Ask Not What The MCDM Can Do For You. Ask What You Can Do For The MCDM, Vol. 1

What can you do for the MCDM now? Easy. Simply suggest ways to augment what the MCDM can do for you! Selfless, yet wonderfully self-serving at the same time, no? Maybe I should have gone to law school after all…

Anyway, I got a chance to mention this in class, so perhaps some of the introductory stuff that follows isn’t necessary. But I spent a silly amount of time thinking then writing about the best way to maybe make this worthwhile last night, so I’ll leave it largely untouched if only to make me feel better about my time management skills efforts.  – MB-

Allright, I’m heading down a different path here.  Y’all seem to beat me to the interesting articles most days anyways. I thought I’d try to play off the visibly growing cohesiveness and collaborative spirit of the program by leading a regular dialogue here on FTM about how we might specifically improve upon the MCDM at the University of Washington.  We’ll see if this gets any traction at all, but if it does, we’ll adjust as we see fit and keep going.

For those not in my cohort, the idea is simple: I post a broad topic, we all suggest particulars within it that might make the MCDM program better moving forward. Think big here. What might not be possible now, may very well be in a year’s time. Or five year’s time. If it’s a killer idea, it will be remembered for when the time is right. Or think small. Things that could be implemented by the time we commence the Winter Quarter in early January. We all love easy deliverables in life, no?

If you’re out the door and pressed for time, stop now. Bookmark or take note to come back when you have a few minutes to read, think, then chime in  (either publically here or more privately in a way that’s comfortable to you).

The reality is this program is short. It’s crazy to think that 1/5 of the program is nearly in the books. Heck, I’d be more apt to believe that just 1/5 of this quarter has passed. So our time may be too limited to see some of these potential suggestions play out while we’re still here That’s ok, though. It’s still important for us to help the program continually improve in my humble opinion.  We’ll be lifelong ambassadors of the MCDM for one.  We’re still going to have a rooting interest (emotionally and perhaps to a lesser degree even financially) in making sure the program continues to be viewed favorably around the world. And finally, at the risk of sounding like a sycophant, we in a way also owe it to Hanson Hossein to do our part in helping shape and redefine the MCDM for the better, even as we leave.  Obviously lots went into his decision to stay at the Univ. of Washington, but our individual promise and spirit and the program’s collective potential as an institution surely played a part as well.

Let me briefly attest that the pressures are strong to accept offers like the one he turned down. Agonizingly tough even for those with a strong sense of place and loyalty to those close to them.  I have a tenured professor for a parent, so I have seen first hand the full court press schools deploy when they want somebody who is talented. I lived in Madrid, Austin, Washington DC, Austin again, then Newport Beach, CA as a kid. That’s not remarkable or anything, but each move was the result of an opportunity that was too sweet to pass up, including that last one to the beach in So. Cal when I had just one year of high school left.

So anyway, thank goodness we won’t be breaking in a new director in our 2nd and final short year here. Time now to reciprocate the loyalty and long-term commitment. If not here on FTM, fine.  Twitter’s the new crack black, so perhaps there. Or more privately on email. But somewhere. To the ideas we go.

GROUP BRAINSTORM #1 – Better Access to Tools/Toys/Skills Development

Three thoughts/ideas, ordered in no particular precedence (or substantial contemplation, just random talking points to start). Hopefully we won’t debate the merits of what is or is not a good idea. If it’s in your head, and you feel comfortable doing so share. Forget practicality or cost for the time being. We’ll leave it to Hanson, Kathy et al to determine what’s doable or not.

1) Hardware/Software/Gadgets: I’m probably not the best person to speak here. I paradoxically have little knowledge of all the software/applications/tools/gadgets that are out there, yet I sense after several months that I may be one of few who has even a mild interest in developing some technical skills in conjunction with the other curriculum. That doesn’t make me or you better or worse. We’re all in different places in our lives and careers; we all have different ambitions, skills, etc. To me, that’s part of what’s great about what we’re doing. That said, the availability should be there, if teneable financially for those who want it.  I’ll offer up a few personal things I wouldn’t mind seeing. Y’all may have different ideas about what could be helpful for you to have access to based on your established careers, goals, etc.

