Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Unsolicited feedback

I have been teaching a Postgrad paper this semester to keep the money flowing in (albeit barely) but also because one of the reasons I'm doing a PhD is to be able to teach/lecture at a University level.

The paper, which is focussed on innovation, has just concluded and it was so nice to get some feedback from students which wasn't part of a survey.  They just dropped me an email to say thanks.  It made me realise how little gestures like that go a long, long way and probably how infrequently we do them, me included.

I'm a believer in 'karma', what goes round comes round and these small gestures made with no thought of reciprocity are the ones that may pop in the future.  It may be 1, 2, 5 or 20 years later but they are gestures that are not forgotten.

So, mental note to myself.  Make more effort to provide feedback and the human touch when possible.  there will be many ways to do this in work, study and personal situations.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The PhD, change the way you think about it...

Mary Englebret said:
If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
That's a sound piece of advice that I have been following of late.  The PhD and other work areas have been inching towards the finish line and changing how I perceive them works well.  Most of the time anyway...

Some things cannot be rushed no matter how much time or effort and take there natural course,  Getting anxious about them doesn't help, in fact it hurts.  Anxiety can lead you down a dark path and besides, being anxious has the effect of making you and those around you miserable!!

As much as I want to get the PhD done and dusted it is still a few months away, a few months of long hours. So staying focussed on what's on right now (i.e. living in the present) helps.

Another one of those 'chi' quotes is 'obstacles are things you see when you take your eye off your goals.'  That's all well in good but often just looking at your goals has a depressing effect when they are a f@#k of a long way away!!

My advice - Live in the present and enjoy the journey.  I hope I can take my own advice...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Prioritising the PhD

One of the problems with long tasks with no deadlines on the way is that it is so easy to simply put it off because there is always more pressing things to attend to.  When I say pressing I also mean interesting including playing on my Ipod!

Of late however I have been scheduling time in my diary especially for the PhD and sticking to it no matter what else I have on the go.  It has worked quite well and I have just sent off another chapter to my supervisors (research methodology) so they can take a crayon to it as they sometimes like to do.

This section I am expecting a little push back as I have structured it to be more informative as to the process I actually followed.  I'm prepared to argue why I want to keep it that way and not make it more clinical and boring.  I know I simply want to pass the PhD but I do want it to reflect my work and not my supervisors.

I have followed some interesting discussions on twitter regarding this and the feeling was that it is your/my PhD and not theirs and so you/I have the biggest say in how it looks and feels. Obviously their feedback is very helpful and they should be able to guide my away from the cliff but on matters of style it shouldn't make a difference whether it is A or B and so I get to pick.

That's my stance today anyway....

Friday, May 24, 2013

Supervisor assistance

All the books, everyone you talk to tell you how important it is to have good proactive supervisors and they are of course right.  This week I have been getting great feedback on chapters of my thesis and whilst it got a bit of a savaging it was exactly what I was looking for.  Without it it is hard to know where you stand.

The first chapter up was my lit review and having gone through it and hacked it about I can honestly say it is in good shape now and I know the stuff pretty well back to front.  Go on ask me about Mintzberg, Grant or Jarzabokowski, you'll wish you hadn't!!

This week I wish I had a little more time to devote to study but I have lots of work on and with my son at home for three mornings studying for exams (he's 13, leave him alone) meant that more work got done than study.  I hope to redress that next week when I resume my (laughingly) bachelor status!

One thing I did at the start of this year was to get lots on the go to keep myself busy and currently there simply aren't enough hours in the day!!!!!  Bring it on...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PhD and twitter

If you are doing a PhD then let me encourage you to get on to twitter as there are plenty of others out there and most are very generous with there advice.  I've made a few twitter friends (not sure what they may be called) but often I've asked a question and been given a helpful steer.  Or someone has tweeted a link to a useful article which has helped.  I've been able to help a few others as well.

For me, there may be others, the hashtags that work well are #phdchat and #acwri.  If you don;t know what a hashtag is and twitter seems like chaos then you need to get involved and find out how to join the conversations.  I liken it to walking into a massive, massive room where everyone is talking in ever changing groups and it looks and feels like bedlam.  As you start to understand it though you start to listen in to the conversations you want and soon you can join in.  But like sex, you don't get any better or gain confidence from not being involved...

