Posts Tagged ‘ organizational improvement ’

Orchestration

Ron Ashkenas in his latest blog post to HBR makes an interesting observation about leaders and making decisions. There is no doubt that making decisions is part of being in charge, but we often neglect the other part – orchestrating decisions.

And while it may seem easier to just make the decisions yourself, in many cases this won’t lead to the best outcome — nor will it increase your team’s capability to make future decisions. The alternative, however, is not to shy away from decisions, but rather to create an orchestrated process by which the right people are engaged, including yourself.

http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/08/dont-make-decisions-orchestrat/

Understanding and achieving that balance between making and orchestrating is what makes our team.successful  And isn’t that what leadership is all about?

Teaching Failure

How many times have you heard fail fast and fail often to achieve success? Jason Seiken in his HBR blog talks about how he made it more than a slogan at his organization.

He writes, “Business-school literature has long stressed the importance of taking risks and encouraging rapid failure. In the real world of quarterly numbers, though, embracing failure mostly remains a throwaway line in CEO speeches.

At PBS Digital, we went beyond corporate lip service and demanded failure from each and every employee.”

Check it out…http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/09/how-i-got-my-team-to-fail-more/

I firmly believe that growth comes from failure, not success. I know “teaching failure” sounds like an oxymoron, but research shows that students who believe that failure is a temporary condition and are resilient are far more likely to be ultimately successful. Are you providing a safe space to fail in your classroom, in your school, in your district?

Have you made your quota of failures this week?

First Day of School: Planning 101

With the start of school everyone is looking at the demographic planner for enrollment information. A little advice for school leaders before you get to the podium:

  • Use a year-over-year comparison to get a sense of the volatility of the numbers. If your  planner didn’t hit projections at School A until day 10 last year, don’t expect to hit them until day 10 this year.
  • There is a lot of noise in the first day of school enrollment numbers. If the roles from the previous year have not been purged, the numbers will be high. If you just report the actuals, your numbers will be low on the first day. For this reason many states use the 20th day of instruction as the official enrollment, some wait even longer.
  • Enrollment also vary by demographics and grade level. Elementaries will equalize within the first week, middle schools a little later, and high schools may take up to a month to really settle. The enrollment at higher poverty schools will be more variable and more students will enroll during the first week of school.
  • Your planner should be able to guide you regarding the schools that will have big swings in the numbers. Attendance boundary adjustments, a new housing development or a new charter school in the attendance area are just a few of the reasons for volatility in a school’s enrollment numbers.
  • Make sure you know what you are reporting – total enrollment, average daily attendance, or another variation of attendance figures.
  • Always have your planner compare your school by school numbers with each school’s rated capacity (and know how that capacity is calculated). Often rated capacities are an “ideal” condition and schools that exceed that capacity by a small amount can operate that way until a solution is found.
  • The big concerns should be those schools that have exceeded their projections by the staffing ratio and are above classroom capacity. Work with your principals to reach an accommodation – team teaching in one of the larger classrooms, use of a smaller room (office and/or conference room) for a self-contained class that has just a few students, float an elective class, using the library/media center for pull-out classes, etc. Your school leaders should know their buildings and what may or may not be possible. Because of the logistics involved, moving a temporary classroom into place on short notice is usually not a timely answer.
  • A less than two percent variation between total enrollment projection and actual total enrollment is acceptable.
  • Concentrate on figuring out why some schools where you had to adjust the staffing were high or low. Ask your planner for an after-action report after the dust settles. You will want to concentrate on those schools in which the projected enrollment was one staffing ratio above or below the actuals. The goal would be to not repeat that scenario at that school next year.
  • Accurate projections are one of the tools of leadership. If you can’t trust the numbers, change the way they are developed.

Pause… and think long-term

Within educational organizations this is the final countdown until the start of school. Everyone is leaning in. The adrenaline is high. But remember your career is a marathon, not a sprint to the middle of next year. Take a few minutes to think long-term about your career and what you are building.

In his recent HBR blog Nathaniel Koloc shared some great advice: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/08/build_a_career_worth_having.html

“1 Your career is a set of stepping stones, not a linear trajectory.

2 Seek legacy, mastery and freedom – in that order.

3 Treat your career like a grand experiment…

So if you’re one of the many who find themselves on the path to meaningful work — remember to enjoy the journey, don’t give up, and don’t settle.”

I hope everyone has a great year!

Parent participation in school improvement.

We often get enthusiastic parent or community groups that want to participate in school improvement, but many districts do not have a process that accommodates that effort. Why not let design thinking drive the solutions? The parents and teachers at Riverdale Country School in New York City and the folks at IDEO have produced a manual that may help. You will also need an integrative thinker or two (see Roger Martin, The Opposable Mind) to facilitate the process. Here is the URL for the manual…it’s free. http://www.designthinkingforeducators.com/