Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Long-range plans

I came back from Atlanta with my head clear of details and full of vision. Something about the minutiae of a board meeting, with people focusing on this and that, parsing commas and conjunctions, leaves me frustrated with details and action items. I always want to think back to first principles after weekends like this. The task that appeals at this point is connecting the road we're on to the values and purposes we elsewhere espouse.

So while I got a few details cleared away today -- gathering needed signatures and getting a form submitted, grading journals, answering e-mails -- what I kept gravitating towards was the big picture. I set up a Google Wave with a colleague to think through our field's use of technology. I sent a follow-up e-mail about a committee meeting yesterday that put a speculative discussion in some further context. And I met with students about two different long-term projects that are still in the conceptual stage.

What's happening is that I'm finding it dissatisfying to focus on details until I know something that differentiates between relevant and irrelevant details. I've become quite evangelical on the need to know why one course of action is preferable to another. It matters where it takes us, and it matters what that says about who we are.

At some point I'll have to get down to brass tacks. But I'm pretty sure when I get there, I'll know better what those tacks are supposed to be holding together.

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