Strengths Spotlight: Ideation

by Heather Tisdelle
Assistant Director, Administrative Systems
Information Technology
Top 5: Strategic, Includer, Ideation, Individualization, Achiever

I think of this talent as a creativity and problem solving ability.  It is a brainstorming tool that is key to the way I think every day.  My ideation talent makes me better at my job in my role in Information Technology.  I work in the Administrative Systems department where we integrate and expand our Banner ERP system with other technologies.  We support business functions with creative technical solutions.  We are a small group and often times have collaboration and brainstorming sessions on how best to develop and deliver a solution.  In some aspects, our technology base is growing with the addition of Ellucian Recruiter, DegreeWorks, and the University Data Stream (UDS).  As this technical environment grows, so does the challenge of our role at Bridgewater State – to make sure that all of our systems are working together and new solutions do not break existing processes.  In addition, we are trying to maximize the software that we have already invested in.  Many technologies can be extended to serve more purposes than originally thought of.  That is when I use my ideation talent most – to find ways to create solutions with existing tools.

We are often asked “How could we get this done?”, or “Is it possible to do this?”.  I find that I am constantly thinking of the best possible way to implement a fix or enhancement and for it to fit with the rest of our environment like a jigsaw puzzle piece would.  To me, there is always a better way to do something and I strive to find the solution that “fits”.  Of course, someone with this talent could be seen not willing to take no for an answer, or is constantly changing agreed upon the path.  Over time, I find that I am rolling the ideas over and over in my head to make sure that they work in conjunction with everything else and will work all the way through.  Sometimes they won’t, and we have to adjust or change course.  Over my eight year tenure at BSU, and even before coming to BSU from other higher education institutions, my ideation talent has grown and matured as I have developed more knowledge and experience with the Banner ERP system and our vast database environment.  I have learned a great deal working with other departments and am familiar with the way that our worlds fit together.  I am constantly learning and tuning my practice in this respect.

For example, we have recently been asked for an easy way to check-in students for an event.  We are leveraging Argos, a tool that was originally implemented for reporting, to create an interface to Banner.  This allows users to actually update and store check-in information in the Banner database.  Combined with an inexpensive card reader, students can be checked in quickly and efficiently, with much less probability of data entry problems.  In addition, the check-in information is stored in our Banner database which enables users to access reports that can be run after the event.  These reports can include useful information such as contact email address, student class, major, etc.  The list goes on and on…  It is developing solutions like this that make my job a challenging and rewarding adventure every day.  I enjoy my work at Bridgewater State immensely and it is gratifying to see my solutions work to make other people’s lives easier.

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Strengths Spotlight: Harmony

By Shelly Keniston, Associate Director of Residence Life and Housing

Top 5 themes: Harmony, Relator, Achiever, Deliberative, Consistency

I rememKenistonber taking StrengthsFinder about six years ago.  We had to take it for a train the trainer daylong session being presented to us.  So all at once, we were learning what StrengthsQuest was and what our top five was and what it all meant and learning how to present and teach others about StrengthsQuest.  Immediately upon receiving mine, I was not a believer.  Harmony could not be my number 1!!!!  That didn’t describe me at all and even when I read the description, I didn’t see it in myself and figured the whole thing was wrong.

I read it out loud to the group, a room full of people I had worked with for years, and they laughed at that word being used to describe me.  Only making me doubt and disbelieve even more.  I decided to focus on my other strengths because at least in those, I could see parts of myself.  But what would nag me for a few years to come was this number one strength which was Harmony.  Others would try to convince me that they saw it in me but I just didn’t.

People with the Harmony theme look for consensus.  They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.

So now I was going out and presenting StrengthsQuest to classes and groups.  I always shared my experience with how I didn’t see my number one in me but was on the search to see where it fit.  I think that helped some feel more comfortable with their own and being okay with not feeling the whole thing.

Then, one day, BOOM!  Like a bolt of lightning, I found and saw my number one:  HARMONY!!!  I was working an event and had two people from two different offices in conflict and found myself in the middle.  I understood what both wanted and that it was in essence the same thing but they weren’t communicating that.  I pulled them together, explained each other’s side and all of a sudden, in the middle of it, I yelled “THAT’S MY HARMONY!!!”  Both thought I had lost it but what they didn’t know was that I had actually found it!