  • I am a casual web developer/programmer by moonlight who loses out on some of the funds from contracts because I have to team with a designer with better software and knowledge of using it. I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had even average familiarity with the Adobe Creative Suite and its programs like Photshop. The latest CS is prohibitively expensive, so perhaps we could play around with it at our leisure on MCDM computers? Optional workshops for those who might want a 3 hour crash course some weekend?  Things like making presentations for your company or visually engaging sales pitches for a CMO are just two examples of how we might better equip ourselves to do good things in our endeavors after the program. With the MCDMs new space coming sometime in the future, perhaps there will be a lab equipped with all sorts of software and applications. I’m aware that there are ways to get access to these kinds of things through other departments on campus, but in my humble opinion, there’s no reason why we should have to go out of house. I find it tough and uninspiring to trek to a infrequented place to go fiddle around alone. Amongst colleagues and friends in the new MCDM designated space, I could see it being much more enticing, sufferable, and attainable to build or expand upon simple but handy skill sets.
  • Career skills development (wrote this before class and minute papers, so sorry for unintentional redunancy. Share ideas here where they will be saved anyway if you’d like) – It’s unreasonable to think the MCDM should foot an expensive bill to help us learn things outside the scope of the program. In other words, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect resources to be devoted to hiring staff and offering courses for the few of us who might be interested in niche technical skills. But career development workshops, on the other hand, aren’t an unreasonable idea and they might be very useful for many of us like me who have done a nice thing or two in the ‘real world’ but still have limited experience exploring all the possible opportunities out there. Job listings are one thing. Knowing what what’s realistic and worth exploring based on advice/conversations with people who have gotten to know us could be more beneficial.  I will say though to close that working in conjunction with the MCDM staff and their chosen panelists or workshop participants, rather than with just with Career Services at the University would be great. My personal experience has taught me that they quickly fall into the trap of treating me as someone interested in journalism.
  • Hardware – I wanted to download the Apple Software Development Kit (SDK) to teach myself how to develop apps for the iPhone. But alas, I quickly remembered that Apple likes to exclude huge chunks of the population from making their products cooler for no logical reason by requiring you to develop on their expensive machines. (The gPhone will quickly dust the iPhone for this reason in my humble opinion, but that’s a topic for another day.) Anyway, different types of computers for different types of preferences and specific task objectives.
  • Gadgets – Random, not very important sub-topic here, but I personally wish I had more access to cool relevant gadgets. Free toys for all! Just kidding, but it might be fun Hanson if you once or twice a quarter held a casual get-together where we could learn about and get our hands on some of the latest and the greatest for a few hours. You wouldn’t deem that tedious work would you?? Who knows, might not be worth the time to make the calls, but wouldn’t surprise me if various manufacturers/companies would participate. The purpose to me would be to get a closer look at the kinds of things new technology is making possible for those of us not quite in the position yet to spend freely on such things. This might be another way to facilitate informal networking and socializing in a pretty relaxed fun setting.

2) Access to Engineers and Developers on Campus – This isn’t exactly a tool of course. And now might be a good time to reinforce that I’m not trying to suggest things become excessively focused on technical skills. That’s entirely not the point of what we’re here for.  I get that. But I know I’m not entirely alone in thinking that it would be amazing to actually launch some ideas that are conjured up at Nickerson Street Saloon, or in class. Is there not an insanely talented pool of programmers and developers on this campus that aren’t yet expensive to contract or impossible to lure away from their secure paychecks without any start-up capital? And by the same token, wouldn’t now be a good time for those of us not yet locked into a career path to take the risks (time, mostly) involved in labor intensive projects?

Seems to me there should be a system in place to easily access collaborative help across departments for those who have an idea twirling around in their mind, but have no idea how to make it happen technically, or the money to get the necessary help. My hunch is more and more entrepreneurial, gifted, and intelligent people will continue to apply here in record numbers moving forward, and I think it would be a fantastic selling point if we had some examples of how the program has been able to foster the necessary alliances and collaborations across disciplines for those interested in seeing a project through start to finish.

I am confident that if I asked tomorrow for help like this, it would get done. But it might take awhile.  Instead, it might be worthwhile to begin putting in place an informal alliance(s) across campus so the opportunity costs of assembling a team are sufficiently low.

Engineers/Programmers = Technical Talent. No ideas*

MCDM’ers = Lots of ideas. Cave people**

* Light-hearted generalization

** Relatively speaking

(ducking for cover)

3) ____________________ (I lied. Your turn. I’ve said enough)

Thinking caps on MCDM’ers. We were put on the spot at class that one night when Hanson broke the fantastic news of him staying here in Seattle at UDub. We all know we’re in plenty good hands just following where he might lead us. But several times now he has said he coud use our help molding the program into what we collectively want, and what we think collectively feel is important to enrich the experience before and after our time is up here. It’s hard to emulate what we’re doing and to keep up if we’re always evolving.

There might have been better topics to start with than the one I chose, so offer up category suggestions to break down for next time if you wish.

If there is a next time, we’ll get right down to it without the fluff to start. Was on my mind and thought I’d share. Thanks for listening this time around.

Enjoy the rest of the week and the weekend. Look forward to seeing y’all next week.

Cheers.

-MB-

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