ILEAD U Thoughts

Well we’re a couple of days into ILEAD U and it’s been a really great experience so far. Team Spectra had a very productive meeting with Beck Tench this morning. Beck is a fabulous speaker who delivered one of our keynotes yesterday and spoke a lot about the ideas of failure, what failure means, looks like, and how we can better adapt to the possibility of failure. If you aren’t familiar with her, you should check out her site:

One of the main ideas of ILEADU that is oft repeated is the idea of a “safe sandbox”. ILEADU is an opportunity for teams to experiment, to play around with ideas, to see how ideas evolve, grow, and change. Failure is an idea that is difficult for many people to deal with and definitely an issue that I know many of my colleagues personally struggle with. Working in public service often involves holding oneself to an extremely high set of expectations because we feel that our failures are not just impacting us but are impacting those we work with and the public we serve. One of the things we discussed this morning with Beck was what we are most worried about project-wise and this brought up the concerns of expectations.

One of the comments made at the Autism Forum earlier this month was that if you know one person with Autism, you know exactly one person with Autism. This makes providing better service to the ASD community a very daunting task. One thing many of our team members have noticed when discussing our project with people outside the group is that there is often unconstrained delight at our project. This is both flattering and terrifying. The delight means that we are tackling a project that is in demand. But tackling a project so highly in demand contains great potential for failure or to let people down. What if our project isn’t good enough? What if it’s good but people don’t think it’s enough? What if it’s good but doesn’t get used? These are some of the questions that we discussed with Beck and one of the things she reiterated is how important it is to encapsulate our project. To define it and view it as a step. ILEADU is not designed for us to create a great Kraken of a project that answers every question and solves every difficulty. We have to remember that ILEADU has time and budget constraints. There is nothing wrong with taking small steps.

This is most likely something I will repeat to myself over and over and over again for the next nine months. Also, how did I just now realize that ILEADU is roughly a nine month project? Is that intentional? I will refrain from making bad jokes at this point.

So back to the project. The talk helped clarify a lot of things and I am developing a new fondness and appreciation for drawing. My best friend will be so proud. Even on a small scale, our project has a lot of moving parts so it’s going to be a long haul and a difficult one, but Team Spectra seems up to the challenge and seems passionate about our topic. We may not change the entire world, but I think we’ll make a difference. And hopefully, a seed that we’ll see grow long past us.


1 Comment

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One response to “ILEAD U Thoughts

  1. Please share this article with Joe Natale at for our IMLS report. This is a wonderful essay.

    Thank you,

    Gwen Harrison, Project Director, ILEAD USA

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