When I know people hold differing views, I try to find the common ground.  I have done this my whole life.  I try to steer people out of conflict.  In my career, I have mediated roommate conflicts and staff conflicts and conflicts with friends.  It comes natural to me and come to find out, this whole time that was just my number one strength, Harmony.

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Strengths Spotlight: Futuristic

fratoniby Kristin Fratoni

Master’s student, Student Affairs Counseling ’16
Graduate Assistant, Office of New Student and Family Programs

Of my five top strengths, I would have to say that the Futuristic theme of talent is my favorite. To me, it symbolizes an endless supply of hope and possibilities; having the ability to direct and redirect the vision of my future as many times as I want.

Those who do not have a high Futuristic talent, however, may misunderstand the value of such a trait, viewing it as a hindrance to the art of being mindful.  Eckhart Tolle once said, “The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.”   It is true that staying in the present moment can be quite a challenge for those who have the futuristic theme of talent such as myself.  It can be difficult at times to be mindful of my surroundings; to focus on the task at hand rather than peer at my planner at what the future has in store.  For some, it can become overwhelming to think so far in advance, to carefully craft a vision for the future, very well knowing that it cannot be predicted.  For me, however, I find the future fascinating, full of opportunities and possibilities to capitalize on; ones that will aid me in realizing the dreams that I have, just not always in the way I have envisioned.


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My entire college career had been one long windy road full of detours and roundabouts, allowing me first to explore my undergraduate degree in business in various concentrations, internships and jobs before directing me down the path of Student Affairs.  It has been here in this field that I am able to leave a prescribed vision of what I thought I wanted during my undergraduate experience and visualize a brand new future full of possibilities that I am not even fully aware of yet.  It was not until I came to Bridgewater State University and took the StrengthsQuest assessment that I was able to put a name to the attribute that enabled me to see beyond the present disappointments, constantly redirecting me back toward the path of endless opportunities.

While I also value the art of being mindful and living in the moment, I find the talent theme of Futuristic to be of equal caliber, providing me with the capability to see beyond what is happening now in anticipation for what might be.  While some may believe that this tactic is prevents the ability to revel in the present moment, I find it to be quite the opposite.  For me, by anticipating and planning for the future, I am able to enjoy the present moment much more knowing that the bulk of the work is behind me.  This is especially true in my classes (for the most part) as well as in my work with the Family Association.  Of course, unexpected instances will always occur but I embrace these bumps in the road, these twists and turns in the path as they bring me back to the present moment to regroup and plan my next course of action; allowing me to redirect my future once more.

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Strengths Spotlight: Futuristic

mike sandyby Michael Sandy
Director, Office of Study Abroad

Q1: How do you define this theme of talent for yourself?

I see my Futuristic talent as my road map and compass.  I am confident in where I am headed and where I will end up even knowing my long term goals are not always clear and will change by choose and circumstances.

I’ve come to appreciate Alan Lakein’s quote, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it.”

Q2: When this talent is applied, what has this theme enabled you to do in your role at BSU?

This talent helps me recognize the end results of a proposed project and develop a plan to see it through.  In meetings, I am more interested in learning the end game and figuring out how it fits into the larger context.  Knowing this a plan can be developed, potential conflicts and competing priorities can be identified, the right people can be invited to be involved, and required resources can be allocated or petitioned.

I started at BSU in 2014 with the goal of increasing the impact of study abroad across campus with increased programs and student participation.  After meeting with key campus stakeholders, we developed a strategic plan and began working.  In the short-term there have been changes and delays but this can be anticipated working in a larger organization.  As circumstances change, we adapted which aspects of the plan we work on and which aspects we will pursue when the timing is better.

Q3: How is this theme of talent sometimes misunderstood?

Being future focused can been misunderstood that you are less interested or ignoring the immediate circumstances and problems while working on future plans.  This can look dismissive to someone who is more focused on immediate concerns or is more negatively impacted by present conditions.   Knowing I have a higher threshold for ambiguity and turmoil in the short-term when plans are developing, I seek out feedback from others to help keep balance.

Q4: What are ways you have helped this talent to “mature” over the course of your career and experience?

I have learned to seek out and rely on people with complementary talents.  Working with an established staff, it is important to identify our best talents and let others take the lead on aspects of our work and projects where they are naturally inclined to succeed.  I appreciate it when others draw on my talents and I try my best to do the same for others.

