The Unofficial Harvard Kennedy School Mid-Career Class of 2013 Guide to Procrastination During Finals Week

Through the wonderfully random phenomenon of crowdsourcing, this is the list of what people do when they are faced with the looming prospect of final exams and term paper deadlines. Proudly presenting, (drum roll), in fully random order, the list of things that my classmates wouldn’t normally do, but did on the weekend before their final exams and/or their paper is due, just so they could procrastinate on working on them. (More shocking fact: these people are in their graduating semester).

  1. Set up a Facebook post on the class page to ask in what ways classmates are procrastinating.
  2. Practice run on the Charles River.
  3. Clean iPhone (not sure if physical or digital).
  4. Download all pictures and videos from iPhone to make room for new pictures and videos (I presume this is for the coming final project in iPhone photography and videography).
  5. Label and categorize all downloaded iPhone pictures and video (for the final project on categorizing iPhone photos and videos)
  6. Throw birthday party for daughter, whose birthday was 2 months later (lucky daughter)
  7. Research and order brake parts for truck for the brake job the following month.
  8. Order plane tickets for the trip planned for 4 months later.
  9. Think hard about what to write for the Facebook post on procrastination (see 1.)
  10. Laugh at kids trying to break a piñata. For 1 hour. (what kind of a piñata is that that needs an hour to break open??)
  11. Bet on which kid would be the one to break the piñata.
  12. Go on a mini-tour of the legendary Harvard Widener Library (I hope he happened to be studying there and did not go there just to do that mini-tour.
  13. Google research Quaker forms of worship. (background: the dude walks past the Quaker building to school every day and decided to finally research the subject that finals weekend)
  14. File the 974 mails in the inbox.
  15. Reorganize the freezer.
  16. Take son out to dinner for his (the son’s, that is) straight As.
  17. Wedding anniversary brunch.
  18. Watch son’s baseball game.
  19. Practice twerking.
  20. Dance Bollywood and Bhangra.
  21. Research vacation rentals for the trip the next day (but haven’t started on the 12-page paper!)
  22. Reading the Facebook post on the class page (see 1.), which has grown to become rather sizeable.
  23. Help neighbour wash the dog (my personal favorite).
  24. Checking Wikipedia to see what twerking means (see 19.)
  25. Play field hockey.
  26. Attend the Harvard Graduate Commons event-for the very first time.
  27. Sleep two hours on the JFK Forum couch.
  28. Gather fellow procrastinators to watch the biggest derby of the Argentine football season.
  29. Posting random music videos on the Facebook post (see 1.)
  30. Respond to a fellow procrastinator getting people to watch the Argentine derby (see 28.).
  31. Seek comfort from fellow procrastinators by reading the Facebook post (see 1.).
  32. Drive around Boston aimlessly following Siri’s directions to non-existent places.
  33. Going through folders in the computer arranging “Show View Options” to prioritize “Arrange By: Kind” and “Sort By: Name”.
  34. Hang out with the most incredible Cuban artist at the South End artist market.
  35. Get a pedicure.
  36. Eat through an entire box of Annie’s (organic) Traditional Party Mix.
  37. Eat through a box of Kix (probably inspired by 36.).
  38. Playing with Thursday’s exam material when there is a paper due on Tuesday.
  39. Attend a rock show.
  40. Polish all shoes.
  41. Plan for the summer.
  42. Watch half of Mad Men Season 4.
  43. Visit Ben & Jerry factory in Vermont.
  44. 2 days in Brazil to meet former President, 2 days in Chicago to celebrate fiance’s birthday.
  45. Game of Thrones marathon.
  46. Read all 68 previous comments on the Facebook post (see 1.).
  47. Watch Gossip Girl.
  48. Call the entire family.
  49. Laundry.
  50. Watch all bloopers of Big Bang Theory on Youtube.

And I think this was half the entire list. I’m afraid that if I actually typed out the entire list, which threatens to approach 100, people might have serious doubts about the way I utilise my time. Besides, 50 is a long-enough list to impress people to think that my classmates are such geniuses that they could do all that in the list and graduate.

I’m gonna miss my classmates. Thanks for the material, my friends.

Deconstructing Heifetzian Leadership

I’ve done about half of Heifetz’s Leadership on the Line, and this is my attempt at breaking it down into a few bite-sized pieces. And hey, I know people are busy and may not have enough time for the book, so this is it (Disclaimer: Use this for your exams/assignments at your own risk!):

1. We talk about leadership as something that is desirable. This is because it is not just about power and authority, it is about values. It is about mobilizing people to tackle tough problems. The book addresses leadership in terms of adaptive work, defined as the learning required to address the conflicts in the values people hold, or to diminish the gap between values and reality.

2. Authority is the conferred power to perform a service. In societies with established and coherent institutions, authority is always there. In times of adaptive challenges, the role of authority is paramount.

3. Adaptive challenges are different from technical challenges-those for which the appropriate response has already been developed. Type I situations are purely technical; Type II situations are those in which the problem is definable, but with no clear-cut solution in sight. Type III situations are those in which the problem is not defined, and technical fixes are not available.

Leading With Authority

4. People in authority have powers at their disposal for mobilizing adaptive work. The following are the tools built into a framework: one, the power to provide and manage a holding environment (defined as a relationship in which one party has the power to hold the attention of another party and facilitate adaptive work); two, that to command and direct attention; three, access to information; four, to control and manage the flow of information; five, to frame the issues; and six, to orchestrate conflict and contain disorder.

5. Leadership is a razor’s edge because the leader in authority oversees a sustained period of social disequilibrium. The tools above can be arranged into the following strategic principles:

i) Identify the adaptive challenge.
ii) Keep level of distress within tolerable range for doing adaptive work.
iii) Focus attention on ripening issues, not on stress-reducing distractions.
iv) Give the work back to the people, but at a rate they can stand.
v) Protect voices of leadership without authority.

6. While his civil rights policy worked according to these principles, President Johnson’s Vietnam policy, however, showed how not to exercise leadership. Here, he played lone warrior, did not present the adaptive challenge to his people, let distress levels exceed productive levels, did not discipline attention and distribute responsibility to his people, and did not use dissent as a source of insight and options.

This is not the end, of course. It’s just where I’ve read to. Will continue as I read.

And welcome to the first post entirely done on a mobile device. 🙂