Okay, so I’m going to pull back the curtain a little bit on my creative process…sometimes, a conference presentation grows out of a catchy title…I get an idea in my head and then I build the presentation around the title. other times, it is an idea that catches my attention, and I build it out until the title hits me. This is one of those times when I should have rolled with the latter but the former won out…mainly because of the deadlines imposed by conference programming committees. Had I worked the idea through a little, I would’ve come up with a better title (and forgotten about using the colon)…but things are what they are. The Tao – for whatever reason – took this title and presentation in the way that it did…all in all, I think it’s a pretty good mashup of a few ideas.

The World of Gray is a term I first used about 7 years ago. In its first incarnation, it described my feelings of working with the first of the Millennials in the workforce, and the desire of some of them to have a decision tree for every situation. I explained to them and others that life – particularly in student affairs – is a world of gray…too many things happen that are new, or “new enough” that it’s simply not possible to have the “cook book” for every contingency. I later found Peter Vaill’s writing on Permanent Whitewater after it was mentioned in this article by Kathleen Allen & Cynthia Cherry…the World of Gray is Permanent Whitewater (I’m really good at “discovering” things that somebody else already came up with).

So, this presentation combines elements of Permanent Whitewater with elements of Chaos Theory, along with some systems thinking and a liberal dash of Jim Collins…if you haven’t already guessed, one of my StrengthsQuest themes is “connectedness.”

If you have comments (positive or constructive)…let me know. I am always looking to improve…