Wash Your Face(book)

We’re not robots who spend every waking hour working for IUP’s strategic visioning project. We have lives outside of work and school, and sometimes those lives show up on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s okay to have a life outside of work, but there are just some things that you don’t want potential employers or clients to see. Yes, it’s okay to go out and have a drink every once in a while, but do you really want to have that photo as somebody’s first impression of you?

I found one tool, called SimpleWash, that can help identify and get rid of these kinds of references on your Facebook or Twitter page. Instead of employers or clients searching your name and finding terrible pictures online, you can feel better knowing that your pages are professional and make a good impression.

But I live a pretty dull life, it seems. I decided to try SimpleWash on my own Facebook, wondering what it could possibly flag as inappropriate. Take a look at what SimpleWash found for me.

SimpleWash

SimpleWash example

Yes, that’s right folks. Take a look at what SimpleWash decided potential employers should not see, including but not limited to:

  • Me talking about “crack”, i.e. two stray cats trying to poke their noses through the crack in the front door
  • Me using the most profane of all swear words: butt. I was comparing my butt to a rhino I saw on Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney World.
  • The butt does not stop there. I then called my fiance, Jeremy, a (gasp) “cranky-butt” when he wanted to stay in the hotel room and nap instead of go to one of the Disney parks.
SimpleWash

SimpleWash example

It also flagged some of the things I became a fan of on Facebook, including some books and music.

Notice that “speed” from the “Speed of Darkness” Flogging Molly album is flagged. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is also flagged simply because someone is unfortunate enough to have the last name “Beer-Davies.”

As you can see, SimpleWash isn’t perfect. It can flag plenty of things that are innocuous.

But if you’re concerned that you Facebook or Twitter might have something that you wouldn’t want other people to see, SimpleWash or other similar tools can be a good place to start.

Try it out for yourself and see what comes up.

Leave a comment and let us know the silliest thing SimpleWash flagged for you.

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Explain Like I’m Five: What is Strategic Visioning?

Reddit - Explain Like I'm Five

Reddit.com – /r/explainlikeimfive

One of my favorite websites is Reddit.com. I’m totally addicted. And one of my favorite “subreddits” (sub-forums on the website that deal with one topic) is “Explain Like I’m Five.”

Kind of like the Simple English version of Wikipedia, it’s a great way to learn about something that you never thought you’d be able to understand before. Complex issues are broken down and explained in a way that easier to comprehend.

One day I was browsing /r/explainlikeimfive, and it made me think, “Do the people we interview actually understand what strategic visioning is?”

Sure, we try to explain it to each person we come in contact with. We hand out papers that go into detail about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and the process we’re using to accomplish these goals. If you look to the left, this blog even has a page dedicated to explaining it.

It never hurts to explain it one more time though and to explain in a simple way.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about strategic visioning, by the way:

“Strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. In order to determine the direction of the organization, it is necessary to understand its current position and the possible avenues through which it can pursue a particular course of action.”

Visioning Binoculars

Photo credit – fluffbreat, SXC.hu

Did you understand that? Even though it’s summed up fairly concisely, I feel like we still need to get a little simpler.

How about this?

Strategic visioning lets an organization (like IUP) know :

  • What people think about where it stands now and where people think it should head in the future
  • What the organization excels at
  • What needs to be improved
  • How and why it has succeeded in the past
  • Exactly what it does, and for who it does it

Strategic visioning answers these questions by:

  • Interviewing “shareholders,” aka people who are in any way affected by what the organization does
  • Gathering data about what the organization has done in the past
  • Collecting information from as wide and comprehensive a group as possible

Is there anything I forgot? What are some questions that you still have about the project? What would make the concept of “strategic visioning” easier to understand?

Comment one or two sentences as if you were explaining strategic visioning to a five-year-old.

–Brittany Madera

Why People Love to Complain and Why We Need to Listen Anyway

Brittany Madera

Brittany Madera

People love to complain. And people love to complain to us.

I feel like nobody knows more about listening to complaints than I do. I worked in food service for a couples of the years and then “upgraded” to retail in my later college years. No one knows complaints better than someone who has worked in retail. People will complain about anything, and your job is to nod solemnly and say something sympathetic like, “I understand how that would be frustrating for you.”

I love working for IUP SVP much more than working in retail, but there are some similarities. I still have to listen to complaints. Except now, instead of hearing complaints about a return policy or a defective purchase, I now hear complaints about the university’s party image or that departments aren’t interconnected well enough.

It’s not like we try to avoid talking about the bad things. Yes, our job is to focus on the positives and figure out where people want IUP to focus in the future. However, some of that requires knowing our weaknesses and where we need to improve. And when the time comes to talk about those weaknesses, boy, are people ever willing to talk. A lot.

To get a little background on why people (myself included) love to complain, I found this About.com article on why complaining feels so good and how to know when you should stop complaining.

Ironic complaint door sign

Photo credit – penywise, SXC.hu

Here’s the gist:

Why do people love to complain?

  • It feels nice to vent and blow off steam once in a while.
  • Sometimes it’s your only chance to make your voice heard about something that’s bothering you.
  • If you complain, people can help find a solution to the problem.
  • Even if a solution isn’t found, now people at least know a problem exists.
  • “The squeaky wheel gets the oil” – Complaints can get problems noticed and solved efficiently.
  • It makes us feel validated whenever someone recognizes or apologizes for something.

It’s important for our team members to be able to listen to these complaints and note them, even if they won’t necessarily be used in a vision statement. And none of the people we are interviewing expect their complaint to be used in marketing or strategic planning. No one wants the front page of IUP’s website to say, “A top-rated university that allows students to enjoy a high-quality education for a low tuition cost. Oh, and by the way, we have some potholes in our parking lots that need attending to.”

People just want to be heard. They want their problems to be acknowledged. They know that we’ll listen to them because we’re asking. They also know that our anonymous notes are going to end up in the hands of important people, like Michael Driscoll. This is one safe way for their voices to be heard about things that they aren’t necessarily asked about all of the time.

So if you come to one of our facilitation meetings and we ask you, “What are some of IUP’s weaknesses, and how can we improve?”, don’t be scared to answer. We want to know.

–Brittany Madera

Our Meeting with Office of Housing, Residential Living, and Dining

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We recently held a group meeting with the people from the Office of Housing, Residential Living and Dining. We even grabbed some photos before we left, so take a peek at how we facilitate some of these large meetings.

Melissa Esing and Brittany Madera (me!) co-facilitated the meeting, which meant that we took turns explaining the project, asking questions and clarifying. Caleb Murphy was our scribe, which meant he was constantly busy writing down what everyone was saying.

We kind of hijacked this meeting. It was originally supposed to be an official meeting for their own team, without us. We asked if we could have a few minutes of their time to talk about the project and get their thoughts. The people from the Office of Housing, Residential Life and Dining agreed the set aside 30 minutes for us.

It was way longer than 30 minutes. It was about an hour before we left.

Here’s the thing: That was okay. We felt terrible about sucking up their time, but they were so into it. They weren’t ready for us to leave. If they wanted us out of there quickly, we definitely could have done so. I think they were glad to have something different instead of just another meeting.

That’s something that we’re encountering pretty frequently. Once people start discussing, they want to keep going. Once they’re warmed up and brainstorming, ideas are flying everywhere. With a big group like this, especially a group that is familiar with one another and not afraid to speak up with conflicting ideas, it takes a while to make sure that everyone has said what they want to say.

If you know of a department or office on campus that has a meeting set up for the summer, let us know by emailing iupsvp13@gmail.com. We’d like to take over other people’s meetings too!