Framework for Innovation

As with  most organizations today, I place a big emphasis on innovation in our student leadership program. To us Innovation is the process of taking new and creative ideas and turning them into something of value. As a student government we are constantly searching for new and better ways to do things. The challenge is finding a way to successfully implement these new events and ideas in our school. When we do this well we create something of value for our students.

Over the years I have developed a framework that I think allows our organization to stay current and innovative. We use this as a guide at the beginning of the planning process for any major event, project, or product launch.

1. First, we identify every product, service, and event we currently offer and answer Why and to Who do we offer them? Then we ask ourselves are we neglecting or forgetting anyone?

2. Next, we conduct an environmental scan of other organizations who offer similar products, events, etc. We gather as much information and learn as much as we can about what they are doing. Then we ask ourselves:  What do we like? What don’t we like? How can we do this differently? How can we do this better?  How can we alter this to better fit our organization?

3. Lastly, we take all the previous information and start brainstorming ideas. Then we begin working our way through our project planning steps so we can implement the idea it in our school.

By creating a culture of innovation and risk taking in our student leadership program we are better able to engage our audience and continually get better at what we do.


Teacher or Coach?

The other day I was sitting in a PD session discussing the differences between teachers and  facilitators or coaches.  What we determined is that facilitators/coaches are always working to help their pupils develop ownership of their own learning. I realized then that in my job as a high school leadership teacher I rarely teach, yet I am always coaching. As a leadership coach my goal is to get my students to take control of their own leadership development. Here are some strategies I use everyday while coaching my leadership students:

  • provide resources and knowledge
  • ask questions and challenge current thinking
  • identify roles
  • clarify expectations
  • identify strengths and weaknesses
  • provide real life opportunities to demonstrate skills/learning
  • encourage reflection and discussion
  • Build Individual Relationships

For me, the shift away from being teacher who delivers content, sets deadlines, and evaluates to a facilitator who builds relationships, encourages reflection, and provides opportunities has been the best move of my teaching career.

Hump Day Hoops # 2

I believe practice is where coaches have the biggest impact, because of this I have spend a lot of time thinking about how to best plan and run a practice. Over the years I have developed a practice plan template that incorporates all the areas I feel are essential to a great practice.

  1. Individual Skill Work – time with assistant coaches on identified areas for improvement
  2. Offensive + Defensive Breakdown Drills – 2 and 3 man drills that breakdown specified aspects of team systems ex: defending a ball screen.
  3. Team Systems Teaching Period –  executing team offense/defensive systems
  4. Transition Period – get up and down the court and score early.

Here is a template of a typical practice plan we use. Check it out.  Practice Plan

10 Must Read Books for Leaders

This weekend on his Stronger Team blog Alan Stein posted a list of 118 must read books, I have posted this link below.   Teaching leadership and studying coaching for the last few years has led me to many great books on these topics.  I have narrowed my list to 10 books that I think every leader and coach should read. Here they are in no particular order. Hope you enjoy.

1. Toughness by Jay Bilas

2. Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson

3. Mind Gym by Gary Mack

4. Me 2.0 by Dan Schwabel

5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

6. Start with the Why by Simon Sinek

7. Light the Fire in your Heart by Debashis Chaterjee

8.  Embrace your Potential by Terry Orlick

9. The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John Mann

10. The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway

What to Blog About?

Probably the biggest challenge I am facing, during this 30 Day challenge to perfect my blog,  is finding topics to write about.  I have read that regular content is key to a successful blog.  Today I started brainstorming what topics I could write about in the Milla TImes to keep it fresh and relevant. I thought I should share it with you so you know what to expect.

1. Upcoming Workshops or Lessons – in these posts I will be providing summaries or online extensions to the lessons I am doing in my leadership courses.

2. Self Development – In these posts I will be sharing my ideas on topics related to individual development

3. Hump Day Hoops – Every Wednesday I will share resources or ideas related to coaching basketball.

4. Favorite Lists – In these posts I will create lists of my favorite something (book, movie, food, etc)

5. Opinion Pieces – In these posts I will share my opinion on current events.

I hope that using these 5 categories to generate ideas will keep The Milla Times full of new and exciting content.

Turn your Presentations into Stories

The goal of every speaker is to communicate an idea in a way that resonates with the audience. “Resonate” means to evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions.  Stories are the most effective way to resonate and connect with you audience.

In a previous post I discussed how you can incorporate stories into your presentations. Today we are going to focus on turning our presentations into stories?

Our first step might be to study the structure of stories. Aristotle first developed the  3 act story structure, that includes a beginning, middle, and end . We should at least incorporate this in our presentations. In high school English class you have no doubt studied the dramatic story structure shown below.


Perhaps presentations should also have a shape or structure. This shape could be used as a tool to help us create powerful presentations that closely resemble stories. Nancy Duarte studied many famous and powerful speakers  (MLK, Obama, Steve Jobs, etc) and developed a structure for presentations

Powerful Presentations

According to this structure the beginning or “what is” of a presentation is where the presenter discusses what is the current status quo or common place. This should feel normal and unappealing. The audience should be nodding along with you. The middle or “what could be” is where you present your vision for the future or how the problem can be solved. This should feel exciting. The middle of your presentation should continually remind the audience of the big gap between the status quo and a path to a better way. This creates a conflict that has to be resolved ( a key element of stories).  The end or “Call to Action” is where you would present a new utopia and describe how it will look or feel.

Lastly, here are some practical steps that you can use to turn your presentations into stories.

  1. Craft the Beginning – describe what the audience already knows and introduce your vision for the future
  2. Develop the Middle – highlight the big gap between what is currently happening and your vision for the future
  3. Make the Ending Powerful – describe how much better their world will be

Good luck


The content above is based on Nancy Duarte’s TedxEast Talk that you can find here I also referenced her website

Hump Day Hoops

HUMP DAY YEAH! Thought that video might bring you some laughs.  Shout out to                        @casellaAaron who showed me that video and also for designing The Milla TImes banner.

One of the best parts of my job as a high school teacher is that I also get to coach basketball.  Basketball is a sport I have always enjoyed and coaching has allowed me to stay involved now that my playing days are over.

To get over the hump on long weeks at work it can help to focus on the things you enjoy the most. With this in mind, I have decided to dedicate my Wednesday posts to basketball. Enjoy the first installment of Hump Day Hoops.

I have coached at the high school, club, and university level in Canada for several years. I believe my current team has the talent to compete for our regional and provincial championships, however in practice we rarely see championship work ethic or attitudes in our players. Championships are built at practice. Here is what I would like to see out of every player at practice.

  • Be early
  • Prepare mentally – what are you going to focus on at practice today
  • Prepare physically – stretch, tape, etc
  • Go Game speed in every drill
  • Play tough defense
  • Communicate in every drill
  • Compliment your teammates
  • Stay Late

These are the types of players that I want to coach. These are the types of players that get recruited by University coaches. These are also the types of players that win you championships.