I have also learned to leverage my own talents toward my goals.  With tendencies toward connectedness, responsibility, strategic and analytical in addition to futuristic, I have learned to be more comfortable with what I can bring to a situation and when to rely on other people talents.  In my volunteer roles on non-profit boards, I am inclined and more often asked to contribute to strategic planning and policy making while gladly letting others lead fundraising and public engagement events.

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Strengths Spotlight: Focus

Focusby Casey Mulcare, Coordinator – Office of Student Involvement and Leadership

Q1:  How do you define this theme of talent for yourself?

Focus is my fifth theme of talent, and is apparent in many parts of my day to day life. I define it as my ability to (cue the Star Wars voice) “stay on target” (anyone get the reference? Anyone? Carry on…) I very easily can stay on a task, find out the most efficient way to do that task, and make sure that others who may be invested in that task get to the goal as well. I can usually see what our end goal is very quickly and with relative ease, and no matter where discussions may go, I can usually get myself or the group to that end goal. I take a lot of joy in seeing a task from start to finish and creating and seeing through a process, even if that process may take some time.

Q2: When this talent is applied, what has this theme enabled you to do in your role at BSU?

In my day to day work with students, I constantly put this theme of talent into use. While meetings can easily get side tracked by new and exciting ideas (or distractions), I have been able to make sure that the main goal is achieved for that particular meeting, or that progress of some sort has been made. Even if the goal of that meeting was just to catch up with a student, I am able to block out other responsibilities to complete that goal. This talent also helps me keep on track with the close to 100 student programs that my area puts on throughout the year, from putting in room reservations to balancing budgets and keeping track of paperwork for about 20 different student volunteers and employees.

Q3: How is this theme of talent sometimes misunderstood?

Sometimes I feel Focus can be seen as an inability to be flexible, or that every meeting/event/discussion has to get straight to the point. For someone to have Focus, I should be staring into a computer or doing the same task day in and day out, right? I actually thrive on my schedule being variable week to week, with my Focus kicking in to help me narrow down the important tasks that need to be accomplished that week as opposed to the week before. Many times I feel I can turn this theme of talent on or off depending on the situation, and “Focus ” on simply catching up with a friend or enjoying some down time. People with Focus don’t need to be “on” or squirreled away in a lengthy Excel sheet to be effective.

Q4: What are ways you have helped this talent to “mature” over the course of your career and experience?

I have taken on some tasks that some may seem arduous, from going through scholarship applications to facilitating room assignments in a student center over the course of a year in one sitting. While these tasks take time, I’m able to set aside the time needed and work quicker than most through these tasks. I have also made sure to pull myself away from tasks that my Focus  is really in play to give myself a rest, or leave part of the task for the next day or another person on the team. Just because I could do it quicker, doesn’t mean that another person (or a night to sleep on a decision) won’t benefit my work.

For more information on the “Focus” theme of talent, visit the site for the “Theme Thursday” webcasts from the Gallup organization using this link!


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Reminder: Divisional Meeting next week!

Division Meeting

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Tuesday 3/15 NASPA Virtual Ticket


Please forgive my error in not understanding that the 10 am Featured Speaker is no longer on the NASPA Virtual Ticket. Instead, we will be broadcasting the 10 am “Veteran Influx” session from the Heritage Room instead.

In addition to the 10 am session in the Heritage Room, please join us for these sessions today in 103 Campus Center in the OSIL/CMA Conference Room.

Start End Session Coordinating Presenter
8:30AM 9:20AM Conversations on Race: Moving from Angst to Action Barry Olson
10:00AM 11:15AM Veteran Influx: Supporting Veterans in the Higher Education Pipeline Christopher Davidson
11:05AM 11:55AM Racialized Aggressions and Social Media on Campus Kevin Gin
12:10PM 1:00PM *SPONSORED SESSION – Build Your Student Engagement App withCampusGroups Yorick Ser
1:15PM 2:30PM *Featured Speaker Simón Silva
2:30PM 3:45PM *PM SA Speaks Tonantzin Oseguera
2:30PM 3:45PM *PM SA Speaks Patrick Day
2:30PM 3:45PM *PM SA Speaks Amma Marfo
2:30PM 3:45PM *PM SA Speaks Ashley Robinson
3:30PM 4:20PM Sharing Our Journey: Muslims in Higher Education Mehtap Donuk

Thank you!

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