I used to have this blog tweeting each time I published a post but that is the equivalent of launching a random comment into no conversations which was useless.  Now if I wanted to I would tweet a link to my followers with an appropriate hashtag to generate some interest.  I don't though as I have bigger and better plans for twitter and my blogging and if I find enough time with everything else on, I'll be launching them...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm an interpretative constructionist

Wow, I've just confirmed my philosophical position in the world, it is a heady moment!!  I now know out of all the possible ways you can look at the world that I'm an interpretative constructionist.  I feel I can now come out of the metaphorical cupboard and proudly join the ranks of other interpretative constructionists.
‘To interpretive constructionist researchers, how people view an object or event and the meaning that they attribute to it is what is important’ (H. J. Rubin & Rubin, 2012, pp. 19-39). 
For those heavily into this sort of thing, and if you are doing a PhD you need to be, it is methodologically aligned to the concept of verstehen – ‘all human action, or behaviour, has an internal logic of its own which must be understood and described in order for researchers to be able to explain that behaviour’ (Gill & Johnson, 2010, p. 149).  

If I'm honest I'm glad I'm not a positivist, I'd have to join a club like AA if I was... 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The more it changes the more it stays the same

I'm sure I've used that as a blog title before which means I may very well be in ground hog day...

Progress is slow though to be fair steady and one of my supervisors has just given me excellent and comprehensive feedback about my literature review which has been very handy.  With out feedback you don't know whether it is perfect or, as is my case, needs a little work.

Work rumbles away and I'm taking 80 odd senior managers for a three hour session later this week on innovation so that will get the nerves jangling.  I'm well prepared but it will be a tough gig no matter.

And it's getting close to winter and it's already dark outside (at 5:38) which is a little on the depressing side.  I touched base with all the people I interviewed just to give them some feedback on how I'm doing.  This was to keep them in the loop as well as you never know who you may need in the future.  A got a number of replies including one (my most prominent one which I was a little chuffed about) who said the usual 'keep up the battle' but also as the nights were drawing in he decided he needed a couple of visits to the northern hemisphere.

I was jealous, no doubt he'll be at Wimbledon......

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The literature review

It is one of the hardest things to nail because it just won't shut up!  There is always more literature, new literature and of course all the literature you should have noticed before that stands out like the proverbial now!

Having said all that I'm bringing it into land as I think I have a pretty good handle on what's what.  My supervisors are keen to have that first, then the research methodology (that's already written), findings (yep), discussion (about half way) and then the introduction (that's a mess).  It is quite a good order and as much as I wanted to carry on with the discussion, stepping back into the lit review will make that much the discussion chapter so much easier.

In my teaching life one of the assignments my students have to complete is a small lit review.  The paper wasn't developed by me and I feel for them as a small lit review is bloody oxymoronic if you ask me.  Still it will help all those carrying on in academic life because the sooner you get your head around the literature and how to do a lit review, the better............

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The struggle

Even notice that sometimes life just seems to be a harder struggle not matter what you have going on.  I've been really busy and feeling on the top of the world and at other times (like now) it seems like the opposite is true.  I wonder sometimes whether I've really moved on that far at times.

Anyway it is coming to the end of my tour of duty in the school holidays and that will mean I will at least be able to get far more study and work done.  I tried getting up at 4:00am but managed to get up around 5:00am 3 times but gave up as the week carried on.  This week wasn't helped by ANZAC day (seems a little unfair to point the finger at such a day) which was on a Thursday but made the week feel like it was twice as long.  You have to remember for me (self employed) public holidays have long ago lost the feel good factor they used to have.  I wonder if that is true for people who now work in the weekends?

With work, study, trying/hoping to write, back at karate and being a single dad I do know that I have taken on far to much and maybe it was just to get so busy I didn't have to stop and think for a while.  But I've had a little time lately to think and reflect and realise that some things need to change.  I've been drinking way to much that's for sure and while the fitness has meant I haven't put on weight it isn't good either.  I've used it to escape into the ether but the world is always waiting when I return.  Stopping that will at least allow me to feel a little more on top of the world instead of slightly askew.  Throw in a little gambling and dating  and I can see the amount of effort I'm putting into not being here, trying to be somewhere else.

The week coming up I think will be a little bit of a watershed week.  Not sure why I think that particularly, just a feeling I get.  I'm half looking forward to the week and half dreading it.  Muse's song explorers seems to some it all up at the moment.........

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Milkman's hours

The school holidays are on (again) and this time I have decided to try and rise early, like the milkman used to do, to try and get some valuable study time in before the children are awake.  So far I have set the alarm for 3:45am and on the first day (Monday) I managed to get up at 5:00am and yesterday (day 2) managed 5:20am.  That means I'm hitting the snooze button about 7-10 times on average!!!

It did work and I managed to get about 5 hours study in that I wouldn't have done otherwise and my literature review feels so much better for it.  If I continue I think the hours may be quite conducive to work/study and so I think I'll keep going and see what happens.  Sport and TV will be the only loser and maybe I can ditch sky TV and save some money as well.

Who knows, or as Pink says, who knew.......