job hunt with some random experiences that will make you a better person. At the end of the day, investing in your own competency and personal skill sets is the way to a) get noticed by current employers for recognition, b) improve your visibility in the job market, and c) ensure that the job you land, you will have the confidence to carry.

Plus, doesn't "a la carte" give you that little bit of adventure that we all crave? I am still waiting on someone to ask me to write a consumer review of skydiving. So far, no one has called. But I haven't given up hope of dancing on the "edge" with my technical expertise!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If This Moment Had a Soundtrack


This moment is bluesy and just a little bit ready to fight. Already aware that today's victor might not be you, you are content to wail your way into infamy. And to leave a bloody trail.



This moment is ambitious and tormented. Every decision is an opportunity for second guessing, for regret, for redemption.


This moment is open. The world is merely voyeuristic and you are ready for the tactile.


This moment is brazen.


This moment is heady, euphoric. A moment in "reckless abandon". A stop over in a week full of stop overs.



This moment is conquered. Tame the game, topple the players, and dance across the stage in celebration.


This moment is nostalgic. It is appreciation for every friend that has traveled the road with you.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


It has never been one of my ambitions to make history by breaking all the rules.

I respect the men and women who have. In their rebellion, they have overhauled systems of law and commerce; these warriors have lived passionate lives, full of heroics, and they carry the torch of the "American Rebel" spirit into every new generation. Our pace of progress rests on their shoulders. Where would we be--in this modern age--without those individuals?

Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan (for better or worse) would never have pushed the envelopes of business and created the trust culture which financed our greatest industrial age. Nor would they have been the giants whose fall ushered in the rise of the middle class.
Carnegie looks cuddly, doesn't he?

Gloria Steinem, and her peers, would never have become the megaphones for feminism; and we might still ignorant of how low the "glass ceiling" could hang.

Sandra Day O'Connor might never have brought her brand of justice to that very important bench. 

Harvey Milk would never had changed the political landscape for the LGBT community.

Kathyrn Bigelow's remarkable cinematic storytelling might never have led to the first Oscar for a female director; more importantly, her storytelling in a male dominated world might never have been heard.

All impressive, all noteworthy...the list could go on, and on, and on. The warriors of our collective national history found rule books and they did what unlikely leaders do best: they broke every rule they did not like.

But there is another sort of individual who makes history: the Guileless Innovator.


The individual whose pioneering efforts created the incredible, the new, and the desperately-in-need-of-regulation category. And maybe, just maybe, they never meant to start a movement. These are the folks that bring a secret smile of admiration to my face. They never went to "war," or overhauled a system. Their mark on history is unquestionable--but their approach so very eloquent: these men and women did what they did first, and so they predated the rules and regulations of their so-called industries.

Mary Kay Ash, the entrepreneur, needed a business model that could grow while she slept. One that would allow her to succeed based on the quality of effort she put forward, rather than the scale set forth by a corporate culture. So, she launched a cosmetics company that has provided millions of women with financial independence over three decades. A model that is now mimicked by hundreds of boutique American businesses.

Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul, tackled daytime television when daytime television was a breeding ground for little more than soap operas and appliance commercials. Sure, she knocked down several racial barriers in her career as a journalist, but her unexpected achivement came later. She built a platform on which the feuding (post feminist divide) Domestic Female could connect to her Career-Culture counterpart. On national television. She probably also inflamed a consumerism problem ("My Favorite Things"), but let's share credit where credit is due.

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of the Wikipedia Foundation, saw an opportunity to create shared knowledge among nations, peoples, and neighbors. His presence in the modern subconscious is certainly as strong as that of Mark Zuckerburg, and his Facebook creation. The difference? Wales invited the world to share in authorship. And created one of the most visited information resources on the planet, with more information kept on its pages than in the lost library of Alexandria.

And, arguably, my favorite woman of cinema: the seductive, guileless Queen of Metro Goldwyn Meyer, Norma Shearer. The first time that I saw the film The Women, I was transfixed by this beautiful, gregarious starlet. Charming, witty and so very present. And I wondered why I had only a vague memory of her name. Well, one quick look into Tinseltown's history and you will find a woman credited with every (though few) brave cinematic roles in Pre-Code Hollywood. She played a naive little divorcee, a royal adulteress, and in The Women, a housewife who refuses to pretend that her husband's infidelity is not cause for a trip to Reno. In pre-code Hollywood there were no rules. Society may have had them, but no one had yet to say that the theater or cinematic world was a place for censorship. This was art. She was the first talkie super star. And, after all, if Shakespeare's crude comedies were still getting stage time, why not a shattered housewife, desperate to maintain her dignity while struggling with love for her husband? Well, Code Hollywood reacted to the lovely Norma with many restrictions. Script content was monitored, clothing choices were scrutinized. The lovely Queen of MGM? She simply took off her tiara, influenced the producer's chair and steered cinema into new waters by her hubby's side (Mr. MGM himself).

So, in the grand tradition of Navigating the Nuances, I bring you a topic from the far left field to consider. If the legacy were to be yours, which would you rather:

Be a rebel who finds victory in the spotlight,

Or be the guileless innovator who makes history before the spotlight has even caught up?